Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tiny Sparkles of Romance

This summer brings our 51st wedding anniversary.
And so I find my thoughts turning to romance.
Not the grand gestures you sometimes see depicted on the big and little screens either.
You know the ones.
Airplanes gracefully skywriting, "Marry me please my one true love, Stephanie!" in cloudlike script.
Or a candlelight and crystal picnic set up at the very edge of the Grand Canyon, with a portable CD playing "How Deep Is My Love."
I don't mean that sort of thing.

No, my thoughts have turned instead to some of the little romantic sparkles which actually lit my life.
The first I remember is when Larry and I were very young.

He was a sophomore in college living with roomates in an apartment close to the university.
I was still in high school.
We'd been dating for a while when he learned that I loved flowers.

Of course as a college student he had no money to spare for flowers.
Even so, oftentimes he came to pick me up for a date with bouquets of garden roses, or gladiolas, or other kinds of sometimes spetacular blossoms.
They were always presented wrapped in layers and layers of wet newspaper and once or twice came with aphids.
I asked him one time where he got them and he said that he was always on the lookout.
So whenever he saw flowers growing along highway medians, or parks, or at ASU outside the Dean's office, he would hop whatever barrier was guarding them and pull out his trusty pocket knife.
I still think the most beautiful flowers come wrapped in wet newspaper.
And I try not to remember "Thou shall not steal," when I do.

Another early twinkle came about when I had a date with an Eagle Scout I'd met several months previously. He'd asked me to go to a fancy Blue and Gold Scout Ball to be held in the spring. It was to be a formal affair held at a big hotel in downtown Phoenix.
I explained all this to Larry. He said he understood about honoring committments.

But lo and behold, when the night came and my date and I came out of the festivities, there was Larry standing across Central Avenue under a streetlight.
He was leaning against his car, arms crossed, glaring at the ballroom exit.
Even way back then that glare reminded me of a sparkle. It still does.

After we married, a particular small bit of romance became an ongoing joke.
Early one morning as I opened my newlywed eyes I found Larry looking at me.
I pulled the covers over my head and said with distress, "Don't look at me when I'm ugly!"
He pulled the covers off my head and just stared.
Long and hard too.
This became a standard and very annoying morning ritual.

Then there were gifts.
A lot of more traditional romantics prefer jewelry stores for diamonds and the like.
Supermarkets became Larry's go-to source for romance all the rest of our lives.

He'd be sent off to buy bread or milk. When he came home there at the bottom of the bag I'd find a new potato peeler.
When I asked about it he'd say, "Last week you said you hated the kind of peeler we had."
Or there'd be an extension cord because I'd cussed a lamp that was out of reach. Or a gadget to open jars when I'd remarked offhandly last month that it hurt to open pesky lids. Or a pepper shaker with big holes, or whatever.
That he'd remembered brought the sparkle.

And then there was aspasagus.
I love it though it can be on the expensive side. Every now and then I'd find a bunch or a can serving as a note from my husband when I unpacked the groceries.

Then too, grocery store flowers were often gifts.
I love their bouquets of mixed varieties and colors.
And anyway, by then Larry had grown too old for hopping over highway medians.
Of course my standard comment when receiving a bunch was, "What did you do?"

Once I remember a very special  "day after"  Valentine's Day.
I don't usually like this holiday's "coerced" show of affection.
But this year, our daughter Kim had been sent two dozen long stemmed roses from her current beau. I went to her room to admire them and show motherly support. I commented that as old as I was I'd never been given long stemmed roses. "That young man must think you're really special!" I gushed.
I didn't know that my husband was standing out in the hall. (In truth I actually preferred the grocery store mixed bouquets of daisies and carnations that I was usually given.)

The next day, February 15th, Larry and I went to the grocery store for our weekly purchases. He was loading the car with the toilet paper, dog food, and laundry detergent when he reached into one of the the shopping carts and brought out two bouquets of the most gorgeous pink and yellow roses I'd ever seen! Those flowers were as big as teacups!
He'd snuck them by me when I wasn't looking.

As he handed them in through the car window he said, "They were half price. But it still counts!"
His voice sounded slightly annoyed.
Apparently he was miffed that I had never told him that I wished for roses.
Actually I hadn't wished, but those beautiful flowers did indeed count.

Then there were little romantic occasions.
Like the shared ice cream treats of our "geezer" years.  ( Larry liked to call us "fogarts." I'll let you figure out what words he shortened and combined.)

Anyway, neither of us was supposed to eat sweets, but Larry especially was afflicted with a terrible sweet tooth. Mine is more of a french fry tooth.
In any case, we devised a system of moderation that worked for the rare sundae. We would order a small size with 2 spoons.
This worked well except for the cherry on top.
Larry always managed to whisk it away and eat it before I could even make a grab for it. This became a joke until I complained about unrighteous dominion. Then Larry would still whisk the cherry away, eat half of it, and put the remains on top!
Now whenever I see a mangled, half eaten cherry I get all romantic.
By the way we ended up using this system with french fries too. One order, split in two. No issues with the cherry.

Another time Larry received the "little sparkle."
I sent him to Sears to buy new shoes and not long after he left, our son called.
Dane said that he'd just been given tickets to the ASU / UofA football game which started in less than two hours. This was an historic game, a longstanding rivalry between the two universities. ASU was Larry's alma mater and our son wanted to take his dad.
I explained that he wasn't home but then said that I was sure I could find him.

So I called Sears and knowing that he'd been sent to buy shoes I asked for the tool department.
A salesgirl answered and I explained the "football emergency." She understood.
I described my husband. "Find a big, handsome man who looks like a cross between Sean Connery and Santa Clause."
She put down the phone to go look. She came back and apologized that she didn't see him.
I added, "I almost forgot. He's a really good kisser."
Immediately she cried out, "Oh, there he is now! Hang on."
When Larry got home after the game I explained how I found him.
He smiled slyly and then presented me with one of his best kisses.
I noticed a little romantic sparkle in his eye.
But I still wonder about that salesgirl.

Beaches at sunset provide memories too.
One I especially remember. It was our anniversary and we had come by ourselves this trip.

Comfortable camping chairs were loaded in the trunk since we could no longer get up and down from the sand without paramedics to assist.
The sun was sitting low on the horizon and an increasingly cool sea breeze came briskly onto shore.
As we set up our chairs and turned to enjoy the setting sun an amazing thing happened.
A beautiful young couple dressed in their wedding finery made their way to the edge of the sea!
They were holding hands and kissing tenderly.
I said to Larry, "Look at that sweet young couple! They're just starting out and here just a few feet away from them sits an old married couple together for decades. Isn't that wonderful! How does that make you feel?"
He looked into my eyes, wrapped his jacket closer around him, paused dramatically and said,
"I feel cold. Let's get in the car, and turn the heat on, Babe."
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what he meant by that. But I did notice a definite twinkle in his eye when he said it.

One of our most romantic moments ever came at Disneyland.
We were sitting by ourselves outside Toontown on a secluded bench. The fireworks program was ready to begin.
It had been a wonderful day.
We looked to the dark sky, our view framed by the bare, sculptural branches of a mid-winter tree.
Then sweet music began to play and skyrockets exploded in beautiful patterns in the night.
"When You Wish Upon A Star" was the last song accompanied by the huge finale of skyrockets.

We sat on the bench, huddled together for warmth, watching exploding rainbows of sparkling light.
It was magic. There's no other way to describe it. A magic moment in our lives.

I looked at Larry and said. "What can you say after that?"
Then he looked into my eyes for a long time. "I've seen fireworks before," he said.

Naturally I melted.

And then I forgave him for a great many of the especially dumb things he'd done over the years.
He'd covered a multitude of sins with that one.

Dear Readers, these next words are the hardest I've ever had to write.

I won't be able to hold Larry's hand or feel the tickle of his mustache through a kiss on our anniversary this summer. That will have to wait for a while.
You see Larry passed away early this month. He finished up and was called home.
I had always hoped we could go together but that seldom happens, does it?
There must be a great lesson many of us need to learn in that brief space of time without our better half.

To say that I miss him doesn't begin to convey what my heart is feeling.
Sadness sits on my shoulder now. But I don't feel despair. Because hope sits softly on the other so there is no room for despair.
You see, that we've been married for eternity in a Holy Temple of the Lord makes all the difference.
Our children have been sealed to us for all time. We truly are a forever family and my heart fills with gratitude for that blessing.

And words will never be able to tell the comfort I feel because I absolutely know that Larry is well and happy. Many who love him were waiting there to welcome him to the next step of progression.
He's busy learning, growing, helping and teaching. I know too that his friendly personality and goofy sense of humor will open hearts that no one else could reach.
And then, so very thankfully, I feel his presence near me often. Especially when I miss him most.

Lately I've been writing thank you notes to wonderful family and friends. And so I'd like to send a note to Heavenly Father.

Dear Father,
My heart overflows with gratitude for my countless blessings. Among the most precious, our amazing children and grandchildren.
Thank you for sending your son, Christ the Savior, to conquer death for all of us.
Thank you for Larry and the blessings of our marriage and family.
Thank you for the Holy Temples where husbands, wives, and families are sealed forever.
Thank you that in one of them I didn't have to say "Til death we do part."
Thank you that Larry and I will be together again. Not one whisker of his mustache lost, he will wrap me in a great hug once more.
And thank you more than words can say that I absolutely know the truth of these things.

Love Forever,
Your Daughter

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Father's Day Tribute to Mother

Sunday is Father's Day.
And today my thoughts have turned to a particular father. The father of my own children in fact.
This is dedicated to him with love for all eternity.

Tis the season when thoughts turn to fathers.
Our thoughts don't turn to them often enough, actually. Those men of all shapes and sizes who work hard all their lives, buying diapers and braces when they really want fast cars.
Unsung heroes, those men who are "there" for their families.  Who show up, with all that means, on the stone days and the diamond days, no matter what.

So I turned my thoughts to them.
And when the thoughts turned, one thing I recognized is that there would be no great fathers without the women they turned into mothers.
So, in honor of Father's Day, I remembered the first time that I knew I was a great mother to our teenagers.

It was late on one of many Friday or Saturday nights.

Larry and I, being worn out from working all week and being the parents of four kids, two of them currently in their early teens, (as exhausting as toddlers, by the way), went to bed and were snoring by 10:00.
At 11:30 the alarm went off.
I rolled over to shake Larry.
He sat up on the side of the bed and began to pull on his pants. The belt was still in them. It saved time.
As he zipped and sleepily buttoned his shirt he asked me the Friday/Saturday night question.
"Bowling alley, church dance, pizza parlor, or movie theater?"
I, who am responsible for knowing things, replied, "Movie theater."
Then I patted his shoulder as he tied his shoes, said, "You're a good father," and rolled over to go back to sleep. (Notice the support and encouragement here.)

This happened too many times to count until those teens were able to drive.

After they could drive the scenario changed.

Exhausted, overworked parents in bed by 10:00 again.
Phone rings at 12:00. They stay out later now.
The phone is on Larry's side of the bed.  He answers, hands it to me, and says, "It's for you."

Teenager on the line says,  "Ma, make dad come to:  (Choose one) movie theater, church, Stake Center, gas station on the corner, side of the road down from the Circle K, Jake's house, etc., etc.  Tell him to bring: (Choose one) battery charger, jack, spare tire, money for gas, gas, fuel filter etc. Tell him a bunch of people need a ride home too. My car's full."

I thought it strange that this little scenario never changed.
The call was always for me. (Notice how important the mother is.)
Larry always answered and said nothing except "Hello."  Then he handed the phone to me saying, "It's for you."
Before I could speak he began to put his pants on. The belt was still in them to save time.
I was always told by the teenager on the line to "make dad" do something.

And always, when he returned and climbed back in bed, he smelled of:  (Choose one) pizza, hamburger with onions, chile dogs, french fries, chocolate from a sundae etc.

Seems word got around that this dad would come to rescue kids at any hour if they fed him afterwards.
Sometimes not even his own kids. Sometimes he had to spring for the pizza too.

It's been many years since we've had teenagers.
But if the phone ever rings in the dead of night the same thing always happens.
There Larry will be, sitting on the side of the bed, pulling on his pants, waiting to see where he's supposed to go.

Old habits die hard.
It always reminds me of what a good mother I've been.

"I do nothing of myself; but as my father hath taught me."
                                                                    John 8:28

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Visit That Taught Me the Most

I hesitate to tell this story.
I hesitate because I believe that Relief Society and Visiting Teaching are divinely inspired programs.
I don't want to create a misunderstanding about that.

For those of you who aren't church members and may not know about home and visiting teaching, let me give you a very brief Raggedy Old Convert's thumbnail sketch.

Every family in the church is assigned two home teachers. These home teachers are men. They are assigned to visit families.
Plus, every woman is also assigned two female visiting teachers.
Both of these sets of teachers are to visit members once a month to check on their physical and spiritual welfare, health, and happiness.
If there is a need then someone is close at hand to help.

As you can imagine, the logistics of this large an undertaking mean that almost everyone in the church is assigned to be a teacher to someone else. Assigned to love and look out for them.

Since the beginning, I think it's safe to say that millions of acts of service have taken place at the hands of teachers. Sometimes precious lifelong friendships have been born.
Countless meals have been brought to familes. Millions of houses have been cleaned. Cars have been fixed, children tended, jobs found, fences mended, furniture moved, lawnmowers loaned, rides to hospitals given, yards raked, hands held, tears dried, spirits lifted, hearts strengthened and courage bolstered.

These programs exist because Father officially wants us to love.
And when we teach in that spirit miracles can happen.
I tell about one in an old post I wrote a long time ago called "Angels."

Sometimes though, we can forget how vital love is to our teaching and instead visit with a spirit of something else.
Like obligation.
Or turning in a complete report.
But if we forget the love part, things may happen that were never intended.
I remember once when it did.

We were relatively new in the church. My husband and I were doing the line upon line thing, trying hard to adjust to the truth and a culture very different from what we'd both known growing up.
And, not only that, since it was back in the 70's, we were adjusting to a culture very different from the one almost everyone else we knew was living in at that time.
Indeed, to a convert in the 70's, that non-drinking, non-smoking, dedicated to spouse, family, and service lifestyle made Mormons a peculiar people indeed.

Anyway, I was teaching 6th grade in a big city school. It was my my first full year. A recent graduate, everything was new and a challenge.
I was also pregnant. Again. And on purpose too.
As a matter of fact I was pregnant as a direct result of the truths we were learning about eternal families and children.
And even though he understood those truths about eternal families and had cooperated in this pregnancy endeavor, Larry was scared.

You see, up until recently he had been putting me through college while supporting our family all by himself.
With our young kids it was almost impossibly hard to come up with the additional money needed for my tuition and books, but Larry and I had this deal about school.
I had a dream you see. I wanted to finish college and become a teacher.
The bargain with Larry was that he would pay for my dream and support us all and that after graduating I would teach and help with an extra income.

Now he was afraid that if we had another baby I would want to quit teaching to stay home with the baby. Then he'd have all of us plus one more mouth to feed. All by himself again.
I assured him that I'd keep teaching for years to come.
(As it turned out that was a lie. Those teaching years came after a sizeable gap of staying home with babies and working part-time from home.)

You see, (Insert Heavenly Father/ World culture clash here), we already had two kids. A girl and a boy.
And since it was the '70's, this was the "perfect" family according to all the experts.

The experts were "population explosion" scientists who were yelling their heads off every night on the news. This was the "Cause," with a capital C, of the day.
Those in the know agreed that the world was heading for certain disaster in the next decade because there were just too many people!
There was no room, no food, no water, no medicine! Famine would engulf every continent causing wars that would end all life as we knew it.
There would be no dawn of the millenium!
And it had nothing to do with computers crashing around the world either.

The scientists were sure. People had to stop having babies! Or certainly at least more than two per couple. "Replacement offspring" I think they were called by someone.

In this climate even some of our own family members expressed dismay upon learning of the coming of our third baby.
When I think about that it still stings.
Casual acquaintances felt the need to remark on our growing family.
"No responsible person would consider more than two offspring," was the comment a colleague made to me upon hearing of our coming baby.
With our next pregnancy I began to say, "The world needs all the kids like mine it can possibly get."

But we were beginning to learn to listen to a higher authority.
It seems Heavenly Father thinks babies are a joy and a blessing. He thinks enough room was made on earth for all of his children who need to live here.
He's blessed those who are able to become parents with a wonderful gift.
And spirits waiting to come to earth are given a most precious gift of their own when born into loving homes where the truths of the gospel are being taught.
And the truth is that there are those who are waiting.

So, here I am. Wife and mother, new teacher, eight months pregnant. Trying to live truth. And finding out that living truth isn't always easy.
It's Thursday afternoon after a hard week at work and I'm dead on my feet.

I walk into our unbelieveably messy living room at 4 0'clock, hot on the heels of my unbelievably messy kids, rushing to get dinner started while connecting with them and their day.
Larry was no help because he worked until 11 on Thursdays.
I'd need to keep some supper ready for him. He'll be dead tired too.

The phone rings as I'm making something that involves macaroni and cheese and hamburger.
It's my visiting teacher. She also happens to be the bishop's wife. The dinners she cooks involve fresh asparagus and homemade bread.

I need to include a bit of explanation here.
The bishop's family lived on the "other" side of the ward. Across a certain avenue. I called it the "OS." Our home teacher lived over there too.
Our home teacher was a bio-medical engineer. His next door neighbor was also in our ward. He was a lawyer.
That part of our ward had big, beautiful, never messy houses or kids.
They also had beautiful, never messy moms who didn't work outside the home.

Our side of the ward had little houses.
In addition, my little house was also usually messy.
"Other side" had huge families who took up whole rows in church where everyone matched and nobody ever had a hair out of place.
My little family of four sometimes attended church with unmatched socks.

I just knew that every single one of those living on the "OS" had been Mormons all their lives and their ancestors pulled handcarts across the desert to get them here. They were born knowing how to be LDS.
I always felt inadequate when compared with them.
Even though it was only me doing the comparing.

So, new in the gospel me says a cheery hello to the bishop's perfectly competent wife who's on the phone.
She wants to schedule a time for her visiting teaching.

Crestfallen but thinking fast I suggest Monday after school.
That will give me the weekend to get this mess cleaned up.
Our little house had that awful, modern, "open" architecture concept where you could see practically into every room from the front door, including any dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. There was no easy way to hide dirty secrets. Clean-up was a major undertaking.

Back to the phone call.
"How about tomorrow after school?" she suggested brightly instead.
"No, no, no.  Friday afternoon won't work for me." I replied, panic building.  "What about Tuesday?"
"Tuesday's not good," she chirped.
"Sunday after church? I suggested. I looked down over my baby big belly to see that the floor needed to be mopped.
At least I could manage the floor on Saturday.

"No, Sunday won't work." she said.  "We have a missionary farewell to go to."
"Oh, I know what!" she went on without taking a breath,  "I'll stop by for just a quick visit before you leave for work tomorrow morning!"
Then it came.
She continued brightly, "I'll have to get up early but it can't be helped. Tomorrow's the last day of the month and I have to "get you" so I can turn in my visiting teaching report."

"Sister, tomorrow before work's really not a good time," I stammered.

"You'll be doing me a big favor," she said, "I'd really appreciate it."  "And since I know how busy mornings can be getting kids off to school, I'll only stay just a minute. Thanks so much. See you at 6:30."

I hung up the phone.
Later at 11:00 that night I was mopping.
I was also thinking about visiting teaching.
Tears were streaming down my tired cheeks and dropping onto the dry part of the floor. I leaned over my big belly to wipe them off.
Larry would be home soon, thank goodness. I'd better go heat up some now congealed mac and cheese.
I hoped he wouldn't be too tired to lift some hanging hands and strengthen some weak knees.

Upon reflection I decided that a lot of things were not right on that Thursday night so long ago.
To start with, Christlike attitudes were missing at both ends of that phone call.

I, for one, assumed that I couldn't be honest with someone the Lord had sent to help me.
I didn't even really know the Bishop's wife, had never taken the time to get to know her, but I assumed that she felt herself above me and would judge me.
Now I wonder what she might have said if I had explained my situation that night. Is it possible that she would have understood completely?
I wonder if I missed making a lifelong friend.

But then maybe she too needed to think a bit about the importance of truly knowing and loving the women she was to teach.
And about the monthly reports and where they should fit in as a priority.

Perhaps there's something that we all should keep in our hearts as we fulfill our sacred callings.
Perhaps we should never forget that the programs of the church are put in place to strengthen the members. Not the other way around.

Yes, the spirit was missing in two hearts that evening.
So the purpose of the divinely inspired Visiting Teaching program wasn't realized.

It seems it can't be done witthout love.

I pray that heavenly Father will help me so that it won't happen again.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Messy Fish Was a Big Help

Sometimes a simple story can prove to be a help throughout a lifetime.
Once I was blessed with one quite by accident.

For years I used to play audio tapes in the car on the way to and from school. These were usually church talks and scriptures which made the commute more productive and traffic jams better than just a waste of time.

I remember particularly a church tape made by Brother John Bytheway, a talented and very popular youth speaker.
At least I'm pretty sure that it was Brother Bytheway. I know that I've listened to many of his wonderful talks.
However, with my now sieve-like memory it's hard to be sure of much anymore. It could have been another talented and popular church speaker I suppose.
All I know for certain is that the helpful idea wasn't mine.

In any case, I thank Brother Bytheway, or whomever, for this one thought that's been such a comfort and a caution over the years.
It's prodded me to have patience in my marriage and indeed in all dealings with the opposite sex.
It's the "messy fish" concept.
Here's the main idea as I recall it. With lots of added embellishment probably.
I can't remember.

Suppose that a young woman was having some friends over for a small dinner party.
Included among the guests was her "one true love" with whom she had fond hopes of an eternal relationship. Also invited was her BFF girlfriend and her date for the evening.
This young woman had prepared her most delicious dinner which included a baked fish dish that was "to die for" as they say. She was hoping to show off her domestic skills.
Everything was going well. The table looked beautiful.
She called her guests to sit in the candlelight and began to put the entree on the plates to bring from the kitchen.
Then as she served the last delicate piece of fish, it broke into several pieces on the way from spatula to plate!
Thankfully though, there was no actual harm done. Just appearance. Same delicious taste, same size portion, only broken.
She plated it, covered it artfully with parsley, and brought it to the table with the other beautiful plates. She put it at her own place at the lovely table.
All was delicious and everything went well.

Fast forward to next weekend.
Now "one true love" was showing off his considerable skills at the barbeque grill.
The same people were invited but this time the fish was his renowned marinated and mesquite grilled creation for which he was becoming famous among family and friends.
The rustic outdoor picnic table was perfect for the occasion and a fire pit cast a romantic glow over all.
When the mesquite masterpiece was done, the chef called for the plates to be brought to the grill.
He placed a beautiful piece of fish on each plate. But as he picked up the last one it broke into several small pieces.
Isn't that just the way with fish?
But again, no harm done. Same delicious taste, same size portion, just broken.
He scooped them up.
Then he proudly carried the last two plates to the table where he put the messy fish in front of his intended.
He sat down waiting for the rave reviews.
Everything was delicious and the reviews were indeed raves.

But this time all did not go quite so well.
Now there seemed to be a problem.

The problem was that the young woman's feelings were hurt.
Plus, an additional problem was that he had no idea why her feelings were hurt, and she had no idea that he had no idea.

You see, it never occurred to him that "messy fish" shouldn't be served to a person's true love when there was an unbroken piece to be had.
Or served to any guest for that matter.
It also certainly never crossed his mind that somehow an unbroken fish serving was some sort of love sign.
In his male brain, "messy fish" never had anything to do with love. How could it?
(Perhaps it's the testosterone.)

Then again it never occurred to her that he didn't even notice that one serving was messy. He only noticed same size, same taste.
It also never crossed her mind that it didn't even register with him last week, when he was at her table, that messy fish was not served to a guest, especially him!

To her, serving an imperfect portion when a perfect one was to be had was a sign of disregard and lack of affection.
She certainly would never do such a thing! Especially to her "one true love."
(Estrogen increases brain waves, I believe.)

Well, it turns out that this messy fish thing causes major misunderstanding between the sexes.
"Messy fish" is just a catchphrase, so to speak, for real life situations that occur all the time.
It's too bad too.
Because life would go much more smoothly in the relationship department if men and women would remember a few basic "messy fish" principles.

Like, men and women are different.
They're basically, fundamentally, not identical.
They see life from a different place.
Not a "wrong" place either.  Just another one.

For instance, some things are really important to a woman's very identity which men barely recognize.
Things like the skill and grace with which she treats guests.
Or the appearance of her home.
For instance, comfortable chairs are good but do they co-ordinate tastefully?
Has she used intelligence and care to create a lovely sanctuary for those who live with her?
Is the paint color just right?
Then too, is the appearance of her children up to accepted local standards?
Strangely, even the appearance of a husband who is usually a grown-up can often affect her personally.

Yes, I am aware of what century this is.
And I do know that women do much of the world's most important work and have many weighty matters on their minds.
I can only call it like I see it.
And I'll bet that lady judge you had dealings with last week made her 6 year old son change his shirt before he left for school just because it didn't match his pants. He didn't understand because he'd already put on a clean one like she'd told him. This stuff starts young.

In fact I was reminded of this strange phenomenon just the other day when one of my daughters asked yet again, "Ma, how come you let Dad go around needing a haircut?"
In my defense I had tried to talk him into getting one the day before, to no avail by the way.
And yet no one has ever asked Larry in his entire lifetime, "Hey Buddy, why haven't you done something about your wife's hairdo?"

This subject also brings to mind one of the first dates I ever had with husband Larry.
Which coincidentally included my first "messy fish" experience with him.

He was a big deal college student and I was still in high school. So I was thrilled when he invited me to attend something called, "Winter Nationals."
This turned out to be some sort of gosh-awful drag racing event held at a horrible, dusty, windblown track out in the scorpion infested Arizona desert boondocks.
I had never heard of it.
Larry and his buddies loved it.

It was a daylong affair so I had graciously offerred to pack a picnic lunch.
Then, despite my youth, I carefully prepared potato salad, fried chicken, and chocolate cupcakes. Our lovely picnic was packed with color co-ordinated paper goods in an attractive wicker picnic basket.

Lunchtime came and Larry said he was indeed hungry.
Yet he remained on the crowded bleachers, eyes and ears glued to those crazy, ear splitting "dragster" races.
I was puzzled.
What about our picnic?
He asked me to just bring it to him.
So I did.

I handed a beautiful plate up.
There, artfully arranged and garnished, was the potato salad, fried chicken, sweet pickles and two kinds of olives, (one with pimento), along with two color coordinated napkins. I was saving the cupcakes for dessert. Chocolate, because I had learned it was his favorite.  I prefer vanilla.

He stopped race watching long enough to look at his lunch.
An expression spread over his face which said, "Is this something from another planet?"
Then he gazed in embarrassment around the crowded bleachers filled with his buddies.
He hurried down the bleachers, trying to hide the food. Then he said in a frantic whisper, "I thought you were bringing bologna sandwiches and a bag of chips!"

After all these years, when that memory comes to mind, it still stings.
And afterward I begin to question the wisdom of certain choices I've made in my life.

But then I remember it's just the "messy fish" thing.

You see, sometimes it's odd what's tied to a woman's deepest feelings.
Sometimes not appreciating them can mean the same as not appreciating her.
Men would be wise to take note. They'd be even wiser to figure out what some of those "oddities" are.

And women may be wise to understand that just because men don't get it doesn't mean they don't love them.

Issues like whether or not his "Surprise!" visiting mother had the good towels or the camp towels to use in the guest bathroom is a case in point.

The family was running around trying to clean up before the doorbell rang.
He was asked to put towels. That's what he did.
Towels are for drying off.
He didn't understand that they are also a sign to his mother of whether or not his wife is a competent human being.
He didn't get it that putting ratty, unmatched camp towels in the guest bath for his mother to use was showing lack of support for all the things that his wife does to make a good life for him and his children. For which she risked her life to bear by the way.
He didn't understand that putting camp towels in the guest bath was stabbing his wife in the back when she was counting on him to cover it instead.

He got the camp towels from the dryer, he explained after he figured out that he'd done something really bad, which took a while.
"They were clean!" he yelled.
He really thought it was just about drying off.
What an idiot!

Yes, "Messy fish" is a big idea.
A sincere thanks to Brother Bytheway or whomever for it.
It certainly deserves some careful consideration by both sexes.

Figuring it out, or at least factoring it in, may turn out to be a tremendous help in life.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sometimes It's The Alarm Clock

I've been thinking about marriage of late.
Maybe it's because Larry and I seem to be really, really, really, married since we both retired.
Twenty four seven as they say. That's how much time we spend together now.
I must admit that on occasion that's nice, but now and then I'm reminded of hard things.
Sometimes when that happens I find that issues from long ago drift to the surface.

One thing that drifted was a time when Larry was behaving like an insensitive lout.
It was back when we lived in the mountains.
I was teaching in a small rural district 17 miles from our little house in the big woods. Larry was driving his beloved 18 wheelers for a highway construction company in a small town about 60 miles away.
So all of us, parents and girls, had a bit of a commute to school and work every day.

Well, Larry had to get up at around 3:00 AM in order to make it to his work on time. The girls and I could sleep till 5:00.
Logically the alarm clock was located on Larry's side of the bed so he could rise and shine when it clanged.
The deal was that he would reset the alarm for the rest of us who then could get those extra two hours of sleep before we had to be up and at it too.

Here's where Larry's insensitive loutish behavior comes in to play.
About twice a week he would forget to reset the alarm!

This caused panic, rushing, missed hairdoing, and or breakfasts among three lovely women he was supposed to care about.

It also caused me to begin to have misgivings and dark thoughts about the depth of love and committment felt by my spouse for me and his entire family.
How could he be so selfish!
How could he not be concerned about our lives and issues!
How could he not care!
And then...even darker.
He never thinks about anyone but himself!
How could I have ever chosen him as an eternal companion!

This biweekly, husbandly, unforgiveably selfish forgetfulness and subsequent wifely murmuring and dark thinking went on for a couple of weeks.

Then there was a breakthrough that I believe was heaven sent.

It was Saturday.
Our family had just made the 50 mile drive down the mountain to do our shopping at the big box discount store in the closest small town. As usual everyone took off on their own as soon as we passed through the doors.
I was drifting through the aisles with my cart when a section devoted to alarm clocks caught my eye.
There they stood all in a row. Wind-up, electric, radio, lighted, plain. One was shaped like a birdhouse.
It was quite a selection.
I slowed down and stopped to think for a minute.
Then I reached out and chose a $6 wind up.

Sunday night I opened the clock box.
I set the alarm for the time when the girls and I needed to get up and put it on my side of the bed.

Then a miracle occurred!

We had no more loutish behavior from Larry.
There were no more uncharitable dark thoughts from me.

I went off to work loving my spouse once again.
He began to look cuter to me.
He seemed to speak more kindly.
Now there was love in his eyes where before there was only selfish indifference!

Now for some very profound marital advice from someone married 50 years.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mrs. Wagher's Rules

Dear Kind Readers,
I've been blessed with some adversity of late.
Included were a couple of hospital stays that put a kink in my usual writing routine.
So for now I'm continuing to revise some older posts that are full of typos and other errors.
Here's one from five years ago that had lots.

Bless you for your patience. Hope to be back at it full geezer strength soon.
Thank you especially for the kind comments. They give me hope that I may still be of use.
May Heavenly Father always hold you close.

Mrs. Wagher's Rules

I’ve never been a fan, as a teacher or a parent, of having lots of rules.
It’s always seemed better to teach procedures instead.
Procedures simply are the way we do things in our particular classroom or family.

For instance, at school, if you want your paper graded and posted, it goes in the tray by the door, never on my desk.
Everyone understands that if you put it anywhere but the tray it may magically disappear and no amount of "I put it on your desk, Mz Dub! " will get you credit.

At home, if you’re going out on Friday night, tell us where you’ll be, when you expect to be in, and be sure to call if you’ll be late.
Everybody knows, including your friends, that if you're late and don't call you may be embarassed by your father who's come looking for you in the wee hours after the one when you said you'd be home.
That sort of thing.

So we never had curfews for our own kids and the rules in my classroom were generally only two. The rest were procedures.
These were the rules.

Mrs. Wagher's Rules
     1. Do your job.
     2. Let everyone else do theirs.

I never found a classroom situation from pencil sharpening to spit wads that wasn’t covered by these two simple sentences.

However at some schools it was policy to post a detailed list of every single expectation. This included hoops to jump should you need the bathroom. They wanted specifics. Administrators would look for them when coming in to evaluate the teacher.

This was terribly annoying but I came up with a list that was dutifully posted.
Not even one has anything to do with permission to go to the bathroom.
And because these rules were right there in front of me every day I also decided to used them as required lesson plans. Two birds you know.

Anyway the list was based on years of observing my kids and the problems they faced. Many of which, it seemed to me, occurred because nobody was modeling basic fundamentals about how to live a productive life.
Sadly, some of my students lived with the effects of drugs, alcohol, incarceration, and promiscuity in their parents and siblings every day.

We had many an interesting discussion on these topics I can assure you.
Here they are. They're not listed in order of importance.

Mrs. Wagher’s Rules That Lead to a Happy life

1. Treat every person you meet the way you want to be treated.
    This one's been around a while.
    It's in direct opposition to "Get yours first then get out fast," which was the favorite
    philosophy of one of my students.

2. Don’t ever do ANYTHING that might get you sent to jail.
    (And perhaps not even the principal.)
    Don’t Hang Around People Who Do.

3. Get someone wonderful to marry you.
    Treat this person right. Don't cheat. Don't get divorced.
    Hint: Remember that wonderful people usually like to marry someone who's also
    that way. This can mean a lot of work for you.
    Hint Hint: You probably won’t find wonderful hanging out on a bar stool.  

4. Be of service.
    Do this every day.
    Help other people, animals, the earth, whatever.
    Just lend a hand.
    Your own happiness depends on this.

5. Don’t do drugs. Ever.
    Don’t drink alcohol if you're underage.
    Then, as an adult, if you must choose to use alcohol at all
    never drink to excess.
    No matter what your age never drink even a little and then drive.
    Smoking isn’t a good idea either.

6. Remember that whatever else you become matters less than being a good
    spouse and parent.
    Make this a priority. It will be hard, inconvenient, and expensive but still do it.

7. Have fun with your family.
    Have more fun with them more often than with any of the other people you know.
    If you have to sacrifice to pay for the fun, do it.
    Don’t put this off.

8.  Get a piece of paper that says you know how to do something that pays well.
     Try to make this something you like to do.
     This could be a college diploma or a trade license.
     Doctor or plumber, it doesn't matter.
 9.   Learn how to work.
       Show up on time. Show up every time you're supposed to show up.
       Don't goof off. Don't quit until the job's done.
       Then Get Up And Go To Work Every Single Day Even When You Don’t Want To.

 10.   Believe.
         Find the truth. Have faith. Go to church.
         A church that teaches people to love and serve others will lead toward
         (Research backs this one up.)

11.  Learn how to do some useful things.  (Cook, fix a car, build a cabinet, sew, etc.)
       Keep learning more useful things all your life.
       This will be a blessing more often than you can imagine.

12.  Learn how to handle money.
       Don’t go into debt.
       Save even if you don’t make much.
       Give money away regularly.

13. Never forget that casual sex and pornography will not lead to

Of course these rules are not the same ones I could post for a class of students who were all members of the church.

For them I could say that the first rule of happiness would be to pattern their lives on the Savior.
Have faith in Christ, learn of Him, and follow His teachings always.
This leads to joy in this life and for all eternity.

But for those of Father's children of many faiths, or perhaps no faith at all, who came through my door each day, the class list of simple ideas proved to be useful.
Some of my students even found them revolutionary.
And one or two were kind enough to say they made a difference.
I hope they still do.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Are All Men Created Equal?

"All men are created equal," is an idea that changed the world. 
Yet, despite it being such a lofty principle, special ed teachers like me may have a little difficulty with that “created equally” thing.  

It’s because we work with precious kids who might seem to be a little bit “less equal” right from the start. 
You see, some of our students are blind or deaf. 
Some have broken bodies or are unable to think or communicate. 
Some have been abused and have been left to deal with emotional issues. 
Many have been affected by alcohol or drugs even before birth. 
Virtually all of them have difficulty dealing with traditional school. 
So for sure, that “All Men Are Created Equal” thing doesn’t always ring true for us.

I really struggled with this for a long time. 

It tested my faith to be honest.
Because often I just couldn’t figure out what God was thinking. I thought He loved us all the same.
Then one particular day at school I began to consider some possibilities at a time when I needed understanding most.

I was working with a young girl in a wheelchair who had multiple disabilities. 

In addition to not being able to walk, she also couldn’t hear or speak and had limited vision. 
She’d been my student for months now but suddenly one morning my heart began to ache for her. 
She started to drool and as I leaned over to wipe her lovely face my thoughts cried out to Heavenly Father. 

“Why, Father? Why is this precious young girl living her life like this? 
I thought you loved all of your children. Do you love her? She’s perfectly innocent. Why is she like this? I don’t understand you!”

Then, through that angry aching at our Father, from somewhere inside my head, came thoughts or impressions. 

Maybe they were things I’d heard or read, or felt.  I don’t really know. It didn't really matter.
Right at that moment this is what went through my thoughts.

“Some of these are valiant spirits who volunteered to come to earth in this manner so that “Great things may be required at the hands of their fathers.”

“Some came only to get bodies as they are mighty, proven spirits who didn’t require the lessons of this life.”

“Some are mighty warriors being protected from the adversary who knows them but has no power to tempt them as they now are.”

Slowly a calm feeling began to replace that ache in my heart. 

And even though I didn’t know if any of those things were true or even possible, it made no difference.
That wasn't the source of the calm.

Peace came because after those thoughts I was given a great gift of knowledge.
And that knowledge made all the difference. It was true and unshakeable and it's sustained me ever since.
Now I was absolutely, positively, undeniably sure of one thing.

It was simply this.


Yes, there are facts we don’t have. 

But Father has all the facts and he knows everything. 
He’s promised that He is a God of justice and will take care of what we see as injustice from our perspective in this life. 


Father says that he is no “respecter of persons.” He says that all of his children are of equal “value” to him. He says we are all precious and loved by Him.


Then I thought about the scriptures…… Heavenly Father's thoughts.  Isn’t that what they are?
In the Book of Mormon we’re told, “Thou shall not esteem one flesh above another.” 

Now there’s an enlightened and life changing idea for you! 
That one goes light years past “all men are created equal” doesn’t it?

Blind, deaf, broken or whole. Rich, poor, male or female. Powerful or humble. Strong and healthy or weak and frail. Educated or unlearned. Black, white, red or yellow. Perhaps even born and unborn.

All of equal VALUE. 

All esteemed the same by our eternal Heavenly Father and so should be by each of us. 
That’s what it says.

Yes, on that day I began to believe that we’ll see each of God’s children restored, their bodies and minds whole. 

He made that part of the plan. 
I began to believe that great blessings will come to each of my special kids and all will agree that Heavenly Father showed perfect love and perfect justice to every one of them. 
Including my beautiful student in the wheelchair.

Love. Justice. Equality. 

Opportunity for growth. 
Every one of God’s children will have it. 
Everyone loved with perfect love.  We'll all see it clearly one day.

Knowing that helped me. I hope it helps you too.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Word to the Wise

*This is an old holiday post from several years ago. I wish you all a very blessed Christmas.

The desert summer's blistering heat is over!  Yeah!
That muffled noise the mountain folks can hear coming from Arizona's Valley of the Dadburned Sun is the cheering of the summer survivors. 
Now the days are glorious and the nights cool, just as fall is in the rest of the country.
The difference is that we lowlanders are now looking forward to planting season.
In the dead of winter.

Soon the petunias and johnny-jump-ups will roll into the big box stores and we can get to planting. 
Seven months of wonderful are on the way! 
Just yesterday the landscaping crews were seeding the neighborhood parks with winter rye. In a few weeks our parched desert eyes will feast on green pastures. (In December and January by the way.) 
When Christmas comes around we'll hear lawn mowers whirring and smell that fresh, new mown, green grass smell. 

Some people say they just can't get in the mood for the holidays with flowers all around instead of snow. 
Well that's ridiculous! The climate in the Holy Land is more like ours after all. There's no need to be singing about white Christmases and feeling left out and spiritless! 
I've often felt the words to that old song should be changed anyway. What about this?
            Bright Christmas

            I'm dreaming of a bright Christmas
            With every flower pot I pass
            Where swimming pools glisten,
            And children listen,
            To Dad who's outside mowing grass.

            I'm dreaming of a bright Christmas
            With every barbeque I light.
            May your days be merry and right,
            And may all your Christmases be bright.

Same tune with more appropriate words don't you think?

Anyway, the coming holidays bring thoughts of gifts, those to be given and those received. 
During this season one of the gifts I'm most grateful for is a particular counsel Heavenly Father gave to his children in the scriptures. 
The 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants gives lots of helpful info on health. Included is the warning that alcohol and tobacco are not good for man. 
A word to the wise so to speak. And years and years ahead of common knowledge, too.

You see, I'm especially grateful because I grew up in a household with an alcoholic. That's easy to say, but only those of you who have had that experience will know what it means. I've heard it said that there's no hell like the hell of living with alcoholism. Somebody who lived with it probably said it. 

During my youth, Christmas was usually filled with extra-special alcohol induced pain. 
How grateful I am for the loving counsel Father gave us that has spared my children and grandchildren from the same thing. Because of His advice my holiday season has overflowed with family, friends and love for forty years now. 
Even so, it's strange how those dark times sometimes still haunt.

Then too, once or twice I recall being reminded that so many others still haven't gotten the message of that great gift.  Once was back when I was teaching high school. 

I remember sitting at my computer ready to take roll before the second bell. 
Kids were coming in, saying cheerfully, "Hey Mz Dub," as they passed. There was lots of the usual jabber as they made their way to their seats.
I recall that we'd been having some interesting discussions in our "Lifeskills" classes about underage drinking, a common recreational activity among my students.
But despite my best efforts they remained unconvinced of my point of view.

My kids all knew my story and my religion and were not shy about expressing their opinion that I didn't know how to have a good time and that I was too "churchy" etc.
I told them that I did too know how to have a good time, and I didn't need alcohol to do it either.
And "churchy" was beside the point because not only was drinking illegal for them, what might start out as just a little fun often ended up in a thousand different versions of disaster.
I had expounded on many of those versions to no avail.

Anyway, this day as the kids came in I heard snippets of conversation about the latest episode of somebody's favorite TV show, "Cops." 
A student was telling about the usual drunken brawls, beating up of wives and girlfriends and subsequent arrests when another kid walked by and remarked, "I've seen that show. All those fools on it are either drunk or high." 
The first kid thought for a bit and then said, "Hey, you know you're right." Others piped up in agreement. 
Then from across the room a girl chimed in, "Yeah, and their idiot, wasted girlfriends with the black eyes and broken arms don't press charges because they always say "I still love you baby!" 

Well, not being stupid, I stood up, turned around slowly, and called out dramatically to the entire class,
"And let their lives be a lesson to you!" 

They all got quiet and just looked at me. 
No arguments. Just silent stares and contemplation.

Best teaching moment all week.
Who says TV can't be educational?

Another was a few years ago on Christmas Eve. 
We had traveled to my brother Matt and sister-in-law Beth's house for their traditional annual party. 

Everyone looks forward to this night. It's always so lovely. The house is gorgeous, the food's superb, and best of all we get to see family we haven't seen in months. My brother Mark from California had been able to make the trip this year which made it even more special. 
We arrived loaded down with packages and food and went in through the crowd hugging all the way. 
I didn't see Mark anywhere but heard his booming voice call for me to come out to the patio where someone told me he was grilling the most enormous prime rib roast anyone had ever seen. I finally spotted him over in a dark corner by a huge grill, surrounded by people gawking at that stupendous roast. Mark takes great pride in his grilling and produces some astounding results. 
I was heading toward him with a smile, he opened up his arms to give me a hug, and just as I reached him I tripped over an ice chest full of his secret ingredients hidden in the shadows. I landed face first on a large saucepot which cracked me hard across the bridge of my nose, causing blood to start trickling down my face. It created quite a ruckus considering that it didn't hurt much. 

Anyway, I was escorted to safety, plied with ice packs and generally made a fuss over. 
Even so, after a remarkably short while my eyes began to swell. People remarked that both were turning black. When they were practically swollen shut I was made to go to the emergency room, as "Kath! You look just terrible!" was pronounced for the hundredth time. 
Larry and I reluctantly left the party to head to the nearest ER. We hoped to make it quick and be back in time for the guitar playing and last chorus of "Feliz Navidad". 

Well, we walked into a jammed packed ER, full of the injured remnants of too much Christmas cheer, certain now, considering the crowd, that this wasn't going to be a quick trip.

After a long wait my name was called and I went up to a weary looking receptionist. 
She took a look at my face and asked how much I'd had to drink. 
I told her I didn't drink at all. 
She said, "Oh, your husband's the drinker." 
I said, "No, he doesn't drink either. It was a prime rib roast that my brother brought from California." 
She gave me a strange look. 
"You had to be there," I replied.
I was sent in to a treatment room where a nurse came in to take my blood pressure. She looked tired. 
After one glance she said, "Been drinking have we?" 
I explained that I didn't drink, neither did my husband and it was my brother's prime rib roast. 
She shook her head and left.

The doctor came in and from across the room said accusingly, "You're nose is broken."

I replied, "I don't drink."

He said, "Tell your husband not to drink either. Do you want to press charges?"
I said, "No, he was in the house, I was out on the patio. It was my brother's prime rib roast from California. I swear." 

He sighed wearily and bandaged my nose.

When they let me go they made me ride in a wheelchair to the still packed waiting room. 
As I rolled in I could hear people gasp as they looked at my black and swollen eyes. I looked for Larry and finally spotted him clear across the crowded room.

I really don't have to tell you the rest, do I? 
It's just too obvious.

Of course I stood up shakily and called out loudly,   "It's okay baby!   I still love you!" 

As I was checking out I heard a kind of scuffle and recognized Larry's distressed voice earnestly explaining to the people around him.  "I swear!   I wasn't even in the same room!   It was her brother's prime rib roast from California!"

As we made our way to the car I could tell he was not amused.

I was amused though. 
In fact I thought it was downright funny. 

But more than anything I was grateful. 
As we walked together to the car on this Christmas Eve.......  Larry scolding,  me laughing.......  I was so grateful for the guidance given in the scriptures by a loving Father. 
That word to the wise.

Grateful that for forty years no hateful, piercing, words have been spoken in our home due to drinking. And alcohol hasn't been the cause of shame, embarrassment, lost jobs, arguments, fistfights, DUI citations, liver damage, broken promises, hearts or homes.  None of us has killed anyone on the highway. Nobody's been arrested, spent thousands on bail, fines and lawyers or contracted an STD while drunk. No one's had one too many and become a parent before a home was ready for a new life either.

None of that has happened at our house simply because we all truly believe that Father said alcohol wasn't good for man. 
Check it out in the scriptures. 
Essentially Father said, "Hey Kids, I love you. It isn't wise to use alcohol and tobacco."  
And He told his beloved children about this long before science finally agreed with Him.

Think of the broken lives that could be avoided if all of us heeded just that one, small bit of Father's counsel. That "Word of Widom" thing concerning alcohol and tobacco.

You're still thinking aren't you? 
That's because that much sorrow is simply too great to be measured. 

So, thank you Father, for the Word of Wisdom. 
From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much.
I will always be grateful.
It's one of the best gifts ever.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thanksgiving "How To" for Kids

I'd like to dedicate this post to those in my very favorite category of human being.
The ones who aren't finished growing yet.
After teaching for 27 years, what I miss most are the beautiful faces, hundreds of them, looking up at me, so full of possibility that it often brought tears to my eyes.
May God bless and keep them always.

Thanksgiving is just around the bend.
And with the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie come thoughts of some of the other blessings in life.
But just thinking about being thankful isn't enough, and that's a really important thing to know.
Being grateful requires action.

There's a story in the scriptures that illustrates this principle.
It's the account of the Savior's healing of the ten lepers. You know the one.
It's where Jesus healed ten men who were dying of leprosy. Back then leprosy was a terrible, disfiguring disease, and sadly there was no cure or effective treatment.
With mercy and love Christ blessed each of the suffering men. They were spared a long, lingering death and given a new lease on life.
But even so, after this mighty miracle, only one of the ten returned to say, "Thank you."

It was then that the Savior taught a profound lesson about how to live a happy life.
If you like blessings you'll need to remember it.
This was the lesson.


I was puzzled a bit when I first read this.  Why did Jesus care that the nine were ungrateful?   Were his feelings hurt?  Did He want a reward?
After some pondering I decided that those couldn't be the reasons. Christ was never concerned about his own welfare. He was all about doing good things for others.
Finally I understood.

With just two questions Jesus taught us all one of the most important things in life.
The importance of gratitude.

You see, He knew that people never find happiness without it.
And even though He had healed the nine of their terrible affliction, now He was really worried about them.
Now He was worried because they didn't express gratitude or maybe even feel it.
The Savior knew that unless we recognize our blessings and give thanks we won't feel joy.
And aren't we taught, "Man is that he might have joy."
Those nine men were in danger of missing the whole point.

Like the Savior, President Monson understands gratitude.
He said;
"My brothers and sisters, do we remember to give thanks for the blessings we receive?
Sincerely giving thanks not only helps us to recognize our blessings, but it also unlocks the doors of heaven and helps us feel God's love.
A grateful heart, then, comes through expressing gratitude to our Heavenly Father for his blessings and to those around us for all that they bring into our lives. This requires conscious effort."

So, I guess all this makes saying "Thank you so much," a pretty big deal, huh?
"Unlocks the doors of heaven," I think the Prophet said.

Well, as it turns out, I happen to know some wonderful young people who might benefit from direct instruction on this very subject. They sometimes forget to say thank you properly.
These particular young folks I know are much loved by many. Those who love them hope they'll have a life filled with choice blessings. They hope heaven's doors will always be open for them.
And for that to happen they need to understand gratitude.

So, here are some simple tips on making that conscious effort the Prophet was talking about.
But first, it may help to imagine the feelings involved in a little story.

Suppose your best friend is having a birthday and you want to surprise them with a really special gift.
You go out of your way to get just the right thing. It's a jacket you know they've been wanting for ages. You save to buy it and just before your friend's big day you head out to shop for it. It takes three stores to find the right size!
You wrap it carefully with a big red ribbbon, take it over to your friend's house, and present it proudly.
You watch with excitement as the box is opened.
Your gift is put on with a smile and everybody in the family admires it.
But then your friend says not a single word of thanks. Not one.
The jacket is worn to school everyday.
But you never hear anything about it except when people say, "Cool jacket!" to your friend.

Now, here's a question.
How would you feel?
And here's another question to go with your answer to that one.

What will you be getting your best friend for their birthday next year?

You see, gratitude is a funny thing.
It has special powers. Superpowers even.
It's like a magnet.
It brings more good things into your life.
It attracts them.
Christ knew this.

So, next time you're grateful, do this.

**** Thank Heavenly Father first.
Every blessing, Every time. Don't forget.

***Then do this for the people who've been kind to you. (Which includes your annoying brothers and sisters.)
      ANY small service, such as loaning a pencil, opening a door, or saving a seat should receive an immediate;
"Smile" and "Thank you."

*** A larger kindness such as sharing lunch when you forgot yours, or taking care of your dog for the weekend, should receive;
Immediate "Sincere Smile" and "Thank You."
PLUS a Text, E-mail, or Phone call later the same day. (Hey, thanks again for the lunch!)

*** Large kindnesses such as the special birthday present, including you on a trip or vacation, anything that required significant planning, effort, or funds, should receive;

Immediate "Sincere Smile" and "Thank You."
PLUS the Text or E-mail (I had so much fun! Thanks!)
A Phone Call, or Thank You Note or Small Gift (Like a favorite candy bar) a couple of days later.
(Relax. All this is really easy. It'll only takes a few minutes. Seconds even.)

To sum up, it's the one, two, three of thank you.

* Pray to Father in gratitude first.
* Then one "thank you" for every small thing.
* Two for mediums.
* And three for the biggees.

This will bring amazing blessings into your life.
Heaven's doors will unlock.
And the superpowers of gratitude will kick in.
Like a magnet.

Try it right now.

(By the way, I've just fetched my "thank you" notes from the shelf where they were gathering dust. I remembered some gratitude of my own that needed showing.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Man Is That He Might Have Joy

I just watched an on-line video that inspired me.
It made me want to be a better person, to look for incredible opportunities, and to stop whining.
It was about surfing and skateboarding of all things.
And when you consider my age and physical condition this is amazing on several levels.
One amazement is that with my cyber-skills, I was able to come across this video in the first place. Second, since I can no longer walk, the subject matter is also a puzzle.

So, to explain, I happened to be looking for new inventions that would help broken, old people get into a car. That's when I cyber-stumbled into this amazing young man.

Seems there's this fella who was an avid surfer in California when he was a teenager. His name is Jesse. In fact he was ranked in the top 100 surfers in the world and had decided to become a professional. He was that good.

   *Just a note here. I know absolutely nothing about this sport but my entire desert family loves the beach. Vacations almost always include at least some time spent on them. And watching those crazy, dumb, brave kids, way, scary way, out there has always been a treat for everybody. Most of us usually watch while frolicking closer in on the sand and among the tide-pools. But now some of our younger, still dumber family members go way, scary way, out there too. Despite my objections. I've told them all that huge, hungry, animals and fish with big teeth live out there in the deep water but they don't listen.

Anyway, the surfers never fail to provide everybody with an exciting show.

Well, tragically, this talented young man I was telling you about suffered a terrible injury when surfing one day. A devastating injury that left him paralyzed. While still a teenager.

It's hard to even fathom the heartbreak and anguish that must have followed for him. Words just can't be found to describe the depth of those kinds of human feelings.
And perhaps somewhere in the middle of all that pain he may have wondered what sort of future lay ahead for him. He may have even questioned if life would ever be worthwhile again.
Everyone who loved him must have suffered terribly too.

But I doubt that anybody could even have imagined what actually happened.

You see, it turns out that this was one determined kid.

He loved surfing and wasn't about to give it up just because one wave sent him to a wheelchair.
You see, out there in the sun and sea he found joy. And he didn't plan on living a life without joy.
So, he figured out how to surf again.  Despite the difficulties. (You know, those difficulties that most people would say were insurmountable. Those ones.)
Then, after he began surfing again, he figured that there may be others like him, who are disabled physically, who'd like to surf too.
And maybe skateboard.

So now, year's later, you can be inspired by "Life Rolls On."  Check it out.  (If you happen to be a retired special ed teacher be prepared for tears.)
Watch some videos of hundreds of crazy surfers helping other crazy disabled kids and adults get from their wheelchairs onto surfboards. Watch the volunteers carefully paddle alongside them to catch a wave and ride in to shore.
Look at the expressions on all of their faces.
Then watch others in the adjacent skateboard park.
There a bunch of crazy skateboarder guys are teachers and spotters for other crazy kids who decided to do gravity defying, scary, impossible tricks while still sitting in their chairs. (Skateboards and wheelchairs both have wheels don't they?  So why not go sideways and sail off embankments in them?)
There's that same expression on everybody's faces again.

Now, it seems, there are many annual surfing and skateboarding events sponsored by the organization this young man started. All over the place.
Hundreds of disabled children and adults have been blessed by what they experienced at them.
They were blessed with joy.
A special kind of joy found in the freedom and excitement of movement. Joy found in being part of the sun, wind and sea. Joy found in pushing personal envelopes. Joy found in sports.
Some for the first and only time in their lives.

Now hundreds of the family and friends of those surfers and skaters have called down blessings on the heads of those who make these precious hours possible for the ones they love.
Thousands perhaps, have called down blessings on the young man who decided that being paralyzed was only an inconvenience to someone who finds joy in surfing.
Many more have been lifted just by the hearing of what he's done with his life.
I was.

Finding out about Jesse's story set me to wondering about some things.
First, I wondered if in the dark hours after his terrible injury he ever questioned whether his life would be worth living again.
If he did, I'm sure he doesn't question it anymore.
His accomplishments are incredible. He's made awesome contributions to humanity. He's lifted the spirits of hundreds and hundreds of Father's children.
All while paralyzed.

And then too, I couldn't help wondering about just one more thing.
I wondered if he would have been able to bring all these things to pass if he hadn't been injured in the first place.
That's something I plan to think about from my own chair.

I have no idea what religion this surfer dude is or what he believes. But I believe he'd make a good Mormon.
He already understands some really great gospel principles.
One is that service to others leads to happiness.
Father sent word about this in the scriptures.
   "Succor the weak, lift up the hands that hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." (DC 81:5)
   "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)

Another thing Jesse understands is joy.
It seems that joy is really important to Heavenly Father. He told us about that in the scriptures too.
And there's no asterisks with that joy thing either. There's nothing about being exempt due to extenuating circumstances.
It just says in Second Nephi,
     "Adam fell that man might be, and man is that he might have joy."

An apostle recently reminded us of this same kind of idea with his own inspired counsel, "Come what may and love it."
Not just endure it. Love it. Whatever happens, find the joy there.

I think Jesse also gets the message in the Book of Mormon about how Father wants us to treat each other.
"Thou shalt not esteem one flesh above another," it says.
I mean, "All Men Are Created Equal"  is a good start, but the Lord's thinking really says it all, doesn't it. Male/female, broken/whole, on two feet or on two wheels, pretty/plain, educated/unschooled, old/young, rich/poor, powerful/oppressed......... it makes no difference to our Father.
He loves us all.
And we, his children, are taught to esteem everyone equally. One man should not think himself above another it goes on to say.
Everyone is equally valued by Father.
Listen up, kids.

This young man's life story reminds me too of some other really important scriptural advice.
For those dark, tragic hours that sometimes come.
In the midst of the very darkest part of the darkest hours we experience in this life it may be good to remember it.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Because you see, you never know about tomorrow.

Joy may still be ahead.
Remember Father loves us all.
And He's a big fan of joy.

*And by the way, that young man is a world champion again. This time in adaptive surfboarding.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

What's Your Favorite Ride?

*It's Larry's birthday. This is a rewrite for him. But first a note.

Dear Larry,
Happy birthday to my old and honored friend and enemy.
We've been together since we were kids. 
Both of us bear the scars from many a remembered battle and some of those old wounds still caution us sometimes, should it come on to rain. 
Still, isn't it strange that there are billions of nice people on this planet, but if you were missing, just you alone, the whole world would be empty for me. 
I'd be lonely every day. No matter who else was there.

I couldn't be happy until I saw your face again. Until I sat beside you and held your hand.
Attila (Your Hun)

Thank you so much, Heavenly Father, for the gift of the Holy Temples and Eternal Marriage.
They make happiness possible.

Last Sunday one of the speakers at Sacrament meeting was our Stake President.
Among other things, he said a few words about how the purpose of life wasn’t intended to be centered around the accumulation of wealth.  
He said that it’s okay to work for the things money can buy, but chasing riches isn’t the same as providing well for yourself and your family. 
It seems that there’s a delicate balance involved here. It turns out that a life built on wealth alone won’t bring happiness.
I thought the President's choice of subject for his talk was kind of odd because I had recently been thinking about this very subject.

Wealth is indeed a funny thing.  
Scriptures are full of teachings about it.
It means different things to different cultures around the world, and to different people in the same culture or society. For some it’s having a 10 cow wife, while for others it’s about having really big numbers on a lot of little pieces of paper. 
Whatever it is, it’s hard to think of anything that’s caused more mischief for human beings since the beginning of time. 
Think about the betrayals, hatred, murders, and wars brothers and sisters have visited on each other just to get a bigger sparkly rock, shiny piece of metal, pile of bricks and boards, or patch of dirt than their neighbor. 
It all seems to be a big deal about “stuff,” even though it all really belongs to Heavenly Father anyway. “He who dies with the most toys wins,” seems to be the world’s motto. 
It may be more important to remember that “He who dies with the most toys, still dies.”

Anyway, Larry and I were talking about this when the subject of cars came up. A great car would be right up there with a 10 cow wife as far as wealth is concerned for him. 

He’s always loved cars. When we met it was because he was in a car club as a matter of fact. My Girl Scout group just happened to meet those car guys at Slide Rock near Sedona when I was 15. 

Well, he’s a geezer now and over his lifetime he’s had lots of different cars. A few were even new and nice. Among them have been sedans, pickups (some running), SUV’s, a couple of really great sports cars, and a 4 wheel drive Jeep named “Honey” that only went backwards when he finally sold it. Under protest, I might add.
It has occurred to me once or twice that he would have been able to afford a much better selection of vehicles if he hadn’t brought every single paycheck home since he was 20 years old. They all went to buy food, diapers, and shelter for his family.
But that’s another “wealth” issue we won’t discuss here.

Anyway, we started talking about his favorites, the ones most memorable, the finest “Ride” he’d ever owned. 

Out of all those vehicles, including two Mustangs (a 1965 convertible and a 1966 fastback), and one really hot, red 1987 Firebird, there was one he kept coming back to…..his first car. 

He was 16, had just gotten a license and paid 100 dollars for a 1946 Ford that was painted primer black, lowered, with an Oldsmobile grille. 
He’d worked the entire summer before his sixteenth birthday in the sweltering watermelon sheds in Glendale, loading melons into semi-trucks for 25 cents a ton. He earned enough to pay for that car, a year’s insurance and gas money. Gas was about 23 cents a gallon at the time. 
The front bench seat of that car was just springs with no upholstery. So he threw an old Indian blanket over it so people could sit without getting pinched. 
Something was wrong with the starter or battery, he can’t remember which.  In order to get it going he and his buddies would have to jump out and run alongside it, pushing until they built up enough speed for him to hop back in, pop the clutch and get her going. 
Tires were a real problem too. He didn’t have enough money to buy 4 at a time so at one point he had 4 different sizes on that car. He kept a kind of “tire shop” in the trunk, including a hand pump, tire tools, rims and lug wrenches. That way when the guys spotted a junk tire on the side of the road they could pick it up for later use. He says they could mount an old find in about 10 minutes.
( This tire thing puzzles me because I know Larry’s dad would never stand for us to let his grandkids drive around on bald tires… matter what it cost. I’m going to talk with him about this someday when I get to the other side of the veil.)
Once the husband of a friend of Larry’s mom saw this amazing vehicle, and when he was buying new tires for himself gave Larry his old ones.  Imagine 4 matching tires!!!  That was a big day I can assure you. 

Well, that heap went to the high school every day, the Dairy Crème after school, football practice and games, Lily’s Taco Shop on Saturday nights after dates, Thunderbird Park on weekends, everywhere the guys went until Larry was able to trade up a couple of years later. 
He'd found a 1950 Ford convertible, green with a white top. 125 dollars for that one. It had a black rag top and Larry wanted white, so he painted it with white shoe polish on advice from a friend. "There could be a problem with the color running," his friend said, "but it doesn’t rain much here anyway."

Out of all the cars he’s owned this first one seems to hold a special place in his heart. That second car comes close. 

I don’t have any idea where they would land on the wealth scale. 
I know they cost far less than any of the other vehicles he’s owned…even the junkers. 
All this made me think of a recent statistic I read about somewhere. 
Apparently, it seems that after a certain level of income, people report no increase in personal happiness with the addition of more money. 

So what makes a “fine ride” anyway? 

What makes people wealthy?  Is it just the “stuff?”
What was your finest ride?

Money….. wealth….. time spent gathering stones so to speak. It's something to consider.

Where do you stand?  Are you happy about it? 
Does Father think your attitude will bring you true joy?

Big questions with important answers. 

Think about it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Missionary Farewell

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything about death.
For those of us who know that miracle to be true,  or who maybe just think that it’s probably true,  or who even only hope desperately that it is true…. it changed everything about life too.

Some of us know that the short time we spend on this earth is not all there is.
Because we know, we don’t live with the philosophy of eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.
Yes, death comes to all, but because Christ broke the bands of death, life goes on ever after.
Not life as forever spirits either, or as angels with wings and halos, but as immortal beings with our own recognizable bodies.
Not even one hair will be lost.  That's a promise from Father.
Never to grow old, be filled with pain, or experience disease, infirmity, or death again.
Everyone we’ve ever loved will live again too. With every broken part mended.
We’ll be able to take them in our arms and hold them tight once more.

Indeed, no matter where you are on that path of knowing...... whether it’s for sure or just hoping it’s true..... it makes all the difference in how you spend your life.
An eternity is at stake after all.

I’d like to share a personal experience that shows this happening.
There are two men in my story and I’d like to ask that you pay special attention to them.
They both are examples of the kinds of things people do who are somewhere on that path of understanding the truth about what Christ did.

First of all I’d like to explain that my husband and I are what I like to call raggedy old converts. We didn’t grow up in the light. We didn’t grow up knowing. And becoming a Mormon turned out to be a process rather than an event for us. That line upon line, precept upon precept thing was surely no lie. Some things were easier to learn than others. Years after baptism we were still learning. We still are.

One thing we learned is that one of the most unique experiences of Latter Day Saints is that of sending a young missionary off on a mission.
The rest of the world really has no idea of all this means. And frankly, raggedy old converts may have some trouble of their own getting a grasp on this process.

I once heard a popular radio show host talking about Mormons on her nationwide broadcast about this very subject.
She was complimentary about the high standards that Latter Day saints live by, but she couldn’t understand how the Church could possibly get tens of thousands of young people to give up 18-24 months of their lives. These young people went off to traipse all over the world, living by the strictest rules, at their own expense, to preach the gospel in sometimes the most difficult circumstances. This happened right at the time of their lives when everyone else their age was having an endless party.
“Why would anyone do this?”she asked.

Well, a convert may have a few questions of their own.
Converts have no family history or experience with this sort of thing.
No one sang “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission” around their houses when they were little. And believe me, letting a beloved child go off to live with complete strangers, thousands of miles from home, communicating only through the mail for weeks at a time seems pretty much insane.
What happened to responsible parenting?
What about all the usual warnings? ‘‘Call as soon as you get there,” “Let us know when you’ll be home at night,” “Keep your phone on at all times so we can reach you."  Those kind of things?

Well, our middle daughter was the homebody in our family. She was the shy one who never liked to talk to strangers. Our only quiet kid…that one.  The one voted least likely to go off by herself to far places and to speak to others in only a foreign language.
As it turned out, sending that child on a mission was one of the most heartwrenchingly intense privileges and blessings of our lives.
Who knew?

It all started when this daughter, who had just graduated from college, came to us one day and quite out of the blue said, “I want to go on a mission.”
We were surprised to say the least.
Remember, this was that quiet introvert who spent most of her free time hanging out with her sister, and to whom home and family was where she was most comfortable in the world.
We were living in the mountains at the time, in the little house in the big woods as a friend once nicknamed it for us. We had come to rely on each other in a special way very different from the way we did when we lived in the big city. Our oldest kids were grown, neighbors were few, and up here the four of us were all we had.
We assumed that after college this daughter would soon marry and start her own family. We just hoped and prayed that it would be to someone who lived nearby.
Now a mission? Away from home? Maybe far away?
She was determined.
We were proud but anxious.
So preparations began.

One day, just a week or so before we were to take Beth to Utah, I was sitting in the teacher’s lunchroom at school.  Our principal, who was also LDS, walked in and sat next to me. He and his wife had returned not long before from taking their only son to the MTC.
I asked him what to expect.
He thought carefully and said; “Well, you’re in for the longest walk of your life.”
Getting really concerned I said to him, “Walk? Sarge, I have bad knees! I can’t walk that far! Can’t I park close?”
He said, “It’ll be alright. Don’t worry,” and refused to say more.
This didn’t help a bit.

So when the day approached, the four of us…. the missionary, her younger sister, Larry and I headed off for Provo to leave her at the MTC.

Oddly, my big, burly, college educated, 18 wheel truck driver husband was having the hardest time of all of us with the impending separation.
We stopped at Kanab to spend the night.
He bought a souvenir at the hotel gift shop, a piece of red rock with a hole in the middle.
“Look, he said, "that’s our family now,” turning away so we couldn’t see the tears welling in his eyes. Then he said a cuss word.
*( My husband has a strange habit. If anyone happens to see him crying about anything he immediately cusses them. It’s disconcerting to the person who gets cursed because they’re an innocent bystander after all. But we all understand that it allows him to save face, so we don’t take offense. We figure that he thinks it’s more manly.)
Anyway, the next day we made it to Provo and stopped for lunch at an Olive Garden before the time to drop her off approached. That was a somber meal for sure. After that, for 18 long months, every time we were in the city and drove by an Olive Garden restaurant there were tears and one of us got cussed.

We didn’t have a clue what to expect when we arrived at the MTC.
I was still concerned about the long walk Sarge had mentioned, but so far so good as we entered the building.
We were directed to a large meeting room.  While my memories are a bit foggy, I recall long rows of folding chairs and a big screen up front on the stand. Families of all kinds and sizes were entering with their missionary sons and daughters to fill up the chairs.
We went to the middle of one row, first me, then Beth our missionary, her sister, and then her Dad. Her older brother and sister had said their goodbyes at her farewell back in our home ward the week before.
We talked quietly and looked intently at our surroundings. Church videos began to play on the screen up front…the ones you sometimes see on TV about the importance of families. I tried not to watch.

I began to notice the people around me.
In the chair next to me was a man, obviously the father of a missionary. He was tall, rangy looking, sunburned and very clean. His hands were rough and scarred and he looked as if he could wrestle a steer to the ground or throw a bale of hay to the horses without any trouble. I knew that, like my husband, all you’d need to do would be to shake his hand and you'd know that here was someone who didn’t make his living in a office. Next to him was a young man, his spitting image, in a dark suit and tie, hair cut short. A deep tan line testified of a life outdoors and neatly framed his slicked back hair. Next to him, all along the row were various children, boys and girls, all younger, clean and suntanned and sitting next to a woman on the last seat that I could only glimpse. They took up the entire remainder of the row.
The young man in the suit was probably the eldest son, “the first missionary,” I thought.
There was another large family directly in front of me who looked like Pacific Islanders in their bright, beautiful colors and shining dark hair.
A single woman and her son were also on the same row next to them.

The program began. There were several speakers and hymns, most of which I barely heard.
I remember standing to sing “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go,” at some point.
Then I heard someone say something like, “Families, it’s time to say goodbye to your sons and daughters. Please come to the front door while your missionary goes to the back door.”
I'd been doing fairly well up to that point, but just then I felt my heart lurch.
A year and a half before I see this child again! I can’t even call her tomorrow to see how she’s doing! I can’t even call her at all!
It was just then that I noticed the man next to me began to tremble.

There we were, all still standing, looking at the podium, listening to the directions to leave our children.
The stranger next to me was staring straight ahead, but his legs and knees were now starting to shake violently. I grew increasingly worried about him, which was a blessing because it distracted me from my own situation. I quickly glanced up at his face and saw it too begin to crumble, a look of anguish spreading over it.
Beth was busy saying goodbye to her sister and dad so I stood there wondering desperately, “What should I do now?” Is there some sort of Mormon procedure for this situation?”
The man stood trembling while his family swarmed over his son. By this time he looked ready to collapse, so I leaned closer to provide support should he begin to topple. I braced myself.

Just at that moment I heard the voice of our youngest daughter, the one who’s 19th birthday was tomorrow, the one whose best friend and sister, the one she did everything with, was leaving for a year and a half…I heard her say sternly…"Now Dad, let’s not make a scene…Just turn around now and let’s go out the door.” By the tone of her voice, I could tell she had her own hands full at the other end of the row.

Feelings rushed in at that moment.
I remember thinking….... Two big, strong, burly, brave, men stand here in this row of folding chairs.
If terrorists broke into this room and tried to kidnap these young people at gunpoint they’d have to fight both of them to the death to do it.
Yet, with proud but aching hearts, these men walked to that front door while their children walked to the back.
That's when I heard something I’ll never forget.
It was the sound of faith.
Not a perfect knowledge but a hope for things not yet seen.
The sound was footsteps. It was the testimony of faith bourne by hundreds of feet. Footsteps.
Some were heading out into the unknown for years to serve a mission. Some were leaving them so they could.
All spoke the same words. It’s true…all of it’s true....and I know it to be true.

Well, we went out the front door, just the three of us now. So strange that number.
We started up that long hallway to the outside of the building, our arms locked but not speaking. Each of us lost in our own thoughts.
As we made our way down that hall I suddenly remembered what my school principal had said about the longest walk of our lives.
So this is what he meant!

So you see, national radio host, the question is not only how do Mormons get tens of thousands of young people to give up years of their lives to serve missions, but also how do they get tens of thousands of their families to sit in those chairs?

There’s only one answer.
People don’t do that kind of thing for money or from a sense of obligation.
People only do that if they know the truth or maybe even in some cases, just hope the truth.
They believe deep in their hearts that Heavenly Father is real. They know Him. They’ve had dealings with Him.
They believe that he sent his son, Jesus Christ to show us how to get back home.
They believe that Christ made it possible for our Heavenly Father, who must always be perfectly just, to also be perfectly merciful. They believe that he paid the price for our wrongs and conquered spiritual death so that we need never be separated from our Father.
They believe that Christ died on the cross and was buried in a tomb. They believe that after three days that tomb was found to be empty because he had broken the bands of physical death for all of us.
They believe that many people talked to him and touched him after the resurrection. He was alive!
They believe that many years later He and our Father appeared to Joseph Smith and directed him to restore Christ’s church.
They believe that we’re all brothers and sisters…that bringing even one of us back home to Heavenly Father will bring unspeakable joy.
They believe that all human beings are precious to Father…that all of them are worth great sacrifices. That He loves us, every one.
They believe that we can be instruments in his hands.
They have faith that all of it is true and they testify of that truth with their lives. With their footsteps.

Later I received a letter from Beth as she was serving her Spanish speaking mission in Tampa. Florida.
That letter became very special to all of us. It was hastily written on a bunch of post-it notes accompanying a photograph. I have her permission to share it with you.

This is a picture of Florence and Sister Sanchez with the turtle. We were tracting one Sunday before church- in an area we felt we needed to go to. We knocked on about twenty doors until we got to Florence’s house. She opened the door and we did our memorized bit- and she turned us down, just like all the previous neighbors.

Just before she closed the door, my companion asked if we could help her with anything. With tears in her eyes, the old lady said, “with what? They just took my husband out on a stretcher this morning! He’s dying. I’m dying. With what?” My wonderfully inspired companion told her we could do the dishes, clean her house, whatever she needed.
Florence let us in and then sat next to the medical bed and sobbed. She said that she was praying to Jesus for help- she didn’t think she could make it without her husband- and before she could finish her prayer we knocked on her door.
What a wonderful thing to know that you are an answer to someone’s prayers! What a beautiful experience. We cleaned her house. I made plates of food for her. We hugged her. Talked with her. And cried with her.

We stopped by every other day and helped her in some way. We went to see her husband, George in the hospice. Sometimes when death is so close I think the veil is very thin. He just said over and over again with all of his energy “God bless you, God bless you.” We could barely understand him because he spoke with a whisper. But we did understand the tears in his eyes and his hand motions towards heaven and then point of each of us individually. He knew who we were. He knew who we represented.
We sang him a song and then prayed with him. Maybe when he goes home to Heavenly Father he will tell grandpa what I am up to. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!
Hermana Wagher

Millions of testimonies have been borne of the truths of the Gospel and the resurrection of Christ. I’d like to add mine to them.
None, though, are more eloquent than the stone, marble, glass and steel testimonies of the temples of the church. I know of no other faith that has anything like them.
These beautiful buildings dot the entire earth from Africa to Asia, from Europe to the Americas and the Isles of the sea.
Everything that happens inside each one is about what goes on when our life on this earth is finished.
Ties that bind generations of families long passed are put into place in those buildings. Vows are spoken between people who never have to say the most awful words ever imagined by people who love each other…"Till death do us part." Now, thanks to Christ, instead we can say, “For time and all eternity.”
Yes, everything that goes on in the Holy Temples is possible because of the atonement and resurrection of Christ.
Because He conquered death we will all live too.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ did indeed change everything about death.
For those of us who know that miracle to be true, or who maybe just think that it’s probably true, or who even only hope desperately that it is true….it changed everything about life too.
We live differently because we know the truth.

Our Father and his Son have given us gifts so great we can scarcely fathom their significance. They love us so much. We are all precious to them.
They ask just a few things in return.

What do they ask of us?

Well, they ask us to love. This above all.  Love one another.
And they ask those of us who know to tell the others. Tell the others the truth.

Please, tell the others.