Monday, March 21, 2011

Living with Hope - Part IV

When we establish our faith in Jesus Christ as the bedrock of our life, we can move forward confident of who we are and trusting in that God whose we are. I read a thought the other day that said, “When things get tough, always remember that faith doesn’t get you around trouble, it gets you through it!” In the middle of troubles, trusting that our Heavenly Father is aware of us and will bring us through is the ultimate trial of our faith. Trusting in our Heavenly Father and his plan for us as individuals is the last element of maintaining and sustaining hope that I want to talk about today.
On the large scale, we believe that Heavenly Father has a plan by which all His children can return to Him to live in His presence. This macro-scaled plan is the plan of salvation. But according to scripture, there is also a micro-sized plan for each of His children, by which we can, on an individual level, become like Him and be prepared to return to Him and live in His presence. Our life experiences are part of that micro-plan and His hand is in the details. Across our life, if we trust Him, we will be refined and sanctified. Experiences will be allowed into our lives and brought into our lives by our loving Father. These experiences will teach and transform us into more than we could ever make of our selves – even more than we could ever dream for ourselves.
I can think of no better example of people who learned to trust completely in Heavenly Father than the Jaredites as He brought them out from the Tower of Babel and into the Promised Land. As I prepared for this talk I came across this story of the Jaredites and their trust in God twice. So I re-read the Book of Ether with the idea that the journey of the people of Jared into the wilderness and across the ocean to the Promised Land is an analogy of our journey on this earth and back to our Heavenly Father. I read about their journey with new eyes and I want to share a few of the truths I found about trusting the Lord even in the tough times – or especially in the tough times.
The Jaredite journey begins at the Tower of Babel and ends in the Promised Land. The story begins:

Ether 2: 5-6 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded them that they should ago forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a bcloud, and gave cdirections whither they should travel…and they did travel in the wilderness and did build barges in which they did cross many waters…being directed continually by the hand of the Lord.

We learn here that as we begin growing up and having our own first-time experiences of living by faith – going places where we have never been - we are led very closely by the Lord and our parents or missionaries or teachers or bishops who know our needs and guide us on a daily basis. Also, I didn’t remember that long before they got to the ocean, the Jaredites built barges to cross other bodies of water, so another truth taught here is that our life is filled with experiences - like barge building - that prepare us for challenges that lie ahead.

7 And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness, but he would that they should come forth even unto the aland of promise…

The Jaredites made it through the wilderness to the seashore and took a four-year break. However, well-deserved it might have been, they were really selling themselves short. We do this too. We get tired and get casual about who we are and where we are going. We think: “This is good enough for me. I am comfortable that I have come this far. I have accomplished all that I had envisioned.”
But the Lord has plans for us that are greater than we could ever conceive of by ourselves. So he said to them (and to us):

16 And the Lord said: Go to work... And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built…

The skill set they had developed helped them face this new challenge – an ocean. Life experiences prepare us with what we need to move forward.
The Lord give us everything we need to face even the most insurmountable challenges and we cannot do it without him. About here we usually talk about the miracle of lighted stones provided by the Lord, but I’d like to focus on some of the other challenges they faced. Remember - they needed to cross a vast ocean as quickly as possible before they and all of their animals died at sea in order to make it to the Promised Land. They were going to need more help than just light. So the Lord assured them that they were prepared and they could cross this sea.

25 And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.
Ether 6: 4 And it came to pass that when they had prepared…they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.

They did what they were told and then they trusted the Lord.

5 And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, btowards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.
6 And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind.

Can you imagine? The Lord sent the winds and the waves that must have felt so frightening and dangerous to them - great challenges to be endured and to be overcome. But they continued to trust in the Lord and they learned the following:

7 And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being atight like unto a dish…And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither awhale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.

First they learned that they were in the Lord’s hands.

8 And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were adriven forth before the wind.

Second they learned that the wind – the scary, difficult challenge- was in fact the very force bringing them quickly and effectively to their destination. In their newfound appreciation of the Lord’s goodness in this most difficult situation – truly a tough time if there ever was one – they were grateful for everything that came from His hand, even the wind and the waves.

9 And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea…and…did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord…. And thus they were driven forth, athree hundred and forty and four days upon the water.

344 days! They must have despaired that there would ever be a good outcome to this journey. No one can float on the ocean for 344 days and not wonder from time to time if they can endure. But in the Lord’s time – and I am sure it was just in the nick of time – they finally came to their desired destination.

12 …when they had set their feet upon the shores of the promised land they bowed themselves down upon the face of the land, and did humble themselves before the Lord, and did shed tears of joy before the Lord, because of the multitude of his ctender mercies over them.

This story is a primer on how to trust the Lord to prepare us and guide us home to Him again. Calm seas would have been easier, but they would have never reached the Promised Land. They would have died floating in the middle of the ocean. What felt like a great difficulty was in fact the Lord saving their lives. Can we learn to trust Him to deliver us as they did? The first theme of the Book of Mormon is to testify that Jesus is the Christ. Secondary to that theme and supporting it is the thesis found in 1 Nephi 1:20 which reads:

“I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

Twenty five years ago a prophet of God taught us that the Book of Mormon was written and compiled specifically for our day. So why do we need 530 pages of documentation that the Lord will deliver us by His tender mercies if we have faith? As He directed those prophets who compiled the words found in the Book of Mormon, don’t you suppose that He knew us and our day? He knew exactly the challenges we would face. He knew that we would have to learn put our trust in Him. Even as He causes furious winds to blow through our lives and mountain waves to break upon us, we know we can trust Him to hold us safely in his Hands and that all things will work together to bring us home to Him.
2 Nephi 31: 20 captures all of these principles in a single verse:

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

In a nutshell this verse shows us that hope is essential if we are going to move forward and endure to the end. Also, hope is strengthened by a steadfast faith in Christ and His promises. It teaches that each of us is a beloved daughter of our Father and we need to love one another as we journey back to him. And lastly, as we press forward and endure the challenges of our day, we need a perfect brightness of hope that will give us enough light to see the Lord’s hand in our lives and trust that He has the power and the will to deliver us safely home again.
In closing I would like to share counsel given by Elder Holland in his address called “Lessons from Liberty Jail” regarding the purpose and opportunity of tough times.

“ …every experience can become a redemptive experience if we remain bonded to our Father in Heaven through that difficulty. These difficult lessons teach us that man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples—or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace.”

I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from the difficult times in my life – for comfort, knowledge and peace that have blessed me in moments of distress. I have great hope that the Lord will continue to tutor me as needed, if I will trust Him even in challenging times and strive to be a faithful daughter.
As I began teaching seminary, I found myself at a loss for words to express how I felt to my students as they left the classroom each day to face the world. One day a little phrase came to me, and I have used it to end many classes since then. Simply put: “It’s true and it’s worth it.” My testimony is that the gospel is true and whatever we may endure for its sake is completely worth the effort. The Lord will sustain us in every good thing, and the time will come when will see the end from the beginning and know that our faith and hope and trust in Him were perfectly placed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Living with Hope - Part III

When we left our Heavenly Father’s presence He sent us with gifts to keep us connected to Him. He sent us with the Light of Christ to guide us to truth. He sent us with the ability to feel love and to give love, so that we might form relationships that would bless all of our lives and in them see the love of God. He gave us the scriptures and prophets that we might remember him and come to know him that we might return to him one day. Everything he has done in all eternity is done that we, his children, might return home to the Father who sent us on our way. This understanding of who we are – whose we are – and where we are going is another essential element in maintaining hope.
In talking in a CES Fireside, President Uchtdorf re-told the famous story of the Ugly Duckling to teach this principle:
“Today I hope to impress upon your mind and heart how a knowledge of who you really are can help you to successfully conquer the most difficult issues in life.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Reflection in the Water, CES Fireside, Nov. 2010, p.2)
How does knowing who we really are strengthen us to face life’s challenges?
In the story of the Ugly Duckling the creature that emerged from an egg mistakenly placed in a nest of duck eggs had no more idea who he was initially than we do when we are born with our lack of memory of former times. As a result he really struggled in his life until he understood what he was and what he was destined for. President Uchtdorf drew clear correlations between us and our experiences and that of the beautiful swan that spent a long time believing he was an ugly duckling. He said:
“There will always be voices telling you that you are foolish to believe that you are swans, insisting you are but ugly ducklings and that you can’t expect to become anything else.
No matter your circumstances or trials in life, I urge you to remember who you are, where you came from, and where you are going—for the answers to those questions will truly provide confidence and direction for your life.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Reflection in the Water, CES Fireside, Nov. 2010, p.7)
When I have confidence and direction, I know I feel a lot more hopeful, so when we feel discouraged or overwhelmed or lost, President Uchtdorf counsels us to remember that:
“You are sons and daughters of the greatest, most glorious being in the universe. He loves you with an infinite love. He wants the best for you. Do you think our Father in Heaven wants you to feel depressed and sad? He wants no such thing.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Reflection in the Water, CES Fireside, Nov. 2010, p.3)
“Our destiny is greater than we can imagine... The next time you feel unhappy, remember where you came from and where you are going. Rather than focus on things that dampen your thoughts with sorrow, choose to focus on those things that fill your soul with hope.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Reflection in the Water, CES Fireside, Nov. 2010, p.3)
Hope bubbles up and fills our life with feelings that brighten our outlook and lift our spirits, creating positive attitudes and preparing us to take action. When we are discouraged, one of the greatest sources for reviving hope is in happy, loving relationships. These relationships are essential to maintaining hope in times of difficulty – all of us face challenges that bring us to our knees and wet our faces with tears. At all times and especially at those times, it is so important that we focus on things that fill us with hope. Friendships that remind us of who we are can guide us and lift us in stormy times and help us keep our heads above water. And so President Uchtdorf tells us to reach out to each other:
“I am certain that you were not created to spend the hours and days of your lives isolated from each other in worry or despair…Get together…in your wards or branches… Dance together, study the gospel together, work together, serve your fellowmen together—and have fun doing it.”
Sharing with others and serving others does help us feel the love of God in our lives and remind us that he is the Father of us all. So we need to open the doors of our hearts to friends and neighbors, and if they don’t walk into our lives then we will need to walk out of our doors and enter theirs. This was not something that was easy for me to do. It was an area of my life in which I lacked confidence. Consequently I suffered alone many times, overwhelmed by responsibilities or by life’s challenges, but I was unable to get past the negative messages that come to those who, like the ugly duckling, have not yet found and embraced their true identity. Those messages sound a lot like: “You don’t belong here.” “You don’t deserve to be happy.” “You are not desirable or attractive to other people.” These messages that sound so ridiculous to our brains are embraced tightly by our hearts until the truth of who we are dislodges them and our hearts are changed. My head looked for answers to my heart’s sadness, and continually I heard messages that I should reach out and serve others and be a friend. These messages rang true to me, so I worked to incorporate this counsel into my life. And slowly things changed. These small changes allowed me to hope that I might learn to love and to feel the love of God in my life at all times. Years passed with ever increasing opportunities for service and friendship. My heart healed as I found my place as one of Heavenly Father’s children.
In 2008, when President Monson counseled us to do something for someone else every day, I found myself responding happily and willingly to that challenge. My spiritual and emotional circumstances had changed so thoroughly that as I prayerfully pursued a course of daily service, I found opportunities all around me and recognized readily the promptings of what I could do.
This change, this movement of knowing about our Heavenly Father in our heads to having faith in Him in our hearts, is a universal experience among people of faith who press forward confidently, happily and with determination to serve Heavenly Father’s children – in other words, people who have hope.
Last year Parade magazine featured an article on Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, that illustrates this so well.
(Tony Blair said he) remembers very clearly the day his faith became personal. When he was 10 years old, his father suffered a severe stroke and was rushed to the hospital. Uncertain if his father would live, he went to school fearful of the future. His teacher, noticing his young student’s anxiety, suggested that they kneel and pray for his father’s recovery. Tony Blair hesitantly whispered, “I’m afraid my father doesn’t believe in God.”
The teacher’s reply made a lasting impression: “That doesn’t matter. God believes in him. He loves him without demanding or needing love in return.”
…He still points to that conversation with his teacher as a pivotal moment his life. He realized that his faith gave him a sense of purpose and direction. “Faith matters,” he says, “because it inspires people to act and raise their sights beyond themselves.”
He drew the following conclusions about faith: Faith in something larger than ourselves gives us a reason to hope, a reason to move forward when life wears us down, a reason to love and believe in love. It teaches not only that we have worth in the eyes of our creator, but also that everyone else has the same worth. (“Why Faith Matters,” Parade, Sept. 12, 2010, 22.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Living with Hope - Part II

Here is the thing I have observed about change in a country’s history. With a lifting of repression or an end of war or famine, immediately something rises up in the people – like bubbles in root beer. When you break the seal on a bottle, bubbles gather and push to the top. You twist the lid open a crack and they chase themselves into a froth. When the lid is removed, they foam up ‘en masse’ and spill over in wave after wave of effervescent energy. That energy in people in times of change is hope. All hope needs is a little crack of light to bring it rushing to the surface. With the slightest changes that hint at opportunity, hope pushes upward, seeking more light, opening the cracks wider, lighting hearts on fire and filling minds with possibilities. It’s hard to say what comes first – change or hope – for change begets hope, but hope clamors for change - in a very chicken-and-egg kind of scenario.
We spent time in Hungary visiting with dozens of my son’s friends in their homes and communities and churches. We met non-members and members both – brand-new converts and those with years of church activity. For the most part people my age, those raised under a very repressive Communist regime, had hoped and seen that hope crushed enough times that they dared not hope again. The churches of their parents’ past were broken and failing. They had placed their faith in government or revolutions or other institutions which eventually failed or disappointed them. As a result, most of the active members of the Church are under thirty five. The changes that took place during their childhood, caused hope to bubble up in these youth. And the effervescent nature of hope, with its light and possibilities, brought a renewed interest in faith. In spite of their youth they have amazing faith in Jesus Christ and carry heavy responsibilities in the Church. AND in spite of their faith and diligence, their parents are not interested in their faith. So we saw firsthand the correlation between hope and faith. It is another chicken-and-egg scenario: when we dare to hope, we begin to exercise faith. When we have faith in something, hope blossoms. Here is the lesson I learned from my cynical, baby-boomer peers in Hungary and my troublingly-content, post-Mao peers in China: in order to ensure that our hope is not lost or crushed, it is essential that we place our faith in Jesus Christ and his promises which will not fail. This is the first element of living with hope that I’d like to talk about today.
Throughout the scriptures we are promised repeatedly that Heavenly Father loves us, his children, and that through Jesus Christ we can have eternal life. That is a powerful promise. Heavenly Father himself vouches for His Son and tells us our faith in him is not misplaced:

2 Nephi 31: 15, 20
And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. ..
(If we) press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men… (we) shall have eternal life.

Certainly I am not the only one who ever read these promises, but wondered and worried that perhaps they didn’t apply to me. Have you heard or thought the following? "Others might be able to obtain these promises, but I’m just not Celestial Kingdom material." OR "I am too weak/flawed/sinful/all-of-the-above to return to my Heavenly Father’s presence." Nephi’s people must had similar thoughts, because in a sermon to them, he assured them that they should believe that Jesus will keep his promises to save every person who comes to Him.

2 Nephi 26
24 He (Jesus) doeth not aanything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he bloveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw call men unto him…
25 Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay…
27 Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his asalvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath bgiven it free for all men…
28 …all men are privileged the one blike unto the other, and none are forbidden.
33 …and he inviteth them all to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him…

My faith in these promises given by our loving Father and made possible by our Savior, Jesus Christ, brings so much hope into my life. I love that Heavenly Father’s plan for all of his children is called the Plan of Salvation and The Great Plan of Happiness, not the Plan of Damnation and The Great Plan of Unhappiness. His plan is not a selective plan, where a few of His children come home. It is an inclusive plan and each of us is included in these promises because He is our Father and He loves us unconditionally. His Son, Jesus Christ has done everything in His power to ensure that our faith in him will not fail and our hopes for eternal life will not be crushed. He does not look at us and see us differently – some worthy of salvation and some not. He sees our divine potential and invites us all to come unto Him and have eternal life.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Living with Hope - Part I

I talked in our Stake Relief Society Women's Conference today. I learned so much pulling my talk together. Thought I would share it a piece at a time, because it is really long. I'll put it up serial style. Enjoy!

Times are tough. If you are the age of my children, let me assure you that you are not imagining things. Times are tough. If you are my mother’s age and lived through the Great Depression and a World War, you have seen tougher times, but as a baby boomer, I have not. I was an awkward adolescent during the Vietnam War protests, the summer of love, and ‘sex,drugs & rock and roll.’ Those were scary times, angry times, ’what-is-this-world-coming-to' times. I was a young married mom in the 80’s when gas went over a dollar a gallon, unemployment rates nationally rose above 10%, prices for food and clothing inflated at budget-busting 13.5% annually, and the best mortgage you could find was priced at 16%. Those were ‘put-your-shoulder-to-the-wheel’ times, ‘will-we-have-milk-for-the-kids-at-the-end-of-the-month’ times. But these times are tougher with their combination of economic and moral and social and spiritual challenges.
Have I inspired hope yet???
I think times of relative prosperity and peace are the calm before the storm – a time to prepare. Once the storm arrives we look back at those times wistfully, wondering when they will return. Just like winters with too much snow when we get tired of shoveling it and driving in it and long for a return of warm weather, we hope tough times will pass quickly. But some winters last a long time and so do some challenges, overwhelming us and bringing on feelings of discouragement, worry or sadness.
Have I inspired hope now???
I’ve attended my share of women’s conferences, broadcasts, and education weeks with my sisters or my friends. And sometimes I leave them overwhelmed, worried and discouraged! That’s why they serve lunch at the end – because food makes us all feel better. Anyway, between food and great messages and time with my friends, I usually leave these events fired up, happy and enthusiastic right up until I walk in my door at home and realize that my life didn’t change at all while I was gone!
How’s that hope thing coming???
So my assignment today, at the end of these wonderful messages and in spite of the challenges we each face, is to help us find a way to maintain the happiness we walk out of here with and to sustain our determination to be loving, courageous, faithful daughters of God – in other words, how to live with hope.
In the last year two of my children have brought me into contact with nations and peoples who have lived thru very difficult times. I have become a student of their histories and how events have impacted them as a people. I certainly don’t know everything about them, but I have tried to put myself in their shoes, I have read and observed what I could, and I have been taught some important lessons as a result.
My oldest daughter and her family moved to China last summer. In anticipation of that move, I started reading books that would give me an understanding of that land and its people. Last month I visited China and plan to go back next month. I loved rubbing shoulders with the Chinese. They were very friendly and curious toward me. These people are strong people who love their families and their country. After centuries of feudal warfare and famine due to drought or flooding, the Chinese are by and large content at this time to put their faith in their government - a very repressive government in matters of free speech (think Great Firewall of China), but one that for the last 40 years has kept the peace and ensured that they had food. Food and peace are compelling issues with all people - even Jesus Christ struggled to teach those who wanted a government to save them now instead of an Eternal Savior.
My son returned home from his mission to Hungary just over a year ago, so last spring we traveled back to that land to meet the people he had come to love. After WWII, Hungary came under Soviet rule. It shares a border with Austria, so one of its borders formed a part of the infamous Iron Curtain. From the beginning, the Hungarian people were resistant to Soviet rule. Ten years into that rule, in 1956, they staged a rebellion against the Russians. Their brave Freedom Fighters were honored as Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1956 even though their revolution failed. They gained greater autonomy after that, nevertheless from 1946 to 1989, as a Soviet satellite, all faith was repressed and those raised during that time were raised in a godless society. In the late 1980’s, as international pressure mounted to bring down the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, Hungary led the way by opening its border with Austria creating a vast hole in the Iron Curtain. Within weeks the Berlin Wall fell. When the Wall fell, Soviet rule by repression crumbled and in its place there was a rise of economic opportunity and the democratic process.
So why do I tell you about China and Hungary? When I was asked to talk about hope, one place my thoughts went was to my understanding of these two nations. I felt like a key factor in the events that shaped them was hope – either its presence or the lack thereof. From them we can learn a lot about hope and its impact in our lives as individuals
Here is the thing I have observed about change in a country’s history. With a lifting of repression or an end of war or famine, immediately something rises up in the people – like bubbles in root beer. When you break the seal on a bottle, bubbles gather and push to the top. You twist the lid open a crack and they chase themselves into a froth. When the lid is removed, they foam up ‘en masse’ and spill over in wave after wave of effervescent energy. That energy in people in times of change is hope. All hope needs is a little crack of light to bring it rushing to the surface. With the slightest changes that hint at opportunity, hope pushes upward, seeking more light, opening the cracks wider, lighting hearts on fire and filling minds with possibilities. It’s hard to say what comes first – change or hope – for change begets hope, but hope clamors for change - in a very chicken-and-egg kind of scenario.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Out of the Garage to Out of the Blue

Brett's new band "Out of the Blue" has played at House of Hughes and BYU Guitars Unplugged this last month. He loves jamming with these guys. Their play list has both covers and original pieces composed solo or in collaboration by the other guys in the group: Brandon Moore, Jared Hatch and Andrew Palmer. I'm just glad to see him put over a decade of drumming in the garage to good use. After all the patience our neighbors in two different houses have had with him, I need to tell them the good news as well!
(If you click on the Title it links you to the YouTube posting from their House of Hughes performance. There are six clips on YouTube. All of them have Out of the Blue @ HoH in the title.)

The Drums Are Out of the Garage!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lydia's pigtails!

Hero Worship

OK - I was understandably a little nervous going into this last week. I knew it wasn't going to be easy. A week ago today I woke up at my daughter's house as the sole caretaker of her three children for 5 days. Daunting, yes, but fun and rewarding too, right? Oh my goodness, I now remember why I stopped having kids of my own at 27. They whupped me. Reviewing my time with them and my preparations for it, I overpacked and underpacked. I brought books to read over my spring break from seminary teaching - could've left those home. I packed gym clothes plus my gym tennies and my outside tennies - only used the outside tennies. My Sunday dress choice was perfect - knit and washable with sensible heels. Other clothes included one clean outfit for everyday and a jacket to pull on over it. Here I underpacked and used her washing machine to correct the situation. (Of course with three kids in the house the laundry room was already humming, so I just threw in my stuff as well.) My camera came along for the ride, but saw little use. I was too busy capturing kids to capture moments. So how did I do? I'll give myself a solid 'C' with a citizenship score of 'E' for effort. I fed them, clothed them, read to them, loved them and pitched dozens of balls. I remembered sunscreen, treated excyma, baked cookies and put in pigtails. Along the way we laughed and cried and talked and pouted. We did outings to the Bean Museum, school book fair and movie. This sounds like a pretty cool grandma, except I LOST my cool too often to BE cool. And did I mention... We ran out of the Artic Circle play area without picking up our trash because Lydia had diarrhea. Wilson had a brush with a car on his scooter WITHOUT his helmet on. Upon returning from walking Braden to kindergarten, I realized that we were locked out of the house. Lastly, Sam-next-door came over to ask if Wilson could play when I thought Wilson WAS playing with him. Who loses a three year old?
When I call my daughters who are mothers and ask how their day went, they don't tell me their children got hit by cars or they locked themselves out of the house or they misplaced a child. Mothers of young children are my HEROES! Unlike me, they don't do this for five days and then go home to recover. Everyday they get up and start again. How do they find time to shave their legs, do their hair, or even use the bathroom, not to mention blog, read, serve others and be there for their husbands??? Praise them for their diligence and strength and dedication and love and enthusiasm and willingness to stay in the trenches so that others might be happy and safe and nurtured.
To the mothers of my six grandchildren and mothers of little ones everywhere, please hear me and believe me when I tell you that you are amazing, insightful, capable, intelligent women who are doing the toughest thing I have EVER done. You are my heroes.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Can Sleep When the Wind Blows

I remember reading a tale when I was a kid of a young man who wanted the job as a hired hand on a large farm. The farmer asked him why he should hire him, and the young man replied cryptically, "I can sleep when the wind blows." Puzzled by the response, but impressed with the youth in general, the farmer hired him as his farmhand and was not disappointed in his daily efforts. The point of this cautionary tale played out a few weeks later when a storm blew in during the night. The farmer rushed to waken the farmhand to help him secure doors and animals and equipment. Again the young man said, "I can sleep when the wind blows," and returned to his sleep. The exasperated farmer moved out into the storm to find that the tasks he had wakened to do were already done. In the course of finishing up his day's work, the farmhand routinely fastened gates and secured doors and took care of animals and equipment, as if a storm might blow in. Thus he could indeed sleep peacefully every night, knowing that all would be well until morning.

I was pretty impressed with this story when I was 13 and 14, because it never occurred to me to work that hard "just in case." Of course, I had never lived where wind blew on a regular basis. Now I do. The wind blows in Reno as a matter of course in November, December, March, April and May. It blows a lot every other month too. When people move here we caution them about living in certain areas because of the amount of wind there. I now close windows, doors and gates as a matter of course. We always secure garbage cans, lawn furniture, even trampolines. Still, I cannot sleep when the wind blows.

First of all, when the wind blows, things make noise: windows rattle, doors creak, roof vents whine, bathroom fans clank and toilets bubble backwards. In spite of all that, I will be tired enough eventually that sleep will come, but not for long. Just the wind itself, the movement and energy, stirs up my brain and sends it into overdrive. Simply put, my mind will not turn off in the wind. Eventually my eyes will pop open, and I will be wide awake again listening to the sounds of the wind, aware of my mind looping around on the same thoughts I fell asleep to. I write this on a typical March day as the wind swooshes outside and batters against my house, as it did all night last night - as it has every March for the last nineteen years that I have lived in Reno. Gratefully and atypically, I am well rested.

Now I will be the first one to support the statement that the temple is a place of inspiration and learning, but some of the things I learn there seem less lofty and come from very ordinary sources. That doesn't make them less valuable, and in fact shows me that while the Lord loves sacred truths, he is pragmatic as well. Last Wednesday evening as we finished our shift at the temple, I stood in the lobby with the last patron to leave. We chatted as we waited for our husbands. An obvious topic was the wind. The chain on the flagpole banged loudly and the flag snapped so that we could hear both from where we stood over the moaning and whining of the wind around the building. I complained that it would be another sleepless night for me and asked her if she could sleep through the wind. She said she could, and I thought that was that. Then she added, "I use earplugs."

Shazam! This statement hit me with all the force of three years of seminary sleep deprivation enhanced by frequent windstorms. Earplugs! I could use earplugs and sleep. Tonight. I left the temple, dropped Brian off at his car and pulled into the Smith's parking lot at 10pm. I needed milk and earplugs. At 11 pm with my face scrubbed and my most comfortable jammies on, I opened the package of earplugs, read the directions and inserted two soft, purple foam cones into my ears. I could hear Brian as he mumbled, "Love you, goodnight." I could hear my cell phone as I plugged it in to charge. I could not hear the wind swooshing 'round my house as I settled my head on my pillow and pulled the covers around my neck. Instead the night swooshed by and the next thing I heard (barely) was my alarm beeping out 5:20am.

I can sleep when the wind blows.