During April 2017 I will be blogging about my Courtship Memories from A to Z . These challenge posts will also be found at Creation and Compassion http://marcyhowes.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Tale of Two, no, Three Birthdays



The end of October has always been a rather hectic time at our house.  DD1, DD3 and myself all have birthdays, and then of course, we have Halloween to celebrate too!  Some years have been just brimming with cupcakes and birthday cakes and ice cream and parties and costumes and candy.  Things have settled down somewhat now that the daughters are grown, and this year we pretty much celebrated together on a Sunday afternoon with two birthday cakes and two kinds of ice cream.  DH, myself, and the two daughters were the only family members able to come, so we have had quite the abundance of cake and ice cream all to ourselves.  Maybe next year we’ll invite you all!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Prayer

I cannot remember a day in my life without prayer.  Growing up, my parents gathered us all together each evening to kneel in family prayer.  As we headed off to be tucked into bed, we were taught to kneel and offer our own individual private prayers.  Each morning before breakfast, my parents kneel together for family prayer with whoever is at home for breakfast.  During the school year, we children would usually already be at school by the time my father came in from morning chores, but we always knew that the prayers would be said, and among many other things, Heavenly Father would be petitioned to watch over and bless and protect us all throughout the day.  I cannot imagine my life without prayer.

As a child, I did not always begin my day with personal prayer, but as I grew and was taught, I found that taking a few minutes each morning to thank my Heavenly Father for my blessings and to ask for his help throughout the tasks and challenges of the coming day was a great blessing in my life.   When I was far from home in South America as a young adult serving as a missionary for my church, I received a letter from my Grandfather with the counsel to not only pray morning and evening with my companion and on my own, but to also take the time in the middle of the day to offer prayers of thanks and asking for help and guidance in our work.  I tried to follow this counsel then, and have often done the same when the challenges of life become difficult to handle or face.   As a mother I have found prayer to be an  invaluable help to me and a source of comfort.   I pray for my family, my DH, and each of my DS's and DD's and my dear DIL each and every day.  I know that my prayers are heard and answered.  I know that I am guided and helped in my decisions and actions, and watched over and protected.  I am often strengthened and comforted, and am better able to face my sorrows and challenges.  As I take time to be still and think during and after my prayers, I receive knowledge and ideas of what I need to be doing.  I believe in the power of prayer.  I cannot imagine my life without it.

This children's hymn was written the same year that my DS1 was born.  I did not grow up with this song, but have learned it with my children, and it continues to be one of my very favorite songs: 


Heavenly Father, are you really there?
And do you hear and answer ev'ry child's prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away,
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
"Suffer the children to come to me."
Father, in prayer I'm coming now to thee.

Pray, he is there;
Speak, he is list'ning.
You are his child;
His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer;
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav'n.

Words and music: Janice Kapp Perry, b. 1938
(c) 1984 by Janice Kapp Perry.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lengthen Your Stride

I’ve mentioned before that I’m walking to work these days, but I probably haven’t mentioned that one of my major efforts is to be on time, if not a few minutes early.   I have been doing quite well recently, but usually towards the end of the week it gets a bit harder to get out of bed on time, or sometimes I remember a task that needs to be done that I was too tired to do the night before, so I sometimes end up leaving home a bit later than I had planned.  It has been a lovely week weather-wise, so it is enjoyable walking the few blocks in the brisk  sunshine filled morning air, crunching through fallen leaves and passing by the gory, monster infested,  graveyard decorated yards of some of my neighbors.   But, due to my sleeping in, or trying to do “one more thing” too many, I find myself needing to quicken my step and Lengthen My Stride in order to be to work on time.   
In today’s busy stress filled world, we are often counseled to be careful to not take on too much.  To not overburden ourselves with more responsibilities than we can handle, and to make sure we don’t run faster than we are able.   But maybe sometimes we take that counsel a little bit too far, and don’t actually push ourselves as much as we should.  It’s a difficult balance to find, I know.  But sometimes in a crunch, and sometimes when we haven’t quite measured up to what we should have been doing, I think we do need to quicken our step and lengthen our stride, if only for a few blocks, or hours, or days.  And then, when the task is complete, or we are to work on time, we can sit down and take that extra breath.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Applesauce

My wonderful DMIL has an apple tree that produces many more apples than she can currently use, so I asked if I could take some of them off of her hands.  Tonight I made my first batch of applesauce for the season, (somewhat chunky with no sugar added, since DH prefers it that way) and bottled  four quarts.  I don't do huge batches of fruit at a time.  After all, I am only one person and a person who has a day job.  But, hopefully there will be more batches to come in the next week or two.  We do like some applesauce on occasion around here:  with bread and peanut butter or pancakes and peanut butter, with Graham crackers, or even with Gingerbread if we happen to get around to baking some.  I'm grateful for apples and applesauce.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Don Quixote

Yesterday our department at work participated in our annual deprtmental retreat.  Traditionally the day consists of several hours of discussions, workshops, or meetings, a nice meal, and some sort of activity.  Yesterday we were treated to a delicious lunch and a private showing of the 1972 movie, The Man of La Mancha.  But before all of this we participated in a discussion centered on the book, Beyond Illusions, The Magic of Positive Perception, by Brad Barton.  The author, a magician, has written his book telling readers about how not to be deceived, and about how much our reality is based upon our perceptions.  Mostly the book is about how to understand our problems, thus allowing us to discover solutions to problems.   

Chapter two is titled "The Magical Man of La Mancha" and tells of Don Quixote, the character created by the author Don Miguel Cervantes.  Don Quixote was an older eccentric landowner who perceived himself as a noble knight whose destiny was to fight evil and defend truth and justice.  Quixote's perception of himself and the world was quite different from the reality experienced by the people he encountered in his adventures.  He saw greatness in everyone he encountered, including the scullery maid that Quixote saw as a high born lady of virtue and beauty.  At first the maid protests his exclamations of her worth, but ultimately she gives in to his perceptions, and begins to see herself, and to actually become, the Lady Dulcenia.  Quixote was able to change Dulcenia's perception of herself, and thus he was able to change her reality.

I have not actually read Don Quixote myself, but I like Brad Barton's assertions that through our actions and words we are able to change other people's perceptions of themselves, and by so doing we can actually change their reality.  Have you had a Don Quiote in your life?  Has someone influenced the way that you see yourself and actually helped you to become a better person?  Have you ever been able to be a Don Quixote to someone else?  I'm sure that there have been many people who have been a Don Quixote to me, but perhaps my greatest Don Quixote has been my DH.  I can feel from his words and his actions that he perceives me to be a woman of worth, and has helped me to have a self confidence that I didn't have before he knew me and asked me to be his wife.  Thank you DH.  I love and appreciate my own Don Quixote.   ♥♥♥
  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Strawberry Patch and Peach Tree

This week I have had the pleasure of spending several evenings working in the back yard.  The week started out rather cool, but I know that day light savings time will be ending soon (finally it will be lighter in the mornings!) so I have forced myself to get out and try to get the gardens cleaned up a bit while I still have daylight hours after work.  The vegetable garden really needs some work, both cleaning out the frozen tomatoes, squash and cucumber plants, and some major weeding also needs to be done.  However, this week I have felt more inclined to work on enlarging the strawberry patch.  There was a very small patch of strawberries near the back door when we first moved to this home, and over the years I have moved and expanded the patch a bit at a time.  The past few years it has been rather neglected, and is currently majorly overgrown with grass and overly crowded with strawberry plants.  Needless to say, they have not been producing very well.

Last Friday the husband of one of my friends brought me a peach tree.   The tree had been growing in their back yard, but they have several other fruit trees and had other plans for the spot that this little tree had been growing in.  My friend felt bad about just cutting it down, so her dear husband dug it up, wrapped it in a tarp and drove it over to our home for me after work.  Several years ago I had laid down some old tarps and wood  down over a section of grass next to my strawberry patch in an attempt to kill the grass so I could expand the patch.  When the tree arrived, I moved one of the tarps and was able to quickly dig a hole and get it into the ground before it got dark.   So this week I have been moving more of the tarps and digging strawberry plants out of the very grass and weed infested old  patch and planting them around the new baby peach tree.   Hopefully I'll have the ambition to continue working at the job throughout the weekend, and next June we will be able to enjoy many luscious strawberries, and many delicious peaches in the years to come!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cocoa Maker

Several Christmases ago when DS1 was in college he asked for a cocoa maker for Christmas.  Very dutifully Santa went ahead and provided said cocoa maker for said sun.  Coincidently, that same Christmas DH also recieved a cocoa maker for Christmas.  The cocoa makers were two different brands, and the machine that DH received was actually the brand that DS1 had originally asked for, but a brand that Santa had not been able to find.  So, DH challenged DS1 to a cocoa making contest, and the winner would be able to choose which cocoa maker he wanted to keep.  Long story short, we had a lot of delicious cocoa, DS1 decided to keep the cocoa maker that Santa had brought, and we still have the other cocoa maker here in our home. 

It was raining tonight as DD1 returned from shopping and errands, so I whipped up a batch of hot cocoa.  Not the best ever, as our ingredients for cocoa are a bit limited right now and I was in a hurry, but it was hot, sweet, and chocolate.   Our family does like a good cup of cocoa, and so do the co-workers at work.  We have sometimes talked about how nice it would be to have a cocoa maker at work, but we really don't have a break room that we can use for things like that.  So for now, we either need to warm up a cup of instant cocoa in the microwave (located in one of our supply closets) or use a cup of hot water from the nearby water cooler/heater (located in another nearby supply closet.)  Oh well, I may just have to put a stash of instant cocoa into my desk drawer.  Cocoa season is upon us!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Baptisms

Yesterday I had the choice experience of attending two different Baptisms of young eight year olds.   One was for a young man who I have taught in primary, the other for a young lady from a neighboring ward who I do not really know well.   In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,  the Baptism ordinance is reserved for children and adults who have reached the age eight, and are now considered accountable  for their own actions, and most children of members of the church are baptised at age eight. 

Each of the services was different, with family members or friends of the children participating in the service by giving talks full of advice for the children or presenting musical numbers.  The songs and the talks all centered on how much Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us, want the best for us, and how Baptism is the first step in our journey back to live with them again.  When we are baptized, our sins are washed away, and we are forgiven for any wrongs we have done.  Baptism is also a covenant that we make with our Heavenly Father to keep his commandments and to always remember him. 

After the baptisms, the children received a blessing from a Priesthood holder where they were confirmed as members of the Church and given The Gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift is a privilege that will allow them to receive continual guidance and inspiration from the Holy Ghost throughout their lives.  

It has been many years since my own baptism in November of 1968, but I am very grateful for these gifts.  I am grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ.   The Holy Ghost has helped and guided and comforted me many times throughout my life, and I could feel the spirit very strongly yesterday as these ordinances were performed and explained to these two sweet children. 

When I am Baptized

I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain
And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.

I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away.
And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.

I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again.

Words: Nita Dale Milner, 1952-2004; adapted. (c) 1989 IRI
Music: Nita Dale Milner, 1952-2004. (c) 1989 IRI

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chatting with the Daughters

I had a lovely evening last night just chatting with a couple of my dear daughters, just catching each other up on what has happened this past week, and knowing that we have that connection.  I love and admire my daughters!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Umbrellas

Source

We have had rain again this week, which is a good thing, and which also makes me grateful for my trusty old umbrella.  I don't use an umbrella very often as we really don't get a whole lot of rain in these parts.  When I lived in Colombia for a year and a half I did carry an umbrella and used it frequently, and sometimes even got caught in sheeting rainstorms without it.

But here in our humble state it normally doesn't take more than a quick dash from house or store or church to the car or wherever I need to be going when it is raining.  Since I have been walking to work, however, I have had to use the umbrella exactly twice so far.  I have carried it with me several times, but have not needed it to protect me from the "misting and spitting"  bits of rain or just plain cloudiness that I encountered on these other occasions.

According to wikipedia, umbrellas probably originated in ancient China more than 2400 years ago.  So thank you to the wonderful and intelligent soul who designed this lovely and useful instrument.  Now I just wish I could figure out how to keep my feet dry without wearing galoshes!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Great Bakery Bread

Tonight our sweet home teacher stopped by with a fresh loaf of bread from one of our local Bakeries.  Our family's work schedules aren't condusive to weeknight visits as I am usually the only one home. Our home teacher has had a crazy work schedule lately too, and he has a hard time getting his companion to come with him, so he has taken to stopping by once in a while with a loaf of bread.  It's all good.  We appreciate his love and concern, and we do enjoy his Sunday afternoon visits when his work schedule allows.  And it's great having a nice loaf of whole wheat sunflower bread!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Words of a Prophet


It has been a good week filled with visits from and activities with many of our dear children.  But the highlight of this past weekend has definitely been the opportunity to listen to a living Prophet who has spoken words of comfort and counsel to the world. 

President Thomas S. Monson, president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, recently lost his beloved wife of over 64 years.  In spite of his sorrow, President Monson has carried on with his work, doing his best to teach, to lead, and to care for the needs of those around him.  Here are just a few of his words from this past Sunday:  

 “No person has ever lived entirely free of suffering and sorrow, nor has there ever been a period in human history that did not have its full share of turmoil and misery.

When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question “Why me?” At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night’s darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes  . . .

May we ever strive to be close to our Heavenly Father. To do so, we must pray to Him and listen to Him every day. We truly need Him every hour, whether they be hours of sunshine or of rain. May His promise ever be our watchword: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”10

With all the strength of my soul, I testify that God lives and loves us, that His Only Begotten Son lived and died for us, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that penetrating light which shines through the darkness of our lives. May it ever be so, I pray in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Many other inspired words from our beloved prophet and other messengers of the Lord Jesus Christ were shared this past weekend.  To read, watch, or listen to these messages, please visit http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2013/10?lang=eng.  I promise it will be well worth your time.

LDS General Conference

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Solitude

I enjoy my daily breaks at work, as do most people that I know.  We all need a change of pace, a chance to get up and stretch and get a bit of excercise, some nourishment, and take care of other personal needs.  Today while on my break I conciously realized that one of the things I enjoy most about my break is that I have 30 minutes of time for myself.  Solitude.  I can go for a walk by myself or find a quiet corner to eat my lunch and think, maybe close my eyes for a few minutes, run an errand or two on campus, or even send a quick text to a child or two.   I work in an open area with anywhere from 3 to 5 co-workers in close proximity.  In busy times we are constantly on the phone or helping walk-ins with problems.  During slower times we can and do take some time to chat or visit a bit while we do our work.  I enjoy my co-workers and consider them to be my friends.  But . . . I also enjoy my solitude.  

I have always enjoyed my solitude.  In a fairly small house bustling with parents and siblings it was sometimes difficult to find.  It was heaven to be able to go outside to a tree house, a playhouse, a hayloft, or even to find a perch on the woodpile or up in the willow tree where I could be alone with my thoughts or a book.  During the winter time it was a bit more difficult, but I did learn to find some solitude for myself with my nose in a book even if there was much else going on around me.  As I grew older I also found that I would rather walk home from school than ride the bus on most days.  I enjoyed the solitude of the nearly mile walk from the school along the country road to my home.  Even in the winter it was usually preferable to a long ride on a crowded bus. 

At college I mostly enjoyed losing myself amongst the crowd.  I enjoyed time with my roommates and other friends, but I also enjoyed the day going by myself from class to class to work, grabbing a quick lunch,  all  by myself on most days. 

It was more difficult as a young mother to find the solitude.  A few minutes alone in the bathroom.  Or grabbing a few minutes to read in my room while the kids played together.  Or an hour or so of TV or reading after they had gone to bed.    I think that most of my children have this love of solitude too; some need more alone time than others.  Perhaps most people need it.  Maybe some people don't recognize this need.  Time to reflect.  Time to study.  Time to pray.  Time to listen for answers.  Solitude, in my opinon, is one of those ingredients necessary to a happy life.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bedtime Stories

Tonight I had the opportunity to read a bedtime story to three of my neighbor's cute daughters.  We had a fine time reading about Amelia Bedelia and her adventures in baking a cake for a baking cookoff.  I had never read Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off before, but the girls had, and it was obvious from their grins that they loved the humor and misunderstandings that Amelia is well known for.

It's been quite a while since I've read bedtime stories to my kids, or any little kids for that matter, but I still love kids books and bedtime stories.  I grew up in a family that read to me, and had bedtimes stories, and middle of the day stories read to me often by my mother, my father, my older siblings, and my grandma.  I loved hearing stories and I loved reading stories.  I still love reading children's books, and my adult children still ocassionally pull out the picture books and we read them aloud.  There are so many treasures out there!

I recently read the blog post titled Everyone Needs a Mrs. Twinkle by Shawnie over at 71 Toes.  She talked about the book  Chrysanthemum by Keven Henks where the music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle helps Chrysanthemum feel better about her original name after her classmates make fun of her.  I didn't remember reading the book, so checked it out from the library, and have read it several times in the past week. 

Have you read a great picture book lately?