Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Reflections of 2007

January is almost over and 2008 is in full swing. Before it is too distant of a memory I thought I'd reflect on 2007 with a slideshow. It's certainly not a complete version of our year, but instead captures a glimpse of it.

This was quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley,“‘Behold Your Little Ones’,” Ensign, Jun 2001, 2 “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother’s heart, and she puts it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies”(E. T. Sullivan, quoted in The Treasure Chest, ed. Charles L. Wallis [1965], 53).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Come Listen to a Prophets Voice

What an incredible thing! President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away this evening. I bear my witness with others throughout the world that he truly is a prophet of God.

"It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters,
to have a prophet of God in our midst.
Great and wonderful are the blessings
that come into our lives
as we listen to the word of the Lord
given to us through him."

M. Russell Ballard,

President Gordon B. Hinckley

"Of these things I give solemn testimony, bearing witness that God has spoken again to open this final glorious dispensation; that His Church is here, the church which carries the name of His Beloved Son; that there has come from the earth the record of an ancient people, bearing witness to this generation of the work of the Almighty; that the everlasting priesthood is among men for their blessing and the governance of His work; that we are members of the true and living Church of Jesus Christ, brought forth for the blessing of all who will receive its message; that it is immovably established on a foundation of apostles and prophets, with cornerstones of unshakable firmness put in place by Him for the accomplishment of His eternal purposes, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone."

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Cousins are Coming! The Cousins are Coming!

Julie and Doyle McMullin

Cassie and Jim Wickham

Today we were able to host some visiting family. My cousins, Cassie Wickham and her husband, Jim; and Doyle McMullin and his wife, Julie.

They came to visit my ailing parents, but of course, we're all part of the package. Cassie, Ruben, and kids came too because they wanted to be part of the gathering.

We had a nice lunch and visit. I was so glad they came. The weather had been cold and rainy; even threatening snow for days, but still they came. It was a beautiful day. It was a great day. It was a day that warmed our hearts.

"Even if I were the only living member of my family,
I am still a member of God’s family,
and I have a responsibility to help strengthen other families."
Barbara Thompson,
“I Will Strengthen Thee; I Will Help Thee,”

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Thanks for the Ride!

Janna took this picture last week from our front porch.
We were viewing the sunrise after a storm. Talk about a VISTA!
Even then, this photo doesn't do justice to what we saw.

I said this blog would be filled with highlights, but I haven't had much highlight this week. In fact, dare I say, I have been "burdened". It just seemed like my days were filled with doing. No stopping for refreshment or a lull. Each day was filled with responsibilities that just needed to be done. I'm glad I was well to do it.

It's times like this that I find I need to "count [my] many blessings; name them one by one" (Hymns 241). Last weekend we had stake conference along with other stakes in Southern California. The Sunday session was broadcast from Salt Lake City. We heard a number of speakers. One of them was the prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley. He reiterated many things from his long standing words found in the booklet, "Cornerstones of a Happy Home". He quotes Jenkin Lloyd Jones from the Deseret News:

"Life is like an old-time rail journey--delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts interspersed only occasionally by beautiful
vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is
to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

If I'm not too preoccupied with demands, just maybe I'll catch a glimpse of the beautiful blessings that have been bestowed upon me. It will then take my breath away and I'll actually have to sit down and enjoy the ride. Counting my many blessings clears my vision so I can see the beautiful vistas of life. I need to make a point to look when I'm so very booked.

I am truly blessed in many ways. I know my Heavenly Father loves me and watches over me. I am thankful for the ride. Life is good and I know it!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dinner and the Scriptures

“Mothers, who are ‘primarily responsible for the nurture of their children,’ can be a powerful force for strengthening families when they use mealtimes to gather loved ones. They follow the example of the Savior to calm, teach, and help their families remember important things as they feed, cultivate, educate, and rear at the consecrated tables in their homes.”
Julie B. Beck, “Powerful Nurturing", Ensign, Dec 2005, 36–38
Photograph by Busath Photography

This year we decided our daily family scripture study would be after our evening meal. Our hope was that this time frame would help make our family scripture study a more successful experience, meaning, the entire family would be there. I well knew the busyness of our household and that regular scripture study would not occur unless dinnertime was judiciously observed.

We all eat at this house, there is no doubt about that, but eating together is another story. Our dinner meal had evolved into an evening buffet of sorts. Food was set out and you ate when you were available. If I wasn’t around to prepare the meal, it would escalate into a different realm altogether which was referred to as, YOYO Night, meaning “You’re On Your Own”; in other words, its every man (or child) for himself. I would come home and discover the remains of all sorts of concoctions that were definitely not in the best interest of my family’s health; not to mention the dirty dishes and kitchen, but they had been fed.

It seemed that when the children were younger it was a simpler time. Dare I digress with memories of past meals which evoke visions of grandeur: dinners carefully prepared, healthy, pleasing to the eye, and children happy to eat. My point is, that at one time, we ate together more consistently, but once the kids aged and their own agendas grew (not to mention Hughie's and mine too) things just got out of hand. Having the “buffet style meal” available to suit all schedules seemed brilliant at the time, but now that our new scripture study time slot loomed before me it got me thinking: I do believe the three youngest, Tom, Janna, and Sam have not had the privilege of our family sitting together for mealtime on a consistent basis, or at least they're to young to remember. Yes, there’s Thanksgiving and Christmas and the periodic birthday, admittedly, it's not like we never eat together, but you know what I mean. I knew the importance of this constancy, but I had been living without it for so long I really didn’t know what to do or how to change the situation.

The Sunday before we started our new declared goal we counseled together. When would dinner be served? Could we all be there? What would we eat? (Everyone’s likes and dislikes of food was an enlightening discussion.) We mapped out who would cleanup every evening, which consisted of two family members working side by side. We were all committed to the idea and wanted to make it work.

It’s only been a few days and the benefits are beaming bright. We’re a little more aware of our manners. Practice will certainly bring improvement. We’re delighting in one another’s company and it‘s been an avenue to hear all the daily news. Our meals have been better too and everyone is helpful. We’re not only physically nourished, but we top it off by being spiritually fed as we read the Book of Mormon.

I’ve had this experience before where I change my behavior and the Spirit immediately confirms that what I am doing is right. I sat at the dinner table last night and announced in the middle of our meal, “It feels soooooo ‘choose the right’ eating together!” Everyone was amused at my declaration. I am noted for such surmising, but no one commented or argued. They just smiled and kept eating because they too knew that our mealtime together was the right thing to do and they were glad to be a part of it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It's Back to the Old Grind

Red Rock Canyon, January 2, 2008
Sammy, Janna, Michael, Hughie, Emma, Tommy, Adam

It's Saturday, January 5, 2008. Today my brother Adam, and his two children, Michael and Emma, left for their home in Utah. They were just a few of the guests we had visit during the holiday. They are also the last to leave. It is an end to our festivities so to speak.

The holidays have a particular agenda here. Ours includes eating, more eating, and dare I say, more eating. We also played games, hiked, and watched movies. We enjoyed each others company. We sang together and read the Christmas story. Gift giving is also part of our traditions. The list could go on, but the new year is in motion and it's back to the rigors of a schedule which includes work, school, and other responsibilities.

We’ll miss all the fun and we’re glad it comes around each year, but those kind of doings can’t go on everyday. We have work to do, but these experiences with family and friends through the holidays buoy us up and encourage us to carry on in the labors of a new year. It’s an experience that brings the Savior even closer to our hearts. I love Christmas! Happy New Year!

"Let us counsel with the Lord in all our undertakings.
Let us be better neighbors.
Let us be better employers and employees.
Let us be men and women of integrity and honesty in business,
in education, in government, in the professions,
whatever is our place in life."

Gordon B. Hinckley,
"Latter-day Saints in Very Deed,"
Ensign, Nov. 1997, 85

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year! A New Beginning!

It's January 1, 2008. One of my new year resolutions is to start a blog. This is definitely a work in progress. I already do some journaling in various forms:

1. Personal Journal - daily writing of my thinking and doings, etc.

2. Food Journal - an eating and exercising record. My on going attempt to lose weight and be fit.

3. Sketch Book - daily pencil drawings. A form to practice drawing and art plus ideas for paintings.

All of these things could be included in one book, but for a number of reasons they have evolved to three and now I'm adding the BLOG.

What will be written and displayed here? I'm guessing the highlights. No need for you to plow through the minutiae of my daily busyness; even though that's well a reflection of me, hence, "The Book of Martha". My personal journal can be a catchall of many things. I will try to be a little more scrutinizing with my entries here, not to mention I am on public display--all may enter.

Another one of my new year resolutions concerns temple worship. I usually attend the temple 12 times a year, but I'd like to double that. It was my goal last year too. I didn't make it to say the least. I'm trying again. The idea is to go twice a month. Two visits are scheduled for January. We'll see how I do throughout the year. I will report.

"Make a habit of going to the house of the Lord. There is no better way to ensure proper living than temple attendance."

President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 2005, 102