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.