Friday, December 31, 2010

Beginning of Hope

Today is New Year's Eve. The very name implies excitement and merriment, yet as I've expressed before, it is, to me, the darkest day of the year.

The light from the current year is nearly extinguished; the spark of new light on the horizon.

The New Year dawns full of hope; fresh and clean. We have the chance to wipe the slate of procrastination and slothfulness clean; make amends and put our best foot forward…again.

We’ll make resolutions and goals, and we’ll try hard to make them stick. The light from the dawning year will shine brightly, like freshly polished silver.

What a gift! What blessing!

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven and have our earthly slate wiped clean; the New Year is a yearly reminder of this gift; a yearly chance to make ourselves better than we are today; a step closer to accepting the gift of the Atonement, and letting it work in our lives.
As we work on these resolutions and goals, let us be reminded of the Ultimate Sacrifice on our behalf, and strive to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior Jesus Christ; let that be one of our resolutions; one of our goals.

Let every day dawn bright; let every morning be the New Year; polish your silver daily and never forget that the Lord wants us to succeed; wants us to draw near unto Him. Let the light in you be a reflection of His light.

May your New Year be bright.

With Love.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Angel's Among Us

It's Christmas and that means shopping. It means a whole lot more, and I know that, but it also means shopping, and I hate to shop; unless of course we're going to the thrift stores!
I went out the other day, alone; this is something that rarely happens and was quite a treat.
I went with my daughter and her husband to take Mr. Bug to see Santa; then I was off and running.
My first stop was the big Barnes and Noble nearby, and as much as I love bookstores, I was actually dreading this trip, because, well, it's Christmas time. I hate crowds. But, I love my children, and we have a special thing we do with gifts; they get four: 1.) Something you want, 2.) Something you need, 3.) Something to wear, and 4.) Something to read. So you see, I had to go to the book store; so in I went.

As I was walking to the store, I inhaled something that tickled my nose and made me start to cough a little, and made my nose run to the point of me making rude snuffling noises in the store; the crowded store.
I'm browsing in a section I needed a book from, when a little old lady in a wheel chair rolled up behind me. I paid little mind as I needed to choose between two selections and I was concentrating on finding out which was best. In a minute or two, my aisle mate commented that I must have a cold; no I told her, I think it's a..."an allergy" says she. Why yes I say, I think it must be. She comments on the fact that kids in school bring home lots of things, I counter with the fact that we're homeschooling so that doesn't happen much; I mention we have seven children and before you know it, she's invoking prayers on my head for what I'm doing for my children. "Do you watch Glenn Beck" she whispers (it is after all "the People's Republic of Eugene"); I do I say, and off we go again, and more prayers upon my head, this time, not only for what I'm doing for my children, but also for my country; she'd worked in the schools, and they were not teaching the Constitution or matters of our Republic. I say they are in theater, more blessings.
(Now when I say prayers, know that she said "God bless you for..." numerous times; I happen to take this very seriously, and thanked her for asking God to bless me.)
We talked for a few minutes, back and forth, and I felt like I'd known her for ages.

For me, that day, she was an angel. I needed to feel the Spirit of Christmas, and because of her I did.
I went about the rest of my day with a lightness that made me almost giggly (which, you may want to know, that if you start giggling in public, when you are alone, people will stare; just sayin').
A stranger, called upon the God of heaven to bless me. Because of my political stance which you may read about on my other blog: My Book Of Common Days, I have people who know me personally who wouldn't ask a blessing on me, yet a stranger finds my efforts praiseworthy. I just can't get over it.

Scrooge's long dead partner Jacob Marley told Scrooge :"Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business."

Would we not be better off if we took Jacob Marley's words to heart; followed our Savior more obediently; emulated him more closely?
This chance encounter with an angel who lifted my spirits and encouraged me in numerous ways should be the norm. WE should BE those angels!
Since "Charity is the pure love of Christ", are we loving those around us? Are we yet who Christ would have us be? "Even as ye have done it unto the least of these thy brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Go and bless someone; as a recipient, I know it feels darn good.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010


We had our first snowfall the other day, and here in my section of the Beaver State that may just be all we get; a skiff; a smattering; a modicum; a spattering; a sprinkling. I think you get the idea.

And you know what? I'm perfectly happy with that!

It's not that I hate snow, on the contrary; it's just that snow is cold and wet and slippery and slushy and messy and...well, you get the idea.

I've lived in the high desert of Colorado where the snow can fall as late as mid June; where the mountain roads have to be cut out in early summer so they can be used; where the ground doesn't thaw from September to June, maybe even July.

I've lived beside the Wasatch Mountains where at 5000ft you can get 10 inches of snow in an afternoon.

I've lived beside Lake Erie where the lake effect can dump over a foot of snow during the night, closing roads and schools and making for some incredible snowman snow.

No, I actually love snow; from indoors.

There is nothing on earth cozier than a snow day, in front of a crackling fire with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate steaming away the drafts.
As I look out the window and see the freshly fallen snow, no footprints, no mud showing through, no scars on the landscape; I am at peace. There is a calm that descends on the world that cannot be described; earth is resplendent in her winter finery.

Then the children bundle up and away they go; trudging through the drifts, making trails and hiding spots; laughing and playing; the air sparkling and crackling with their excitement.
Red noses and frozen fingers and toes mark the day; in and out; warm and cold.
Then, finally, they are spent; the excitement having burned itself into a slow simmer.

I look out again, and the fresh virgin snow is gone; all I see are scars, deep and vivid in the late afternoon light; footprints, piles, trails, grassy bald spots; all part of the scene; all part of the lingering chaos.
However, my mother's heart steps in and tears sting my eyes; this scene is a scene of joy, happiness, and unbridled excitement.
Happy children making joyful noise created this chaos and I look with new eyes; a masterpiece before my eyes and my little Vermeer's snuggled all around me now; blankets, books and hot cocoa at the ready.

Yes, I love snow; from indoors.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Last Day of Summer

Today is the last day of summer; the last hope for warm, lazy summer afternoons for the next few months.
For now, the nights will get longer; we'll cocoon ourselves with sweaters and wool socks; we'll feed ourselves comfort foods that invoke days gone by, and dearly departed loved ones.
Cooler weather will fill our senses as the days meander onward, into the heart of winter.

As I traverse the days of my autumn existence I take pleasure in the cooler days and the dense morning fog; the hope of Indian summer ever present in my heart and mind.

We’ll put the garden to bed, the tools snug in their places; we’ll fill the woodshed, the spicy scents of pine and cedar pungent and sweet; the harvest is in, or nearly so; the larder filling up with gleaming jars.

The changing of the leaves, like the changing of the guard, creates a striking show; my mind wanders back to other autumns long forgotten, but ever present; a green forest rich with autumn beauty in what seemed a treat just for me. Wood smoke hanging low in the air as I scramble over the spongy ground, the sights and smells of autumn a riotous carnival of color and beauty; the trees dancing in the breeze would sing to me of the dying and rebirth cycle about to begin again; at once, ancient and new.

Scarlet and gold, bronze, crimson and green, vying for my attention and my heart; for this, autumn is my favorite season. Winter has Christmas and the New Year; summer has its pools and parties; spring has new growth and secret gardens. But autumn, autumn shouts its glory for all to witness; the last hurrah before the long winter’s nap.
Combine this with the smell of dry leaves and wet pavement, or wood smoke and spicy cider, or all of the above; I enjoy the season as it awakens every cell within me to the beauty of God’s majesty, and treats my senses to the abundance of His love.

Who can count the joys of autumn?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Slow Lane

I had to go and buy a baby gift for a baby shower; I also had offered to go to the "Duck" store (Oregon Duck's for those of you who don't know), because the "theme" of the shower is "Oregon Duck's" and my friend needed some "stuff" for the top of the cake. To accomplish these goals, I had to go to...the mall.

Those of you who know me well, know that I abhor the mall; too many people, too many noises, too much consumerism.
So I did what I had to do, made a couple of other stops and headed home.

I hadn't realized until I was "leaving town" that I had been anxious and agitated; it wasn't something I'd noticed or even felt; until I was leaving the city behind.

I turned on to the country lane that headed out of town, and my tension literally lifted; I felt softer somehow; lighter.
As I traveled on, the flicker of sunlight through the trees seemed to be beating the tension out of my mind and out of my heart, one filtering branch at a time.
Each winding curve pulling me further and further away from the organized chaos; lulling me back into myself, where I could think and breathe once again; the whir of the tires on the blacktop coaxing me back from my self-induced coma.

Crossing the river, the water seemed to carry my troubles oceanward; swiftly and steadily soothing my visual senses, harassed by the concrete jungle.
I turned onto our gravel road, safely home again, healed from the hustle and bustle of city madness; I reminisced about another gravel road, and a dear friend I had to leave behind in one of the many places I've been privileged to live in.

My friend would tease me, because of my love for dirt roads; not the "off road" kind of dirt road, but the "way out in the toolies" kind of dirt road; you know, with battered and weather beaten mailboxes and quail skittering ahead.
"Dirt roads are dusty" she'd say, and I knew that well enough; but dirt roads also mean solitude, serenity and a removal from civilization; peaceful places are usually at the end of a dirt road.

It's a slow life, living on a dirt road; a life measured by the season's, not the sales; by the rising and setting of the sun, not the alarm clock; by the heart, and the heart alone; a life I treasure one day at a time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Drive Down Memory Lane

I took a drive down memory lane this week, and I've got mixed emotions.

When my parents divorced, my one brother and I went to live with our grandparents on a beautiful Oregon mountainside, surrounded by 40 acres of forest. A live creek year round flowed into a pond that Grandpa built with the "Cat"; trees and more trees, and a cabin that I was madly in love with, filled with mystery and memories.

I had to take one of my daughter's up to that area on Monday for a church camp called EFY (Especially for Youth); the exit was just two more up the highway, and Mountaindale was two miles beyond that. That was all I was after, just to go to the little country store and show the kids the charm; it was after all, about a 10 minute drive.

As I pulled around the corner, the country store was closed; the promise of "video’s" empty and void. The charming boardwalk bleached gray by the sun and the rain looked sad and lonely; windows boarded up. Where are the little feet that used to hurry for an ice cream or a soda pop? Where are the farmers and cowboys who used to come for the newspaper and conversation? What happened to this happy country place?

So, on I went; driven by the need to see what else had changed I suppose; daring myself to go another mile, to see another landmark of my childhood.
Curve after curve, house after house, I was comforted that they're all there; they all still exist in one form or another; another generation living and working alongside the Dairy Creek, it's hum and thrum giving life to the places, big and small along its banks.

Forward I went, leaving the main road; compelled to drive up into the mountain, into the belly of the beast; fearful yet hopeful. Homes have been added, but the essentials were still there; one family still lives there as the road marker clearly indicated.

Finally, at our driveway I could go no further. The knowledge that much had changed stopped me; gone is my beloved cabin, supposedly crushed by a falling tree years ago; gone are grandma and grandpa; gone is my little brother; gone are so many things I held and hold dear. Gone are the forests of the neighboring property, but "our" trees, “my” trees still stand; the forests I trod in daily, finding myself in those woods; alone, just me and my trusty dog.
I came to love solitude in those woods, spending hours just walking; drinking from the creek, sure I saw a bear hibernating; making stories and fables in my head.

It’s all gone, and the pain of that is as fresh as it was 30 years ago when grandma sold it after grandpa died. I wanted to live there forever; to hide myself and my pains away and breathe deeply the mountain air; always.

It was not to be.

But my life is a Testimony that the Lord loves us, and knows us by name; knows our needs and our wants, and gives us what’s best for us.
I know beyond doubt that where I am, is where He wants me to be; all the memories are still mine, I can reclaim them at will.
So really, I have the best of both worlds.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Seven Stories Up

Today my window looks out on 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.; the height and the double pane windows do not entirely obliterate the cacophony from below. However dampened, the discordant sound seeps in to my soul, causing unrest.
How I long for home; my little gravel road, my expansive backyard, my sheep baaaing at me from their corner of pasture, the rooster announcing his prowess, the stars in their proper and visible place in the firmament; all these I crave while here in this bustling, vibrant city.

The sounds, the smells, the energy of the city-any city really, are not for me. I've lived in large cities-Toledo Ohio, 309,000; I've lived in small towns-Hotchkiss,Colorado, 1000. I prefer the small town; there is a heartbeat that can be heard as well as felt.
The pace is slower, life seems to be really lived and not hurried through; time has less importance, and is measured in days not hours.

I love going on vacation, seeing something new, learning something I hadn't known, but going home to the pace I live by is beyond satisfying.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Last Time

There are moments in our lives that are defining; perfect snapshots, in an imperfect world; moments that you will not recognize until later, possibly much later as “The Last Time.”

The last time you sing that certain bedtime song; the one you’ve sung for nearly 20 years. The last time you speak to someone in this life; the last time you laugh with him; the last time a frail hand reaches out to stroke your cheek while its owner expresses love for you.

When you pull up to the door of the kindergarten class with your last child in tow, you pretty much understand this is the end of that road, that chapter, but what about the rest of the ends?

Where will you be? What will you be doing, and who will you be with?
These aren’t ordinarily mind boggling questions, or something to lose sleep over; however, there are moments that you consider the question and just as quickly put it out of your mind, lest someone accuse you of worrying over nothing.

I’m here to remind you that today may be one of those moments; one of those chapter endings. Don’t waste it; don’t be inattentive. Tune your spirit into the whisperings of the Holy Ghost; listen for that still small voice that urges you to make that hug just a little tighter, that gaze last a little longer; time spent just a little more meaningful.

Guard your moments, enjoy every one of them. Tell those around you that you love them, and mean it.
And if by the grace of God, today wasn’t that Last Time, take time to thank your Heavenly Father, the One who lends us breath.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A New Day

The rain in my heart has slowed to a drip, a drip that will likely always remain; a new day, a new chapter of my life is moving forward; a New Reality as my dad says.

I was pondering things the other day, as I am wont to do, and I realized how very much I love words.
We’d gone to see “Alice in Wonderland” with Johnny Depp, and while I think I was disappointed in the movie overall, I was delighted at the language that was used by Carroll, and that they had carried much of it over to the movie.

As the gallimaufry of characters were gamboling and galumphing their way across and through Wonderland, I realized that I loved words; I love words that sparkle with wit and intelligence; that while some may excoriate me for using big, fun, vivid words, I didn’t care! I was free to use whatever tongue tickler made me happy, and I was not about to be affected by superfluous or supercilious polemics to the contrary.

Why is it that we sometimes become pendulous when someone uses a word we don’t know? Why do we let big words exacerbate our confusion, instead of letting them enlighten our comprehension?
Because sometimes, these big, bold words are so much jabberwocky to our ears and brains, that’s why.

Can we banish this insipidness and move to a more developed palate? Can we exuviate the common, and adopt the extraordinary?

This is all very silly I know, but the question is very real; can we bring ourselves to elevate our vocabulary by 2 degrees? 10? 25?

Language is so beautiful, and so descriptive, we’ve let some fabulous words languish for ease, speed, and downright laziness.
It need not be so! Go buy a wonderful dictionary, the 1828 Webster’s is my recommendation, and buy a good thesaurus-no good recommendations, I’m still searching.

Dust off those archaic and arcane words and tickle your tongue; it’s well worth it!

Friday, February 12, 2010

After the Rain

If you read my other blog My Book of Common Days you know of the heartache and anguish my family has experienced recently from this post Life's Speed Bumps. It has caused quite a bit of reflection; I hope my thoughts can be helpful to someone out there.

It's been pouring all morning, matching the rain that's falling in my heart. I looked up a moment ago, and saw a beautiful rainbow; I know without a doubt, as the Spirit whispered to me, that this is a promise for me as well; the rain will end.

The Lord doesn't promise me sunny skies and smooth sailing; on the contrary. I know that there must be opposition in all things. I have been buffeted by high winds and rolling waves, yet my faith has been my anchor.

I can't say I'm happy yet; I can't say when the rain will stop. I can however, say that I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that through all of this, I have felt His hands lift me, enabling me to be stronger than I thought I could be.

Each of us has the power to choose; to choose to be lifted up or to choose to wallow in grief. I even think we are allowed to wallow just a bit; just don't wallow too long, you might miss the rainbows.