Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Beautiful Way To Move Forward Today




Dawn...Each New Day 

I seriously don't think I could accomplish a single thing if the Lord had not seen fit in His wisdom to allow us a new beginning whenever we need it. And even when we don't think we need it, we get a new morning every day!

I read a blog post by a good friend who talked about her weight loss struggles. It just made me realize how much I have been coasting. I recently joined Weight Watchers again.  I will never give up but sometimes I take long vacations from it.  Too long.  I just have to dust myself off and look forward with hope and determination and resolve.   

Sometimes my perceptions in this department get very skewed.  If ever I want to know how skewed my perceptions can be...I can use the scale as my tool. It seems like when I should be up I'm down or vice versa fairly regularly.  I can't use it for self-esteem but rather as a tool.  And not just one day but serval days in a row which shows me that people fluctuate daily but the trend needs to be downward.  That is all.  If you graph it you will see what I mean.  To know I am doing well I just have to eat well.  Then no matter what the scale says I am OK.  However when I get into the game playing on the scale or ascribe too much importance to an ounce here and there it gets ridiculous and controlling and self defeating.  

As we sing in one of our church hymns, "Do What Is Right Let The Consequence Follow.  When I go long periods staying off the scale I know it is because I know what the consequences are for not making the best choices most of the time.  There is nothing complicated about it.  It is what it is.  Denial is dangerous.

The complexities of what motivates us to do and be who we are continue to confound me. Still waters run deep and I think for each of us it is a combination of so many factors. It is never just one thing but many experiences and hurts, and failures that add up and become the devil's favorite tool~Discouragement. Without hope there is no faith to go forward with a plan that will work. We have to kick discouragement to the curb and just keep going no matter what happens. Never giving up!

We need to stop the negative self-talk. It is more than positive affirmations that are needed. You can tell yourself you are a thin and healthy person even when you are not but, once that hits your brain, your brain tries to figure out if the thought is true. Quickly everything you know tells you the positive affirmation is a lie and you throw it out as nonsense, or worse yet it becomes a negative affirmation. It then produces the 'why am I this way' type questions, leading to discouragement and eventual defeat. This applies to everything not just weight loss.

Recent studies have discovered that our brain works by solving our dilemmas by answering our questions. As an example...When we are unable to succeed at losing weight we ask ourselves why this is? Immediately our brain sets out to answer that question. I am just not good at this, I love my ice cream (or whatever), I have never been successful at this, I'll just gain it back, people will be watching me to see how long I can keep it off, I hate to exercise, it's my genetics, etc.  The thought occurs to be me that being overweight is probably more difficult than losing weight.

What is even more important is concentrating less on the weight and more on being healthy and fit.  This is probably a good idea.  As we improve our lifestyle the weight loss will follow as a natural consequence. Right? That changes the whole process from what we don't want (being overweight) to what we do want (being fit and healthy.)  Thinking and acting in a positive frame of mind is always a winner.  It also takes the sting out of the many past personal failures and puts it where is should be.  Focusing on improved behavior.  You are the same person of infinite worth no matter your dress or pant size.  Sometimes we forget that.

Think of something that you are struggling with, again we will use weight loss as an example...Ask yourself this question instead..."Why am I a fit and healthy person?" Why am I a happy person?" What things have I been successful in accomplishing in my life? Immediately your brain starts to answer you with real, not hoped for positive affirmations! This is powerful. Try it. Seriously try it! Another word for this is gratitude.  I was amazed at the difference and have been using this when my thoughts go to self persecution.  I have had some  very positive results.

One reason I love my Weight Watcher meetings so much, and my friend of over 30 years that is teaching it, is because Lanette goes the extra mile. She puts in lots of hours outside the meeting room, researching concepts like this that really do bring success. The success you will see is not just in the weight loss arena but applicable in many aspects of your life.

Another simpler way of seeing this concept is to ask yourself what am I doing RIGHT to accomplish this goal? Our brain automatically goes to what am I doing WRONG if we don't direct the question differently. I promise you, your brain will answer you and reveal to you what you can and have already been doing. This actually does kick discouragement and a desire to quit to the curb! We all need this tool when struggling!

When discouragement comes and is allowed to stay...it follows that it's very hard for us to continue on any kind of journey when we feel sad, alone, depressed or afraid of success. We may have a habit of thinking that we can never measure up...no matter what we do.

This can be brought on by something someone will say or just something we think and it drags us down to the depths for days sometimes. Thoughts precede feelings. This I know for sure! We have to control our thoughts and not allow anyone else to have this power over our thinking or to allow ourselves to think we are incapable or unlovable. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out why we do this.

Just like God loves us not because of who we are, but because of who He is, we must love ourselves because of who we are (His daughter/son) not because of who we perceive ourselves to be. (Our self-esteem) Isn't one of our greatest desires to be loved unconditionally rather than judged and misunderstood? In Christ we have that. Where does the hope and faith come from if not from this gift? I know I cannot find it anywhere else.

Passing unrighteous judgment on ourselves or others destroys hope. We have to stop doing this. And sometimes when others do this to us we have to realize it is because of who they are not because of who we are. What a brilliant concept. Why would we assume they are always right? This is not a good way to think.

I am one, I am only one, no more than one, no less than one. We cannot keep internalizing offenses, we just have to be more thick-skinned and carry on, secure in His perfect love. We need to listen and contemplate criticism, but we do not need to beat ourselves up, even if there is some hint of truth in what is said. We need to take a positive spin on it and just quietly determine to become better, ever moving forward. In this way we abandon pride and acquire humility or the ability to be taught. Simply put, our brain can derail us or help us. We just have to pursue the right questions as we try to solve our dilemmas. This really works; talk about new beginnings! We just have to retrain our brain to think in a way that helps and encourages success, not defeats it.

Sometimes the whole scramble gets confusing~
we need to step back and view each component specifically!

And remember we need to be a friend to ourselves
as well as to others.


Staying closer to the Lord seems to be the answer to every problem, burden or concern. For all things unto the Lord are spiritual. My desire is to remember this day by day! I will ask myself the right questions to my dilemmas and trust in myself in addition to the Lord, so I can accomplish the desires of my heart. I am putting all my eggs in one basket~The Lord's.

When I hear something that is true,
I know it~ if I am living close to Him.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pumpkins Are So Iconic and Verstile in the Fall

Beautiful Sunflowers are a treat aren't they?
But it is about the pumpkins at this time of year!

This photo just made me feel so happy
~Pumpkins can be Beautiful!~

The truth is I'd rather decorate with pumpkins than eat them. Some pumpkin recipes I do enjoy but I adore they way they look, almost always. Give me some pumpkins and gourdes and I am happy when Autumn rolls around. I am enchanted with most colors but these, these are my favorites and have been for way too long. New England probably sealed my fate on that forever.


Even though this is exactly like our silver van,
I promise this is not ours!
When I saw this I really had a good laugh.
Who needs this many pumpkins from the pumpkin farm?
Oh, I want this in our front yard!


Pumpkins are so much fun and versatile.
Here are a few of the things I think are great about them...


Topping my list is decorating with them as I mentioned!

Look what Cindy did and check
out her others by clicking
here.

flickrI like this one too. I think one year
I will bedazzle some fake

pumpkins by painting them black
and embellishing with jewels!


This one is my favorite~Be Still my beating

One of my favorite pumpkin in my collection
so far,
this year it is in our kitchen.
This is my year around art work
above my desk in my office.
Love....Love it.

Dining Room Centerpiece




Halloween Night Dinner

One pumpkin hallowed out and cleaned, remove seeds, string etc.
One cup instant rice plus needed water
1 lb hamburger, garlic, bell pepper, onions, salt and pepper to taste
(this is kind of a do your own thing mixture depending on what your kids like.)
1 can of cream of chicken or mushroom soup plus a little H2O
Add veggies if desired

Poke hole in lid of pumpkin. Grease outside of pumpkin and place in a roasting pan. Cover stem with foil. Fill pumpkin and bake at 350 degrees for 1-2 hours until pumpkin scoops out easily like potatoes. Good for the little goblins before they go out Trick or Treating on a cold dark night.

Gramma Jo's Pumpkin Bread Recipe

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 Teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin non-spiced OK
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add in wet ingredients and blend well. Pour batter into greased and floured pans. Either 2- 7 inch pans or 3 or 4 mini loaf pans or muffin tins. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. (Adjust baking time according to size of pans.) Cool 5 minutes in pans and then remove to a cooling rack. Recipe can be doubled or tripled and freezes nicely wrapped in foil.

Follow your favorite recipe

And my all time personal favorite
~get away coach with a handsome prince!


flickr*

Friday, September 26, 2014

Autumn! My Favorite Time Of The Year!


  1. The color: PUMPKIN
  2. Excited grandchildren that love picking out their own pumpkins.
  3. Caramelized Apple Cider From Starbuck's.
  4. Local Fall-Fest activities
  5. Dried, salted pumpkin seeds
  6. Nesting
  7. Bringing out the cozy blankets and throws
  8. Watching movies near the fireplace with Jim
  9. The anticipation of the entire Holiday Season
  10. Crockpot cooking
  11. Candles and candy corn
  12. The crackle of leaves beneath my feet
  13. The smell of fireplaces burning in cozy homes
  14. Goards and other seasonal decorative items
  15. Carving Jack-O-Lanterns with the kids
  16. Not having to dream up costumes anymore!
  17. Pumpkin bread
  18. Corn stalks and hay bales
  19. Scarecrows
  20. Red, gold and yellow leaves on and off the trees.

I also love all the fun photos of the kids playing and having fun this time of the year. Isn't it sad that we don't do this kind of stuff when we grow up? Maybe we all should in a few weeks when the leaves are deep on the ground and it is cool and crispy out. Thanks for the idea, Zachary!



And lastly, the Beautiful Autumn Wreath that my good friend, Sydne, made for me a few year's ago. I love this wreath! I love all the feelings of the approaching holidays it stirs up within. It is my favorite time of the year.


What do you love about it?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Aynslee...How Can This Be?


Just a few weeks ago across the pond!
With Owen...

Today our granddaughter Aynslee turned 12!  How can that be?  She has become a young woman in the blink of an eye.  She lives in England this year so we have not talked to her today.  We always try to talk to the grandkids on their birthday.  I missed that and Grampa did too.  Ayns since you are 8 hours ahead of us, I hope your birthday was fantastic.  I am sure it was...your Mom and Dad do it up right.

Here is a blog post I did for you when you were 7.  Look what five years can do!  So many cool things are about to happen.  Enjoy the Young Women's program at church.  Enjoy school in the UK even if they do make you guys wear funny uniforms.  Make new friends and write in your journal so you won't forget this time. And remember how our family loves you.  Think...Family Flower.  Hopefully we will be seeing you sometime in May...probably the middle or so.  That is if the "M" BnB is not already reserved for that time.


I love this cake!  It reminds me of you!
I traded it out for the more little
 girl cake that was here.


Here is the blog post  from the past.
    Time Flies!  Enjoy

Let's Celebrate!!

Today is our granddaughter, Aynslee's birthday! Today she is SEVEN. Aynslee is the only member of our family born in New York. She was born when her Daddy was a PhD student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We didn't get to see her so much that first year or so and we were very thankful for pictures and phone calls and letters. It is amazing that she is 7 already and she has lived in three places, NY, China, and Utah!

This little blond beauty was quite the rave in China and for some, the only little blond girl they had ever seen! The Chinese ladies always wanted to touch her golden hair. Aynslee has had a good year. She has been a lot of fun places with her family. She has grown up and changed so much this year. To me the biggest change has been all about teeth! It is quite dramatic really!

Here she is last year on her 6th birthday.

Here she is when her front teeth
 came out just a day apart!
Now here she is on her first day
 of first grade!
I think she looks beautiful with her
 new teeth!Aynslee and her best guys!

Sledding with Grampa and her
 brothers in the backyard
Visiting us in CA in the Spring  

Fun with Owen

Family hike this summer

Aynlsee loves artShe enjoyed Kindergarten!

Aynslee's picture of Julia and herself!
Happy Birthday, Aynslee! 



Grampa and I are sending you lots of love and 
hugs and kisses and we hope you like 
the present from us! 
We think you are fabulous and 
wouldn't trade you for the world!

XOXOXOXOXOXOXO and one to grow on XO!

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Simple Woman's Daybook~September 19, 2014


Our lives pass swiftly by! I want to do something to remember
the everyday moments and my thoughts about them.  
That is what this Daybook is all about.
Focusing on the little things that become my life.
One entry at a time.


Just for today~Friday, September 19, 2014 
Outside my window...it is almost 3:00 pm here right now.  About 80 degrees and it is a lazy afternoon.  The sky is bright and the shady trees are starting to shed their leaves.  Just a little...but autumn is definitely in the air.  There is always something so exciting to me about the fall.  I love summer at first but as things get hotter and drier, I just feel it wearing on me by the time September is nearly over.  Our days seems so long and evenings so short when Jim works outside until 8:00 pm or so.    So bring on the Fall!

I am thankful for....Good medical care and how blessed we are.  Our little Hazel had surgery on both of her tiny eyes yesterday and she did so well.  She has strabismus or lazy eye where her eyes don't always sync.  She's fourth generation in our family.  My father-in-law, Jim, our niece, Becky and now Hazie.  When Jim was little after he had surgery he had to be sandbagged for several days flat on his back.  Yesterday she had both eyes done and was in the recovery room and home within 6 hours.  She's doing great today!  Modern advancements are pretty amazing!  

From the learning room...How we perceive things is the governing factor to everything we do and who we are.  Paradigms can be changed, we can change but perception of something has to change first.  We have to filter our thoughts through good standards and values all the time.  We literally write our own story.

I am reading...The Agony and the Ecstasy...still.  My book has such tiny print.  Mistake!  I have been wanting to read it for a long time.  Stephen admonished me to do so.  It is so delightful to read after time spent in Italy a few years ago.  Who does not want to know more about Michelangelo? 

From the kitchen...All filled with healthy food...on the Weight Watcher trail again. Going to get it right this time.  This time is the last time.  Lots of veggies ready to go and fruits and lean protein.  I have learned for myself I am not able to tolerate any bad carbs.  Not any.  I have had one peice of bread over the last two weeks.  I noticed a difference.  I'm on it!

Some spiritual thoughts I have been having...No matter how apparent something seems we cannot judge people.  We just never know what they are suffering.  I have a story I want to tell you about this in the upcoming week.  People struggle in ways we cannot even comprehend.  They are usually odd or ignorant or mean because they have issues.

I am hearing...Michael Ball singing a piece from Les Mis.  Love that man's voice and personality.   It has been over 10 years since he performed his concerts in the USA.  Time for a redo, Michael.  I may have to catch up with him in the UK in the late spring that's coming up.  I think I'll check his concert schedule before we book flights.

One of my pleasures...Being home.  I am a homebody most of the time.  I do have my wanderlust but home is my total comfort zone.  We are planning a couple of overnight trips in the fall and during the holidays.  There is a place up north that rivals the east coast for fall colors so we are heading up there.

Right before Christmas we are going to Long Beach, CA and staying on the Queen Mary for a couple of nights.  We are excited about that.

Pet Peeves...getting panhandled in parking lots by people in Nike tennis shoes.  Seriously so annoying and I must have a big X on my forehead.  Apparently it says ask me for money instead of getting a job.  I just say I don't carry cash because I don't!

I am quoting...Pinterest...so true.  If you really want something you can have it.  Just do what it takes.



If I could change one thing it would be...that children never got sick or suffered.

An enjoyable movie/ TV show we have watched lately...Foyle's War still and tonight we are watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  Always a fun one.  I have been watching Cedar Cove..that is a fun American series.  Andie Mac Dowell is so beautiful!  I think the second season is out now.  I want to be in the UK right now with Downton Abbey 5 starting Sunday night.

I am curious about...the coming winter.  I read that it is supposed to be a winter like we haven't seen in 75 years with record snowfall all over the country. Except here of course and the Gulf and Florida probably.  Just wondering if it's media hype or for real.

Plans for the rest of the week...tomorrow up early for WW meeting and then going to Room With A Past shopping with two great friends.  Sunday church in the morning and writing in the afternoon.  Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday working on various things. All family history related.  Some day this week getting my fall decorations out and up.

One of my favorite things...fall colors...they make my heart leap inside my chest.  L.O.V.E. It always makes me remember the year we went to the east coast in the fall.  I have never seen anything so beautiful. 

One thing that made me so happy this past week...I happened upon a fabulous sale at Hobby Lobby (yes we do have a brand new one here and also a brand new HomeGoods!)  I bought a new Christmas tree.  7.5 feet tall 850 lights absolutely full and gorgeous and 40% off.  I am doing the happy dance over here.  I also bought a 2015 calendar today.  What?  I know it seems like I am trying to hurry and usher this year out doesn't it?  Maybe so?

The most surprising thing this past week...our son asked me to critically edit a narrative about his career path for a Guggenheim Fellowship he has applied for this year.  Me?  His humble mother!!  It felt nice to be needed in that way.  Both Jim and I made suggestions and he was happy.  Deadline was today so it's a done deal.  Fingers crossed for you, Christopher!

A photo I am sharing this week...







UNTIL THE NEXT DAYBOOK,
 BE HAPPY AND CARRY ON!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Never too Late To Be A Rock Star!


I've been thinking a lot lately.  Thinking about my life and the things that have been good and are getting better. Also on my mind are the things I regret or haven't done yet. Sometimes I feel like I am running a race to get it all in before I "rest in peace."

 Sometimes I feel like I could have used my time in better ways.  Or perhaps that I neglected some important things along the way as other things crowded in and took my time.  Reality is, I didn't always prioritize like I should have.  I'm betting none of us have that nailed down in our younger years for sure.  Possibly we are all still struggling with it.  Back then I was living in the present, head down, shoulders to the wheel, just to get through each day. Sometimes I'd fall into bed 3 seconds after the kids.  Sometimes there was barely time for a quick shower let alone pondering the big picture.

Sometimes I feel like I saved too many hard things to do in the autumn of my life.  Now I do not have the energy and stamina to do everything I want to do.  Sometimes in this season, I feel like I don't want to work as hard as I used to in the spring of my life.  I don't.  But I still work hard. Now I wish I had somehow been able to manage everything more efficiently then, so I would not have some of the bigger issues to deal with now.  You know, things like getting healthier, getting into something I have always wanted to do but never tried, writing more and publishing, more education, becoming a great photographer, reading all the classics,  etc.

In our youth the raising of kids, growing a family and creating a home, working full time, serving at church and caring for parents and everything else was exhausting.  In fact it was fatiguing to the bone.  I can't look back on it now and think when I would have done any of those things.  But I am sure there was a way. Perhaps it was working smarter?  The reality that bites is that I couldn't do what I did then now, even if I wanted to do so.  And that I still feel that same exhaustion when I do far less.  These days it takes twice as long, it is harder and I find myself looking for things I have misplaced a lot more.  C'est la vie.  As my friend says, "It is what it is."  We carry on!

It's a funny thing about aging. I feel the same inside and it really sneaks up on you.  It's kind of like cooking a live frog in a big pot of cold water.  (Who does that anyway?) You turn on the heat and one degree at a time as the water begins to boil the frog doesn't try to escape.  By incremental steps the heat goes unnoticed, so the frog doesn't sense the danger and leap out of the pot.  All of a sudden he is dead in the water and never even knew what hit him.

I suppose aging does have its perks in that you have more time and have control over what you actually do by setting your own priorities.  The fact is something else happens simultaneously in this society where youth is held in such high esteem.  As we age we do become slightly less visible and less is expected of us.  It is precisely at that time that I feel even more strongly that I want to do more.  I still feel I am capable of contributing and growing and learning and changing.  We boomers are not going down easy!  I am simply not ready for the rocker just yet.

These are the times I think about all I have left to do.  All that I still can accomplish and contribute to the world around me.  I want to feel my best, gain more energy and find the perfect balance.  I realize now more than ever that I have to guard my schedule well.  That way at least I have time to do the things I want and need to do at least part of the time.  And I am reminded that the only limits I have are the ones I place upon myself.  Nothing is set in stone if you have flexibility and a willingness to make changes.  As an example I just heard about a local woman that lost 296 pounds at Weight Watchers? Unbelievable, astonishing and apparently doable.  Change can happen.


Seeing who we really are and 
what we can become in a better light
often comes with the wisdom of aging!

I can change and improve anything that needs improving or fixing that is within my stewardship.   If I deal with something that I cannot change or is not my place to change, I can adjust my attitude towards whatever it is.  Mostly I am in charge of myself.  Everyone else is in charge of their own choices.  Once that attitude adjustment is working in my favor I can do anything I want to do.  I am in charge of my body, my choices, my education, my relationships etc.  This is the day which the Lord has made (for me) let me rejoice and be glad in it.

It is not age perse that kills a person, it is the lack of something meaningful to do.  It is the lack of love and hope in our lives, the lack of the will to keep going and learning and giving.  If we have lost all the passion in our lives we can reignite it.  If we are tired of the 'same ole same ole'...we can find something new.

I think about so many people that have accomplished so much well into their 90s.  Some famous and some not.  Some of them did not even start to pursue something until they were considered "old" by some standards.  They recognized that age is a state of mind. They had a plan and they pursued it with all the vigor they could muster.  They looked on the bright side of things in spite of their challenges.  I bet they gave up on the notion finally that life was to be a walk in the park.  Our challenges strengthen us and make us better people.

They didn't just roll up in a ball and wait to die.  They put all that moaning and groaning aside and went forward with a perfect brightness of hope and their aches and pains.  These are the Rock Stars of the senior set.  These are the ones that inspire me to have plans and work vigorously toward them.

Who knows how long any of us has left on the earth?  But one thing I know is true.  It is better to run out of life before you run out of plans.  Get up, get moving, and find a passion and let the love of it kill you.  Give it your all and find joy in the journey.  It is never too late to really shine in something new you decide to pursue.  Anybody who wants to can be a rock star with focus and effort and a great attitude.  And the notion that something doesn't have to be easy to be good...well, that helps too.

Seek the beauty in this life to the very end and beyond.  Be a rock star, you have it in you!  Being a rock star doesn't mean do all this to impress others.  It means become your best self, have no regrets for things left undone and remember it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings!

Monday, September 8, 2014

As For Me And My House...We Will Serve The Lord."





One of the important things about writing is that sometimes you can see things that are true more clearly than when you are not struggling with an issue.  I wrote this a few months ago and had no idea how much it could help me right now.  So I am doing a reprise for you in case you might need it now and for me.


This past couple of weeks I have had some new insights about the Pure Love of Christ or Unconditional Love.  When I feel those things floating around in my head and heart I must put fingers to keyboard...to sort, to discover, to understand.  So here are some thoughts to peruse and ponder on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Since I have been a wee child I have known the song, "Jesus loves me" this I know for the Bible tells me so...   How can it be that I am still assimilating this truth at this stage in my life?  Who is this Man of Galilee that knows me enough to love Me?  Not me, collectively as in all of us...but ME?

I was well into my adulthood when I began to think about this pure love of Christ or the unconditional love that He has for me.   I never felt I was able to be unconditionally loved or loving without fear of losing that love, until we had children.  That gave me a glimpse of what it felt like to love and be loved in that way. Until those three, I never felt anyone was mine in a way that no matter what they did, I would still love them (or they me) completely, purely or unconditionally.  It was as though my feelings, my wants and needs were not part of the equation, when I learned about unconditional love as I felt for our babies.  There was no pride or selfishness at all.

 I loved them completely because of who they were.  And I knew they loved me in the same way.  I was their Mommy, that was enough for them.  In all their imperfections and mine the love never wavered.   The astonishing thing was it came so naturally.  It was not a struggle, I didn't have to keep trying for it.  It just was and I never doubted it or questioned it, no matter what they did.  I know their Dad feels the same.  This is a kind of love that transcends the earth.  It is divine.  It is also quite interesting to recognize that grandchildren also inherit this type of love as well.  It is their birthright.

I remember the first time I felt unconditional love.  I remember the hour, the moment and the rapture of it as though it were a moment ago.  I was lying in a hospital bed around 10:00 pm in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had just given birth to Jennifer at 3:38 that afternoon.  Jim had gone home reluctantly, after visiting hours and our tiny girl was in the nursery.  The day had been filled with excitement, hard work and euphoria that would not let me sleep as I pondered what had just happened.

Suddenly I felt a deep sadness come over me.  The thoughts were along the lines of...this is the most important day of our lives together...why are we all in separate places?  It was not normal, or natural to the point of being physically painful.  It was not long after that that the nurse brought our little burrito-wrapped baby into to me for the first time.

She looked so beautiful with her dark hair long enough to be combed and curled over a nurse's finger before her grand entrance.  Her cheeks were so rosy and her eyes the deepest blue! Her irises covered her entire eye sockets, not even a glimmer of the whites of her eyes were visible.  I held her in the crook of my left arm and began to talk softly to her in the quiet of that cold, mint green hospital room. 

As I gazed into her eyes and she into mine...it happened. Just like a bolt of gentle and tender lightning our love was sealed to me.  It was spiritually electrifying.  By the time Chris and Laura were born it was there in all its glory, but not as dramatically presented because by then I was well acquainted with it.  That gift that is inherited by grandchildren may even come before their actual birth I discovered.  It is miraculous, penetrating, instantaneous and unconditional love!

Any number of things our children and grandchildren do may irritate us, saddened us, even offend us but the notion of withdrawing our love is not even an option, not even a thought.  This is different that worldly love, isn't it?  It is about God's Work and His Glory: to bring to past the immortality and eternal life of man, woman and child.  Our families teach us how to love unconditionally in the most conducive setting.  We are all a part of a family, past, present and future. 


That is how our Savior loves us.  As I try to comprehend that I can only compare it to the love of our children.  It is never intermittent, never faltering no matter what we do or how we think or how much we protest.  It just is, whether we know it, believe it or even want it.  He is the Great I Am and His love is perfect even as He is perfect.

It seems so completely different than the way we experience love in the world.   Hearts are broken constantly by a trust that fails when someone gives and takes back their definition of love at will. How many of us guard our hearts because of experiences like that that we have had?  I would venture to say most of us.  We learn to protect ourselves by expecting less of people who say they love us and then hurt or abandon us.  It can be parents or spouses or siblings or friends...it doesn't seem to matter. 

But the Savior will never love us like that.  There is safety and peace in His love.  And even more important is that He never misunderstands us or judges us unworthy of His love.  He never tires of doing all in His power to care for us.  He knows us without our having to prove ourselves by our words or deeds.   He just "gets" each of us to the depths of our heart and loves us, as is. No qualifiers.  No conditions.  Just Love, the kind we all yearn for from the deepest part of us.  We have that in Him.  What does He ask in return?  What is the greatest commandment, the one that all the laws of the Gospel hinge upon?  In Matthew we read.

"Matthew 22:36-40

King James Version (KJV)
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

As we learn to love the Savior as He loves us, we will learn to put our full trust in Him, in His plan, in His will for us.  Imagine what our lives could be like if we just had unconditional faith in Him and His will.  If we didn't kick against things that we don't think are fair or right or good for us and we just had unconditional faith in him, how different would life be?  If we loved Him that much, even as much as He loves us.  It we actually tried our very best to be perfect, or whole, just as He is.  If we knew Him like He knows us and could give over the driver's seat and let him be our pilot?  What if we would stop worrying and started trusting Him more?  

Why do we love Him?  The scriptures tell us because He first loved us.  Not only that but He shows us how to love so that we can get on to the next commandment which is like unto the first.  So that we might love our neighbor as ourselves.  


Because on these two commandments hang all the laws and the prophets.  To me that is saying that if we can master these three things, life will be the very best.  



Love Him as He loves and teaches us, 
Love ourselves as He loves us 
and love our neighbors as He loves all of us. 

 It is the beginning and the end of a perfect plan.  Mastering that kind of love is key.  Love is what we give.  Just as Love is what He gives.  All the other commandments comes easier to us when we have the foundation of unconditional love in our lives.  First His and then our own for Him and for all His children including ourself.


That kind of love that looks outside of our own wants and needs and to Him and His children around us is the goal.  It takes a life time and probably longer.  It is not easy nor was it meant to be.  It is a refining process.  It is growing in His Gospel.  It is repentance and forgiveness, it is faith...lots of faith in Him.  It is learning to be humble and teachable.  It is forgiving ourselves when we fail miserably at His kind of love.  It is getting up, dusting ourselves off and keeping our eye on the target.  As we become more like Him we never want to hurt another person no matte what sacrifices  are required of us.  He has shown us what an ultimate sacrifice for another is by His atonement for us. 


It is simple and yet so profound.   I constantly find myself having to relearn this and I am so far from being where I want to be.  I guess the first steps are seeing His unconditional love for us, then seeing Him as our example and then following Him.  He is God; we are mere mortals with but a spark of divinity within us.  But we can make progress.  We have that hope and that faith for the very fact that He is our God in whom we trust.  And we see evidence in many around us who are farther along the path than we are.  Our Prophet, the Apostles, the very special and loved people in our lives that are closer to loving as He loves.  They are all around us to lead and inspire us on our way.


I am grateful for the chances and choices placed before me and I want to love as He loves.  I never want a person I love to doubt my love for them.  I want to be a person of tender mercies as He is.   It requires us to overcome the natural man inside of each of us.  It requires us to be obedient and trusting, and it requires work.  It is a good work to be engages in and it brings happiness in the struggles.  The greatest understanding I have gained of this kind love is through being a parent.  It helps me to know that the Savior loves us in that way and I find comfort in it.  I hope you do too in whatever way He teaches you.


So what do we need to do to be worthy of His love?  Absolutely nothing.  He simply does Love us unconditionally.  What do we need to do to partake of His promises of joy in our eternal life? Humble ourselves to follow Him, to be taught by Him and redeemed by Him and perfected or made whole in Him.  Does He coerce us and force us to comply?  No, He offers us all that He has and then allows us to choose for ourselves.   What a gift for us to be able to choose.  As Joshua said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15.