Sunday, May 29, 2011

Can eggs fly?

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird:
it would be a jolly sight harder
for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
We are like eggs at present.
And you cannot go on indefinitely
being just an ordinary, decent egg.
We must be hatched or go bad.
C.S. Lewis

I think that hatching begins with saying yes.  Yes to the uncomfortable things. 

I remember as a young mother, with a houseful of very young children, being asked to give some compassionate service.  A sister in our ward had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Her husband had asked if women could please come stay with his wife while he was at work. 

In the quiet of her house,  I waited, wondering what I could do or say to comfort her.  I knew her children, had been in YM/YWs with her oldest son.  Her youngest was in college, unmarried.  So much this mother was going to miss.

I heard her wake up and went to her.  She smiled, thanked me for coming,
and wanted to know about my family.  Then she asked, "Would you please bring me my make-up case.  I want to look nice for my husband." 

I only spent four hours with her, but she taught me how to die.  It was a hatching moment. 

What if I had said no.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

When the wrong color is right

Needing a utensil holder I went to Goodwill with my thrift-shop-queen daughter and looked through the shelves of housewares.  I knew exactly what I wanted, but everything I saw was ugly.  Carrie came along behind me and picked up a metal, wrought iron container.  "Mom, what about this one?"  I looked at it and announced the obvious, "It's red." She said, "All it needs is spray paint."  
Has life ever handed you red when you wanted a different color? 

I was in college and desperately needed a job.  The one thing I could do well was to type.  But, to qualify for a secretarial job at BYU I had to be able to type 60 words a minute with no mistakes.  I knew to pass the typing test I would have to practice using an electric typewriter.  I would not be using my comfortable manual typewriter. 

I know, I'm ancient.

I went to the typing lab, and sat down, not knowing what I should practice.  Next to the typewriter someone had left a typing manual.  I randomly opened the book  and started typing.  I decided to type just this one practice page until I could hit the target speed.  I went straight from the library to the typing test.  The instructor told us to open the book to page such and such.  I turned to the page and there staring back at me was my page from the library!   I knew the Lord's hand was in this.  I knew that I would get the job I needed.  At the job interview I was told that there was one job and it would only last for four weeks.  Did I want it?  (I needed a job for the whole year.  This was all wrong.  All I could see was ugly red.)  I said yes, but was bummed. 

The afternoon of my last day, the secretary next door came to deliver some mail that had been misdelivered.  She moaned that her assistant secretary had just quit.  Our office secretary said,  "Jeanie is a typist and this is her last day."  Norma, who would be my boss for the next two years (and gave me a full time job when I needed it), said, "You're hired.  Come next door on Monday."  

I see now that all along 
the Lord is spray painting my life
the colors it needs to be, 

and even more beautifully
than what I hope for.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A child, a hymnbook, and me

It is not unusual to have an "aha" moment in church.  However, mine did not come from the pulpit, it came from the small grandson sitting next to me.  It was one of the greatest learning moments of my life.

Nate, wanted his own hymnbook, even though he cannot read.  I watched as he traced his little finger carefully along the stanzas. 

When a new verse began, he was right there, at the top, in the right place.  He never lost his concentration.  At the end of the song he proudly told me that he had been able to trace all the words plus the title and the page number!

What was so unusual or "aha" about a child and a hymnbook?  I found the answer to a decades-old question I have had.  How can I keep the commandment "Be ye therefore perfect"?  Why did the Savior ask us to do something, command us to do something He knew we could not do?  Why?  I know. I know.  It was a long-range goal for us.  For me, though, it was downright frustrating.  But, here was little Nate intent, focused, and still not able to read a word.  Was he reading?  Not by my standards, but in his time and place he was reading perfectly.  I had been confusing perfection and performance.

I have a new favorite word, thanks to Nate.  The word is "willing."  The scriptures are full of the Lord pleading with us to be "willing."  He understands willingness.  In the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."  Feeling weak was not imperfection.  His willingness was a hallmark of his perfection.  The Lord can help willing hearts.  He can make them better, more, and eventually...perfect.

Nate started to squirm so I handed him a pencil and paper.  He wrote very carefully and asked, "Grandma, do you know what this says?" 
  "What does it say, Natey?"

he grinned, "Nate is GREAT!"
Yes, he is. 
He wrote it perfectly.

Monday, May 16, 2011


A mother is most needed
as a lamp in the dark.
Not a carriage to take them,
not a prod from behind.
Just a lamp in the night,
always there
always bright.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Greatest Mother's Day Gift

What was I to do?  On Friday my kindergarten teacher had taught us about Mother's Day.  This was 1953, before children made gifts in school, so, I was in charge,  I was six years old, and I had 35 cents.  There were the three of us, Momma, me, and 4 year old Robbie.  What could Robbie and I give her?  Taking his hand we walked to the little shopping center next to our housing development.  Shocked?  It was 1953.  Kids could do that.  I had decided on the perfect gift.  Sweet peas.  I was going to buy her a big bouquet of flowers.  Her favorite kind.  I could see the surprise and excitment on her face as she held them and smelled them - I could see it all. 

We pushed open the big door of the florist shop.  I was so shy but filled with confidence at that moment, "Do you have any sweet peas?"  I blurted out.  "No," was all the woman said. 

We wandered around the stores, Robbie's hand hot in my one hand, the thirty-five cents hot in the other.  In Woolworth's 5&10 I settled on a seed packet.  The picture of sweet peas was beautiful.  Just what I had imagined.

At home I wrapped it.  The more I wrapped, the worse it looked, it was more wrap than gift.  Looking at it I felt as small and disappointing as it was. 

Mother's Day morning in San Diego, California was bright and sunny.  I brought out the gift.  Momma sat down and lifted me onto her lap.  I felt her warm arms around me as she opened her only gift.  She told me how beautiful it looked, commented on my great taping job, and carefully opened it.  "Oh, Jeanie, you remembered that I love sweet peas!  Let's plant them now!"

They knelt in the dirt, planting side by side, two itty- bitty kids and a mother giving them her greatest gift.