Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Morn

    As I sit and wait to heal I think about the miracle of resurrection. I can wrap my head around death because I have lost loved ones and it is real to me but I don't have personal experience with coming back from death. It is a mystery, a mystery of godliness, which I know about from the testimonies of a few who saw with their own eyes.

   Luke 24:36 "And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."

   I learn from studying the gospels that Jesus was very eager to show himself to those who would believe and he showed much caring in their ability to accept this miracle.
   Luke 24:15 "And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?"
  Resurrection is a glorious truth!
    Elder Howard W. Hunter proclaimed that “the doctrine of the Resurrection is the single most fundamental and crucial doctrine in the Christian religion. It cannot be overemphasized, nor can it be disregarded. Without the Resurrection, the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes a litany of wise sayings and seemingly unexplainable miracles—but sayings and miracles with no ultimate triumph. No, the ultimate triumph is in the ultimate miracle: for the first time in the history of mankind, one who was dead raised himself into living immortality” (Conference Report, April 1986, 18).
  Such a truth was surely taught from the beginning of time, even before the world was. Although it seems mysterious yet is this truth taught by all of God's creations. There is life after death.

     On the left is a small pot of dirt. Planted within is a dead bulb. Cur down to wither and fade away. I was told that it would come back in the Spring. I believed because I see that truth every year as Winter comes to a close.
  The pot was forgotten on the porch until I noticed the miracle had come to pass.

 "All things testify of Him." In truth the mysteries of godliness are manifest all around us. It is for us to develop believing hearts and eyes to see.
    Elder Melvin J. Ballard had the following remarkable experience with the Savior:
“Away on the Fort Peck Reservation where I was doing missionary work with some of our brethren, … I found myself one evening in the dreams of the night in that sacred building, the temple. After a season of prayer and rejoicing I was informed that I should have the privilege of entering into one of those rooms, to meet a glorious Personage, and, as I entered the door, I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious Being my eyes have ever beheld or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds. As I approached to be introduced, he arose and stepped toward me with extended arms, and he smiled as he softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He took me into his arms and kissed me, pressed me to his bosom, and blessed me, until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When he had finished, I fell at his feet, and, as I bathed them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world. The feeling that I had in the presence of him who hath all things in his hands, to have his love, his affection, and his blessing was such that if I ever can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt! … I see Jesus now not upon the cross. I do not see his brow pierced with thorns nor his hands torn with the nails, but I see him smiling, with extended arms, saying to us all: ‘Come unto me!’” (Sermons and Missionary Services, 156–57).

Friday, March 29, 2013

It Is Good Friday

This morning I opened my Easter file and took out some pictures I have kept for countless years. I display them in my home during Easter week. They help me focus.

   Vanessa, my daughter-in-law, pointed out to me that we are all like the robbers next to Jesus on the cross. 
   Luke 23:39 "And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."
  We are not innocent and justly deserve our condemnation. But, this "Good Friday" helps us see that due to His suffering we can be with him in Paradise.
    In these last seven statements, made from the cross, I see the divine ability He has to finnish his mission, putting His Father and his brothers and sisters first, before his own pain.
 1- Luke 23:34 "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
  2- Luke 23:43   "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."
  3- John 19:26 "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."
   4-Matthew 27:46 "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
   5- John 19:28 "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst."
   6- John 19:30 "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
  7-Luke 23:46 "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
   After the hours of darkness following his death, the veil was rent.
 The death of Christ was accompanied by terrifying phenomena. There was a violent earthquake; the rocks of the mighty hills were disrupted, and many graves were torn open. But, most portentous of all . . . the veil of the temple which hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies was rent from top to bottom, and the interior, which none but the high priest had been permitted to see, was thrown open to common gaze. (Talmage, JTC, 662)
 "Before the death of Christ, only the High Priest could enter in – now all could see into the Holy of Holies, which symbolized the Celestial Kingdom, or being in the presence of God."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

About Hospitals and Such

  Yesterday I had a small surgery which I have put off a long time and which turned out to be a huge blessing. (The reason is in the previous post) The people at Overlake Hospital are amazing. Let me tell you about three of them.
   My nurse's assistant was a Philipino women with a lovely way about her. She said the kindest words, like "You are so healthy", "Your hair looks so healthy" and , "Your skin is so beautiful." These statements, unexpected, made me feel vital and strong as I prepared for the operating table. She added her advice for staying healthy. Drink fresh vegetable juice every day to get your 6-7 servings a day.
   Then there was John, my RN. Older and wiser than most, he gave me the humorous side of the experience. After going to the bathroom, again, I asked if this made me null and void. He laughed and made me feel as funny as he was. If my son, Jon, who is going back to school to be a RN ends up like this man, I will be so pleased. Here are some helpful hints for my son to prepare to be a nurse. Learn juggling, get great shoes, and work in a children's day care for a while. Little did John, my nurse, know that my son has five children and lives in a childcare facility.
  And lastly, Dr. Paley, who I wanted to see years ago and didn't because she broke her leg before my appointment. She is a gracious, reserved woman and I felt her determination to do things to the best of her ability when she patted my legs and started working. She is a giant in a 5'2 body.
  Thanks also to my Mark, who goes with me to face each demon and brought me my new book and iPad so I could listen to Part 2 of Oprah interviewing Brene Brown. 

When I think of life without him I get scared so I start recording all the reasons I am grateful for him. On to recovery and hopefully cancer free. That is my hope.

Monday, March 25, 2013

To Live With Cancer

I have Basel Cell Skin Cancer and am still dealing with it after 10 years. Of all the skin cancers this is "the best one to have". I hear that many times when I deal with doctors and nurses. Having an ongoing health issue is like the sailboat in the middle of the picture. You see your struggle as the one big one in the ocean of adversity.

   In reality, people have health issues everywhere and are being stoic and brave in the face of so many challenges. My challenge is small but it takes many moments of my conscious thoughts. Tomorrow I face a surgery that may finally eradicate this pest. I don't look forward to letting go of my control with the anesthesia but I know that control is a figment of my imagination. I am focusing on the positive reward of healing. There are calm waters ahead on this ocean of life.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beating Vulnerability To The Punch

I thought I read all of Daring Greatly carefully but yesterday I read something brand new which is so very true in my life. I heard it first when Brene' Brown told it to Oprah and then I found it in the book. How had I missed it? Was I skimming at that point? Here is the truth in a nutshell.  
    "When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. We are trying to dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch."
   I'm sitting with that for a while. When I feel that effervescent bubble of joy rise up inside of me I feel scared. The "what ifs" rise with equal force and I feel I need to mitigate the emotion lest I am caught unaware. What if I lose what I so love and brings me such great joy? Isn't it better to be in an unmoving state of perpetual disappointment rather than let go and soar with the fleeting joy of everything being right? People who feel perpetual disappointment describe it this way: "It's easier to live disappointed than it is to feel disappointed. It feels more vulnerable to dip in and out of disappointment than to just set up camp there. You sacrifice joy, but you suffer less pain,"
   Even as I type these words the sun is coming in and out of the clouds on a very rainy day. The warmth flooding in my kitchen window punctuates the attraction I feel to joy. Seconds later the light fades and I am in gray skies again. Would it be better to be forever under a gray sky?
   "For those who rehearse tragedy, there's a reason (images of terrible things happening) flood into our mind the second we're overwhelmed with joy. When we spend our lives (knowingly or unknowingly) pushing away vulnerability, we can't hold space open for the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure of joy."
    Interestingly enough, according to Dr. Brown's data, those that are aware of the shudder of foreboding at the brink of joy, practice active gratitude as an antidote.

    I wonder if that could intensify joy? Could the act of recording my gratitude bring my mind back to joy?

     I will experiment with this concept as I am unsure. Here are some guidelines:
   1. Joy comes to us in moments-ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.
   2. Be grateful for what you have.
   3. Don't squander joy. We can't prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Miniature Garden

             Walter, the Gnome, is still alive and his garden is hanging in there. It has been 2 1/2 years since I planted my miniature home for this little guy. It came about because I was illustrating a scripture from Isaiah, read more here.

       I am glad my miniature is still alive and I find happiness looking for the tiny shell I put there, the tiny ladybug, and especially I love Walter's joyful surprised face.

“Once in those very early days my brother brought into the nursery the lid of a biscuit tin which he had covered with moss and garnished with twigs and flowers so as to make it a toy garden or a toy forest. That was the first beauty I ever knew. What the real garden had failed to do, the toy garden did. It made me aware of nature—not, indeed, as a storehouse of forms and colors but as something cool, dewy, fresh, exuberant….As long as I live my imagination of Paradise will retain something of my brother’s toy garden.” – C. S. Lewis,Surprised by Joy

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spring Delights

            Each spring I look forward to certain events that bring me comfort and hope. One is the return of more daylight. In March, for several days, the light streams through the window in my door and illuminates my painting on the opposite wall.

     Easter celebrations make me happy to remember my Savior. This year I have an Easter tree.

      Lastly, the plum tree in the back yard is a riot of blossoms. They are even beautiful in the moonlight.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I am sleepy, but not dead.
I am tired, but not exhausted.
I am good, but not great.
Tests are scary, but I act like I am not frightened.
We are happy, but not overjoyed.
I am behind, but not failing.
Pressured, but not overwhelmed
Small, but not unloved
Weak, but not without strength
Inconsistent, but not boring

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

12 Days Till Easter

      I want to make more of Easter this year. Why not have an Easter Countdown and combine little treats with reading the scriptures dealing with the last week of the Savior's life? I 'll make one set for my Grand kids and one for my seminary class.

    These pictures can have scriptures on the back. Check back here for a list of scriptures dealing with the last 12 days.

                                            Pictures for the last week can be found here. Thanks, Bro. Bushman!
     The more I prepare for Easter the better I understand the full impact of his Atonement,  Crucifixion and Resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Gifts Of The Spirit

       Both Paul and Moroni write eloquently about spiritual gifts and both lived during a time of spiritual decline. These gifts should be evident in the true church of Jesus Christ.  Paul urges us to covet them; Moroni admonishes us to never deny them. 
   Moroni 10:17 "And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will."
They are intertwined with the atonement of Jesus Christ in that they have their source at the tree of life. The fruit of the tree is Charity, the pure love of Christ, and it is by far " the more excellent way" of sharing power and strength. And, that is the reason for looking for gifts of the spirit, to share and give benefit to all. 
   I Corinthians 12:31"  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way."
   Moroni 10:8 "And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them."
   When I was seminary age I looked for gifts which were given to me. Gifts seemed desirable but I gave very little thought to what I would do with these gifts. It was hard to separate gifts from the concept of talents. Talent seemed an innate ability to create and receive recognition for your creation. Receiving praise and honor for your gifts was very alluring.  It was also the way that a gift could become evil. Desiring recognition for a gift is surely not the reason they are given to men.
  Moroni 10:"And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing."
   We could play it safe and bury our gifts so that we will not be found making them unclean or we could consciously magnify the our gifts given by the spirit and be ever grateful to serve.

    To review the concepts in I Corinthians we played Hot Topic. One member gives a topic to his team and they have 60 seconds to list all the words connected with their topic. Click here to see a list of Hot Topics. More here….

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hints of Spring

    There are hints everywhere that Spring is on it's way. In our part of the world we had a very mild winter. Nevertheless, I welcome the next season with open arms. On Saturday, after a day of clouds, the setting sun illuminated the sky and bathed the trees with gold. How did Emily Dickinson see that same moment with me?

A Light exists in Spring

Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

Emily Dickinson

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Look Back

  Today may be the first day to see the sun after a long week of clouds and rain. I carry within me the memory of the Phoenix sun. There was a little place with my granddaughters, by an open window, with the sun streaming in, where I felt such warmth. The memory can keep me alive through the gray.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Paris Food

  Nichole at Obvious State asked us to peruse her photo picture shop and put together four of our favorites. These go together so well. Wouldn't they look good in your kitchen?

                                                                Let's meet at the cafe and have some lunch?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Building a Vision of Scripture Study

    My students are maturing and their scripture study skills are expanding. This week we started reading with "Four Colors". 

    Getting "greener" is not just an environmental goal but also a goal for each of us to respond to the message and go and do likewise.

    As a seminary teacher I can hope that what we do each morning creates a desire in all of us to put our faith in Jesus and propel us forward to do good.
  Here we are at our best, doing our music in our morning devotional. Aren't we great?

                  Not buying it? Okay this is really us and my students are the best sports, ever!