I have been fascinated with the prophet Abraham for a while. Even in the midst of evil, and some of his family members were not doing good things, he chose to stay on the path, to be obedient and keep the commandments. He received from Jehovah great promises, especially the promise that his seed or children would be as the sands of the sea or the stars in heaven. In the book of Genesis it says that he was 75 years old when he first received this promise. Since he was 100 years old when Isaac, the son of the promise, was born I have been thinking about how long he had to wait for the promise to begin to be fulfilled. Did he begin to wonder if he had heard right or misunderstood the Lord? As he and Sarah aged, did he doubt? Did he have great faith and never doubted but waited for the promises from Jehovah to be fulfilled? And then, he only had one child of promise, and was asked to sacrifice that child. Abraham was an extraordinary man who was given great promises, but then I have been given great promises too, not only as his descendant but also as a daughter of God and a woman of covenants. Sometimes, when I don’t see some of these promises happening very fast and I wonder if it’s because I’m not faithful enough, or misunderstood something or some other vague thing. Mostly I think I just need to continue to be faithful and patient, and watch for the hand of God in my life. Neal A. Maxwell said that when we are unduly impatient we are suggesting that we know more than God and we are questioning God’s omniscience. I try to remember this because sometimes it is hard to wait with hope when I see people who I love making wrong choices or when I am in the midst of another terrible migraine, or life isn’t going the way I think it should. I think that part of my schooling in this life is to develop faith and patience, and to learn to trust God, and Neal A. Maxwell said that patience and faith are closely related. Patience denotes faith and you can’t have faith without patience, they go hand-in-hand. When not yet fulfilled promises don’t seem to be even on the horizon, I am stretched and my faith and patience grows as I look to God and trust Him. Even in hard times, in the back of my mind, I know God’s promises are sure and He will always keep His promises.
My husband absolutely loves his profession and he is lucky to have his dream job. He likes being able to make a difference in the lives of others and the creativity he is able to express. He enjoys working with great people and learning from them. But even with his dream job there are things he has to do that he doesn’t like. He doesn’t like itemizing and submitting for reimbursement because it’s tedious and takes time away from what he really likes to do. He also doesn’t like sitting in long meetings, traveling away from home so much, and the long hours the job sometimes requires. Even with all of that he will tell you he loves his job. I love my job as homemaker and mother. I enjoy the freedom to plan my own day, to be able to help in my kid’s schools (only one left now), to take my kids to the park and the pool when they were younger, and to have time to make curtains and shop for home decor, to read with my kids (now grandkids), do family history and others such things. I love planning fun parties to celebrate great moments in our family. I love to decorate! Those are some of the things I love and have the freedom to do but even with those things there are a lot of things I don’t like about being a homemaker and even sometimes a mother. It’s hard to never quite get enough sleep, I dislike paying bills and balancing the checkbook, I don’t like to change bedding and I don’t like yard work. It’s hard to always do everything with your children in mind-what time will they be home, where do they have to be and what do they need, and since I still have one at home I still have to do that. Even with all of that I would tell you I have a great job. I love being a homemaker and a mother. In talking with other people I have learned that no matter what job you have there will be things you like about it and things you don’t like about it. Of course, if the things you don’t like are greater than the things you do like you may need to be in a different job. Sometimes we enter a job or profession or even parenthood without realizing that there will be things we don’t like about it. There are no perfect, stress-free, hassle-free, problem-less jobs. Figuring that out allowed me to be happy doing what I was doing, and when there were problems, not focusing on the thought that if I was working out of my home I would be happier. Really, no matter what or where I work there will be things I like and don’t like about what I’m doing, even a dream job.
Several years ago when my son was in the fourth grade and studying Utah History, he announced to me, as he was getting ready for school, that he needed orange and brown salt doughs for school that morning to make a relief map, and he handed me the recipe. Since he was my fifth child I was familiar with the project and fortunately the morning had been going smoothly so I had time to make the dough. The problem was that I didn’t have brown or orange (or even red and yellow) food coloring. I knew that I could mix cocoa powder into the dough to make brown but I was perplexed about what I could do to make orange salt dough and I frantically looked through my pantry to see if I could find something that would work. Nothing came to mind as I searched among my baking supplies. I made the brown dough while still thinking about what I could do to come up with orange dough. I decided to pray about the situation and I told Heavenly Father that I needed to make orange salt dough and didn’t have any orange food coloring and asked that if there was something I had that I could use to make the dough orange that He would inspire me to think of it. As soon as I finished my prayer I thought of orange Kool-Aid and quickly looked in the container I had of Kool-Aid and found several packages of orange. I gave a quick prayer of gratitude and about 10 minutes later had orange salt dough that smelled really good ready to go with the brown salt dough, which since it was chocolate, also smelled great. Prayer is a wonderful gift we have that blesses us in many ways, in some simple ways and in some serious and complex. Prayer to me is an indication of a Father’s love for His children, that He is concerned about even trivial things in our lives that we need help with. That morning I felt His love as I made orange salt dough and as my son went to school with the best smelling salt dough in the school.
I had a conversation with my son recently where he expressed regret at not having served a mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He wondered about being a Young Men’s Leader and what he would tell the Young Men in his ward when they asked about his mission. I told him that he may not be able to talk about a mission but that he would be able to testify about the healing and redeeming powers of the atonement and it’s ability to change lives, and that there would be young men who would need to hear those words. The experiences he’s had will help many people draw closer to Christ and will help them understand that no one has gone beyond the reach of our Savior. Too often we look at what we have done or haven’t done and think we are not good enough. That we lack in our offerings to others and to our Savior, that somehow we are less than those around us. That is simply not true! God takes us where we are and what we have to offer and makes them more than good enough, and then uses those things we have learned to bless the lives of others. All we need to do is give Him our hearts and be willing to serve where and how He wants us to. Through Jesus Christ we become more than enough.
My mother and father divorced when I was about 3 and I never saw my father again except once, and even then I didn’t know who he was at the time. I was about 13 and visiting my grandmother and as I was walking up the path to her house a man was coming out of her front door. He passed by me without looking at me or saying anything and I barely paid attention to him. When I entered my grandmother’s trailer she said “that was your father” and I remember thinking that if I had known that I would have paid more attention to him. I’m not sure why he wasn’t a part of my life but my mother once said that she and my stepfather told my father that he didn’t have to pay child support if he never contacted me or my brother again, and since he didn’t contact us again he obviously thought that was a good deal. My mother had married again to a man I called dad and he’s the only dad I remember. While he was not the best husband or dad, I did learn from him to treat all children as equal. He never distinguished between my brother and me and the children he had with my mother. He and my mother divorced when I was about 10 and sometimes was involved in our lives. My dad had married again and his new wife once apologized to us for keeping my dad from being involved in our lives. She said she found reasons to keep him from visiting us and eventually realized that was wrong. I say all of this as a way of stating I didn’t have good dads. When I married a really good man I was lucky and also got a really good father-in-law. He was a kind, tender-hearted man who called me daughter, not daughter-in-law. He brought me produce from his garden and orchard, and after he went fishing he would call us to come for a fish dinner with fresh corn and tomatoes from his garden. Once when I visited him in the hospital he teared up when I came into the room and told me he loved me and kept saying how glad he was that I came to visit him. I felt like he loved me. He was such a kind man, and I once told him he was the best dad I ever had and he couldn’t believe I said that. He kept saying “really?, really?” My husband remembers being quite young and his dad building a tent out of a blanket and reading Bambi to him under the blanket with a flashlight, one of his sweet memories of his father. Family meant everything to my father-in-law! From this good man I learned that dads can be involved in their children’s lives and what a difference it makes to welcome and love those your children marry. I also learned that there are good, honorable fathers in the world who love their children and spend time with them. My husband has followed in the footsteps of his father and he is a good dad who loves our children. He has worked hard to provide them the necessities of life, and to set a good example of service, kindness, hard work, faith, generosity and love. Our children know they can talk with their dad about anything and he won’t scold them but listen and offer good advice when asked for. They know him to be man of integrity who would do anything he can to help them. I have learned from him to patiently listen, to act and not react, to focus on the good our children are doing and to always take the long view and hope for the best. In many ways I am fortunate not to have had good dads while I was growing up because I now recognize what a good dad is from the contrast. I have told my children many times that they are fortunate to have such a good dad! Sometimes my husband wonders about things he could have or should have done with our children. I see the many good things he did do and his goodness as a father is reflected in the lives of our children who are good people doing good things. Being a good dad is giving of your time, self and life to your children. How blessed I am to know good dads and to have them in my life!
Whenever I’m driving and another driver is being rude, or when someone says something to me that seems hurtful or sharp I have a little game that I play with myself. I tell myself that driver must be on the way to the emergency room trying to save the life of a loved one, or that person didn’t realize how that sounded, or they must be having a stressful day. Yes, I know that there are rude and hurtful people in the world but most people are kind and usually unaware of how their actions are affecting others. When someone is rude to me and if I react negatively back, especially to another driver, they don’t know how I am feeling and I’m the one who gets upset and it can ruin the next couple of hours for me and I can even snap at another person and further spread the hostility around. Even if they are rude on purpose, I can still choose to understand their behavior or situation, give them the benefit of the doubt. Some people I have learned to have as little interaction as possible with. I am not talking about being a door mat but I know there are many in this world who have heavy burdens, or are dealing with mental health issues or have limited skill sets. I have learned that when I give people the benefit of the doubt, even if they don’t deserve it, I am the one who benefits the most. I can leave the situation with pleasant feelings and not worry about it. I recognize that sometimes I’m the one having the bad day and sometimes say things in a tone I shouldn’t and I hope that someone else hears it with kindness and on those occasions gives me the benefit of the doubt.
I have learned that there are many things that are taught in a family that both the parents and the children are unaware of that are being taught. I grew up in Southern California away from extended family. My mother had a brother, who lived with us, and a mother who we often didn’t know where she was and my mother didn’t know her father. There was very little contact with extended family, no phone calls, no visits-they generally were not part of our lives. The interesting thing is that my brothers and sister and I do not maintain contact with each other. We love each other and when we’re together we have a great time but somehow it never occurs to us to call each other just to chat or to keep in touch or to invite someone over for dinner. My husband just shakes his head at me because he can’t comprehend not maintaining contact with loved ones. He has weekly phone calls with his brothers and sisters and when his parents were alive he called them almost daily “just to check in.” Fortunately, our children had their father’s example of staying in touch with his extended family, because they call and visit with each other daily. It took me a long time to figure out why it never occurs to me to call my family, and it’s not that I don’t think about them and it’s not that I don’t love them. It just never enters my thinking to call when I have news of something good or bad. And since I rarely hear from my brothers or sister I am assuming that it doesn’t occur to them either. It takes an event, like a wedding or a birthday or holiday for us to connect, just like it did when I was growing up, and I remember going to a relative’s house for Thanksgiving once. And when we’re together it’s great and I love them and we always say we need to get together more and we mean it but then we go home to our subtle learning and don’t call each other. Recognition is one of the first steps to change and maybe it’s time for me to change.
When my children were younger they would usually listen to General Conference but they didn’t read the Ensign or New Era conference issues and study the talks. One of the things I found helpful to bring the talks to them was to type up quotes and post them in my kitchen. As I would read the talks I would mark quotes or ideas I thought would be good to post. Every week, sometimes even longer if I didn’t have my life together (frequently) or if there was a quote I particularly liked, I would flip through the conference issue and find the things I marked and choose another quote. I typed and printed it and then posted it in the kitchen, and since I had already marked the quotes, this only took a few minutes. At one point I realized there were so many good quotes that I started doing two and put them in different areas of the kitchen. When one of my daughters was a teenager she told me that she really liked having those quotes posted and she read them frequently, it helped her in her life, and that she even tried to memorize them. I also hoped that it positively influenced some of my children who were struggling, and it was a way of preaching without preaching. The funny thing is that I think I benefited the most from the quotes. I would read and reread them as I worked in the kitchen and the words sank deeply into my heart and I was able to ponder on them. I frequently thought about how I could implement the ideas and thoughts into my life, and some of the promises I clung to and still do. This has been an easy and simple way to bring conference to my family.