Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wind in my hair, sunlight dancing through the trees. I cruised the dirt roads without a care in the world. I was free. So this is how bikers feel. That's right I was riding a motorcycle, aka pit bike, miniature automatic motorcycle, not that that makes it any less. I was living my biker mama dreams. I was cool, nothing could stop me, the world was mine in those brief moments of circling the neighbor's vineyard and then I came around the corner with the house in view. My husband saw me coming and whipped out his camera. I could sense his pride as I pulled up. I revved the throttle just to epitomize just how cool I was knowing this footage would be saved for generations to come.
And then I came to a stop like a professional and tossed my hair back for added effect and went to get off the bike forgetting to turn it off and my hand was still on the throttle and off we went, me half on, bike with a mind of its own heading out on another ride without a willing participant. I had entered whiskey throttle territory.
Next thing I remember is the bike crashing, my leg caught behind the tire and going down full on it. My body landing on the exhaust pipe. Did I mention I was wearing my favorite OU jersey? Yeah, it melted. My leg that was caught on the tire, took the full brunt of the incident, with tire tracks embedded on it. Bruises on my stomach and legs but the absolute worse- my pride. Yes, I went from glorious to ridiculous in two seconds and lucky for me it was all caught on video. The family has only replayed it over and over, reeling in laughter each time. And to think we will have that footage for generations to come.
Hmmm. What do I learn from all of this. It can't be pride goeth before the fall. I mean that was a side lesson of the deal. But what I really learned was to finish. I came so close to finishing that ride in glory, but I made one fatal error by forgetting to turn off the bike.
This life is a ride and there are moments just like this one when we get distracted or get caught up in ourselves. Unfortunately when we lose sight of where we are going and what we are doing,other forces in the world take over and we will go down. Sometimes taking others with us, who may follow in our footsteps. We must be focused in our journey, remember what we are doing and where we are headed and endeavoring to take all the steps that will get us back to our Father in Heaven.
This life can be a good one, yes there will be the learning curve and there will be moments out of our control, but if we follow the rules ( keep the commandments) we will avoid the major pitfalls.
To my fellow travelers of life- remember who you are... you are beloved children of a Heavenly King and don't lose sight of where you are going.. back to Him. Let's follow Him to the end and finish this ride in glory.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Some days are just bad ones.  You started out good, you woke up.  Then you hurried into your usual routine to try to get everything done and be on time to the places you needed to be.  You don't have time to think or worry because you are on the time clock.  But then someone says some comment to you and you think huh... I don't think that was a compliment.  You go on.. still trying to decipher the message accurately.  While that is still simmering on the back burner, you run into an old friend, who looks fabulous.  Suddenly, the previous comment and your friend looking fabulous collide and you don't feel so good about yourself.  You see all the time lines looking back at you in the mirror and you sink a little lower.  But you still have so much to do, you can't get bogged down with reality.  And on you go, on your feet all day, can't wait to get home and rest for a minute.  And then you walk through the door and see the clothes on the couch that need to be folded, the dishes that have piled up since breakfast, the shoes and backpacks left strung across the kitchen floor.  Take a breath, you are going to get through this.  Then come the kids.  "Mom.. I'm starving!  What is there to eat?"  (You didn't make it to the store, so now you will have to think up something creative they will have to actually make, like a sandwich.)  You suggest it, that doesn't sound good to them.  So you continue suggesting ideas until they finally decide to come look in the fridge themselves.  Then "Mom, I need this signed.. Mom can my friend come over?"  (I'm thinking...have you seen the house lately?) "Mom, when are you making dinner?"  And that little rest moment you thought you were going to have is over and you start thinking about what to make for dinner before the family dies of starvation.  Then dinner is on the table, the family is fed and clean up begins.  After clean up ends, then you realize the kids are watching tv and not doing their homework.  Turn off the tv, enforce homework, as you listen to the youngest one read to you, you nod off and wake up just in time for the ending and now it's time to gather for family scripture and prayer and hugs everyone is off to bed.  You realize you still have your own homework to do, but you are exhausted, you'll just get up tomorrow at 4 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. to try to catch up. You crawl into bed and reflect back on the day and all you can remember were the unkind words and how old you are and how you didn't make it to the store and how the clothes still need folding on the couch.  It's been a day.

 Every day, especially the bad ones, we just need to pause for a minute and take a breath and maybe another, but not too many because you got things to do, but stop and think about the good.  Think about the blessings.  Count at least 5 that happened that day.  Even on my worst days,  I could still find five things to be grateful for. 

And today the blessing I count is my Dad.  He passed away 5 years ago today.  I'm so thankful for the time I had with him.  My life has been immeasurably blessed because of him. In previous years when I got to this day, sadness would creep in and tears would fall.  But this year, I look back and am just thankful I had him in my life.  I couldn't have asked for a better Dad. Yes, there are still tears and yes I still need him, but undeniably gratitude is the overarching feeling in my heart.

On the very bad day that I  had this week, I remember walking by Christmas decorations in the store.  Usually those trinkets are just reminders of all the shopping and exhaustion that are coming my way and cause me to cringe, avert my eyes, turn my cart and run.  But instead of doing that, a thought of my Dad came and how he would have looked at these decorations and gotten excited, probably would have gone home and put on Christmas music and lit the firecplace.  I smiled.  The thought of him was the greatest blessing I counted that day.  Thank you Lord for giving me my Dad and for all the memories of him that I still get to cherish.

May we go forward in the battle of life counting our blessings, naming them one by one and may we be grateful for what the Lord has done

Sunday, October 18, 2015

They Cared- and it showed.

The cop's lights were flashing as he slowly led the procession to my Grandpa's final resting spot.  I was back in the town where I grew up, Ada, Oklahoma.  The place where funeral processions are still led with a police escort and where many drivers still pull over to pay their respects.

 The last time I witnessed this phenomenon was 32 years ago at my Grandma's funeral, which took place in the same country town.  I didn't expect to see people still pull over to show they cared in this day and age, where everyone is in a rush to get to where they need to be.  Tears streamed down my face with each driver I saw pulled over, most of them in pick up trucks.

I thought about my own life and how busy it is, every time I get in a car I'm in a hurry.  I have places to go and things to do.  These people did too and yet,  they still pulled over to show they cared and I felt it deeply.  My brother and I wept as we passed vehicle after vehicle pulled over to the side of the road to pay their respects. They didn't know my Grandpa and they didn't know us, but that didn't stop them from feeling for what we were going through.

It made me look inward.  Was I that kind of person?  Do I put others first?  Do I stop when someone is in need?  Do I notice the person behind me and keep the door open for them?   Do I observe others and their daily struggles and do something that shows I care?

I realized my personal struggle to reach out to others was one of fear.  I feared I wouldn't say the right thing, or that they would reject my help and I would feel dumb or I would do something that offended them or they would cling on to me so tightly they would suck the life out of me.  So to be many instances... I did nothing.  But I learned doing nothing helps no one.  We have to step out of our comfort zone and step into the shoes of another and feel what they are feeling to know better how to help each other.

My heart was touched over and over with the kind gestures I witnessed with my Grandpa's passing.  The flowers sent by loved ones, seeing my cousins Scott/ Carolyn & Karen's name made me cry.  It wasn't their Grandpa who died, but that didn't stop them from showing they cared.  My friends, Julie and Debbie who drove from OKC to be there, it wasn't convenient they had to hurry back to their jobs right after the funeral, but they came anyway to pay their respects. To the ward members, friends,  Edna Mae, & the senior missionary couple who stopped by and brought meals- it meant a lot.  To my Mom, cousins and siblings, they all had to take time off work, make arrangements for their families while they were gone, not to mention the cost, they still came. And I cried when I heard about my cousin Susan who came and spent the last days with him, playing her guitar and singing by his bedside.  And my cousin Liz who couldn't come but spent hours writing the most beautiful and fitting eulogy for Grandpa. And to Steve, who spent the week at his sister's to give us his house so we could all be together. And to the one arm bandit- a famous cousin who performs the rodeo circuit, who stopped by from his busy schedule to come over and make us laugh and celebrate life.  They cared and I know it... because they showed it.   May I do likewise.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Let my Love of God Show.

Saturday is college football around here.  I think we became converted when our oldest child started watching College Game Day.  Before him, we had our favorite teams and watched them, but then our child became interested and through some failure in parenting, he didn't develop the love for the OU Sooners or the BYU Cougars.  In fact he chose my nemesis, Texas Longhorns to be his favorite team.  This was hard medicine to take.  Did I not teach him right from wrong?  Nonetheless, this is who he cheered for and so to show support I watched some Texas games with him ( it went against everything I believed in, but my love for him was stronger.)   And I found out through watching that Texas had a couple of outstanding players, Colt McCoy in particular.  I was amazed each game when he made some incredible plays and won and interviewers at the end of the game would ask him how he made that great play or whatever question they wanted to ask and one of his first responses was always, "I give the glory to God." It impressed me then... and stays with me even now.  

Not many players still do that.  But on Saturday I watched the Ole Miss/ Alabama game.  I'm not proud of this, but almost always I cheer against Alabama.  One shouldn't go against someone, Jesus does teach us to love everyone. And honestly it's not that I'm against Alabama per se, it's just that they have felt the victory many times before, so I'm all for spreading the love around.  So Ole Miss had them pretty much where they wanted them most of the game, I felt pretty confident they would get the win.  Then Alabama started coming back, those guys just don't give up.  Part of me was glad.  I didn't like seeing them run over and their fans all in the dumps.  So Alabama in the last quarter pulled it back into a one touchdown game and they had the ball.  It was anyone's game and I love games that go down like that... well unless it is OU playing, then I hate such scenarios.  But since it was not my team, I was just an interested bystander seeing how the game would end.  And Ole Miss held on to their win and here came the interviews.  They go to the coach and ask about the last plays of the game.  He gives glory to God.  (What?  A coach gives God the praise and gratitude for how the game went.)  I have watched many football games and that has to be the first that comes to mind where I have seen that.  Many coaches are God fearing men, they just don't proclaim it unashamedly to the world in such manner.  Once more I was impressed.   

In three days, my son comes home.  He has been sharing the word of God with any soul who would stop to listen.  He has been gone two years, living mostly on Navajo reservations eating bowl after bowl of mutton stew, loving the people, and sharing with them unashamedly the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He isn't on a football field with a microphone proclaiming to millions of fans his love for God. But his contribution is no less grand.  He saved his own money about $10,000 to pay for the two year mission.  He studied, he prepared and he left behind schooling and his family and friends to go serve the Lord.  And he is not alone, thousands of young people make this decision every year to put their lives on hold and go and serve a mission for the Lord.  These young people impress me.
Though I may not be able to proclaim my love for the Lord on a football field, or  spend two years on a Navajo reservation, let me unashamedly do it in other ways.  Let me be kind in my words.  Let me be cheerful when I give,  Let me be forgiving when another offends.  Let my actions be love.  (Wait...even for Alabama?)   Alright, even for Alabama.  
Let it be obvious by the way I live, that I too... love the Lord.

Friday, May 16, 2014

What does your finish line look like?

It was a beautiful day for a run.  So I ran and I thought.  I think a lot when I run, in fact my best inspiration comes while running.   Today I thought about the last half marathon I ran.  The first 9 miles were down a steep canyon.  It made for a very fast pace along with very cramped muscles.   I worried at any point my muscles might seize up and I would be laying on the side of the road grabbing my leg in sheer agony like a few of the fellow racers I had passed.  It was not a pretty sight, it really didn't look fun and I really didn't want to join them.  Eventually, the steep canyon leveled out and flat land mixed with hills emerged.  I felt like I was running in quick sand.  I was barely moving.  The only thought playing over and over again in my mind was... Where's the end?  Around every turn I searched for any sign of a finish line.  I just wanted to be done.

 Finally, the end was in sight and I broke into a full out sprint to squelch the agony.  When I quit running, my leg seized up into a full cramp all the way down to my toes.  The very thing I had hoped to avoid I had hit head on.  I was inwardly freaking out and looking around for emergency aid.  I tried to pull my foot the opposite direction to ease the cramp out and I felt it releasing its grip.  Then I noticed tables for massages, I thought this would help my predicament.  It is here that I should mention that I wasn't running this race alone.  I had come with my sister and my son, Jesse and this was Jesse's first half marathon.  I knew my sister's pace would be around the 2 hour mark and Jesse's I thought would be a little before that.   I thought I had enough time to get a massage and still get back to see them finish.   The massage took longer than expected and I hurriedly hobbled off  in search of them.  To my disappointment, when I saw them they were already at the car.   My sister asked where I was. She was looking all through the crowds for me as she ran towards the finish line. ( And her pics on the homebound stretch verified that she was telling the truth- every pic. showed her with this searching look on her face.)  She was hoping to find me cheering for her,  but I wasn't there.  I thought I would have enough time to do both.  I didn't.

The consequences of not being able to see my son finish his first half marathon and cheer my sister over the finish line still fills me with regret.  I wish I could go back and choose differently, but since I can't...learning is my consolation prize.  I learned time is fleeting.  We may not have time to do all we want to do in life.  We have to choose.  We have to decide what is most important to us every day. If we don't prioritize, we will find ourselves in the thick of thin things.  I took a good look at myself and saw the things that I proclaimed were important to me weren't showing up on my radar every day.  God was important to me, but personal scripture study wasn't happening every day.  Some days were busy and I didn't get around to it.  If He is the most important thing in my life.... why were other things taking precedence?  Or my family, they are the greatest treasure to me on earth and yet again on some days I was so busy or tired that I didn't have time or energy left to spend quality time with them.

Whether we realize it or not, there is a finish line and there are consequences for the choices we are making here.  Some people don't believe it or don't care, but that doesn't change the reality.  The scriptures talk of judgement day for everyone and there is no way around it.  The way we spend our time and the choices we make determine destiny.

I hope to write a better ending to my life's race.  That when my sister looks for me, I am there cheering her on.  I hope when my son is accomplishing his goals that I am there to rejoice with him and I hope when my race is over and I am there before God that I can look up at Him confidently knowing I ran well the race He set before me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Keep Trying... has victory written all over it.


It was Sunday- 2 days of watching General Conference (Talks from Prophet and apostles and leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints) was over.  I listened.  I took notes.  I felt inspired and then what.  

Well, after having been scrunched together on couches in the same room for the majority of the two days- we needed out.  We went outside to bask in the sun.  Some just wanted to sit and let the sun warm them and not be bothered.  Others were full of energy and kept running round the house begging me to time them as they ran.  And so began my 1-mississippi, 2-mississippi counting as they ran faster and faster trying to beat the last run time.  Then began tag.  How do these things start?  At first it was easy- there were 2 other people besides myself who wouldn't get off the porch chairs so I would just lean over and tag one of them and then yell no tags back, insuring I had a little rest before I got tagged again.  Then one person moved from the chairs, now it was more complicated, if you were sitting and the person next to you tagged you, you now had to venture out to find someone else.  Ugh- I now needed to go get shoes- I grabbed the shoes closest to the door, my 10 year old daughter's, pink flip-flops.  I came out, she was the first to notice her shoes on my feet and her facial expression clearly revealed she was not pleased with my shoe selection, but her face quickly changed once I ran after her.  She then realized flip flops did slow me down and gave her a better chance of remaining tag free and she made no further comments.

Now everyone was up off the porch and scattered.  Nick, my 15 yr old- perhaps the fastest runner in the family, at home, at the time- (putting all the clarifications in)- had been tagged and I saw he was coming after me.  My first reaction was... Why are you picking on your tired, flip flop footed mom and then a prideful feeling followed...  (I'm not proud of it)  I'll make you sorry for picking me.  I ran out of the yard and through the orchards, where the bee man had recently left cubes of hives of bees everywhere for pollinating, so bees were everywhere. I thought for sure that would change his mind and he would go after someone else.  

After having run up several rows, I looked back to see where he was.  He was still there.  Seriously?  I ran on.  I did an elaborate scheme of criss cross through the orchard, making it hard to detect which direction I was heading.  I looked back, now out of the orchard and on to the other side of an open field.  I could still see him coming for me!  Really, this is ridiculous! 

 But I am not to be deterred... I  mean I exercise all the time, I have run several races, surely he will see there are easier targets than me and give up at some point.  I run on.. so does he.  I run crossing the water ditch canal and look back.. now out of breath... he is still coming.  I yell at him "Stop chasing me!!!"  He does not.  I realize I must run again.  This time around an empty plowed up field.  I see my mistake as I look back, the trail I have taken goes around and he is running straight across instead of taking the trail and has broken any distance I had created.  I now just run- no longer looking back. I now curse my quickly chosen shoe selection!  

Within another minute or two I am caught.  My only victory is that he is out of breath and sweating profusely.  He puts his sweaty arm around me proclaiming, "Sweet Victory!"  He is smiling ear to ear.  I can feel his happiness radiating beyond his being.  It is a tough half mile to endure home, especially with him basking in glory and me resigned to digesting a full helping of humble pie.

It is only after I get home that I decide to watch the only session of conference I had missed- Priesthood session and it is here that I discover the reason for Nick's victory.  Several talks were given encouraging one to never give up.  No matter how difficult a problem or trial- to be steadfast and keep trying and you will gain the victory.  It seems Nick had not only listened to the messages, but had taken them to heart.  I sat there no longer disgruntled over my loss, but smiling that my son had experimented upon the message, tried to live it and found for himself that it was true. His example led me back to my own conference notes I had taken and seeking the Spirit to find which ones I needed to work on. I found a few and hope that I will be just as committed as he was and no matter how hard the journey of change becomes that I will, like him, just keep trying until I have tasted sweet victory.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Something is beginning to grow...

I like to watch the news while I work out in the mornings.  Working out pumps me up.  I feel exuberant afterwards.  But this last week, I hurt my knee and I haven't seen the sun for days and with the latest news stories, I found myself in the dumps.  I watched story after story unfold, marijuana being sold in stores in Colorado and long lines formed out the doors, people waiting in the winter cold to purchase it legally.  I looked at the faces of the people buying it, they were regular folks, young and old and everything in between.  I couldn't believe it.  Then the next segment, a pop star in court twice this week for different incidents.  One of them involved with drag racing and being high on marijuana and prescription drugs and alcohol. Oh yes, drugs are such a good idea, let's legalize more... they make our world so much better!  Rounding off the morning segment is a couple who killed his ex-girlfriend, leaving two small children without a mom.  What a great world we live in!

I sunk in deeper to the gloom, feeling helpless to change it.  The world is spiraling out of control because of people's choices.  Really it all comes down to that.  And if I could get every person to understand one thing  it would be this... Yes you are free to make any choice you want, but your choices will affect more than just you. We are all connected.

 I share exhibit A.  When I was in this frustrated with the world mode, I was transferring how I felt to those around me unknowingly until my daughter voiced how she was feeling, "I just feel agitated and I don't know why."  And then I did a self check... oh yeah, that's me.  My frustration spread like a virus, infecting everyone I came in contact with. 

Then I watched a link on facebook, where these two guys decided to perform random acts of kindness and videoed what happened.  It was awesome.  They paid for the lunch of the car behind them and the guy hears his meal is paid for by the car in front of him and a smile spreads across his face and he flips a thumbs up to those guys.  Then the same two guys leave $500 for a cleaning lady at a hotel.  This girl was having a hard time and when she pulls back the covers and sees the $500 in $20 bill increments, her hand goes to her mouth in incredulity, tears come to her eyes.  She can't believe it.  I feel tears start to come to my eyes and I feel goodness return.  I feel it again later that night when my small son comes to my room with a leg ache.  I rub his leg to try to make it better as he whimpers.  I then go to get medicine.  I watch as he still moans in pain and then I see him on his own, crawl out from under the covers and kneel to say a prayer.  Goodness envelopes my heart.

Though the world may be gray and gloomy, though not everyone has figured out yet that their choices matter and affect others, goodness is still here and if we want to find it... we will have to hang around really good people all the time or become it ourselves.  I realized if I wanted to change the world... I needed to start with changing me.  If I wanted to see goodness, I needed to create it. 

Yesterday it began as I took the time to sit and read with my child, then later smiled at a stranger in the store, then wished someone well that was sick and sent up prayers for them and others in need.  Today is another day to look around and plant some good seeds and I can't help but notice the dark clouds that loomed around for days and held me prisoner have given way to the sun.  It is shining bright and I can't help but think that something good is growing.