Sunday, February 10, 2019

Yesterday was a good day.  We attended a funeral of a giant of a man we knew from Corona 2nd ward.  Steve Lepetich was honored thoughtfully by each of his children.  Their children all went to school with our children.  He was a practicing OBGYN in Tempe and Gilbert who had delivered over 18,000 babies, much to the joy of that many mothers, fathers, grandparents brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles.  For 34 years, his tender care was profoundly felt as each child, to him, came straight from God.  He knew he was working on earth to deliver heaven sent babies, and everyone in the delivery room felt it.  Many of his writings were shared, something that was new to a neighbor or coworker, but all too familiar to his children.  He influenced so many people in the church and out.  The Stake center was filled to capacity.  He was one year younger than Randy and I.  Two weeks ago, suddenly he had a heart attack and passed away.  You would think a tragedy like this would affect his own dear family, but the shock rippled on to friends, mothers to be, church and work associates, etc.  After learning more about him yesterday, it was clear that he was always anxiously engaged in good things (family, love of God, nature, life).  He didn't waste time.  The program was touching, as it showed photos of so much and so many he loved.  The back cover was what impressed me the most.  There was a perfectly placed family photo of he and his wife (Shelley), sitting with his 94 year old mother in between them in the front.  Behind them stood each of their married children and all of  their 14 grandchildren.  The photo had been taken last December, just two months ago. 

It's times like this when I realize life is short.  There is nothing like a real tragedy to overshadow some minor drama (blown way out of proportion) that reminds you what is really important in life.  People, especially the ones you promised to love and cherish for eternity are the prime importance , no matter what.  The smiles, the forgiveness, the serving, the love beyond measure because no one can take their place, the golden rule, the friendship, the peace, the catching when one of you falls, the not giving up on eternal things...It's times like this when life seems so short. 

Also, on the back of the cover, was a poem he penned.
 "Reflections in windows reflecting our lives.
So why don't people try to open their eyes.
 Look for the beauty in each tiny while.
 And answer that window with a true friendly smile."

Life's minor hurdles don't matter.  Our loved ones do.

I am soft to these inspirations at this point in my life.  Each one of our children, I love so dearly.  And now there are sons and daughter in laws who love those same children fiercely, which brings me peace.  And don't get me started on our precious grandchildren.  I'm thankful for reflections.  I'm thankful for my countless blessings.  I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for eternal life.  I'm thankful.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Activity Day - February 6, 2019


Jesus stood tall Because He was prepared To withstand the temptations, So hollow. We, too can stand strong As we stuff our souls full Of the teachings He wants us to follow. We had 8 girls here. I made manicotti ahead. We talked about hollow things, comparing them to Satan and his "hollow" temptations that Christ was able to overcome because of His strength in being prepared from a young boy, through Heavenly Father's plan. A big manicotti noodle was shown as a visual aid to encourage the girls not to be like that (Satan). Then I served the warm manicotti and compared the stuffing inside (cheeses, spinach, onions, sauce, etc.) to the Savior's strength. We talked about how we can build our souls with "stuffing" in our day (scripture study, service, kindness, commandments, etc.),so we are padded with strength to be like Him. Each girl ate every bit except one, who was leery of the tiny spinach pieces. Then we played pick up straws (hollow) around the table. I sent them home with a manicotti recipe and this poem I wrote. For a treat, I cut into a hollow chocolate apple to seal the point. It was depressing. But I cut it into 8 sizable pieces; no caramel, no nuts, no peanut butter, no truffle, etc.... Don't be a manicotti!

Elliot Ward talk (January 27, 2019)


Randy said I could introduce us if I wanted.  But introductions always sound better coming from twenty or thirty something year olds.  You wouldn’t want to hear about our meeting at the ASU institute choir back in the day, would you?  And you wouldn’t want to know Randy was born and raised in Safford with 10 siblings, while I grew up in Scottsdale Stake, having 3 younger brothers would you?  Or that we just moved here in October after spending 30 years in Tempe South Stake, or that  Randy retired from APS in December after 35 years, or that he just gave up his little green- no air-part of the family-Toyota truck with 242,000 miles, would you?

Speaking of family, we do have 4 wonderful married children and 11 gifted grandchildren.  Through the years we spent many a family gathering at my parents home here on east Vaughn, where we heard most of your names and a lot of your stories in praise.  In fact, we couldn’t get a word in edgewise if we wanted.  We are delighted now to put your faces to those names.  And to hopefully serve you as you so lovingly served them.

The topic given to us today is Hope and Change through Faith and the Atonement:

About a month ago in Relief Society we had a lesson about what can bring the light of Christ into your life.  A lot of times, my peace and light is found in the Hymns.  So here are a few beautiful lyrics about Hope.  Maybe you can recall the hymn:

I hope they call me on a mission -I hope by then I will be ready -I hope that I can share the Gospel

Oh, Hope of every contrite heart

More Hope in His word

And I Hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home

And filled with Hope in His pure love, we sing with one accord

We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things

There is Hope smiling brightly before us

With Hopes bright flame alight in heart and mind

Thy Hope, thy confidence let nothing shake

Loud may the sound of Hope ring ‘til all doubt departs

A thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices

In a talk given by Steven E. Snow in the April 2011 General Conference, he says” Hope is an emotion which brings richness to our everyday lives.  It is defined as “the feeling that … events will turn out for the best”.  When we exercise hope, we “look forward … with desire and reasonable confidence”.  Hope brings a certain calming influence to our lives as we confidently look forward to future events.

I thought about our new “Choose the Right” cirriculem when  Elder Snow said, “As parents (and Grandparents or loved ones), we find our fondest hopes center around our children.  We hope they will grow up to lead responsible and righteous lives.  Our being a good example is a key.  We must spend time with them in family home evening and worthwhile family activities.  We must teach them to pray.  We must read with them in the scriptures and teach them important gospel principles.  Only then is it possible our fondest hopes will be realized.”  The Family Proclamation is great encouragement for us also.  At our house we have a shelf of children’s books.  Disney stories are what the Grandchildren like to hear most.  But just as they know every small detail about Disney, they could also recall every detail in a scripture story. 

The Apostle Paul wrote that we “should plow in Hope” (1 Corinthians 9:10).  The exercise of hope enriches our lives and helps us look forward to the future.  Whether we are plowing fields to plant or plowing through life, it is imperative we, as Latter Day Saints, have hope.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, hope is the desire of His followers (us) to gain eternal salvation through the Atonement of the Savior.

This is truly the hope we must all have.  It is what sets us apart from the rest of the world.  Peter admonished the early followers of Christ to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the Hope that is in you”(1Peter 3:15).  Be ready. 

I had a profound experience I will always remember when I was set apart a few months ago to serve with the Activity Day girls.  The Bishop set me apart.  But those weren’t the only words he used.  He set me apart from the world.  Before then I hadn’t thought about how perfect being set apart from the world was.  That means that the girls I serve, if I am worthy, can learn to recognize the wonderful eternal blessings and Love our Savior has for them through the Atonement.  That, in turn, sets them apart from the world.  I’m sure a lot of you have received the same blessing.

Our hope in the Atonement empowers us with eternal perspective.  That allows us to look beyond the here and now on into the promise of the eternities.   Where we are free to look forward to celestial glory, sealed to our families and loved ones.

My own mother taught me about hope.  Ten or so years ago, she and I stood in an elevator, ready to visit my Dad in the hospital after having quadruple bypass surgery.  As we pushed the level 4 button to ride up, Mom said, “Let’s have a prayer.”  Before I could reasonably explain that the door would surely open before we were through, I could see her eyes had closed and I heard her voice in quiet prayer, pleading, thanking, and empowering us with a kind of spiritual, hopefilled clothing to face the day.  When the doors opened, a few seconds later, there we stood facing incoming elevator riders; looking quite normal.  But they had no idea the spiritual dressing room they were entering, as we peacefully walked out adorned in our higher hopes. 

President Uchtdorff taught, “Hope is one leg of a three legged stool, together with faith and charity.  These three stabilize our lives.

From the last chapter in the Book of Mormon, Moroni wrote:  “Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must be charity.”

President Nelson has taught that faith is rooted in Jesus Christ.  Hope centers in the Atonement.  Charity is manifest in the pure love of Christ’.  These three attributes are intertwined like strands in a cable.  Together they become our tether to the Celestial Kingdom.”

In closing, I love this story about Mary Murray Murdock, who joined the church in Scotland as a widow of 67 years old.  She was a small 4’7” tall and barely 90 lbs.  She had 8 children.  Because of her size, her children and grandchildren affectionately called her “Wee Granny”. 

Her son John Murdoch, and his wife joined the church in 1852 and left for Utah with their two small children.  In spite of his family’s own hardships, four years later John sent his mother the necessary funds so she might join the family in Salt Lake City.  With hope much greater than her small size, Mary began the arduous journey west to Utah at age 73.

After a safe passage across the Atlantic, she ultimately joined the ill fated Martin handcart company.  On July 28 these handcart pioneers began the journey west.  The suffering of this company is well known.  Of the 576 members of the party almost one fourth died before they reached Utah.  More would have perished if not for Brigham Young who sent wagons and supplies to find the stranded snowbound Saints.

Mary Murdoch died October 2, 1856, near Chimney Rock, Nebraska.  Here she succumbed to fatigue, exposure, and the hardships of the journey.  Her frail body simply gave out under the physical hardships the Saints encountered.  As she lay, clinging to life, her thoughts were of her family in Utah.  The last words of this faithful pioneer woman were, “Tell John I died with my face toward Zion.”

Mary Murray Murdoch exemplifies the hope and faith of so many of the early pioneers who made the courageous journey west.  Elder Snow says, “The spiritual journeys of today require no less hope or faith than those of the early pioneers.  Our challenges may be different, but the struggles are just as great.

When Nephi prophesied of Jesus Christ at the closing of his record, he wrote, “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men” (2Nephi 31:20).

This perfect brightness of hope is the hope in the Atonement, eternal salvation made possible by the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  This hope has led men and women through the ages to do remarkable things.  Apostles of old roamed the earth and testified of Him and ultimately gave their lives in His service. 

As we strive to better ourselves and our families with new beginnings this year, I hope we can be steadfast in Christ; with this perfect brightness of hope in the Atonement.  And that we can be ready to answer with conviction, our testimonies.   I love this gospel!  I know Joseph Smith was lead by unwavering faith and hope.  I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I know that President Nelson is our prophet on the earth to receive heavenly guidance for us.   I know that Jesus agreed, with Heavenly Father, to suffer for us every pain we could imagine.  He died for us.  And then he rose again, to show us that we can live with Him and our dear loved ones eternally.  In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

      I was ask to come this week to Relief Society with thoughts about what helps me feel peace in Christ.  I thought about this for days, but I would always be lead to one thing:  Music.  I have a thing for music, but when I pondered what gave me peace in Christ, it was more the lyrics.  So I began making a list in my head of the lyrics that replay so often in an ordinary day;  while I'm driving without the radio, while I'm getting gas, when I see someone in need, when smiles are exchanged . . .

      I have so many hymn lyrics memorized.  Each one is a testimony of truth, and that brings me peace in Christ.   Lead Kindly Light has a phrase I love:  "Lead Thou my feet.  I do not ask to see the distant scene, one step enough, for me."  One step in front of the other is all I need.  He will lead me on.   

     With it being the Christmas season, it's easy to ponder words of Christmas carols.  In fact, I have a "small" collection of carolers, that spend 11 months of the year in boxes.  But when Christmas comes, we spread them throughout the house.  They help me imagine the heavenly hosts and choirs of angels that sang and proclaimed Jesus's birth.  "Joy to the World, the Lord is come.  Let earth receive her King!  Let every heart prepare Him room!    And Heaven and angels sing!  Rejoice. Rejoice!  Sing in exaltaion!"

What peace this brings. 

    " Oh, Holy Night" has lyrics I love.
 He knows our need.  To our weakness no stranger.  Behold your King!  Before Him lowly bend!
and then
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he breaks, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus praise we;
 Let all within us praise His Holy Name

This brings me peace

     "Good King Wenceslas" is a meaningful, musical story with lyrics that go on for verses.  But His goodness is so Christ like.  I think of the King and his page, who together go out into the snow to bring in a poor, cold man, so they can serve him food, warmth, and shelter.  On their way, the page, who can hardly stand the cold says,

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind is stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how
I can go no longer"

then the King says

"Mark my footsteps, good my page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shall find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

then

In his master's step he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed.

I can imagine myself worrying, but Christ has already marked the footsteps, all I have to do is tread in his prints, and I'll be warm.  This brings me peace.


And last, but not least

"I Belive in Christ"

 (read)

I'm thankful for the soothing hymns of joy, and especially the lyrics that bring me peace in Christ.






    

    


Friday, November 9, 2018

Grand Children (written in 2015)

I love my Grand children.  Their beauty takes my breath away.  The other night we had dinner with a couple that hadn't seen our grand children.  It took Randy all of a split second to whip out his i phone to display 7 darling images.  They oooood and awwwwwd courteously and I was pleased at their reaction.  But I wanted to say, "Did you see his precious little hands?  Did you notice the sweet little laugh lines under her beautiful eyes?  Look at their little pink knees now that they've learned to walk.  And what about the sweet 6 year old smiles with a lost tooth or two?

Just like most grand parents, time stops as I bask in the latest photos sent.  Or when I run to the front door to answer their little tapping knocks, and see small pink faces in anticipation of fun.  Sometimes they just let themselves in.  Oh, the light that fills the rooms.  Their voices, their playing, their sweet heads on my shoulder. . . .
It's like the song that never ends.  "I could go on and on, my friends . . ."
I'm stuffed with granditude!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

When I See Her Again

Last week as I was happily working in the temple, I stopped short.  Anyone observing could have heard my audible whispered gasp.  The room was still, except for a woman who suddenly appeared, walking in my direction.  I stood spellbound, and soaked in all of her glory over a split second, as if it were slow motion.

How familiar she seemed.  From head to toe, she could have been my Mother.  Her height, her small build, her softly curled hair style and color, her old glasses she wore when Dad was alive, her newer temple dress, her sweet hands that held gently on to sacred things.  She walked slowly, with humility and intent, along her side of the aisle.  I stood on the other side, not wanting to disrupt the moment.  She didn't see me staring.  She knew her purpose there.  And as she passed, it would have broken the heavenly bubble enveloping me if I had followed her.  Besides, I knew if I didn't hurry to the nearest tissue box, I would be a complete mess. 

She went on her way.  And I tried my best to hide the uncontrollable tears.  My encounter lasted only a few seconds, but in that space a sweet blanket of knowledge draped over me, leaving a distinct impression what it might be like when I see her again.  I knew my feet could not run fast enough to hold her tight enough.  My heart raced with loving delight as I imagined my own angel Mother there before me.  

My assignment changed to a part of the temple close to where I knew the woman would be.  I could have peeked in to find her, but my heart was already full, knowing I couldn't ask for more than the validation of  Heaven I had already received.  I will replay this sweet experience in my heart for a long time; especially the part about fervently running to Mom with grateful tears and open arms to hold her tighter than tight when I see her again.









  

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Who'd a Thought?


I’d like to thank Carol Tuttle for her inspiring book called "Dressing Your Truth". She has developed a system by which people can be categorized according to 4 different style types.  I have been intrigued by this since first learning about her (10 years ago), enough to study her concepts without investing a small fortune in her online guidance. 
 
A couple of months ago, a friend loaned me this book.  Now was my chance for self diagnosis.  She tells from the beginning that her angle is not to label you, but as you learn the descriptive style concepts, you will begin to label yourself.  Well.  OK.  Let’s do this!
 
I scoured the book, looking for my type.  I read and reread.  The descriptions were divisive.  I could see the differences.  After completing the book, I had no more a clue to what my own type was than when I began.  However, this is where the thanks come in.  I learned a great life lesson.  I could identify with each of the types enough to label others.  Definitely the people around me, who influence me for good or not so good, fell right into those descriptive types. 
 
I learned that by recognizing their types, I could approach them with better educated empathy.  I could more easily put myself in their shoes.  I could forgive, rejoice with, root for, and be thankful for being taught by them.   I learned that by understanding my own type wasn’t paramount after all. 
 
If by chance I come to discover my own type (through DYT), it won’t be because I am searching anymore.   Thanks to Carol Tuttle, my intrigue has shifted to understanding others.