Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Snowy Day Edition

Last Monday, it snowed. I've been a bit surprised at how little snow we've had since moving here, and I'm beginning to think we won't have a white Christmas. But last week, it snowed. We had some come down here at the house we are renting, and even more at the house we bought. 


Photo: A blanket of snow covers the front yard of my new house.
1. I'm thankful for the beauty of the snow. 

2. I'm thankful that, at least this time, the driveway and roads remained clear.

3. I'm thankful for quail, and I'm happy that large numbers of them frequent both the yard of the house I'm in now, and the yard of the house I'm moving into.

4. I'm thankful for Snowy Day stamps. When I asked the postal worker what Christmas stamps were available, I didn't even listen past, "Snowy Day." I was instantly transported back to childhood and knew I would be purchasing those stamps.

Photo: A book of stamps featuring illustrations of a little boy playing in the snow, from the children's book, The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

5. I'm thankful for a Relief Society progressive dinner. It was nice to get to know the women in the ward better. 

6. I'm thankful for a phone call from a friend. I need to be better about calling friends; I always enjoy talking with them, but am not very good about initiating the calls.

7. I'm thankful that the plans for the house are starting to fall into place. I've been a little bit stressed trying to coordinate what needs to be done, but hopefully things will be sorted out over the next couple of days. We are planning on remodeling the kitchen (which involves removing cabinets and a closet pantry, moving electrical, and installing a gas line), painting practically the entire interior of the house, replacing carpet, installing some hardwood floors, and refinishing the existing hardwoods. Everyone I talk to tells me what needs to be done before their part of the job can start. I've struggled to keep the choreography of this dance straight in my mind, but I think I'm finally getting it! 

8. I'm thankful for this time of year, when I think back over the years and remember friends and family. So many people have touched my life, and I am thankful for them. 

9. I'm thankful that age brings with it greater self-awareness and self-assurance. Over the years, I've realized more specifically what I like. For example, I love houses that have well-defined yards. It doesn't much matter whether the yard has a fence or a hedge around it; if it has some border of some sort, it will catch my eye. Last year, I realized that I am attracted to Christmas trees that have decorative "fluff" stuck in the branches. I decided to get some floral picks to put in my tree. The result wasn't quite what I envisioned, but I still like it, and it makes me laugh, so I'm keeping it. 

Photo: A Facebook post I wrote: When I bought a silvery, glittery, "Blooming Holiday Bush" at Joann's today, I thought I would separate the individual spirals and put them on my Christmas tree to add a touch of elegance. Instead, when I look at my tree, I think, "It looks like I murdered a slinky and hung the pieces as a trophy."
I should know better than to try to adopt elegance into my life. I'm just not that kind of girl--and that's OK. 

10. I'm thankful for John, and thankful he loves awkward-Christmas-tree-decorator me. 

I'm linking this post up late, but that is one beauty of the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop--it's open more days each week than it's closed! Feel free to join us; we love to have new friends participate!




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Sunday, December 10, 2017

#LightTheWorld, Search the Scriptures

Occasionally, I hear of the odd person who realized they were feeling weak because they forgot to eat something that day. Though I don't typically forget to eat, it is easy for me to understand that I function better when I take care of my physical needs. 

Similarly, if I find myself feeling impatient, irritable, or generally down-in-the-dumps, I can sometimes trace those feelings back to a lack of spiritual nourishment. Perhaps I forgot to kneel before I hit the ground running that morning, or perhaps I failed to take time to read from the scriptures. I've heard it said that prayer is how we talk to God, and the scriptures are a way He responds to us. I know that often while I'm reading scriptures, thoughts and impressions come to my mind that have little or nothing to do with what I'm reading, but when I have followed those promptings, I feel happy and at peace. 

A pair of rounded wire-frame eyeglasses lying on top of a Bible, which is opened to Acts chapter 27 and marked with a maroon ribbon.
Photo:  pair of eyeglasses resting on top of a Bible, which is opened to Acts chapter 27. (Source)

Today's #LightTheWorld theme is from John 5:39: "Search the scriptures." As we study and ponder scriptures, we can learn more about Him whose birth we celebrate this season, and as we model our actions after His, we can feel His presence more powerfully in our lives. 

Scripture study can be incorporated into our lives in various ways, both individually, and as a family. During the Christmas season, our family study is often reading a verse from our advent calendar. This year, one thing I am trying to do individually is to memorize "The Living Christ." It is the testimony of the apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was published in January 2000.  I've learned that I don't memorize as quickly as I did when I was younger, but I've also learned that I'm not too old, either. I find myself thinking more about the life and mission of Jesus, as I work to commit to memory the following:
As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.
I won't be finished memorizing by Christmas--I'm only almost done with the first four paragraphs--but that's OK. Studying the life of Jesus isn't limited to Christmastime. Just as food should be a part of my daily life, so too should spiritual nourishment. 

 Have you noticed the blessings of scripture study in your life? Do you have a favorite scripture?

(Did you know you can request a free copy of the Holy Bible at this link?)



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Saturday, December 2, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Before My Flight Home Edition

I took a flight to California yesterday to see my grandchildren (and their parents, too, of course!) and am currently in a hotel room before my flight home. It was a quick trip, but a fun one. 

1. I'm thankful for airplanes that make such quick trips possible. 

2. I'm thankful that my laptop made it through the security check--twice! After I was through the TSA checkpoint and had put my shoes on and picked up my carry-on bag, I realized my bag was lighter than normal. My laptop (which I had taken out of my bag and put in its own bin) was missing! TSA officials told me that sometimes it takes a while to get the bins through, and to wait a few minutes. I waited, but couldn't imagine how the bin couldn't have gone through already. An overheard announcement was made to all waiting passengers to check to make sure they hadn't inadvertently picked up someone else's belongings. After more time went by, a TSA worker found my computer. I think someone (maybe even me) stacked an empty bin on top of the bin my laptop was in, and the stack of bins was returned to the beginning of the security line. In any case, I got my computer back, and still made my flight. 

3. I'm thankful for my precious grandchildren. It simultaneously warms and breaks my heart to see them cry when I leave. Before the sad goodbyes, though, my granddaughters showed me how they can write and draw, and my grandsons posed for silly selfies and generally just drooled all over me (that happens when you are teething, after all!)


Photo: Oldest granddaughter, dressed in a green knit dress and lying on the wooden floor, traces numbers and words in a workbook
Photo: Youngest granddaughter, dressed in a red knit dress and seated on the wooden floor in front of the couch, colors in shapes in a workbook.
Photo: Oldest grandson and I take a selfie. I have on my glasses, and he balances a pair of upside-down sunglasses on the tip of his nose.
Photo: Youngest grandson chomps down on my thumb. Fortunately, despite my expression, I experienced no pain, as he is all gums still.


4. I'm thankful for pre-cut felt numbers, sharp scissors, and hot glue. Before my trip, my daughter mentioned how she wished she had an advent calendar like the one she remembers from childhood. I was able to make a replica of the calendar I made 30 years or so ago and take it to her family to carry on the tradition. 


Photo: A felt Nativity advent calendar, portraying Joseph, Mary, and Jesus in the stable, as well as shepherds, wise men, angels, stars, and various animals.
5. I'm also thankful for a helpful customer in a sewing machine repair store, who saved me a repair bill by making a suggestion to me regarding my machine. What I thought was a problem, wasn't. That allowed me to finish the calendar project on time.

6. Speaking of advent calendars, I'm thankful for the #LightTheWorld campaign. Click on the video link in the top right-hand side of my sidebar to view the video for the day. Each day in December until Christmas features another scripture and ideas on how to serve others. It's a great way to bring joy into the Christmas season!

7. I'm thankful for opportunities to meet wonderful people. Earlier this week, I attended an unveiling of service vending machines, in connection with the #LightTheWorld initiative. After the event, I chatted over lunch with some lovely people: Kara from TodayIAmEnough.com and Rachel (and her husband, daughter, and father-in-law) from TheOhanaAdventure.com. I was impressed with the graciousness of such successful social media figures. I mostly listened, but when I talked, my comments were heard and valued. I appreciated the chance to become acquainted with Kara and Rachel. 

8. I'm thankful for Quick Quack car washes. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I dread entering car washes--not because of the brushes, but because with some car washes, I can't seem to get my car's front tire lined up correctly in the wash. At Quick Quack, there is an attendant who helps direct the drivers onto the moving belt, so I never have to panic that I am doing it wrong. Also, Quick Quack has the best vacuums, and they are free to use after the wash. (Though this sounds like a commercial, I did not receive any compensation for this item of gratitude.)

9. I'm thankful to know that my gratitude extends beyond what I list every week. This week in particular, I know I thought of several other things throughout the week that I failed to write down at the time. Although it bothers me that I don't remember now, at least I was thankful in the moment, and I'll just try in the future to write things down at the time. 

10. As always, I am thankful for John. Earlier this week, I was getting nervous about this solo trip; the details kept changing, and not all the pieces were familiar to me. He was able to assure me that everything would be fine. I'm looking forward to him picking me up from the airport this afternoon! 

What are you thankful for this week? Please join us at the Ten Things of Thankful blog for our weekly celebration and expression of gratitude. We welcome new friends!









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Friday, December 1, 2017

December 1st: #LightTheWorld by Giving

Happy December! It's time to kick-off the #LightTheWorld campaign. Each day through Christmas, a scriptural verse is featured and the challenge is to find some way to implement the counsel in our own lives. It's not meant to be overwhelming; participate however you can.

Today's verse, Matthew 10:8, sets the tone for the whole month: Freely ye have received, freely give. I love the feeling that comes with giving, especially when the gift is truly appreciated--something needed or wanted. 

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to drive to Salt Lake City, Utah, for the unveiling of some very unusual kiosks. Set in the lovely Joseph Smith Memorial Building on Temple Square, these vending machines allow visitors to donate to various charities. After inserting cash or credit card, the giver punches in the letter and number of one of the items displayed, and watches as the selected gift falls to the bottom of the machine. Unlike normal vending machines, there isn't a way for the purchaser to retrieve the item (with the exception of one machine that gives cards listing service ideas); instead, the items collect in a clear case, so it is easy to see how the contributions add up. 

Photo: Workers stock and clean red #LightTheWorld vending machines. Above the machines is the question: "This Christmas season, how will you #LightTheWorld?
Different vending machines benefit different charities. One, benefiting Care.org, is stocked with items ranging from pacifiers to goats. (To be honest, the goats aren't actually in the machines, but rather, cards that specify the purchase of a goat.) Another, benefiting the Utah Food Bank and Eye Care 4 Kids, offers beans, rice, and other food items, as well as eyeglasses and vouchers for eye exams. A third machine collects funds for Wateraid and Water for People. The final one accepts no money, but freely offers printed cards with ideas on how to serve in other ways. 

One hundred percent of the money received goes to the various charities. A tax receipt prints out for the giver. 

What do you think of this concept? Would you like to use vending machines like these? What are some of your favorite charities?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Post-Thanksgiving Edition

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. I'll jump right in:

1. I'm thankful for cooperative return policies. Several weeks ago, I mentioned that I had to return a range that I had purchased, and I hoped that the particular range was just a lemon and that the replacement wouldn't have the same problem. Well, unfortunately, it did. On the bright side, the store quickly picked up the second range and refunded my money. I'm putting appliance purchases on the back burner (!) for the moment. 

2. I'm thankful for temples. I went one morning this week to the temple. I'm always amazed at how much insight comes in just an hour or two of reflection. 

3. I'm thankful for my sister. She and her family came to Utah to spend Thanksgiving with her in-laws, and I got a chance to see her and her family on Wednesday. The last time I saw her was in January at our grandma's 100th birthday celebration. We feel lucky to have two visits in one year! 

4. I'm thankful for my brother. My parents and two of my kids got to spend Thanksgiving with him, and I'm glad he and his family were able to host them.

5. I'm thankful that my other children also had invitations for Thanksgiving. 

6. I'm thankful for all of my grandchildren, but particularly my oldest granddaughter this week, as she turns 5. 

7. I'm thankful for my sister-in-law, who invited us to her new house for Thanksgiving, and for John's parents, who were able to come, too. I'm still getting used to the fact that we live so close now, that getting together for holidays is quick and easy.

8. I'm thankful that, because my new house is just out the door to a hiking trail, I get the feeling that the entire canyon is an extension of my backyard. And the canyon has a creek! I don't know if it is pronounced creek or crick here (though I don't know if I'll ever be able to say crick), but however it is pronounced, it means WATER! 

Photo: A shallow creek tumbles over rocks on its way down the canyon
9. I'm thankful for the #LightTheWorld initiative, which is being continued again this Christmas season. Watch the video up there on the top of the right-hand sidebar. I believe that video will be changing throughout the month of December. Small (or large) acts of service can make a big difference!

10. I'm thankful for John. One of the first dates we went on was a picnic the day after Thanksgiving, 1986. It was amazing that the weather cooperated then. The weather cooperated this year, too, and we "picnicked" in our new house, then hiked up the canyon. It feels like we've come full circle, but more in a spiraling way than a return to the exact spot. Looking forward to our continued journey together. 

What are you thankful for this week? Leave a comment, and/or write a post yourself and link up on the Ten Things of Thankful blog
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