Tuesday, December 31, 2013

To Bask In The Light of Reflected Glory~2014

Here we are once again at the end of one year and the beginning of another.  It seems like a natural time of the year to reflect upon and analyze our lives in an attempt to make some changes and hopefully improvements. We all need benchmarks and times to assess where we are.  The New Year seems a popular time for this.  We all know that for most of us the traditional Resolutions don't seem to inspire for long.

Trying something new often helps!

Last year I jumped on to the blogging bandwagon and decided to choose a motivational word to guide me through 2013.  My word last year was Believe.  Every time I would come onto my blog I would see that word and it did help me to focus on believing more in God, myself and others.  It helped me to take chances, to put myself out there beyond my comfort zone and to just do things that were scary sometimes.

I think it helped me more consistently throughout the year to keep on believing that I could do whatever was in front of me that made me doubt.  Contrasting that to a long list of things I need to change about myself, that inevitably wreaks havoc upon my self-esteem, I found the one word idea motivational.  It was much more successful than a long list of things that invariably fall by the wayside by March, if not before.  Especially when some of them in the past have been nearly impossible to attain.  That is more a statement about being realistic, than one of limiting myself.

I think sometimes we put something on our list because we think we "should" even when we know in our heart of hearts it isn't that important to us.  It is when we say something like...I would LOVE to play the piano!" But I don't take the necessary steps to make it happen.  Then what I am really really saying is, I just want to be able to play without paying the price.

I just want someone to give me the gift.  The reality is maybe that thing I think I am seeking so desperately in January just isn't even meant to be my gift no matter how hard I work.  Someone else's wish list does not need to become mine necessarily.

So I like the one word approach.  For me at least it will lead me on a path of thinking more positively, more abundantly towards what I can do and want to do.  It will dissuade me from beating myself up when I cannot or do not accomplish things that seem like they should be on my list every year.  It makes me feel like I will be intuned as to how to succeed when I am motivated for the right reasons.

Seeing the reflection of the light

I have thought a lot about what my word should be.  I have chosen a word that reflects the title of this post.  To bask in the light of reflected glory.  In a word that is to... Remember.  I could not think of a better word to motivate me to go beyond the limits I sometimes place upon myself.  To remember that in times past when I have had a desire to do something, by having faith, patience, hope, and a good perspective of my possibilities, I have often been successful in swimming up stream to something better.

To bask in the light of reflected glory means to remember the good things in my life, the things I have accomplished and to think about challenges that have been overcome.  It also means to remember the times that I didn't, to analyze them by remembering why, and to make sure that something good came out of those lessons learned.  Everything turns out to be a blessing or a lesson.  There is glory in reflecting on the lessons and they do promote change if we are wise.  Even if we have to learn those lessons over and over.  We may be moving like a glacier but nonetheless, we are moving in a better direction if we learn something that makes us a better person.

I want to remember to be realistic.  There are no free lunches.  We must pay the price for what we want.  That basically means working hard.  I want to remember what is most important to me and place my work and efforts there.  Remembering that is key because what is most important to me are the things that I will work hardest to achieve.  It cannot be what someone else thinks it should be, but what I think it should be.  That is where the motivation lies.  Our expectations for ourselves, not someone's else's expectations of us.

Here are some things I want to Remember:

~Our thoughts govern our attitudes about everything, which govern our habits, which govern our behavior and our very lives.

~With God, nothing is impossible.  I can do anything I set my mind to with His help.  I consider it a good idea to keep that "anything" in perspective.  To know ourselves and be true to it.   In this life I will not achieve all the things I want to do no matter how hard I try. We are not meant to and I'm OK with that as I have gotten older and know myself better.   So..."Know thyself and to thine own self be true."  A sound byte of a quote that makes sense.

~Remember that God loves all of His children.  We are all different and unique.  Remember that not everyone thinks as I do. In fact no one does. Remember that it is OK to not understand what motivates others to do what they do.  I need to remember to be cautious of judging them based on what I think about something, or my own needs, or my sense of the way I think they should be.  That is not my job or my responsibility or my stewardship.  My job is to accept, love, support, have realistic expectations and give what I can.  I must remember to try to understand we all have a tough row to hoe.

~I'll remember, no one is perfect!  Most people are good people with good intentions.  Hurts are not intentional usually.  I know I would never want to hurt someone and I want to believe the same of others.  But when I do I want forgiveness and a little slack for the human side of things...and I want to give that to others as well.  I want to live intentionally but when I mess up...forgive me, please.

~Remember that people makes mistakes.  You, me, all of us.  God has given us some wonderful ways to handle this.  He teaches us to simply love, forgive, serve, and treat them as our brothers and sisters.  He makes it simple~we complicate it.  Remember He did not add at any point...if they deserve it.  Remember to love another person (in spite of themselves, truly is) to see the face of God.  Victor Hugo was right!

~ I will remember that when I give the gift of love to another it is also a great shield and protection for me.

 It can fortify me against feelings that I have been treated unfairly by someone I love, by helping me recognize sometimes I over think things and see them differently then they were intended.

And if that hurt truly was intentional on their part, then my reliance on God's love for me and my love for Him and for them should lessen the blow so that I can forgive.  God is light and truth, by remembering this and looking towards Him I can find the comfort and peace I need under any circumstances.

~When I wonder if God loves me I need only to remember.  Remembering all the times He has blessed me with things that no one else had any inkling of, or that I even needed, prayed for or desired. I remember when He was there for me when no one else was.  I'll remember when I feel a distance between us, it is me that has moved away, not Him.  I'll remember that He loves me for exactly who I am right now with all my flaws, not for my accomplishments or my perfection (that doesn't exist) or the person I hope to be someday.  Right now just like this, I am His daughter and he loves me.  He always has even when I did not love myself.  That is enough.

~I'll remember to listen to the Spirit when I try to make changes for the better in my life.  He will guide me in the way I should go.  Not the world, not the common helpful hints of the world that are blanketly given to all.  They are deemed to be the "gospel truth" of the day, albeit ever-changing.  I have tried that avenue before in vain.  I choose now to remember to listen to the God who knows me personally and intimately and completely.  Me as an individual, not a huge group called everyone.  His spirit will guide me to what I need in my life to be the best I can be for Him.   Not my to do list for 2014.

~I'll remember these things when I run into road blocks and challenges and trials and stress in the coming year.  I'll remember where my comfort and solace and peace truly lie.  And I'll remember them when I am gloriously happy and filled with joy and doing well with my gratitude.  I believe that all good things come from Him and my proximity to Him and that the glory is always His when something good happens to me or changes, or improves or is learned or accomplished or overcome. I know this because I can bask in the light of reflected glory...my experiences from the past that validate and confirm to me where the true power to change and improve comes from in the first place.

I'll remember that it is never me working alone but my partnership with the Lord that makes things happen.  And all these things work together for my good and do give me experience.  Experience is one of the hallmarks of aging and learning and becoming.  Little by little, day by day, we are refined and affirmed in our beliefs of what matters most by remembering.  It has virtually nothing to do with a new year.  But is is a nice time to bask in the light of reflected glory.  May you have a wonderful new year, beloved family and friends.  May your personal journey be filled with enlightenment past, present and future.  Bask in it, it belongs to you.  B

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Simple Woman's Day Book~Dec 26, 2013

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~Thursday, December 26, 2013
Outside my window...It is lovely out, a little cold but as clear as a bell.  Truth be told, it is still autumn here.  Leaves are still falling.  People will start to worry about a drought as they always seem to forget the seasons have rotated almost a full season now since we were kids.  The rain will come but not until mid-January or early February is my prediction.

Can hardly believe that Christmas has come and gone so quickly.  That extra week we didn't have this year made a huge difference. In my effort to have a relaxing Christmas I got a little too relaxed and seemed to be pretty frantic there towards the end.  That was partially my miscalculations on how long certain things would take.  There is a saying in construction that goes, 'It will take you twice as long and cost twice as much than you originally plan on."  Note to self*** "This also applies to a lot of other things when you forget to factor in the slow down rate you experience with each passing year."  Organize better, streamline, and keep moving.  Making it more like the tortoise than the hare is advised.

I am thankful for....The sounds coming from the back of the property where Jim and Dave have resumed working together once again after a six week hiatus for Dave following his surgery.  This is a good thing.  Jim is happy as can be with his buddy at his side once again.

From the learning room....The learning process is imperative to progression.  Every time I sit down at the computer needing to do something new I go through the same process.  Search for information, find a medium that facilitates learning a new process be it YouTube tutorial, Google document or some other way, feel confused, get extremely frustrated, think about and dismiss abandoning the effort, keep at it, finally something clicks and I get it.  

I am reading...A beautiful book given to Jim from the First Presidency of our church for his many hours of service as an engineer on Temple Hill.  It is leather bound and gold leafed and is such a treasure for us.  It is James E. Talmage's, "The Holy Temple!" It is not easy to read because it is old but it is very good.  It makes you just want to raise your bar and learn more.

From the kitchen...we have done a lot of cooking over the last week with a dinner party and a Christmas brunch here so nothing to worry about in the kitchen for a while.  My favorite kind of stay home vacation.  I am so blessed that Jim loves to cook about as much as I love to write...so win/win.

Some spiritual thoughts I have been having...Christmas has been a very spiritual time for me this year.  I have had some amazing experiences that have been wonderful.  All of them have been around how the Holy Spirit directs us in ways we sometimes do not understand but when we follow the promptings spectacular things happen.  My genealogy has exploded these past ten days in so many directions it has been overwhelming.  Almost all of it has been related to different lines and my cousins.  And in all fairness to myself, I must say they were directly related to why things felt very frantic there just before Christmas.  More on this in a future post.

I am hearing...Kenny Rankin singing Haven't We Met?  He was such a fabulous singer.  Miss that man and his amazing talents.  I am thankful for the recording that keep him alive for us.

One of my guilty pleasures...My Christmas Morning cinnamon rolls.  I haven't made them in a long time for a reason.  I like them too much!

Pet Peeves...that we feel we have to be done with Christmas when Retail says so.  Not havin' it.  I am keeping my Christmas Decorations up for quite a little while yet.  Maybe I'll take it down on Epiphany, January 6th when Italy finishes up their celebrations. 

On the times I have actually gone shopping the day after Christmas which is pretty rare they have hired someone to remove all evidence of Christmas during the night of Christmas.  This is an obvious attempt to help you forget all the money you just spent and to get on it again!  Just plain GREED is my pet peeve.

I am quoting...Pinterest

If I could change one thing it would be...that my husband was not in constant pain.  He works so hard and just muscles through his aches and pains, but seriously he is the bravest person I know.  Just keeps going but it is not easy.  Soon he will get his hip replacement~is my prayer for him today.

An enjoyable movie/ TV show we have watched lately...The Nativity~The Story.  We have had it for a few years and this is the first time I have taken the time to sit down and watch the whole thing.  It is a beautifully portrayed version of the birth of Christ.  That will be on my regular list of Christmas movies on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day from here on out.  I watched it on Christmas night this year, it was so uplifting and peaceful.  Somehow I think night time is best to view it.

I am curious about...how it can still be another ten days before Season 4 of Downton Abbey starts up again.  I have been avoiding  all the spoilers out there like the plague because  I just want it to be a fresh and new experience each week.  We have a date for dinner and the premiere with our friend Barbara on the 5th.  It has been on the calendar for months and we are really excited!

Plans for the rest of the week...We are going to Aron's (age 8) baptism where Jim is speaking in the morning and then a luncheon in his honor, church on Sunday and then possibly having a young couple for dinner that is having their first baby any minute, Monday spending the day finishing out our financial year and working on a paper, thinking about preparing for a class to be taught on Jan 21, 2014.  Going to dinner on New Years Day with some of the family, not sure about New Year's Eve.  We usually like to stay home and be mellow.  Probably a movie night for us around the fireplace.  Sounds heavenly at this point. Oh and also thinking about the fun prospects of being able to see each of our kids this next month and they are coming here one by one!  Everyday more surprises.  Woohoo.  Life is good here.

One of my favorite things...a clean, Christmasy home.  I love the beautiful lights on these long dark nights.  I love the red...it is so cheery and warm, the fireplaces, the fragrant pine wreath hanging in my office.  I love the memories of Christmases past that the holiday decorations engender.  I love the people we have shared it with over these many years.  It is just a jolly time and I love it.  Yes, even when it is hard, and exhausting and expensive...I still love it.  It is magical.  I love that it is about the Christ child and family and gatherings and snowmen and reindeer and Santa.  I enjoy the traditions both old and new and the kindness seen in so many.  I love all of it and there is room for all of it in my life.  I choose to love it, therefore I do.
One thing that made me so happy this past week...walking into our cousins Kris and Dale's home on Christmas Eve.  It brought me joy like when I was a child and my heart would leap inside of me at the first glimpse of the Christmas lights.  When I saw how very beautiful they had decorated their house, it made me happy.  Kris and their three girls really love Christmas and it shows in every nook and cranny.  They have so many gorgeous things and they know just what to do with them.  It was an eye candy feast~simply drop dead gorgeous.  The feast of foods reserved for Christmas was amazing. These feelings of loving family and traditions were very tender that night, and it made me miss our kids and all who have ever been a part of this tradition very much.  Bittersweet and completely beautiful.

The most surprising thing this past week...that I discovered I have a brand new first cousin that has been separated from our family for 68 years.  Oh my, that thought cranks up my tears every time I think of it.  Soon I will write about it when I can handle it better.  God bless you sweet William.  Welcome home.

Some photos I am sharing this week...Christmas Eve with the cousins.  It was spectacular.  Here are just a handful of photos to show you have lovely and inviting this home is.  No one could not enjoy Christmas in such a wonderfully welcoming setting.

Five generations of this family
 all together under one roof.  Very fun!

One of the prettiest, most festive
 Christmas Trees I have ever seen!
L O V E this tree.

The Village, 
So Magnificent!

One of their many Santas!

Loving the garden cart full of Christmas
and the tree glistening through the bay window.
One last photo on the porch while saying,
"Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!"


 Be Happy, Keep Your Balance and Enjoy Your Life!
Only One Rather Short One Per Person Allowed.

❤♡♥♡❤♡♥♡❤♡♥s, Bon

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Luke 2~Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Blog 2013

I have finally completed our Electronic Christmas card/blog that for 2013.  Whew!  It is 11 posts long.  Feel free to read all or just some of it.  It includes also five previous years.  I am planning to publish it for our children and grandchildren after Christmas this year.  It is a labor of love for them each year.  It is my hope that one day it will be important to them as part of our family legacy.

It is no doubt volumes of information you have no particular interest in but it is wonderful for me to be able to share news of our 2013 just once and not in a bunch of individual cards.  Pick and chose what you want.  All or none or something in between.  There are a couple of videos, a cute letter to Santa.  A rundown of some fun activities and milestones on each family and a few other more general posts about Christmas.  There is also some fun music at the very end of this year's blog post.

When you arrive on the blog if you are not familiar with how they work, read the side bar for instructions.  Fairly simple and straight forward but just incase, it is there.

Ok then now on to the other billion things (including going to work in an hour) that I need to do in the next few days.  Love to all...B


I keep this on my side bar on this blog all year.  And for those of you who are extremely familiar with my typing skills I will be reviewing and correcting as needed after many times already...a few more times this week.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Christmas Blog of Travel and Cultures

A couple of years ago I put together this blog from the Rick Steve videos on You Tube.  It is a group of videos that comprise the complete video presentation that Rick Steves published in a boxed set of videos on European Travels for his TV show.   We watch the video each year at Christmas and enjoy it a lot.  If you love Christmas, Europe, Rick Steves and various cultural celebrations via your armchair and the comforts of your own home~check this out!


Saturday, December 7, 2013

In Bethlehem of Judea

A long time ago a little babe was born of humble birth in a stable in Bethlehem.  Luke 2 retells the story in the Apostle's own words.  The Son of God had been born upon the earth.  Not every detail is known...but then not every detail needs to be.

 People dispute when it actually occurred in the calender year, they argue whether it happened in the fall, winter or spring.  We can be pretty sure it was not actually on December 25th.  They dispute how many wise men there were and when they came.  We hope for as many wise men as possible and we know they did not come at his birth but rather when he was a small child.  But still they have become iconic to the nativity scenes prevalent throughout the Christian world.  In this case I feel the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of it, as we ponder and remember that beautiful night.  It makes for a bigger birthday party with exotic gifts for the King of Kings...I am OK with the spirit of it.

We know that there were shepherds abiding in the fields keeping watch over their flocks by night.  "And lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about  them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger."  The star shone brightly, the heavenly host of angels rejoiced in song.  The Shepherds quickly followed the light of that star to the baby Jesus' birthplace where, indeed,  they did find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. 

What we can be pretty sure of is that if Mary rode on a donkey in her most urgent and delicate condition she could not have been comfortable throughout the journey. Regardless of how she came I believe that Joseph walked beside her every step of the way.  We can imagine that both Mary and Joseph felt uneasy when her time drew nigh.  They were a long ways away from their home and family and there was no room for them in the Inn.   I might imagine there were some scary moments during that time when her time was accomplished that she should be delivered.  Joseph must have felt helpless and been praying fervently to know how to help her. 

Having given birth myself, I can guess she was greatly relieved when he laid her baby in her arms.   And she shivered as her body temperature dropped as it always does after birth.  And she was cold, no matter what the season.   I'd guarantee that!   She also no doubt shed some tears of joy, relief, exhaustion and at finally meeting her son with sheer amazement.   Like every new mother her first thoughts after her relief were probably in wonderment...I am a mother..... and now what?  For one thing, my heart will now live outside of my own body for the rest of my life.

As Mary held her new born child and probably nursed him, she fell in the deepest love ever and it has not left her to this day.  And if Joseph had not been her best friend before the birth of her little baby Jesus, he most surely was from that moment on.  What a man of kindness, deep faith and unconditional love.  The sacredness of those few hours lasted and changed them both.  And the rest of us.  Forever.

They showed us all how to go forward in faith when they did not know all the details either.   They just trusted in God and went forward in complete obedience.  On that special night God The Father and Mary and Joseph bore a child.  Although Jesus was God's only begotten son in the flesh, is He not a part of every sacred triangle when a child is born?  I felt that and knew that when I bore our first child. God was most definitely a part of what happened that day.  As it changed Mary...it also changed me.

Not such a long time ago, by Biblical standards, I was a young mother myself trying to create some symbols of that scared night in Bethlehem for our little family.  I took a ceramics class and made this nativity set for our family. It was all we could afford at the time.   It is not fancy or professionally done but it was done with my time and love which was all that I had.  It was a part of Christmas each year as the kids were growing up.   It was never meant to be our permanent nativity set.  You know how that goes. Now they are all gone but it remains.  A little memory of times gone by.  

Since then we have gotten another very elegant Nativity set but most years it remains collecting dust in the box.  Every year the father of those beautiful little babes of ours says how much he loves that nativity set and how he hopes I will put it out this year.  So every year I do it for him.  It is the very least I can do for this wonderful, humble, obedient follower of Christ who has been a husband every bit as wonderful and kind as Mary's Joseph.

If you are like Mary I hope you praise your good "Joseph" for his faith and helpfulness and kindness and obedience to God.  If you are like Joseph  may you treat your "Mary" with loving respect and tenderness always. What you do will have a long lasting affect on those that emulate you and admire you and want to be like you someday.  We are never released from our stewardship as loving mothers or fathers.  And the most beneficial thing we can ever do for our children is to treat their other parent with all the love and respect they deserve. We as spouses and parents and children of God must keep all these things and ponder them in our hearts.  What we do and how we treat each other is significant every single day.  There are  sweet lessons to learn in this simple telling of the birth of the Savior of the World.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Simple Woman's Daybook~December 4, 2013

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~Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Outside my window...it is mid-morning, still that time of day that seems a little magical and new, but the middle part of the day will be here soon.  And now with days so short it seems to fly by and before I know it, it will be dark.  We are normally very early risers but today we enjoyed the luxury of sleeping until 8:00 am.  That was nice.  Part of what prompted staying in bed was the temperature outside.  30 degrees.  That always makes pulling the covers up over your head seem quite inviting.  And then last night we worked at the Library until late.  Anyway it was lovely to not have to rush off anyplace until noon when I have my hair appointment.

I am thankful for....having all my Christmas decorations up and in place and now I feel like it can be a more relaxing holiday season.  I have only a few gifts yet to get and then I need to really get going on my annual cyber Christmas Card.  That is always a joy to do and so time consuming but I love it.

From the learning room....that human beings are magnificent creations of our Father in Heaven.  We are all so strong and yet fragile, so similar and yet entirely unique.  So complex in our thinking and so simple is our need to be loved and to feel capable.  People are just an interesting study and always full of surprises.

I am reading...a blog called Incourage Me.  It is written by a few women in rotation that often has such inspiring Christian posts.  Today I particularly enjoyed what was written.   It is quite short and worth the read.  It is about how we spend too much time critiquing ourselves which distracts us from the work we are called to do.   http://tinyurl.com/mskzo3y  

From the kitchen...all set this week.  Eating light on all days we are not going to a gathering of any sort for the Christmas season.  (Then watching it when we are.)  So salads, soup, things like that are on the menu this week.

Some spiritual thoughts I have been having...I have been thinking about how important peace is to me.  The older I get the more I realize I need peace.  I don't like fighting, meanness or anything like that touching my life.  Not even when it involves someone else and I just overhear it.  When I am in a store and hear someone yelling at their tiny kids or anything like that I just want to go home to the peace. Love and peace at home are so important.  

I love the peace that Christmas brings and after many years I am finally learning how to pace myself and stretch things out so that they are fun and enjoyable and not just work and rushing and craziness.   

One year our family spent Christmas in Edinburgh, Scotland. We forgot all of our traditional things and just did very little shopping and prepping and had the most wonderful, peaceful Christmas.  I'll never forget that year it was a real highlight in our lives. I am working towards a Christmas like that this year.  So far so good.  I am doing less of everything and more reflecting on what is most important.

I am hearing...The Piano Guys "O Come O Come Emmanuel." Positively beautiful.  They are simply amazing.  Their album A Family Christmas is superb!

One of my guilty pleasures...watching Christmas Movies.  My two favorites: One Special Night with James Garner and Julie Andrews and The Preacher's Wife with Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston.

Pet Peeves...We have a long driveway.  I hate it when men park in our driveway blocking me in when they are coming to visit Jim or work on something.  Or if they come over and they see my car is gone then they load up the drive way sometimes with two or three cars and I have to carry groceries or what ever a long way.  Especially when the stuff is heavy and my knees are killing me.  It is different when people are coming for dinner or are invited over for various reasons to visit us together and they know we are not going anywhere.  There should be an unspoken rule of courtesy that simply eliminates this driveway issue from the universe.  Ugh!

I am quoting...Pinterest

Last night we were sitting at work talking about people's stories.  One person told a rather chilling story about an ex-spouse.  It struck me that if that woman does not write her own story, this may be all that is left to remember about who she was someday.    It seemed like a very compelling reason to write your own history as Winston Churchill did.  And you might recognize that he is remembered favorably historically because he did, indeed, write it himself.  

If I could change one thing it would be...that the ailments of growing older were not so harsh!  I have had some real leg problems lately that have really curtailed my efficiency and my productivity on every level.  Jim has also had a lot of pain in his hip and knee.  Honestly between us we have no good legs right now with his presenting bad knee opposite the hip  that needs replacing. Heaven help these setback be temporary!  And help friends and family that are facing much worse problems than we are.  May God bless us all.

An enjoyable movie/ TV show we have watched lately...I haven't been watching the big screen too much lately but a few lovely Christmas Movies and a Thanksgiving one as well.  All uplifting and heartwarming.

I am curious about...how people survive in contentious environments? Seriously, I hear some pretty hair raising stories about terrible things that people do within families etc. that make me wonder?  My friend and hairdresser told me an unbelievable story today about one of her crazy family members. Why do some people just live to torment others?  I am so thankful for the good family and friends we are blessed with in our lives.

Plans for the rest of the week...pay some bills, order some presents via Amazon, organize a couple of special events with friends and neighbors, prepare a lesson for next week, organize some genealogy finds and help a few friends with research, relax and enjoy life.  Going out with a few girlfriends in the morning Friday, date night, Saturday maybe the Swedish Christmas Festival in SF.  It is going to be a good week.

One of my favorite things...The finished product of Christmas decorations being exactly where I want them and the last empty box going back out into the shed. 
One thing that made me so happy this past week...See previous question.

The most surprising thing this past week...I finally met our new neighbors.  We really like them.  They have been traveling for about a month and have just returned home.  They invited us to dinner sometime soon.  Really nice people~we have been collecting their packages for awhile as they have been gone and today they came to get them.  We are getting a lot of really fun people in the neighborhood.  Makes me wantt to have a block party.

Some photos I am sharing this week...

May your Christmas Season be romantic
 And filled with love for your family and friends.

May it be full of fun, 
adventure and nostalgic memories!

May you capture some time to be
with your very favorite people. 
And if you can't, because circumstances 
won't allow it, keep the thoughts
 of them close to your heart.

May you just relax and just be together. 
 Forget the rest of it for a little while.

May your days and nights be full of 
the wonderment and excitement of a little child,
warm and cozy at home and filled with the 
knowledge that you are loved.

And most of all remember,
 Remember why we celebrate this 
time of year in the first place.
For there, and only there can the ultimate
peace and true rest from  
worries in this life be yours.


 Be Happy, Keep Your Balance and Enjoy Your Life!
Only One Rather Short One Per Person Allowed.

❤♡♥♡❤♡♥♡❤♡♥s, Bon

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Am A Witness!

Tomorrow My Sweetheart will turn 66.  This morning I awakened with the thought...I was called to be a special witness of his life.  I met him when we were in the summer before our senior year in high school.  The year was 1964, the year President Kennedy died and in the same season.  The year we turned 17.  So when we met I was just barely 17 and he was about to turn 17.  That couple of months difference in our age has been a rub on me all our lives together.  He starts pouring it on around my birthday and then falls silent about age about this time every year.  Every time we meet someone new he makes sure they know he married an older woman.  So predictable!  I can count on it.  When I met him he was sweet and loving and wonderful.  Now he is all of those things times 50 years.

One of the most wonderful thing about a 50 year long relationship is the character witness you become of that person and his or her life.  That person becomes "Your Person!"  No one knows their character, their strengths and weaknesses more than someone who has spend 50 years observing their companion in every conceivable situation.  No one knows the vulnerability of that person better than you do.  What a privilege to know things that no one else does about just one individual on the planet like you do.  It is to be more than a wife but an actual witness to the life of another because you have shared it, day in and day out, year after year after year.  The good times, the bad times, the extraordinary, exhilarating highs and the sorrows and vicissitudes of life in mortality that bring you to the depths of despair.  You face your faith and your deepest fears together, you experience the most heavenly joy.  You are yoked in your live, in your commitment, in your love.

No one has the power that your person does to lift you or bring you down in the same way.  It is more than friendship, more than a marriage, more than the big things that happen as you experience life together.  It is your spirituality, it is all your foundational beliefs, it is your beautiful family, it is romance, it is your life plan together, your struggles, your happiness and all the wonderful people you meet along the way that become more than friends.  It is also the bills to pay, the decisions you make together and on your own that affect your person as much as they do you.  It's the day to day labors, aches and pains, the joy of accomplishment and the comforting when defeated.  It is going with the flow, it is preparing for the inconvenient, it's putting up with the quirky imperfections and loving in spite of them...being past that time when you thought you could change your person to be more like you.  It is sheltering and being loyal, it is protecting and helping and doing things together...even when it is not your favorite thing to do.  It is gifting your person with what they need even when you own reserves are rather low.  It is holding hands.  A lot of holding hands and going forward as one.  And it is a process, often arduous...of acceptance, refinement of yourself and tenacity.  It is a lot of learning and traveling and building...always building..your life together.

Jim is an amazingly intense Italian.  I am half Welsh, more relaxed, more reflective while he's constantly on the go always planning his next adventure.  We are both organized and planners don't get me wrong, but he works it as only he can.  I can work as hard as he does but standing side by side it never looks that way.  He is a ball of wild energy...you can feel it when he walks in a room.  I like one on one interactions with people best...he likes a big group.  I have said it before...he is a dash and I am a dot.  I'd rather write a book, he'd rather scale a mountain.  Many would say we are an unlikely pair.  We have even said it ourselves as we have grown from a couple of starry-eyed teenagers in love (just two years older than our oldest grandchildren right now) into the people we have become today.  But somehow life-long love and commitment changes everything.

Especially when you add 50 years worth of common experiences shared with no other, you love all the same people, and you have the same eternal goals.  We are both Swedish and it may be there that we have found our common ground.  That and The Gospel of Jesus Christ, our posterity and ancestors, and our love for all the great people in our lives.  We have built a life on our love of it together, and hope in our future.  And all of it is laced with gratitude for all of our blessings and a desire to serve others in remembrance of all we have been given.  Even the hard times when our rough edges and barnacles have been ruthlessly scraped away one after the other, until we have come to a better understanding of what our life is all about. 

As I was looking through pictures the other day I found this one above of us.  It is rather goofy and one of those arm's length ones you take when no one else is there to do it for you.  I love this picture because it was a moment that I remember exactly how I felt when it was taken.  I felt completely happy, extreme contentment and the joy of this relationship I have been talking about in this post.  It was his birthday a few years ago and we were walking through the fallen leaves at St. Mary's College campus.  It was an afternoon of just him and me and it was magnificently beautiful that day.

The thing I love most about the thoughts and feelings I am having today is that I know they are real.  They are unclouded by anything hurtful...just the pleasantness of where we have come because we kept on keeping on.  We didn't give up, we kept moving to this joy-filled place.  If there is any message in it, it is what a lovely time of life this is.  I love my husband, my special person like no other.  And I want to witness many more birthdays with him.  God isn't finished with us yet and we are in it for the duration of this earth life and beyond.  And whatever happens it will be good, all good.  And I am thankful for him and who he is and is yet to become.

Reconciliation and Thanksgiving~President Uchtdorf

The following is a talk President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, gave November 19, 2013, at the Salt Lake Rotary Club.
There is a story told of an aging man who made a meager living by selling apples on a busy New York City street corner for fifty cents apiece. Each morning a dynamic businessman passed by this corner on his way to work. He didn’t care for apples, but he wanted to help this elderly man who reminded him of his teacher in grade school. It was a way he expressed gratitude and thanksgiving daily for his former teacher.  So each morning he would give him 50 cents and not take the apple.
One morning, after the daily ritual, the old man called him back. The businessman said, “I know, you are wondering why I never take the apple.”
The old man replied, “I couldn’t care less, but you should know that the price has gone up to seventy-five cents.”
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I mention President Thomas S. Monson, who is an honorary member of Rotary International.  He sends his love and greetings to all of you.  He is one who always encourages us to have an Attitude of Gratitude.

Service above Self

Almost 40 years ago while I was in charge of our Lufthansa Pilot School in Phoenix, Arizona, I became a Rotarian.  Today, I am grateful to be with Rotarians once again.
Back then, I learned to appreciate the purpose of Rotary International: to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards, and build goodwill and peace in the world, regardless of race, religion, gender, or political preference.
The motto “Service above Self” resonated with me back then, and it still does.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints partners with Rotary in many worthwhile efforts. Over the years our charity organization has contributed over $5 million to Rotary in 31 different countries. Our major efforts have been in the field of immunizations, wheelchairs, clean water, medical equipment for hospitals, and help for refugees.

Reconciliation in Action

As a child I learned what it means to be a refugee.  I was one, not once but twice, first fleeing as a four-year-old from Czechoslovakia to East Germany, and then at age eleven escaping across the Cold War border to West Germany.  Both times my family left behind all we owned and started again with nothing.
With heartfelt gratitude I remember the care packages and the generous help that came from the LDS Church during those years.  I can still smell and taste the sweetness of wheat and peaches that came from Utah at a time of great need.
And I will never forget the blessings that came from the Marshall Plan, how it helped Europe and especially Germany to get back on its feet.
Of course, at the time there were also other voices after the terrible war and the destruction Germany had caused. The Morgenthau Plan focused more on harsh punishment instead of reconciliation or compassion. In early 1947 four million German soldiers were still being used as forced labor in the UK, France, and the Soviet Union.1 The last prisoners of war returned in 1955.2
Under the leadership of the U.S., moderate voices―more compassionate voices―succeeded. Blessed compromises were found; reason, common sense, and reconciliation eventually made friends out of foes. Competitors became partners.
Only 14 years after the end of WWII, I was 18 years old when I joined the new German Air Force. I was privileged to be sent to the U.S. for pilot training.  Not to brag but to make a point, I want to mention that I graduated first in my class, receiving the Commander’s Trophy, and returned to Germany as a fighter pilot in the German Air Force.
How grateful I am for all those moderate and wise voices that influenced far-reaching decisions and made my path in life possible. I have seen reconciliation in action.

Thoughts on Gratitude

Let me just share a few quotes about gratitude:
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."3
"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."4
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”5
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”6

A Wonderful Legacy

The U.S. has such a great and inspiring history. It is now 392 years since the pilgrims celebrated their Day of Thanksgiving. 
These people of the Mayflower Compact were 44 Saints and 66 Strangers.7Nevertheless, it was a contract of equality and unity.
During their first winter, 47 died.8 But hope and harvest came again.
H.U. Westermayer said, “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished; nevertheless, they set aside days of thanksgiving, days of praise and prayer.”9
What a wonderful legacy for building a people and a great nation. It is very similar and comparable to the faith in every footstep of the early Mormon pioneers, who built the LDS Church and this great state of Utah. 
Today, some think that Thanksgiving Day should not be connected to God the Almighty but only to country and history.
Let me share with you what George Washington had to say in his October 3, 1789, Thanksgiving Proclamation:
“Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor;  both Houses of Congress have, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."10

Count Your Blessings

With all the busyness and the business going on during this time of year, it is easy to focus mainly on the feasting and not so much on prayer and praise!
Occasionally I like to remind myself of one of my favorite hymns, which reads, “Count your many blessings; Name them one by one. Count your many blessings; See what God has done.”11
A wise man once said, “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables you to count your blessings.”12
Shakespeare said, “O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”13
Enlarging our capacity for gratitude enriches our entire soul.
Gratitude is one of the most important human virtues and one of the most common human deficiencies. Gratitude does not develop without effort.
We can learn this from the fearless handcart pioneers who, by their own strength, pulled their meager belongings in handcarts across the scorching plains and through the snows of the high mountain passes to escape persecution, and then expressed their gratitude in peaceful worship in the Salt Lake Valley.

Our Debt of Gratitude

How can we pay our debt of gratitude for the heritage of faith and courage handed down to us by pioneers and pilgrims?
Elder James E. Talmage said, “Gratitude is twin sister to humility; pride is a foe to both.”14
President James E. Faust said, “A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness.
“[It is with gratitude as with all other] types of human strength: ‘Use it or lose it.’  When not used, muscles weaken, skills deteriorate, and faith disappears.”15
President Hinckley said, “I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.
“I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance.”16
And from President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated 50 years ago this week:  “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”17
We live in challenging but also beautiful times, with great opportunities.
“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”18
A wise man once said:
Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth.19
These values are expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving. They are urgently needed in a time of serious challenges and uncertainty worldwide.

There Is Always Hope

We need only to open a newspaper to realize that we are living in a cynical time.  Trust in public institutions, corporations, and organized religion is declining.  Almost daily, media reports describe the decline of moral decency and the erosion of basic ethical conduct.
In this time of uncertainty, mistrust, fear, rumors of war, and political road rage, is there still hope for integration and openness across different cultures, religions, societies, and political interests?  Is there still hope for virtue, moderation, and divine moral principles?
My dear friends, my answer is a clear and resounding yes! 
But I am also convinced that the axiomatic and eternal principle of moral agency demands that there be “an opposition in all things.”
It ensures that meaningful choices can be made—choices not only between good and evil, but also from among multiple righteous alternatives.
Moral agency refers not only to the capacity to act for ourselves but also that we are accountable for those actions.
I believe one reason for today’s decline in moral values is that the world has invented a new, constantly changing, undependable standard of moral conduct often referred to as “situational ethics.”  Some convince themselves that ends justify means, and that agendas or ideologies must be advanced regardless of collateral damage.
This delusion is in direct contrast to the God-given standards.  The Ten Commandments and other divine laws constitute the commandments of God.  These divine laws are instituted by God to govern His creations and to prescribe behavior for His offspring.

Building Bridges of Brotherhood

The members of our Church throughout the world accept and try to live by ethical principles reflected in our Articles of Faith.  I quote:  “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, . . . and in doing good to all men.  If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”20
This basic declaration is part of our theology and describes the principles and ethics of our desired behavior.
We are not perfect—we know this—but our goals, aims, and ideals are high. If we lived by these principles, courtesy would overcome cursing; dignity would replace disgust; hate would diminish; and love and respect for one another would increase across geographic and ideological boundaries.
It takes courage and humility to put away old hatreds, divisions, and traditions that constrict and confine people into a blind succession of destructive behavior toward others.
“Where there is gratitude, there is humility as opposed to pride; there is generosity as opposed to selfishness.”21
I believe that it is within our reach to breach barriers of hate and build bridges of brotherhood and understanding between opposing cultures, religions, political ideologies, and world views. 

The Power of Christ’s Teachings

Today, the power of Christ’s teachings could bring to pass a miracle, similar to the one Paul described to the people of Ephesus, a people ripe with divisiveness. 
“Without Christ, we were aliens, having no hope.  But now in Christ Jesus we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.22
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”23
Too often the teachings of our respective faiths are kept in an abstract religious box, cautiously separated from personal conduct.  Nevertheless, divine leadership principles are based on the commandment “love one another.”  By reemphasizing this commandment, the Savior has made feeding His sheep one of our ongoing responsibilities that cannot be dismissed without serious consequences.
Selfless adherence to eternal principles and the unwavering commitment to divine truth should be the expression of our gratitude toward our Creator.
Many of you are exemplary bridge builders between nations, cultures, and religions.  The world needs builders, not destroyers.
“Service above Self”—a worthy motto for all of us.

Enthusiastic Ambassadors

Today, our Church has over 80,000 missionaries serving worldwide—young and old—all volunteers.  These missionaries are men and women who serve the people of nations around the world on their own time and of their own money.  They practice service above self, every day, all around the globe. 
When these missionaries return home, they become enthusiastic ambassadors for the countries in which they have served. They come back with a broader view of life. They have the potential to be bridge builders.
These young people leave home to serve with a message of hope, peace, and neighborly love.  They do not tear down other religions but work with them to improve the world by changing the hearts of individuals.  They enter homes and nations through the front door.  They have nothing to hide.  They honor the laws of the nations in which they live.
Though members of our Church are human and thus make mistakes, they are men and women of integrity and honesty, reaching out to those who are hungry, grieving, and in distress. 
They are good citizens in any nation, political system, culture, or economic environment.  They work hard to make their families, schools, communities, and nations better, regardless of culture, language, religious beliefs, or political preferences. 

Trust in God

My dear Rotarian friends, it has been a pleasure and privilege to be with you today.
Let us never forget, God is not merely an abstract concept.  He lives!  As we trust in God and listen to His voice, regardless of our faith and our religion, He will help us personally and collectively, even in challenging times. 
There is always hope.  There is a great future ahead of us.  It is in our hands to make it happen.  You are the ones with compassionate hearts and strong hands. You are the ones who put “Service before Self.” With trust in God, you can do it.
As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I express my love and gratitude at this time of Thanksgiving for all of you, and for the good you accomplish.
Thank you, and may God bless you all.