Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Calling Thy Name

Tomorrow begins the waiting in earnest. 

We wait upon the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Counting off the twenty-four days becomes more poignant as we draw, in mindfulness, toward the many names given to The Son of God. Twenty-four names, not a complete list, but representative of who he is, what his mission is, and how we may address him.

Join me each day for an advent devotional to place our thoughts on the coming of The Lord.

This is a contents page, linked to each day so that you can come back here and find a post you missed. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mindful Monday- Grateful For Children

If we have a heart to learn and a willingness to follow the example of children, their divine attributes can hold a key to unlocking our own spiritual growth.
Jean A. Stevens

Walking into my classroom at church yesterday I found six excited and ready children. I was not expected to teach that day, as I had a music assignment later, but how could I not gather them around me on the floor and meet their expectant eyes? I was filled with gratitude for their readiness. 

"These children are providing examples of some of the childlike qualities we need to develop or rediscover in ourselves in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. They are bright spirits who are untarnished by the world—teachable and full of faith. It is no wonder the Savior has a special love and appreciation for little children."

My class of six and seven year olds are full of faith. They believe I will guide them into important paths which will engage and enliven them. I wonder how often I disappoint? If my lesson is a disappointment I am quickly forgiven. If I forget something, they don't look at each other with raised eyebrows assessing my capabilities. They do lose interest but I find it happens when I am not fully engaged. They respond to being "all in".

   I find them to be more teachable than I imagined. If I provide careful instruction, equal to their abilities, with many repetitions so that they can gain proficiency, they come along. They come along with enthusiasm. I am grateful to be among children everyday. I hope to remain teachable and faithful.

Elder M. Russell Ballard has taught us the importance of the Savior’s admonition to “behold your little ones” when he said: “Notice that He didn’t say ‘glance at them’ or ‘casually observe them’ or ‘occasionally take a look in their general direction.’ He said to behold them. To me that means that we should embrace them with our eyes and with our hearts; we should see and appreciate them for who they really are: spirit children of our Heavenly Father, with divine attributes”
(“Behold Your Little Ones,” Tambuli, Oct. 1994, 40; emphasis added; “Great Shall Be the Peace of Thy Children,” Ensign, Apr. 1994, 59).


November is a month for paying attention to my level of gratitude. It is part of my year long exploration of mindfulness. You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us... While what we call 'our own life' remains agreeable, we will not surrender it to Him. What, then, can God do in our interests but make 'our own life' less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible sources of false happiness? 
C. S. Lewis

Thanksgiving was a day of surrendering. My three grandchildren who wanted to come over and "help" me before dinner came at 9:00am. I surrendered to the idea that I was going to keep them involved for six hours. The pie I wanted to make, gluten free, had a life of it's own and became pumpkin without a true recipe and without a promised outcome. It was eatable and disappeared. I will never be able to make it the same way again because it just evolved.

  The turkey which I bought fresh a week ago and then decided to freeze still had ice chunks inside. My grandson liked rubbing it with coconut oil and spices. He put a ham slice inside because he wanted to see what would happen. I surrendered my expectations and it was really good.
    In the last half hour before eating, my knees needed to rest and I let my husband take over. He finished the mashed potatoes, made the gravy, prepared the food to go into dishes and led us in our giving thanks statements. Usually I do it all with noticeable frustration. I surrendered and others came to my aid. 
  Later I suggested a game called Famous People which is a great crowd game. I noticed how my family participated wholeheartedly. I took time to see each member's ability and humor. In the past, some participants have left the game mad. We had some issues yesterday but the majority of the family stayed engaged and working as a team. 
   Over controlling our lives is really a false happiness. False because we set ourselves expectations which often remain unrealized. Then, as we mourn what could have been we miss the little miracles provided by others in our behalf. I had time to feel truly thankful.

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share their work. Would you like to join us?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mindful Monday- Grateful To Say Yes

“i imagine that yes is the only living thing.” 

E.E. Cummings

Yesterday I said yes four times and I am so grateful. I could have "no, it won't work", "no, I don't have time", or "not now". But, I said yes. The first yes went to The Spirit. While teaching my 6-7 year olds in church, I felt prompted to invite my students to search the four gospels in the New Testament. We have been working on finding references together. I allow them to put removable highlighter tape on our weekly scripture. Now the library copies have purple highlights on many pages. When I heard the prompting I put it away as impractical and without purpose. But I said yes and let them look. Each child found a highlighted page and they were all different. Having context for these verses made all the difference. We had a good conversation because they remembered the stories from previous lessons. YES.

My granddaughter was hanging on my arm during church sharing time. "Can I go home with you today?" I see her many times during the week and frankly after church I'm tired. But, I said yes. When we arrived home my other son was there with his daughter and the girl cousins had some alone time without their siblings. YES.

Later, my husband asked politely if I could cut his hair. It was the sabbath and I was tired. But, I said yes. A fifteen minute job made such a difference to him and it was easy for me. He had waited many weeks. YES.

   While my older daughter is home for a few months we occasionally do Evening Lines. The idea for Evening Lines came from a book by Regina Sirois called "On Little Wings". The aunt in the book invited her niece to visit. Every evening during her visit a teenage boy in the neighborhood came by to talk. She joined them and learned about Evening Lines.

“I wanted him to see the difference between what he read and what he thought so I gave him a daily assignment to find his favorite words and read them to me. It evolved into our nightly readings.

There are no rules. We each pick a line or passage out of something we read that day – be it cereal box or Shakespeare – and recite it to each other. Nothing long. Sometimes three words. Sometimes a paragraph.”

   As my husband came into the living room later, he told us he was ready for Evening Lines. Right now? But, I said yes. Our Evening Lines were so different. One was a quote from "The Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoyevsky, another from a book about our economy, and the third from a talk by Sheri Dew. Unrelated, disconnected, but fertile fodder for discussion. YES.

While learning to say "no" is important, saying "yes" can lighten and brighten your day. I am grateful for my state of mind and for allowing "yes"

November is a month for paying attention to my level of gratitude. It is part of my year long exploration of mindfulness. You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Enjoy- What Makes A Day Enjoyable

"It was my interest in happiness that led me to the subject of habits, and of course, the study of habits is really the study of happiness. Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life, and a significant element of happiness. "
Gretchen Rubin

     After many weeks of pondering what made me happy I  decided years ago that there are six habits that add to my happiness. An enjoyable day is one where all or most of these habits have taken place. Conversely, a bad day usually means I did not practice enough of these six habits and I am feeling a lack. 

  1. Prayer
  2. Gospel Study
  3. Movement
  4. Nourishing Eating
  5. Creative pursuits
  6. Service

These habits invite me to face inward and outward. They balance my need to be contemplative and other oriented. They nourish my soul and help me see others needs, as well as my own. 

  All six of these habits require daily intention. Maybe that means they are not habitual yet. If left to my slovenly ways I would do none of them. That would require little effort but make my least enjoyable day. Why do we resist the very practices that make us happiest? I think it is the nature of mortality. 

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share their work. Would you like to join? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Family Pictures

      I am joining Ann Dee Ellis and other writers in using a prompt to record memoir moments. If you don't write your story, who will?

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.

Alex Haley

I love looking at family pictures, reading expressions and speculating about what people are thinking. Below is a favorite family picture. Made in about 1948, this family, my family, are survivors of World War II. My brothers have witnessed brutality and deprivation. They look serious. My father, the optimist, looks relieved and confident in a better tomorrow. My mother is posing and looking as she should. I am missing. I would not make an entry into mortality until six years later. By then the boys would all be teenagers and the decision to emigrate is made. 

 These two parents created a large family with four children, fifteen grandchildren, thirty great-grandchildren, and eleven great-great grandchildren. We come together once a year at my brother's home in Utah. There are always people missing due to travel constraints and  scheduling. Before the evening gets away from us someone shouts "family pictures". Reluctantly the children leave the games and the pool. The older members, yikes, that's me, make their way over to the semi-circle. We all give our phones to the lucky photographer and she painstakingly, takes two pictures on five or six phones. 

   The pictures get posted on Facebook and everyone feels grateful. We did it one more year. This year I set up a family history game. I posted their names on a large wall. My cousin walked into the room and asked why only dead people were on the wall. I announced we were giving a prize for the person who could match loved hobbies and talents with the emeritus members. People forgot that Cousin Werner raised chinchillas, Tante Hanni made hats, and Cousin Norbert was a car fanatic. I felt happy that they were part of the celebration. They started us all and without them we would not exist. I believe they are still invested in the happiness and well-being of those on earth. I feel it deeply. I am convinced.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mindful Monday- How Does Gratitude Feel?

Sit for a moment and think of  something for which you are grateful... 

Is gratitude a feeling that manifests in our body?  I think it is. In Psalms 30, David expresses his thanks to the Lord. He feels lifted up, secure in the Lord's prosperity, more aware of the healing power of God, girded in gladness, and his mourning is turned into dancing. These descriptions of how he feels indicate expansion, peace, and a lightness of spirit. Could a meditation on gratitude offer this to you and me?

Every morning, this past week, I have opened myself more fully to gratitude. I sit and breathe and think on someone for whom I am very grateful. I've noticed an expansion in my breathing and a softness in my heart. It seems that relaxation is related to these mental thoughts. As the minutes tick by, I find it easy to let my mind rest on more and more  things for which I am grateful. 

"Give yourself a gift of five minutes of contemplation in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you to focus your life in awe."
Wayne Dyer

November is a month for paying attention to my level of gratitude. It is part of my year long exploration of mindfulness. You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.

Friday, November 11, 2016


The common denominator of all mankind is a desire to hope in a better life.

    Looking through old pictures brought me a deep knowledge of the place hope had in my family. My father and mother lost everything and started over three times. The first time was when they became refugees from Silesia to West Germany after World War II. They left, on foot with what they could carry or push in a baby carriage or handcart. 

In West Germany, racked by losing the war, they were second class citizens trying to survive.  They rebuilt with hope. My father could see that things in Germany were going to be slow in rebuilding so he turned his eyes to America. We had a relative who blazed the trail for us over the Atlantic. Below is a picture of my brother and I waiting to board the ship.

   Again, my family had hope and started to rebuild security. The starting over this time included learning a new language and learning to navigate a new culture. But, there was hope.

   When I reached age four, my family seems content and readjusted. Mind you, that was my point of view. Above, the Christmas after my fourth birthday, I was so happy with Suzi, my Christmas doll, sitting upon my father's knee. My mother posed reading, with what I believe was the bible. She might have been reading something entirely different but she was the one that had hope in Christ. That hope attached itself to me and carried me through my life. 

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share their work. Would you like to join? 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mindful Monday- Grateful For Divine Compensation

"You are the God who sees me",  for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me."
      Genesis 16:13

    Hagar in the Old Testament had many issues. She was a less favored wife, and by her own choosing she made trouble with Abraham's  covenant wife because of her resentments. When she ran away an angel came to her. Without knowing anything about the angel's message, the fact is, she received divine assistance. The angel admonished her to go back to Abraham and Sarah and gave her compensation by promising her a great future for her son. Later, she must leave, by command of Abraham, and she is sustained again by the same angel. God opens up her eyes and she sees a well of water from which to drink. Her eyes were opened literally but also metaphorically. She is made conscious of the compensation given her by a loving God. Mortality comes with unfair and unwanted situations, I am so grateful for the gift of compensation.

    About fifteen years ago I was suffering from disappointment. My thoughts labored on the situation beyond my control. I was called to teach Institute to young adults in my church. The new challenge took my mind away from my ruminations. Over time I saw divine compensation open to me as I learned to work with the Holy Ghost and applied myself to learning. What had wrenched my heart, now seemed less important. 
    Learning to shepherd my thoughts has come as compensation for dealing with physical limitations. I am consciously aware that my inner world is still undeveloped. There is peace there, and hope, and faith. This month of November I am more mindful of gratitude and divine compensation is something for which I feel so thankful.

November is a month for paying attention to my level of gratitude. It is part of my year long exploration of mindfulness. You can read more about my Year of Mindfulness here.

Friday, November 4, 2016


A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. 
John Steinbeck

The picture below is of my oldest brother on the left, my mother in the middle, and my father on the right. They are onboard the SS America crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1955. Notice how my brother's expression is hopeful. He is twenty-one and hoping for a new life in America. My mother's face shows concern. She is the maintainer. She takes care of the day to day struggles. Then notice my father's gaze. His pose is classic. He is looking at the horizon. Our family owes it's fortune to his long range view. This is his epic journey. A family of five, leaving war torn Germany for a new country. 

       My father prepared. We did not come penniless. He had money from selling a house and business. He also brought a resilient spirit. By surviving as a soldier on the Russian front he came home with grit and resolve. He would provide a better future for his sons and daughter. The journey across the ocean divides his life between his homeland and the new land. We are immigrants. 
   I feel my life on earth is like the journey across the ocean. I left my Heavenly Father and came to earth prepared. I have his divine DNA inside of me and though my memory of my homeland is gone, I have access to him through prayer and journals of those who came before, to guide me. I am going back to Him. Mortality is no longer than the four days across the ocean when compared to my existence before and eternity to come. What I can learn from those three faces in the picture is to have hope like my brother, maintain a mindfulness about now, like my mother, and always see the horizon, like my father. This journey through life is not one I am taking, it is taking me, 

 I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday Group for two years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share their work. Would you like to join?