Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hopes and Dreams

It's that time again.  The end of one year and the beginning of a new one.  Once a year it's good to take stock of our lives.  There's nothing wrong with looking at what is working and what needs fixing.  Goals are good, as long as they are reasonable.

The last few days I've talked to people about New Year's resolutions and goals.  It was interesting how many people don't like to call them "resolutions" -- maybe because "resolutions" seem to get broken.  Those same people seem to assess their lives and set goals, however.  It doesn't matter what we call it, there is value in taking a long look at our lives, the people in them, and how we relate to those people.  It is important to look at where we have been and where we are going.  It's good to measure success against failure and revise the plan, if necessary.

Courage is necessary to really evaluate our lives.  There will be some things we won't like about what we see.  The key is to look backwards a few years and realize how far we've come.  As long as there is constant progression, even if the increments seem small, we are on the right path.  There is no need to feel discouraged about what we have not accomplished, for in every life a little rain must fall.  This is a time for rebirth of long forgotten dreams -- a time to throw out the garbage and welcome new challenges.

As we begin the new year, let us revive within ourselves the hopes and dreams of our childhood.  We need innocent perspective once again.  All is not lost.  On the contrary, this is a new beginning -- the dawning of a brand new day or even a brand new life.  We can be all that we want to be.  All it takes is a little courage.

May all your dreams come true.  Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Talk for Church 12-25-11

This talk was given by me in Sacrament Meeting (Worship Service), Sacramento First Ward,  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Christmas Day, December 25, 2011.

The topic the Bishop gave me was "What would you tell all your children if they were here today?"  One of my children is here today with her family.  I was given a similar challenge in August of 1994 by a couple of writers, Bob Greene and D. G. Fulford, and at that time I wrote down a few thoughts which I will read today.  A few lines of what I'm about to read were published in this little book, Notes on the Kitchen Table--my five minutes of fame.

To My Children, My Grandchildren, My Posterity for Generations to Come:

I’ve tried to live my life as an example to others.  I’ve tried to raise my children to be good people.  I’ve tried to be a good person myself.  I’ve tried to be a good wife.  But I’ve made some mistakes.  I’m not perfect.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that you have to be forgiving of others, as well as forgiving of yourself.  If you can’t forgive yourself, how can you expect others to forgive you?

Religion is a very personal thing.  We all have to find our Heavenly Father in our own way, in our own time.  I testify to all who read this note, that you do have a Heavenly Father.  Your Heavenly Father loves you, and wants only the best for you.  He is close by when you need Him.  Pray always.  Pray with a sincere heart.  Pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Listen for the answers to your prayers.  It has been said that prayer is like a telephone conversation; it works two ways.  If you don’t listen, you’ll never hear an answer.

I know with all my heart and soul that my Heavenly Father loves me.  I know that my family will be together after this life.  I long to meet my ancestors who passed through this life before me.  I long to hold in my arms the baby I lost.  I know I’ll do that.  I have not a doubt in my mind!

Please look at my life as a whole; don’t pick it apart and criticize my weaknesses.  I have made mistakes, many of them.  I’ve done things and said things that hurt people.  I know that.  Please know that it was not intentional.  I never intentionally went out to hurt another person in my life.  Please forgive me for any weaknesses, and for anything I’ve done which may have hurt you, or someone else.

Have courage to live your lives in these times.  These are not easy times.  It is not long before Jesus Christ will again come to this earth.  The way is being prepared.  It is said that our Heavenly Father saved his strongest children to come to earth in the last days.  I know my children are stronger than I am.  I’ve seen that time and time again.  I’ve watched them endure many things that I would not have been able to endure.  Don’t be afraid of what is to come; welcome it with open arms.

Live each day to the fullest, with great joy!  Don’t brood over hard times—I’ve done that at times, and can tell you that it doesn’t do anyone any good. Watch the simple things in life.  Don’t be too busy to watch a sunrise, or a sunset.  Watch a mother bird feed her babies in the next.  Spend time watching an ant colony bury its dead.  More importantly, share these things with your children!  While you share these things with them, watch your children!  See their faces light up when they discover that ice cream melts when exposed to heat.  Watch their eyes as they pet a new puppy.  Be there when they take their first steps, and when they drive a car for the first time.  Don’t miss a moment of their growing up years!  Teach them to pray.  Listen to them when they talk to you!

Always retain a sense of humor.  If you can laugh, you’ll have a wonderful life.  Never be afraid to laugh at yourself.  Don’t take yourself too seriously, or those around you.

Set goals for yourself, but reasonable goals.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to be perfect.  Take one step at a time, then build on each step.  When you stumble, pick yourself up and go on.  When you think you can’t pick yourself up, pray for help.  He’ll be there, or he’ll provide someone in your life to help you.  Remember that your Heavenly Father often helps you through the arms of others.  Reach out to people.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Don’t be afraid to love.

I’ve heard it said that our Heavenly Father never hands us a trial that we can’t handle.  He knows our limitations and our abilities.  Have faith that He knows how strong we are, or how weak we are.

Learn from past experiences.  If it didn’t work last time, it won’t work this time.  If it did work last time, don’t change the method just for the sake of change.

Be kind to yourself.  You can’t be kind to others until you learn to love yourself.

Seek out your Heavenly Father.  He’s there for the asking.  He loves you, Jesus loves you, and I love you.

All my love,


                                                                                    August 10, 1994

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Time to Forgive

It's almost Christmas, and that always makes me step back and evaluate where I am in the process of life, who I am, and what I'm becoming.  It's about the analysis of my progression, I guess.  I'm 57 years old.  There's been a lot of living in that time, and a lot of time to get into trouble.  Trouble seems to be my middle name.  As we walk through life, hopefully we learn a few things.  One of the things I've learned is that there is no way you can please everyone.  There is always going to be someone who doesn't understand your intentions, doesn't like what you do, or just plain doesn't like you.  That's okay.  What matters is that you never intentionally hurt someone, that try to make amends to those who you unintentionally hurt, and that you forgive those who misunderstand.

It has not been easy for me to learn to forgive.  Actually, I've spent my whole life attempting to learn the principle.  I'm getting better, but I have not completely mastered it.

On January 3, 1971, Elder Richard L. Evans had this to say about forgiveness in a broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word:
"Once a year—or oftener—all of us should clear out the clutter, the things that are useless to us, that get in our way and add confusion to our lives and impede our progress.  But even oftener we should look at our unforgiving grudges, and not nurse them or hold to them or keep them alive.  An unresolved grudge gnaws at our hearts, disturbs our peace, and is a burden we would well be rid of.  God will forgive whom he will, but of us it is required to forgive.  We should forgive not only for what it does for others, but as a favor to ourselves, because forgiving relieves us of a lingering uneasiness inside ourselves.  Oh, what easing of our relationships with loved ones, and with others also, with a lightening of our own lives, as we learn to forgive!"
The older I get, the more I realize how short our time is here on earth.  The kinds of things that would infuriate me in my youth don't seem to bother me anymore.  Little injustices just don't seem to matter.  There was a time when I could really hold a grudge.  I don't anymore.  I get angry.  I get hurt.  I get over it.  There is just so little time for drama, and I don't have the energy for it.  What good is it?  Does it serve any purpose?

We're coming to the end of a year and the beginning of a new one.  It is the time of year we think about the Christ child, His life, and the atonement.  What better time to throw out the meanness in our hearts.  Bitterness breeds more bitterness and even hatred.  Forgiveness breeds forgiveness and kindness.

Roderick J. Linton said in The Forgiving Heart, April 1993 Ensign:
"Forgiveness is a personal attribute, not just a decision we make from time to time when we feel we should.  To have a forgiving heart is to see the world in a different light.  It is to forsake the tendency to judge, condemn, exclude, or hate any human soul.  A forgiving heart seeks to love and to be patient with imperfection.  The forgiving heart understands that we are all in need of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
A forgiving heart is one of the most Christlike virtues we can possess.  If we have a forgiving heart, our very nature will be kind, patient, long-suffering, and charitable.  Forgiveness plants and nourishes the seeds of Christlike love in both the giver and the receiver.  Indeed, forgiveness, in its fullest expression, is synonymous with charity, the pure love of Christ."
There is our challenge.  Will it be the status quo, or shall we stand a little taller?  Will we make forgiveness our own personal attribute?  Will we learn to have a forgiving heart?  Having a forgiving heart takes effort.  It isn't something that comes naturally to most people.  How much effort are we willing to devote to have a forgiving heart?  I would venture to say that probably the most important thing we can hope to learn in this life is the principle of forgiveness.  It is attainable.  We just need to put forth the effort.  Through prayer, we can have His help.  I publicly promise this day that I will do my best to stand a little taller.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Take Time to Ponder

I've always loved Christmas.  I love the season.  I love the lights, the decorations, the smells, the music, and when I lived in the proper climate for it, I loved the snow.  Fog isn't my favorite thing, but I'll settle.  I've always loved the story of Christmas.  I love thinking about the baby Jesus.  I've pondered on the miracle, and I've sympathized and agonized with Mary.  Nothing can spoil Christmas for me; not even the year my stepson was killed in December.  Life moves on.

Life gets busy, however, during the Christmas season.  I'm not above getting frazzled with everyone else at the hustle and bustle of the season.  When my children were small, I sometimes wondered if I would get through it all with my sanity in tact.  I loved it all just the same.

This year is different.  Now that I'm not working, there is more time.  The other morning we got out of bed, went to the living room, turned on the Christmas lights and some Christmas music and cuddled on the couch for about an hour before breakfast.  We didn't really talk much.  We just looked at the lights, the nativity sets, and contemplated on the birth of the Saviour.  That hour was very special to me, and it has completely dominated my thoughts and changed my attitude ever since.  It has improved my outlook, and changed my interactions with others.

There are a few days left before Christmas.  I know life is busy, but take a few minutes -- or even an hour -- and contemplate the reason we all do what we do.  Maybe it will mean getting up before the children, or staying up a little longer at night.  It will be worth it to renew your bond with Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Wrapping Made Easy, Beautiful, and Green

Admittedly, wrapping presents was never my favorite part of the holidays.  Then one day I was introduced to cloth wrapping bags or envelopes by my sisters.  One sister could never remember to buy wrapping paper, so all her gifts appeared in paper bags for every occasion.  The other sister made her some cloth wrapping bags to shove gifts into quickly.  Then when a gift was opened, we returned the cloth bag for the next time.

Let me tell you, I was sold!  I went to my favorite fabric store after Christmas and bought a variety of Christmas fabric on clearance.  I cut the fabric into a variety of sizes.  Each piece of fabric was then folded in half and sewn up three sides, leaving the fourth side open.  When I "wrap," I simply close the fourth side with a safety pin on a bow.  (I also attach the gift tag to the safety pin.)  If you really want to get fancy, you could use velcrow to close the envelopes, but I didn't spend that much time.

The bags look absolutely lovely under the tree!  Since they are reused every year, I not only am being "green" and helping the environment, but I'm saving a TON of money on wrapping paper and scotch tape.  My "wrapping" is done in a jiffy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Decking the Halls - Wordless Wednesday (Almost)

Grandpa's Christmas Toy Table

Snowflakes on the Sliding Glass Door in the Family Room (Oreo Wants In)

China Cabinet -- Looks Gorgeous When the
Lights are on, but I Couldn't Get a Good Picture.

All My Kids' School Christmas Crafts Were Saved and Displayed
Every Year and Returned to Them When They Had a Home
of Their Own -- Kaylonnie's are Still Displayed
(Even While She is Serving and LDS Mission in Brazil).

Ribbon Between Kitchen and Family Room

Refrigerator Magnets for the Grandchildren

Kitchen Table

Mistletoe Between Living Room and Kitchen
Buffet in Living Room

Nativity at the Base of the Christmas Tree Sturdy
Enough for the Grandchildren to Play With

Christmas Jigsaw Puzzles

Granny's Christmas Toy Table

My Mom and Dad Decorated the Windows of Their Car About 1981
When They Visited for Christmas and Then Gave Them to Our Kids. 
These Pictures Have Hung in the Hallway Every Year.  Mom Said
that Some Decorations Need to Be Hung Low Enough for the
Kids to Enjoy, So I Hang Them Low Every Year.

Danny's Office/Guest Room No. 1
Laurie's Office/Guest Room No. 2/Kaylonnie's
TEMPORARY Room When She Returns from
LDS Mission in Brazil

Front Porch

Doesn't Everyone Have Two Christmas Trees??

Picture Does NOT Do This Justice --
Gorgeous Purple Lights on the Orange Tree

MUCH Prettier in Person

Mistletoe on Our Headboard
Romantic Getaway (In a Tacky Sort of Way)