Saturday, January 31, 2009


The Hawaiian word aloha is an enthusiastic greeting, but it is also a warm farewell. It is interesting that the same word means both “hello” and “goodbye.” But then again, maybe it isn’t so strange. The older I get the more I realize that every “goodbye” is also a “hello.” When we pass through the door of any stage of life, another door opens. We just have to be willing to go through the door, into the new room, and not look back with so much longing that we fail to see the opportunities that are now ours.

I’m at one of those points in my life right now. Grizelda has changed almost everything in my life from my career path to my daily routine. I can hear a door closing (no make that slamming!) behind me and the light isn’t on in the room I’m entering so that I can see what is in there yet. But while I wait for the light, I’m going to shout, “Aloha! Aloha!” with all the enthusiasm I can muster and let it warm me with the thought that the best is yet to come. “Hello!” to whatever that is!

Friday, January 30, 2009

What I Learned Today

Today I was studying in the New Testament and noticed a change Joseph Smith had made in John 3:16 that puzzled me. In the King James Bible the verse reads, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In the Inspired Version, Joseph changed the preposition in to on. I always hear the phrase “believe in” and wasn’t sure why “believe on” was better or why it would have been important enough to make the change. So I went to my trusty dictionary.

The word in has four definitions. In is used as a function word to indicate (1) inclusion, location, or position, (2) means, medium, or instrumentality, (3) limitation, qualification, or circumstance, and (4) purpose. I suppose the first definition is the one the King James translators meant in that all those whose belief is located in Jesus Christ will not perish. That makes sense and is instructive, but it seemed a little awkward.

When I read the first definition of on it explained that the word meant “supported by the surface of.” That didn’t fit at all, and I was really baffled. But the second definition lit a fire in me. On means “a source of attachment or support.”

That sent all kinds of thoughts swimming through my head. Belief is the “conviction of the truth of something.” When we use the preposition in to refer to that something, in this case Jesus Christ, belief is simply a mental thought—our thoughts about truth include or are located in Christ. That is true and instructive, but when the preposition is changed to on, we are taught that our belief is more than thought; belief is a conviction that causes us to attach ourselves to Jesus Christ, to put ourselves in a position where we are supported by Him.

Changing the preposition seemed a tiny, inconsequential change at first. How wrong I was.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sunshine in My Soul

Today I got to go do my Visiting Teaching! It felt so good to get out and visit! The sun even came out to cheer me on my way. What more can a person ask for !!

A wonderful friend sent me this link today and it was so good, I thought I’d share it with all of you. It is a panel discussion on religions at Harvard University. A young woman named Rachel Esplin, a junior at Harvard, represents the LDS Church and does a beautiful job of answering the questions.

Let me know how you enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Symptoms of an Ungrateful Heart

I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. In the past I’ve found myself in that state more often than I care to admit. But the last few years I’ve made it a goal to be more grateful. The difference in life is astonishing. So today I came up with nine symptoms of an ungrateful heart so I can recognize if I start slipping back into a state of ingratitude.

(1) Every day seems like the last one—there is never anything new.
(2) God seems far away and unconcerned with you—recognizing you would be like recognizing one grain of sand on a beach front.
(3) You are apathetic towards other people—after all they don’t care about you so why should you care about them.
(4) Your prayers are shallow and routine—you really don’t have much to pray about.
(5) Your environment is boring—you can’t see anything in it.
(6) Problems seem bigger than they really are—you don’t remember the last time anyone helped you.
(7) You feel alone and uncared for—love is something that only exists in a chic-flick.
(8) You never have enough—no matter how hard you work or try.
(9) You are constantly plagued by a feeling of impending doom—what else could the future hold?

If you can think of more, leave a comment and let us all know. To preserve our spiritual health, we need to be aware of the symptoms! It is also good to know that at the first sign of any of these symptoms all we need to do to be healthy again is give thanks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The People In My Life

Another one of the interesting things that happened during this experience with Grizelda taught me about how God places people in our lives. When the word first began to get out that I had a tumor in my head, some people called to tell me of a specialist or doctor who was the very best in the field. I appreciated those suggestions; they told me people cared. But each time someone gave me a name, I’d pray about it and every time received a firm conviction that I should just stay with the care I was receiving. As a matter of fact, I was surprised how strong the answers to those prayers were. I had no doubt that I was to remain with the doctors I had.

It was interesting to me that at this time of need I was in just the right place to receive the help I needed. The people who I needed were right here so that I didn’t need to fly off to Texas or California. This has made me think a lot about all the other people that are in my life.

I firmly believe that the people in our lives—those we just call on occasionally like my doctors, or those we live with every day—are there to help us and to teach us, and not always in just positive ways! The very things that annoy us most about a spouse or a child may be the very things that will teach us overcome some defect in our own character. The very problems our family members have may be the very thing we need to help us build faith and spiritual strength as we help them through the problem.

And of course, there are the positive experiences when someone comes along at just the right time to help us with a problem or to teach us what we need to be happier or more faithful. Nothing happens by coincidence. As I look around and ask why this person is in my life, I usually realize that they are teaching me something important.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Little Things Make a Difference!

My grandson, Aaron.

Since 25 of my 29 grandchildren live far away, I don’t get to see them very often. I’m lucky if I see them once a year, but I get to talk to them on the telephone once in awhile. It isn’t quite the same as a personal visit, and I find myself wondering if it even makes a difference in their lives. Does it help establish relationships or any kind of bonding? The younger ones don’t have the attention span to carry on much of a conversation. The grade schoolers don’t seem to like or know how to talk on the phone, and the teenagers don’t want to be bothered.

Then last week I found my answer. I decided these short conversations might have more value to them than I imagined—even to the younger children. I was talking to three-year-old Aaron from California. We chatted for a few moments about what he was doing and then he abruptly said, “Goodbye.” So I said, “Goodbye. I love you.”

As he handed the phone to his mother, I heard him exclaim in a very excited voice, “She loves me!” My heart jumped right out of my chest with joy. I think that means our phone visits might be making a difference in his life, and I know they are making a big difference in mine!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter Warmth

For the past few hours, the sky has opened and dropped big fluffy flakes of snow over the earth. Outside my window everything is white except the fence and the side of the neighbor’s house. Snow has its way of equalizing everything. No seam divides the sky from the rooftops. The leafless fruit trees have turned to white lace, the tool shed is cozily blanketed under a six inch white comforter, and the white pine tree boughs bend in reverence. Watching this white-on-white world almost seems unreal—like watching a snow globe one never has to shake.

I know from experience that it is cold out there, but in here I am warm. I love this season when fireplaces blaze, hugs and cuddling bring warmth to the body as well as the heart, a cup of hot chocolate is more than just drink, and everyone wants to stay indoors chatting together. In its strange way, winter has a wonderfully warm feel to it.

But there is more. Watching the snow also reminds me that the Lord “hast made summer and winter” (Psalm 74:17), and that Nephi (1 Nephi 11:8) and Joseph Smith (D&C 110:3) reported that when He appeared to them, the Savior was like the “pure snow.” I think most people equate the Savior with everything warm—the sun, brightness, heat, but as Alma teaches us “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it” (Alma 30:44). Winter is on the face of the earth right now. So as I watch this beautiful, pure white scene, I think of the Savior and how at some point He will make all things pure and bright.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Staff and My Stay

On this Sabbath Eve, I’ve been thinking a lot about something Isaiah once said. In Isaiah 3:1 he says, “For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.” The words staff and stay in the Hebrew mean support. So Isaiah is prophesying that the impending war will take away from the people the life sustaining support of food and water.

It is easy to read that verse and think of it as a historical fact that came to pass and has no relevance to us in our day. But there is a metaphorical meaning that is powerful here. Bread and water in our day make up the Sacrament, and if we partake of the Sacrament with real intent and worthily, it is our support, our staff and stay. When we take the Sacrament with real intent we renew our baptismal covenants and promise to do better in the coming week than we did in the preceding week. We implement the Atonement in our lives. In so doing we are strengthened and supported in our efforts to gradually become better and better people.

But if we partake half-heartedly or unworthily, the Sacrament will not be a support in our lives. The Lord will take away our staff and stay and we will be left on our own with no support.

Tomorrow as I take the Sacrament I think I’ll imagine that staff being handed to me to help support me through the week. I’ll imagine it in my hand. I’ll imagine depending on it for support. And then I’ll remember my imaginary staff that is the grace of God all week and watch for the many ways it supports me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

For Good!

One of the interesting things about my recent adventure is listening to the doctors tell stories of other patients. They never revealed names, but I’ve been surprised at the number of stories they’ve told me such as the man injured in a serious automobile accident. That would at first appear to be terrible adversity. But in the course of taking care of his injuries, they discovered that he had a benign tumor (similar to Grizelda) in his spine and if left unattended it would have paralyzed him. But because of the accident, the tumor was removed before there were symptoms or irreparable damage.

Another story involved a two-year old boy in an automobile accident. The MRI after the accident showed a tumor the size of a golf ball in his brain. This one was malignant, but was removed before it spread and the boy’s life was saved.

Another story was of a man from out of state who was hurt in a snowmobiling accident while on vacation in Utah. No one thought he would live, but his wife insisted the doctors do all they could, and so they did. After extensive surgery, he was in the ICU of the hospital for four months and on the floor and in rehabilitation after that. By the time he left the hospital, he was a healthy 75 pounds lighter and had been introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ which his whole family joined.

God works in mysterious ways. You never know when a flat tire has saved you from an accident down the road. You may not always be able to tell what good is coming out of the trials you face. But you can know that if you trust in the Lord and do what He instructs “all things shall work together for your good” (D&C 90:24).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Heart Is Overflowing!

Some of the things I am grateful for today.
(1)A niece who is willing to cut off her beautiful, long, strawberry-blond hair to make me a wig.
(2)My sister (the same one I prayed into the world many years ago) who wished with all her heart that she could have this trial instead of me.
(3)A husband who gave up his favorite recliner for me and who is attentive to my every whim.
(4)Two grandsons in the house, Nate and Ryan, who keep saying, “Whatever you need, Nana!”
(5)Daughters and a son who are praying for me, crying with me, and though most of them are far away, they are checking up on me daily. But most of all, for the fact that they keep me laughing.
(6)Friends who have called, visited, emailed, or comment on my blog to express their love.
(7)A cheerful green pillowcase my grandson, Tyler, made me. Besides being made of soft flannel, it brings me great emotional comfort. He can’t be near me, but his gift reminds me of him and of all my wonderful grandchildren.
(8)A red, down comforter given to me by a dear friend, Jackie. Never before did I realize how red inspires a sense of ultimate victory.
(9)A beautiful tote bag covered in Palmettos that I have used to carry everything between all my appointments. It reminds me of the love I felt from all the wonderful sisters in South Carolina who recently gave it to me.
(10)A wonderful friend, Pat, who kept me stocked in chocolate.
(11)An anonymous gift left on my door step that contained among other things a white knit hat so that I can still attend the temple.
(12)Many gifts of friendship and love such as a nativity, flowers, pomegranates, bread, cookies, hats, scarves, and rainbow slippers, but especially the beautiful book of notes the sisters in my ward wrote and Christie compiled and another from my students last semester that Amy compiled.
(13)And again, I am grateful for all of your prayers.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Picture of Grizelda

Yesterday the doctor gave me a copy of the MRI showing Grizelda’s location, pictures of the actual surgery, and the pathology report. The MRI showing Grizelda is taken from the bottom up so that what looks like it should be the right side is really the left. The picture is especially interesting to me, and so I thought I’d share it. Don’t worry, though. I won’t share the pictures of the actual surgery. They are very graphic and pretty gruesome, but I liked seeing them. After all, how many people get to see the inside of their own head? But I’ll be kind and not impose it on you!

The pathology report showed that Grizelda was a benign intraorbital tumor of unknown origin. At first they thought Grizelda was a lymphangioma, but the final report concludes she was a cavernous hemangioma. My research describes a cavernous hemangioma by saying, “These tumors are benign by cell type but can have serious consequences. Cavernous hemangiomas are wild, jumbled growths of blood vessels fed by numerous tributary arteries (making surgical removal extraordinarily difficult and risky in most cases).”

In other places in my body, Grizelda might not have been much of a problem. But as you can see in the MRI she was twisting and pinching off the optical nerve and would eventually have caused blindness. But I can see! Hallelujah, I can see!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This Is A Great Day!

I just returned home from seeing the eye surgeon, Dr. Todd Cook. Once more he told me what a miracle I was. But while waiting for my eyes to dilate, his associate Dr. Olson, who is a friend of ours, came in and told me again what a miracle I was. He also said that on the day of the surgery he’d never seen Dr. Todd so emotional. “He didn’t expect to be able to preserve your vision,” he said. “He was overcome with how everything went, and acknowledged that there had been some intervention from a higher source.” If that wasn’t enough, he told me that he also spoke to one of the operating room nurses immediately after the surgery and was told that there was a tension in the operating room and that at first they thought I would be blind, but they were ecstatic when they realized Grizelda had been excises without damaging my sight.

But here is the most amazing thing. After the eye exam it was discovered that my eyesight is better than it was before. My prescription in the eye Grizelda inhabited is half the strength that it was before! Even my other eye has a little better vision.

And there is more good news! When I arrived at home there was a package on my doorstep and in it was a copy of a newly released book, Shedding Light on the New Testament, in which I wrote one of the chapters. My chapter is “Paul’s Teachings in 1 Corinthians on Women.” I know; it’s not a very exciting title, but the research was so fun. Paul revered and respected women and understood some things that we have lost track of.

So, I can sleep lying down. I can drive a car. My hair is almost ½ inch in length. And life begins anew. I have so very much to be grateful for!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Going Back To Church

During the time I’ve been recuperating, they brought the sacrament to me. But yesterday I went to Church for the first time since the surgery and it was wonderful to take the sacrament in a congregation again! I remember several times throughout my life the person conducting Sacrament Meeting would say something about how we could all go home after the sacrament and we would have done what we came to do. I don’t believe that. The sacrament may be the most important thing we do in the meeting, but there is something important about being in a congregation and experiencing the love, learning, spirit, and combined faith that are also essential elements of the meeting.

I appreciated very much the priesthood holders who took their time to bring me the sacrament. But it was very strange to be the only one partaking. I’ve never realized before how much the time it takes to give everyone the sacrament means to me. In my home I didn’t have time to chew the bread before they gave me the water. There was no meditation time. No pondering. No soaking in the feelings.

It was so good yesterday to ponder. So good to have time to really experience the sacrament. So good to really feel it. So good. Oh, so good!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Power of Symbols

Often when teaching scriptures at Brigham Young University, I have students who balk when being introduced to symbolism in the scriptures. I completely understand. Being very right-brained, I balk at math and statistics! But these students always complain that it is too hard to understand or that it doesn’t make sense or that no one can really know that’s what it means. Well, it is much more “scientific” than they think. It is amazing how many, many symbols cross cultural boundaries so be found in diverse parts of the world. But even more than that, it is amazing how much more you get out of the scriptures and religious experience when you understand the symbolism. But easier than trying to explain that, let me give you an example.

The other day when I was waiting in the chapel of the temple for the next session to start, I suddenly looked up and on the ceiling was a large, stylized, five petal “flower.” I immediately burst into tears. Why? Because five is a symbol of the Atonement! As I saw that symbol, I thought of how the miracles that have happened in my life the last month were all made possible because of the Atonement. If Jesus Christ had not performed the Atonement, there would be no power over evil. There would be no healing. Everything would be engulfed in entropy—or in other words be moving toward destruction. There would be no such thing as progress or any kind of goodness. We would all be like the adversary, and would be in bondage to him in outer darkness forever.

But because there was an Atonement made, the tumor was miraculously discovered. I can see. The side effects of the surgery have been considerably less than usual. The healing process much faster. I’ve understood for a long time what the Atonement means in the eternal scheme of things. But in that moment, as I saw the five petal flower, suddenly the meaning of the Atonement was personalized and sank deep into the very marrow of my bones. Symbols are important. They can communicate so much more than words, and learning to read them enriches everything good in life!

[Two excellent books for those of you who want to learn more about religious symbolism are: Joseph Fielding McConkie’s Gospel Symbolism, and Alonzo L. Gaskill’s The Lost Language of Symbolism.]

Friday, January 16, 2009

Out At Last!

Today I ventured out in the world. It felt soooo good! Mariah took me to the temple and we had a wonderful time. My heart was so full of gratitude that several times tears overflowed, and at the end of the session they flooded. I have been so blessed that I don’t even know how to express it. Nothing seems adequate. But I take that back—nothing is adequate! The Savior always blesses me more than I deserve.

It’s like King Benjamin said, “[the Lord] doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever” (Mosaih 2:24). The Savior will always be steps ahead of me. And I will always be indebted to Him. The best way for me to show my gratitude is to be obedient—to do what He has asked me to do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


One of the most surprising things I’ve discovered since my surgery is the way it has affected my scripture study. Since going through this experience with Grizelda, I see different things in the scriptures. It’s almost as if I’m reading them through new eyes. I see nuances and meanings I didn’t see before, and sometimes the difference is so dramatic it’s as if I’m reading the verses for the first time. It has been amazing.

This causes me to wonder if other experiences in my life have changed the way I read and I haven’t noticed it before. Maybe the other experiences weren’t as dramatic as this, so I didn’t notice much of a change. Perhaps this is part of the reason for our mortal trials and adversity. These things change us so that we see life differently and are able to gain more insights from the scriptures.

Whatever the reason, I like what is happening. I like the way something that I’ve read so many times can open up and teach me again and again and again. It is one of the miracles of life!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Forever Family!

When I first found about about Grizelda, I was a little concerned about my family coming for Christmas. After all, I had brain surgery on the 19th of December, and the first of my children to arrive came on the 18th. Most of them had already decided to come, but when the two that weren’t coming found out about Grizelda, they decided to come too. That meant that I would have from 25 to 37 people in the house during the two week Christmas holiday.

At first I was worried about how I would be able to handle the commotion, but those thoughts were fast dismissed by thoughts of the joy from seeing them all. As it turned out, that was the emotion that permeated the holiday. It was fantastic. Yes, it was noisy. Yes, there was a lot of chaos. But as I sat in bed and listened to the noise downstairs, I realized that over the years with a big family (I had all ten children in 17 years) I had come to equate pandemonium and noise with health and happiness. The noise was actually comforting!

The girls (that includes my daughter-in-law) took over and did all the cooking and cleaning. When they got a chance, they came up and visited. It was so nice to have alone time with them! Usually when they are here, I am so busy cooking and cleaning that I barely get to visit. So being in bed turned out to be a great blessing. (I just hope I can eventually find where everything is in my kitchen!)

I’ve always loved having a big family, but I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated it like I did during those two weeks. It was such a comfort just knowing they were nearby instead of in VA, SC, TN, TX, or CA. Families are wonderful and I am so thankful they are also forever!

One of my daughters told me that when people find out she has nine siblings they always ask if she liked growing up in a large family. She considers it a strange question. Being the seventh child, she wouldn't be here if we had a small family!

I’m glad I have every single one of them. It wasn’t always easy, but it was the best thing I ever did.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Quick Update!

The last few days have been my best yet! It is wonderful to slowly be getting my strength back! I even went out to the mailbox today to get the mail.

However, I do have to admit that the short-term memory thing has been a bit of a problem. I often have to stand someplace for minutes trying to remember why I am there. But the worst was yesterday when I went to put some towels in the washer and all of a sudden realized that I was in the garage and had just thrown the towels in the garbage. I did remember at that point that the garbage wasn’t where I was intending to go, retrieved the towels, and put them in the washer. I just hope that I don’t do something stupid like that without remembering what I intended.

I measured this morning and my hair is all of 1/4 inch long. Hair grows! Life moves on. The best is yet to come!

Monday, January 12, 2009


In the scriptures we find a verse explaining that at one point “the Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man” (D&C 1:10). I read that for years and always interpreted it to mean that the Lord would come and dish out punishments to the wicked. Oh, how wrong I was!

One day the Lord will come, and one day those who have rebelled against Him will receive their just rewards, BUT so will all those who have obeyed. He will come with healing in his wings, and part of that healing will be compensation to the righteous who have desired and tried to help others, but have suffered. (Which includes us all! Part of life is suffering!)

But look at the word. There is something more there. Recompense means “to return in kind.” It comes from the Latin recompensare and means to compensate again. That insinuates that He has done it before. So when?

The answer to that is simple. Every day. If we just open our eyes and pay attention, we see that His blessings, and healing, and tender mercies aren’t something we have to wait for. Compensation is an ongoing process. It happens daily!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our Security

With all that has happened the last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about hope. Hope has taken on new meaning for me—I’ve experienced it in new ways and learned for myself what a life-line hope is. A long time ago I wrote about hope here on my blog (“The Golden Cord of Hope,” March 10, 2008) and how one of the Hebrew words for hope also means cord. The idea behind the dual meaning is that our hope is what we are tied to. If we think that if we have enough money we will always be safe and secure, our hope is in wealth. If we think that if we have a lot of friends or followers they will keep us safe, our hope is in popularity. If we think that if we know enough we will always be able to deal with every situation and therefore we will be safe, our hope is in intelligence or academic degrees.

These are just a few of the hundreds of things we mortals “tie” ourselves to in our quest to be safe and secure. But to fully understand the ramifications of hope we need to look at the meanings of the words safe and secure.

The English words safe and save both come from the Latin word salvus which also gave us the word salvation. The three words are related and are all about being safe which means not exposed to the threat of loss or injury. The word secure is formed from the Latin prefix se- which means “without” and the word cura which means “care or worry.” So being secure is to be without worries and to be safe or saved is to be without threats, loss, or injury. Sounds good, doesn’t it? That is what everyone hope for.

But there is only one source to that kind of salvation—Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong with money, popularity, and intelligence or other such things. We can use them to do much good. But if we are seeking them to provide safety and security, they are false salvation systems. True hope, true safety, true security only comes through Jesus Christ. In other words, safety only comes by “tying” ourselves to Him.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My New Vision

We are finally trying to put away the Christmas decorations. But it is a slow process for me. You don’t realize how far half-strength is from full-strength until you don’t have full-strength anymore! I work (slowly!) for about a half-hour, then I have to sit down and catch my breath. But there are fun things happening also. Today a good friend came by and showed me how to wear scarves on my head. I bought some before the surgery and tried to wear them, but they looked awful. Paula showed me what I was doing wrong. Now I’m about ready to appear in public! I just hope the hair around my scar quits falling out so I’m not completely bald. If things keep on like this, I may need to wear scarves for the rest of my life!

Something no one prepared me for is that all my senses are intensified. Sounds, smells, brightness, touch, tastes are all much more acute. Things I used to love to eat, now make me nauseous. Other things I eat taste as if they came right from the Garden of Eden. A soft blanket, that before I wouldn’t even have noticed, sends a tickle of delight through my whole being. I don’t need to eat a donut—smelling it is much better. The sun glinting on the snow hurts my eyes terribly, but colors are brighter and more intense. It is like I am experiencing the world for the first time! Every day I discover something old but new. I just hope I never lose this new “vision.” It is wonderful.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Still Here

I've had a rough couple of days. I think I've picked up the gombu that's going around. But I am still here. Hopefully I can post something tomorrow! Thanks again for all the encouragement you've given me. It helps!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Hats On!

I’m beginning to realize some great benefits to my new hairless situation.
(1) I am saving a lot of money on hair care products such as shampoo, mousse, and hair spray.
(2) I am saving a lot of time taking care of my hair. Some days it took forever to make it do what it was supposed to do.
(3) I am saving a lot of money on haircuts and coloring. I can hear the coins jingling in my penny bank!
(4) I am saving a lot of time on haircuts and coloring. It used to take hours a month just for those two things!
(5) I am enjoying the “spice” that my hats and scarves add to life. I can change my head covering in one second and that changes my mood. Wearing a fedora makes me feel so sophisticated!
(6) When I get tired I just pull the hat or scarf over my eyes and it is dark enough to sleep any place!
I was in Malaysia a few years back, presenting a paper to the UN area conference on the family. Most of the women in attendance were Muslim and were veiled. As I got to know a few of them and visit with them, I realized that what I thought was a terrible imposition to always go around veiled, they considered a great blessing. One of them said to me, “You have to spend so much time on your hair. I just get up, choose a scarf, and I’m ready for the day.”
I’ve thought about this a lot since that conference, but only now am I becoming converted. Wearing hats and scarves isn’t that bad. I figured it out and over the next twenty years I could save about $22,000 by using hats and scarves! That’s a nice sum and it doesn’t even take into account the half-hour per day I’d save. Anyone else out there getting converted?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

F + H + C = Miracles

I’ve had a lot of time to think about miracles lately. I’ve also said many a prayer expressing thanks for the miracles I’ve received. One of the things I’ve learned in this process is that faith is an essential principle for facilitating miracles, but not the only principle. Faith as an essential principle I already knew. As a matter of fact, it is the only principle I'd considered as part of a miracle. What I hadn’t realized is that there is more to miracles than faith. Two other essential principles that facilitate miracles are hope and charity or, as Mormon calls it, the pure love of Christ. (See Moroni 7:47.) Together, faith, hope, and charity ALWAYS facilitate miracles.

As I’ve been reading in the Book of Mormon it has confirmed this finding. In every instance when faith, hope, and charity exist miracles happen. That isn’t a coincidence!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not By Bread Alone. . .

The word tribulation comes from the old Latin word for a threshing sled, which is tribulum. Many of us who have never witnessed a grain threshing, little realize what a violent process threshing is. Even, today with all our technical advances, farmers are injured or killed by getting caught in a threshing machine. Because this turbulent beating and thrashing process separates the grain from the straw and chaff, the word tribulum evolved into our English word tribulation and came to be known as “a severe trial or catastrophic event.”

The thing that has interested me in this word is that while threshing involved beating and violence, it also yielded a necessary product—grain. There was something good that came out of that threshing process-something the word tribulation fails to recognize. Grain is a basic staff of life! Without grain there would be no bread and without bread, I’d hate to think where I’d be. I love bread—any kind.

The etymology of the word tribulation also makes me remember God’s words to Adam: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Gen 3:19). To me that means while in a mortal world it will be necessary to “sweat,” but if I endure the sweating wonderful things will come my way like hot bread right out of the oven.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Every Day Gets a Little Better!

Our twin haircuts the night before my surgery!

Things are still going well. As a matter of fact, I’m a wee bit glad to be stuck at home today. All that snow out there is fun to watch come down, but not fun to be out in and, even better, two of my daughters brought me lunch and visited awhile. I am getting up and around a lot more. I get tired easy, but all the other things they warned me about such as lethargy and memory loss have been much less than was anticipated. I am a very, very blessed woman or as the doctor keeps reminding me-a miracle woman.

There are some things I wasn’t warned about, however. One is that the hair around my scar is falling out in patches. I may need a new comb-over hair style when this is all over! But the doctor told me to use Rogaine for Women—another one of those things I never thought I’d be doing. I just hope it works! Somehow remaining bald isn’t appealing.

School started today and at the time I should have been entering the classroom and getting to know my students for this semester, I was watching snow fall. That part of the day left an ache in me, but the Lord is still watching over me, has blessed me immensely, and so I’m hanging on until further instructions! He’s in charge and that always ends up wonderful—after the trial of your faith! (See Ether 12:6.)

Thanks again for all your love, concern, and prayers. I can still feel them filling me like helium and making this ordeal much more bearable.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Let Go and Let God Lead!

Every day when I awake I find the scar looking better. My hair has grown a fraction of an inch. My strength is coming back. I’ve never looked at those kinds of things as miracles, but now I do. Think about it. I am doing nothing to make any of that happen! I just leave it to God and He makes it happen. Let your mind wander a little more and the majesty of the miracle is astounding. I am doing nothing to keep this world rotating or to hold it in its place in the vast universe. God does all that! I am doing nothing to breathe, and yet every moment I take in life’s breath. My heart keeps on beating without me doing anything to make it happen. Somehow the pinto bean salad I ate yesterday is being changed into nutrients which in turn become blood cells, skin, energy, hormones and everything else that is needed to help heal my wounds and fuel my body. Amazing!

One of the reasons I think this amazes me so much is that I was raised in a very goal oriented family. My father read all the self-help books about setting goals and then left them on my bed for me to read. My mother wasn’t into the reading, but I’ve never met such a task oriented person in my life. If you took away her to-do list, I’m sure she’d curl up and die. There was a valuable work ethic for me in this environment that I am very grateful for, but what I am learning now is that I’m not in charge. Just as God keeps my body going, and the earth rotating, He’ll guide me to the things I need to do. He knows why He sent me here. I can see now that much of my goal setting and striving has been counterproductive.

God sent me here to earth for a purpose. To discover that purpose I need to ask myself, “What am I here to give?” and then give it. When I do that I tap into the spiritual and open myself to all kinds of possibility and happiness. If I get caught up in “What am I here to get?” I trap myself in the confining boundaries of the ego, and I wander in unhappiness.

I just wish I’d learned this earlier. I wish I had done a better job of teaching my children this. Life isn’t about grades or which schools you can get into or what scholarships you earn or what type clothes you wear or even what you achieve. Life is about discovering what you have to give and then doing everything you can to make the world a better place by giving what only you can give.

But I’ve got to repent. There is nothing I can do about the past. Wishing won’t help at all. Instead I must move on and trust that God will teach them what I failed to teach them. But then, my children are wonderful. They’ve probably already learned it!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jesus is the Christ

I really appreciate the comments you have been leaving. I like the scriptures and words of the prophets you have added. And several of you have been very kind in attributing strength to me. But I can’t take the credit nor can I let anyone think that this is all about me. I have a multitude of faults and shortcomings. Too many to catalog here! It isn’t me that is strong or wonderful. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that gives strength and is wonderful. This isn’t about me. This is about Jesus Christ—the source, the strength, the power. Anyone and everyone who keeps their eyes on Him and trusts in Him will triumph.

As Lehi begins his parting advice to his son Jacob, he says two things that are very applicable here. First he tells Jacob that the Savior will consecrate all Jacob’s afflictions for his gain. Jacob was a very good man, but it was the Savior, not Jacob, who turned all those afflictions into blessings. (See 2 Nephi 2:2). The second thing Lehi told Jacob is that he knew Jacob would be saved, “because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer” (2 Nephi 2:3). Again, Jacob was a good man, but redemption comes through the grace of Jesus Christ not because we do anything spectacular.

Every single one of us struggles with afflictions, faults, temptations, and mistakes. But every single one of us can be redeemed because of the righteousness of our Redeemer. He is Wonderful. He is my Strength. He is Life and Love. He is Light and Truth and the Way. Don’t give me any credit. It is Jesus Christ we all need to thank.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hurrah for Change!

As I explained in my last post when I first found out about Grizelda I wasn’t afraid, but I was very sad and at the same time filled with a paradoxical sense of excitement. Even though I kept hanging on to hope, from the beginning I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to teach this coming semester and I love teaching. I love being with my students. I love learning from them. I love the university environment and the faculty I work with. I love the woman I share an office with and my TA… well you get the picture. I didn’t want any of that to change and as I explained my situation that first couple of days to anyone, I begin to weep much to my dismay.

But again there was a great lesson in this for me. As things are unfolding, I’m beginning to realize that this is part of God’s plan for me. Too often we are so worried about change that we forget that change is the only realm in which possibility exists. If there is no uncertantity in your life or if everything we do is known and predictable, there is no growth. Life becomes stagnant. And yet change frightens so many of us. We cling to the known with a tenacious grasp and only seem to enter the unknown kicking and screaming.

The reason is that it is difficult taking that step into the unknown. But by detaching myself from the routine of my predictable world, I find myself in a new world of possibility. It is like doors have been opened to admit me to new vistas. Although the next room seems dark and strange, there is a peace there. I’m finding that with every step I take, a new little light appears—a light of new possibility and that is exciting.

As I said in the beginning even though this sadness existed and I did shed a few tears over it, from the beginning I’ve also felt a sense of excitement that the Lord has something new in mind for me. I am learning to trust in that feeling of excitement and to let go of the sadness. Which reminds me of one of my favorite scriptures that is found in Jeremiah 29:11. My favorite translation of this comes from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible and reads, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Even if Grizelda had been malignant or I had lost my vision, the Lord would not do anything to me that would not be for my best good. Trusting in that fact and walking through the doors He opens for me can only lead to goodness. So I say, “Hurray for change! Embrace the possibility!”

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fear vs. Faith

I’ve been a little slow today. I think I stayed up too late last night to celebrate with the kids. I’ve missed out on so much that I pushed myself to stay awake and welcome in the New Year. But overall things are still going well. Our children are starting to go home. It makes it empty here, but I think the quiet will be nice. As much as I loved having everyone here, 32 to 37 people in the house at once makes for a lot of noise and confusion! But I am thankful they could come. They were a strength and help.

One of the things I’ve learned through this experience is about the strength the gospel brings to us. President Monson once said, “In finding and trailing this spiritual contact with the infinite, we will feel the touch of inspiration and know that God will guide us as we put in Him our trust. That wise and righteous man, Job, declared the profound truth: ‘There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding’ (Job 32:8). It is this inspiration which we at times allow to grow dim, causing us to wander far below the level of our possibilities” (President Thomas S. Monson, The Will Within, Ensign, May 1987, p.67).

After my tumor was diagnosed, I was a little surprised at the reaction of friends that stopped by. After talking with me for a few moments, several friends said something about how I didn’t seem to be afraid. When I told them I wasn’t, they responded with things like, “But it’s all right to be afraid.” I agreed. This is a telestial world and fear is prevalent. But why would I want to be fearful if I didn’t have to be? Why take on all that pain when the Savior has promised that if I will just turn to Him, he will take care of me? Why trade in the peace I was experiencing for fear? It didn’t make any sense and I have pondered it a lot since then.

I think this is what the Savior spoke about when He said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). This also takes us back to what Pres. Monson said, “It is this inspiration which we at times allow to grow dim, causing us to wander far below the level of our possibilities.” There are so many things the Lord wants to give us and would give us if we turned to Him in faith instead of spending our time comforting ourselves that it is all right to be afraid. It is a choice each of us daily makes. We can wallow in telestial fear or reach out and partake of celestial peace. The choice is ours. The power, however, resides only in faith.