Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Still in Awe





                                                            There have been
                                         some really bitter cold days and
                                         many that have felt like fall still.  




Most trees are bare, 
but I am floored by 
the leaves that are
still clinging on. 

We’ve had some 
really strong winds. 
I'd think the leaves 
would all be gone.  


We haven't had the snow 
that we've had with so many 
other winters.  It looks
like fall

                                           Perhaps the leaves on the trees 
                                           are just too
                                                                     frozen to move.



Where’s the BUS?






         Jenna and I would have made the 7:36 bus yesterday morning, if we hadn’t had to reenter the front door to get her hat and pocket my cell phone. I figured it would be less than a fifteen minute wait for the next one.  I was wrong! We stood in the cold for 25 minutes before we saw the 8:51 (finally!) – which passed us.  The 8:06  was right behind and stopped for us – and just about every stop between where we got on and where we needed to be dropped off. 



         I don’t know why the driver waited three to five minutes before turning around at the college.  Both buses were running late.   

         The  8:06 driver was a bit ticked off that he had to stop for everyone that the 7:51 driver had missed.  He seemed to take it out on the token machine as he kicked at it several times.  I don’t know if our little stop at the college was meant for him to throw a tantrum.





         Jenna made it to school on time – but with absolutely no time to spare.  Theoretically we should have been able to catch the next bus that was spaced fifteen minutes (supposedly) behind the one we took.  But I heard the first bell before she had even reached the field.



         As I was walking back to the main road to catch my return, I heard a bus go by and figured I had missed it and so was not worried about crossing the street in a deadly amount of time.  Normally I walk up to the light and back, but I have crossed against the light on occasion.  If the road is clear and I can see the bus will get to the stop before I do.



         As I headed towards the light, I could see a bus approaching, but knew that I wasn’t going to make it.  It was clear on the side going south, but too much traffic going north.  I wasn’t be able to cross.  I figured I’d have to wait at least another fifteen minutes.



         I could see that someone was at the stop waiting and yet the bus just flew by without even slowing.  She was still at the stop waiting when I arrived.  I asked why the bus had passed her.  She said it was out of service.  I looked at my phone clock.  Two more minutes – unless that out of service bus was the one we had really been waiting for.  And then it would be over fifteen minutes.



         The bus was about four minutes late.  I was surprised to see that it was a ski bus.  I’ve ridden on ski buses when I’ve gone out to my sister’s – and the route is not as popular.  But not for this main road!  The only time I’ve seen ski buses used on the main road we take is when drivers are in training and it’s always been an additional bus – never a replacement bus.






         I think the driver was the same as the one who had passed Jenna and me less than an hour before.  Perhaps the out-of-service bus is the one he’d been driving initially.  Maybe there was something wrong with it and the ski bus was the closest available that could be sent to trade.  I don’t know.  It’s only speculation.

Monday, January 26, 2015

If you can’t question your religion, Why Are You In It?


         I don’t know if I had met Beth prior to the being called to serve on the activities committee.  The first activity I remember being involved with was a “food storage/budgeting made-fun activity” Beth played Betty Barker and I became the emcee who drew the names of contestants and invited them to “come on down”.

         Even then she was struggling with the Church and her family life – desiring to connect the two but feeling torn with her beliefs.  Her husband showed no sign of ever wanting to be involved with the Church or even anybody who belonged to it.  Perhaps Beth wasn’t even active when they met but gradually came around with a desire for having God and direction in her life – perhaps not necessarily the “Mormon Church”

         That was five years ago.  And she continues to battle with herself and her maintaining a comfortable relationship and self worth which she is not finding in the Church.  I understand.  Perhaps not completely.  But I do understand why she would leave – although she hasn’t withdrawn completely.

         Her husband still gives her no support as far as showing any interest in church or church members.  I didn’t even know what he looked like until the other night when I glanced at him through the window.  He had heard we were coming and made his “get-away” before we were even out of the car.

         Beth’s last calling had been a counselor in the primary.  Not where she wanted to be, but accepted the calling believing it would keep her on the path to an at that the Church is where she needed to be – until she was asked to create the program for the 2014 “Families are Forever” theme.  That became the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It wasn’t in her heart to create a program that she herself felt discriminated against.

         Actually, I had wondered how the majority felt as many of the primary children are from broken homes, inactive or part member families, many with barriers that seem to prevent the traditional “families are forever” theme. 

         Elenore sat on the stand near the pulpit, to help the children with the lines they might have forgotten. I wondered if the program had been difficult for her as she and her husband had divorced long before I had even met her. She’d gone back to her maiden name rather than identifying herself with her married name.  She has custody of their two children, but he has visitation rights.

         I hadn’t even paid attention to Beth’s absence as I watched various children get up and recite lines that just didn’t seem to fit in their current living environment.  How many of them believed in the words that they said?  How many struggled through that program?  I did.

         Beth’s youngest son and Jenna have often played together.  Beth had told me about sending her son to a water park all summer.  I had been dragging Jenna to Kearns with me last summer.  Perhaps “drag” is not the correct word as she really did enjoy being with her cousins.  But I know she would have loved spending summer at a water park if given the opportunity. 

         I had asked Beth if Spencer would be returning to the water park this summer and thought I would look into a pass for Jenna.  I thought we had talked just last month, but then she disappeared.

         I was substitute teaching the last three weeks of December.  I think there were five or six names on the role in Jenna’s class, but it was usually just Elenore’s son and Jenna.  Spencer wasn’t there during the three weeks I had taught.  I sent Beth a message to inquire if she and her family had been out of town for the holidays.  Turns out she is actually attending another church – one that doesn’t push the “Families are Forever” theme.  One that doesn’t make her feel discriminated against.

         I had the same struggles when I was single for so long – not as long as several sisters in the current ward I belong to.  I was married at 39.  There are several sisters in my ward who are much older that have not had opportunity to marry – or perhaps they have and it just didn’t feel right with choice of partner.  I don’t know.  I know that there are several who feel discriminated against when lessons are given on eternal marriage or husband/wives relationships.  It’s hurtful to hear when that very thing doesn’t seem to exist in the earthly future.

         I recently read that divorce is 50/50 but that a marriage needs to be 100/100.  And there are some couples that each give 100% and then there are other couples in which one does all the giving while the other does all the taking.  I can only control what I give, but I cannot control what another might contribute.  Roland contributes 100% - perhaps more.  But not everybody has that.  Not everybody has the support from family members.  Not everybody gives 100%.

         Hannah moved into the ward about a year after we did.  For the longest time I believed that she was a single parent as I never saw her with a spouse.  She was diligent about coming to meetings and activities though it was challenging at times.  It wasn’t known to all that there were struggles, for Hannah wore a smile on her face and pressed on.  One day she announced that there were struggles and coming to church wasn’t easy. Her husband didn’t wish to attend church with her.

         When Asher (her son) got closer to turning eight, he begged his dad to please come back to Church so that he could baptize him.  Thus after eight or nine years of attending Church on her own, Hannah’s husband finally came around.  He is the one who baptized Asher.  Endurance.

         So where is Beth’s reward when she has seemingly had to endure even longer?  Why are there some whose trials seem to outlast their faith while others seem to be rewarded in just a matter of minutes?  How many of us feel that we have been or are being dealt with unfairly?  For how long must we endure?

         One of my biggest hang-ups in this “pushing family” church is the discrimination that seemingly takes place at the temple.  The sealing ceremony in which only the worthy temple recommends holders can participate.  All loved ones who are not temple recommend holders are allowed to wait in the lobby but cannot witness the special event because they don’t have recommends.  They have been labeled “unworthy” How do you explain that? 

I was married civilly over three years before I was sealed.  The civil marriage was a lot more personable.  I enjoyed having guests at my wedding that otherwise couldn’t come to see Roland and I exchange vows.  I don’t like to feel excluded because I don’t have a recommend (or didn’t; not when Patrick married.  Not when my cousin married her first husband) and I don’t wish for others to feel that way.

         What does a “Forever Family” mean in my case?  That the boys will go with Roland and their mom?  That Jenna will go with Roland and me?  And what’s to become of Roland’s oldest two girls?  They were born under the covenant?  But do they sense that now?  Do they even know what that means?

         The boys are adults with spouses (soon families) of their own.   How does that work?  Are they always going to reside with us in the hereafter or will they go with their wives’ families?  I don’t think our concept of “Families are forever” will be the same as what we may build up in our minds.  We are required to have faith that it will all work out.  God’s kind and men’s kind are very often not the same.

 
            Denise shared her testimony after her forty plus years of struggles – though not with the Church.  She had been baptized when she was 19.  The ward bishop had called her into his office to call her as a primary teacher.  But there was a condition that came with accepting the call.  She would have to stop dating her boyfriend.  It wasn’t because even because he wasn’t a member, but apparently the bishop objected to his race.  I don’t know if she saw that as discrimination coming from the Church or just that particular leader.  It wasn’t right that he had told her that.  She left the Church and did not return until over forty years later.

            The elder missionaries showed up on her doorstep shortly after she lost her dad.  She was in a state of depression.  She had answered the door in her pajamas and commented that one elder in particular was dead set about helping her.  She said she needed her dishes done but didn’t have any soap.  The elders dismissed themselves but said they would return.

            When the elders returned, they brought back some dish soap along with a missionary couple.  While the elders did dishes, Denise sat in the other room with the elderly couple and asked about her father.  It was a very good visit and an indication for her to return to the Church in which she had been baptized a member over four decades earlier.

            We all have our trials.  We all have our disappointments.  Endurance is not an easy thing.  For many, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  For many there is no life.  They have given up home.  Some hang on by a thread searching for a glimmer of hope.  May each of us find the strength needed to endure than we may find peace?  That is my hope. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pray Before Each Task


Roland gave our middle son, Tony, the nickname “Donald Duck”.  Too often Tony flies off the handle about situations he can’t control or doesn’t understand.  I told him that he needs to pray more often.  That didn’t seem to go over too well.

Prayer has been a part of my life forever.  I always had example of prayer.  My sibs and I were taught to pray.  We said individual prayers.  We said family prayers.  We prayed over the food.  We’d start family home evenings with prayer and end with prayer.  We said morning prayers.  We said prayers before we went to bed.  Before and while on vacation.  It was just something conditioned in me.  I don’t know that I ever questioned it.  Perhaps I didn’t always understand it, but I do now and have for such a long time that it’s hard to remember if/when I questioned prayer.

Oh, perhaps there were times I prayed for something specific and felt my prayers weren’t answered – at least not the way I had wanted.  So perhaps there was a time when I had the response: “I have prayed and it hasn’t done any good.”  I no longer think that.  I pray.  Sometimes it seems as though I’m doing it in vain – but that is when I need to question my part with prayer, and not the Lord’s as He is Always there and Always listening. 

Often times Roland has expressed frustration with whatever project he may be doing on the computer.  My response has always been to ask if he had prayed before starting his task.

I know that not all things run smooth or according to plan all the time.  There is the faith testing and God’s own will that often doesn’t correspond with what we think may be our own.

A specific example involves two different families from the ward where I had grown up.  Two grandmas, each with a grandchild who had a heart condition. 

From my recollection, both children were scheduled to have surgery within weeks of one another.  One baby lived and the other died.  Right now I honestly can’t remember which one.  Both families prayed diligently.  Various family members held a fast.  All of their prayers were answered – though not all experienced the same results – the results which they all wanted for the grandchild to live. 

So what makes one family different from the other?  Why would God answer the same heartfelt prayers so differently?  Why were the results not the same?  I don’t have the answer.  I just know, for me personally, that prayer adds a comfort that I had at least expressed myself.  And the more that I pray, the closer I come so that I do understand.

I realized that was one vast difference between the family Roland grew up in verses my own.  They don’t pray about anything.  They don’t even say grace over the food. It’s just so foreign to me that they don’t consider prayer – for anything.  How different their lives would be if they would kneel as a family and thank Him and ask Him for blessings.

Why would I not pray to thank my maker for all that I have?  Why would I not pray to ask for assistance from a higher being?  Why would I not pray for a miracle that can’t be mastered by humankind? Miracles can and do happen.  But we need to ask.

I thank my mom and dad for their fine example to include God in our lives and to pray before each task or major decision. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ester Loves Babies and Dogs



Ester doesn’t get to visit with
Bill and Kayla’s kids all
too often.
She is their second cousin
once removed on
mine and Kayla’s side. 
They are seventh cousins
on Tony and Bill’s side. 

Ester will always sit with
the adult closest to
the one holding B.J.
Ester Loves looking at
this little human who
is smaller than her
(though that’s bound to
change within the next
two to four years I think; 
Ester’s small)

Randy and Carrie have
a dog. 
They did not name him
Iron Chops,
but that is what I
call him. 
Even though he is
still a puppy,
he is three times
bigger than Ester
and oblivious at
knocking over anybody or
stepping on body parts. 

Ester likes to watch him from
a distance –
tightly secured in
someone’s lap and not
anywhere near the
same floor that
Iron Chops occupies with
his very long body.

Highness is our dog
Ester Loves him.
Highness is old
and slow
and Ester can
keep up with him.















 
Highness moves to
get away from Ester as
she follows with her
hand raised in the air
ready to pet him.

He goes under the
table and Ester follows with
no problem. 
Highness looks to each adult
waiting to be rescued from
this almost-three-year-old who
is quite tame compared to
Iron Chops who
tortures Highness far more
than Ester ever does.

At the end of the night
when Tony and Rochelle have
said their good-byes and
Ester has kissed everyone,
she bends down toward 
Highness and whispers loudly 
in his ear.
“Don’t cry,” she says. 
“Don’t cry, Highness”

She Loves Highness. 
She only tolerates
Iron Chops.  But
someday she may
love him as much or
maybe even more
than Highness. 

Right now she sees
Iron Chops as a big
scary dog. 
There is nothing
scary about Highness. 
He is a very
well -mannered dog.

Ester Loves babies and dogs

                                                                                                 kfralc

Friday, January 16, 2015

Finding Another Piece of History



I read a book a while ago and started a post about author Jennifer Armstrong.  There is such amazing passion in her writing.  Well, I’ve only read three books thus far.  But I feel the need to post something – and yet haven’t felt inspired to write.  So here is a short post that was started eight months ago, but never really finished.

The first Jennifer Armstrong book that I read was The American Story which gives a brief summery to so many who contributed to American history.  I love her passion towards history and for accuracy.

  
Currently, most of the books I read are geared to children.  Every once in a while I will try one geared to the adults, but always come back to books that are geared to the youth.  There were two Armstrong books geared to adults that I checked out from the library.  One about the Mickey Mouse Club and one about the Mary Tyler Moore television show. 

Though I had not been raised with the Mickey Mouse club or had much interest in it, I did fine “Why? Because we still like you : an oral history of the Mickey Mouse Club” by Jennifer Armstrong very informative and well written.

  
I have always LOVED the Mary Tyler Moore Show (still do) but was hugely disappointed with “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted : and all the brilliant minds who made The Mary Tyler Moore show a classic” – for me it read like a text book.  I had a hard time becoming a part of that text.  Needless to say, I did not finish that book. But I don't imagine it would be a subject geared to children for lack of interest.


The book that I had read in May last year is titled In My Hands which I briefly mention in this post 

Irena Gutowna is a citizen of Poland before World War II.  She has a desire to become a nun but is advised to try looking into nursing first. 

She leaves her family in a free part of Poland to study nursing in a German-controlled part of Poland.  She was seventeen and had a hands on experience as she learned.

The story takes us from being captured by Russians and interegated to escape to hiding Jewish people in the house of the major she works for in the German army.

Her story fascinates me along with the several pictures displayed half-way through the book.  The fact that they were taken and survived and were retrieved.  It’s not a historical fiction as I’m used to reading.  It’s biographical.  


 I consider this biography to be an awesome treasure!
 
Jennifer Armstrong writes, “If I have done justice to this story, I am grateful.  If I have not, it is because I have never had to face what Irene faced.” 

I think she did tremendous justice.  I look forward to reading more books.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Come Unto Christ – Wise Men Still Seek Him



I vaguely remember reading a story about a young boy who had the honor of traveling with his father to see the Christ child – or perhaps it was that he wanted to go, but was too young to make the journey.  I don’t remember when or where I read it.  I hadn’t thought about it until yesterday when Kristen gave this years first lesson in Relief Society.  Such a beautiful lesson.  I don’t know why I had never connected the dots before.

Kristin started out her letter with a video portraying the wise men who had travelled for over two years before they reached the Christ child – who was a child and not an infant resting in a manger.  I remembered being told that “they found him in a house” but had never really considered the long journey they had made.  I had forgotten how I had read about the anticipation and excitement and the long wait.


We read from the Bible Dictionary and Matthew 2.  We looked up the words Magi and Three Kings and talked briefly about Epiphany and Three Kings Day and what each of the gifts mean. Kristin pointed out their journey with following the star to our own personal journeys in seeking out Christ and following His teachings.  I don’t remember feeling so touched and awed by a lesson such as I was yesterday.  It was awesome!

Ringing Out Wild Bells – Can We Sing MOURN?


“Ring Out Wild Bells” (found here) has got one of the most mournful tunes I have ever heard in my life.  If it isn’t the most mournful tune in the hymnbook, I would guess it’s at least in the top three. To top its already mournful tune, it is being played on the organ – which in my opinion is one of the most mournful musical instruments and so the two put together sounds like a procession to a dark funeral.

The chorister was not impressed with the lack of volume from the congregation and suggested we try again.  The brother behind me uttered, “Well then pick a different song”
Needless to say, I was in full agreement.  It wouldn’t bother me at all to have that hymn completely thrown out of the hymnbook.  But then again, I have only heard it just once a year.  For me, personally, once a decade would be plenty.

I visualized a setting as one would find in a Charles Dickens story.  It’s rainy and cold and everybody is dressed in black.  No one is smiling.  It’s the end of the world for each of them and there is no longer anything worth living for.  At least that is what I see.



The last two verses without the music don’t seem quite as mournful as the first. 
           “Ring Happy Bells Across the Snow”  Oh, yes.  Let’s do that.  Let us be happy.  There is absolutely no joy in that tune.  There are no happy bells.  There is only death – and not a pleasant one.  No pep.  No believing that the New Year will bring new hope.  It’s over.  Life is over.  That is my personal opinion of it anyway.

Funny thing is by the time the song is over, and I am reminiscing about the mournful tune, I somehow end up turning it into “Portobello Road” (written by Richard and Robert Sherman) from Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  But even at the slowest tempos and gloomiest notes, it still has more upbeat than “Ring Out Wild Bells” will ever have.   In case you haven’t guessed it, I just really don’t care for that song.

Friday, January 2, 2015

December 31st and New Year


         Roland had come home early on Wednesday.  He probably shouldn’t have even gone in.  He slept most of the day.  He needed to.

         I took Jenna to the library for the afternoon countdown.  I have been to the library on December 31st before.  But the last day of 2014 was different.  The library was overly quiet – except for children in the library.

         It wasn’t crowded.  Less crowded than I have seen the WV library – EVER. Roland had told us to leave early in order to get a good parking spot.  I honestly don’t think it would have mattered what time we left.  The turn-out wasn’t as good as it had been the last time we had gone for the New Year/afternoon countdown.

Jenna decorated a hat and asked me to finish her noise maker while she went to participate in games.  I wished Anna had been with us as I think she would have enjoyed the parachute game.  I don’t know if the library near where she lived had offered a New Years celebration or not.

 I left Jenna in the auditorium while I went to the teenage section to read.  It felt like the library was closed. It was actually kind of awesome just to feel peace and enjoy my reading. 

I returned for the countdown.  Two years ago I could have just stayed put.  The children were loud enough that you could hear them no matter where you were in the library.  There was a lot less children on December 31, 2014.  Even from the auditorium they didn’t sound even half as loud as they had two years prior.

As we passed the park, Jenna expressed her desires to go there.  It was cold.  But the air was clean still and not filled with the pollution that’s come with the New Year thus far.  We went home to get Highness and returned to the park.  I walked the dog while Jenna played.  I also took a fair amount of pictures.










Jenna always wants to stay up for the New Years countdown.  When I was growing up, my family had always played games on New Years.  I was willing to play games with Jenna, but she wanted to watch Aliens in the Attic. So we watched that followed by Little Shop of Horrors before we shuffled and dealt cards to play Go Fish.  We were playing cards when we heard the fireworks and the clock marking the New Year. 

We finished our game and played another – though I don’t recall what it is we played.  Cranium, I think.  And then we went to bed.  Not a typical New Years celebration.  But typical that someone was sick.  This year it just happened to be Roland.
        
         I am surprised that he was feeling well enough to donate blood the next day.  He had an appointment on New Years’ Day.  One had to have an appointment in order to donate.  They weren’t taking walk-ins yesterday.  That was my first time ever not being able to get in without an appointment.  But because it was New Years’ day, Red Cross didn’t have a full staff.

         We were at Red Cross for a long time before Roland was hooked up and producing blood.  It took him less time to bleed than to wait and be checked in.  I read four chapters, I think.

         We did get our game playing in – only a couple of hours though.  We went to Bill and Kayla’s and played a couple of games.  One was called Mad Gab – which we’ve never played together before.  And one was called Whatzit – which is puzzle solving which I’m not terribly good at.  Jenna played that one with us, and she is good.

         I’m in awe at all the birds I’ve seen – even on December 30th which was an extremely windy day.  What surprises me more than the birds are the fall leaves that have continued to cling to the trees.  Those are some major STRONG leaves!  January 2nd and they are still there.  Nature is puzzling lately.