During April 2017 I will be blogging about my Courtship Memories from A to Z . These challenge posts will also be found at Random Thoughts and Tender Mercies http://marcysrandomthoughts.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 9, 2017

Project of Light

Speaking of Projects, this is one that I pulled out of my cedar chest earlier today.   the above photo is of a cross stitch sampler that was one of the very first handiwork projects that I completed, when I was about 9 years old.  Back in the day, every young girl in Primary (our church's children's organization) was taught how to do cross stitch by completing a sampler such as this.  We were given the sampler (paid for by our parents I presume) and we chose our own color of floss.   This was the theme of the Gaynote class:  "I will bring the light of the gospel into my home."  Many of our weekly lessons during primary were centered around this theme of how we could be a light in the darkness of the world.

Back in those days the world didn't always appear as dark as it sometimes does today, at least not to a young girl like me.  Yes, there were cloudy days, dark nights, scary news on TV about war and violence, but for the most part my childhood was happy, surrounded with family and relatives and friends, good neighbors, kind pets, sunshine, and faith in God.  My biggest worries were getting good grades, good natured teasing,  and getting over the most recent cold and sore throat, and falling asleep at night.

In the present day I still sometimes get colds, and still sometimes have trouble falling asleep.  I also often find myself waking into a dark world, sometimes 5:30, oftentimes at 4:30; I will wake and  feel the heavy darkness around me.   There is usually not a good reason for me to wake this early.   I no longer have children to care for and drive to early morning seminary or school or to deliver newspapers. There is usually no obvious good reason for me to feel the darkness that I do. These dark mornings bring with them a vague sense of dread.  All is not right with the world.

I know that others feel this same darkness, and not just in the early morning hours.   We've discussed it at times.  Perhaps you feel it too.  How do you deal with it?  It's tempting for me to just pull the covers over the head and try to go back to sleep, hopefully to more pleasant thoughts and dreams.  But I believe that part of the purpose of life is to add light to this world.  Each person and each life has the potential to add much goodness and light to the world.  Darkness cannot exist where there is light.  Faith will conquer fear.  So I will turn on the light in my room.  I will find a way to bring not only physical light, but also spiritual light into my life and into the lives of others, not only in the dark early mornings, but throughout the day.

Begin the day by reading scripture and praying
Look around for someone who needs help, a visit, a phone call, a card or a letter
React with kindness to others
Reach out to others with a smile or kind words
Share a treat or something even more valuable and needed
Share uplifting thoughts and the good works of others
Look for the good in life
Express gratitude
Be on time, be honest, have integrity
Listen to and share uplifting music
Attend the temple
Search out your ancestors and perform ordinances for those who have gone before

I'm sure most people in our world are full of light and have much to give and to share.

How do you bring light to our troubled world?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Blogtober Day 3: Project On The To Do List

So, I keep telling myself that I need to get sewing and quilting again.  I have so many different projects started, and none finished, but I do have a new project in mind that I want to get done this fall.  I believe that I have all of the materials that I need, but now I just need to decide on a pattern and make the time to sit down and do it.  I'm pretty sure that I want to use some version of a star pattern, probably two different star blocks.  I keep doing the research, but have not yet come to a firm decision as to what to do . . . and I keep telling myself  "next week after this event is over"  or "next week after the fence is painted"  or "next week after I make the chili sauce and the jam" then I will sit down and get started. 

Do you have a favorite star quilt block pattern?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Blogtober Day 2: Completed Home Task

Shine Your Sink!

The FlyLady's Beginners BabyStep number 1 for getting organized is to Shine Your Sink every time you use it and/or before you go to bed so that it will make you smile in the morning.   You probably all should know that this has pretty much always been a challenge for me, but I decided tonight that I should get the dishes put in the dishwasher and the pans washed and shine the sink, since I hadn't done that for a few days. 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Blogtober Day 1: Current Book

I'm actually writing this post on October 6th, but just came across a fine idea over at diary of a stay at home mom  where Sandra shared a list of prompts for each day of October,  and thought I would try to challenge myself a bit this month and try to blog a bit more often.  So I'm trying to do a bit of catch up today.  It may actually take me several days if truth be told, but here it goes.

Blogtober Day 1:  Current Book

I'm usually reading more than one book at a time.  Right now I am in the middle of three different books. 

1.  I am about halfway through Man's Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl:

2.  Just yesterday I began reading At her Majesty's Request, by Walter Dean Myers.  I'm now about half way through this book too. 

3. I always try to read a chapter or two from The Book of Mormon every day, preferably first thing in the morning.  This morning I was reading Helaman chapters 7, 8, and 9.

(Book Image sources:  Goodreads.com)

There are probably several other books on the stack next to my bed that I have stared reading, but these three are what came to mind.   What are you currently reading?

And here are the rest of the prompts for the month of Blogtober:

Feel free to play along!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Finding Peace

So, sometimes life is hard.  Almost every day we all face challenges or difficulties of some kind that make it hard to focus on the good things and blessings that life does have to offer.  Time tends to soften the memories of the hard times somewhat, so often times we find ourselves reflecting and wishing for the "good old days".   I know and understand these things, but even so, I think that the past few years have been some of the most difficult years of my life.  I won't dwell on everything, but most of the difficult times have been related to the slowing down, illnesses and death of my dear parents and the struggles and challenges that other close friends and family members are facing.   For me these things are harder to deal with than anything else that I personally have had to face, and I have had many long days and even sleepless nights trying to come to terms with these struggles and my inability and/or inadequacy to do much to alleviate the pain and problems of others that I care about.

There are things that do bring me moments of peace, and I am grateful for them:

 Classical Music.  I have spent quite a few hours in the car traveling back and forth to visit my parents and other family members during these years, and traveling music of choice has been the local classical music station. There is just something about classical music that helps me to keep calm and to focus; or if needs be, to distract my thoughts away from dark places.  Classical music almost always comforts me and brings me peace.

Creating things of beauty.  I have not been doing a whole lot of creating lately, but I do find peace in doing such things as planting a bed of flowers, cleaning up a room, folding a batch of clean laundry, or weeding a small section of the garden.  My hope is to find a bit more time for creating things of beauty in the coming weeks and months.  I love this quote by one of the current Apostles of the Lord:

"Heavenly Father . . . is a God of creation and compassion.  Creating and being compassionate are two objectives that contribute to our Heavenly Father's perfect happiness.  Creating and being compassionate are two activities that we as His spirit children can and should emulate."  
Elder Dieter F Uchtdorf

Morning and evening prayers and scripture study.  I have been finding it more difficult to fall asleep at night in the past few years, and I often find myself waking up well before the sun rises, sometimes with specific thoughts and worries, and sometimes just with vague feelings of something not being quite right.  I confess that most often I will try to help myself to sleep by reading light and fluffy fiction or with similar type TV shows, but I have found that I get more comfort and peace during sleepless nights when I spend the time reading scripture and seeking the Lord through prayer. Reading the Book of Mormon especially brings me peace and reminds me that my family and friends and the people of our time are not the only ones who have struggled through life.  The scriptures remind me that patience is necessary, that struggles and problems are part of the plan of life and will bring us growth and blessings, and that in the eternal perspective, the struggles of life are but a very small moment.  If we endure well, we will find peace and happiness.  Prayer brings comfort. Patience brings peace.

Visiting the Temple.   I absolutely love to attend the temple.  I think this is my greatest source of peace.  It is a place where I can be of service by participating in ordinances for those who were not able to receive temple blessings during their own lives.  It is a place where the veil between this world and heaven is very thin.  It is a place where the spirit of the Lord is very strong. I am so grateful to live in a time and a place where temples are so accessible to me.   Even though my favorite temple has been closed for over a year and will not open again for almost one more year, I still can drive to several other temples within 30 minutes, and many others are located within an hour or two drive from my home.  On the day of my Daddy's death I was able to attend the temple where he had served twice a week for many years, and was able to feel the calming, sweet presence of many family members who have already finished their mortal work on this earth and are now assisting to carry on our Heavenly Father's work in the Heavenly realm.  I have returned to the temple several times since and continue to feel this comfort and peace while I am there and I feel stronger when I return home and better able to face the world.  Problems still exist in this world and in my life and in the lives of those that I love, but temple attendance is my greatest source of peace.

So these are the places that I turn to for peace.  This  year our Stake Relief Society (our church's women's organization) has been encouraging us each month to focus on different ways that we can find peace.  (They must have had me in mind!!  😊)   Here are the areas of focus for the different months so far this year:

January  I can find peace in my life by reading and studying the scriptures.

February I can find peace in my life as I walk the Savior's path of charity.

March  I can find peace in my life by attending the Temple.

April:  I can find peace in my life by using the Atonement daily.

May:  I can find peace in my life by exercising faith.

June:  I can find peace in my life by sharing my talents.

July:  I can find peace in my life by focusing on my family history.

August:  I can find peace in my life by counseling with the Lord in all my doings.

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day."  Alma 37:37

How do you find peace?

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Reading Goals

Like many of you, I have always considered myself somewhat of a reader.  My Dear Mother was an avid reader, and as children, we often found her in her favorite chair in the late afternoon or early evening reading a good book.  As the mother of six children, she kept very busy most of the day every day, but she still loved a good book and found time to read, and read aloud to us too, but once I learned to read, a whole new world opened up, and it was often a challenge to get me to put down my book long enough to do my chores, practice the piano, go outside to play, or even come to dinner.

During my high school years, and especially during college, my available time for reading for pleasure greatly diminished.  I fondly remember visiting the college library the minute my finals were over for a nice binge on fiction during the semester breaks.  Yes, I admit, I'm not very much of an intellectual reader.  I did often skim the news back in the days when we still received a daily newspaper, and would peruse almost any magazine that came into the house (National Geographic, Parent's Magazine, Utah Farmer Stockman, Farm and Dairy, etc.  I enjoy a good biography and sometimes will read other non-fiction, but most of my reading material is what I consider "Fluff".  Books that are meant to entertain and provide relaxation and an outlet from the daily pressures of life.

As a young mother I read quite a bit more than I currently do, including many many children's books. We often visited our local public libraries wherever we lived, participating in almost every pre-school story time program and all of the summer reading programs every year.   The kids could usually finish the entire summer reading program in a matter of days or weeks, and were usually at the top of their class in school reading assignments and programs too.    I had a friend who strongly advocated that a stay at home Mom needed and deserved a weekly morning or afternoon devoted to reading a good book.  I think that she usually reserved Thursdays for such activity, and I never felt too terribly guilty for spending a day where my main activity was reading.  Now if the one day a week stretched into two or three, then I knew that I was going overboard a bit, and tried to get back to other household and family activities for a while.

After our youngest child, DD4 started school all day, I soon found a part time job, so never really have had full days at home alone (although that does sound pretty much like heaven to me!!) and once she graduated from High School in 2013, I began working full time.  At that point my fictional and recreational reading, as well as my nonfictional reading really dropped off dramatically, and I actually decided that I needed to start setting goals about reading!!  Can you imagine that?  Me, the known bookworm of my family and my school class needing to set reading goals?

Some of you may be familiar with Goodreads.com.   Goodreads sponsors a yearly reading challenge, where you set your goal for how many books you plan to read during the year.  Just in case you're interested here is a summary of my recent goals and my actual books read for the years that I have participated:

Year               Goal                  Number of Books Completed

2011                56                      66
2012                70                      74
2013                52                      48
2014                 ?                       35
2015                 0                       11
2016                24                      16
2017                24                      14  so far as if June 16, 2017.

 I'm more than halfway to my 2017 reading goal!  I might just reach my goal again this year!

See, the year that I started working full time, 2013, was also the year that I started reading much less.  And it has only gotten worse!   Granted, we have also had to deal with parents' failing health and some other issues the past few years, but it's now time to get back into reading!!  I have been paying more attention to suggested reading lists and seeing what books my reading education has missed out on, and paying more attention to what my family and friends are reading.  My visits to the library have increased, and I'm back to putting many more recommended books on hold at the library, and I am trying to read more.   Hopefully it's not just "fluffy" stuff, but I'm not judging myself too harshly right now either.  So, if you want to see how well I do, feel free to friend me on Goodreads and find out how well I do!!


Throughout this reading slump of mine, I have continued with my nearly life-long goal of reading from the scriptures on a daily basis.  Am I always successful with this goal?  Of course not, but I keep trying.   I find that I do best when I set a time early in the morning to read for 30 minutes or so from the scriptures, once I am awake, but before my mind is too tired or occupied with the concerns of the day.  Sometimes it is only a five-minute verse or two, and sometimes I can put in an hour or more.  Life is different every day, but every day is absolutely better when I take this time to read the word of God.

What about you?   What are your reading goals?

"It is a paradox that men will gladly devote time every day for many years to learn a science or an art, yet will expect to win a knowldege of the gospel, which comprehends all sciences and arts, through perfunctory glances at books or occasional listening to sermons.   The gospel should be studied more intensively than any school or college subject.
---  Elder John A Widtsoe

Another wonderful inspirational message by God's current living prophet:

The Power of the Book of Mormon, by President Thomas S Monson

Monday, May 8, 2017

Reflections on the A to Z Challenge

I first discovered the A to Z Challenge back in 2012, just as the challenge was starting.  I was trying to be a more regular blogger at the time, so jumped right in . . . but was not able to keep up for the whole month, but I was hooked, and have participated in some way or another ever since.   Some years I have done better than others, but I feel that this year has perhaps been the most enjoyable and therapeutic challenge for me.

Writing has always been an enjoyable outlet for me and I love blogging.   The past few years have been challenging ones.  I lost my dear mother during the April 2015 challenge, and my dear father this past February.   Last year I blogged about my childhood memories and this year I have been sharing memories of my courtship with my Dear Husband.  Both sets of posts have been part of a longtime goal of writing a history of my life.  It may not be particularly interesting to others, but it has been important to me, and an outlet for thoughts and memories, and comforting to me in many ways.

I do miss the linky lists of bloggers from years past, but can see how time-consuming and how much work the monitoring of bloggers was in the past, so understand the change in the organization and format of the challenge, and I was still able to visit new blogs and meet new bloggers.  I think the traffic to my blogs was less this year than in other years, and I certainly received fewer comments, but that doesn't trouble me too much.  I chose to not join up on social media platforms to advertise my posts.   I really don't use social media other than Facebook and Blogger, and have only posted links to my blog once or twice ever on Facebook.   My audiences for the two media are very different.  I use facebook for connecting with extended family, friends, and neighbors, but don't advertise my blog posts there.  Most followers of my blog are immediate family members and other bloggers that I have met through various blogging challenges.  I like having my different audiences, and am not greatly concerned about gathering large numbers of followers right now.

To sum it up, the 2017 A to Z Challenge has been an enjoyable (not quite relaxing) trip down memory lane for me.  I did what I set out to do, and met a few new friends along the way.  Thank you to all who have followed along and supported me in the challenge this year.  Hopefully you have found a bit of pleasure along with me.

So long for now, but I will return.  Just perhaps not every day for a while!