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, September 17, 2017

Beautiful World

Last weekend DH and I and our immediate family were able to spend several wonderful days together.  Dear Daughter In Law K put a lot of thought and effort into coordinating the arrangements so that all of us could travel to one spot and spend several days visiting, seeing shows, eating, hiking and enjoying some of the beauties of God's beautiful creations.  It was a true blessing to spend time with our children and their spouses and with our grandchildren, and I'm very grateful that they were each willing to make the effort and sacrifices that they did in order for us to all be together.  

DDILK also arranged for a photographer to take some family photos for us, but since I don't share current photos of family or friends here on this blog, I thought that I would share a few photos of some of the majestic views of mountains, meadows, and canyons that we encountered  during our weekend.

" . . . I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heavenly Father created for me . . . "

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Finding Peace

So, sometimes life is hard.  Almost every day we all face challenges or difficulties of some kind that make it hard to focus on the good things and blessings that life does have to offer.  Time tends to soften the memories of the hard times somewhat, so often times we find ourselves reflecting and wishing for the "good old days".   I know and understand these things, but even so, I think that the past few years have been some of the most difficult years of my life.  I won't dwell on everything, but most of the difficult times have been related to the slowing down, illnesses and death of my dear parents and the struggles and challenges that other close friends and family members are facing.   For me these things are harder to deal with than anything else that I personally have had to face, and I have had many long days and even sleepless nights trying to come to terms with these struggles and my inability and/or inadequacy to do much to alleviate the pain and problems of others that I care about.

There are things that do bring me moments of peace, and I am grateful for them:

 Classical Music.  I have spent quite a few hours in the car traveling back and forth to visit my parents and other family members during these years, and traveling music of choice has been the local classical music station. There is just something about classical music that helps me to keep calm and to focus; or if needs be, to distract my thoughts away from dark places.  Classical music almost always comforts me and brings me peace.

Creating things of beauty.  I have not been doing a whole lot of creating lately, but I do find peace in doing such things as planting a bed of flowers, cleaning up a room, folding a batch of clean laundry, or weeding a small section of the garden.  My hope is to find a bit more time for creating things of beauty in the coming weeks and months.  I love this quote by one of the current Apostles of the Lord:

"Heavenly Father . . . is a God of creation and compassion.  Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father's perfect happiness.  Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate."  
Elder Dieter F Uchtdorf

Morning and evening prayers and scripture study.  I have been finding it more difficult to fall asleep at night in the past few years, and I often find myself waking up well before the sun rises, sometimes with specific thoughts and worries, and sometimes just with vague feelings of something not being quite right.  I confess that most often I will try to help myself to sleep by reading light and fluffy fiction or with similar type TV shows, but I have found that I get more comfort and peace during sleepless nights when I spend the time reading scripture and seeking the Lord through prayer. Reading the Book of Mormon especially brings me peace and reminds me that my family and friends and the people of our time are not the only ones who have struggled through life.  The scriptures remind me that patience is necessary, that struggles and problems are part of the plan of life and will bring us growth and blessings, and that in the eternal perspective, the struggles of life are but a very small moment.  If we endure well, we will find peace and happiness.  Prayer brings comfort. Patience brings peace.

Visiting the Temple.   I absolutely love to attend the temple.  I think this is my greatest source of peace.  It is a place where I can be of service by participating in ordinances for those who were not able to receive temple blessings during their own lives.  It is a place where the veil between this world and heaven is very thin.  It is a place where the spirit of the Lord is very strong. I am so grateful to live in a time and a place where temples are so accessible to me.   Even though my favorite temple has been closed for over a year and will not open again for almost one more year, I still can drive to several other temples within 30 minutes, and many others are located within an hour or two drive from my home.  On the day of my Daddy's death I was able to attend the temple where he had served twice a week for many years, and was able to feel the calming, sweet presence of many family members who have already finished their mortal work on this earth and are now assisting to carry on our Heavenly Father's work in the Heavenly realm.  I have returned to the temple several times since and continue to feel this comfort and peace while I am there and I feel stronger when I return home and better able to face the world.  Problems still exist in this world and in my life and in the lives of those that I love, but temple attendance is my greatest source of peace.

So these are the places that I turn to for peace.  This  year our Stake Relief Society (our church's women's organization) has been encouraging us each month to focus on different ways that we can find peace.  (They must have had me in mind!!  😊)   Here are the areas of focus for the different months so far this year:

January  I can find peace in my life by reading and studying the scriptures.

February I can find peace in my life as I walk the Savior's path of charity.

March  I can find peace in my life by attending the Temple.

April:  I can find peace in my life by using the Atonement daily.

May:  I can find peace in my life by exercising faith.

June:  I can find peace in my life by sharing my talents.

July:  I can find peace in my life by focusing on my family history.

August:  I can find peace in my life by counseling with the Lord in all my doings.

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."  Alma 37:37

How do you find peace?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Reading Lists and Reading Goals

Like many of you, I have always considered myself somewhat of a reader.  My Dear Mother was an avid reader, and as children, we often found her in her favorite chair in the late afternoon or early evening reading a good book.  As the mother of six children, she kept very busy most of the day every day, but she still loved a good book and found time to read, and read aloud to us too, but once I learned to read, a whole new world opened up, and it was often a challenge to get me to put down my book long enough to do my chores, practice the piano, go outside to play, or even come to dinner.

During my high school years, and especially during college, my available time for reading for pleasure greatly diminished.  I fondly remember visiting the college library the minute my finals were over for a nice binge on fiction during the semester breaks.  Yes, I admit, I'm not very much of an intellectual reader.  I did often skim the news back in the days when we still received a daily newspaper, and would peruse almost any magazine that came into the house (National Geographic, Parent's Magazine, Utah Farmer Stockman, Farm and Dairy, etc.  I enjoy a good biography and sometimes will read other non-fiction, but most of my reading material is what I consider "Fluff".  Books that are meant to entertain and provide relaxation and an outlet from the daily pressures of life.

As a young mother I read quite a bit more than I currently do, including many many children's books. We often visited our local public libraries wherever we lived, participating in almost every pre-school story time program and all of the summer reading programs every year.   The kids could usually finish the entire summer reading program in a matter of days or weeks, and were usually at the top of their class in school reading assignments and programs too.    I had a friend who strongly advocated that a stay at home Mom needed and deserved a weekly morning or afternoon devoted to reading a good book.  I think that she usually reserved Thursdays for such activity, and I never felt too terribly guilty for spending a day where my main activity was reading.  Now if the one day a week stretched into two or three, then I knew that I was going overboard a bit, and tried to get back to other household and family activities for a while.

After our youngest child, DD4 started school all day, I soon found a part time job, so never really have had full days at home alone (although that does sound pretty much like heaven to me!!) and once she graduated from High School in 2013, I began working full time.  At that point my fictional and recreational reading, as well as my nonfictional reading really dropped off dramatically, and I actually decided that I needed to start setting goals about reading!!  Can you imagine that?  Me, the known bookworm of my family and my school class needing to set reading goals?

Some of you may be familiar with Goodreads.com.   Goodreads sponsors a yearly reading challenge, where you set your goal for how many books you plan to read during the year.  Just in case you're interested here is a summary of my recent goals and my actual books read for the years that I have participated:

Year               Goal                  Number of Books Completed

2011                56                      66
2012                70                      74
2013                52                      48
2014                 ?                       35
2015                 0                       11
2016                24                      16
2017                24                      14  so far as if June 16, 2017.

 I'm more than halfway to my 2017 reading goal!  I might just reach my goal again this year!

See, the year that I started working full time, 2013, was also the year that I started reading much less.  And it has only gotten worse!   Granted, we have also had to deal with parents' failing health and some other issues the past few years, but it's now time to get back into reading!!  I have been paying more attention to suggested reading lists and seeing what books my reading education has missed out on, and paying more attention to what my family and friends are reading.  My visits to the library have increased, and I'm back to putting many more recommended books on hold at the library, and I am trying to read more.   Hopefully it's not just "fluffy" stuff, but I'm not judging myself too harshly right now either.  So, if you want to see how well I do, feel free to friend me on Goodreads and find out how well I do!!


Throughout this reading slump of mine, I have continued with my nearly life-long goal of reading from the scriptures on a daily basis.  Am I always successful with this goal?  Of course not, but I keep trying.   I find that I do best when I set a time early in the morning to read for 30 minutes or so from the scriptures, once I am awake, but before my mind is too tired or occupied with the concerns of the day.  Sometimes it is only a five-minute verse or two, and sometimes I can put in an hour or more.  Life is different every day, but every day is absolutely better when I take this time to read the word of God.

What about you?   What are your reading goals?

"It is a paradox that men will gladly devote time every day for many years to learn a science or an art, yet will expect to win a knowldege of the gospel, which comprehends all sciences and arts, through perfunctory glances at books or occasional listening to sermons.   The gospel should be studied more intensively than any school or college subject.
---  Elder John A Widtsoe

Another wonderful inspirational message by God's current living prophet:

The Power of the Book of Mormon, by President Thomas S Monson

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Living Christ

For your Sunday viewing and listening pleasure, I would like to share this video depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.   The words come from a document issued by the Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on January 1, 2000.  I am truly grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, the son of God.

As a bonus, here is a link to a site where you can download an mp3 of the text set to music:

JesusChristMusic created by Carrie Maxwell Wrigley, setting to music the text of "The Living Christ."  Text divided into six separate songs, reflecting the unique theme and tone of each section, and to make the text easier to memorize.
Feel free to download the recordings and sheet music without cost.  This resource has been provided to help you and those you serve to memorize and internalize this sacred text, and to draw closer to the Savior by doing so. (See FAQ page for more information.)
  "Praise the Lord with singing, [and] with music."  --D&C 136:28 

Happy Sabbath

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reflections on 2017 A to Z Challenge

I first discovered the A to Z Challenge back in 2012, just as the challenge was starting.  I was trying to be a more regular blogger at the time, so jumped right in . . . but was not able to keep up for the whole month, but I was hooked, and have participated in some way or another ever since.   Some years I have done better than others, but I feel that this year has perhaps been the most enjoyable and therapeutic challenge for me.

Writing has always been an enjoyable outlet for me and I love blogging.   The past few years have been challenging ones.  I lost my dear mother during the April 2015 challenge, and my dear father this past February.   Last year I blogged about my childhood memories and this year I have been sharing memories of my courtship with my Dear Husband.  Both sets of posts have been part of a longtime goal of writing a history of my life.  It may not be particularly interesting to others, but it has been important to me, and an outlet for thoughts and memories, and comforting to me in many ways.

I do miss the linky lists of bloggers from years past, but can see how time-consuming and how much work the monitoring of bloggers was in the past, so understand the change in the organization and format of the challenge, and I was still able to visit new blogs and meet new bloggers.  I think the traffic to my blogs was less this year than in other years, and I certainly received fewer comments, but that doesn't trouble me too much.  I chose to not join up on social media platforms to advertise my posts.   I really don't use social media other than Facebook and Blogger, and have only posted links to my blog once or twice ever on Facebook.   My audiences for the two media are very different.  I use facebook for connecting with extended family, friends, and neighbors, but don't advertise my blog posts there.  Most followers of my blog are immediate family members and other bloggers that I have met through various blogging challenges.  I like having my different audiences, and am not greatly concerned about gathering large numbers of followers right now.

To sum it up, the 2017 A to Z Challenge has been an enjoyable (not quite relaxing) trip down memory lane for me.  I did what I set out to do, and met a few new friends along the way.  Thank you to all who have followed along and supported me in the challenge this year.  Hopefully you have found a bit of pleasure along with me.

So long for now, but I will return.  Just perhaps not every day for a while!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A to Z Challenge: Ziggy Calendar

On my 20th birthday in 1980, my roommates gifted me with a Ziggy 18  Month Poster Calendar:

I love this Calendar.   It is full of beautiful inspiring Ziggy Posters and features huge calendar pages with plenty of room to write in appointments and reminders. 

You can't see the caption too well in this photo, but on this page Ziggy questions  ". . . so far my life's been a lot of on-the-job training ... .when do i get a shot at the real thing?"

This sentiment certainly echoes the way I felt many times during my college career.    My roommates may have thought I needed a little bit of help in the getting-a-life area too, since every single page suggested an activity to keep me out of the day-to-day doldrums, as you can see in the photos below:

In addition to reminding me of important holidays such as Rosh Hashana,  Citizenship Day, and Yom Kippur, it would give me helpful hints to brighten up my days such as:  Crack an egg, Talk to your plant, Listen for your plant's answer, Hold the onion, Be a sport, Tell yourself a joke, Think about wind, or Stop look and listen.

The month of May gave me remindes that I had one quiz, two exams, and my sister's HS graduation, It also gave me such great advice as:  Listen for Burglers, Clean your glasses,  Think of something, and Ask Why", and reminded my of the important Ward Opening Social Dance that I went to and where I met my future DH.

I really do love the July page:  "We should enjoy here while we're here, 'cause there's no here there."  is the advice that Ziggy gives.  And DH and I did enjoy that July in 1981 when we were dating.  I did have three exams and two dental appointments, but there were also road trips, family reunions and parties, fireworks, the Manti Pageant, hikes, and dances.  

And we'll never forget that all important date in August 1981 when DH proposed to me for the first time:

No, this notation was not written in advance.  I really was quite shocked and surprised that night when he asked.   We sat down together several weeks later and wrote in many of our important dates and activities that had not been recorded anywhere else, so we wouldn't forget.  I had been too busy to keep a very good journal that summer, so I'm glad we took the time to do this.  It's the main reason that this Ziggy calendar is so special to me.  It's a record of a very special time in my life.

Of course, If you've been following my posts this month, you'll probably remember that I turned down this first proposal by my DH and decided to carry on with my previous plans to serve as a missionary for my church for 18 months in Colombia, South America.   I was scheduled to begin my training at the end of October, so that month's poster was very fitting also:

"It's Not Easy Being Mortal, Y' know!"

Long story short, life wasn't particularly easy for the next year and a half, but both DH and I survived the separation, we both grew and learned from our experiences, we reconnected in April 1983, married in August 1983, and have been together ever since.   My Ziggy Calendar is a treasured possession, as are all of the photo albums and journals that have been cluttering up the dining room table right behind my computer chair this past month as I have taken this trip down memory lane to chronicle the events of my courtship with my DH.

Do you have a record of the special times and events in your life?

"As I view it, in every family a record should be kept of the immediate family:  the father, the grandfather, the great-grandfather---at least of those of whom we have a memory.  That record should be the first stone, if you choose, in the family altar.  It should be a book known and used in the family circle; and when the child reaches maturity and gets out to make another household, one of the first things that the young couple should take along should be the records of their families, to be extended by them as life goes on.  It does no harm if there is duplication.  There is a strength, an inspiration, and a joy in having such a record near at hand, to be used frequently, the story of our ancestors, their names, the times in which they lived, and something about their lives and accomplishments.  Each one of us carries, individually, the responsibility of record keeping, and we should assume it."  --John A Widstoe  (Church News, Oct 31, 1942)


Saturday, April 29, 2017

A to Z Challenge: Yellowstone and Jackson

This is one of my very favorite photos of my DH and I, taken at Yellowstone National Park while we were on our honeymoon.  It is the only photo we have of ourselves on our honeymoon, taken by a kind couple who offered.   Selfies just weren't a thing back in the 80's with the cameras we had.

We spent several days in West Yellowstone, getting to know each other, and venturing out each day to see some of the beautiful areas that Montana and Wyoming have to offer. We found that the  Lewis and Clark Caverns rivaled our beloved Timpanogos Caves in grandeur, but were not as well lighted. Of course, we enjoyed visiting Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake, and attended a Melodrama at the Playbill Theater in West Yellowstone,

I loved seeing all of the wonders of Yellowstone.  I had been there years before with my family, but it was fun seeing them all again with my new Dear Husband at my side!  And I especially enjoyed looking at him and knowing that he was now mine forever!

One day we drove down to Jackson, Wyoming for the day.  What spectacular scenery in the beautiful valley!   Once can never tire of gazing at those majestic mountains!

We also stopped for our dinner at the Strutting Grouse Restaurant, where we enjoyed Quail with Wild Rice and a delicious chocolate mousse for dessert.  I just tried to find any information on the restaurant on the internet. Apparently, it has closed its doors to business, but its legacy lives on in my memories.

What memories do you have of your honeymoon or other special trips?