Spiritual Fire Drills

Avoiding panicked Spiritual 9-1-1 Calls

1. The first rule is not to panic. Panicking makes you spend money that may prove to be a waste. Panicking also causes your prayers to be more like a 9-1-1 call. “I need help now” “Come quick.” In other words, you are totally caught up in the moment and if you haven’t prepared, you have no sight for the “bigger picture.”

2. Go through mental exercises to decide what you really can’t do without. (I found I had to be brutally honest in this exercise!) I have extra toothpaste and tooth brushes, soap for bathing and of course, M&Ms!

2 a. I cannot stress how important the mental exercises are. What I started to tell you is that you need to gather your wits about you and develop some mental toughness about what you “think” you need versus what you really do need. I decided I need some light at night, definitely want to be as warm as possible, and I don’t want to go hungry. Personal needs are also a consideration, so I try not to “want” too much for myself. I can’t tell you how many times I have the conversation in my head when I shop about needing something. “Is it really necessary?” Of course, you can talk your way into everything if you want to, but the reality is, as you said, you can really do without a lot less. If you practice living with less in your mind, then when you “have” to live with less, you are at least a bit ahead of your friends. (Of course, I know you are modest, so this shouldn’t be too much of a difficult exercise for you.) But, there is room for all of us to grow.

One reason my house isn’t overly decorated is because I can’t stand having things that serve no purpose, (not that I don’t have any!) But the other reason is that I want the money to use for things that are useful and decorative. Hurricane Lamps will hold candles and because of the glass, the candle burns slower… People get rid of old, big thick candles all the time at the thrift store. I buy those at a fraction of the price and store them on top of my kitchen cupboards and other high places no one sees. Aladdin lamps give off great light, but also double for heat if you need it too. These are expensive, but because they serve two functions, they become worth the price. Don’t forget spare oil for these.
3. The Spiritual aspect. You have to be proactive with your relationship with God…When crisis hits, you do not want to have to dial 9-1-1 to heaven and find that you get no reception because you don’t know how to speak the language or you just have left it off as “I’ll get to it someday.” Of course, even though I feel I am a pretty good “praying person,” I still try to envision what I will do and how I will react if I am really pushed to the edge of my comfort zone. Will I have the faith I need to endure the trial? Will I trust that God does know and is aware? The answers to these and many more questions is no and yes…No because we just don’t know how we will react in a crisis, (this is why mental fire drills are important) and yes, because we work to develop that relationship every day. For me, a key scripture to remember in my daily comings and goings is in the first chapter of Job. He loses everything…and what does he do? He rents his coat, puts on sack cloth and praises God as the giver of all good gifts. I ask myself…am I there? Do I praise God no matter what my circumstances? How did Job get that way? It says that he had a perfect heart, right before God. He wasn’t born that way. I am sure he had to work on it…he was born with an innate goodness, but so are we all. The difference is how he chose to live his life doing right, serving others and worshiping God. Time and time and time again, he made choices that strengthened him so that when things got bad, there was no question in his mind how he needed to be. He continued to worship, because God makes the rain to fall on the good and the evil.
Interestingly, we have grown very complacent in our self-indulgence, thinking we need this or that or we deserve this or that because we are who we are…but the reality is that we are all children of God…none of us is better than another…the problem is, is that we think we are because of our “station” in life and we let that guide how we will be in life. But, it really goes deeper than that, as you know. It is what is in our hearts that makes the difference in our lives. And, when troubles come, and they will, what is in our hearts and minds, will determine how we will be able to endure the day. That is what makes the difference between someone whose life is focused on stuff that really matters versus someone else who thinks they are beyond the effects of what is going on.

4. Last thing for now. Remember that the bigger picture is that all the things happening now are part of what has been foretold for centuries by the prophets in the Bible. As far as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, it is coming, but before it gets here, there will be all kinds of things happen. It is too deep of a subject to go into here and if you like I can refer you to some wonderful books about it. I can tell you that sometimes I get scared…Scared that I won’t be able to stay true to God. That I won’t stay faithful…that I will give up…that I will be homeless and cold and hungry and that I won’t remember to “rent my coat and praise God, saying, the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.” More than anything else, I want to stay faithful. I want to be found with His Name emblazoned on my heart no matter what circumstance I find myself in. Truthfully, this is something I am not sure about myself and so for me, it is the most important part of my preparation. I can’t take anything else with me except my faith and integrity…That’s why, in the end, nothing else matters…

Sorry, I got sidetracked. The Second Coming…I have read, panicked, studied and prayed and I am now confident that God is aware of all that is happening. He promised to return and He will. I am not panicked like I used to be. I am a lot calmer, but I have had to work to get here and that is what I mentioned earlier. The most important thing we can be doing is preparing our hearts and minds for the Second Coming. With our faith in place, it is my belief that we can call on God, and because of our righteousness, He will hear and answer our prayers in extraordinary ways.

Look at the parable of the 10 virgins. (Matt 25:1-13,) 5 were prepared and had their lamps full of oil, trimmed and burning. The other 5 also had oil and their lamps were trimmed. The problem is, they forgot that sometimes the bridegroom is late, very late, and they forgot to have extra oil on hand for their lamps…so that when the bridegroom finally did appear, their lamps had gone out, but the virgins thought to ask their “sister virgins” for help, who said, in essence, “Not so, lest there not be enough for us and thee…” Those foolish, (or unprepared) virgins had to “run into town” to get more oil, and when they did, the bridegroom came and went into the wedding feast and the door was shut. The 5 virgins returned only to find they were locked out…and could gain no entry.

I have pondered over this parable. How do we become a “wise” virgin? Ready when the Bridegroom comes? We prepare and fill our vessels of light with oil “drop by drop” Acts of service…a drop of oil; going to church…a drop of oil; reading the Bible…a drop of oil; Humbling ourselves…a drop of oil…Prayer…a drop of oil…There are many ways to keep our lamps “trimmed and burning,” but we must be going about it on a daily basis….9-1-1 behavior at the last moment will keep us out of the feast because we are not prepared…

In Mormon scripture, this parable is explained saying about the virgins, that, those who are wise, and have received the Spirit of truth and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide and have not been deceived…shall stand in the last day. This is my goal for this year, to live closer to the Spirit and learn to listen better to the counsel given for my life. I can always improve in this, but I am really trying to make the effort this year to make it more of a reality.

I think, that we are all one of the wise virgins to one degree or another… kind service to a mother in law; taking care of your children, bringing meals to others, going to Church every day/week, frequent, heartfelt prayer…these are just some of the things you may do, but I know that many of you do many more that I am unaware of. There are always ways we can improve and that is what we need to ponder and discover.

The Park Bench

The Park Bench

My grandparents met in Paris, France in approximately 1919 during World War 1.  It was in Paris they fell in love.  He served as an ambulance driver and she served as a nurse in the war-time effort.    The story goes that my grandfather took my grandmother to a park in Paris and proposed marriage to her on a park bench.  She said yes, and when the war was over, he went back to the Paris park officials and asked if he could buy the bench.  The park officials told him that no, he could not buy the bench.  My grandfather, never liking the idea that something couldn’t be done or had because someone said, “No,” determined that the park bench must be had, and so somehow  he had it shipped home at the end of the war.

Through all their growing up years, my father and his siblings grew up with the park bench on their family estate.  In the early 60’s, after my grandfather died, the park bench went to reside at the family plot at the local cemetery.  For almost 100 years, that bench has remained an icon in our family, painted from time to time in the same Paris France park bench green and lovingly remembered as the bench that started it all.

While the park bench holds a firm place in our family history, it also has a history of its own here in the states.  It is unknown how many of our cousins have followed the same tradition as our grandfather, but for sure, I was one of them.

In 1999, my husband and I were dating.  I knew he was wonderful and I wanted to be a part of his life.  While he was away on a trip, I planned a way to ask him to marry me.  In anticipation of the moment, I had come up with the idea to buy him a gold “love-knot” tie tack. However, when he returned from his trip, I chickened out worried that he would say no.  Consequently, the tie tack sat in my dresser drawer for a few more weeks.

On October 31, I was mentioning to a friend what I had thought of doing and when she heard that I did not go through with it, (and knowing about the park bench,) told me that I had to “kidnap” him that day, and take him to the park bench and ask him to marry me.  Although it had not been in my original plan to “use” the iconic park bench, her suggestion had great motivating power.  I called him up, told him to get ready, that I would be taking him on a drive.

I grabbed the tie tack, popped it in my pocket and went to go get him.  It would be a several hour drive and we needed to get going to make it before the sun set.  All the way down, the box that held the tie tack, “burned a hole” in my pocket.  I was so excited.  My husband just read the paper not having any idea what was coming.

Finally, we arrived at the cemetery and slowly turned in and drove to the family plot in the back.  We got out of the car and I showed him the graves of my various family members buried there: my great-grandparents, my grandparents and my sister.  I then suggested that we sit together on the bench under the big tree, and it was then I told him the story of my grandparents and how they got engaged in Paris, and why the bench we were sitting on was significant for our family.  We sat there savoring the moment with the sun now set, the sky a pale pink and blue and a little bat flitting around in the long shadows of the day.  It was a perfect scene.

It was then I then pulled the tie tack box out of my pocket and “popped” the question.

I don’t think he could have been more surprised.  He sat there opening and closing the box several times as if to stretch out the moment and let the question sink into his mind.   In the meantime, my heart was racing as I waited for his answer.

He did not say yes that night, but I knew that he was a careful man and not one to jump into something so big without considerable thought.  It would be a long 6 weeks before we were formally engaged.  He finally told me one night when, after I had cracked two ribs and was crying about how much pain I was in that he folded me into his arms and whispered in my ear, “Would it make you feel better to know that I have decided to accept the “love-knot?”  Instantly my tears stopped and I remembered no pain.  I had previously hidden the “love-knot” in his secretary’s desk behind the books, so I went to get it for him and this time, he graciously accepted it…and that is the rest of the story…(as the saying goes.)

Bernard Eugene Davis

Bernard Eugene Davis

Gertrude Elizabeth Davis

Gertrude Elizabeth Davis





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Today is the 40th year anniversary of the death of my sister by suicide.

Like the ripples in a pond, the impact of this action left a huge crater in my life that has greeted me with waves of difficulty over the years since. I don’t know much about the actual suicide itself, but I do know she suffered from depression for years prior and had attempted suicide numerous times before.

I was young at the time. A mere 18 years old. She was 5 years older than me.

We got the call to come home so we could go keep vigil at the side of her hospital bed. She was in grave condition and unconscious. The doctors didn’t have much hope. My father, brother, sister and I lived the last 3 weeks of her life in the ICU, waiting, hoping, crying and praying…

I knew so little of what was going on and after about 2 weeks, I guess the doctors told my dad that it was time to take her off of life support. There was nothing else they could do. I believe, but I don’t know, that that decision was the hardest decision he has ever made. (40 years later, it leaves me breathless to think about.)

I decided to stay and keep vigil over her last few days of life. All I remember is that I sat on her bed and held her hand and on the day she died, I watched as the machines slowly indicated that she was going to her heavenly home. It was at the moment of her death that I finally cried.

I don’t remember much about the next few days. Much of that time was a blur. Her funeral was excruciating to endure as I watched my father cry like his heart would burst in his chest. The imprint of that moment etched deeply and permanently in my mind…

Over the last 40 years, we solemnly remember Martha on the 14th of August. It was clear my dad struggled with her death. The profundity of how it affected him, I will never know.  However, the impact of her choice was one that none of us escaped. Her suicide was the “rock” thrown into the individual ponds of our lives, with waves of effects rippling out and touching us; shaping our lives in ways none of us could have imagined.


Freefall ~ An ongoing lesson in trust

What does it mean to freefall?  Basically, it means something that falls which is subject to the effects of gravity…falling without resistance…

This concept reminds me of a game I used to play when I was a young adult with my friends.  Basically, it was a game of trust: you would stand in front of a friend, with your back to them, and they would stand facing your back about 2 feet behind you.  Then, you had to close your eyes and “let go” and fall straight backwards towards your friend who would then catch you before you hit the floor.  As I said, it was a game of trust and more often than not, the friend would catch you before it was “too late.”

It was in the beginning a of year, many years later that I decided that it would be a great New Year’s resolution to “get to know the Savior better.”  At that time in my life, I was a young mother.  I was busy with 4 young children under foot; however, I always, always made time to visit with my friends on the phone.  Talking to them was my life line to the outside world.  At that time, it was not unusual for any of my friends to spend an hour or more talking to each other about the daily ins and outs of life while we worked in our homes.  At times, I called several of my friends on any given day, leaving me with a feeling, that with them there, I could make it through any rough day…

This routine went on for a while during that year I made the goal to get to know the Savior better.  One sunny day, after a particularly refreshing and uplifting talk with a friend, I hung up the phone feeling secure that all was good and right with the world.  It was after I hung up that I had a revelatory experience.  “If you talked to me the way you talk to your friends, you would have a great relationship with me.”  This thought pierced through my mortal “know-it-all” attitude and I was convicted.

Over the next few days, weeks and months, this thought continued to trouble me and it forced me to examine how much time I spent doing things that are really important.  I found myself examining my prayers and found that I was seriously wanting in this area.  My thoughts drifted to the relationships I had with my friends.  How do those happen?  What do we talk about?  What do I tell them?  How do I listen?

The first thing that changes after this revelatory experience is that I decide, if I am going to spend, 15, 30 or 45 minutes talking to a friend on the phone, I must also dedicate the same amount of time to talking to Jesus and my Father in Heaven.  After all, don’t we claim that Jesus is our Friend?

I begin to time my phone calls.

The next thing that happens is that I start to evaluate how my prayers compare to the “meaningful” and “deep” conversations that I have with my friends.  Oh dear! I find there is no comparison and I must change my prayer life.  Up to that time in my life, how did I not realize that I could talk to Him as I did to any of my friends?  I begin to share with Him the daily ins and outs of my days…I am woefully poor at this, but I push forward, trying to trust in the process and make Jesus my true friend, sharing with Him my confidences and eventually, bits and pieces of my heart…

Time passes, the lesson fades, but its effect meanders through my life like a river, slow and steady.  Gradually, my relationship with the Savior develops.  I study the Word of the Lord more, my prayers become more meaningful and my Spiritual life takes on deeper meaning…I change my thinking about how I will spend my time.

Like a river, life takes many twists and turns.  It was when I was in my 40’s that the “test” of my lifetime would manifest.  Faced with a bitter divorce and custody battle, I first learned the idea of freefalling in a spiritual sense.  I had a devoted friend who introduced me to the concept of freefalling.   She explained what she understood about freefalling and, as she did, I remembered the game I used to play with my friends when I was younger.  She encouraged me to “freefall” into the Savior’s arms during this time of great uncertainty and profound sorrow in my life.

For weeks, I tried to envision how it would be with the Savior standing behind me and me “letting go” of all my worries, my fears, my hurts, anger and bitterness.  All those things I felt were “propping me up” as I moved through the most painful part of my life.

“Freefalling” into His waiting and loving arms…It was an exercise in trust.  I was resistant… I was afraid to let go …

I heard Him whisper to my soul: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, wait patiently for Him.  Lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct thee for good.”

I trembled in my weakness.  I am undone by the weight of my troubles, yet, like warm gentle winds, His breathless whisper stirs in my soul a deep longing for peace.  I continue to hear His words of encouragement: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest…Learn of me…

His kindness stirs my soul with desire to trust, but it does not come easy.  I labor. I am heavy laden…

I must learn to freefall.  It is not easy.

Being so encumbered by the events in my life, my prayer life took on a steady stream of desperation…a defiant, “this shouldn’t be happening to me…” and “…I don’t deserve this…” attitude.

I must learn to freefall.

In His mercy, the Lord sends help through a wise advisor.  He counseled: “Be more thankful in your prayers.” He issued a challenge to me and asked me for 1 week to be nothing but thankful in my prayers.

It is through this exercise that I begin to fall…

Slowly, I begin to see my life change right before my eyes.  The situation is the same, but everything is different.  This exercise made such a deep impact on me that its impression is still with me years later. I continue this exercise in my life from time to time for the effects it has on helping me to eliminate my wilful nature.

To this day, I continue to hear His voice in my heart.  Warm words of encouragement continue to distil upon my quivering soul as the dews of Heaven brushing up distant memories of His love for me and urging me gently to “fall,” to “trust,” to “yield.”

Learning to “freefall” is a lesson in trust and letting go of control.  I am not great at it, but I am improving.  He has been there encouraging me all the way through.

Thank you, Holy Father.



Recently, a friend of mine told me that I hadn’t posted anything on my blog. Unfortunately, I was all too aware of the lapse in posts. It’s not like I haven’t learned anything, I have, but I haven’t “settled down” enough to construct something to put on it.

Today is the day. I found the following story on God Vine… a website of inspirational stories…

“A group of 50 people were attending a seminar. Suddenly, the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity.. He started giving each one a balloon. Each one was asked to write his/her name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room.
Now these delegates were let in that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written, within 5 minutes. Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos.
At the end of 5 minutes, no one could find their own balloon. Now, each one was asked to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes, everyone had their own balloon.
The speaker began – exactly… this is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is.
Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness and you will find your own happiness.
And this is the purpose of human life.
I don’t know the name of the person who did this exercise, so in that way I can’t give them proper credit, but it was published at the following link:

Our lives are filled with countless opportunities to bring happiness to the lives of others. Many times, we are quite unaware of having done so, which brings me back to my friend.
She is young enough to be my daughter, but old enough to have a child of her own. For some reason, when our paths crossed a bond “connected” and we became friends. She shared her precious child with me and I took the reins of “surrogate” grandmother to him, teaching him to do things like climb stairs before she was ready for him to do so. I know she thought I was naughty that day…

Bit by bit, the more we got together, the friendship between us grew and blossomed. I always thought that young mothers wouldn’t prefer to be friends with women so much older, but then I remembered my young mother days, and how I gravitated to those who were much older than me. I suppose I did it because they were so much more experienced than I was … and it was fun for me. I was “getting” something without realizing that I was probably “giving” something at the same time.

I can only relate it to now. My young mother friend does not realize how much she has given to me just by reaching out to me to go “antiquing,” second hand shopping, or quilt fabric shopping…Her amazing and generous heart brought more “life” into mine. Without her knowing, she gave to me in a way that she never could have imagined. She taught me about trust. Her zest and excitement for life brought sunshine to my world.

I have pondered why she might think being friends with me is a fun thing to do, but it never occurred to me that I, too, might be “filling” a need for her…(of course, I don’t know this as a fact,) but it is a truth in life, that when we give to others freely, we often end up bringing many good things to ourselves; especially when we are not looking for anything in return for our good deeds.

What my friend has done for me here has been done in other chapters in my life and I have learned, and continue to learn that each of us is intricately connected to the other, whether we know that person or not. What we do to others as we interact with them, whether we know them or not, will ripple out to affect many people.

There are many things I learn from my friend, but one of the best is because of her, I am a better mother to my daughter. As a result, that relationship is improving…

Because of my friend my life is richer and I appreciate more as I look at the world through her eyes.

What I want to leave with you today is that there is never a moment, in our interactions with others, that we don’t make some kind of impact on that person. For me, even though I still falter in this arena, I am learning that what I do when I interact with others, will leave an some kind of imprint on the life of another. My goal is to make the imprint a positive one…
For all those who have left an imprint on my life, I thank you…

The Plant

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:                         and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matt 11:28-30

I have a plant in my kitchen.  I don’t even know the name of it, but I have had it for a little over 2 years.  After we got the plant, we got a kitten, who eventually grew to a full blown 16 pound wonder! We discovered along the way, that our cat loves to eat plants and, in fact, will eat just about anything green.  (He loves baby romaine, sprouts and arugula for example.) After catching Triscuit, (our cat), eating my plant, I moved it to the top of a very tall secretary’s desk and proceeded to forget it was there – similar to “out of sight, out of mind.”  Well, as a result, this plant did not get watered regularly and it began to wither and fade.  Being a water plant, the bulbs lost their fullness and some of them died altogether, but some remained as I got better about remembering to water it.  New leaves would emerge and reach for the sky – but the bulbs from which they came, never fully recovered.  To this day, they remain somewhat “prune-like” and sad looking – but they still produce.

I’ve become a lot better about watering it because I have learned that even though it is just a plant, it is still one of God’s creations and by bringing it into my home and life, it is my responsibility to take care of it – to nurture it – and to help it along.

This little plant came to me whole and beautiful.  It was because of the cat chewing on it, and my moving it to another place and forgetting, even neglecting to water it – I made life for the plant significantly more difficult and therefore, the plant had to make changes to itself to insure its self-survival.  Even though my neglect changed this plant, it did perk up once I resumed its care, but it was never quite the same.  Now, in its “handicapped” state, it is a little more fragile, but it throws up new green shoots – some still die, but I continue to trim, water, and talk to my plant.

There are many parallels to this story, but this is the one I want to use:

In my personal like, I am very much like this plant.  I was born perfect and whole, but I was born to very imperfect parents.  I developed many “coping skills” in order to survive my childhood and teen years, never thinking anything was wrong.

When I was 17, I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was through the interaction I had with my new found friends, and the teachings of the Gospel that I learned, through the Holy Ghost, that I could be made whole.  The damage of my childhood had created many deep scars though and the coping mechanisms that I had learned as a child were hard to unlearn.  I continued to struggle for years with depression of the darkest kind.

As with my plant, I made adjustments the best I could with whatever understanding I was given – and like my plant, I had withered in some places, died in others and thrived in still others.  Upon studying the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I learned that my life matters.  I learned it was/is okay to be imperfect – I learned that I will never be perfect unless and until I allow the Savior in my life to help me.  Without Him, I am imperfect.

We are all like my plant – some of us are neglected, some of us neglect ourselves and others, but however we are, the most important thing we can learn is that with the Savior, we can be made whole – even with all our handicaps.

My imperfections combined with His perfection makes me strong and more resilient.  Of this a bear witness.  I would not be where I am today without His strengthening and perfect love for me.



Back in the beginning of January, I was in a meeting to discuss the coming New Year with some of my friends.  It was an interesting discussion and led me to a wonderful personal devotion that week.  I will recount what one woman said:

She said, “I usually start the year out by asking myself ‘what will be my Scripture theme this year?’”

She went on to say that once she has that in place, she focuses her daily devotionals on that scripture and how she might incorporate it into the daily makeup of her day.  She then said she takes it one step farther and picks a scripture for each month that correlates with the scripture for the year she has chosen. 

I listened carefully. I was intrigued and inspired.  I took the idea home with me and let it begin to percolate in my mind.  A few days later, I sat in my den and quietly began my thoughts and prayers towards what would be my scripture theme for the year.

The following is what came as a result.

Written January 13th, 2014

Today, my devotional scripture study was devoted to “Holiness.”

Inspired by a friend last week, I decided to take some time to find a scripture that would be my theme scripture for the year.  I do not always stay “in the box” when it comes to scripture study and I sometimes find myself with books by Christian authors outside of the LDS sphere.  This morning, looking for an attribute of God to study, I turned to a book by Ann Spangler. Praying the Attributes of God.  For some reason, the way she presents things resonates with my understanding and I found myself looking through the table of contents for an attribute to study.  I chose “Holiness.”

For the moment, at this time in my life, I have a bit of free time, so even though the chapters are divided into 5-day studies, because I have time, I sometimes do the whole chapter in one sitting. This is what happened today and I was very grateful because of what I learned.

She begins by quoting scripture praising God for His Holiness.  She says,

Time, space, objects, and people – all can become holy if they belong to God.

In subsequent “days” or sections of the chapter, she illustrates different ways we can set ourselves apart as Christians and be made holy…This is where things got interesting to me.  I found myself questioning,

“What are various ways I can use to celebrate and remember God’s Holiness in my life…?”

As I turned the page to the next section, she says that she doesn’t like wearing any type of clothing that “advertises” any message. I get that.  She then ventures within this line of thought and asks, “What if I had the guts to wear a T-shirt that said “Holy” on it? She then mused that wearing a T-shirt like that might make her more aware of her position in Christ, and her responsibility to try to reflect His Character.  I was with her on this…My wheels began to turn…then I realized, “I don’t need a T-Shirt. I have made sacred covenants in the Holy Temple and I wear those in my heart to remind me of the Covenants and Promises I made with God in the Holy Temple of our God.”

What am I doing to remember???

Moving on to the next section, I learned that God’s Holiness is contagious; that as we strive to adopt His Sacred Values in our lives, God’s Holiness works its way deeper into our lives.  We become more holy. She then concludes with some insights on the Beatitudes, (Beatitude means Blessedness).  As we practice these traits, as well as others offered in the Scriptures, slowly and surely, we become transformed by Jesus Christ, The Holy One of Israel.

Now, I may have known these things, as might you, but I can always stand a review of something that will bring me closer to Christ.  As I pondered on these things, I turned to the final page of the study to find some scriptures on praise and worship of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  I had a few more minutes and so I began to look them up…I got stuck on this one:

Exodus 39:30

And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it a writing, like to the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

This scripture comes from the chapter that describes the putting together of the Tabernacle of the Lord.  When I read the inscription, HOLINESS TO THE LORD, I received an insight that added depth and meaning to my whole scripture study today.

As I mentioned above, I am a Latter-day Saint. As some may know, we believe in Temples and the work that goes on in them.  On the outside of each Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the front, near the door are the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD.”  I remembered this as I read the scripture in Exodus and then I remembered the following scriptures in Corinthians,

1 Corinthians 3:16-17

Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which Temple ye are.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul repeats his teaching:

…For ye are the Temple of the living God, as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God and they shall be My people. (6:16)

It was then that all the pieces of my study “fell together.” We are taught that we are in the express image of God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ.  Through His disciple, Paul, God has proclaimed us to be a “Temple of God” and that His Spirit dwelleth in us.  As this is the proclaimed case, that we are a “Temple of God” and that He dwells in us, then in all reality, we should also have the words, HOLINESS TO THE LORD emblazoned on our foreheads and in our hearts.  In order to “remind” us of the covenant to live holy lives, He provided the constant, loving reminder of His Son, Jesus Christ through the holy Sacrament of bread and water. By partaking and remembering, we provide a spiritual protection for “His Temple.”  Further, through our persistent efforts in establishing greater righteousness in our lives, we prepare a holy place for Him to reside and preside.  By so doing, in all humility and faith, God may come and dwell with His Saints in a most profound and personal way.

It was through this scripture study that I decided “Holiness to the Lord” would be my study for the year.

After thought: The word “Holy” fills me with breathless wonder – To strive for this quality for an entire year! – I imagine it will take an eternity to be as holy as I need to be to be worthy of the blessings and approbations of my Father – regardless of my human condition, He seeks every opportunity to bless me ~

PS  You do not have to wait until January to do this.  Let it work its way around your mind and inspire you.








My friend passed peacefully away…

Farewell! My friend.  You will be sorely missed by so many.

I want to thank you for the treasured memory of your coming over to sit with me while I waited in panicked agony to hear how my son was when he suffered from great heartache. Your presence was gentle and loving and solid.

Thank you so much for this; and for the inspirations you gave to my life just by being you!


The Metamorphosis of Moments of Time

With my friend lingering on the fine line between time and eternity, I find myself, as many others are doing, wondering how I might live my life with more meaning, more LIFE.

I have watched from the side lines the poignancy between the members of her heartbroken family….  Heads gently together, whispering words of encouragement and love, just between them, just as it should be…

Yesterday, I went to visit her a couple of times.  I noticed immediately how her eyes were shining bright and clear.  She radiated happiness and light.  She teased me later in the day and smiled broadly as her eyes twinkled…I left the room happy, feeling good that she seemed to be feeling good too.  When I returned later, we watched as the nurse lovingly fed her. While she hovered over her, the nurse asked her how she was doing.  My friend looked up and with light in her sparkling eyes, responded, “I’m happy!” Long will I remember the look in her eyes and the expression on her face as she made her declaration of peace and joy.

Tears fill my eyes, and my heart stretches in painful wonder when I think that the light of this amazing and talented woman will soon no longer illuminate all of our lives from this side of the veil.

Since my friend turned her last corner, I, as many others I know, have reexamined how I am living my life…

In breathless sorrow, I remember the day I sat on the side of my dying sister’s bed.  There was no hope of recovery.  My father couldn’t stand it any longer and I was left to guard his precious girl and hold her hand as she breathed her last…It was only a short two years later that I again found myself on the side of another bed, stroking my beloved mother’s hair as she slowly, but way too quickly, breathed her last breaths.  All of us were devastated!

Then, I experienced another “death” of sorts, many years later.  It came in the form of losing the rights to see my children. I had suffered through the deaths of my sister and my mother and the loss that presented me in my life; but nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared me for the devastating loss that came in the wake of that terrible decision.  My grief knew no depths!  My sorrow would not be assuaged! My loss would never be recovered and I would stumble for a very, very long time from the blow of that time in my life.  My pain stretched far and wide into the eternities as my heart and mind searched for meaning in the path that I was now on…

My heart died during those days.  Slowly, I would recover…but only from the shock…I carried my grief deep in my breast for years.  My soul searched for answers, but there were none.  Eventually, time required that I tuck my sorrow away and move on, but nothing could ameliorate the feelings of loss living in every fiber of my being.  My tenderest feelings remained locked away and carefully guarded. It took me decades to stop crying, worrying and wondering…The experience left me raw and bereft.  It was here, in this world of grief and sorrow, that I learned that these would be my experiences alone.  They would be hard for others to understand.  Not that others didn’t try or want to understand, but sorrow is distinctive to the individual; each experience has its own unique “fingerprint”…a personal encounter between you and the infinite…

My own experience brought deep reflection on the meaning of my life.  The depths of my distress reached deep into the fiber and make up of my core-being and yet, out to the expansive reaches of the heavens.

How could I still be here when I hurt so much?

Metaphorically, I found myself as an empty shell on the beach, still here, still beautiful, but empty as I lay there with the waves gently lapping at me; turning me over and moving me from place to place…sometimes I find myself bathing in the warmth of the sun, and others, tumbled down the beach …very similar to life.

God, His tender, watchful care warms me and yet does not shield me from life.  I must experience it all, the good and the bad; the consequences of my choices; the consequences of others’ choices…it all comes my way…and I slowly learn to face it, front and center.  He is mindful though to care for me and encourage me…How grateful I am to Him! He sustains me in miraculous and unseen ways.

Life comes at us all without apology.  Regardless of how hard it is, there are a few things I have learned along the way…

Never judge anyone for who they are because in the end, we are all only one thing: Children of God.  We are all connected…

Never judge yourself to be better or worse than anyone else, because in the end, you still die like all the rest of us.  It is not who you are or what you did, it is how you defined who you are and what you did by the way you lived your life.

Life is made up of moments in time.  It is like a bank account.  When you are born, you have a savings account of “moments” to spend.  How you spend each moment determines that moment’s value.  I discovered during the most painful moments of my life, that while things and people can be taken away, memories cannot.  Memories live in the heart, captured by how we spend our moments…Moments are like caterpillars…just inching along from time to time, being filled with whatever we choose as we move along…then somewhere along the line, those moments metamorphose into memories and yield a butterfly of infinite beauty reflecting the life we chose to live.

This is what I learned from my losses…

Life turns on a dime.  One minute you are sailing along and then, sometimes, like in the death of my mother or my sister, you only have a week to say, “I love you.” You suddenly realize that time is up and those things you wish you had said or done, are past…Your moments are spent and your memories, for good or ill, are all you have left.  Smells, sights, and sounds…all swirl around gently distilling recall to your mind and heart serving up joy of remembrance or bitterness and regret.

I learned that all of us have a choice.  Life doesn’t have to “sneak” up on us.  We can make each moment we “spend” out of our life’s “bank account” gain huge amounts of interest by remembering that there are no guarantees as to when our lives end or the life of someone you love is “up.”

Many of my life moments have been spent in prayerful regret and sorrow, but through it all, the one thing I have come away with is that love, with all its ups and downs, is all that counts…in the end. Thus it is that through my experiences I have learned not to let my husband walk out the door in the morning without one more kiss…one more “I love you,” one more lingering moment in his arms to tell him without words, how much I love and appreciate him.  I am learning to apply this to all the areas of my life, making sure that all my moments add up to a beautiful kaleidoscope of love in all the relationships woven into the fabric of my life.

I am so far from perfect, as I am sure some of you reading this are thinking.  Nevertheless, I am striving to overcome and change many of the moments in my life which have severely handicapped my perceptions.  It is my hope that those of you who have endured my weaknesses and faults as a person, friend and mother, will have the courage to forgive me and move forward with me to make the future moments we will have together, into something pristinely perfect and filling, glittering in all the glory of Love and sweetness.  This is my prayer…this is my hope…

This is what I have learned: that the value of life is infinitely more valuable than all the cars, fancy houses, designer clothes and everything the world says makes up “life.” Life is really about living from moment to moment, spending each of those moments with purpose, alert that it could all end anytime, anywhere.

There is no doubt that all of us will suffer from the devastating and breathless sorrow that ultimately shows up on each of our paths; but, when we have “spent” our life-moments richly, in appreciation with love for all those around us, good or ill, those breathless moments of sorrow will have a silver lining within our hearts, because we have loved and looking back, we know, in the end, love is all it is ever about.

‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all – (Lord Tennyson)

A Letter to My Dying Friend

Dear one,

I met you about 5 years ago.  I learned that you were seriously into horses and had some very funny friends.  You liked to sing and you were carefree.  When I met you, you had just come out of your son’s illness and things were still challenging.  Before he got sick, you suffered from cancer while your husband was away in Afghanistan.  I didn’t know you then, but I imagine going through that made you strong and taught you things about the value of life.

We never really became “great” friends; your interests were different than my own, and I just didn’t seem to fit…I loved it when your mother visited.  My mother would be roughly the same age if she were living….your mother is a saint and I have enjoyed her company immensely.  I have enjoyed the association I have had with her over the years.

Now you lay in a hospital bed with little time remaining on this earth.  This makes me very sad.  Your cancer returned and while you went through all the treatment to eradicate it, it would not be expunged.  Then, with an infection in your leg, things did not look good and you took a turn for the worse.  I was so sad.  Losing you would send a shockwave through Pella, and beyond.  So many people will be affected by your loss.

So many people have been affected by your fight, too. Your valiant efforts to try to overcome the illness showed all of us the value of life that perhaps we didn’t consider before.

I have had many experiences in my life that have felt like the loss of death.  Both my mother and my sister died when I was in my late teens.  Then, years later, I “lost” my children in a custody case. No details are warranted here, this is your post, but because all these painful things happened, I found myself living life a little differently than others.

With you so sick, and near the portal of death, I again find myself re-examining the life we all live.  Eating a salad after visiting you, I thought, you would never eat a salad again. Massaging your hands with cream and looking at your once busy fingers with one project or another, I thought of the projects that will now lie still, finished or not. The horses are in the corral or in their stalls wondering where you are with your special love for them.  The fruit trees you lovingly encouraged to grow, will now have to grow without your tender care. They will bear the fruit you encouraged to grow.

I know so little of this last year of your life…but I know that you tried to make quilts, hats, scarves and all kinds of things for all your children that they would be able to wrap them around themselves and feel your love for them in the future when you could not be there in person for them.  This will be the greatest loss for your children. Not being there for graduation, marriage, grandchildren…They will always remember and dream what it would have been like for you to be there sharing in those parts of their lives.

Trust me, they will never forget.

So, my purpose in writing you is to thank you for the unintended reminder that life is far more than horses, quilts and scarves…it is about people and how we leave them each day, for better or worse, because life is not a guarantee.  From one moment to the next we just don’t know what will happen.  With you lingering on the fine line between time and eternity, I would like to thank you for your life. I have learned so much from you, even at a distance. Most especially, I have learned that earth life is fragile and tenuous and we must treasure it not for what is coming or for what has been, but for what it is right at the moment.

I am hoping to see you off on your journey, but I know that it is a sacred time and that your family may not want anyone extra there.  I understand that.

God bless you, my friend. You have been such a great blessing for me.