Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Favorite Time of Year!!

Yes!!!  I love the fall!  One of the reasons I love it so much is because it is time for General Conference!!  I love hearing the prophets speak!  I am always anxious to hear what they have felt inspired to speak to us about and my mouth is watering to sink my teeth into new instructions and feast upon the Spirit those meetings always bring.

This last weekend was General Relief Society Meeting.  That meeting and the General Young Women Broadcast that happens in March, are my personal favorites, probably because they always speak to the heart of women.  I love being reminded that I am a Daughter of Heavenly Father who loves me so very much, that my spiritual gifts and my feminine nature are unique and celebrated.  And that the Lord is counting on me to use those gifts and talents to bless the lives of others.  I always feel so motivated!  This past weekend was no different!

President Monson told this story:

A woman by the name of Mary Bartels had a home directly across the street from the entrance to a hospital clinic. Her family lived on the main floor and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.

One evening a truly awful-looking old man came to the door asking if there was room for him to stay the night. He was stooped and shriveled, and his face was lopsided from swelling—red and raw. He said he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success. “I guess it’s my face,” he said. “I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says it could possibly improve after more treatments.” He indicated he’d be happy to sleep in the rocking chair on the porch. As she talked with him, Mary realized this little old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. Although her rooms were filled, she told him to wait in the chair and she’d find him a place to sleep.

At bedtime Mary’s husband set up a camp cot for the man. When she checked in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and he was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, he asked if he could return the next time he had a treatment. “I won’t put you out a bit,” he promised. “I can sleep fine in a chair.” Mary assured him he was welcome to come again.

In the several years he went for treatments and stayed in Mary’s home, the old man, who was a fisherman by trade, always had gifts of seafood or vegetables from his garden. Other times he sent packages in the mail.

When Mary received these thoughtful gifts, she often thought of a comment her next-door neighbor made after the disfigured, stooped old man had left Mary’s home that first morning. “Did you keep that awful-looking man last night? I turned him away. You can lose customers by putting up such people.”

Mary knew that maybe they had lost customers once or twice, but she thought, “Oh, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.”

After the man passed away, Mary was visiting with a friend who had a greenhouse. As she looked at her friend’s flowers, she noticed a beautiful golden chrysanthemum but was puzzled that it was growing in a dented, old, rusty bucket. Her friend explained, “I ran short of pots, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, until I can put it out in the garden.”

Mary smiled as she imagined just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when He came to the soul of the little old man. “He won’t mind starting in this small, misshapen body.” But that was long ago, and in God’s garden how tall this lovely soul must stand!3

Appearances can be so deceiving, such a poor measure of a person. Admonished the Savior, “Judge not according to the appearance.”4

I loved it!  So often there are so many kind-hearted, good, good people who we never venture to know because we judge their initial appearance.  I am so grateful the Lord looketh on the heart.  I try to remember that as I interact with people.

I have a similar plant to the one in the above story.  When we moved in, the tenants before us left several large, full cans of garbage.  We dumped most of them, but didn't get around to a few.  There is this one plant growing in the top of one of looks like this:
I have tried several times to uproot the plant and transplant it to a 'better spot of ground'.  Each time, the transplant dies and the garbage can looks like this.  It is a beautiful plant.  And I really like it.  But I would really like to throw away the can.

Sometimes people are like that.  Such beautiful, beautiful souls in such ordinary, maybe ugly containers. 

I cannot wait until Saturday, to hear more gems of wisdom!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Little Smile.....

Our little Smiley is so precise.  He likes everything a certain way, his way.  To him, his way is logical and therefore it must be the only way, because it is the most logical.  It reminds me of someone else.....hmmmm.  Some of you may know who that is.

Anyway, I walked into the kitchen the other day to find this:

These are Smiley's alphabet beads from kindergarten. 
They are all in the top of the flour bucket, so neatly tucked into the indentation of the lid.
It just brought a smile to my face.  He is so much like his father.  Watching him grow helps me imagine what Drew must have been like as a little child.

Smiley and I had this conversation yesterday too. 
Me:  How was your day today?
Smiley:  Well, one thing bad happened.
Me:  Really?  What?
Smiley:  Well, I didn't come in from recess when the bell rang.  So next recess, I had to sit out for five minutes.
Me:  Oh, that is too bad.  Didn't you hear the bell ring?
Smiley:  Ya', I heard it.  I just didn't want to come in.
Me:  Hmmm.  Well, I guess now you know when the bell rings you had better come in, huh?
Smiley:  Yep.  When the bell rings, I have to come right in.
My thoughts:  Oh sweet, Smiley!!  Some hard lessons coming ahead!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time to Think.....

So this is what the sky looks like today.  It looks like this most days.  But wait, the sun is peeking through the, just a hole in the cloud cover.  It's gone now.

Anyway, my sweet husband took a few days off of work last week--a surprise.  I didn't know he was taking off any and I found out about each one individually--the night before, the morning of, and the night before.  Each day was enjoyable to do something different than I had planned.  By the third day, I didn't feel like my life was on a 'bullet' train anymore.  I had forgotten how much I just love to hang out with Drew.

Over the last several weeks, we have watched three different 'Pride and Prejudice's, and two 'Sense and Sensibility's.  I have walked along the beach.  Had a few days without the children at home, and had some evenings without them here.  This week, I am helping a family prepare for a funeral and another family prepare for a wedding.  Also, one of my best friends has had a baby, another is fighting her husband's cancer.......while my own children are in school, at college and on a mission.  And today I taught young mothers of the value and absolute importance their current 'family station' plays in society and in the eyes of the Lord. 

I feel like I have had a crash course in mortality ---so many emotions, so many different directions.  Happy, sad, gratitude, loss, being overwhelmed, tranquility, peace, hope, despair, stress, love, joy......all over the place.  I'm not sure what the point is exactly, except that through it all I have felt the Lord's guidance and love.  I have seen Him work miracles in the lives of my family and friends.  I have seen them grow in their abilities to manage the stress and circumstances in their lives.  Their characters have been altered for the better.  They are stronger, more courageous, kinder, more nurturing, more empathetic.  They have become more patient as the works of the Lord have manifested themselves in their lives.

It is amazing to me that just as we come to a place where we feel like the Lord has given us all that we can possibly handle, we are sure that our bucket of trials is overflowing, and we cannot endure any more, that is when He seems to step in and take over and His works are made visible.  It never happens before then.  We are pushed beyond our ability (we think), way beyond our desire and we desperately need assistance.  Pushed to the point of begging for relief and answers, that we reach deep into our soul and really seek after the will of the Lord----that is when the answers start coming, or the help, or the relief.

Don't you wish we would come to that place of desiring His will before that place??  And yet, for most of us, I think we almost have to go there before we are so willing to give up self and really, honestly and truly seek His will above our own.  It is so easy to forget when things are going well and life is good.  Why do we forget??  Why?

I certainly do not enjoy the trials of mortality, and yet I can see their benefit in the lives around me and in my own.  I grow so much because of my own experience.  A dear friend once called those places in our lives, 'times of compressed spiritual growth.'  I really like that phrase.  It seems to capture it all, doesn't it? 

So as you ponder the benefits and growth you have had from your 'times of compressed spiritual growth,' here is one of my little tiny gifts that reminds me that Heavenly Father loves me.

I love the beach!!  And I love sand dollars!!  I have never found a whole one on the beach any time I have ever been---not one!!  Well, while Drew and I were walking together along the shore on one of his days off, I found one.  (not pictured here because I broke it while I was cleaning the sand off of it at home)  Anyway, it was cute and little.  Then I thought, wouldn't it be fun to find one for each of the kids.  (I didn't plan on giving it to them.  I just wanted to find one for each of them.)  Well, during our walk on the beach, I found SIX!!  Six whole sand dollars!!!  It wasn't until I was walking home that I was gently reminded that I had wanted to find one for each of the children, and I have six children at home.  Wow, really??  You even answer those little silly prayers?  Thank you!!  Thanks!