Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Wise Word to Room Parents


Winter melts into spring as the old song says. 
Sunrise after sunset, again and again, bringing each new season in its time.
And so, as the days shorten, we now embark into the season of,  "Mom (Or Dad), I have to bring..... (Fill in Here),  to the school, team, den, church..... (Choose one),  party tomorrow." 

Usually this news is presented late in the evening by an offspring of yours as he or she heads off for bed. 

I have some observations on this topic based on nearly three decades in the classroom. I'd like to share them with you because they turned out to be extremely valuable to me personally. 
As a parent myself I often heard a child of my own utter those same chilling words.

************ 
I remember it well. 
I was teaching 5th grade at the time and it was the day of our first class party. The whole school was celebrating. Naturally my students were excited and unable to concentrate. 
Moms were stopping by to drop off goodies for our fun and games. As they did so my kids would gaze longingly at the treats and make comments. 

After lunch the classroom door opened and a sweet mother who had many children came in with a tray of the most elaborately decorated cookies I'd ever seen. Each one was a color co-ordinated work of art! Every adorable cookie face had movable googly eyes and perfectly placed icing hair! 
They must have taken hours to create.
As she brought them in the whole class gathered around and exclaimed in excitement, 
"Wow, Robert! Will you look at that! Your mom is so cool!"

A few minutes later another mom came in to drop off more treats. She brought in a big vat of vanilla ice cream, 4 jugs of root beer, plastic cups and straws. 
It probably took her minutes to run into the store.
As she brought them in the whole class gathered around to exclaim in excitement, 
"Wow, Susie! Will you look at that! Your mom is so cool!"

Think about this. 

I did think about it and was prompted to have a meeting with my own children. 

I advised them that we want to willingly contribute to every good cause. We never want to shirk. We're always anxious to put our shoulders to our part of the wheel.
So, I told them they should be the first to wave their hands excitedly and volunteer to bring something to the class party, team picnic, Scout dinner, Mutual event etc. 
I encouraged them to volunteer for the following items. 
"Memorize this list," I said. "There will be a test."

                       Ice cream
                       Root Beer or Fudge Sauce
                       Chips
                       Hot Dogs and Buns 
                       Marshmallows 
                       Graham Crackers
                       Hershey Bars 
                       Ketchup, Mustard, Pickle Relish
                       Oreos and Milk
                       Store Bought Onion Dip
                       Napkins, Paper Plates, or Bowls
                       Cups, Plastic Spoons, Straws
                       (NEVER potato salad)


Just thought I'd share.



* Note
Now if this first sweet mom loved to bake artistic cookies and found expression for her creativity through baking them, then my observation is null and void. 
To each her own.
My creative impulses often are best expressed after first replenishing them with a nap.

**Note Again
Now that I'm old I've noticed that a version of this valuable concept may extend into later life.  

You see, for some strange reason, it turns out that grandchildren seem to appreciate"Grandma food." Especially teenagers who are always hungry and have the metabolism of wolverines. 

Now I want to be just as good a grandma as the next lady. But this particular one has been blessed with some mobility obstacles that involve a wheelchair.  
I assure you that I'm truly trying to be grateful for these obstacles, because of the opportunity dealing with them provides to learn patience and perseverence. Nevertheless, the meal and treat production, for which grandmas are often famous, can become problematic because of them.

I did hear about a conversation between someone's grandchildren that gave me hope though. 
I was told it went something like this.
One brother said to the other. 

"Hey, I'm hungry again."
"So. What else is new?" replied his sibling.

First brother then remarks, 
"Well, it's half-price wing Wednesday at the pizza place. If we go over to Grandma's and look hungry she'll call in and order us some. And if we take out the garbage and water her patio pots she'll get a pizza too."

"Let's go, Bro, I love Grandma's cooking!" was the enthusiastic reply.



*** Last Note

I once forgot about my son's Freshman Football potluck dinner. Every family was to bring a favorite dish to share.
Life was crowding in close at the time, so in desperation, I put on my dark sunglasses and stopped at a drive-thru chicken place to pick up my contribution.
At the team dinner it was the first favorite dish gone.

So remember this:
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 
                                             Matthew 11:30

"There are ways and then there are ways."
                                               Mz Dub  (Mrs. W.)


I understand that we've been asked by Father to accomplish many good things. We should always be anxiously engaged in a good cause. 
But, I have noticed a lot of yoke tightening and "nice but unnecessary" burden adding to various good causes among some normally intelligent and lovely people. 
You don't suppose that means that WE added extra weight to the task at hand, not Him?

Remember too:
"It is not requisite for a man to run faster than he has strength."
                                              Mosiah 4: 27

I happen to be privileged to know some of the most faithful and compassionate children of God. They study the scriptures regularly but oddly simply won't believe this one.

You don't suppose that scripture from Mosiah could mean that running yourself into exhaustion doesn't earn extra points in heaven? Even for a good cause? That it's ignoring counsel from the Lord?

I don't pretend to know the answer but I plan to think about it.





  






Sunday, September 4, 2016

Lifted by an Apple and a Post-it-Note


Kindness is very powerful.
That's what I heard an Apostle of the Lord say recently. 
And since he said it in a conference talk I believe that makes it official.

Heavenly Father wants us to know that an act of kindness is an act of power.

I'd never really thought of kindness in that particular way before, being an act of power I mean, so I decided to ponder it. 
This pondering brought back a memory of a single act of kindness that has lifted me for over 25 years.

It happened when I was teaching in a small school in our beautiful, beloved mountains.

I remembered  that it was late on a Friday afternoon after a particularly trying week. 
I vaguely recalled days of mind numbing state testing for my poor students, and grades due and two days of parent-teacher conferences that lasted until 9:30 at night for me. There were endless faculty meetings where a dear colleague looked over at me in exasperation and wryly commented, "You know the scary thing about these things is that everybody in the room has a college degree." 
In addition, students, parents and teachers were embroiled in a variety of disagreements for which I had somehow been designated as the referee. 
By late Friday afternoon I was questioning my life's choices and generally feeling exhausted, unappreciated, and unloved. 

Humming, "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," I headed across the dark hallway to pick up my mail before finally heading for the weekend and home.
I flipped on the light in the breakroom and looked at the little cubbies usually filled only with additional demands sent by mail. 
In each one, on top of the demands, there was a bright red apple and a little Post-it-Note. 
I reached in for mine. 
The note said, "Teaching is not always easy but it matters forever. Thank you so much for all that you do for kids. It was signed, "A grateful parent".

I'll never forget the almost miraculous change in my outlook after reading those few words. 
I still remember the lift it gave my spirit decades later. 

An act of kindness. An act of service. Not such a simple one either when you consider that every faculty member was a recipient. 

Now, many years later, I'm here to testify that there is indeed great power involved in kindness. I was once lifted by an apple and a post-it-note. Others were too. I'm lifted still when I remember it.

Yes, an Apostle of the Lord spoke about kindness in a conference talk recently.  
He did so because Heavenly Father wants us to know that an act of kindness is an act of great power. 
Maybe even eternal power.

Think about it.