Tuesday, November 29, 2011

you are what you learn

Not a Dilbert fan at all, but so loving this:

“You are what you learn. If all you know is how to be a gang member, that’s what you’ll be, at least until you learn something else. If you go to law school, you’ll see the world as a competition. If you study engineering, you’ll start to see the world as a complicated machine that needs tweaking. A person changes at a fundamental level as he or she merges with a particular field of knowledge. If you don’t like who you are, you have the option of learning until you become someone else. There’s almost nothing you can’t learn your way out of. Life is like a jail with an unlocked, heavy door. You’re free the minute you realize the door will open if you simply lean into it.”

-Scott Adams

Yup, yup.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

what we had for dinner tonight

Seriously. This girl has got skills.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

name them one by one

My list then. Notice it includes only people this year. Fitting.

*ld. After almost a week of technological frustration, he painstakingly fixed and restored my computer. Voila. Love of my life.
*Jiao - She's here and she is as wonderful as she seems. Really.
*JLW - for being smart enough to marry her.

Also grateful for:
*Sisters in law who come in, muck out, scrub down and shine up. Brothers who show up, stay late, and are there when you need them. Brothers who call repeatedly for updates and to offer support.
*Nieces who bring in dinner, vacuum, text and call on the phone.
*B. Gomer and Keny. They can prep and paint a room quicker than you can say 'Jack Sprat'.
*My Cate, Madeline, and Faye. Gamma loves you. So. Much.
*Kody. For not cowering in the face of trauma.
*Meghan. She's alive and growing stronger. What more can I say?
*Emerson. He's alive and growing stronger. What more can I say?

And so grateful for everyone who joined us in fasting and prayer. It was a gift you gave to Meghan and Emerson, it really was. And it made all the difference.

Today there has been a lot of talk generated by scientific studies and popular media suggesting the value of keeping a gratitude journal, or making a list of things we’re grateful for and that’s not a bad idea.
Whether we write how blessed we are in our journals everyday or not, we should be in the habit of expressing thanks when we pray and also when we come to partake of the sacrament every Sunday. Those are both quiet, reflective times that lend themselves to being spiritually aware. And that’s really what gratitude is - being spiritually aware of our relationship to God, being aware of all He has given us.

The way we become aware is when we pay attention to the details of life and living. Paying attention is therefore the key to gratefulness. Its hard to be thankful when we walk through life unnoticing, unaware, unconnected. We know we are supposed to count our blessings but first we need to see our blessings. Then name our blessings. Then acknowledge our blessings. Then count them.

If we don’t do this, then we run the risk of taking many things for granted.

And then later this:

• In Mosiah 2:19-21 we learn better how we can show our gratitude.
19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—

21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”

What King Benjamin is alluding to here I think is that people who live out of gratitude, who pay attention to the good things that come their way, who count their blessings and express their thanks to the Lord daily - these people are also more apt to want to help others.

Living our gratitude does that. If we’re grateful we listen to friends in need, pay our tithing lovingly instead of begrudingly, we serve in callings and also volunteer. If we’re living our gratitude we are less concerned about material goods, less likely to judge others and more concerned about the well being of others. Not only does gratitude feel good, but it causes us to do good.

And then this reminder:
Now comes the challenging part.

We are to feel gratitude not just in the wonderful happenings in our lives but also in times of adversity, trials and afflictions. This is where it really gets hard for some of us.

I don’t know about you but it’s sometimes difficult to express gratitude when we are under stress, yet it is often such situations that permit significant spiritual growth.

This is illustrated especially well in a story related by Elder Marion D. Hanks about a boy and his mother, who knew the value of expressing gratitude:

“I sat at a stake conference where a returned missionary bore his testimony. He had but a short time and he chose to use one idea. He thanked God for a great, humble mother, and gave his reason. He said that as a high school boy, he [had] been sorely tried by the illness and then death of his little sister whom he had loved greatly and who had been the darling of the family, being the last of them. Their father had died. The little girl grew ill, and in spite of prayers and administrations and fasting and much concern, worsened and died in the night. The boy went into his room, locked the door, and sobbed out his broken heart to the walls because he was not willing to do it to the God whom he could not now honestly approach. In his rebellion and anger at a God, if there were one, who would permit such a thing to happen to them, he cried out in rebellion. He said he would never pray again, would never go to church again, and could never have any confidence again in a God who would permit this to happen. And in his immature but sincere sorrow, he made some rather serious covenants with himself. He stayed awake the rest of the night, apprehensive about an experience he anticipated. It was their custom, as it is in so many Latter-day Saint homes, to kneel morning and evening with the children around the mother, to thank God for the goodness of his blessings.

“He waited for that moment, knowing what he had to say, but fearing it. When his mother said, ‘Come, children,’ he said, ‘No.’

“She said, ‘Kneel down, son.’

“He said, ‘No, I will not kneel down, and I will never kneel down again.’

“She said, as I remember his words and I was deeply touched as were we all. ‘Son, you’re the oldest child in this home. You are the only man in the house, and if I ever needed a man, I need one now. You kneel down.’

“He knelt down, still rebellious, but because his mother needed him, and he began for the first time to think in terms of her broken heart and her sorrow. So he knelt, but he said to himself, ‘I wonder what she’s going to thank God for this morning.’ And his mother, knowing as she must have, the questions in his mind and the minds of the other children, taught them the gospel on their knees that morning. She thanked God for what the family knew, for the blessing of eternal ties, for direction and purpose and guidance and convictions as to the future. She thanked God that they had been blessed with this wonderful, angelic child who had brought so much to them and who was to be theirs, always. And out of her mother’s heart, knowing the desperate, critical nature of the moment, taught her own children what there was to thank God for under conditions of such stress.

“As the boy stood... he thanked God for a mother who was a heroine” (Heroism, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [25 Mar. 1959], 3-4).

This mother’s prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father was an example to her son and to us. It illustrates how gratitude is a condition of the heart - and if expressed and felt and lived - even at such a high cost as adversity - it can purify our souls, sanctify us and develop in us a celestial character.

President Howard W. Hunter observed: “Life—every life—has a full share of ups and downs. Indeed, we see … many blessings that do not always look or feel like blessings” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 68; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 54).

On sunny, smooth sailing days I like to think of myself as an optimist. I think I have an advantage over some people. Someone once said that the reason why short people tended to be optimists is because they can only see the part of the glass that is half full, not half empty...

It’s hard to be a full time optimist in our world, though. We are so full of aches and pains, so tired and overworked, so stressed out about time and money, that the glass looms large and to fill it seems nearly impossible. To get up in the morning and to exclaim, "Zippedee do dah! It’s a fine day, bring on the challenges!" seems hokey. Especially when some of us truly struggle with adversity.

I know there are people sitting here today who have been dealt an unfair hand: they or someone they love is suffering from terrible illness, or has sustained a tragic loss, or can't get back on their feet, or can't find work or make ends meet. Their sorrow is real.

But the gospel teaches us that we find the path to gratitude even within our sorrow.

And that is tough. It’s tough because it doesn't let us feel sorry for ourselves, no matter how little we may have or how much we may have lost.

When a person is able to whisper, in the midst of pain and loss, a quiet “Thank you, Heavenly Father” this is where we see the spirit pour down. It's not a matter of giving thanks for the suffering itself exactly, but giving thanks for something that goes deeper than the suffering, giving thanks for the experiences of mortality, all of them. And when we can do that the spirit dwells with us, teaching us and helping us to cope.

To live a life of gratitude does not mean you compare yourself with those who seem less blessed or less fortunate. It isn’t about comparison. In fact, being a grateful person doesn’t spare you from adversity or sadness.

What is true, though, is that a person who lives gratefully will continue to be grateful through the darkest and most trying of times. Gratitude will buoy you up when everything else seems to be falling. It will help you see the good in the midst of tragedy, even when you cannot see any good in suffering. To be able to give thanks in the midst of aching loss is a transforming experience. There’s a wisdom that comes from that kind of attitude and we are blessed with a more open, softer heart and with an outpouring of the spirit.

To live in thanksgiving daily is an attitude that is critical to our spirituality. It is a state of being. The Lord knows this, this is why he stresses its importance.

--excerpts from an old talk I wrote on Gratitude, many moons past.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

more makin' the rounds part 2

Jiao and I rode up to the Chinese market off 90th south in SLC. I could see the relief in her face, they have almost everything there. We bought ingredients for her to cook with, should keep her from starving. She is brave and adventuresome in trying American food but let's face it, familiar foods are such a comfort.

We picked up Faye around noon and headed over to HB and Penee. So it's 2 down, 2 more brothers to go. She already knows quite a bit about my family, JLW has informed her. Let's just say their reputation has preceded them, so no great shocks. he he he

Thursday, November 17, 2011

makin' the rounds

Introduced Jiao to the Larry Arnett fam last night. She loved the brownies and ice cream:)

We were planning on visiting HB's family today but Jiao has been having a wee bit trouble adjusting to American food. Our cuisine is so different from what she is used to and her stomach wasn't feeling well this afternoon at all. Trying to remedy that by stocking up on ingredients familiar to her and letting her cook for herself. Everything is so unfamiliar and will take time to adjust.

Jiao is a delightful person and we are so happy she is finally here. Jantzen especially:)

guadium #99,990

As we move through life we collect spiritual experiences that stretch us and sustain us and leave us better equipped to handle whatever else may be thrown at us in mortality. I know this. But once again, like so many other crucibles I have experienced personally, the events from this past week have left me sobered, grateful and in awe.

The Lord hears and answers prayers and we’re blessed beyond anything if we know and experience this. Routinely my prayers include gratitude and acknowledgement and mindfulness. But this week they included pleading, too. Oh yes. In times such as this past week prayer is asking, and asking is faith.

And the Lord always, always responds to faith. And then later when gratitude and relief flood us because what we want and pray for aligns with what God wants, well that is indescribable. Still, there have been times in my life when my prayers have not been answered the way I want. In those times faith becomes trusting.

The asking, the trusting. Such important factors in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. My life teaches me that God exists, and He has responded in both quiet and subtle ways. And then sometimes, for whatever His reasons, He grabs me and those close to me by the collar and intervenes directly and in dramatic ways.

Whatever way He chooses to show He is listening and in control I am so so grateful that He is there.

Feeling alittle exhausted. And feeling so much love for my beautiful daughter and our new little grandson.

It’s like every now and again we need reminders of our place in life, and just how fleeting life is.

Some pics from little Faye’s birthday party. I’m posting them because they are proof of a creative and loving mama who worked her guts out on this party. The untouched cake is sitting in the fridge, the decorations still hang, the presents unopened. A gentle reminder that things can change on a dime.*

How precious and tenuous life can be.

*See Megs own account on her blog.

Monday, November 14, 2011


JLW sent these this morning. They are pics from the wedding celebration (even though they're not married yet, weird I know). They will both be here tomorrow. Yikes! So much to do still. Brig and Keny have been frantically painting in preparation.

These pics make me cry. They look good. And happy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

i can breathe again

We received our miracle. Megs blood levels are normal, her bleeding is under control and they are saying they will try her on solid food this afternoon. Considering where she was and where she's been this is a miracle. As ld posted over at the Grandparentals, they surprised Meghan by bringing her baby up to see her. Truly a tender moment, not a dry eye to be found. He could only stay for 15 minutes before they whisked him back to NICU, but for both mother and baby this was a definite morale booster.

Can't thank you all enough for your fasting and prayers. Our pleas were heard and she has according to her Doctor, turned the corner.

please join us

We are starting a collective fast for Meghan and her baby today. Please family and friends join us. I know for a fact that there is strength and efficacy in combined faith, fasting and prayers. I will update and keep you all posted.

She continues to be upbeat and we are confident with each passing hour she will get stronger and her blood levels will rise. They are taking out the balloon this morning, pray all goes well there and she doesn't lose any more blood.

Baby boy started on some meds to help his heart. Kody said nothing wrong structurally but the valves of his heart still think he is in the womb and not opening right. Doctors said meds will help with this. He is 7 weeks early, but really doing well considering.

Kody's parents drove all night and arrived in town around a couple hours ago. So grateful as I think Kody is a bit 'shell-shocked' and needs them. Faye is being well taken care of, we've managed to keep her at home as routine is best for her.

Thanks to all of you, we feel your prayers. Your support and strength has been such a blessing.

And to my dear brothers, you are simply the best.

This is all a bit too much deja vu, but I know God is a god of miracles and can intervene. He already has in so many ways.

Friday, November 4, 2011

grammatically correct

In college my Mom used to send back my letters with the punctuation and grammar corrected. She took her red ink teacher pen and circled inaccuracies and spelled out any misspelled words. About once a week, when I received a new letter from her, my last one to her would be tucked in. I never thought this was odd as she was a grammar nazi and well it was just Mother.
Woo whee she must be rolling her eyes now. Sorry Mom. I'm letting everyone know you taught me better.

A reminder then:

Your vs. You’re
This one drove her insane, so I don’t make this mistake too often.

“Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “your cat” or “your blog.” “You’re” is a contraction for “you are,” as in “you’re showing how dumb you are by using your when you really mean you are.”

It’s vs. Its
This used to drive her bonkers too and she would always say it’s easily avoided by thinking through what it is you’re trying to say.
“It’s” is a contraction of “it is” or “it has.” “Its” is a possessive pronoun, as in “this blog has lost its charm.” An easy rule of thumb—repeat your sentence out loud using “it is” instead. If that sounds weird, “its” is likely the correct choice.

There vs. Their
“There” is used many ways, often as a reference to a place (“let’s go there”) or as a pronoun (“there is no Halloween candy left”). “Their” is a plural possessive pronoun, as in “their bags” or “their opinions.” Do the “that’s ours!” test—are you talking about more than one person and something that they possess? If so, “their” will get you there.

Affect vs. Effect
Ld is always hollering to me from his computer on this one. Candy, which one do I use?

“Affect” is a verb, as in “Your ability to study will affect your grades immensely.” “Effect” is a noun, as in “The effect of a parent’s education on a child’s future is well documented.” By thinking in terms of “the effect,” you can usually sort out which is which, because you can’t stick a “the” in front of a verb. While some people do use “effect” as a verb (“a strategy to effect a settlement”), it’s usually found in legalese, so ignore, real people don’t write like that.

The Dangling Participle
Whenever I made this error I could count on my mother writing in the margin “try to be more clear, dear”
Ha! Your opening phrase should always modify what immediately follows. If it doesn’t, you’ve left the participle dangling, and will confuse your readers.

I think the reason why I have poor grammatical and punctuational discipline is because I am lazy and relied so much on my mother. I could always count on her to know the rules. Lame excuses, I know.

And I am the worst at periods. They always go within quotation marks. Which means I need to seriously comb over this blog and correct all my inconsistencies on that score.

Sheesh, Mother. If the rules of heaven allow you to read my blog, perhaps you could leave any needed corrections in the comment section, eh?

Until then, I'll have to consult this:

Wait here’s more:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

have you seen this?

One of my moms notebooks, filled with thoughts, stories, poetry. Some of it cheesy, some of it not, clipped from random places and pasted onto the pages. An assorted collection of things she thought interesting or helpful and wanted to remember, for whatever reason. It makes me smile.

Mother was a blogger, a paper one, long before computers. I love looking and reading and flipping through her pages and wonder with each entry what prompted her to save this or what was she thinking that made it important enough to make the cut. And that’s the point. She was thinking, all the time.

What we choose to read and the voices we allow to influence us, well they are such an important part of our growth. And sometimes we come across little gems, ideas or thoughts that we want to tag or underline in our memory.* Those little nuggets that speak to us and resonate quite often reveal where we are at the moment in our thinking.

I use my blog in much the same way my mom used her pasted up notebooks. It is helpful to me to catalog snippets here and a link there, helps order my ‘rumble tumble pell mell’ thoughts.

Blogging can be another window, another glimpse, along with journaling and life histories and other personal writings, into the heart and soul of a person.

So, again, all 3 dear readers of mine, the sermons and the quotes and the lists and random stuff found on this site, they are all for me. And even though there is vulnerability in my sharing, I can’t stop. Just like my mom and her ‘paper notebook blogs’ I have some genetic need that compels me to document what I read and see and learn.

It makes me cry a little, seeing how close that little apple falls toward the maternal tree.

Mirror, mirror on the wall
I am my mother after all.

*Pinterest, Megs?