Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ear Peace

The sound of

hummingbird wings,


footsteps on the unpaved earth,

the cry of a red-tailed hawk,

bees in a blossom,

wind or water, anytime, anywhere,


roosters before light,

"I love you."

Soul-filling, life balancing,

Friday, October 21, 2011


Remember.  President Spencer W. Kimball called it the most important word in the dictionary.  I wish I could remember where I left the car keys, my cell phone, my new visiting teaching list, also, pin numbers, passwords, grocery lists, birthdays, baby showers, and on and on.  Is that it?  Remembering stuff

Last Sunday we watched families walking together to celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles.

We stood with them and thousands of others, facing a wall. 

            The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. 

The Wailing Wall is a section of the wall that surrounded the temple in Jesus' time. 

     Look for the red arrow in this model of the ancient City of Jerusalem.

This is the place the Jews have chosen to remember the temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 a.d. 

It is the place they have chosen to remember that God has promised to not forget them.  I looked around at the nearby highrises where hundreds more stood, watched, and worshipped. 

When I witnessed their remembering,

I contemplated my own remembering.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Grandma's hands

Grandma's hands could always keep up with her heart.  Giving heart, giving hands.  My first introduction to those hands was Christmas Eve 1966.  Jerry had taken me to his house at about 9pm and there was my future mother-in-law and her two college age daughters, sitting on the living room floor surrounded by pieces of fabric and Barbie dolls.  I was instantly included with the invitation, "Do you want to help us make doll clothes for Kimberly's Christmas present?"  I sat down and innocently asked, "Where's the pattern?"  A blank look and a little exasperated, "Just hold the fabric to the doll and make something."  That was so not the world I came from.  So, I did what they did and we made Barbie a Christmas wardrobe for a waiting 6 year-old.  Such was my mother-in-law's approach to life.  No pattern, no money, make something beautiful or tasty, and, always, always share.

         Here is one of two sayings framed on Grandma's wall:

She made our wedding cake and then taught me how to make them, too.  I spent hours in her kitchen trying to learn how to make frosting roses and perfectly piped edges.  I became her assistant and we made countless cakes together.  I always drove the finished product to the church while she sat with the top cake in her lap. 
When the finishing touches were done, she would stand back and admire "our" work.

Her hands were not just creating hands; they were serving hands.  She was my first visiting teaching compaion.  I learned to serve, not just occasionally, but faithfully.  100% was not a goal.  It was a fact.  She was resourceful, too.  Once, while driving on a dirt road to visit one of our sisters I buried a wheel in some soft sand.  She told me to stop gunning it, that she knew what to do.  She searched in the desert until she found a piece of cardboard.  She shoved it under the wheel and said, "NOW gun it!"  We were only a little late for our appointment.

Her hands were busy all summer, getting ready for Christmas.  She and my father-in-law canned and canned and made fruit leather by the mile.  They wanted to have a gift for everyone.  Before the advent of gift bags, she would collect small cardboard boxes and carefully cover and line each one in gift wrap.  The tops were always left open to expose the goodies abounding inside.  My favorite memory of their Christmas tree is the floor covered in dozens of festive boxes knowing that one of them had our names on it.

Her arms and hands were most at home when holding babies.  She loved us all but she especially love the tiny little ones.  She would hold them close where they nestled in cozy and safe.

Easter was amazing.  Grandma loved candy and she loved to share it.   I think of her hands lovingly filling HUNDREDS of colored plastic eggs.  Grandpa and his sons would hide them in their huge yard and then Grandpa would yell, "Go find them!"  The kids could not run fast enough and it was impossible for the cameras to keep up. 

It was a melee of the grandest sort and grandma never stopped smiling!

She decided that everyone in the family should have a quilt from her.  She made them for her eight children and then her grandchildren.  The grandchildren got theirs when they got married.  It became a ritual.  The couple-to-be would go to grandma's and pick out a quilt (she always had several so there would be choices). As she got older and slower, she worried about her unmarried grandchildren not getting a quilt.  Reluctantly, she allowed her girls to help her finish the last of the nearly 50 quilts.

It was never just "Grandma" it was always "Grandma and Grandpa".  They went everywhere together, and they always held hands.  Many Sundays while following them into church, I wished I had a camera.  I never took a picture of them walking together, but that is how I remember them.  Grandpa was told how romantic that was and his comment was priceless, "Sure I love her, but at our age we're just holding each other up."  Their having lived lives hand in hand, holds the rest of us up, too.

On her final day, August 29, 2011, her heart slowed, she stopped talking, she seemed to not see or hear, but there was always someone at her side wanting to hold those gentle, tired hands.

At her funeral, it was her hands that seemed to be the real her, those hands that spoke love, and comfort, and peace, even then.

                 Grandma's hands were a work of art -
a work of the heart.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I noticed a man leaning against the wall in the chapel.  We were in Uruguay for a training meeting in the afternoon.  That morning we were attending church with people we had never met, and after today, would never see again.  But, I will never forget the man standing by the wall.

Just as the meeting was to begin, a young girl went to the man, offered her arm, and led him up the ramp to the piano.  She sat down.  He did not.  The bishop stood and began the meeting.  I looked around and wondered, "Doesn't anyone see that man just standing by the piano?"  The opening song was announced.  I found the page and looked up at the chorister.  It was the man.  The young girl held the hymnbook while he used one hand to hold up the other arm to lead the singing.  He had a beautiful voice.  At the end of each verse he dropped both arms for a second's rest, only to lift them again.  Back and forth from the piano to the front to lead us in singing the opening hymn, Sacrament hymn, rest hymn, closing hymn.  Never ever sitting.  By the last song he was exhausted and I was in tears.  

We later learned that he could not sit because of a crippling back condition.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind,
and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.  
Mark 12:30  

After church was over we watched him being slowly walked back home, and we knew that next Sunday, he would do it all again. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It is glorious, amazing, powerful!!!

It is strong, dependable, motivational, steady, and never loses focus.  I am energized and inspired by it.  I have three of them and I bet you have at least one.

It is the kitchen timer and it is my *best friend. 

*Definition of "best friend":  someone you can count on to bring out the best in you, you can depend on them to always be there, and they are so willing to help you out.

I don't know why I am such a lazy deadline girl.  I will put things off (unless I love them, of course) until I absolutely have no wiggle room left.  I envy people who just seem to waltz through life effortlessly. 

I don't really envy them, it is more that I am baffled by them - how do they do that?

Enter the magical kitchen timer.  I tell myself, PROMISE myself, that I only have to do the dreaded, put-off-for-hours-days-millenia job for 10 minutes.  I then set the timer, knowing when the ringer goes off, I can walk away, guilt free!  The ticking begins (I like the ticking ones the best).

My procrastinating psyche goes into a frenzy.  I work focused and single mindedly (knowing I only have to be like that for 10 minutes). What is the magical part?  Most of the jobs I hate take less than 10 minutes.  But, strangely, if the timer goes off and I am not finished, I am SO CLOSE to being done I don't mind putting on the finishing touches.  But it is okay because I am now choosing to do it.  Same job, 10 minute investment, and I don't mind it.  See what a hopeless head case I am.   

Here's the lesson, the first ten minutes are the hardest.  You can thank your friend the lowly timer for helping you through it, for bringing out the best in you, and  for making you look like one of those organized self-motivated waltzers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dads and their days

These are the magnificent men in my life...sons and sons-in-law, & husband.  Women would be happier, children more well-adjusted, and the world a better place if there were more men like them. 

From all those whose lives you touch, thank you and Happy Father's Day


Friday, June 17, 2011

Anything worth doing...

Alright, finish this sentence, "Anything worth doing, is worth doing...".  Did you say, "well"?  I say hogwash.  I believe that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.  Sometimes we just do something lousily BECAUSE it is important.

I was teaching a Relief Society lesson on the importance of daily scripture reading.  I said that sometimes we may be able to read only one verse - and that would be alright with the Lord.  A woman in the class raised her hand and said, "No, no, no.  I do not feel that I have read the scriptures unless I have spent 45 minutes doing it."  I commended her for her diligence and asked when she found time to do that.  She said, "Oh, I don't read the scriptures but if I did, it would be for 45 minutes." 

That is my whole point.  We are such perfectionists that we do not even start some important things because we cannot do them "perfectly".  On our mission I found it difficult to speak Spanish because I knew I would not be doing it perfectly.   Looking back, it would have been better to have spoken badly, than to have acted like a mute. 

Sometimes a hundred percent of what we are capable of doing, is not very good.  But, 100% is 100%.  You cannot ask more than that.  So, go ahead, be a little bit terrible at something.  You will be that much closer to success.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Big 5

In Africa they call them "The Big Five" - elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard.  These animals are the biggies.  
Well, in family life there are "The Big Five" also.  They are so well known we  get almost bored reciting them -  prayer, scripture reading, attending church weekly, doing things together (service, work, play, eat), and family home evening. 

But, the question is, "What if we are doing all those things and we still have problems?"  I would like to share with you a 1994 entry from my journal.

"He said he hated her, and his eyes showed he meant it.  Her sulking in her bedroom gave no room for negotiation or resolution.  I hurt and felt nauseated.  Right then heaven was a long way from our home.  I was tormented.  Families, our family, was not supposed to be like this.  I loved and ached for both of them.  There was nothing else to do but more of the same; family prayers, scripture time, family home evenings, vacations, going to church.  Slowly the battlefield had fewer casualties.  Time and the gospel and growing were working.  Missions, college, temple marriages, and more growing.

"Now, I watch these two with their spouses playing Scrabble, going to Disneyland, snowballing.....being friends. 

No healing of the deaf, blind, and leperous was more of a miracle than watching him cuddle her baby and whisper, 'Remember, I'm your favorite uncle.' "
The Big Five.  They're awesome. 
And they're worth it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Handling the obnoxiously stubborn

While visiting family, our 20 month-old grandson got locked in the bathroom.

The door knob did not have any visible way to unlock it from the outside.  So, Jerry started taking it off.  I reminded him that the last time we tried to open a door by taking off the door knob, it didn't work.  He kept on taking off the screws.  I suggested that we call the fire department. 

He kept taking off the screws.  The baby was howling.  Our daughter-in-law called our son at work.  I brought up the fire department again.  Jerry kept taking off the screws.  It all seemed so simple to me- 

                Call the fire department!

A minute later the baby walked into the kitchen.  Humbly I said to Jerry, "It must be annoying to be married to me."  He very gently said, "Once in awhile, I just have to ignore you.  Sometimes it is the kindest thing you can do for someone."

When our kids were young, I listened to a parenting lecture that drove home the point, "Behavior that gets attention, gets repeated."  I have used that technique lots of times.  I remember stepping over a four-year old throwing a tantrum at my feet and walking into the next room.  It didn't take long for him to come find me, have a little chat, and get a big hug.  This method is non-confrontational, keeps you from being the "bad guy," and works pretty fast.

But, I never knew that my husband was using this behavior modification on ME.  I hope it's working.  I did get a big hug.