Sometimes we get stuck seeing things our way. Would you like to see some things through another set of eyes? Maybe it will make you think and stretch or maybe just chuckle or shed a tear. Here is my world through my eyes...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

They twain shall be one

Many of you know about my wife's parents.  They have been married nearly fifty four years.  I could list many great things they have done and become together as well as individually but lets just say they loved and love each other.

They've stayed married through thick and thin so to speak.  They have had some great times and had some rough times.  They have done an awful lot of the right things and raised a family that is the salt of the earth.  All their children are successful and kind people.  All of them have developed great talents and abilities and use them to help others frequently. 

As time has gone on they have had their struggles but maybe their biggest struggles have been in the past twelve years when Loray was diagnosed with MS and ultimately became a quadriplegic.  All through that Gary has cared for her every need: gotten her up daily, helped her through it all, cared for her body and encouraged her mind while strengthening her spirit. 

Last Thanksgiving (2010) Gary slipped on some ice in his driveway, hit his head, and was whisked away to the hospital.  And of course Loray in her condition couldn't even see him.  Gary was in a coma for about three months. Multiple surgeries and life-saving procedures worked together with prayers and well wishes from family, friends, and acquaintances hoping for a miracle.  That led to dramatic changes for Loray who is now in a care center where she is cared for twenty-four hours a day.  Dad has been in various levels of care mostly in hospitals and sometimes in rehabilitation centers.  Which leads to what happened on April 18 2011.  In the words of Lynell the youngest daughter:

"Hello all--Lisa came to town and we 3 sisters took Mom to visit Dad yesterday.  It's the first time they've seen each other since his fall. He looked the best we've seen him--in his clothes instead of a gown, clean shaven and sitting up in a wheelchair.  When I wheeled Mom into the room his eyes lit up and he said "Oh!" then reached for her hand.  He held and stroked her hand most of the time we were there.  We gave them some time alone and cried like babies in the hallway.  During the visit he counted to 10 for us, sang "Row, row row your boat" with us, and showed us he can get his own glasses on now (after which he stuck out his tongue and rolled his eyes in a "whew!  That was exhausting!" sort of way).  The best part for me was when he blew her a kiss good-bye and caught on his cheek the one she blew back.  It was a miraculous, romantic and spiritually renewing day.  I just had to share!!"

So this love has lasted even these last dozen dozen days (144) and survives. 

I think there is a lesson here that is just too big to remain in this family.  Maybe it can inspire many who need to know that love can last and even flourish through the young and middle aged agile years of production as well as the elder years of support and need.  Even through years of disability and change.  The big miracle here may not be Gary's progress but the love that has seen them both through. 

Matthew 19:6 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

How to tell when you are grown up

Lots of times in the early years of life we look forward to "growing up".  But when it comes down to it, when are we actually grown up?  Oh, of course there is the ubiquitous adult age of 18, but really most of us are still in high school when we turn 18 and though we want to be grown up we aren't.  Then there are those who think age 21 is grown-up because they can drink alcohol legally. 

But truthfully many of us don't feel grown up until years later and some of us always have a part of us that doesn't feel grown up.  Maybe that is a good thing to have a little bit of child left in us to help us through the times when being a grown up isn't all its cracked up to be. 

Laurie Gerber writes an interesting article in the Huffington post (click to go to it) that basically says that you are not grown up until you teach your parents something that they don't know.  This takes confidence and allowing yourself to move up to be your parents equals to do. 

Sometimes, when still a teenager, we chafe under our parents instruction and feel like we are under their thumb.  If so then when we gain maturity and knowledge to a point where we can teach our parents something then maybe that is when we feel that we are coming out from under their thumb.  Certainly there are lots of great parents and great children that don't feel this way.  But even among the best of families there is an odd feeling of being a child again when we are home.  

I suppose that it is possible that feeling like a child again can be kind of nice.  Possibly when we are back home we let our mother do much of the meal prep and we enjoy it again as if we were a child, not feeling the responsibility to prepare it and/or clean up afterward.  If we had happy memories as a child we could have good feelings when we visit home and be comfortable and comforted in a way that we may not have developed in our own home yet. 

But many of us feel uncomfortable returning home and feeling like a child.  Sometimes we blame the parent and think that our parents haven't accepted us as an adult.  Possibly the parents haven't learned how to be a parent of an adult yet.  Possibly the parents yearn for the days when the children were home and they felt part of a bigger purpose and when the adult children are there then they reenact that old parenting role.  However, it could also be that the children resort to old behaviors and fall back into not doing adult things as the parents may fully expect now that the children are grown. 

For these reasons it sounds reasonable to me that the children teaching the parents something could be a good way to help everyone fit more comfortably into a roll of being equal adults.  Certainly the parents, due to age have more experience in many things but the young adults are experiencing some things that the parents have not, and consequently are now in a position to teach the parents some things they know little or nothing about.  Putting both the parents and the young adult children into the role of teachers where we can learn from each other. 

My wife and I are learning that ourselves as our children grow up and out of the house more.  They are having experiences that we haven't had and are going into fields of study or work that we have little or no experience in.  Their life experiences are diverging a lot from ours and it is good to hear them teach us about their lives and about other things they are becoming expert in.  But even more than that I most appreciate learning about their thoughts and feelings about what is happening around them.  They have always been the experts on that and I want to learn about who they are becoming, not just by observation but also by more direct and purposeful forms of communication.  That is one reason I am enjoying blogs so much.  I have two daughters that write occasional blogs and I enjoy learning about them from what they choose to write and say about their lives. 

It really is the joy of parents to see their children mature and experience some of the same things, yes, but also new and different things as well.  Being a parent of adults is at least as much joy as when they were young, if we as parents and they as children will accept the new roles. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guest Blog: With a Walker

I am amazed at the ability of humans to persist in the face of obstacles.  We face challenges ranging from crippling disease to inordinate ease.  (To my way of thinking, both are challenges indeed!)  I was recently reminded of the resilience of the human spirit when I was returning home from an errand.  Passing a corner lot, I saw an elderly gentleman rototilling his garden plot.  I remembered this garden as being a productive one; I used to pass it often on my early morning walks in summers gone by.  But what struck me today was that the man seemed to be using the rototiller almost as a walker, leaning on it for support as much as relying on it to prepare the soil for the seeds he would plant and nurture. 

I marveled at the old man’s perseverance, motivation,  and effort.  And cringed a bit to think that I—an able-bodied woman (albeit one with two black thumbs!)—would not be preparing a garden plot this year as he was, although it would be a much easier task for me to accomplish. 

I witnessed another example of persistence and zest for life in a handicapped woman who lives in the same care center as my mom.  We were sitting in the “town square” visiting, when this woman rolled by in her wheelchair, Fred Flintstone style.  (Remember how he powered his prehistoric stone vehicle with his feet?)  She passed by at a brisk clip, the radio in her lap broadcasting a Twins baseball game, and a smile on her face.

That’s how I want to be when I’m old.  I want to find joy in whatever I can still accomplish and experience, take pleasure in the simple things in life, and make other people smile.   And well, since practice makes perfect, I guess I better get crackin’!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Father watches over you

I was in Sunday School this Sunday and the teacher directed us to this verse to show us how Christ was following what Heavenly Father wanted him to do.  John 8:29:  "And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."

This reminded me of a story that my Dad had told me from his life that suddenly made this verse mean more to me. 

When my Dad volunteered to enter the Army and go to war during World War 2 he had a few days of leave to go home before being shipped overseas.  He was at home and feeling the possibility that he might never return from war alive like was happening to so many young men during that time.  He was talking to his Mom and told her that he didn't know if his Dad loved him and that was important for him to know as he went to war.  His father had never told him those words, "I love you".  So Dad wondered if his Dad loved him or not. 

His mother replied with a story.  She reminded him of a time when he was younger when his father had sent him in the dark to walk a couple miles to pick up something, I believe it was some water they needed at the house.  My Dad hadn't wanted to do that because he was scared of some neighbor's dogs that were known to be mean and he was afraid they would attack him while he was out walking in the dark.  Nevertheless his father had sent him to do it and with fear and trepidation Dad went.  To his surprise the dogs didn't attack and he returned home with the needed supplies.  His Mom told him that his father had followed him the whole way with a shotgun to be sure that he wasn't attacked by the dogs. 

In that way he had shown how much he loved my father and my father was relieved to know of that love and felt more at ease as he went to war not knowing if he would return or not. 

Heavenly Father was indeed with Christ and guided and led him even through the difficult times, leaving him at the end to allow his sacrifice for us to be fully his own.

Additionally we have Father in Heaven who watches after us.  He doesn't spare us the difficult and sometimes harmful situations of life, but he is there to guide and comfort us if and when we accept it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What I've been reading 3

Once again I'm enjoying some of my free time by reading some good books. 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins:

I enjoyed this one the best of the three books in the series in my opinion.  In this book all the characters get to show their true colors and are forced to take a stand for what they think is right.  It is not always easy to tell what the truth is and decisions have to be made quickly and based on incomplete information.  As in real life these characters have feelings and some try to ignore them, some are overwhelmed by them and need help and support from others to live their lives while dealing with them and still others try to anesthetize themselves to keep from feeling them.  It seems realistic in a very foreign world and the book concludes on a good note.  I would recommend this series despite the distasteful idea of the competition of the killing games that is forced on the population.  It deals with important concerns like how to decide what is true and what to support and how much freedom a government should give it's people and how influential and important and individual can be.  A good read.  If young kids are reading this book I would recommend a parent read along so the hard topics (killing, government oppression and the associated feelings be discussed so the kids can understand). 

Snow Rising by Matt Baldwin

Snow Rising

This is one of those books that are in a niche that I'll call "Self help fiction".  The style is similar to the Peace Giver.  And this book is equally as well done and covers important information.  This style of book seems to really do some good teaching and when you are done you feel like you need to read it again to let is settle some more in you.  I found lots of great things in this book.  The lists at the back unrelated to the story are well worthwhile as well.  I highly recommend this book if you want to figure out what you personally can do to help the problems in your life, particular problems with relationships in or out of the family. 

Hero by Mike Lupica

This is a fun book about a young boy finding and discovering he had super powers and determining what his role is in the world.  A couple adults try to tell him what to do with his powers and he has to determine which is trying to help and which is trying to hinder.  It is a quick and fun read.  It is a YA book that really is best for young people and not adults.  The feelings and situations of the main character are not gone into in a depth that would be preferred by this adult at least, or maybe I'm just accustomed to how Orson Scot Card writes.  A good kids book that doesn't trash families or government or anything and is not gruesome.  A generally wholesome book. 

Product Details
This is an electronic format science fiction/fantasy magazine edited by Orson Scott Card. I'll list the short stories included in it separately with a brief synopsis. 

Respite--Rachel Ann Dryden--an interesting story about a married couple trying to reach safety.  Both the husband and wife think the wife is the strongest of the pair until a moment of truth comes.

A Rarefied View at Dawn--Dave Wolverton--This is an interesting little story about a young man nearing the beginning of adolescence.  He lives in a city with only women and girls and very few boys.  The qualities of men are detested in this city and men must live outside the city in primitive conditions while the ladies live productive and modern lives inside the city protected from the men by robots.

Loose in the Wires--John Brown--In this fantasy a brother-in-law back from the Peace Corps brings home god in the form of a beetle.  What then happens tests those who are sane. 

Trill and the Beanstalk--Edmund R. Schubert--A chess loving American finds himself out maneuvered by a Chinese person in the race to get the wealth of Mars. 

Night Walks--Robert Stoddard--a husband is treated for cancer and survives only to fall prey to depression that almost takes him and his wife's life. 

Taint of Treason--James Stone--A son's treason is needed to protect the family from the false accusation of treason by the king. 

Eviction Notice--Scott M. Roberts--This is a story about a Vietnam vet who can't shake the horrors of the war or the later abuse of his son until he finds a way for emancipation. 

Mazer in Prison--Orson Scott Card--This is the best story of the bunch.  If you are an Ender fan and wondered how Graff got to be head of the battle school this will answer your questions. 

Hopefully you are doing some reading as well. 

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.
Henry David Thoreau

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Music #3: Meaghan Smith--If you asked me

Lots of times we are willing to say yes or give an answer but want to be asked.  I have never been a big volunteer for things.  So in church or elsewhere when they ask for a volunteer to do such and such I rarely raise my hand, especially in the past.  However, if I were asked I would do whatever I could to be available.  I haven't figured out why I am that way, but this song reminds me of my thoughts that if I were asked I would say yes.  Here is a fun song from Meaghan Smith, and LDS singer from Canada. 

If you asked me by Meaghan Smith

This song makes me think of recent talks by general authorities admonishing guys to ask girls on dates and get married.  Many a lady would say yes, if they were asked. 

In an article at Deseret News (click here to read) it is mentioned that she cannot read music because of a learning disorder so she had to learn music by ear.  She also recently won the equivalent of a Grammy in Canada called a Juno award.  The article also mentions her penchant for 1920-1940s era things.  She is also strong on keeping her morals even in the music industry.

Meaghan Smith
Click on this picture to go to her website

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Manly Man Training #9: Goodbye and obey

[Note:  Just to reiterate that the term "Manly Man" is synonymous with Priesthood Man or Righteous Man or Good Man.  So when I talk about a Manly Man I am talking about all that is good in a Godly way for a man to be.  Secondly if you haven't read all the Manly Man trainings I encourage you to go back and do so.  You can access them easily by (clicking here) or by going to the 'labels' section in the right column of the front page of my blog and clicking on "Manly Man" and all the trainings will be listed in reverse order.] 

Those of us with children might be familiar with some parental anxiety that often begins to come into play when the child is quite young, usually about the time when they are allowed to go to friend's homes to play.  Parents begin to think about their child's behavior when he is away from the parents.  Will they behave according to all that we have taught them?  Will they remember to be polite, say 'thank you' and all the other things that smooth our way through society?  Will they obey courtesy and family rules?  When we pick them up we often ask how things went, meaning "is their anything I need to teach them or emphasize before they come over again?"

If we haven't experienced that then we can remember as a child how it felt to know that there was something we needed to be doing, some rule to obey, some nicety to be observing.  We might look around us and see if we thought we could get away without doing it.  I remember as a child visiting my Grandmother's house in West Virginia.  My cousin Bobby and I enjoyed playing together and that evening we had been instructed to take a bath after a day full of outside sweaty play.  We got the great idea that we wouldn't really take a bath as instructed but pretend we did and fool our Moms.  We ran the bath water and put on clean clothes but miraculously they sensed (smelled?) that something was amiss and sent us back to repeat the procedure, which we did while marveling that our mother's could see through our ruse.  Sometimes when  a child we wanted to see if anyone was watching to see if we could get away with something.  Even now as adults we may be looking over our shoulder for that purpose. 

In 2 Corinthians 13:11 we read:  "Finally, brethren, farewell.  Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you."

I've been thinking about this verse and realize that even in the days of the early saints that they needed the opportunity to be tested to see if they would follow the teachings of the apostles without them present to keep an eye on things.

It appears that part of each of our tests is to see if we will follow what we know is right even without our parents, or another authority figure to observe and be quick to correct us.   

So Manly Men, I am suggesting that you be willing to do what is right, even when your wife, or some other person is not there to keep an eye on you, or even if they are there.  Can you be trusted to do what the Lord has taught, without supervision?  Can you be expected to do the right thing according to your knowledge and understanding without having to be directed?  Even when you are alone are you a Manly Man?  That is not only what the Lord is expecting and your wife is hoping for, but the only thing that will allow you to fully trust yourself. 

Pretty often I see women coming to church regularly even when their husbands choose not to or can't for one reason or another.  I see single ladies continuing to do the right thing even when they remain single and alone and feel it tremendously.  Unfortunately I don't see as many men doing the same thing.  Often single men, widowed men, or men whose wives choose to depart from the teachings of the Savior fall away.  We need to be men that do the right thing even without the support and encouragement of our spouse or others.  If we are not there yet, well then, that is a goal to work toward.  We need to have an independent testimony that if necessary can stand alone if our spouse or other supports are gone or lost. 

After all Christ had to prove himself even when left alone on the cross.  He had to have his test to prove he would follow through on what he had been taught and prepared for even without the Spirit to help.  He followed through wondrously which of course allows all of us to have options for eternity.  Similarly we have a wife, children and/or other family depending on us to do the right thing even when we are not observed.  To a degree, some of their options for eternity depend on our choices, on our private righteous behavior.  Can we be trusted?
We can trust in God but can he trust us?
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