Monday, June 17, 2019

Striving For Perfection

Is it a good thing to strive for perfection?  I think the answer to that is a bit tricky.  If I am always trying to be perfect, I am going to fail repeatedly, and it will seem like a more monumental fail if I am comparing myself to perfection.  Reaching that goal will seem discouraging and impossible.  I can be made perfect in Christ, through His grace, but in my thinking, it is best for me to strive for improvement.

If I try for improvement and fail, the fail isn't as big and I will know that, with a little bit more work, I can improve.  It is easier to give grace to myself, and to receive grace, as I strive for improvement in all I do.  Heavenly Father and the Savior are happy with improvement.  Constant improvement, in the very long run, with grace, does lead to perfection.

*Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Gardener

My Dad the Gardener
I have known a gardener since the day that I was born.
I’ve watched him tend to gardens, getting rid of weeds and thorns.
He made sure plants had water and he kept the pests away.
Spending time out in the garden was the highlight of his day.

He tried to teach his children to love the garden too.
He’d send us out to work, and tell us what to do.
I liked the little rabbits, that ate up the green beans.
I didn’t want to have to pick, and eat those yucky things!

But I did like the potatoes, that grew down in the ground,
And I like watermelon that grew from a tidy mound.
Corn is quite delicious, especially when it’s new
And I enjoy a good tomato from the garden too.

I can’t say that it’s fun getting popcorn off the cob
But knocking down the popcorn plants was kind of a fun job.
Working in the heat really isn’t very fun,
But getting up before the heat -- well that just isn’t done!

My Dad got up that early, and my Grandma did that too
But that just isn’t something that I really want to do!
For years I watched my sisters enjoy working in their yards
But I avoided mine because -- well, that work is hard!

I thought that I was breaking a tradition that we had
Of a long line of gardeners that did not start with Dad.
But it turns out that I learned a bit of stuff along the way.
And once my schedule slowed down, gardening fit into my day.

Then I found that I liked gardening, at least some of the time.
And I have a pretty garden that I get to claim as mine.
And I like to think of Dad as I work out in the yard
And his example of someone who liked to work quite hard.

He prayed over his plants, because he feels it helps them grow.
Just like he prays for me.  This is something that I know.
I really love this gardener that I’ve known since I was small.

And I hope this Father’s Day is the best Father’s Day of all!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

When You Skip The Dishes .....

....they will pile up.  But it is possible that you can get some great things done instead -- and the dishes will probably still be there to wash later.
This is my garden.  What you are looking at is the bark on the left.  I put lots of new bark on today.
It looks a lot better!  You'll have to take my word for it unless you've been to visit.

I got new cushions for the chairs too so I can sit outside toasting in the sunshine!

It's probably more comfortable to sit there in the morning or evening though.  The garden is
really toasty in the sunshine.

The long view

A project that Dan, Jake and I did this week was to clean the shed.
I'm sure this will last a week or two!

My red "desk" has been the perfect thing.

I take a picture of this bush every year I think.  I love it.
It is beautiful and smells really good too.
We can't always skip the dishes, but this time I got a lot of good things done while not washing those dishes!  There's still tomorrow.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Forgetting Self in Service

One of the three excellent talks on Sunday was on losing ourselves in the service of others.  The speaker, my friend Lory, grew up with five brothers and so she was a little disgruntled when her Grandma asked her to do the dishes for her Mom every day.  She explained to her grandma just how many dishes that was, but her Grandma had been asked to do the same thing for her Mother when she was growing up and she asked Lory to do the dishes every day and see how she felt.  So Lory did what she was asked, washing a lot of dishes by hand every day.  She learned to love doing dishes, and I imagine her Mom was super grateful.

Her talk reminded me of a time in college when I was talking to my Mom.  I was having a hard time and my Mom said when that happened to her she would get out the ward list and go down it until she came to someone she felt like she could help in some way, and then she went to help.  I have tried this occasionally.  I do not always manage to forget myself by doing service, but at the end of the day I can at least look back and know I have tried to do something good.

Sunday after church I was doing the dishes and jokingly asked who was going to decide to do the dishes for me every day.  Nobody volunteered, but when everyone else went outside, Jake quietly came over and helped me finish up the dishes before we headed outside too.  Service does not need to be big to make a difference.

*Photo by Catt Liu on Unsplash

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Be Anxious For Nothing

Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                                  Philippians 4: 6-7  KJV2000
It is easy to feel that I have a right to feel anxious sometimes.  There are so many things that can be worried over, and I certainly can choose to worry!  But I find the days are better when I can choose to be grateful and trusting.  I can pray.  This gives me access to God, who is wise and who is the Father of us all.  He truly wants what is best for everyone and gives us chances to learn and grow and become stronger.

Becoming stronger isn't always fun.  Becoming physically stronger usually includes some soreness (or a lot of soreness).  There is no reason to think I can become the person of strong faith that I want to be without facing challenges, and learning how to turn to God.  When I do this I learn that He is trustworthy, and that He will send that peace that passes all understanding.

*Photo by Igor Kasalovic on Unsplash

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Sympathy and Sunshine

Picture by Kayli's friend Brittany.  I kind of stole it from Facebook.  Thanks Brit!
This is Kayli and BoBo.  I believe this was the day Kayli started feeling lousy
but she looks great here!  I hope she feels well soon.
This morning was one of those where I woke up with a headache, and all of my joints hurting.  The first few steps always find me hobbling with an ow, ow ow!  Sometimes I miraculously find a sense of humor about this.  I have a friend who has had her joints ache like that every day of her life (that she can remember) and I love her attitude about hard things.  My attitude wasn't so great when I woke up.

After breakfast I like to sit in my sunny front room and study.  Kayli came in.  She's been sick for so long.  She coughs and coughs and I feel so sorry for her, but she still manages to pull out sympathy for me, and having someone be sympathetic seems to make pains less bothersome.  It might not be really logical, but it's true.  I took medicine, kept busy, and really ended up feeling well by noon and having a perfectly lovely day. 

The sympathy of a thoughtful daughter, and the gift of a beautiful, sunny day helped make today a happy one.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Music That's Made A Difference

I love music, and it has helped me immeasurably throughout my life.  Here are some of the Primary songs and Hymns that have made a difference for good in my life.

Jesus Once Was A Little Child by Lyle Hadlock has the words, "so little children, lets you and I, try to be like him, try, try, try."  This never made me feel like God was expecting too much, or that I was letting him down.  Instead it felt comforting, and encouraging.

I Am A Child of God by Naomi W. Randall was the song I sang to myself in the night as a child when I felt lonely.  It reminded me that, as God's child, I was never forgotten.

Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman, Jr. is the hymn I always started with when I was feeling sad or discouraged and I would sit down at the piano to play and sing until I felt better.  Doing this usually helped me gain a better perspective on life, and what is really important.  This song was my "go to" song for years and years.

Come, Come, Ye Saints by William ClaytonI love this hymn, especially the second verse which helps stop the pity parties I am sometimes prone to.  It says, "Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?  'Tis not so; all is right.  Why should we think to earn a great reward If we now shun the fight?"  The pioneers didn't give up, and even though life really can be difficult, we can remember to find joy in the journey because God has not forsaken us.

I Stand All Amazed by Charles H. GabrielCan we ever feel more loved than when we realize that someone loves us enough to not just be willing, but to actually suffer and die just so we could be with Him and our Father forever?

How Firm a Foundation attributed to Robert KeenAnd, though there are more hymns I could talk about, I'll end with this one.  I have sung this to myself when life has felt so heavy that I have started to panic.
"When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow, For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, no never forsake!" 
 I am thankful for music, and those who have written and shared it.  I have found knowledge, and comfort in music!

*Photo by Michael Maasen on Unsplash

Monday, June 10, 2019

Connor's Birthday Celebration

Even with Connor's birthday being on a busy Sunday, we were able to fit in some celebration!
Connor opened a couple of presents in the morning and saved the rest until Tia came in the afternoon.

A fan and Harry Potter socks.  What an awesome birthday!

The cake and candles are coming!

And now for the play by play pictures of the candle tradition.

Except this is the first time that the plate has been placed on the person blowing out the candles!

Derek "helping"
 Later we spent some time together outside, and then Connor went to get his friend Amanda so they could watch the movie I Can Only Imagine.  While he went to get her, her Dad brought over some posters their family made for Connor so that when Connor got back he had a happy birthday surprise!  He had a bit of trouble figuring out how they got here since Amanda's Dad got back to their house in time to say happy birthday to Connor in person.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The 21st Birthday of Connor, "The Bigg", Kayli's Twin

Connor:  My First Little Boy
At the time this picture was taken he was still "The Bigg"
A long time ago I had three little girls.  They were sweet, and beautiful, and I was just a bit afraid to have a boy -- until Connor.  He was born June 9, 1998 and the epidural they gave me so I wouldn't feel surgery went into my blood stream and from there into Connor's.  The anesthesiologist knocked me out so I was unaware of anything -- for hours -- but Derek had to watch terrified doctors and nurses fighting for the life of our little boy.  Thankfully --about 6 hours later when I woke up, I was greeted by a screaming baby who was headed to the NICU because his oxygen levels weren't high enough.  After all of that screaming I wasn't too worried, and sure enough, once he got to the NICU his oxygen levels were fine.  He stayed there overnight, and they wheeled me over to visit him before bedtime.  I held him.  He was very calm, and looked me right in the eyes for a long time.  It felt like he was saying that he fully trusted me to help him during his life ahead.  It was very humbling.

There are pictures of Connor as a toddler wearing his sister's dress up high heels, but he was really all boy.  At Christmas time the wrapped presents became vehicles that Connor pushed around while making car noises.  He loved throwing balls and hitting them with a bat, and he was a bit of a wild boy on his bike when he insisted he didn't need training wheels, and did a great job of immediately bumping over curbs and such until he somehow fell head first into the gravel in the back yard.  That wasn't nearly as bad as years later when he fell face first into the pavement when riding a scooter down a hill on a less than stellar road.  One of the teeth in his very nice smile isn't completely original!

He used to give me the greatest complements when I was pregnant with Jake.  "Wow Mom!  I like that dress! ..... How did you get it on?".  I'd have to fish out the correct journal to come up with all of the complements, but he did complement my teeth brushing skills -- and his own, and all of that was better than the time that I walked out of my room ready for church and he took one look at me and fell down laughing!  That didn't exactly inspire confidence!

Mason and Connor.  These boys used to beg the kindergarten bus driver to take them around the block again.
It never worked.
Connor and Kayli obviously aren't really twins since their birthdays are 2 and a half years apart, but they have been great friends for a long time.  I'm not sure if that's because I made Kayli take him with her to the neighbors (thanks again Alicia) or in spite of that, but it is a good thing.  When Connor would send pictures home from Japan he was often holding a picture of his "twin", and when Tia got married Kayli carried Connor's picture around all day.

My cute "twins" Kayli and Connor
Connor is home now, and working, and preparing for college in the fall.  He's come a long way from being the cute little boy who used to have a book in front of him during family prayer and would close his eyes, open them to peek, quickly turn the page, and then do it all again.  Or he'd go get a snack or drink and run back in time for the Amen!  Now he is all grown up and when he says the family prayer I feel like Heavenly Father has come into the room to listen.  I could not ask for a better oldest son.  I love him.  Happy Birthday to Connor!
Connor as a new big brother holding Jake.
Connor at age 11
**The pictures didn't want to land in the order I wanted them to be in.  But hey!  There are pictures!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Odds and Ends

I'm feeling tired and don't want to try to expound on the fabulous thoughts that have gone through my head today, so here are all of the random pictures that I have taken and an explanation of why I took them.

This is Teddy.  He loves to attack the vacuum.  It is very funny to me, but not very helpful when it comes to actually getting the vacuuming done.  Dan was vacuuming the office and Teddy was trying to see if there was a way to attack the vacuum from outside the door.

This is at Walmart.  Or at least it was.  I wanted to show my girls because it made me smile.  I never sent the picture to them so hopefully they will see it here.  I'm not sure where you hang such a picture!  I guess you could hang it by your table and it will look like the animals are watching you eat.

This is a bad picture of my forearm.  I was trying to show Derek that I was allergic to something.  This was Thursday.  I'm not sure if it came from helping Connor trim bushes on Wednesday evening, or from an allergy to the grass I was mowing and bagging Thursday morning.  It's almost gone now.  I guess once it's gone I could rub one arm on the bushes and one on grass and see which one reacts, but I probably won't do that.

Once the bushes were trimmed Jake found this hiding in them.  A scythe that some poor trick or treater must have dropped in the bushes some Halloween.  Hopefully they didn't cry too much over the loss of such a formidable weapon!
I hope your day is full of happy moments and good humor!

Friday, June 7, 2019

More Than We Can Handle

"God will not give us more than we can handle, the saying goes.  But what does it say about what we give ourselves?  What then?"                          
Quote from:  Chasing Slow:  The Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner 
 The scripture in 1 Corinthians 10:13 actually says, "He [God] will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."  This includes, I believe, the temptation to blame God for all the we "have to handle".

We obviously can't control every situation in our lives.  Sicknesses come, accidents happen, and other people's actions affect us.  I am confident that God will be there to help us through all of these situations if we choose to turn to Him.  He can also help us see which things we believe we "have to handle" that we really don't.

We do have some control over our schedules.  We do not have to have a spotless house.  We can let that go if it is too much to handle and we can go with having a safe, comfortable house.  We can sign us and our kids up for multiple activities, or we could choose to not sign up for any.  We can sign every volunteer sheet that goes by, or we can just sign the ones that we reasonably have time for, that won't turn us into stress monsters!

I do not really believe God gives us more than we can handle, but we might be trying to do more than we can handle.  No matter what, Heavenly Father can help us order our lives in a way that is manageable, and happy.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Effect of Long Neglect

Yesterday I purchased some flowers to plant in the flower garden that is beside my back deck. This originally beautiful flower garden has become the garden where there is some pretty overgrown ground cover that blooms in Spring, and some ground cover that looks like it has been trampled.  The other flowers I've planted have died from neglect.  I didn't take the time and effort to make sure they were cared for properly.

Today I went to prepare the garden for the new flowers.  I pulled weeds, and more weeds. I had to get a big shovel to get some of the weeds out, and even remove some of the border bricks to get to the roots.  As I worked I got grumpier and grumpier.  I still haven't planted the flowers.  Maybe when it cools down in the evening I will.

It did dawn on me that, as is often the case, gardens are a good analogy for life.  The longer we neglect the good things we have -- good talents, good habits, etc. - the more those good things get covered with weeds, until maybe they die from neglect.  These things can be recovered, but it will take a lot more work than if we had just kept up with them in the first place!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Temple and Being My Best Self

I have a couple of really good friends who invite me to go to the temple with them.  I am so thankful!  I love the temple, but it is still hard for me to make myself get up and go -- except when I have friends who are going too.  This morning I remembered a story that I had heard about a man who went to the temple every week without fail.  Someone was complimenting him on his service, and he said something to the affect of, "I am not coming because I am such a good person, I'm coming once a week because I have found that I need to come that often in order for me to be my best self."

I remember wondering how often I would need to attend so that I could more often be "my best self".  I still am not sure, but I believe it is a good question to ponder, and to work on finding the answer to.  I do know that the temple is a place of peace, love, kindness, reassurance, gratitude, revelation, and worship.  I was reading in my journal about a time that Derek and I had gone to the temple.  I reported that I was really grumpy, but that Derek had put his arm around me and I had started to feel better.  After the session I told Derek that I hadn't gotten much out it, but that the longer I was in the temple the happier I felt (which is actually a pretty good thing to "get out of it").

I am thankful for the temple.  Going there gives me a better perspective, more gratitude, and a lot more peace, which goes a long way in helping me be my best self.

* Picture used by permission from