Saturday, February 28, 2009

Can Anyone Else Relate to This?

When I saw this from I had to laugh. Here the poor man has been stranded on a deserted island, probably praying for someone to help him get off. His home teachers arrive and leave, completely oblivious to his needs.
My mother-in-law always says, "Confession is good for the soul, but not the reputation". And with that in mind, I am still going to confess something. I can relate all to well to this cartoon. (I am oh, so sorry to say.)
One day my visiting teaching companion and I visited a home of a young mother of five small children. While there, everything fell into total chaos. The baby was crying, a child who wanted a bath had taken off all his clothes and was running around naked, another child had flooded the bathroom floor. And all of the kids wanted their mother's immediate attention.

We offered to help but the mom insisted she could take care of it all, and encouraged us to be on our way. We insisted, but again she refused our offers. Truthfully, I was a bit relieved as I really had no idea where to even start. But as my companion and I walked out the door, leaving the poor mother with five crying kids, a naked child, a hungry baby and a flooded bathroom, I said to my companion, "We are the worst visiting teachers in the entire world."

I have since tried to repent of that mistake. But when I saw this cartoon all the memories came rushing back. I want to thank my own visisting teachers though--the ones I have now and the ones in the past. You are all great!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Want to Live Longer? Try This.

I love the people who make me laugh and always take note of who provides me with my first good laugh of the day. And with the stress of the past few weeks, the occasional humorous moment has come as a great stress relief, and been even more appreciated.

In Elder Wirthlin’s most recent conference talk he suggests, “The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life. . ..” My friend Jenny thought it was interesting he would suggest that laughter could make us live longer, and so she decided to do some research and see what other benefits there could be to laughing. Here is what she found:

1. It Helps Manage Your hormones.

So laughter might not be the cure all for monthly mood swings, but it can help manage other hormones. Laughter reduces the level of stress hormones and increases the level of health-enhancing hormones.

2. It provides a nice internal workout.

Forget about all those ads for ab diets and workouts; just learn to laugh. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart. Laughing 100 times is the equivalent of 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike!

3. Physical release.

This one won’t come to a surprise to any female . . . Laughter provides a physical and emotional release. Crying does as well, but as Sister Hinckley said, “I prefer to laugh, crying gives me a headache.” I found this to be very true in the past couple weeks when I was spending my days at the hospital. In all the stress of watching monitors, waiting for lab reports and holding our breath for the next doctor visit, I appreciated the male patient who went running down the hall, in an effort to catch his wife because he remembered something he needed to tell her. Unfortunately he was too late, but the expression on his face when he noticed several people staring at him and then watching him sheepishly back down the hall to his room, clutching his gown closed behind him, was priceless and kept me giggling for a long time afterwards.

4. Changes your perspective.

Humor can give us a more light-hearted perspective on events we might otherwise view as a threat. Oh, how true is this! I found the greatest tool in averting discord in my marriage was to have a good sense of humor. It is also a great tool to help smooth over otherwise difficult situations.

For example . . . when my son was a teenager, I encouraged him to attend the youth dances and ask to dance girls who might not otherwise be asked. He reluctantly agreed to do so. One night he noticed such a young woman, and asked her to dance the next dance with him. Immediately the girls standing by her began to giggle, and the girl he asked hesitated, looked over at a man standing by a group of boys and smiled at him and then accepted my son’s offer. My son quickly realized he had just asked a married chaperone to dance. (She assured him her husband was not the jealous type:-) Ryan came home mortified and determined to never follow my advice again. But our fits of laughter eventually won him over, and he began to see the humor in what happened.

5. Has social benefits.

Laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you laugh more. What’s even better is that the more you smile, the more others will too.

I saw an example of this one day while in Sicily with my friend Lisa. She was walking just ahead of me and smiled at an older , grumpy looking Italian man who was walking towards her. His face immediately went from grumpy to happy and for several yards he still had that smile on his face.

6. Fights illness better.

People who are optimistic (who are out there laughing) have stronger immune systems and are actually able to fight off illness better than pessimists.

7. Helps you live longer.

According to some recent research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, elderly optimistic people, those who expected good things to happen, were less likely to die than pessimists. (That is a direct quote. It really did say they were “less likely to die,” so I guess if we can always be really happy, we may live forever!:-)

8. It feels like eating 2000 chocolate bars.

That’s right — according to The British Dental Health Foundation, a smile gives the same level of stimulation as eating 2000 chocolate bars. And oh, so many less calories!

9. It costs absolutely nothing.

And in today’s economy, that is a very good thing!

So there you have it. You can manage your hormones, make friends, improve your figure, be happy and live longer—all by having a good laugh! And that will, of course, bring great. . . . joy to your journey!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All About Sonia

The other day my friend, Sonia, jokingly told me it was her goal to make my blog. Not just one sentence in passing, but rather to have the entire post dedicated to her. So, my dear friend . . . be careful what you wish for, because . . . This one is for you!

This picture was taken at my surprise birthday party a couple years ago held at one of my most favorite restaurants, Abuelos. Sonia was a large part of putting that party together, and I loved it!

Family Night celebrating both my husband's and Sonia's Mexican heritage. Please ignore the unusual facial hair. Truly, after awhile you don't even notice it. :-)

What Sonia does at your house when you aren't there to keep an eye on her.

Actually, she graciously offered to update the decorating in my house and did a wonderful job. (That is not the finished product and I promise, all that stuff on the counters is now gone)

I love this picture! Not because we both look so good in it (which I know I don't) but because it was taken in Hawaii at the Polynesian Cultural Center and after spending the morning snorkeling. We did not have on any makeup nor had we done anything with our hair--and yet we were both still brave enough to pose for the picture. Courage at its best!

And speaking of being brave . . . This was taken in Tucson. We had gone there with our husbands for the night and it poured rain so our out door plans were canceled. So instead we entertained ourselves with a Nerf gun competition. Sonia was our target. (Not really.)

Tombstone, Arizona, (same trip, following day) feeling very Western, if not looking the part.

So as you can tell, Sonia is a very good friend, a great decorator and a lot of fun.

One thing I also very much appreciate about her is in my times of need she has always been there to help me--from the time I hurt my back, to helping with my kids when I have gone out of town, to the time I had surgery and she came over and gave me a pedicure, and then on another evening, when I was feeling better, but not well enough to go out, she and her husband came over and brought us dinner and entertained us all evening. When Wes had his surgery recently, they did the same.

The first time we went out as couples, she complained to her husband that she did not want to go out with us because we are (a few years) older than they are and she did not think she would have any fun. And I was positive we wouldn't have anything to talk about so I wrote a list of conversation topics on the palm of my hand to refer to if the conversation began to lag.

We had a great time and I never needed to look at my hand. And, although it has been several years . . . we still manage to find plenty to talk about.

So to Sonia . . .thanks for being such a great friend. And thanks for bringing such great . . . .joy to my journey.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Curious Case of the Washing Machine

My plan was to sell them. We were moving into a new house and as a house warming gift, my husband's boss gave us a new washer and dryer. Although our old ones had served us well for ten years, they appeared to still have a few more years of dedicated service in them, so I suggested we run an add in the newspaper and sell them and I could use the money to help decorate our new house. It sounded like a great plan to me.

But after some thought my husband said, "No. Let's wait. Someone is going to need them."
So, I put away my thoughts of what wall hangings could be purchased with my earnings and started packing.

Weeks went by and it was time to move. We still hadn't heard of anyone needing a washing machine or a dryer, and not wanting to move them to our new house just so they could sit in the garage, I once again suggested we try selling them. At first Wes agreed--as he knew he would be the one to do the heavy lifting--but after a day he came back and again told me to wait.
So we loaded them into the moving van and unloaded them in our garage where they sat for several months gathering dust and consuming valuable space.

Then one day I was visiting with a neighbor when she happened to mention her washing machine was not working. Into my mind popped a picture of the idle machine in my garage and I hurried home to call my husband at work to tell him what I had learned. He called the family and offered them both the washing machine and the dryer, which they came and took.

Although they didn't need the dryer, my neighbor's sister did. She was a mother of five small children, including a set of twin boys, and had a lot of laundry to dry, however, her dryer was not working well and would often take hours to dry one load.

Grateful for the new dryer, she placed her old one out on the street and called the city for garbage pickup. Before the garbage man could arrive, however, a stranger knocked at her door. He explained he fixed appliances for a living and wondered if he could take her broken dryer. He said his sister was a single mother of small children and didn't have one, so if he could have this one and fix it, they would both be very grateful.

So our neighbor took the washing machine, her sister took the dryer and a stranger took her dryer to help his sister. And all of this happened because my husband followed a prompting to wait. He was right. Someone needed them.

I have learned a lot about sharing from my husband over the years. He had a saying I have come to believe is true. He would say, "If we can't share what we have in our poverty, we won't be willing to share in our wealth."

My sister was a wonderful example of being willing to share in her poverty. When we were first married and literally owned nothing, she was starting off as well. But still wanting to help us out, she gathered up items from her house she did not need and took them to a garage sale where she traded them for things she knew we could use. Out of this trade we got a table, two chairs, a coffee table and a baby blanket. They were all well worn, but they were beautiful to us. And my son still has the baby blanket.

How grateful I was to my husband for his desire to share with others. How grateful I was to my sister who was willing to share as well. And how grateful I am to all the many people over the years who have--- out of both their poverty and their wealth--- shared their belongings, their time, their friendship and their love with us. You have all added great . . . .joy to our journey.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Love Story

I am convinced God is a true romantic. After all, how many interesting “how we met” stories do you know? I had a friend in college who canceled a trip to visit her sister in Texas over Thanksgiving and rescheduled it for the week after Christmas. When she arrived, she met a young man visiting Texas on business from Michigan. They dated every day that week and were later married.

My friend Jenny met her husband at BYU when she and her roommates set up a lemonade stand outside the boy’s apartment complex on the day many were moving in. And my friend Sonia, met her husband at her sister’s wedding. He was the groom’s brother.

I am pretty sure there are angels in Heaven whose only job is to make sure the right people meet, and to make their job more interesting they think up creative ways for that to happen. Since I missed being able to spend Valentine’s with my husband due to being in Utah with my mother (who is finally out of ICU! Hooray!) this post is dedicated to my Sweetheart.

It is our love story.

The First Time We Met
The first time I met Wes was at BYU just after he returned from his mission and I was preparing to turn in my mission papers. He had gone to visit a friend of his from high school, who also happened to be my friend and co-worker. When I arrived at work, he was there and my friend called me over to meet him. The second she said his name my heart did a leap inside of me and I thought, “This is the person I am going to marry!”

Our First Date
Our first date came two years later. I was called to serve a mission in Quito, Ecuador and Wes’ father was my mission president. (Angels at work?) His sister was also at one time my missionary companion. During my exit interview, my mission president told me to not be in a hurry to get married but rather to take my time and wait for the right man. Soon after I went home he wrote a letter to Wes and told him to ask me out. Wes ignored the letter until his sister called and told him she had just talked to their dad and he was insistent.

How He Asked Me Out
He didn’t. He had his roommate call and pretend to be him and ask me. (Yes, this was the coward’s way out, but also innovative.) So while Wes went jogging, Curt called and said, “You don’t know me, but my father was your mission president and he wanted me to ask you out.” (Wow, don’t sound so excited) “So can you go Thursday, Friday, or Saturday?” (Obviously very available). I chose Saturday and we went to the first of many basketball games. At this one his brother was the coach and Lehi High School was the team playing. (They won)
Our Engagement
Two weeks later, I was ready for the “Define the Relationship” talk. At some point in the conversation Wes suggested we get married. I agreed but wasn’t ready to make it public, which was good since about a week later I got scared and backed out. Wes was patient with me, however, and one month and one day after our first date we became officially engaged.
First Kiss
Truthfully, I am the only girl Wes has ever kissed. That wasn’t due to lack of opportunity, but rather due to choice. He made a decision early on that he would only kiss the girl he planned to marry. About a week and a half into our relationship we were sitting on the couch in my apartment, and with a little encouragement on my part, he kissed me. Okay, so that first kiss wasn’t the best, but he was a very fast learner.

How He Proposed
Twenty-four years after we were married he leaned over in the celestial room at the Mesa temple and asked if I would be his wife. Although incredibly delayed, that was my only official proposal. For our unofficial one, he came to my apartment one night, and after struggling with the marriage decision I decided I was ready to move forward and so I said, “I want to get married.” He asked, “Are you sure?” I said yes and we went and told my parents. Not at all romantic, but it worked. Three months later we were married in the Salt Lake Temple and moved to Mexico City where he was employed in the family business.

What I Remember Most About My Wedding Day
We were married in July and it snowed the day before the wedding in the mountains. That was not a good thing for an outdoor reception, but all worked out well. The other thing I remember is I was very stressed and rather cranky with my wedding line. My poor sisters and friends! I made them all stand straight and face forward at all times. If they moved, I got after them.

What I Like Most About Wes
Lot’s of things, but mostly that he is so very good. He lives his life in the white and never gets close to the gray area. He is also a lot of fun to be around (although people who only know him from church do not see that side of him) is very smart, very athletic, very generous, very cute and very good to me. Nearly every week he brings me flowers and is kind enough to give me frequent foot massages, which is my most favorite thing. I also love that he supports me in everything I want to do even if it means more messes around the house—like when I went through the tole painting phase, the calligraphy phase, the flower arranging phase etc. And of course he is a wonderful father to our five children and grandfather to our one little grandbaby.

But most of all, he is my very best friend.
I love you Wes! Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! And thanks for bringing so much . . . joy to my journey.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My mom . . . an update

Thank you so much to all who have prayed for my mother and written and asked how she is doing. I think we have finally turned the corner, and can confidently say she is getting better. Although the doctors like to remind us that there are still a lot of things that can go wrong, I prefer to only think positively.

The past few days have been very traumatic. Out of respect for my mother's privacy, I won't go into all the details, but when I arrived in Utah I was not prepared for how bad it was. She was sepsis (most of her organs infected and inflamed) and was shutting down. She was in kidney failure, not breathing on her own, unable to speak and in agonizing pain. On Wednesday, following some tests, it was determined she needed emergency surgery that she only had a 50% chance of surviving. The next three hours were some of the most difficult emotionally of my life. My family had all gathered at the hospital and we were placed in a separate "family room", probably so we would be alone if they brought us bad news. I spent most of my time pacing the hall.

We also called and emailed everyone we knew and asked them to pray for her. It was at this time my husband had an interesting experience that hopefully he won't mind if I share. As he began to pray he said he could literally feel the power of the many prayers being offered and knew they were being heard. I felt so comforted by that and appreciated all those who joined their prayers with ours.

We felt so blessed when the surgeon told us she had survived and was stable. The following day, however, we were hit with more bad news. They felt she was also suffering from metabolic encephalopathy, which is basically brain damage caused by the lack of nutrition from her kidney failure, that may or may not reverse.

However, today, only three days later, her kidneys are functioning normally, her breathing is almost back to normal, and she is slowly beginning to communicate with us. On Friday we were encouraged when she blinked her eyes in response to a question, and then on Saturday she started moving her head.

Progress is slow, but we are optimistic. And today is the first day we didn't get any bad news when we arrived at the hospital. In fact, the doctor told us things are going as well as he could have hoped. Improvement is going to be slow, but it is happening and there really isn't any reason we can currently see, that she can't be completely healed.

Thanks again to everyone for your prayers, love and concern. It means so much to me. I thought I was holding it all together well, but today at church one of my mother's neighbors told me there wasn't a moment of the day when she wasn't praying for my mother. When she told me that I broke down and cried. I know that your prayers are not only helping my mother heal, but have been sustaining me as well and I am so grateful for it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Grammy Time . . . And the winner is . . .



Monday, February 9, 2009

My Mom

The first picture is of my mother on her wedding day.

This is a more recent picture of my parents. I have always loved this one as it is just cute.

But I am writing today because my mother is very ill. A week ago she seemed fine, but has steadily gone down hill since then. She was in the hospital in American Fork, Utah, but is currently being transferred to the ICU at Utah Valley Hospital in Provo.
I am leaving for Utah tomorrow morning so I can be with her, my Dad and my four sisters who live there.
All prayers are appreciated.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Day of blessings and miracles

Yesterday, Saturday, February 7, was a day of blessings and miracles. I began the morning by attending the sealing of one of my former seminary students, Ciara. I can remember when Ciara was born. Her mother and I served together in the young women's program and were expecting babies at the same time. We later moved away, but then Ciara's family also moved to our stake and I had the privilege of teaching her in seminary when she was a freshman. It has been fun to watch her grow, go away to college, serve a mission and now be married to her sweetheart.

I was so happy to be able to attend the sealing, but what brought even greater joy was to look around the sealing room and see five of my former students there. Besides Ciara, there was her older brother Jordan and three of Ciara's good friends. I was talking to the friends after the sealing and one of them, Natalie, said to me, "Isn't it so wonderful to all be here together in the temple?" It was. So much so that when I saw them all there it made me cry. What a wonderful sweet blessing that was.

In the afternoon, I was able to help set up for the reception. This brought such deep feelings of gratitude to me for the women in my ward. We joked that it was a "United Order" reception, in that many people brought the decorations they had, and all together it was absolutely beautiful. There were so many wonderful women, willing to dedicate their time, money, and resources to make the reception a success. I was so touched by all their selfless service.

And then in the evening we received a tremendous miracle. The weather report called for rain beginning around 6 p.m. and the reception began at 6:30. Everyone involved had prayed during the week that the rain would not come during the reception--as it was being held out doors. Michelle (Ciara's mother) told us she explained in her prayer that she didn't mind cleaning up in the rain, but asked that it not rain during the reception.

The reception ended at 8:30 and at about 8:20 we started feeling little sprinkles. By 8:30 it was a downpour. The next hour of cleanup was wet and cold, but there wasn't anyone there who did not appreciate the miracle that had occurred, especially when we heard that around 7:30 it was pouring rain only a half mile from where we were. What a sweet blessing that was and what a wonderful day I had.

Lastly--as long as I am writing about blessings, I want to add one my father received. While on his mission in Argentina nearly 60 years ago, he tracted out a home where he left a pamphlet with the teen aged daughter who lived there. He then was transferred and never knew what happened with the family. Several years ago, while teaching at BYU, he met an MBA student from Argentina who told him his mother was the girl he left the pamphlet with. She joined the church, married and raised her family in the gospel. Well, a couple weeks ago, my father read in the Church News that this same young man was just called to be a mission president.

So you never know what influence you might have on others. Leaving that pamphlet that day was such a simple thing, that did not appear to bear fruit, and yet, sixty years later, people are still being blessed because of it---and will continue to do so.

And there you have my day yesterday, and the many blessings that brought great . . . joy to my journey.

Friday, February 6, 2009

If you are ever in Colorado Springs . . .

We spent last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although we were there for the blessing of our new (and only) grand-daughter, we also got out one day to see the sights. We love Arizona, but every time we go to Colorado we wonder why we live here and not there (unless it is snowing, and then we don't have to ask:-). Here are some of the sights we were treated to.

Dominating the landscape is Pike's Peak, named for the explorer Zebulon Pike. It is located 10 miles to the west of Colorado Springs and is one of 54 mountains in Colorado that are over 14,000 feet high (called "fourteeners").

Although this mountain is not as dominant, it is still very interesting to me. (Sorry the picture isn't better we took it quickly on our way out of town). The left side of this mountain is Cheyenne Mountain where NORAD is located. Here they "collect data from a worldwide system of satellites, radars, and other sensors and process that information in real time. Operations are conducted around the year in the Air Warning Center, Missile Correlation Center, Operational Intelligence Watch, Systems Center, Weather Center, and the Command Center" (that was taken from Wikipedia)

One of the favorite things we did was visit the "Garden of the God's," a natural park filled with interesting rock formations. The weather was beautiful that day, and although there was still some snow on the ground, all we needed to keep warm was a light jacket.
This picture gives a good example of the various formations. I particularly liked this one because of the sun. I don't think I have ever taken a picture of the sun like that before, especially when there was such a wonderfully blue sky out.

We all enjoyed this formation. I don't know the name of it (perhaps someone from Colorado can enlighten?) but here is the back of it.

And here is the front. My husband thought it looked like three monks. Notice how blue the sky is though. I have never seen a sky like that before. It isn't just that there aren't any clouds, but the intensity of the blue was amazing.

We got a kick out of this one. Can you find the two camels kissing?
And I could not close this post, without just one more baby picture. Here is a closeup of her dress. I also love this picture because it just makes me want to pick her up and hug her! Oh, how sad it is to be so far away! I can't wait until next month, when baby and mother are coming to Arizona to visit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Today's Mormon Woman . . . or . . . Please Don't Call Me Leonore

I met Leonore when I was a newlywed and living in Mexico City. Leonore was perfect. Or at least it seemed that way. Whenever we had a lesson in relief society she was always asked to tell how she did whatever principle we were learning about. If we were being taught about scripture study, Leonore was asked by the teacher to tell us how she did hers. If the lesson were on exercising, Leonore was asked to tell us how she got up and went running every morning. When the lesson was on nutrition, Leonore told us how she ate perfectly balanced meals every day. No matter what the topic, Leonore could tell us how to do it.

And although she was very nice, she also thoroughly, completely and totally intimidated me, because I felt thoroughly, completely and totally imperfect in comparison. Every insecurity I had about being a Mormon woman, every weakness and failure I possessed, were magnified when I was near her.

I grew up on the Wasatch Front in the days when young women were expected to sew, garden and know how to bottle fruit before they left home at 18. And although my mother is an amazing gardener, seamstress and can bottle anything, I never learned the necessities of Mormon womanhood. (I did take home economics in junior high but got a D when I didn’t put my pattern properly on the material and my shirt came out with little people sideways on it. )

And I felt guilty about it, so much so, that I enrolled in sewing classes as an adult. And I learned—to a degree. I learned to make Halloween costumes, some curtains and a few outfits for my three-year-old. (No one older than three would wear what I made). I also learned how to bottle fruit and even meat. For many years I tried my best to become what I thought the perfect Mormon woman should be.

I wanted to be Leonore.

Then I read a talk by Patricia Holland where she said she didn’t like to sew. She learned (because she too felt it was expected) but did not like it. That was a turning point in my life. For the first time, I felt free to admit I did not like sewing. After all, if Patricia Holland, the wife of an apostle didn’t like it, it wasn’t necessary for me to like it either.

Since then I have also come to realize that what makes the perfect Mormon woman has nothing to do with her talents and abilities, or her likes and dislikes. What is important however, is how she values and keeps her covenants. But even then, we are all on different places on the road to perfection. In our day of economic trials, knowing how to sew, bottle fruit and garden are all good things, and they along with all other good talents and skills should be cultivated. But they do not define Mormon womanhood.

One Sunday, while sitting in Relief Society, I glanced around the room. There were several single sisters who have been married and suffered through divorces, others have never been married. There was a sister battling cancer, others struggling with wayward children. Some were converts to the church, others born into families with pioneer ancestry. Some battle depression, some work full time, some stay at home. Some possessed the wisdom of age, and others were too young to realize they didn’t know everything. We had a Hispanic sister, a black sister and a sister from Finland. Each was very different. And each in some way had blessed my life.

And as we raised our voices together in song, I felt the spirit wash over me, and with it came a deep sense of love and appreciation for each sister in the room. I was so grateful the gospel tent has expanded to include every woman, from every background, from every country, with every weakness and with every talent. For just as our voices united in song, so did our hearts unite in love one for another and for the Savior. We had come together that day to honor our covenants. We had partaken of the sacrament and we were all trying to do our best to keep that covenant, and we were helping each other along the way.

We are different, but we are the same. And together we define the Mormon Woman.