Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Times They Are A Changing

Once upon a time, I started a little blog.  It was a good little blog, and I enjoyed it for many moons.  Times change, and the fun was stripped away.  So I will retire this blog for a time, though at some point in the future it may resurrect itself.

In the meantime, I'm moving on.  I have begun another blog, which I'm very excited about.  Those of you who have regularly followed this blog (and who have not rained on my parade), will shortly be receiving the link to my new blog.  Watch for it.  I am working out the kinks in the new blog now, but hope to have it up and running soon.  I'm anticipating the new blog to be much different from the old one -- and I'm very excited to get started!

If you recently found this blog, I invite you to have a look around. There's a lot of good stuff here!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Psalm of Heroin Addiction

Recently, I was talking to one of my kids about the "Stupid Kids File" I kept when they were growing up.  It was a collection of things I had seen while working in law offices where kids had been hurt because of a moment of pure stupidity.  It was my hope that by sharing these things with my children, that they would stop and think before they did something stupid that could cause them harm.

I should have saved that file for my grandchildren, but I didn't.  I tossed it long ago.  However, it seems there isn't a day that goes by that there isn't something in the news that my kids can save for the grandkids.

A couple of weeks ago, I was helping my brother in preparation for a move.  He was sorting through some old files and ran across something which he gave to me.  He worked in law enforcement for many years.  I don't remember whether he told me he was the officer on the scene, or whether it was another officer, but one day a young woman commit suicide.  The suicide note contained a poem.  He doesn't know whether she wrote the poem herself, or whether someone else wrote it and she just included it in her note.

While these things are not pleasant to read, maybe this will be a good thing for us all to keep in the "Stupid Kid File" to help educate those we love.



King Heroin is my shepherd, I shall always want.
He maketh me to lie down in the gutters.
He leadeth me beside the troubled waters.
He destroyeth my soul.
He leadeth me in the paths of wickedness
For the effort's sake.

Yea, I shall walk through the valley of
Poverty and will fear all evil.
For thou, heroin, art with me.

Thy needle and capsule try to comfort me.
They strippest the table of groceries in
The presence of my family.
Thou robest my head of reason.
My cup of sorrow runneth over.

Surely heroin addiction shall stalk me
All the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the damned forever and ever.

On the back of the card on which this poem was written was the following suicide note.

Truly this is my psalm. I am a young woman, 20 years of age and for the past year and a half I have been wandering down the nightmare alley of the junkies. I wanted to quit taking dope and I tried, but I couldn't. Jail didn't cure me. Nor did hospitalization help me for long. The doctor told my family it would have been better and indeed kinder if the person that first got me hooked on dope to have taken a gun and blown my brains out, and I wish to God she had. My God how I wish to God she had. Now I will finish the job she started.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Misunderstood Motives

Someone posted a picture on social media today:


A common problem with writers is that everyone around them sees themselves in the writing.  It's hard when the most important people in your life misunderstand your motives.  I'm not a smart person, but there are lessons that I've learned through hard knocks.  The lesson I'm learning on any given day is rumbling around in my head in a jumble of words.  I'm a writer, and words are important to writers. Though I spent many years in another career, writing has always been who I am.  The lesson of the day doesn't completely formulate until it is on paper (or virtual paper).

Writers write what they know about, what is important to them, what is on their mind, and what is close to their hearts.  Yes, I am a writer.  That describes me perfectly.  I don't write to hurt anyone, to be vindictive, to criticize, or to judge.  I try very hard to be objective in my writing, but since I do write from my heart, I do express opinions.

My hope is that those who stop to read what I write will benefit from it.  If not, it would be a waste of their time.  All of us go through different challenges in our lives, but we all have one thing in common:  Life is tough.  We all have problems and lessons to learn.  As I learn life's lessons and write them down, hopefully, it will help someone else who is working through a similar problem.  If people see themselves in my words, I don't think that's a bad thing.  We need to open our hearts to each other and learn from one another.  I've learned many things from reading what others have written.

I've written things (and made them public) that I don't want people to know about me -- especially those closest to me.  There was one blog post in particular that the instant I hit "publish," I thought I was going to throw up.  I published it anyway.  I did so because I knew that I could not possibly be the only person who felt the way I was feeling, and that maybe others might quickly learn from my post what had taken me years of beating my head against a wall to learn for myself.  Isn't that what life is all about? Helping each other along the way?  I've also had a couple of articles published that made me extremely vulnerable, and sadly my words have already been twisted and used to hurt me.

In my writing, I try to look outside my own little problems and my own little world at who else may benefit from what's kicking around in my head.  To my readers I would say that if you see yourself in something I write, please don't take it personally. Please understand that what you see that describes you and your situation or life circumstance, may also describe many other people and their situations and life circumstances -- including me. Please look outside of your own little world at who may benefit from reading my thoughts.  If my writing upsets you, simply don't read it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Study in Human Nature

I don't know why this continues to surprise me, because I've seen it so many times before, but I'm always shocked when it happens.

This afternoon a four-year-old boy had a seizure which put him into cardiac arrest.  As the helicopter was in flight to take the child to the hospital, his heart sick mother turned to Google+ on social media and asked for prayers.  She told people that didn't believe in a higher power to please just scroll on down.  She is not of my faith, but I know that God answers ALL prayers.  As a mother, I felt her pain.  I instantly bowed my head and said a prayer for this child, his mother, and all those who loved them.

On completion of my prayer, I scrolled through the comments.  In just an hour from her original post, there were 283 comments, 200 people had +1 (or liked) the post, and 67 people had forwarded the post for their followers to read and pray.  As I write this post, people are continuing to comment and pray.  Prayers came from many faiths--Christian and Muslim.  Some who don't believe in a higher power, left kind thoughts for a speedy recovery.

The reason for my shock:  There were several comments left for this grieving mother expressing the sentiment that instead of praying to some imaginary man in the sky, she should be hoping the doctors had learned their skills appropriately.  I am shocked at the heartlessness of those comments--especially since this mother had specifically asked that those who were not believers just scroll past.  Those on social media who insist on kicking a man who is down are just cruel people.  There is a time and a place for religious debate.  This was not the time, nor the place.  This was a grieving mother in a plea for support.  The longer I live in "civilization," the more I wonder how "civilized" we really are becoming.  All I can do is note the numbers of people who left kind messages and hope that by the end of the day, those messages far outweigh the unkind words.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Power to Bind

There is nothing more precious than family.  As we gathered our family for several special events this weekend, I was amazed yet again at how different we all are -- and yet we all fit together as individual cogs in one big wheel.  It was especially apparent to me this weekend, as we gathered to seal an adopted grandchild to her parents in the LDS Temple for eternity.  The next day priesthood power was used to bless (christen) that same grandchild, as well as another grandchild.

The power to seal families together for eternity is an awesome thing.  In Matthew 16:19, we read:
"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:  and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:  and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

The keys of the kingdom of heaven -- think of that -- what power that is -- literally, the power to act in God's name.  He gave us the power to literally seal our families together forever.  Priesthood power is a wonder to me!  What an incredible gift Heavenly Father gave to His children to bind our families together forever.  Nothing can separate us if we follow the principles of the gospel and are faithful to our covenants.  I can't think of a greater gift than that!

Each family member is an individual in his/her own right.  We are many different personalities in our little group.  Every member of the family gives a unique quality to our family unit.  We may not always agree with each other, and as in all families, we have our ups and downs.  We quarrel and bicker, repent, and proceed.  We are not perfect, but each in our own way is striving to become more Christlike -- and that is the purpose of this whole experience on earth.  There is no member of a family who is "dispensable." Each cog in the wheel is needed to make the wheel strong enough to withstand the test of time.  I don't want to end this life with any broken or missing cogs in our family wheel.

I was so impressed by my two little grandchildren in the temple. As young as they are, they felt the Spirit of the Lord there.  When was the last time you heard two little children whisper for three hours straight?  As they walked the hallway with the temple worker towards the sealing room, they spontaneously began very quietly singing, "I Am a Child of God."  They may not completely understand the significance of the ordinance performed, but they felt something very special that will remain with them for a long time.

The next day in church, as two of our grandchildren were given blessings (christenings), one of my daughters spoke with me about the differences in the two blessings.  It was a testament to the fact that they are two completely different personalities, and they have two completely separate missions on this earth.  Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us; all we need to do is be faithful and live up to our covenants.  If we slip, there is always repentance.  He is here to help us.  When we reach a stumbling block, we need to dynamite it and push forward.  We will make mistakes -- but that doesn't mean that all is lost. Heavenly Father knew what mistakes we would make from the beginning, and built cushions in the plan for that purpose.  When we hit a wall, we must bounce back.  It's in the plan.  We just need to have confidence to push forward.

I pray that each member of our family unit will continue to strive for this goal of an eternal family.  If we can just hold on to the rod of iron and keep putting one foot in front of the other.  There will be rough days ahead when it will feel like all is lost -- but all is NOT lost, nor will it ever be lost.  The power that binds us together is God's power, and if we keep our covenants, he is bound to keep His.  Don't ever give up!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar Eclipse May 20, 2012

Solar Eclipse May 20, 2012, in Sacramento, California.  Watch the fence and the side of the house as the circles become more complete.

Ring of Fire -- Picture taken by my friend Marcia Hummel in Reno, Nevada
Thanks, Marcia!

Friday, May 18, 2012

For My Grandchildren

Top Step, Left to Right:  Jocelyn, Michael, Kaitlyn
Bottom Step, Left to Right:  Joey, Ella, Haley
I've seen several people in the last week or so post on social media either how blessed they are to have something written by their grandmother, or how they wish their grandmother had written to them.  I take that as a not so subtle hint from the Spirit that I need to write something for/to my grandchildren.  So this post is for them, a legacy, if you will.

Each of you are special to me.  You are all very different, but all special.  There's not much that I wouldn't do for you.  I wouldn't give you a million dollars even if I had it (yeah, right), because that wouldn't teach you how to be industrious.  Outside of that, I think I'd do anything for any one of you.  I'm not going to speak to you in any particular order of birth or by family -- in fact, I'm going to mix you all up so you don't try to figure out who I love more -- because I love you all.

Savana, I love you because you are easy going.  You are an open book.  You say it like it is, but never in a way that hurts people's feelings.  You are a lovely young woman, and a sweet reminder of your father.  You are so much like him.  I know that you have a testimony of the gospel.  Keep that in your heart for a time when you are able to return to church.  Never forget that you are Heavenly Father's precious daughter, and He loves you.

Jocelyn, every time I look at you I get tickled.  You are such a character and have such great determination.  Nobody is ever going to be able to get the best of you, because you are going to stand up and let the world know you are here.  Don't you ever doubt that you are loved!  Don't you ever think that we didn't love you as much as our other grandchildren because you are adopted. Being adopted makes you special in a whole different way.  Your parents fought hard to get you, and we cheered them on every step of the way.  You are loved!

Kaitlyn, you are quite a little charmer.  You are busy and you definitely have a mind of your own.  This will take you places you can't even dream about.  You have a smile that can melt butter. You are young yet, but I think you have a great sense of "mothering."  I've watched you with my dog, Oreo, and there is a tender connection with animals, too.  You make me smile when I'm near you.

Ben, you have a great personality, and a wonderful smile.  You could sell snow to an Eskimo with that smile.  You have developed a photography interest that could be an answer to your future if you use your talents for good.  If it doesn't turn a profit for you, at least you will have a hobby that you love.  I know that if you use your talents for good, you will find your place in this world -- whatever you end up doing.  As you look for a partner in life, look for someone with a kind heart and a winning attitude.

Joey, you have a heart of gold.  You are kind and loving.  You are a gentle soul.  Be as determined as you are kind.  Stay close to the gospel.  You can have a wonderful wife someday, because you are the kind soul that girls look for in a husband.  So when you go looking for a wife, look for what is on the inside.  You want to marry a kind soul too.

Haley, you are full of bullets and are going to go places.  No one will ever be able to take advantage of you, because you're going to let them have it.  You are so much like me that it's funny.  A word to the wise:  Learn from my mistakes; you don't have to repeat them.  You will take anything bad and put it to work for you.  Don't be afraid to let people get close.  We are different in one way.  You have the personality to pull it off where I didn't.

Eli, I'm writing this on your third week birthday, so I don't know you that well yet, but I'm looking forward to getting to know all about you.  I just want you to know I love you, and I'm happy you are here.  You are a special little baby, and I love to cuddle you in my arms.  Even though you are too young yet for me to know you all that well, I want you to know I love you.  Your middle name, Bernard, is after my grandfather. We called him Pa.  He was a great man, and you have inherited his honorable name.  Take good care of it.  Pa used to say, "You always want to keep yourself just one step above the other guy."  He didn't mean to look down on other people.  What he meant was to keep your standards higher than those around you.  Be honest and true.

Michael, you are such a character -- and so smart.  Take advantage of that intelligence and keep learning.  You can have a great life if you stay close to the gospel and don't stray away from the important things.  Never doubt that you are loved because you are adopted!  I love you every bit as much as my other grandchildren.  Being adopted makes you special in a different way.  Your parents worked hard to get you, and the rest of us cheered them on every step of the way.  You are loved!

Sabrina, you are a lovely young woman.  You've had adversity in your life, but you are coming out strong.  Take the pain from the past and put it to use by serving others.  You have empathy for others and can relate to their fears and their trials.  Make good use of that.  You are beautiful.  Remember that your inner beauty is what counts most.  Don't lose that, and you will do just fine.  I hope that someday you will see it in your heart to find your father's church.  He may not have gone to church often, but he did love and have a testimony of the gospel.

Ella, you are such a lovely child.  I love it when you smile.  You are young yet, so there are still so many things for me to learn about you.  I know that you are kind and loving.  You are going to grow up the middle child, and I am a middle child.  Just because you are in the middle doesn't mean you aren't important, or that you are not loved.  You're going to have to hold your own against those brothers, which will make you tough -- but don't let it make you too tough.  Keep that sweet gentle spirit in you always.

Now for all of you.  Look for partners in life that will uplift you and make you better than who you are (which is not to say that you aren't already special :) because you are), but there is always room for growth.  Don't look for a spouse that is "cute" or "good looking" -- look for someone who will make you better than you are -- and you will find that each year that person will become even more "cute" to you.  Besides, we all grow old and wrinkly very quickly anyway.  :)  My dad used to say, "When you're thinking about marrying somebody, take a step back and think about how the person will look when they've been up all night with a baby, when they wake up in the morning before they brush their teeth or have combed their hair, when they've been cleaning up puke all day, etc. -- Then, if you still love them, marry them."

My dad also used to say, "I don't have anything to leave you but a sense of humor."  That applies here.  A sense of humor will go a long way to making life easy and more beautiful, so if you didn't inherit it, develop it.  :)

Remember who you are and where you came from -- and always hold on tight to the rod and walk the narrow path that will lead you back to your Heavenly Father.  Stay close to the gospel, magnify your callings, and honor the priesthood.  Please see your way to the temple.  I don't want any empty chairs at that big round oak table in heaven.

I love you all!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Plea for Children

A family member is a survivor of childhood leukemia.  I have heard his story over the years and marveled at how these children get through the things they have to endure.  He was treated for leukemia between the ages of 4 and 9 at the City of Hope, which was wonderful to him and his family.

I called him in preparation for this blog post, and he recalled how scary it was for a 4-year-old to be in the hospital with endless blood tests and spinal taps.  Those were the days of parents having to leave the hospital by 9:00 or 9:30 p.m., and he was there alone being aroused in the middle of the night by nurses for vital signs and procedures.  (I'm so glad that has changed in most hospitals!)  He recalled having bad dreams, going bald twice, and endless nausea.  When he was "healthy" enough to go to school, he remembers his legs feeling like rubber and having to crawl off the asphalt to line up for class while the teacher yelled at him for not being fast enough.  He talked about how traumatized he was by this disease for a long time.  His friend died from leukemia at the age of 7 or 8.  The boys lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same elementary school, and were both treated in the same hospital.  One lived; one died.

Having raised children with some health problems (while not nearly as serious as leukemia), I can't begin to imagine the parental torture of watching a child live with things like this on a daily basis.

What is Leukemia?

Leukemia is cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow where blood cells are formed.  Blood cells produced in the bone marrow grow out of control.  There are different kinds of leukemia and related disorders.  If you are interested in finding out more about the disease, click here.

Why Am I Blogging About Leukemia?

The daughter of a friend of mine (our children grew up as friends) is working on a very ambitious goal.  She will be participating in the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco on October 14, 2012. This marathon benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Elizabeth has committed to raise $5,000 for the cause and will be in a training program for the next 5 1/2 months.

Is This An Efficient Charity?

I did a little homework on this charity.  According to their official financial information, 78.1% of their budget goes to program services.  I checked to see how that rates with other charities. According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, 60% or above is a reasonable amount for program services, with 75% or above considered highly efficient for a charity.

Can We Help Eliminate Blood Disease?

Medical advances are made every day.  We read about them all the time.  I'm sure, in time, there will be a cure for these horrible blood diseases.  It won't happen without us.  Elizabeth is doing her part.  Can we help her?  If you would like to donate to a good cause, or to follow Elizabeth's progress with the marathon training program, you can go to her fundraising page.  The best way to donate is by clicking her fundraising page.  You will receive an e-mail confirmation of your donation, and Elizabeth will receive notice of the donation.

Personal Note

I'm very proud of Elizabeth.  This is not an easy thing for her to do.  It takes commitment and will power to do something like this. I know that when October comes, the experience will have changed her in many ways.

Please help.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Have I Done Any Good?

There is a movement in this country that disturbs me.  When did success become evil?  What happened to cheering for the underdog who succeeds at the American dream?  When was sharing in the happiness of others replaced by envy and greed?

My family is not wealthy.  We live in a neighborhood that my children have dubbed "the ghetto" although I take issue with that description.  I don't consider us poor because we have a roof over our heads, we have always had food on the table, our children had shoes and coats, and somehow the bills eventually were paid.  In the years when we were raising our children, there was often very creative financing happening.  I admit to robbing Peter to pay Paul.  I remember taking a sewing needle and punching a tiny hole in one of the zeros at the bottom of a check so that it would take an extra two days to be processed through the bank.  Note:  This no longer works because of advancements in technology, so don't try it.  My children thought that liver and onions was steak until they reached high school and someone ratted on me.  We ate a lot of tuna casserole.  I shopped at garage sales and thrift stores. My children wore hand-me-down clothing.  No, we were not rich.

So what?  So what if my children got through school without a computer or the internet?  So what if they never had a game boy or a cabbage patch kid?  So what if every tricycle and bicycle they ever owned had fallen off moving trucks and were found by their Dad as he worked in the freeway landscape?  It just isn't important.  Our life as a family is what is important.  The kids learned to live in the real world.  They learned to work for what they own, and they learned that there are more important things in life than money.

BUT -- and this is a big BUT -- So what if many of my children's friends came from money?  My children had friends from all walks of life.  Some of their friends were very poor, while some of their friends came from wealthy families.  So what?  My children were taught to respect all people.  We would never have looked down on their friends who came from families who did have trouble putting food on the table, or clothes on the children's backs.  On the other end, we would never have taught our children to be envious of those children who had the game boys, computers, and cabbage patch kids.  We taught our children to appreciate what they had, and not covet the material things that some of their friends possessed.  We taught them to look at a person by what is in the heart; not the wallet.  That goes for both ends of the spectrum.

There are some wealthy people in America.  Good for them!  Most of them have worked very hard for it.  They have achieved the American dream.  That's wonderful!  I'm happy for them!  They stand as a testament to hard work and diligence.  Some wealthy Americans inherited their money from their parents.  Good for them!  Good for their parents!  What parents don't want to leave a legacy for their children?  They have succeeded!  Good for them!  I'm happy for their success.

There seems to be an entire movement dedicated to taking down the wealthy and portraying them as evil and greedy individuals. I'm sure there are some who are evil and greedy.  I'm equally as sure that most of them are wonderful people who serve others quietly and donate a good portion of their wealth to charity.  Is it necessary for them to shout their good works from the rooftops? I would hope not.  Instead of judging them, maybe we should look in our own backyard.  Maybe instead of asking questions about how the rich are spending their money, we should be asking ourselves, "Have I done any good in the world today?"

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sister White: Prior to Brazil, Brasilia Mission

My daughter, Kaylonnie (Sister White), is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Brazil, Brasilia Mission.  She has made many friends in Brazil, and they have reached out to me via Facebook.  It has been an honor to get to know her Brazilian friends.  They are curious about this young American woman who has suddenly become part of their lives. This post is for Sister White's new friends in Brazil so that they can become acquainted with who she is and what her life was like growing up in Sacramento, California, U.S.A.  I have chosen to use mostly pictures, as I feel the pictures tell the story quite well. The pictures are not necessarily in chronological order, but grouped to tell a story.

There were baby moments.
Hannah is holding Kaylonnie

Easter moments.
Dyeing Easter Eggs
Easter Fun
Fun times.
Tricycle and bicycle times.

There was fun at Fairytale Town.

Fairytale Town
Fairytale Town
Fairytale town pictures from here.

Excitement to be in school.

Kindergarten was at Joseph Bonnheim Elementary School.

Picture of Joseph Bonnheim Elementary from their website (above).

There were many first day of school pictures.

Kaylonnie, Hannah, Ezra (Molly was away at college for this one)
First through sixth grades were spent at Phoebe Hearst Elementary School in the Basic Education Program.

Phoebe Hearst Elementary School
There was growing . . .

And more growing.

There were braces.

There were birthdays, Easters, Christmases, other holidays, and family get togethers.

We can't forget Halloween!

Camp Fire Boys and Girls, and Camp Minaluta!

Top picture is a Camp Minaluta counselor with Kaylonnie and Ezra. Next, Mom and Kaylonnie.  Next Ezra and Kaylonnie with the "Hi-Seller" T-shirts they earned for selling LOTS of Camp Fire candy. Next is Kaylonnie and Molly.
Ezra and Kaylonnie at Camp Minaluta
Kaylonnie (second from left) with Camp Fire Buddies
Ezra, Hannah, Kaylonnie, Molly
The day Kaylonnie received her Camp Fire gown.
Canoes on Lake Minaluta
There were friends.

There were dog days.

Seventh and eighth grade years were at California Middle School.

California Middle School
 Above picture of California Middle School from their website.
California Middle School
California Middle School
The next four years of high school were at C. K. McClatchy High School.
C. K. McClatchy High School
Above picture from McClatchy website (above).

There were Nauvoo, Illinois moments.

And Quincy, Illinois moments.

Before our very eyes she became a young woman.

There were military balls and prom nights.

And lots and lots of laughter!

Many hours were spent preparing for the cultural celebration during the open house and dedication of the Sacramento Temple.

She began her college education at Sacramento City College.

Sacramento City College (from their website above)
Sacramento City College
Sorry, the above picture was the best I could do.  I was not able to get a decent picture of Sacramento City College.  Parking is a problem nearby, and I had to stand across Freeport Boulevard, which is extremely busy.  It took me several minutes to snap a picture between vehicles.  Unfortunately, an internet search didn't provide any pictures either.

A lot of college time was spent at the LDS Institute of Religion across from the Sacramento City College campus.  She learned so much here and her testimony really blossomed.
LDS Institute of Religion at Sacramento City College
LDS Institute of Religion at Sacramento City College
She was known as "Miss Kaylonnie" when she worked at Radcliffe Academy as a daycare assistant.

Radcliffe Academy picture from here.

There were pizza nights at Roma's.
Roma's Pizza from their website (above)
Roma's Pizzeria
Above picture from here.  (Roma's doesn't look great from the outside, but they have the best pizza ever!)

There were ice cream nights at Gunther's.

Pictures of Gunther's from here.  (Molly, Hannah, and Ezra all worked at Gunther's in high school too.)

There was a mission call.

And a missionary farewell.

Photo Taken by Rachel White, Vintage Bloom Photography
Photo Taken by Rachel White, Vintage Bloom Photography
Over the years there were sibling pictures and family pictures.

Above family photos taken by Courtney Farnworth

And even eternal pictures.

Oakland Temple Sealing Day Pictures Taken by Cecelia Takahashi

Sister White, the missionary.

Missionary Training Center