Friday, October 30, 2009

Unexpected Guest

My mom called the day of my last post to let me know she was making a spontaneous trip here a few days later. We have been so busy with projects I've been saving to do with her help, I lost track of time and forgot to post. If it makes you feel any better, I haven't been on the computer at all this week.

So, here's a quick post to get you through the weekend. There WILL be a post on Monday!

This is a poem my mom shared with us by Lowell Bennion:

Learn to like what doesn't cost much.
Learn to like reading, conversation, music.
Learn to like plain food, plain service, plain cooking.
Learn to like fields, trees, brooks, hiking, rowing, climbing hills.
Learn to like people, even though some of them may be … different from you.
Learn to like to work and enjoy the satisfaction of doing your job as well as it can be done.
Learn to like the songs of birds, the companionship of dogs.
Learn to like gardening, puttering around the house and fixing things.
Learn to like the sunrise and sunset, the beating of rain on the roof and windows, and the gentle fall of snow on a winter's day.
Learn to keep your wants simple and refuse to be controlled by the likes and dislikes of others.

Just before Bennion died, his biographer, Mary L. Bradford, visited him. He was feeling pretty good, he said. Not because he was in fine health, but because he had managed to pretty much "give everything away."

At his funeral, President Gordon B. Hinckley mused that Bennion never owned a car as nice as any of the cars in the chapel parking lot that day.
This is my Little M. Last night was a Halloween party at our church. He received a Tootsie Pop and then went around telling everyone in the entire place that he had a "wollipop... a really BIIIIG wollipop!"

He couldn't have been happier.

Let us all take after Lowell and Little M and truly be happy and more than satisfied with the simple things.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Day Late, A Post Short

Sorry, I think I might need to just switch to Mondays for my posts. Our Sunday schedule has changed drastically and I no longer have a couple hours by myself. I don't mind it at all because it's a result a spending more time with my family.

But it's not good for Sunday posts here.

Is everyone okay with a switch to Monday? If not, then feel free to write a post for me to publish on Sunday because I think that's the only way you'll get it. Thanks!

Okay, so for this week's topic. I've been thinking about Nattie's suggestion from a while ago a lot and just trying to think what I could say that might be insightful. But I'm not sure I've have much to add to it, so I'm thinking just the reminder and opportunity for personal reflection will be what we need.

Here's what she said:

"Doing the simple things (read, pray, etc) allow the Lord to bless us as much as He can. Sometimes I think we sell ourselves short of His blessings by being lazy."

I'll give my little two cents and then let you ponder and share your insights. This reminded me of a moment of inspiration I had in Sunday School several years ago. We were discussing the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke in the New Testament.

I had always focused on the generosity of the father and the sweetness of the reunion. But on this day, some questions were asked that got me thinking about the older son. The one who stayed home and worked with his father. At first, things seem unfair that he did all the work, while his brother went off and spent his inheritance, and then their dad throws a huge party for the younger son when he gets home.

But that's when it hit me. The younger son had suffered quite a bit during his absence while the older was blessed to be with his father and in his care that entire time. So, even though it initially seemed unfair, it wasn't. The father wanted to bless them both as much as he possibly could, but the one who left removed himself from those blessings for a time.

Now the application, when I don't do the things I should (pray, study scriptures, listen to church leaders), Heavenly Father cannot give me the blessings He would like to. All I have to do is choose to do what He asks, to keep myself near Him, and He will bless me as much as I can.

And when I stray, like the Prodigal Son, He receives me with open arms when I return to Him and again offers those blessings.

Joy, of course, being a blessing He can always offer, no matter what trials I am facing in my life.

What about you? What do you notice when you are doing the "little" things? What are your thoughts on Heavenly Father's blessings?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Joy Model

So, since posting my last post, I booked a flight and flew out to the funeral and returned home late last night. Last week felt like the longest week ever. Not necessarily because it was bad; it's just that way too much happened for it to have only been one week.

But here I am again, so it must have been just a week all the same.

And my inspiration again comes from my grandma. Or her funeral, really.

All nine of her children and almost all of their spouses shared a memory and some thoughts on their mother at the funeral. It made for a long funeral, but I felt privileged to hear so many different view points on the same wonderful person. They all love her and admire her, but each in his or her own way.

And almost, if not all, of them closed their remarks with something along these lines, "And I hope to one day be just like her."

One of her best friends spoke and she said the same thing.

What a wonderful tribute!

And it got me thinking--what a great idea. Find a Joy Model.

Someone (or preferably multiple someones) you know who seems to have high levels of joy. And emulate them.

My grandma is definitely one of my joy models, as I'm sure you could guess. Another one is actually my former self. From about 16-19, I was one of the happiest people I knew. It's not like I had it all figured out back then, but I did pretty well in the joy category. I spent a lot of my time listening to and trying to help others--something that has always brought me joy, but sometimes I think I'm too busy now. And I was pretty laid back and mellow. Not so much these days. So, I'm trying to be more like my teenage self, in that sense.

What about you? Who are your joy models? Why? What do you admire most about them? What is it about the way they live their life that makes them a model for you?

If you don't have someone--go out and find them this week! And please share!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Abiding Love

So, I'm guessing you noticed last week's post never came. I'm sorry. I sat down to write it every day, but it just wouldn't come. If it's any consolation (because I know a week without a post from me is just so difficult for you to endure), I think it was good for me to have a week off. Thanks for the permission, Jen!

This is a post I've been writing in my head for a while, not sure when to post it. But it's what I need to express today, so it's what you're getting today.

It's inspired by my grandma. One of the greatest people to ever live on this earth. Honestly. I know many of you know her and can attest to that. And I'm sorry to those of you who don't, because she was truly one of life's gems.

For a while now, I've been meaning to write her a letter telling her what an inspiration and example she's been for me in so many ways.

She passed away yesterday morning. I never got around to writing that letter. I know she knows how I feel about her, but I still wish I'd sent it. So, here are a couple things that letter would have contained. Except that I'm going to write it to you, and not to her because that would be weird.

My grandma lived a life of abundant joy. I've been contemplating the 'why' behind that for a while now. It was definitely a combination of many things. But a couple of them stuck out as major sources, to me at least.

One of the first things I realized when I thought about it, is that her house is always full of people. Always. I don't think I've ever gone to visit her and been the only one there. Usually, someone(s) is already there when I arrive, more people show up while I'm coming, and even more are expected after I leave.

The reason for that is simple, everyone who knows Grandma wants to be around her. She exudes love for all. I'm pretty sure she has over 50 grandchildren and I have no idea how many great-grandchildren. A lot. But she somehow kept up with everyone. And genuinely cared about everyone. Even though my children are young, they talk about her frequently because she makes such an impression. And they adore her.

And that's why she was constantly surrounded by people. She made everyone feel loved, needed, and important. She always listened to everything I had to say, regardless of its true merit. It mattered to her because I mattered to her.

That is a quality I will strive my whole life to obtain. I think it came naturally to her. It's just the kind of person she was. But I learned from watching her that her selflessness in putting other's interests first actually brought her joy. So, even though I sometimes feel that I have to take care of myself first in order to ensure happiness, that isn't necessarily true. She found great joy in caring for others.

The other thing I want to share is what the title is about today. I guess it's kind of related to what I just talked about because it's about love as well. Maybe I could have just summed this whole post up by telling you that the best route to abiding joy is simply to fill your life with love.

But the love between my grandma and grandpa is so profound, I'm going to share it with you. Because it will bless your life the way it's blessed mine.

I have never witnessed a deeper, purer love than the love between them. They were always saying the sweetest things to and about each other. But I want to illustrate their love with one story that my mom recently shared with me.

This happened after my parents were married, but before I was born. I hope I get all the details correct. My grandma had been telling my mom how much she was looking forward to attending her 50th high school reunion. When she came to visit my mom shortly after the date, my mom eagerly asked her how it was.

She hadn't made it.

My grandpa had gone somewhere, I think to the store, and had lost track of time and didn't return home in time to go to the reunion. Shocked, my mom asked my grandma how mad she was at grandpa.

Not at all. She said she knew he hadn't done it on purpose, or to hurt her. If my memory is correct, she didn't even talk to him about it.

I couldn't believe it when my mom related this to me. What an example of true love! On both of their parts. She trusted in my grandpa's love enough to overlook her cause for hurt. And she loved him enough to instantly forgive him for his oversight.

I think about all the times I've felt the need to "punish" HH for some oversight on his part by staying mad at him for a long time. Now, I try to remember my grandma and just trust in that fact that I know HH never desires to hurt me. So, there's no need to be mad and hold a grudge.

I'm not at my grandma's level of love and forgiveness yet. But I'm closer because of her example. It hadn't really occurred to me that choosing to not be mad at all was an option. But there's no joy in choosing the mad option.

Really, I'm not surprised that is the choice my grandma made. To develop a love as strong as theirs, I'm sure they didn't waste much time, if any, being upset with each other. Instead they built each other up with loving compliments and support. They are as unified as any couple could possibly be. And what greater joy can anyone have than to have that kind of love?

When my grandpa passed away last December, I hurt for my grandma the most. Because I knew that I couldn't even imagine the pain she felt at living each day without him right by her side. He had been unwell for a while and she had tirelessly cared for him. She was his greatest cheerleader and stayed by him even when she was unwell herself.

And so, I wondered how she found the strength to wake up each morning and go on without him there. But she is the strongest person I've ever known and she knew she'd be with him again someday. Those are details for another post, though.

The point is, she did get up every day and she did keep going because of her love for her children. She fought hard. Harder than was really possible. She even made a couple miraculous recoveries. But her time to rest has finally come. And I am overjoyed to know that she is reunited with my grandpa, the love of her eternal life.

I miss her. So terribly much. But I will be forever grateful for the legacy she left, for the example she set, and for the amazing difference for good she made in my life.