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/

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Family Dinner Table

source:  http://painted-heart-market.myshopify.com/collections/rocks-that-speak/products/heart-band-painted-stone

I just ran across this while cruising on Pinterest and it spoke to me.   Go to the blog to read the artist's story about her creation:   Painted Heart Market


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Where Can I Turn for Peace?



Throughout my life I have been very blessed, and I recognize those blessing almost continually.  However, somewhat like Martha in the New Testament, I am often troubled over many things.  I tend to stress and worry, which sometimes is a good motivator for me to do what needs to be done, but I also tend to stress and worry about things that are very much out of my control.  

So why am I not always a complete nervous wreck?  I have learned over the years, slowly and surely, that in spite of my failings, my forgetfulness, even my laziness that the Lord loves me and accepts me for who I am.  Yes, he expects me to do better and to improve, but he still loves me and has already paid the ultimate sacrifice of the atonement for me so that I can improve.   The Savior is my greatest source of peace.   I try to pray and study the scriptures, especially The Book of Mormon, every day.   I attend Sacrament Meeting and other church meetings every week.   I go to the temple as often as I can.   The temple has been a great source of peace and comfort to me over the years.

So, is my life always peaceful?  Not by any means.  The past several years have been very stressful for me, and there are things that I still worry about on a daily basis.   There are days when I am still very discouraged.  But, I cannot deny that I have had the calm, peaceful assurance from the Holy Ghost that everything will work out ok.  And during these past few years I have definitely had prayers answered for me and for others that I care about.  Our family has received many blessings.   So when the dark times of stress and worry come, and I know they will come again, I just try to hold on and remember the already answered prayers, and the calm peace and assurance that I have been given in the past.   I have faith in Jesus Christ, our Savior, and he is my source of peace. 


Where Can I Turn for Peace?

1. Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
2. Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
3. He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.
Text: Emma Lou Thayne, b. 1924. © 1973 IRI
Music: Joleen G. Meredith, b. 1935. © 1973 IRI

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snow


source

Yes, I'm already tired of winter, and January isn't even half over with yet.   So, I am trying to be patient.  I'm sure we have many more weeks of winter ahead of us.

I am grateful for the snow that our area has received so far this year.   We have had several more snowstorms and more total snow than we had at this time last year, but the totals are still below normal or average, and we do need the snow.  So yes, I am grateful for the cold and the snow.

I'm also grateful for a couple of "snow fairies" who visited last week.   Until just recently DH was working afternoons/evenings, so for a good many years I have always been the first to leave in the morning.  Now  he works a very similar shift to mine, and last week the morning after one of our biggest storms so far, he actually left for work early, before I did.  That was a morning that I had slept through the alarm and was really rushing to make it out the door on time.  And what I wonderful surprise I had!!   DH had cleared the snow off of my car, and there was no need to brush or scrape the windows at all.  I just jumped into the car and made my normal 5 minute commute to work!  What a blessing!

Later that day I returned home from work to a completely snow free driveway and front walk way.   "Snow Fairy"  DD1 had taken the time that day to not only shovel our driveway and sidewalks, but others in the neighborhood too.  

Thanks to my snow fairies!   Love you both!  ♥♥♥

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Trip to the Temple

photo source

We have had a very busy, but blessed holiday these past few weeks.  We loved having most of the children here to visit and had different things going on every single day.  Now we're all back to work, but I haven't taken the time to share much about what we were able to do.  Now that we're pretty much back to the normal, somewhat boring January routine, I'll try to share some of our Christmas blessings with my gentle readers.

One of the highlights of the holidays came the week after Christmas on December 30th when we were able to go to the temple with DD2.   Worthy youth members of our church are invited to attend the temple once they are 12 years of age to perform proxy baptisms for ancestors and others who are no longer living, so DD2 has often been to the temple in the capacity, but this was her first experience attending for her own temple blessings.   DS1 and DD1 were also able to attend with us, as were an uncle and one of her dear friends.   Many others of the extended family were attending our niece's wedding in Canada or had other commitments with their own families.

The day as a whole turned out to be a bit hectic, even though we had tried to keep the day clear of commitments, but once we were at the temple that afternoon, it was a calm, beautiful experience.   I love being in the temple with members of my family.  I love spending time in The House of The Lord where I can feel close to heaven, and where I feel so much at home.  Where better to be at Christmas time? 

photo source

Because it was cold, and dark when we were finished, we took no photos that day, but I was able to find these lovely photos at www.lds.org to share.    If you would like to know more about LDS Temples,  you can read more here Why Latter Day Saints Build Temples

If you've followed my blog for very long, you may know that I do love the temple.  I also share more of my thoughts on temples in these blog posts:

http://marcysrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/06/thankful-thursday-grandson.html
http://marcysrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/11/temples-and-temple-blessings.html
http://marcysrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/09/stand-ye-in-holy-places.html
http://marcysrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/08/31-years-with-my-honey.html
http://marcysrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/temples.html

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Letter From My Mother


Today I received a letter from my dear Mother in the mail.   This may not seem unusual to you, but my dear Mother passed away last April.   Fortunately, my dear sister had warned me that it was on its way, or I may have suffered from quite a shock when DD1 handed it to me when I arrived home this evening.   DS1 has been staying with my dear father this past week, and found the letter all addressed and ready to be mailed while she was sorting through some photo albums and scrapbooks, so she mailed to me.   It was exciting to open up the letter and find out when it was written, and what the letter said, especially since my mother had not been well for several months before she died.

There was no date, which is a bit unusual for my mother, but from the context of the letter I believe that it was written just before Christmas last December, 2014.  This means that it was the very last letter that she wrote to me before her death.   Last November I had posted about the next to last letter that she had written, which I currently have in a file here on my desk.  My dear Mother never was known for long letters, but they were brimming with her love, and I loved receiving them.  So, since I know you're all as anxious as I was to know what the letter said . . . .

Dear Marcy and family,

Thank you for the beautiful Christmas card you sent us.  

We were happy you got to go to California to visit **** and **** and baby ***.   Thank you for the pictures!

It is cloudy in  ***  today.  But we are fine with a cough or two and some sneezes.   We hope your Illnesses get better.   Have a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Love,
Mom and Dad

So there you have it, my tender mercy for the day.   A Christmas greeting from my Angel Mother!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Long Drives

Grand Teton Mountains, Wyoming, USA

I enjoy the occasional long drive.  I'm not talking about a long daily commute during rush hour traffic. I have a five minute commute to work from my house (10 if I'm walking, possibly longer if you count cleaning ice and/or snow from the windshield) and I have no desire to trade that in for a long daily commute to work.   No, thank you, very much.  I'm also not talking about the white knuckle drives during down-pouring rain or icy and snowy road conditions.

No, I'm talking about the nice long, pleasant drives that are sometimes necessary to get from here to there when making visits to family members, taking vacations, or even moving from one part of the country to another.  We have done that, my DH and I, with him driving the U-Haul and me following along behind in the family vehicle, the kids split up between us.  I have driven or ridden the stretch of US Interstate 80 from coast to coast.  Not all in one single trip, admittedly,  but I have traveled the entire route from east to west.   I have traveled some stretches of that road countless times, and excepting the times with terrible weather conditions, enjoyed almost every single trip.

I think that long drives are in my blood.  My dear mother's father wrote often about the long drives he would take fulfilling his work responsibilities as a county extension agent, and then later after he retired.  My own dear father would take us on a road trip almost every June after school let out and before the hay was ready to be cut and hauled to the barns.  I spent countless hours in a school bus traveling throughout our state to support our high school basketball and football teams against the other smaller schools scattered all across the state.

Granted, some road trips can be agonizingly long and monotonous, but most of the time I truly enjoy the quiet time spent in the car alone, or with loved ones,  Road trips can be times of fun and laughter and light hearted conversation.  They can be times of serious discussions and sharing of hopes and dreams and joys and burdens. They can be times to discover and  enjoy the many varied beauties and creations of this awe inspiring world we live in, both natural and man-made. They can be times of quiet introspection and even prayer and communion with our loving Father.

I believe that I have enjoyed at least one long drive every week of this past year.  I'm grateful for safe, reliable vehicles to travel in.  I'm grateful for the means to purchase the fuel for the trips.   I'm grateful for the good company I've enjoyed on many of the drives.  I'm grateful for the safety we've experienced, and the safety that others in our family have experienced in our varied travels this year.  I hope to experience many more pleasant long drives this coming year and for many years to come.

What are some of your favorite long drives?

 
Grand Teton Mountains, Wyoming, USA

Friday, January 1, 2016

Order in 2016


It is January 1st, 2016.  Last night we enjoyed time with family, playing games and toasting with our sparkling apple cider  to the New Year of 2016.  Today is the time to reflect on the year of 2015, recognize the blessings that have come our way, and to verbalize our thoughts and hopes and goals and dreams for the coming year.

In 2015 my goals and hopes were to follow the advice of the late President Gordon B Hinkley, as he often counseled us all to "Try A Little Harder".   There are several areas of my life that I am continually trying to improve, and this past year I have tried a little harder to be a little better in all of these areas.  I have done better in some areas than I have in others, and even though this past year has brought some sorrows and some new challenges, it has also brought many blessings, I like to think that I have made some progress in these areas.   After a bit of pondering this morning, I think that this year I want my focus to be on Order.   Remember the scripture I set to ponder back on October 19th?

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

D&C 109:8

Order -  Order in my home has not always been at the top of my priority list, and I do admit that for the past year or so it has crept even lower on the list than usual.  However, my Dear Husband and my children have been a great help to me the past little while in encouraging me to become more orderly here at home.   We are well into the emptier nest stage of our life with DD4 now in her third year of college away from home and only DD1 still here with us in our house.   Just yesterday DS1  and DD1 spent the day helping us to clear out and declutter several items and old appliances from our home and our garage, and earlier in the month we were able to go through several closets and donate several large boxes of clothes and books to charity.   There is still much to be done.  I plan to continue spending time each week during this year to sort through, declutter,  organize and set in order our home and many other aspects of my life.

Scriptures and Prayers -  This year I have challenged myself to once again read the Book of Mormon.  I don't read nearly as much fiction as I have in the past (full time work and other interests seem to take up more of my time), but I always try to read from the Book of Mormon every day.  I'm excited to be teaching about the Book of Mormon in Sunday since it is my very most favorite book ever, and hopefully I will be inspired to study it more in depth that I have sometimes.  Mostly I just feel better when I read from it every day.  I consider the scriptures to be my "letters from home"  and my prayers to be my "phone calls"  to my Father in heaven.   I can't imagine my life without either one.

Temple -  2015 has been a year with many temple related blessings for our family.   We were able to attend the temple last May when DS2 and DDIL were sealed to their newly adopted son, our first DGS1.  Just this week were able to be with DD2 as she attended the temple for her very first time.  I have not yet taken the time to find a nice little book to keep track of my temple attendance and combine all of my notes from past journals and notebooks where I have written down names that I have performed ordinances for as I intended to this year, but I still want to do that this year.  I was able to reserve serveral family file names for temple work to be done, and would like to invite family members to help me with this work.   I also plan to spend more time organizing some of the many years of family history research notes of my dear mother, and hopefully finding some names to submit for temple work to be done.   The temple closest to our home will be closing later this year for renovation, so I will need to make even greater effort than usual to make the time to attend at least once a month.  I will miss being so close to be able to attend more often, but hopefully I will be able to do so.

Quilting - I have attended a few quilting classes this fall that have been organized and taught by a good neighbor, but have not made much progress on my unfinished quilts.   Perhaps I can find some time to work on  them this very weekend?  I would love to have my sewing area and quilting supplies a bit more organized and ready to go, all in one place.   As we clear out and organize different areas in the home, perhaps this will become closer to being a reality too.

Promptness -  I have been doing better on this one, for the most part.  It is still a temptation to me to try to do one more thing, sleep for 10 more minutes, or whatever before leaving for work or other appointments.  I did make a concerted effort during the switch back from daylight savings time to get up an hour earlier each day and use some of that time to better prepare for the day.  It did help.  I just need to keep it up!

Save and Prepare - We have been blessed this past year with some pretty good pay raises, and have been able to save a little bit more than last year.  Our food storage is a little bit bigger.   It will be big priority for me this year to keep our finances in order, to track our spending and our budget, organize our files, and continue to save, decrease our debt, and increase our food storage.

Service and Love - This has been a hard year for my siblings and I as our dear mother became ill at the first of the year, and we soon found it necessary for someone to always be with our parents to help our father with her care.   I was blessed to be able to visit with them almost weekly and spend a week with them while others were on vacation,  Since my dear mother's passing I have still been fortunate to visit almost every single week.  There are always many opportunities to serve others.  I have also been blessed with a new visiting teaching companion and new sisters to visit.  It is good to have changes and to get to know new people and have new opportunities to serve.

Family - I'm very proud of my family, my husband, and my children.  They again have each been able to accomplish good things this past year and many have found new and better work opportunities.  They do much to watch out for each other and encourage and help each other.   I love and appreciate and admire each of them so much, and will continue to think of them and pray for each of them every single day.  I would love it if we could all get together again and enjoy some quality time together at some point during the coming year.

Writing - I did meet with local little writing group several times this year and have made progress on the revision of my book with input from other group members and with an increased push during NanoWrimo in November.  However, this year I think my main writing emphasis will be more on organizing my own personal and family history stories in one place.  When my mother passed away and I accepted the responsibility of writing up and presenting a sketch of her life for her funeral, I was very grateful for her handwritten personal life history.   I began writing my own while in college and have written snippets to add to it a few times during the years, but I now feel a need to finish a more complete history.

Health and Fitness - This is a new area this year that I am trying to set more in order.  I have been blessed with good health and strength throughout most of my life,  especially as an adult, and have for the most part just tried to listen to my body and respond to its needs.  But I have recognized in the past few years that I could do better at caring for myself, eating more carefully,  exercising more, and taking the time to get enough sleep.  I am participating in a  National Diabetes Prevention Program through my work and am keeping detailed records of my food intake and minutes of exercise each day with the hope of creating better health habits.   I do have several high risk factors for diabetes, and would like to keep myself as healthy as possible for as long as possible.   DD3 also gifted me with a new FitBit for Christmas so I can track my exercise and sleep.  So, here it goes!

Gratitude -  I count 72 gratitude posts that I have posted on this blog this past year. That is even one less than last year.  Again, I know that  I can do better.   I can also do better at sending notes and letters and words of gratitude to the many friends and loved ones who always do so much for me and for my family.  I am blessed.  So check back to see how I do at expressing my gratitude!

This has been an extensive post, so I strongly doubt that anyone has read through to the end.  If you have, kudos to you!  At any rate, these are my New Year's Day thoughts on how to improve and better order my life during 2016.