Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Home of the Year

As I sit and look around me, I can’t help but see the dust covering the shelves. Darn, I meant to get to that. The dishes, though not stacked nearly as tall in the sink as they were when I went to work yesterday (that would be thanks to my finely trained husband) are still in need of a good washing. Oops, meant to get that done too. And the laundry… well, we won’t even go there, since it’s well hidden in the basement and no one needs to know of its condition except those of us who are trying earnestly to tackle it. (That too is on my to-do list)

By the description of my home, you can tell, it’s not the kind of home you’ll see in Better Homes and Gardens. Sure, I wish I had more time for better upkeep. It really is a bigger priority than I make it sound, but there are some nights I lay my head just happy in the thought that at least it’s clean enough that it’s reasonably straight and we don’t live in filth.


Still, isn’t it every woman’s dream to live in a spic and span home? I feel like I grew up in one, if memory serves me right.

But would I really like to live in the perfect model home? Hmmmm…. I’d have to think on that. On the one hand I would instantly say yes. As I mentioned, my mother was a brilliant housekeeper and there are times I wonder if she looks down on me and shakes her head in disappointment if I go too many days without running the vacuum around.


On the other hand, I may not get the Home of the Year award sponsored by some well known magazine, but I sure love that feeling of coming home; to my home, my comfortable home.


There are no classic works of art, but there are pictures of Christ and the Temples, and there are my family’s pictures hanging which reminds me of all that I love and all that are important to me.


Sure, I may look at magazines and dream of those clean spotless homes. But they never look lived in. They don’t look loved in. They aren’t homey and comfortable. I think I’ll stick with the one I have. After all, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”


The past several months, I’ve had to work far too many hours. I was away from home way too much and too many things were neglected from the home front. I’m not just talking about housekeeping, but I felt I wasn’t doing enough in regards to my family. My husband really had to step in and pick up wherever I couldn’t.


But I had the luxury of spending a few days at home over the Christmas holiday. I had a sense of renewal. It was so wonderful to be home. There is no place I would rather be. I crave more of it.

To me, I don’t need a magazine to tell me what it takes to make a “Home of the Year.” My heart knows what it takes. I believe I have one. I couldn’t feel more grateful for that.


In the coming year, I vow to spend as much time there as I possibly can. (Then maybe while I am there I can do something about those dishes, clothes, and dust bunnies. I’m actually looking forward to it!) :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh Holy Night, Indeed!

As a family we have started a new tradition in our home. On the first week of each December a stake in a nearby city puts on a live Nativity for all to come and see. It is spectacular.

As the night falls, you come upon the Prophet Isaiah writing on scrolls. His prophesies of the Savior who will come unto the world is foretold as well as the Savior‘s mission on the earth is read to all who will listen to the Prophet of old.. As you listen to his visions and prophesies, soon you hear the scriptural account of the days leading up to the Christ child’s birth. Waiting in line, it is a powerful reminder of all that has come to pass and all the promises that will be fulfilled. What a wonderful reminder of what that means to each of us in our lives.

Then as you walk along, you see the Shepherds out in the field (with their live sheep around them) watching their flock by night who first see the star and the wise men walking toward the star shining in the sky. Was it just me or was there one particular star shining extra bright for us that clear cold Monday night????


There were cattle, goats, and even a large (live!) camel was there to greet us as we all walked towards Bethlehem. Many people walked among us in robes suited for that era. Children walked with parents, elderly walked with their staffs in tow. We felt we had gone back in time. All around us sounds could be heard of people walking toward Bethlehem -- to the land of their inheritance.

Once we arrived in Bethlehem, we were met by a soldier who expected us to pay our taxes, and a man who--off to the side stood weighing in coins of every shape and size---which were the taxes paid--- before we were to enter.

Once were allowed entrance into Bethlehem, there were peddlers trying to sell and barter their trade. Women were weaving baskets and grinding wheat stalks into grain. Men carved from logs with tools while others sold vegetables and fruit from crates and stalls. Even a leper was shunned from public begging for a morsel from any merciful passerby.

We continued to walk through the “dirt road” of Bethlehem and saw women gathering water at a well with a rooster perched on top watching us with his steady gaze and even came upon an Inn keeper sending everyone away for there was no room at the Inn.. So much to see, and even more to learn yet no one spoke to us, but rather let us take it all in by observing what was happening at that time. No one spoke a word. No one needed to. The only words spoken were that of the Inn Keeper. It was enough, for then in the darkened city, around the corner not too far from a stall of a donkey, a light shone ever so clear. It was then we heard the sweetest sound we could have heard.

A newborn baby started to cry.

We came upon the only quiet, warm, corner of the barn in the small town of Bethlehem. The parents of the baby Jesus were kneeling beside the newborn baby trying to comfort him. It was an incredible sight to see a real newborn baby wrapped up in soft blankets in the barn on that freezing cold snowy night. It took our breath away.

As we left the barn, a woman dressed in robes whispered to us ever so softly, “Merry Christmas,.” She had tears in her eyes and so did we.

As we got into our car to leave, the song, “Oh Holy Night” was playing on the radio. What a beautiful ending to our beautiful night.

Of course there are so many reasons I love Christmas, but is it any wonder that seeing and hearing the story of the birth of our Savior brings with it a renewed sense of hope and love to all the world?

That night, being a spectator of the Nativity, brought a new vision of the Christmas story for me. I hope and pray that I will not lose the feelings I had in my heart as I witnessed the scene before me.

It was a witness to me of the accounts that happened so very long ago. It was an experience testified ever so strongly of the miracles and blessings that would come because of the humble beginnings of that wondrous night so long ago because of that sweet little baby that laid quietly crying in a manger.

Indeed, what a Holy Night it was.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time

I had an interesting experience yesterday that gave me an opportunity to stop and reflect.

I noticed a certain clock hanging on the wall. It was the kind that is ran by satellite and it couldn’t find its signal. Therefore the hands on this clock were racing around like crazy ticking away the hours of the day within only minutes.

At first I had to laugh as I surmised there are times I feel I am racing out of control like that.

Then I sobered a bit…

The hours in my day tick by like crazy and at the end of the day I wonder where the time has gone and what I have to show for the minutes that have sped by. Did I accomplish all that was needed? Did I do what was the most important in the grand scheme of things? Did I treat everyone the way I know I should be treating others? Did I spend my time showing my family how much I love them, and enough time caring for them?

I consider myself a fairly busy—even too busy at times— person. Though I am constantly justifying that all the things I am involved in and all that I am doing certainly need to be done or have their place in my life, I still find myself feeling guilty for the things left undone because I ran out of time.

For example, I had to work, so I didn’t spend enough time with my family… that one stabs at my heart almost constantly. I tell myself that on my next evening off I will do a really great family dinner and activity to make it up to them. Of course when the time rolls around, low and behold, I’m either exhausted, (or lately, sick) or sure enough, they have plans. Murphy’s law? So to remedy that, I have had to alter my plans.

Rather than making an elaborate evening out of our time together, we make the most of the time we do have together instead. Maybe we’ll catch a movie, or even rent one and have a movie night at home with treats or we’ll stay in and play a game. Last night I took my son Christmas shopping and we sang Christmas songs together. (Maybe a tad early for Christmas songs, but we had a ball singing at the top of our lungs in the car!)

Time is racing on.


I need to be conscientious of how I use my time. At the end of the day, I want to look back and know that I filled my time with the things that are meaningful to my family, my friends, myself, and of course to my Savior, rather than just doing activities that fill my time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That Old Age Thing

There was a time in my youth that I thought people who were the age that I am now were positively ancient. I laugh and maybe even cringe a bit at the thought. But I have to step back and think on that for a minute.

I don’t move as quickly as I used to. I was told I have arthritis in my knees and I suspect I have it in a couple of other locations as well. But, arthritis??? Isn’t that an old people disease? I won’t use this blog to list my other “ailments” that go along with aging, but rather, my point is there are a multitude of things happening to my body and yes, even my mind :) that have been changing thanks to the aging process. Suffice it to say, I am sometimes taken aback by the older person I see looking back at me in the mirror. I notice the changes taking place that I never thought would happen to me.

So what of aging gracefully? My mother and her mother aged gracefully. In fact, I dare say, they became more beautiful with age. Not only that, but all around me I see women whom I admire aging most gracefully. I have to wonder what the secret is.

I decided to google it. I came up with all kinds of hilarious jokes and articles on the humor of aging. Unfortunately there were far too many I could identify with. It was more depressing than funny. What I learned from that was that humor is one thing essential to aging gracefully. That is not all. I learned much more as I pondered this whole aging process. A couple of articles hit a few pointers right on the nail for me as well. I thought I would share what I have learned.

The whole aging process is an important one and denying ones age though it is a silly, harmless, game played, (i.e. “I’m twenty five again…” or “Still thirty and holding…” etc.) it can also be disabling. After all, those grey hairs, those wrinkles, those scars, well, they are all a big part of who we have become over the years and we have earned them through our lives experiences. Therefore, we should wear them without guilt or shame, rather with pride and joy having survived or accomplished all we have experienced.

When you think about it, you can look back and say I am X many years old. I have learned X many years’ worth of lessons, X many years’ worth of personal growth, X many years’ worth of challenges and happiness, and X many years’ worth of accomplishments. Looking back there has to be some satisfaction for that growth and learning and that in turn can build self esteem. May you live that many more years and find much happiness in them! It’s something to be proud of.

Age doesn’t have to be a debilitating thing for us. We can age gracefully. After all, they say age is a state of mind—(I just wish my body would keep up! The physical stuff is a little harder to deal with!)

I know that as I have aged, my perspective has changed. I know now that the friends I have are the friendships I will always treasure.

I cherish moments with my loved ones as I realize there just aren’t enough of them. This is an about change when as a youth I hated it when my sister came near me or even touched me if I was angry with her or when she crossed to my side of the room after we had drawn the imaginary line.

I have strived to become more knowledgeable and therefore more stronger in my faith and my convictions which in turn gives my life reason and purpose.

I have become more forgetful, it is true. But maybe this isn’t all bad. In turn it has helped me to be more forgiving— for when I do finally remember, I have discovered that some things just aren’t worth being contentious over.

I have tried to become more at peace with myself and with my fellow man.

I realize more than ever I have much to do and mso much more to learn and suddenly I don't have all the time in the world, now all the answers to slove all the world's crisis's, but now more than ever, I want to do my part.

The list goes on. I am finding that maybe aging isn’t such a bad thing. I would never trade my adorable grandson for less grey hair or a flatter stomach and firmer end zone.

Life comes with broken hearts— there we learn strength and love and compassion, It comes with trials and struggles and challenges—there we learn faith, hope, patience and endurance. It comes with adventure and experience— there we can learn wisdom.

Each and every day that we have on this earth can be a blessing. We can either cherish it or go out kicking and screaming. It is my hope that I can learn to cherish it and age with grace.

And so, in ending this blog, I have to add some of the humor that goes with aging. After all, in the beginning I did mention we have to have a sense of humor with aging, right?

When I was younger, one of my favorite shows was “The Sound of Music” Now that does age me, doesn’t it? This may be a bit of that “denying my age stuff” but “The Sound of Music” was the best picture of 1965 and one of the best musicals ever produced.
In 1965, I was a little young to appreciate this fine film. But my mother helped me to appreciate it several years later.

This is a copy of a forward I received on Julie Andrews. It fit perfectly with my blog today and I couldn’t resist using it. I was unable to locate the original author: I could certainly relate to her feelings, could you? (Be honest and proud of it if you could!)

Julie Andrews turned 69 and to commemorate her 69th birthday on October 1, actress/vocalist Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favourite Things" from the legendary movie "The Sound Of Music."

Here are the actual lyrics she used:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cadillac's and cataracts, and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things..

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short, shrunken frames,
When we remember our favourite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Now there is a sense of humor from a lady who has aged gracefully! :)

*FYI The article I referred to in my blog for information was written by David Leonhardt on aging gracefully.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Fall For All

With a crazy work schedule today, my sweet husband agreed to blog for me. So, introducing my better half, Brad...

For many people, Fall is their most favorite time of the year. There are many great reasons for that. The weather begins to cool, the canyons are on fire with the changing colors of nature, of course there is the harvest, and for some, they look forward to the hunting season. My reasons for loving this time of year are far more simple, but in my opinion every bit as exciting.

Walter Camp is the one that can be blamed for this. He is the one that came up with the idea of a line of scrimmage, and the down and distance rule. Many others have made their contributions along the way, but Mr. Camp is widely considered the father of American Football. So I need to say thank you Walter for helping to make this time of year my favorite.

So what is it that makes this such a great time of the year for me? Football is a violent, almost gladiator like contest. It involves great preparation, strategy and execution. Those that participate at the highest levels are incredible athletes. I believe there is no other sport that requires more team effort than football. And while I enjoy these aspects of the sport, there are other things that are outside of the actual game that I also enjoy. What other sport do you show up for on game day 4 hours before the game starts? Not sure who the founder of tailgating was, but he is a genius. Hanging out with friends and family, throwing around a ball and just hanging out are a great part of the game. At least it is in my family. I have a son that doesn’t like sports all that much, but he rarely misses a game, because he knows it is important to me, and it is a chance for he and I to spend some time together. I appreciate that more then he will ever know.

Football has given me a chance to see several areas of the country as my brothers and I, along with our dad have had the good fortune to travel to many away games. That has been a great chance for us emotionally closed men to bond. I have to remember that because I love Saturday football games in the Fall, it isn’t for everyone. I should have never “surprised” Jeri with a trip to Rice/Eccles stadium and a game time bratwurst for her birthday one year. In my defense it was our first year of marriage and she didn’t have a chance to properly train me. However this year she got the same “birthday surprise”, what a great women to put up with me for 20 years with surprises like that! Jeri has also learned that there is more to the game then a bunch of over sized sweaty guys running into each other and hugging.

So by way of advice let me say a few things. Season tickets to your favorite team is a great birthday gift, if you’re a guy. Stadiums are the only place on earth where all the favorite “guy” food can be found in one place, that alone makes it a truly special place to be. Spending $52 dollars for donuts for a weekend road game is totally reasonable. We guys really do need a different team shirt for each day of the week. And occasionally a foam finger, painted belly, or even a cheese head are acceptable fashion statements in the right setting. Thanks for listening……Brad

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Signings

Recently I came across a subject of discussion on one of the writers lines I belong to. While I didn’t participate in the subject but was merely a lurker, It was interesting to me to read all the comments being said on this particular subject.

Apparently what started the discussion was a new author was about to embark on their first book signing and was asking for any helpful hints and suggestions to make their first book signing a success.

Many people wrote in with ideas – some of which I will share—but the topic of discussion got me thinking a bit.

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago I was asking the very same question of my friend Kerry Blair. I was about to do my first book signing and I had no idea what I was up against.

As always, Kerry gave me some helpful hints that have stuck with me and with time I have learned a few things along the way.

I know that if I were to ask each author on this blog, I believe that each of us would agree that with our book signings, we have all had those signings that gave us experiences that we will never forget, that we have met people along the way that have changed our lives in one way or another, and that there are times that we would look back at now and just plain laugh at or cherish the memory.

It’s a few of those that I want to share.

For starters… I remember at one particular book signing I walked into the store. They were obviously unprepared for me to arrive as there was no table set up for me, no poster to announce I’d be there, etc. I walked to the desk where the girl at the counter was helping a long line of customers. I had my hands full. I had brought a basket of flowers, (my main character was into landscaping- a small flower was given to each person who had me sign a book and to each sales clerk upon my leaving) I also had a jar of candy to help decorate my table, and a book of mint brownies for the store staff with a saying “I mint to tell you thank you for allowing me to come to your store today!”

As I stood there ready to drop everything, I overheard the girl at the counter going on and on about the wonderful author coming to the store to do a signing. She was EXTREMELY complimentary about the incredible writing talent of this mystery writer, how she can never figure out who the bad guy is, etc.

In the meantime, I was thrilled with the way she was gushing on and on about me. The customers kept looking over at me as they waited in line and my heart soared with this girl’s admiration of my talent.

Finally, one customer asked the author’s name. I was puffed up in pride by this time. The clerk looked up and said, “Betsy Brannon Green—she’ll be here next week and you just have to come back and meet her!” she squealed with excitement.

Lesson learned- Stay humble. I look back at that time and it certainly keeps me grounded. They had forgotten I was even coming that day.

Book signing hint- It’s the staff that sells your book. You want to leave them with a good impression. I have always tried to remember that. You are only there for a short time, but they are there every day. Letting them know you appreciate what they do in your behalf is beneficial to you. It’s them that gets your book into the hands of the readers. That being said, of course there are those that have made a name for themselves because of their talent alone. Me? I need all the help I can get!

At another book signing I had a gentleman come up and ask me all about my book. He acted genuinely interested in the plot and the background of how I came up with the storyline. I also noticed he went through the entire jar of candy as we talked, leaving all the wrappers from the candy crumbled all over the table. At the end of the candy he said, “Yeah well, I don’t read that kind of stuff anyway.” He acted disgusted by my book. I know he liked the candy though—

As for meeting people along the way—there are those signings that we get to meet people who want to meet us. Those are the ones who will buy the book and then write to you and tell you to keep at it. They keep you going. They keep you from getting discouraged and keep you from giving up.

Lesson learned—as writers we are our own worst critic. Life gets in our way and takes up our time. We write for the love of it, for the challenges it brings. There are those who lift you up and encourage you to never give up. They make it all worth it.

Book signing hint—I always try to give some sort of give away at my book signings that go with the plot of the book as a thank you for buying the book. While this certainly isn’t necessary, It’s just a fun thing that I like to do. I didn’t do it with my first book, my second book was the flowers, the third, Kerry Blair helped me come up with the idea and we gave away troll dolls—which had to do with the storyline.

I have seen other authors do this as well. I loved Kerry’s book party when she gave party bags away with her Samantha Shade series – they had puzzles and pencils and treats in them.

Michele bell gave away butterfly boxes when she began her Butterfly series.I love the box that Michele gave me.

While doing things is a personal choice, I do think it’s nice to have a little candy dish out or something to decorate your table with. Sometimes the candy only brings people over to meet you, but hey, it’s a nice way to meet people too. :)

Other hints that authors suggested was checking to spell names correctly—even common names can be spelled differently.

Some use a matching pen that matches the cover art.

Some authors will sign with clever saying that have to do with the plot or series, while others will sign a personal message to family and friends.

I could go on and on about this topic. Not because of my vast knowledge—I’m afraid I lack there—but more because I have had some really fun experiences and I have some very choice memories of book signings—like the Clinton signing when I was in awe while doing a signing with so many of my favorite authors. It was such a wonderful experience for me to be among them.

The last experience I want to touch on is the signing that changes your life in one way or another. For me that would be when I went to a book signing. Not of my own, but to have one of my favorite authors sign one of my favorite books.

It was a Saturday morning I had gone to the Seagull store on 5400 So. And Redwood Road I had gone there to buy the next book in the Heart series by Kerry Blair. I had read them out of order but loved them so much I wanted them all. A saleslady told me Kerry would be in later that day to sign if I wanted to come back. I debated it back and forth but finally decided, as scared as I was to meet her, I wanted to tell her I loved her books and had always wanted to be a writer.

Long story short, I went back and from that book signing, Kerry Blair has changed my life for the good.

Not only has she taught me most of what I know about the world of writing, for without her I would have never gotten a book on the shelves, but my life is so much better because she is in it.

She has introduced me to some of my very best friends that I now have—each of whom I consider a blessing in my life—and has opened a whole new world for me.

Lesson learned—There are angels in this world that come and touch our lives for good and no matter how you try, no matter what you say, there are just no words to express your love and gratitude for what they mean to you.

Book signing hint-I decided a long time ago that it doesn’t matter how many books I sell at a book signing. I need to be in it for the experience. There are times that I have done a signing where people refuse to make eye contact. They’ll walk past me as if they can’t move away from me fast enough. Then there are times where I have signed one book right after another. Either way, I have met some wonderful people that I’ll never forget, I have some choice memories, but most of all, I have enjoyed the journey.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Youth Conference

My youngest son was asked to be a speaker at a devotional for our youth conference this year.

As a mother, I am quite proud of the way he gathered his thoughts together as he tried to speak on how the theme of the conference can help him in his life. So, I have taken the liberty to ask him to be a guest blogger and share with us the theme for youth conference and also share with us his thoughts (and his talk) that he gave. So, introducing, my youngest son, Bryan:

This year’s theme is, “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid, neither be dismayed. For the Lord thy God is with thee wherever thou goest”

This theme can be a big help in my life because of the challenges I have.

I’ve had three brain surgeries because I have seizures. At one point in my life, I was having up to twenty seven seizures a day and who knows how many at night. Even after taking medication to slow them down, it was unsuccessful, so it was decided our only option was surgery.

These surgeries have made it difficult for me to explain what I think and how I feel. It’s also difficult for me to understand language skills. So learning and reading is a real challenge for me.

One surgery caused me to have a stroke. This affected my balance so playing sports is pretty difficult. To top it off, I still have seizures, but not as many as I used to.

My challenges can be discouraging at times and I don’t always feel like I fit in.

I have a motto whenever I have to face challenges or problems and that is to, “Face your fears.” I say that to myself and then I say a prayer to my Heavenly Father. I know He will give me the courage I need to overcome my fears and face my challenge head on. At those times He always sends me comfort and strength.

I have also been given Priesthood Blessings. I have seen what the power of the Priesthood can do. I have seen miracles in my life because of those blessings.

I know I have my trials. I have had these challenges my whole life. But I also know that my Heavenly Father is there to help me with my challenges. I believe he hurts when I hurt and he is there to lift me up when I need him the most. I know he has been there throughout my life. I am so grateful to him and I love him for helping me and blessing me through my challenges and trials.

I know he will do the same for each of you, because he loves you too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Good Things to Come

I tried to gather my thoughts together, wishing to come up with a topic to blog about.

I have to admit I had one post I had previously started, knowing my turn to blog was fast approaching. However, as I tried to finish it, nothing really came out sounding the way I wanted it to.

Instead, my mind kept wandering to other thoughts. That is, that so many of my dearest friends, or their families, and even members within my own family are facing many difficult challenges at this time.

While each and every one of us hold each other in our thoughts and prayers, often times I feel so limited with my words to offer and support.

So, I went searching. It was fairly easy thanks to modern day technology (the internet) and that great Church site we have – lds.org. I found a message from Elder Jeffery R. Holland entitled, Good Things to Come.

When I listened to this wonderful message, it made me smile, it touched my heart, and it gave me asense of renewed hope. I found the strength and comfort. It was a gentle reminder, and one I needed to hear at the moment.

To all my friends and loved ones who are facing their own set of challenges, I hope you know how much I love you and that I care. I hope Elder Holland’s message uplifts you the same way that it did for me.

video

Thursday, July 8, 2010

First Impressions

While recently working in the Temple cafeteria, I had the wonderful experience of serving dinner to Elder Richard G. Scott, Sister Madsen, (the sweet widow of Brother Truman R. Madsen) and their guest whom I am unsure but I suspect was a grandson of one of theirs.

I loved serving them and visiting with them. All were very complimentary of the food and service. It was such a pleasure to be in their company.

Upon returning to the kitchen, I was told by my fellow worker I had a green thing stuck in the middle of my teeth. Now, this was no small thing, it was a great big piece of leafy green lettuce. I was horrified considering the company I had just been in. Such is the way things go for me… I can laugh it off--several days later. But it has me thinking about first impressions.

First of all, I looked up the meaning of first impressions: It is a first consideration or judgment.

We are told we are not to “judge” or that we are to judge in righteousness. As I think of the definition and this warning coupled with the definition of “first impressions”—particularly the word judgment I can’t help but think how I am rarely correct with my first impressions of people. I find that often times those who I am most nervous to meet; that I feel intimidated by, are often the most down to earth and lovable people. In fact, it is true that in a some instances there are people I was terrified to meet, because I admired them so much for their talents, that turned out to be completely wonderful just by being themselves and not just defined by their talents. They became my some of my best friends. I admired them for first being who they are.

Then there are those who I feel I may have much in common with, seem to be the ones I end up least connected to and often the simple things we have in common, may in fact be our only link.

I have learned very well, to pay little heed to my first impressions, as they usually end up being nothing more than snap judgments and I would hate to lose out on some of the wonderful friendships I could have had because of a wrong first impression. (There is of course an exception to this rule when a first impression warns you that a person is dangerous or could harm you, etc. in that case I would pay very close attention and follow that prompting!)

If I have such a hard time with making a correct first impression, then do others have a difficult time as well? How do others perceive me for the first time? It makes me wonder. I may score more points if I don’t walk around with big green things hanging between my front teeth…

I have read that it takes 30 seconds to two minutes for people to make up their minds about you. This may be way overestimating things. I have also read it takes seven seconds to seventeen seconds to make a first impression. Whichever is correct, that doesn’t give a person much time to make a lasting consideration or to have a judgment placed on them. I do know that it is said, “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

I found an article written by Bill Lampton who has a PhD,. He made a list of seven things that make a good strong first impression. I won’t quote him of the article in it’s entirety, nor will I quote him word for word in places, but I thought the ideas were good. And if I may, I’d like to add and eighth one to the list at the bottom. So here we go:

1. The greatest way to make a positive first impression is to demonstrate immediately that the other person, not you, is the center of action and conversation. --He says if the spotlight is only on you you’ll miss opportunities for friendships, jobs, networking, and sales, etc. If you show that you are other- centered people will want to see you again.

2. Closely related: Use superb listening skills. Using prompts like, “How interesting!” or “What did you do next?” shows excellent listening skills and positive verbal cues. Maintain eye contact and avoid looking over your shoulder for an escape route.

3. Using the name of a new acquaintance shows you paid attention from the start. It also makes the conversation more personal.

4. Be careful with Humor. Although a quip or two may serve as an icebreaker, you don’t want sarcasm to backfire. You don’t know a stranger’s sensitivities.

5. Follow Dr. Wayne Dryer’s advice, offered in his in his book “Real Magic,” by “giving up the need to be right.” Confrontations with someone you’ve just met will spoil any rapport you can have. Wait until you can establish credibility before you challenge another’s statements.

6. Appearance counts. What he had to say here applied more for work or job interviews. But I still think the way we take care of ourselves portrays a message no matter where we are.

7. As a communication specialist, I have to point out that an individual’s speaking style impacts a first impression, maybe more than we wish—listeners judge our intelligence, our education, our cultural level, even our leadership abilities on the words we select-- and by the way we say them.

8. And the one I wanted to add was to not walk around with green things in your teeth. Perhaps this falls under the appearance category?

I do know that I tend to joke around a lot and I know I take for granted that people know where my heart is at. I would never mean to intentionally hurt or mistreat any one. But what of first impressions? Number four caught my attention and so did a few of the others on this list. And it all started with #8.

I know that I’ll be more mindful of my first considerations of people because to me, no second chances at giving a good first impressions seems—well, it just seems a little too judgmental for my peace of mind. :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Father's Day Tribute

I am certainly counting my blessings this week. As the weekend draws near and Father’s Day is rapidly approaching, I feel very grateful that I have both my father and my father in law in my life here to honor on that special day.

I have always been close to my dad. Growing up a bit of a tomboy, I could be found outside as soon as my inside chores were done. I’d stay out until I was forced back into the house in the late evening.

As kids we played baseball, did balancing acts and cartwheels along the top of the fences, ran around barefoot (until my mother would catch us and then I’d slip shoes on but only until she wasn’t looking again) I loved following my dad around driving him crazy with millions of senseless questions.

He was always involved with some project or another whether it was building barns, planting gardens, landscaping, taking care of all kinds of animals, building fish ponds and water falls. As a child, I thought he did the coolest things. Years later, at the age of 81, he is still doing most of those things and I have come to appreciate those talents of his even more. My dad may have an incredibly creative side to him, but there is so much more to admire.

When my mother passed away, it was pretty tough on him, as I know it is on everyone who loses a loved one. But after losing my mother, his wife, my dad, stepped in and tried to take over where my mother had left off. This was no easy task. She was like wonder woman and my dad was dealing with a broken heart. Still, each year, because Christmas was my mother’s favorite holiday, he has a big open house for neighbors and friends during the holidays. He serves refreshments and does it on a Monday night so people can come for Family Home Evening. The kids can see his Christmas village, that takes him over a week to set up, that comes complete with two running trains.

He keeps a calendar of family events so he won’t forget birthdays, anniversaries, and always makes sure he sends Mother’s Day cards and Valentine’s Day cards to his daughter’s and their families.

He is truly a man with a good heart. I love my dad for teaching me that when I serve others. I am serving my savior. Those are not just words he taught, he taught by example. He himself would give the shirt off his back if he knew someone was in need. I can’t tell you how many times he has helped me when I was in need.

I could go on and on but the one thing that strikes me is that for his 80th birthday, we made a DVD of his life. At the end of it, we recorded my dad giving a message to his family. The one message he wanted us to always remember if wewere to remember one thing, it would be, “To keep the faith. No matter what, just hang in there and keep the faith.” Throughout my life, when I have had struggles or trials my dad has given me much needed help and advice. He would talk to me, help me, tell me to pray, and, “Jeri, keep the faith.” One thing is for certain, my father has always kept the faith. His testimony makes him the honorable man that he is.

I am very grateful for the role my father plays in my life and in the life of my family. I can’t begin to find the words to tell you how blessed I feel to have him with us this Father’s Day. I am also thankful for the example he is to us.

I feel so wonderfully blessed to have my father in law in our lives as well. He too is such an amazing man. He has fought a battle with cancer with incredible courage. Steve is a man with charm and humor. He has wisdom and is full of wit and an inner strength and testimony that has had a great influence on his family. My husband is the tremendous man he is, I believe, because of the example his father is to him.

I love and admire my husband for so, so, many reasons but one big one is the kind of father he has been to our sons. He is an honorable man and has tried hard to establish a good relationship with his sons. He has tried to teach them to make good choices and to live in righteousness. Through his example he has tried to teach them to honor their Priesthood as he, himself does. Now my oldest son will enjoy his first official Father’s Day with his own son.

What more can a girl ask for? Is it any wonder that as Father’s Day rolls around, my heart is very full for the wonderful blessings I enjoy? I have some wonderful men in my life. I’m thrilled to celebrate this day, to try to express my gratitude for the great fathers in my life.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Taps

As the sun rises over the mountains, one can hear the haunting melody of Taps being played by a lone bugler in the quiet little cemetery of Mona, Utah. The bugler comes to play every Memorial Day in honor of the service men and women buried there.

Our family has a tradition of going to the cemetery on Memorial Day to see the sunrise ceremony. The flag is raised at half mast, we hear the gun salute and listen to the famous military piece Taps played before we place flowers on loved ones gravesites.

Listening to the bugle play always brings a lump to my throat, tears to my eyes, and pride in my heart. My father served in the Air Force for four years, two of which were in a war zone in Korea where he saw the devastating effects of war both among people and land. He has a deep appreciation for our country, for it’s service men and women and therefore tried to instill within his own family that same appreciation. He is considering a military burial when that time comes as an expression of love for his country and the way he tried to live within it.

There is quite a story circulating in regards to the origin of the melody of Taps. The story is as follows:
It all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army. The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, is what we now know as "Taps."

While the story is certainly touching, historians have checked the facts only to find the story is merely a legend. Actually, according to a researcher from West Point, there is no historical evidence that a Captain by the name of Robert Ellicombe even existed in the Union Army. Historians from Arlington National Cemetery agree that the song did indeed originate in 1862 and it was while at Harrison’s Landing in Virginia, that the piece was written but that is where the facts in this story ends.

Taps was written by Brig. General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War General. The bugle call was to signal to the soldiers "lights out." Oliver W. Norton, Butterfield’s bugler, was the first to sound the new call. Within only a couple of months of it being written, both Union and Confederate armies used the call.

Today Taps can be heard at the conclusion of Military burials conducted with honors at Arlington National Cemetery, hundreds of ceremonies at cemeteries around the United States and at private funerals.

Each year Taps is sounded during the wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, and it is still played nightly at military installations in non-deployed locations to signal "lights out."

However, there is one more account that involves a man by the name of John C. Tidball. He was a Union artillery captain who ordered the call to be sounded for a fallen soldier.
Army Col. James A. Moss, in an Officer's Manual initially published in 1911, reported the following account:

"During the Peninsula Campaign in 1862, a soldier of Tidball's Battery A of the 2nd Artillery was buried at a time when the battery occupied an advanced position concealed in the woods. It was unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave, on account of the proximity of the enemy, and it occurred to Capt. Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be the most appropriate ceremony that could be substituted."

This may not have anything to do with the origin of the song, it is however, the first recorded instance of Taps being used in accord with a military funeral. Until then the call sounded meant that the solider’s day was done.

How fitting then, that if the call signifies that a solider’s day is done and it is time for lights to be put out, that the very same call is sounded one last time as that soldier or veteran is laid to rest. I think of the connotations this has with death. As they are laid to rest, the day is done, lights out, they are now laid safely to rest. It is not only honorable for those who have served, but it can be quite emotional for the family to hear their loved one respected in such a way. To have the call sounded, we are called to remember those who have given us so much that far too often we take for granted.

While the original version of the call was of course an instrumental piece, lyrics were added later. These words were written by Horace Lorenzo Trim:

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar drawing nigh,
Falls the night.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.

Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight.


Another verse of lyrics were added to a recording done by John Wayne, though it is unclear who wrote the words of the verse:

Fading light, Falling night;
Trumpet call, as the sun, sinks in flight
Sleep in peace, comrade dear,
God is near.

As we walked away from the ceremony, we looked at the gravesites of those who have gone before us. The cemetery is a beautiful resting place rich with history. Gravestones now weathered and aged date back to the early 1800’s. Many have short poetic statements rarely found on markers anymore. It’s not only interesting but educational to walk through the graveyard, reading the headstones found there.

There are men, some merely boys, and women as well, who fought and gave their lives so that I may have mine. And they are still doing it today. May I never forget that and be forever grateful for it.



video

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Tribute


Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln that said, “All that I am and all that I hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” What a beautiful thought.

Without my mother being here to remind me of all I hope to be, which is to be just like her, I can only hope that all that I am is someone she can be proud of.

As I sit here today, thinking about my own mother, I think of all that she accomplished in her life. I have an endless list of ways I would like to be more like her, but the very first thought that comes to my mind in connection with my mother is her unwavering faith and the strength of her testimony.

She taught us from the time we were little to always kneel in prayer. It was a way to show respect. When she became bedridden near the end of her life on this earth, she could hardly move. Yet, twice a day she would roll herself over and tuck her knees up under her to humbly pray in her kneeling position. It was important for her show her love and reverence to our Father in Heaven. I will never forget that vision of my ailing mother. It brings a whole new insight to the Primary song the children sing,

“I see my mother kneeling with our family each day. I hear the words she whispers as she bows her head to pray. Her plea to our Father quiets all my fears and I am thankful love is spoken here.”

I went through the Temple for the first time on my mother’s birthday. I am grateful for the blessings that special day has brought into my life. Now I am a mother and a grandmother. There is no greater joy that I know of than sharing family times together.

So, on this lovely weekend that is upon us, I feel a bit emotional that I don’t have my mother here to share it with. But I am so very grateful for the rewards of motherhood. Both in the example of my own mother— for all that I hope to be— and in the blessings I receive through my children and my grandson. May I be to them all that my own mother is to me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

BOOK REVIEW

The Thorn, book one of The Chronicles of Gan

Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.
During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all? (Valor Publishing)

I have to admit I read very little speculative fiction but this book has opened my eyes. From the beginning, The Thorn caught my attention and kept it until I turned to the very last page.

There are similarities and symbolisms in The Thorn much like the scriptures. Those who like scripture type stories told through fiction with thoroughly enjoy Daron Fraley’s book. It’s an excellent example where the good conquers the bad and righteousness prevails.

I do have to add one thing… in the back of the book there is a sneak preview of
Heaven’s Garden, which is book two of
The Chronicles of Gan. (I HAD to read it!) Oh my goodness! It looks like it’s going to be another winner for Daron!



To purchase this book, here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/Thorn-Book-One-Chronicles-Gan/dp/1935546112/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269972452&sr=8-1

Monday, April 12, 2010

BOOK REVIEW

I'LL KNOW YOU BY HEART



If you follow my blog at all, you’ll notice I don’t review a lot of books. To date, I have reviewed exactly one. I’d like to start to review a lot more since I’m always reading and I LOVE books. So to begin with, I’d like to thank Valor Publishing for offering me this opportunity to read and review Kimberly Job’s debut novel, “I’ll Know You By Heart”

The book begins with a view into the abusive marriage of Stephanie Roberts and her husband Mark. The scene tears at your heart strings (and is written so realistically it makes you feel pain inside) as Stephanie’s teenage son tries to defend his mother from his father. For the first time Mark takes his anger out on his son as well.

In an effort to protect her children, Stephanie finds a way to run from her husband and narrowly escapes with her three children.

Stephanie does all she can to make a new start for herself and her children. This is not an easy task and of course an angered, bitter, husband makes things even more difficult. First Mark is determined to get Stephanie and his kids back, and then he is determined to make her pay for leaving him.

Jared Wakefield’s wife was killed in a car accident leaving him to help their young daughter deal with the loss of her mother. He is not without a few problems of his own.

Stephanie and Jared come together not realizing they had known each other before. Jared turns to Stephanie for help with his daughter, Stephanie turns to Jared for support—Jared soon realizes he needs more from Stephanie than she might feel she can give. There are so many difficult problems to overcome, how can being together ever be a possibility?

I have to be honest—when I first saw the book, I was excited to read and review it. I love romances and figured that that was what I’d be reading. When I picked up the book to begin, I had no idea what I was in for.

I thought I’d be reading a love story, but it was that and so much more.

I’ll Know you By Heart is a powerful, emotional, story about the impact abuse can have on lives. It’s about having the inner strength to overcome betrayal of love and trust. This book is about loss and struggle. It is indeed a story ultimately about love and what’s more, it’s a story about hope.



It's an excellent book that I highly recommend! I look forward to more books from this author! Well done, Kimberly!


Here is the order link: http://www.amazon.com/Ill-Know-You-Heart-Kimberly/dp/1935546139/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269976374&sr=8-1

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Limits

I felt limited. Perhaps they were limits I had set upon myself, limits that my circumstances had placed upon me, and maybe even limits that were of my imagination because I had become too sensitive to everything that was going on around me. But nonetheless, I felt the burden of my limited state and it was causing such an intense feeling of frustration and I guess, even fear.

I needed a new job. That sounds pretty simple, but there were so many facets to that one main problem. I no longer work at the Jordan River Temple. I still work within the church but I was transferred to a new place of employment almost nine months ago and for far too many reasons to go into, circumstances had led for me to look for employment once again elsewhere. But after over thirteen years of working in food service—and needing to get into a new type of work—I was limited on what I was qualified to do. I needed something that didn’t require me to constantly be on my feet and legs, (yes, limited to the length of time I could stand) so maybe an office job of some sort? Here’s the kicker, I am a horrible typist and I don’t know several of the computer programs…limited, again. I do have over ten years of experience in that line of work—before my Temple days, that I thought at least that could give me some sort of credit on my resume, but the few applications I sent in, hoping for an interview, sent me a rejection before I even got my foot in the door. Limited—and insulted—and now discouraged.

Things haven’t changed. At least job hunting hasn’t, but I have come across something that has changed me.

I didn’t think that asking for a new job under the circumstances was so much to ask my Heavenly Father for. In my situation, I felt like it was a righteous desire. I realize how petty that sounds, even as I type it. I am really putting myself out there to admit that. I hate flaunting my weaknesses. But I needed my job—Heavenly Father knows all the reasons why. After all, I’ve moaned and groaned often enough to Him about it. He knows I have this job but He knows I can no longer work at this one. He knows all the reasons why. Again, I have explained all this to Him. I petitioned my Heavenly Father so many times for better days, for better jobs, for better health, for better anything that I got to the point that I didn’t even know what to petition Him for anymore.

I fasted and I prayed and then received a blessing. Then I went to some of my closest friends. Within minutes they were all there offering me comfort, advice, and support. As I pondered all that had been said, I started taking a closer look at my situation.

My eyes went directly to my son. He too was going through some of his own challenges at this time with seizures. Taking a closer look I was once again amazed by him. He too has limits, but he has such a tremendous spirit that refuses to give up. He is constantly finding ways to work around his barriers so that he can achieve all that he sets out to accomplish. He lives his life to the fullest and he does so with faith and hope and even laughter. He is as carefree as he can possibly be and when he does have limits, he only lets them bring him to a halt for a second before he figures out another way to work around them.

It made me stop and ponder. All those times I wondered if my prayers were heard, (yes, I know they were—I was just having a pity party and getting tired of being told no—but really, was I being told no? I don’t think so.) I now think of something my Bishop asked, am I forcing my will on the Lord’s? Yes, in many ways. I was. I wanted to get out of Dodge right then and there. Before going to that job, I had prayed and fasted about going there and I know with all my heart, I was meant to go there for whatever reason. Every time I felt it was time to leave, in my heart I felt it wasn’t time but my head and my knees and my feet said it was. I applied for jobs I knew I wasn’t qualified for thinking that if I had an interview I could beg for a job and tell them I’d go back to school and learn whatever they wanted me to. It doesn’t work that way; I know that. But I was desperate.

Well, with renewed hope I have undergone a real attitude adjustment. This is in thanks to some people I love dearly- namely my son, my husband, my dad, my friends, Bishop and of course, my Heavenly Father.

I know the things I cannot do, and in the things I need to try. I want to have the kind of spirit that my son has. To love and live life with the joy and attitude that he does and not be so hard and cynical on myself. It doesn’t matter what limits we may have, it’s how we work around them and what we do to work with them that matters and especially to have a thankful spirit for the bounteous blessings we enjoy. I have a job. For now, until I can find what it is I need, I am so thankful that in these troubled times I do indeed have a good job for a really wonderful company. I should have been more thankful to begin with. I have learned that valuable lesson as well.

I did find a quote in a talk I read once though the person who said it is not listed so I am unsure if the speaker wrote it or what but the talk was given by Stephen Jason Hall.

The quote says,
“ The greater man is not the one with a hundred blessings which he takes for granted, but the man with one blessing who praises his God for his bounty.”

I still pray for the things I need, but more so, I pray for a grateful heart and the strength in spirit to keep the faith and refuse to give up. My son taught me that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Twitter" Me Dumb!

Recently I have received several invitations from friends inviting me to join them on Face book and Linked In.

I hear kids at my son’s school walking down the hall speaking of “tweeting” someone back on Twitter. (Back in my day Tweetie was the yellow bird that always saw a puddy tat) Let me insert here to emphasize my point that I never dreamed of the time when I would say, “Back in my day…”

Every package you purchase with a cell whether it’s a Blackberry, Droid, or I-phone (like I even know what some of these are…) includes texting, Internet access, and email.

If you aren’t on board in the technological world, you could feel very lost. I unfortunately am one of the lost souls. I am way behind in the times.

On the other hand, as an author, look at what technology can do for us. Research is a matter of clicking and typing a few buttons on the computer as opposed to pouring through volumes of books in a library to verify facts.

Reaching people across the world is as simple as sitting down at a computer and using messenger and if you have the right equipment, you can even see the person with whom you are communicating half a world away all at the cost of a minimal monthly Internet access charge.

You can travel the world over and do virtual tours without ever leaving your living room. (It’s true that you still miss so much when you don’t experience the real thing, but when time, money, health, or other reasons factor against you going, what an excellent second choice!)

Your characters can walk the walk, and talk the talk of just about any plot or profession you can imagine if you do your homework thoroughly enough --all made simpler by technology without you as a writer ever having had any like experiences.

Modern day technology is certainly advanced enough that if used unwisely it can lead to trouble, but as a writer, it can make our lives so much easier. The world is at our fingertips.

My problem is keeping up with the fast pace in which technology is expanding. I still struggle with typing on a normal keyboard, let alone a tiny pocket sized cell phone. I’m terrified of Face book because I don’t understand it, and Twitter makes me feel like I am Twitter Dee-Dumb. I confess, I don’t even know for sure what Twitter is, let alone how to use it.

I do know that with the wide use of technology, we have a greater chance of getting our names and our books out to a much wider group of people. We can have a personal contact with each and every one of those people if we so wish. To me, that’s exciting. At one time it was inconceivable. Look how far we have come even in our own lifetime.
If you look back on your own life span, I am sure you would be amazed at the advancements technology has made since you were a child.

In a very real sense, technology has made the world a much smaller place. We can all connect with each other…if you know how. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ice Castles




We came upon it by accident, but when we drove up to the forty foot ice castle, we couldn’t believe our eyes.

Last Monday my family and I decided to take a drive up to Heber valley to visit an ailing aunt. When we found she wasn’t home, but rather had gone to stay with her son, we decided to go for a drive around the area.

Near the Homestead in Midway, there is a hotel called the Zermatt Resort. There in the front of the resort are the most incredible ice formations I have ever seen.

We immediately parked the car to get a closer look. If you pay $2.00 a person, you can walk on a path that winds around eighteen ice castles or towers and two hot springs.

What’s even more amazing is that the castles are made entirely out of icicles which were harvested with a sprinkler system and PVC pipe. There is no supporting structure. The detail of each castle is unbelievable when they light up the massive structures at night. Brilliant shiny colors are illuminated through the icy walls giving it a beautiful, almost surreal look. It’s most impressive.

Each castle grows 10-12 tons per day and their sculptor, a man by the name of Brent Christensen hopes that each one reaches between 30-40 feet in height. The largest, known as tower No.7 is one that you can walk through. When the weather is just right, the castles can grow up to three feet in a day. Brent works mainly at night sculpting away at the castles and working to keep the paths safe.

This is the last week the Zermatt Resort will offer us the opportunity to see the Ice Castles. With warmer weather coming, the path through the castles will no longer be safe. If you have the chance and you are in the area, I highly recommend stopping by to see it.

The older I get, the less I like the cold. But with something this beautiful to look at, I’m actually looking forward to seeing what creations Mr. Christensen comes up with next year.
(Photo courtesy of Deseret News)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Memories Are Made Of This

I love Valentine’s Day. What a great day to remind those we love that we care about them and appreciate all they do for us. Okay, maybe we should do that every day, but I have to tell you—I know this sounds a little like bragging—but I have a young son who is going to make his future wife very happy one day. He’s one of those guys who love to spoil the girl in his life rotten. Luckily for me, right now, that’s his mother. :)

He is all for giving chocolates, perfume, flowers, homemade cards, favorite chick flick, a special dinner out, and a bear made at Build-A-Bear by him personally every year for Valentines Day. (He hasn’t offered to buy me a new house yet, I suspect that may be next. lol. He has a HUGE heart.) Granted, this can take quite a toll on the ol’ pocket book and half the fun is watching his dad squirm because, although dad doesn’t deny that his mother deserves the very best on this very special day, ALL of these things together can add up very quickly. In the end, it’s fun to see what the two of them come up with. They are both very good to me. In all truthfulness the very idea that my son would even think of wanting to do so much, touches me more than words can say.

However, there is something that makes me sad this year. Ever since my boys were young, I, along with each boy have had a blast thinking up crazy designs for their Valentine boxes that they would take to school each year. The more crazy and outlandish they were, the better. Wow! What good times we’ve had.

One year when Pirates of the Caribbean was so popular, we made a treasure chest full of coins and jewels. Another time we made a basket ball hoop complete with a basket ball, there was a guitar hero looking guitar, and we even made a toilet complete with bath rug and flusher that said “You make me feel all flushed.” We had some crazy boxes, but what meant more to me was the time I spent with each of my son’s making their boxes with them.

Well, after years of drawing, cutting, and gluing, my boys have grown up and those creating adventures are now only memories. My oldest is married and has a child of his own and my other son is going to his first Junior High Valentine’s Day dance. Gosh, I hate to see little things like this come to an end. We had such fun.

I still love Valentine’s Day and all that it represents. This year when I give my boys their Valentine’s, I’ll probably hug them a moment or two longer and tell them thanks for the memories that I have. I certainly cherish them.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Temple Service

This month our Bishop has asked our ward to do an exciting service.
There are those within our ward boundary that are striving to become temple worthy.
There are those within our ward boundary that are temple recommend holders who do not partake of the temple blessings by attending the temple on a regular basis. And there are those within our ward boundary that have never been able to attend the temple. I suspect it is the same within all ward boundaries.
Our Bishop has asked each of our ward families to fast for all of these people.

He placed a calendar on his door and families signed up for one day to fast within as families throughout the month of January into the month of February lasting for forty days. It’s in remembrance of the forty day fast our Savior did at the start of his ministry. At the end of the month, we’ll have a ward Temple Day. The youth will attend as youth groups and the adults will attend throughout the day. That evening we have a session and a banquet planned where we’ll have someone in the Temple Presidency speak to us.

We have set a goal as a family to increase our temple attendance and our fast was just this week. It was fun for us to do as a family because this year our son is old enough to attend the Temple and to learn to appreciate the importance of temple work.

This all started with a gift from our Bishop given to each family. It was a beautiful 8x10
picture of the temple to hang in our homes to remind us of the blessings that are ours if we will make the temple an important part of our lives. On the back is a letter from our Bishop with a quote by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson:

“ Now my brothers and sisters, we have built temples throughout the world and will continue to do so. To you who are worthy and able to attend the Temple, I would admonish you to go often. The Temple is a place where we can find peace. There we receive a renewed dedication to the gospel and a strengthened resolve to keep the commandments.

What a privilege it is to be able to go to the temple, where we may experience the sanctifying influence of the Spirit of the Lord. Great service is given when we perform vicarious ordinances for those who have gone beyond the veil. In many cases we do not know those for whom we perform the work. We expect no thanks, nor do we have the assurance that they will accept that which we offer. However, we serve, and in that process we attain that which comes of no other effort: we literally become saviors on Mount Zion. As our Savior gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for us, so we, in some small measure, do the same when we perform proxy work in the temple for those who have no means of moving forward unless something is done for them by those of us here on the earth.”

Wow. I was really moved by that statement when I read it. I recognize the tremendous blessings that have been promised as we attend the temple.

D&C 109:22 says:
“Thy servant may go forth from this house armed with thy power and that thy name may be upon them and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them.”

And one of my favorite quotes about Temple attendance is by Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone:

“I promise you that all who faithfully attend to temple work will be blessed beyond measure.
Your families will draw closer to the Lord, unseen angels will watch over your loved ones, when Satanic forces tempt them. The veil will be thin and great Spiritual experiences will distill upon this people.”

We are indeed a blessed people to have so many temples in such close proximity. I love the peace I feel when I attend the temple. No matter what seems to be going on in the world, I can walk within the doors of the temple, and find solace and comfort.

I love that our Bishop has asked us to do this service. I am so excited to strive to make temple attendance an even bigger priority within our family.