Monday, March 30, 2009
There once was a princess who grew up with a curse and she couldn't leave her room in her tower. Her parents had to move, and begged her to come, but she couldn't break the curse so she had to stay while they left. A prince rode up one day and said he heard how beautiful she was and wanted to marry her but she said she couldn't because she was cursed and couldn't leave. However, he came back repeatedly and day after day begged her to break the curse.
Now stop! Before you read any further---name the curse. What was the curse that kept her locked up in the tower?
Once you have named the curse, decide how the story will end. Will she overcome the curse in your story, or will she die alone in the tower?
Are you done? Then—read on!
There is no right or wrong answer, however, whatever curse you named should reveal something to you about yourself. I thought it was fear. She was afraid of the unknown and therefore not willing to venture out into it. My daughter’s friend said it was lack of trust.
I told the story to some friends and their answers were: she was ill, and she was actually ugly and didn’t want anyone to know. Some ended the story in a positive way, others in a negative.
The curse you chose is probably one of your own fears or insecurities. If you end the story in a positive way, you probably are an optimistic person. If you end it in a negative . . . well, you might want to work on that. :-)
My favorite answer came from my daughter Kristen. She asked:
“Who placed the curse on her and how did she know she couldn't leave?" She concluded the princess was just a silly girl who assumed she was cursed because her door was stuck and since she was afraid of heights she didn’t want to use the window. However, with the encouragement of the Prince's frequent visits she investigated her room more thoroughly and was able to find a trap door she had never seen before and explored her way out of the castle.
But she didn't marry the prince.
He gave her a ride to his castle where she fell in love with his brother who liked her for more than just her looks. And of course, they lived happily ever after.
I have been thinking a lot about Kristen’s answer. I wonder how many times we “curse” ourselves, when no curse actually exists except in our own minds.
We say things to ourselves like, “I am not creative therefore I can’t . . .”
“I am overweight, therefore I am not. . . "
“I didn’t graduate from college, therefore I can’t . . . "
"I am not good at memorizing, therefore I can't . . . "
“I didn’t grow up in the church, therefore I don’t . . ."
“I can’t have children, therefore I am not . . . "
I am reminded of the blind man who climbed Mt. Everest and a woman from Phoenix who lost both arms in a car accident. How many of us would assume we could not climb a mountain if we couldn’t see? How many of us would think we could no longer cook dinner if we didn’t have the use of our arms? And yet the man did climb and the woman learned to cook (and many other things) using her feet.
There have been many times in my life when I have limited myself by self-imposed curses. But I have decided that I am going to try and change that. Now instead of saying, “That isn’t me, I can’t do that” I am going to search to see if I can find a way, because I believe if I do, it will bring great . . . joy to my journey.
Editors note: I did not make up the story, it was part of counseling lesson from a student in social work.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Bars
1 1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar
1 C. brown sugar
2 eggs (large)
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C. peanut butter
11/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 C. flour
3 C. oats
2 C. semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips.
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13x9x2 inch pan. Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Press mixture evenly into pan and bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. (Note: Will be underbaked.) While still warm, evenly distribute chocolate chips. When chips have melted spread into a thin layer.DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CUT THIS WHEN IT IS WARM!
Lion House Oatmeal Fudge Bars
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (or old-fashioned)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Grease a 9x13 baking pan; set aside.
2. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla.
3. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt; add to creamed mixture. Mix in oats.
4. In a heavy saucepan, mix sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and butter; heat just until melted. Stir in vanilla and nuts if using.
5. Spread 2/3 of the oatmeal dough (will be stiff) into prepared baking pan. Spread with chocolate mixture. Drop remaining 1/3 of dough on top by spoonfuls.
6. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely (if you cut them while they are still warm at all they will be gooey and fall apart), then cut into bars. These also taste better if you wait several hours before eating them.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
We left American Fork around 8 a.m. and headed home after spending the week visiting family. Wes had flown up to drive home with me, but he was sick (still is, poor boy) so I drove while he slept. Our plan was to follow our regular route (Panguitch, Kanab, Page and home) but I became so involved in a book on CD that I missed the Panguitch turn off. Deep in thought over who was betraying who, and whether or not the hero and heroine would ever survive the Colombian drug lords and have a future together, I drove right by. However, we quickly applied the “This is better” policy and decided to continue on through Las Vegas, a town my daughter, Michelle, had never before seen. Instead of the normal boring trip home, this was going to be an adventure!
And that “adventure” nearly cost us our lives.
Just north of Las Vegas, on I-15, I looked up and saw a large semi truck heading north on the freeway blow a tire. At this time Wes was driving (he took over after I missed the turn:-) and I am so very thankful! I yelled to him to look as we watched the truck careen out of control, go off the road, cross the median (which was a steep hill covered in gravel) come up another smaller hill and onto our side of the freeway. The truck bounced from side to side, and swerved back and forth as the driver struggled to keep it upright.
Wes hit the brakes thinking the truck would pass across the freeway in front of us, but as the driver took a turn north and headed up the freeway in our direction, he pressed his foot hard on the gas pedal, and swerved off to the shoulder of the road, allowing the renegade truck to pass right where we had been. Barely missing being hit head on, we were pelted with gravel and debris for several seconds.
It is interesting to me that while watching it all unfold, I never felt we would soon be the guests at a closed casket funeral. I was totally calm. However, as soon as it was over, the debris settled and we were safely stopped along side of the road, I started to shake. Even days later we are not quite sure how we avoided being hit.
It truly is a miracle we were not killed. It is even a greater miracle that no one else behind us was hit either. The driver eventually brought the truck to a stop leaving only a trail of gravel and stopped cars with terrified passengers in his wake.
But the experience did fill us with gratitude. We were left be grateful for yet one more day of life to be lived, to be with family and friends, to laugh and to love and of course to find . . . joy in our journey.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I posted the song used in this video a couple months ago, but liked this version much better so I am posting it again. It really is worth your time to watch it.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
My family is facing both.
Although I do not wish to mitigate the suffering of others, I have been reminded of a man I met several years ago while traveling out of the country--our tour guide, Juan. Whenever something didn’t go as planned, he would always say, “This is better.” And then find a reason why being in a traffic jam for an hour, the hotel not being ready on time, or our bus driver getting lost was really for our benefit. After all, in the traffic jam we were able to see the different license plates used in the country, the hotel not being ready gave us extra shopping time and our bus driver getting lost allowed us to see an area of the city not on our itinerary. So, “This is better” became true.
Since then, my husband and I have often joked to each other, “This is better” when things in our lives have gone wrong. I realize there are some heart aches too deep, and experiences too painful to easily find something “better” in, but I have also discovered that every trial can come with a positive learning experience and in every heart ache there can eventually be found some joy.
This past week is an example. As many of you know, my mother has been very ill. After spending 27 days in the hospital, suffering sepsis, a major surgery and a stroke, she went home only to return to the hospital three days later with a kidney infection. She is now home again and progress is incremental. And so my daughter Michelle and I went to visit her and help out with her care. The fact that we were there because my mother was sick was not a good thing, and we are certainly praying for a speedy and complete recovery, but in this trial, even my mother has been able to find some benefits.
If she hadn’t been ill, I would have been somewhere else during spring break and she enjoyed our visit.
While in Utah, I was able to spend time with my four sisters, something I very much enjoy doing, but am not able to do very often.
During my mother’s illness, a brother who is not active in the church, has come by frequently to visit. He is not very social, and my recent time with him has been more than in the previous twenty years combined.
Mom has been able to feel the tremendous love of her neighbors as so many of them have come by to visit and assist.
My heart has been filled to overflowing as I have seen my father serve my mother so tenderly. He has cared for her personal needs from helping her shower to following her around with a comb in his hand, making sure the back of her hair is “beautiful”. And I believe he is learning a little bit of patience.
My mother loves to serve others and the day we left to return to AZ she got up at 1:30 in the morning to make us muffins for breakfast. Not able to do it on her own meant my father also had to get up and help. When I saw the result of their middle-of-the night cooking adventure the following morning, I exclaimed, “Wow, muffins made with love.” My dad added, “And a little anger.” We all laughed at that.
And so my goal this week is to find the “better” in whatever life brings my way. I am hoping my children and husband are up to the challenge as well, for just now I noticed that dinner is burning. It appears I will very quickly get to test the theory as I try to help my family discover why a burnt offering for dinner is actually “better.” :-)
Wish me luck! And may you always find . . . joy in the journey!
D&C 98: 3 Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Well, this morning I think Carly felt the same way and did her best to orchestrate a prison break. See how proud she looked when her mother discovered her! She not only managed to slip out of the blanket, but she got out of the top of her jammies as well!
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Unfortunately for the plant, I thwarted its plan. But I am headed outside---clear blue skies, nice warm air . . . ! I get to go to lunch with my four sisters! And tomorrow we are headed back to Arizona (where I hear it is rather warm:-( but on Saturday my daughter Camille will be coming for a week visit along with her darling little baby! And that--I guarantee--will bring great. . . joy to my journey!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
They are dummies. One a man, the other a woman. But notice how his eyes are looking right at you! Those of us who travel this road frequently always joke about the "dummy cops" but there is another much more interesting story about the town of Orderville, told in the October 1989 conference by Elder Eyring.
The population rose to seven hundred people. One hundred and fifty of them gave Orderville a special advantage: they had come to Orderville from the mission on the Muddy River, where they had nearly starved. When those who had been called to the Muddy were released, they were in near destitution. Twenty-four of those families went to Long Valley, founded Orderville, and pledged all they had to the Lord. They didn’t have much, but their poverty may have been their greatest contribution.
But time passed, the railroad came, and a mining boom put cash in the hands of people in the neighboring towns. They could buy imported clothes, and they did. The people in Orderville were living better than they had in years, but the memory of poverty on the Muddy had faded. They now focused on what was in the next town. And so they felt old-fashioned and deprived.
One ingenious boy acted on the discontent he felt when he was denied a new pair of pants from the Orderville factory because his were not worn out yet. He secretly gathered the docked lambs’ tails from the spring crop. He sheared the wool from them and stored it in sacks. Then, when he was sent with a load of wool to sell in Nephi, he took his sacks along and exchanged them for a pair of store pants. He created a sensation when he wore the new-style pants to the next dance.
The president of the order asked him what he had done. The boy gave an honest answer. So they called him into a meeting and told him to bring the pants. They commended him for his initiative, pointed out that the pants really belonged to the order, and took them. But they told him this: the pants would be taken apart, used as a pattern, and henceforth Orderville pants would have the new store-bought style. And he would get the first pair.
That did not quite end the pants rebellion. Orders for new pants soon swamped the tailoring department. When the orders were denied because pants weren’t yet worn out, boys began slipping into the shed where the grinding wheel was housed. Soon, pants began to wear out quickly. The elders gave in, sent a load of wool out to trade for cloth, and the new-style pants were produced for everyone."
Sunday, March 15, 2009
We left home around noon and drove to Glendale, Utah, population 350. For many years we have made this trip, and each time as we turn the bend into town (headed south) we pass a sign for the "Historic Smith Hotel". Being as my maiden name is Smith, we always joke about it being the family business. So this time, since I did not want to make the long drive to American Fork in the dark, we made arrangements to stay at the one and only Smith Hotel! And what fun that was!
The hotel was built in 1927 by Joseph and Mary Ellen Smith, descendants of Joseph F. Smith and run as a boarding house. The current propietors, Rochelle and Mike, now mostly serve as hosts to visitors from Europe who have stopped in Salt Lake City and are headed to the Grand Canyon.
There are six rooms to choose from. We chose this one, which ended up being a real treat. The beds were brand new and very comfortable and the furnishings completely charming!
Having a little time to explore our surroundings, and being very curious, we discovered this atrium just off the top floor. What a wonderful place to sit and relax after a day of travel!
This stove in the kitchen was in the house originally. Antique collectors would love the entire house, actually, as many beautiful pieces are on display that have been collected over the years.
In the morning Rochelle treated us to a delicious breakfast of waffles, fresh fruit, strawberry yogurt, granola and hot chocolate.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
When the high councilman extended the calling to me to serve in the stake primary I laughed. I honestly thought he was joking. I didn’t lead music, I didn’t know the primary songs and I couldn’t sing. When I realized he was serious, I expressed my concerns to him. All he did was lean forward in his chair, look me in the eyes and say, “Don’t worry, Sister. The Lord will bless you with all the talents you need to fulfill your calling.” With that he stood and left, assuming I guess, that I had accepted.
I decided that learning the songs wouldn’t be too difficult, and I could teach myself how to lead music, but I knew there was no way getting around my bad singing voice. The highest note I could hit was a B flat and most of the primary songs are written for soprano voices. I learned to work around my lack of talent, however. Whenever I needed to present a new song at a leadership meeting, I enlisted the help of others who could sing.
Then one day, the primary president asked me to teach a song by singing a line of it and having the teachers repeat it. This meant that I would have to sing alone in front of all those in attendance. What made me even more terrified was the knowledge that many of those attending the meeting were well known in the stake for their musical talents. I immediately began praying fervently for help in fulfilling this assignment, even though I had no idea how the Lord would help me.
After practicing the song many times, I reached the conclusion that I would only be able to sing it if the pianist played it in a lower key. She agreed to do that which helped calm my fears. When the dreaded day arrived I stood to teach the song. I was amazed at how clear my voice sounded. Instead of the customary breathy squeaks, I heard clear strong notes. Afterwards I had several people come and tell me what a nice singing voice I had.
Following the meeting I went to thank the pianist for playing the song in a key low enough for me to sing. She looked surprised and then said, “I'm so sorry. I forgot. I played the song in the key it was written.” It was only then that I began to realize just how much of a miracle I had witnessed. Never in my life had I been able to sing notes that high.
The next morning I was still thinking about what happened. I decided that I would try singing the song again and taping it this time so I could hear my voice. I turned on the tape and began to sing. When I played the tape back, however, it was very apparent that my old voice had returned. Now, several years later, even though I have never again been able to sing as well as I did that night, I will always be thankful for the time when I found out for myself that the Lord really will bless us with all the talents we need to fulfill our church callings. And that knowledge has brought great . . . joy to my journey
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
In a few months I will be having "one of those" (OOT) birthdays. You know, the ones that require you to bump up the first number of your age to a new decade.
I always remember everyone’s birthday and love to plan celebrations for all my friends. And last fall when my husband had his birthday, I had a fun three day celebration for him. At first he said he didn’t want me to do anything, he just wanted to get out of town. But after some lengthy conversations, bribing, and begging, I convinced him to let me have a party which ended up being a lot of fun for everyone. . . even him. And this summer I have a good friend who is also having OOT birthdays (although she is a decade younger--so still young!). I am eager to plan her celebration as well. I already have thoughts for a theme, decorations, food etc.
But, a few days after her birthday it will be mine. And the closer I get to my actual birth date, the more I am realizing I just want to hide and pretend it isn’t even happening. I don’t want to be around people with black balloons and old age gag gifts. And I certainly don’t want anyone to say a word about me being old. So basically, I will admit it, I am a hypocrite. I think parties are a must for everyone else, but I, the neighborhood party queen, do not want one. The thought makes me want to curl up in the corner and cry.
My husband tells me I will regret it. He thinks I will feel really bad when my birthday passes and I haven’t spent it with friends. And I agree. I will feel bad. But I think I am going to feel worse if I do spend it with friends who make me feel old, either by comments, or by age comparison. And let's be honest. Bursting into tears and bawling uncontrollably at your birthday party is just an uncomfortable night for everyone.
Yes, I know I am being silly, I know I should be glad to be having a birthday---after all, what is the alternative? I know that this is the youngest I will ever be again so I should enjoy it and I know that one day I will look back and think I was being ridiculously silly but . . .even knowing all of that, I still can't face it.
I am going to run.
And perhaps while I am away I will do something wonderfully adventurous and totally crazy so I can feel young again.
Oh, dang. I think I am having a midlife crisis.:-)
Saturday, March 7, 2009
And these are from my dear, sweet husband who is just thoughtful and kind.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Near the end of WWII he served in the Navy. This picture is my daughters' favorite. I guess even back then men were show offs. :-)
Dad served a mission to Argentina, and then many years later was called to be the mission president over the Central American Mission. This included Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. I am the one standing on the left. This picture was taken at the end of our three years there and my oldest brother and sister had already graduated from high school and returned to Utah to attend college there. (One more sister was born after we returned home.)
Dad is always up for fun. In this picture we were crabbing in Alaska. I also have pictures of him kayaking last fall in the Jordan River in Israel, going down a water slide in Colorado and floating in the Dead Sea.
In later years he and my mother served as the temple president and matron of the Guatemala Temple. This picture was taken the day a stake came with their primary children.
And here are my parents together in front of the temple.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I have thought about that experience often. How many times have I not been stopped before uttering words that cut people to the very core? How often have my words destroyed, or weakened those around me? What might I say, or not say if I knew how my words would be received by the hearer?
Words are very powerful things. They can demean and destroy but they can also build and strengthen. Think of the power there is in just hearing your name. When I first moved to the town where we now live, I was called to be a relief society teacher and taught once a month. The stake relief society president made an effort to get to know all the teachers in the stake and when she would see me, a very obscure girl in her mid twenties, she would always greet me by name. In taking the time to learn and remember my name, she made me feel important. And I loved her for it. To this day she remains one of my most favorite people.
Think also of the power in the words, “I love you”. A few years ago I was challenged by a friend to express my love to those around me. I could easily express my love to my husband and children, but I never used those words with anyone else. I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable saying them, but decided to accept the challenge. Gradually I began to express love to siblings and friends. It was then I learned a very important lesson. You cannot sincerely express love to someone without feeling in your heart that very love you are expressing, and the more you say it, the more your love grows.
I had no idea when I accepted the challenge how much it would change my life. I had spent many years protecting my heart from being wounded, but in learning to express love, my love for others not only increased, but the walls I had built around my heart began to come down, and I learned to let people into my life where I had previously kept them out.
I love the general conference talk by Elder Holland titled “The Tongue of Angels”. In it he quotes Joseph Smith saying, "It is by words . . . [that] every being works when he works by faith. God said, 'Let there be light: and there was light.' Joshua spake, and the great lights which God had created stood still. Elijah commanded, and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain. . . . All this was done by faith. . . . Faith, then, works by words; and with [words] its mightiest works have been, and will be, performed."
If words can be used to create the earth, move mountains and shut up the heavens, think how they can be used to lift and built those around us. What good might come from saying, “I love what you said” “I appreciate you” or “I know you can do it”. How might expressing our love soften hearts, or a note of gratitude help heal a wounded soul?
Kind and loving words spoken, are tools of creation.
Elder Holland went on to say, “Our words, like our deeds, should be filled with faith and hope and charity, the three great Christian imperatives so desperately needed in the world today. With such words, spoken under the influence of the Spirit, tears can be dried, hearts can be healed, lives can be elevated, hope can return, confidence can prevail.”
My challenge is this . . .this minute, this hour, this day . . . exercise faith in the power of words to create. Find someone whose heart needs repair, a relationship that needs mending, or a person who needs strengthening, and exercise faith in the power of words to create good and build those around you.
And may the words you speak and hear, always bring great . . . joy to your journey.
I am constantly being emailed blog quizzes, which for the most part I ignore. But I did take this one and found it amazingly true. All you did was type in your birthday. The results for my husband and myself are below. I read them to him and his response was a very succinct, "weird". Truthfully, it was "weird" at how accurately it described the two of us.
FOR WES (MY ACCOUNTANT HUSBAND)
Your Birthday Predicts You're Logical
Ever since you were born, you've been very practical.You focus on how things are instead of how they should be. You cope well.You love facts and figures. You crunch numbers like a pro, and you're naturally analytical. You don't give into your emotions. You are ruled by your head - not by your heart.
Your Birthday Predicts You're Adventurous
Ever since you were born, you've loved your life.You keep very busy without meaning to. There's just so many activities that you enjoy.Travel, friendships, an interesting career, [motherhood is an interesting career, don't you agree?:-)]and lots of hobbies fill up your schedule.You find so much joy in the world. You have a very rich life.
If you want to try it yourself, go to : http://www.blogthings.com/whatdoesyourbirthdatepredictaboutyouquiz/