Tuesday 24 November 2020

Give Thanks

It's been a hard year, and I believe most of us are ready to see it end. But it would be a shame to rush past one of the most important days of the year just because we're tired of the Coronavirus, wearing masks and social distancing, the election, riots and civil unrest and unprecedented fears for the future. That's why I really took to heart that challenge to spend the seven days before Thanksgiving flooding social media with some of things I am thankful for. Despite trials none of us want, our hearts should be filled with gratitude for the things we still have. That's why I'm going to share what I wrote with you. It took a couple of days to get the hang of it, but within 72 hours I was no longer viewing the world through such dim glasses. I felt hope return and my heart lighten. Maybe doing something similar will help you view life a little differently too. 

So glad people are taking the prophet's challenge to heart. Can't seem to get away from my computer even though there's plenty to do around the house. Love looking at pictures of family and friends I haven't seen for such a long time. Moving around is fun but has its drawbacks. Thanks for being such great examples and compassionate friends. #givethanks


Even though summer is gone until next year, I'm grateful for the love of gardening. I have 8 flowerbeds and a small vegetable garden in my yard and while my knees don't work as well as they used to I love digging in the soil and seeing the fruits of my labors. God has given us so much beauty to enjoy in the world. Each flower petal is an expression of his great love for us. #givethanks


Far too many miscarriages could have kept me from being a mother. But in his kindness and mercy, God gave me two precious children who would teach me about love, understanding and acceptance. They have become strong, compassionate adults who have survived some of life's greatest heartaches and biggest setbacks with courage and grace. I love reflecting on simpler times, like in this picture, when their faces were filled with nothing but smiles, hope and peace. I think most of us could use a little of that right now. I am so blessed to be their mother. #givethanks


This is the last picture I have of my father. He died a few days later from a massive heart attack leaving seven children alone. Not a day goes by when I do not feel the loss and often ponder how my life would have different had he not been called home. But I’ve come to the conclusion that blessings arise from even the worst life experiences. I’ve felt his arms around me offering support and comfort during times so painful I wasn’t sure the sun would ever shine again. And knowing he was watching over me kept me from making even more debilitating choices than I did. His death forced me to my knees so often that I began to understand my Heavenly Father’s existence and love more than I imaged possible. I didn’t have to see or feel a person to know he or she was there. Increased faith, hope, charity, understanding and love came because I lost my father as a child. Although I know he is waiting for me when my mortal journey is over, I’m not quite ready for that reunion yet. I feel there is still much for me to accomplish before I hear his deep, melodious voice again. #givethanks


What can I say about my two precious grandchildren except they are loved beyond anything else this life has to offer and the answer to so many prayers? Not being able to give life to a child was hard enough, but watching my daughter and daughter-in-law struggle with similar issue nearly broke my heart. I am so grateful for their perseverance in the face of so much heartache and so many tears. Their children are absolutely perfect, and the greatest gift God could have sent into our lives. I cherish each moment I get to spend with them. #givethanks


Strong, faithful, Christian women who sacrificed all they had for their families and what they believed in is the way I view my line of maternal grandmothers. I like looking into their faces and seeing certain physical characteristics emerge as I age. I also like contemplating what other things I inherited from each of them – my love of all things beautiful, my ability to bake edible bread, certain health issues, my abiding in faith in my Savior and my Heavenly Father, my strong allegiance to my country, my commitment to my family and my desire to be in the right place when my time on earth ends. I want all who come after me to feel the same way about our marvelous ancestors who helped make us who we are. #givethanks


It was often hard for me to rejoice in the talents that seemed to come so easily to others. I wanted to sing, dance, play sports, paint beautiful pictures, be outgoing and charismatic and do something truly meaningful with my life too. But I was an introverted child with a bad heart who seemed to lack many natural abilities. That’s why my Grandma Ririe became such an important part of my life. She saw something in me that was very easy to overlook – my love for the written word. She nurtured and guided me through my difficult teenage years, showing by example that it was okay to be different. She was a writer who only had one story published in the London Mystery Magazine, but she gave me the desire to pursue my fondest dream. She’s been gone since I was nineteen, but her outpouring of love helped me publish 14 books in the past five years. Those stories are snapshots of my life as I’ve come to see trials as blessings and tried to help others as she helped me. My greatest reward is seeing my own granddaughter follow in our footsteps. She has the ability to become truly great and wants to publish her own book before she turns thirteen. I am so proud of her. #givethanks 

Hope you have a truly beautiful Thanksgiving, even if you can't be with your families. I will be watching my son's two dogs so he can fix dinner for his father, his step-mother and her grandchildren who are afraid of them. I will fix dinner for us the day after. Stay safe and know you are loved.

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Times of Uncertainty

Like so many Americans, I'm feeling a little unsettled today. Elections have a way of doing that, but the stakes have never been higher. In many ways, I feel like we're fighting for more than just the continued safety of our great nation that was founded on Christian principles with God at the helm. I feel like we're fighting for everything I've ever held dear, family, the right to express how I feel, worship the way I desire, work to build my own part of the American dream, protect the lives of the innocent, have the money I need to survive on as a senior citizen with a less than substantial income, not have history be rewritten or repeated and feel truly at peace in a world that seems to have lost any semblance of sanity. I applaud those who have been able to speak out in defense of the things they value and love in the face of severe criticism and even the loss of their lives. My tears are real as I feel the need to say goodbye to so much of what I remember about daily living. I never thought I would live to see so many prophesies being fulfilled at such a rapid rate.

But I know I can't give way to fear, regardless of what happens. The outcome of this election is not going to change who I am inside, how I feel about the things I value or the positive way I chose to conduct my life. I will still smile and talk to people I don't know, spend time with family and friends and pursue interests I find challenging and meaningful. I will listen to uplifting music, pray for those who need help and remember that we're all brothers and sisters created by the same loving God who cares for each of us equally. And I will find a way to be happy when I'm feeling down because I know who will win this war against good and evil, even if a few major battles are lost. 

There is a stone sitting on my deck. A craftsman cut an image of a father holding his son's hand onto the smoothly, polished surface.  Three simple words stand beside it - Expect a miracle. I still believe in them, regardless of the fact that so many of the ones I hoped for throughout my life never happened. For example, I kept believing that one of the babies I was trying to carry would survive until I was forced to have an emergency hysterectomy just weeks after having another miscarriage that now numbered in the teens. The doctor found eight tumors in my uterus that were in different stages towards malignancy. I never considered all of the ramifications back then. I was in too much pain. But sitting here today, I realize that had I carried that last baby it may have been too late to save my life from all the cancer that was growing inside. Maybe that tragic event had to happen so I could raise the two, beautiful children God had already sent to me in a different way. After all, I just wanted to be a mother, and that gift had not been denied. 

So you see, we don't always understand what miracles really are, or how each challenge we face will help us grow. I never thought I would survive after my mother blamed me for the accident that nearly claimed my brother's life. I was five and he was three. I was supposed to be watching him, but he still made it to the field and tried to climb on the tractor behind our father. He wasn't seen, and when the tractor lunged forward, the blades of the tandem disk ran over his body, pinning him to the ground. With superhuman strength, my father lifted the disk with one hand and pulled him out with the other. My little brother spent six weeks in a coma, and an entire life in pain because he remained partially paralyzed and could never do the things other people took for granted. But the positive influence, and the help he has given others, cannot be measured. I often wonder about the real miracle that was set in motion that heart-wrenching day. Maybe the accident could have been avoided, but at what cost to all the lives of the people involved? Not one of us has ever been bitter or angry enough to take out our frustrations or agony on anyone else.

We will survive the coming days, regardless of how hard and painful they might be, as long as we never lose sight of who is really in charge. God will not be mocked, and everything he has proclaimed will come to pass. If we want to remain on his side, we can't allow ourselves to be led away from what we believe. Nor can we stoop to some of the actions of others who think it's okay to harm, destroy or blame others simply because they have different opinions. We are in this together as a nation, and we will rise or fall together. I just hope we can all keep that in mind during the coming days when tempers flare, and we need to decide how we're going to react. Personally, I don't want to become anyone different than the woman I am today - unless it's learning how to be more like my Savior.