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.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I wish I'd known when I was your age that... husband would never be my girlfriend.  He would never sit, listen to me for hours, and always tell me that I was right.  His world would be different than mine.  He would see what was good for me and I would not always agree.  What did I want when I got married?  I have learned that whatever it was I thought I wanted, I got a man.  Every day I am fascinated by our differences and the wonder of it all.

I read recently that you cannot really know a person until you write their story.  Well, I have never done that, but I did do something that made me really see him.  Our last Christmas as full-time missionaries is the only one where I can remember every gift I received from my husband.  We gave each other only one.  If you are wondering what to give your husband for Father's Day - he will remember this one.

Early in December 2006, Jerry and I agreed on our gifts.  It was to be a letter entitled, "How do I know you love me?"  We worked on them for weeks, thinking, writing, and a little crying on my part.  Then we put two envelopes on our little Christmas tree.  I am going to share with you my letter to him.

How do I know you love me?  Let me count the ways...

  1. On the day we married you committed to me for eternity, and every day since then you've shown me and our children and grandchildren, that you meant it.
  2. Every morning you hugged and kissed me good-bye, went to work, and never complained.
  3. You share with me (and everyone else) the wonders of nature.
  4. You love our children and grandchildren.
  5. You are always very kind to my family.
  6. You always look for the best in people.
  7. You always honor your priesthood.
  8. You have given me countless inspired blessings.
  9. You go to Coto (Argentine grocery store) for me even though you hate shopping.
  10. You are my "body guard" when I want to go clothes shopping in Buenos Aires.
  11. You always hold my hand when we cross streets.
  12. You compliment me in public.
  13. For 40 years you have thanked me for every meal.
  14. You dry the dishes for me.
  15. You tell me that you're sorry.
  16. You think that am beautiful.
  17. Every bird, every flower, every interesting, and beautiful thing, you want to share with me.
  18. To you, everything is "we".
  19. When my feet are cold, you let me put them between your legs to warm them up.
  20. You believe that I can do anything.
  21. You make me laugh at myself.
  22. You are my best critic and cheerleader at the same time.
  23. You built us a house - a beautiful home that means more than lumber and nails to us.
  24. You showed me the wonder of lying in a hammock.
  25. You water all of the plants that I forget about.
  26. You will squirt me with the hose on a summer day.
  27. You bring me the first ripe boysenberry.
  28. You suprise me with flowers.
  29. You let me shave my legs with your electric razor.
  30. You let me take up most of the room in the closet.
  31. In a hotel, if we get one good pillow and one lumpy one, you insist I take the good one.
  32. Every morning you give me the choice of first or second shower.
  33. You always put my bus money in the slot for me.
  34. You always carry my stuff in your backpack - including the rocks that I pick up.
  35. When we walk you make sure I'm walking in the shade.
  36. You let me help you put in the last 5 pieces of the 500 piece puzzel you've been working on.
  37. At the fruit and vegetable stands, you ask me what I want, and then you pick out the very best for us.
  38. Every spring you show me nests with eggs, have me smell the apple blossoms, show me the tiny fruit on the trees, and take me to see the wildflowers.
  39. You called me every day from work.
  40. I know you love me because you love the Lord.
  41. I know that you love me because you are still here.  Every night I go to bed and you are here.  Every morning I wake up, you are here.
  42. Everything you do reflects your care of me, my comfort, my safety, my happiness.
  43. You have bound me to you with countless golden threads of love wound around and around us.  It is now impossible for me to tell where I end and you begin, you are so much a part me.  You have taught me what "we" means.
Men are hard-wired to provide and protect.  Girl friends are not.

It's funny.  I forgot to write that every day he says, "I love you."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Roller coasters, comets, and rootbeer...

Family is, as the air I breathe,

A roller coaster I paid a lot to ride,

a child playing with a new toy,

A comet ride, destination unknown,

only knowing I won't let go.

It's the bubbles in my rootbeer,

light and fun,
not wanting rootbeer without it,
and sometimes
it makes me burp.