Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Grateful Day

Happy, Happy, Thanksgiving!

Well, like the early Pilgrims, I am thankful that I live in America and have enough food to eat. I'm thankful that the natives are mostly friendly.

Today and tomorrow I will attempt to manage my material blessings to accommodate the company that is coming for the holiday. Bill and I struggled to feed our children well for years and now we finally have that total year's supply. A lot of it is piled over the basement floor and I need to clean it up and freshen the bedrooms down there for the company.

I will be warm as I do this. I will get to take a hot shower afterward and will have a clean bathroom available for breaks. I will have lots of fresh, clean, cool water to drink and snacks up the ying-yang. I will not have to worry that gangs of thugs are going to break into my house and rape me or burn me alive.

I am going uptown to the bank later. I have enough money to get cash to be able to treat my grandchildren to Santaland and the movies. Odds are a car bomb isn't going to go off while we're at the parade.

There is much in my life that is good. What is good in yours?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Talking From the Heart(Guest Post by Barb)

About twenty years ago when I was in my teen years and still Catholic, I had some thoughts about using the lay population in the Catholic Church in a way to bring more life to the meeting. My ideas were very simple and probably not far reaching like the changes in Vatican II effecting the lay members. Before drifting off to sleep, I found myself thiking about how Mass would be more meaningful if people would stand up and share the feelings from their heart from time to time.

These thoughts were not tied to anything I had heard or seen at the time that I recollect. They may have been oddly out of place in the mind of a very content Catholic such as myself. I loved the beauty of the Catholic Mass. I enjoyed the parts where the flock would speak in unison a piece of creed or a prayer such as the Lord's prayer. I felt accomplished with the parts that I memorized through the repettition of attending Mass through the years. I liked the short sermons that seemed to make the Gospel readings of the day applicable to our lives. From the pettitions of prayer read as statements where the audience would respond with a phrase such as "Glory be to God" to the part of Mass somewhere in the middle where people were to share the sign of peace by shaking hands with people who were sometimes strangers if I did not know them from my Catholic school affiliations to the end when the Priest would tell us to go in peace but not as the world gives it, I found comfort in the Mass.

I recall as a youth hearing the Priest make the supplication that we were not worthy to receive the Communion but if God would only say the word we would be healed. Being of a rather literal mindset even later that children gernerally are, I would wonder what the "word" was. I would try to have very holy and noble thoughts as I grew and would approach the front of the Church where Communion was served. The meetings were also broken up with appropriate times to stand, to sit, and to kneel. The culmination of all this order was apart of what I expected from Church.

When I joined the LDS Church, I felt the Holy Spirit very present at the meetings. Yet, I longed for the traditions of old in the Catholic Church. The meetings seemed so plain and I felt so naked as I sat there without a kneeler and the only time I could speak was to say "Amen" or to join in song. Even the music seemed wrong in the LDS Church as I was accustomed to singing to guitar music. The melodies that I liked of the Catholic Church were simple and the tempo was what I was comfortable with. One of my favorite songs in the Catholic Church that we often song was about being raised up on Eagles wings. Such an experience. My voice seemed under the LDS music and airy and probably from the throat, which is always a no no in singing. But I could not find my way with the music.

Later I would have some favorites in the LDS Hymms such as "I Know that My Reedemer lives."

After becoming LDS, I don't know when it was that I had a vaguely remembered that I had pondered about bringing life to a meeting by people speaking from the heart. Upon reflecting on what I had envisoned before going to sleep one fine night, it was very much like Testimony Meeting and also the many occassions when members give talks in Sacrament, Family Home Evening, and Sunday School, Relief Society etc. It really is special to hear people speak with conviction whether it is polished or more humble in delivery. Some of my favorite talks or testimonies through the years were very basic. A sister who converted about a year before my entering her area shared a talk based on Articles of Faith and her understanding. I recall how a long-time member was touched by her words.

I heard a talk by a young man so drenched in enthusiasm as he was for the moment sober and sharing how Alma 32 applied right to his life. I am not sure if he stayed on the road of sobriety. If heart were enough, he would of surely been set free.

I also like talks of those who have become mature in the Gospel. I see a certain peace in those who have sought to live by drawing close to God and serving Him and especially love to hear Missionary Couples speak.. A testimony that stands out was a talk on sanctifcation by one of my friends from Young Single Adults who spoke of how he gained his testimony. That effort was required on his part surprised me as I figured he had his testimony handed to him on a silver platter based on his being related to the President Spencer. W. Kimball.

One of the older sisters in the ward who was a Stake Missionary really tried hard to ease my transition. She made an effort on what would have been Palm Sunday in the Catholic Church to be sensitive to the fact that we would not witness that tradition in LDS services. She also shared her testimony in private to me about when her son died and how her husband said that now is the time for them to decide if they really believe what they had been taught about Jesus Christ.

Through the years, I have come to love the LDS Sacrament Meeting, Stake Conferences, General Conferences, and Fast and Testimony Meetings as people speak right from the heart. As I have quietly listened to talks and testimonies, I have felt many messages so relevant to me and my life. And I have have loved the conviction of the members who share what they hold so precious.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Autumn, my friend (guest post by Barb)

Autumn was my five-year-old friend in the last area where I served on my mission. She had a way of looking right in my face and twisting her mouth in a positions where lips are stretched thin in various contortions. Her eagerness was very infectious and very energizing.
I remember how much Autumn liked one of my companions who had been serving there before I entered the area. I was in a three-some and it seemed to be Sister Lee who she called Sister Wee who Autumn gravitated to the most at that time. It probably wasn't too prophetic of Sister Lee to tell me that soon Autumn would be drawn to me in like matter. On visits to her parents home who were active members who allowed us to do laundry in their home and despite a limited budget would often feed us, Autumn seemed delightfully under foot at times. I recall her mother driving us somewhere with Autumn present. Autumn said she was going to draw a picture that included me. I let her know that I would send it home and instructed her not to draw the weight that I had gained as a missionary.
Autumn's primary was having a special missionary activity where adults who served missions would discuss their missions with children in small sections. My companion and I were invited to talk to the children about missionary work. I had heard a sister talk in my home ward to the primary children about missionary work and how her children when small loved to be missionaries and wanted to share the Book of Mormon. It is always easy to hit the angle about inviting children to primary too although it did not occur to me at the time.
I had an idea right before class to do some sort of object lesson with a pencil that I borrowed for that purpose. I must have heard a quote somewhere where Mother Teresa said she was like a pencil in God's hand or an instrument in his hand and I think I quoted her and shared the thoughts I had tied together in my head prior to my talk. My companion praised me for being a good speaker.
Later I would learn Autumn's assessment. Autumn said that she did not understand what I was trying to say.

-by Barb

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hugging the Baby

Because my mother chose to live her life as a leech on society and I felt the humiliation of that, begging for food in poverty and degradation, I'm touchy about accepting favors, charity, accolades, gifts, or compliments. **That doesn't include those of you who constantly help keep my computer going, I don't know why my brain has made an exception there, but I will still be e-mailing you to fix something.**

But it hurts me to have to lean on others, including my husband. I'm very independent and I will crawl on a broken leg to do my laundry and the things I consider my part of the bargain in our marriage. I snap at him when he hovers. I feel guilty because I don't work and pay my way. I know that's not right, I know it, but it's how I'm wired. I take care of. Nobody takes care of me.

I've been ill the last few months, struggling to do basic things like get out of bed. And Bill has taken over a few things, the shopping. I stumble through my household chores in the few good hours I have a day and feel like a total slug because I literally lay around the rest of the time (or sit at the computer, that doesn't seem to tax my energy too much, although I haven't been as up to that as usual, either.)

In a desperate attempt to save our marriage (an attempt that has been going on for 25 years now:)) we are going to a therapist. Yesterday I told him how awful I felt that Bill was taking care of me and he smiled and said, "Did you ever have that one child who wouldn't cuddle? The one who would stiffen in your arms and want to get down and play? The one who you kind of enjoyed it when they were sick because you could hold them and rock them and love them?"

I said, "well, not really, but I had a grandchild like that."

He said, "that's you. You're the baby who won't let him love you and take care of you. He's enjoying this and he wants to take care of you. Let him."

I was like, "oh." Isn't that the most precious concept? I don't know how long I'll be able to let him be nice to me, but you know, I could get used to the foot rubs.

PS, I'm not dying, I'm just aging rather rapidly.