Remember to savor your life's cupcakes!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mary, mother of Christ

(Final installment of the Women of the Christmas story)

I am Mary, and yes, Jesus is my son. Indeed, blessed am I among women. My story is an old one-told and retold from before time began and once again now. It is a story of spirit rather than history, and it's simple and inspiring truth must and will be manifested by the holy spirit rather than by the words of men.

It is a sacred thing-motherhood; whether it concerns the Christ Child, or any one of the precious spirits sent here to the earth. For the pure and undefiled love of a mother for her child brings mankind closer to appreciating the love of God.

Like other mothers, I hoped, dreamed and prayed for the benefits of the child I loved. I prepared meals, swept floors, straightened beds and picked up toys. With him I enjoyed and exalted, sorrowed and wept, learned and grew. He taught me of life and of love~partly because he was the Christ, mostly because he was a child. For me, his mother, he was often a child~reaching, blooming.

It was true what Luke said of me~that after the birth of my son. after the shepherds had come and bore witness to the divinity of my baby, I sat quietly in the soft light and kept all these things and pondered them in my heart.

I was the only mortal alive who knew how I had conceived the Son of the most high. I had been told who he was and what he would become and yet, as I looked at him lying in the manger, he was a tiny babe, needing food and comfort and care. I pondered often and sometimes painfully, and yet, came to a full understanding only when I stood at the foot of his cross. For on that evening in April (celebrated by us on Christmas) was born more than a child. There was born a way of life. The personification of love; the hope of the world form the beginning of time until the end of time. i who conceived him, who nourished him, cared for him and watched him live-and die-give you my solemn word that he was blameless and pure-that he lived to teach and dies to save you. That he was and is and always will be the Son of God. I, Mary, know it to be true.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Innkeeper's Wife

(5th installment of the Women of Christmas)

For generation, my husband's family have been keepers of an inn here in Bethlehem. And now, together, we do the same. Ours is a small inn-humble and unpretentious; nevertheless, it is as clean as we can make it. It is not a large town, this Bethlehem of Judea, endeared to Jewish hearts as the birthplace of David and that of the prospective Messiah.

When came the time of the tax rolls, the proclamation of Caesar Augustus that there shall be a taxing, sleepy Bethlehem was not itself. It's quiet streets were choked with dust and filled with the voices of tired, hurrying people. Though our inn was filled to the rafters, I escaped for a moment to my yard. I stood, gazing down the street, studying the faces. I saw a donkey being led by a strong young man. He was obviously fatigued and yet, different somehow. There was pride in that face. And dignity. He was a poor man and yet, I have seen passing my door great men of the world, with much less nobility. And then I saw the face of the young woman riding the donkey, exhausted and great with child. If the man leading the animal had about him an air of royalty, this surely was a queen. Her face was drawn with fatigue and her simple robes. powdered with a light fine dust, and yet there was no trace of discontent, no shadow of complaint, no faint inclination to murmur. Slowly they came closer and stopped before me. Quietly the young man asked for lodging and my heart fell. The couple drew from me a desire to comfort and serve. I knew that within that hot, crowded, noisy and odorous inn there was no room, no single corner fit for the birth of a child--any child--especially this child. My mind raced. My own room? Impossible. It was crowded already with my own children and members of my family that had come to pay that same tax. The sheds behind the inn? No. But, there was a stable, the shelter we kept for our animals in the recesses of the hills behind the inn. There would be clean sweet straw, open areas to admit freshness and light, but most of all, peace and privacy. And so it was to a humble stable I led them-these two extraordinary young people. I then left them to rest and returned to my work at the inn.

Evening came, and following it, the night. That night. The night foretold for centuries, hoped for. Prayed for. For on that night made glorious by a burning and brilliant star was born in my stable-the son of God, the redeemer of all mankind, the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. I saw him, lying still and small, in a common manger. I stood by while humble shepherds bore witness that it was indeed the Messiah. I stood in the shadows and gazed at the radiance of his person, the indescribable look of joy, peace, and love that transfigured the face if his mother and that of Joseph. I was there. I saw him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wife of Shepherd

My husband is a shepherd. We go into the fields and there, together, we watch the flocks. There are those who say we are poor, that of the many who come and go, wander and stay in this beloved and ancient land, we are the lowliest, the most humble. Humble-perhaps. Indeed, it is what we desire. But, poor? If only I could give you the eyes to see, the heart to feel the incredible beauty of those ageless Judean hills, the deep peace and contentment we've found in the land of unspoiled solitude. For there a miracle unfolded before us while abiding in these fields. That single night when the worlds and eternities stood still and witnessed the birth of Jesus the Christ.

And I was there. It was I who stood with my heart and soul singing, while the glory of the Lord shone round about. The glory of the Lord-there are not words to describe it. It was like...the very first dawning of all creation, and every dawn thereafter, glowing and melting into one--shimmering, shining, throbbing. Awesome and frightening. We were sore afraid. But then came the voice-clear, piercingly sweet, beautiful beyond description, "unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ, the lord." And then, suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will toward men."

I saw what I saw. Wolds without end, it cannot, will not change. For the humble, it is easy to believe as we believed what we heard that night. And because we believed, we went and did see the child lying in the manger. Poor? Ours was a divine gift, a sacred treasure to be kept deep within the heart, pondered upon, cherished and then to be told in great reverence in the quiet of the night to my children and they to their children, generation to generation, forever.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mother of Joseph

(3rd installment of the Women of Christmas"
(My personal favorite)

I am the mother of Joseph. Joseph is a quiet man, strong and steady, with wonderful eyes--kind and gentle and warm. When he enters out home in the evening, with the clean scent of new wood about him and the tiny shavings still clinging to his robe, the room fills with his presence. It becomes a place of peace and contentment. And while he is not given to much laughter, he has nevertheless, a slow sweet smile that transforms his face and warms the hearts of those around him. He is a good man, my Joseph, with a deep and abiding faith in God and the strength to keep His laws. And so it was, when he thought the law had been broken, his eyes spoke of the pain his lips could not and shadows filled this home where had been only love and light.

Suddenly, amazingly, heartbreakingly, Mary was with child. It was not to be believed. Not Mary. And yet it was so. I had only to look into the face of Joseph to know the agony--to divorce or --send away the woman he loved. Joseph was torn with pain and I suffered with him. And then, like a miracle, the shadows were gone. What was said in that moment when a messenger of the Lord spoke with my son is for him alone to know. But the purpose was clear--this woman most dear was to become even dearer. Mary of Nazareth, most blessed among women, was to become the mother of the Messiah. With strength and dignity, filled with faith and the desire to give his Mary as much protection and devotion as possible, Joseph married her immediately and my heart swelled with pride.

You see, of all the souls in heaven, the Lord had his choice of the man to serve as the earthly father of his only begotten son. It was Joseph who would walk with Him through the hills and streets and into the synagogues for evening prayers. My son, Joseph, the carpenter, was to be the earthly father of Jesus, the Christ, Savior of the world. Joseph, my son.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mother of Mary

(second installment of the women of Christmas)

I am the mother of Mary. It was my daughter--young, sweet, pure and ever obedient-to whom Gabriel appeared; my daughter to whom he said, "Hail, thou are highly favored, the Lord is with thee, blesses art thou among women."

In common with other daughters of Israel, Mary had contemplated with joy the coming of the Messiah through the royal line. She knew that some Jewish maiden was yet to become the mother of Christ. But was it possible that the angel's words to her had reference to this supreme expectation and hope of the nation? She had little time to turn these things in her mind, for the angel continued: "Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called Son of the Highest."

With gentle submissiveness and humble acceptance the pure young virgin replied, :Behold the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word." My daughter's promised Son was to be the "Only Begotten" of the Father in the flesh, as it had been abundantly predicted.

That child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father. He was of right to be called the "Son of the Highest."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The mother of John

(Each day I will highlight a different woman from the Christmas Story)
I do not know who wrote this so I cannot give credit where credit is due...sorry...

I am Elizabeth, the mother of John, called the Baptist, the cousin of the girl Mary. The miracle of my conception, the strange and wonderful things that occurred in the life of my husband, the life and death of my son--all are most wondrous and filled with the power of the Lord. Were there time, I would tell you of it all. But there is no time and so I will share with you only one small moment most precious to me that lifted my spirit and made my heart overflow with gratitude for the goodness of God. Within my body I carried a child. As my cousin Mary came to my door I felt my babe leap within me, as the Holy Ghost bore solemn witness that the chosen mother of the Lord stood before me. I returned her greeting with gratitude and reverence: "Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."


She responded with one of the most beautiful and glorious statements of praise known to mankind. "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God, My Savior. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden; for behold, from henceforth al generations shall call me blessed."

God had granted to an ordinary woman the privilege of a personal witness that this was indeed the Christ--Savior of the World.

I bear you this day that same witness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

another story of angels

Another story that was posted on Facebook by a friend...Thanks Britney.

"I went on a date with a friend last night. While we were walking to the restaurant he stopped and talked to a homeless woman and offered to buy her dinner. He bought her dinner and then gave her his coat which was worth at least $150."

"He truly lives the gospel and what it stands for; Props to my homie Jared for staying true."

Jared-i don't know you but props from me too! Another reminder that angels do live among us. Thanks for your example.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

took this gem from a friends facebook posting...

We were given two hands to hold. Two legs to walk. Two eyes to see. Two ears to listen. But why only one heart? Because the other was given to someone else for us to find.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wrong Number Miracle

(Doug found this story)

She could hear the desperation in the voice on the message left on her answering machine. It was 5 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving, and the caller, Lucy Crutchfield, was leaving a message for her daughter telling her that she would send money for groceries, even though she'd have to miss a mortgage payment to do it.

But Lucy had dialed the wrong number. Instead of getting her daughter, she got Virginia Saenz, a real estate agent from the San Diego area.

The message broke Virginia's heart. She did the only thing she could think of. She called Lucy back. She told Lucy that the number she dialed wasn't her daughter's and then told her she didn't need to worry anymore. Virginia volunteered to buy the groceries Lucy's daughter needed so that Lucy could pay her mortgage.

Virginia then called Lucy's daughter and asked her what she needed. All that was asked for was milk and eggs. That furthered Virginia's heartache. She felt that if one was asking for only milk and eggs, they probably needed so much more.

So, Virginia went grocery shopping on Thanksgiving morning with her 14-year-old son in tow to tell her what kids liked to eat. They bought food for a Thanksgiving dinner and enough groceries to get Lucy's daughter through the end of the month.

Angels do live among us.

"I have spoken . . . of heavenly help, of angels dispatched to bless us in time of need. But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind."

"May we all believe more readily in, and have more gratitude for, the Lord's promise as contained in one of President Monson's favorite scriptures: 'I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, . . . my Spirit shall be in your heart, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up' (D&C 84:88). In the process of praying for those angels to attend us, may we all try to be a little more angelic ourselves—with a kind word, a strong arm, a declaration of faith and 'the covenant wherewith [we] have covenanted' (D&C 90:24). Perhaps then we can be emissaries sent from God." (Elder Jeffrey Holland -October 2008 General Conference)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Snake Story

Here's a great story I heard at a meeting I was at recently. It was told by a man who lives in the East Lancaster area. I may not have all the details exactly right-but the gist of the story is as follows:

One early morning-around 4:00 a.m. he was up and planning his day, meditating and praying. He got a prompting to go check the weather. He thought that was an odd prompting and thought "I dont need to know what the weather is going to be today" and continued on with his praying. Anyway, he received this prompting again and thought, "Ok. I will go and check the weather." When he opened his front door he heard the unmistakable sound of a rattlesnake right outside his door. Instinctively he jumped. While he was mid-air he thought,"Great. I am mid-air and the snake is somewhere below me and I don't know where it is and I am barefoot." He landed, not on the snake, but went and got a shovel, found the snake and killed it. (nice story)

A few minutes later he returned to his praying and pondering and wondered why he was so prompted to check the weather and find the snake. And then he remembered. A 16 year old girl came to his house every morning and waited on his porch for a ride to seminary. The Lord was protecting this girl. (He said, I don't know why he found me expendable, but he loved this girl.) He later felt that this girl needed to hear about this experience and so he shared with her how much her Heavenly Father loved her.

I love this story because it epitomizes many things that I love. First-that there is a God in heaven who hears and answers our prayers. Second-we need to act on promptings when we receive them. Third-That our Heavenly Father does indeed love us very much.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Further Protection

One day, years ago, in the town of Gelsenkirchen, Germany there was a missionary who was having a very bad, horrible, rotten, terrible, no good day. She was walking her bike to the repair shop for about the 4th time that week. (And it was only Wednesday!) Frustrated, because instead of working, time was being wasted in bike repairs. Not only that but each repair cost money, and resources were limited. Feeling very alone and sad she offered up a silent prayer to her Heavenly Father, asking him if he saw her or if he heard her or if he was even aware of her plight. And then, she was given a sweet little gift. A vision of sorts. In her minds eye she saw her family at home gathering in family prayer. She heard her earthly father ask in prayer to bless and watch over his daughter and son while they were on their missions. Quick calculations were made, and even though it was later in the day in Germany it was probably the exact time her family was having their morning family prayer at home. Her spirit soared. She knew she was being watched over. She knew someone cared. She felt her burden lifted. She knew that not only did she have a earthly father who cared for her, her Heavenly Father was equally aware of her and did indeed answer her prayer.

(And the bicycle repairman that day took pity and didn't even charge me for my repair!)


"No mother would carelessly send her little children forth to school on a wintry morning without warm clothes to protect against the snow and rain and cold. But, there are numerous fathers and mothers who send their children to school without the protective covering available to them through prayer-a protection against exposure to unknown hazards, evil people and base temptations." -Spencer W. Kimball

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Freshman Year

My niece started BYU this week, causing me to reflect on my own college experience. I started out at BYU about 2 weeks after High School graduation. I was 17 1/2 years old. My mom after a very long and tearful goodbye, left me in my dorm room all alone. My never met nor seen nor spoken to before roommate had not yet checked in. I was alone. I was lonely. The tears and anguish seemed never ending. I had felt the like only world I had known been ripped from me. I did the only thing I knew how to do when I was sad. I got on my knees and prayed to Heavenly Father. After a few minutes of pleading to be rescued from my sorrow, I felt a warm arm drape across my shoulders. I heard a male voice say, "I will be your friend. I will be with you always." This voice was so audible and the warmth across my shoulders was so tangible that I opened my eyes and peeked to see who had come into my room. No one was there. But I was comforted. Those words, "I will be your friend. I will be with you always." have given me support numerous times since then.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

EFY-A couple hudred dollars... Air fare-another 100...

to hear this..priceless.

Chad: Mom, I joined the choir at EFY.
Me: How was it?
Chad: It was really good...but I couldn't sing the last song.
Me: Why?
Chad: I was crying.
Me: Yeah. I know how that is. What song was it?
Chad: "I feel my Savior's Love" (tears start welling in both of our eyes) and Mom I just know that it's true. Jesus Christ does love us. He loves us so much. No matter who we are or how many sins we have...he just loves us.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fishes and Loaves

Years ago I signed up the have the missionaries over for dinner. Money was tight and I only had one pound of ground beef and decided to make enchiladas. As I made these enchiladas I think that I must have been crying inside, knowing that this was all the food we had until payday-which was about 3 days away. I wondered if I was doing the right thing...feeding these missionaries instead of my children. I continued making enchiladas. Rolling the meat into the tortillas and sprinkling with cheese. I made 1 pan...then 2 pans...then a third pan. I couldn't believe how many enchiladas I made with just one pound of ground beef. After the missionaries ate I think I had 3 pans of enchiladas still left. It was a miracle---not unlike the miracle that occured around 2000 years ago. God does live. He still is a maker of miracles.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seventeen years ago today...

Making the decision
to have a child -
It's momentous.

It is to decide forever
to have your heart
walking around
outside your body.

-Elizabeth Stone

Monday, June 8, 2009

Heard in a testimony

"I know Heavenly Father answers my prayers because I ask Heavenly Father to help make the flowers more beautiful...and just look at them." - Morgan, age 5

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Daddy, Fix It

My husband's father passed away yesterday morning at the age of 87. He was a man who could fix anything.

"Fix it, Daddy," she lisps at two, showing the god in her life her scraped knee.

"Fix it, Daddy," she says at four, tearfully producing her broken balloon purchased from the vendor at the parade.

"Fix it, Daddy, " she says at six, struggling with her jacket zipper on her rush out the door to school.

"Fix it, Daddy," she says at eight, confidently wheeling her dented and lop-sided bike toward him as he gets out of hiw car after work.

"Fix it, Daddy," she intones righteously at ten after coming out a loser in a knock-down drag-out battle with her stupid, tyrannical, and absolutely impossible brother.

"Fix it, Daddy," she pleads at twelve in the first of many struggles with her mother over whether she is old enough to wear eye shadow.

"Fix it, Daddy," she sobs at fourteen, when her image hits rock bottom because she didn't make the cheerleading squad.

"Fix it, Daddy," she asks at sixteen, exposing her first broken heart over a lost love.

"Fix it, Dad," she says at eighteen when the college she wants doesn't want her.

"Fix it, Dad," she implores at twenty-two, sending along her mangled checkbook stubs and a 1040 form.

"Fix it, Dad," she begs at twenty-four, when she witnesses a rare conflict between him and her mother.

"Fix it, Dad," she writes at twenty-six, explaining that she wants a quiet wedding officiated by a priest and a rabbi.

"Fix it, Dad," she prays at thirty, when her baby is in the hospital and her husband is overseas.

"Fix it, Grandpa," she insists at 40 when she turns her contrary twelve year old over to him for the weekend.

"Fix it, Dad," she begs at forty-five when he tells her his heart is faltering and needs repair.

"Fix it Father," she prays at fifty-five as she kneels at her dad's funeral, praying that he will find peace and realizing that from now on he will be fixing things for her in a way he never could before. -Delores Curren

Thank you Pat for all you have done!

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The following comes from my local paper dated May 22, 2009

I am a disabled veteran and a member of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 55.

Serving 21 years in the United States Navy with two, very long tours in the Gulf War, I was injured badly twice.

Last Monday I was in Simi Valley shopping at Trader Joe's. I walk with a very bad limp and must use a cane due to my service-connected injuries. A very nice woman approached me, and we started talking. Eventually she asked if I served in the military, and which conflict I was in. She became very emotional and began to cry and asked if she could purchase my groceries. I told her that would not be necessary.

The fact that she thanked me for serving my country was quite sufficient. She really insisted, and finally, I accepted.

She would not give me her name but said God had asked her to "bless somebody today," and I was that person. I then began to cry.

Ma'am. I do not know who you are, but you were my angel and you touched my heart. You made it feel like it was certainly all worth it. God bless you and I thank you so much.

Jerry Alan Foster

Friday, May 15, 2009

One More Tomorrow

I found this in a newspaper years ago.

Tomorrow is about to arrive. My first child preparing
to leave for college, and the family unit will change.

This is not a surprise to me, and yet I am deeply
surprised by how quickly this day is speeding toward

I'm not quite finished with her. I feel betrayed by

This is a happy and healthy step in the expected, and
hoped for, chain of milestones. She is eager and ready
to leave, but I am not nearly ready to let go.

I need to make a few more cupcakes with her, read and
recite from "Good Night Moon" and maybe create one
more fruit basket from Play-doh.

I want to tell her,"Wait a minute!" and have her stand
still. And in that time I would hurry to fill her head
with the things about life that I am afraid I forgot
to tell her. But standing still, she would reply
impatiently, "Yes, Mom, I know. You've told me."

And she would be right; but I can't help feeling that
I forgot something.

Seventeen years ago, as I stood over her crib watching
her breathe, I wrote a letter to my 4-day old infant.
It said, "These are the days when the doorknobs are
unreachable, the summer is long and tomorrow takes
forever to arrive."

In this letter I told her of the plans and dreams I
had for the two of us. I promised her tea parties in
the winter and tents in the spring. We would do art
projects and make surprises for her daddy. And I
promised her experience. We would examine sand and
flowers and rocks and snowflakes. We would smell the
grass, the ocean and burning wood.

I would have the gift of learning about our world once
again, as she absorbed it for the first time.

We experienced so much more that I promised on that
night long ago. We endured many of life's painful
interruptions. When the continuity of our plans had to
pause to accommodate sorrow, we grew from the shared
hurt and the coping.

I never promised her that all of our experiences would
be happy, just that her father and I would be there
with unquestioning support.

When this tomorrow is actually here, I will keep the
final promise I made to my baby daughter. In the
letter I told her, "I will guide you as safely as I
can to the threshold of adulthood; and there, I will
let you go...for the days quickly pass when doorknobs
are unreachable, summers are long and tomorrow takes
forever to arrive."

As I prepare to let her go, I reflect upon her first
day of kindergarten, when I, like countless mothers
before me, said good-bye to a tearful child and went
back to look in the school window a few minutes later.
I needed to know if she was still crying. I believe in
September, when I leave this child at her college
dorm, she will slip down to the parking lot and find
me there, crying.

Seventeen years ago I watched her breathe. Tomorrow, I
will watch her fly.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A sprinkle here...

"I can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or I can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

"All sunshine makes a desert."-Arabian Proverb

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward."-Vernon Law

"The more I prepare, the less fear I have."

"Being a parent means that you have the power to provide security and comfort in a most insecure and uncomfortable world."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Something to think about

There is a painting of a pioneer trail. At the side of the rutted road is a beautiful piece of furniture tossed aside. Elder Boyd K. Packer pointed out that from this picture we can see that pioneers gave up things for their children. As he sadly noted, now it is more common for parents to give up their children for things.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on Easter

So-due to circumstances beyond my control I have been waaaay busy lately! (I don't forsee an end to this either!) Here is some thoughts I had and wanted to share at Easter time...oh well.

I think of his hands
building with wood
blessing the children
breaking bread
pierced and bleeding
to pay the debt
for all mankind
for me-a sinner
such mercy, such love
and devotion
feeding the hungry
healing the sick
raising the dead.
Can I forget? No-
by taking the sacrament
by pondering the scriptures
by serving others
I will praise and adore
my brother
my friend
my savior
at the mercy seat
judging with love
with tenderness
with kindness
at the glorified throne
I kneel at his feet
with reverence
with gratitude
with humility

Oh! It is wonderful!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I still stand all amazed

Oh-about a week ago I prayed to Heavenly Father that I would have a greater appreciation and a deeper testimony of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us. But then I added, that I didn't want to have a trial or anything like that...

Last night one of the counselors in the bishopric called in a panic. The program he planned for Easter had all but fallen apart and asked if I'd be willing to speak on the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Man! It is amazing how our prayers are answered.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sweet Indulgences

My baby boy turns 14 today. (He wants me to call him a man.) So I decided I would indulge myself with some sweet stories from when he was younger that make me smile.

My 5 year old Chad was playing with blocks. I told him that he was building a cool building. He quickly responded, It’s not a building-its an advanced weapons factory.”

When asked by the Primary President what Brigham Young did, young Chad said, "I know he made a team. Brigham Young Cougars."

One day I was asked, "Mom-if our church stops being true...can we play Nintendo on Sunday?" (always thinking)

Once, I was met with this query, “Why are our “eyes” Oh’s ? Our EYES (I's) Oh's (O's) He keeps me on my toes, this one.

Another day Chad pointed out to me that your legs, hands, and elbows are the only parts of your body you can dip. (Where does he come up with this?)

After he started school there was just no holding him back. He came home one day and announced that turtles and chickens can lay eggs so they are oviperous. Then said that mammals don’t lay eggs so they are vivperous. I’ve never checked the accuracy of these statements. Even if they are not true, those are some great made-up words for a 5 year old.

Chad also has a most tender heart, but he often doesn’t let people know that. When he was in Kindergarten, I was making his lunch. Chad said, “Mom, Timmy never has a drink in his lunch at school. Can you pack two today, so that I could give him one?” (Oh my heart!)

Chad still continues to amaze me with his intelligent and observant nature. Happy Birthday Chad! I love you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Here's a novel idea

There is virtually no occasion a cupcake won't provoke a smile...I made these cupcakes the other day...they are yummy. Thought I'd share the recipe...

Coconut Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups all purpoe flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut
6 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (found it on the Asian food aisle)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Put cupcake papers in the muffin tin. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, sweetened coconut in a large bowl. Mix coconut milk and vanilla in a small bowl. (I used a liquid measuring cup) Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.

2. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with wet ingredients and ending with dry. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each to 2/3 full.

3. Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes. (Or until your tester comes out clean) Cool on racks.

I frosted (piled on) with a canned vanilla fluffy frosting and packed on additional coconut. mmmmm.

Now the recipe called for making a frosting, but I just didn't have time. But for those of you with time...

Seven-minute Frosting

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites

1. Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the water, an corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and cook until mixture registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2. Meanwhile, whisk egg whites with a mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. With mixer on medium-low, pour sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream down the side of bowl. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff peaks form and mixture is cool, about 7 minutes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

more cupcakes

One of my first tender mercies came when I was 15 years old. I was getting my patriarchal blessing. Before I received my blessing, I had been earnestly praying to Heavenly Father. I wanted two things from my patriarchal blessing. Now mind you-these prayers were in secret. No one but Heavenly Father knew the desires of my heart. The two things I wanted…I wanted to know if I was going to be married and be a mother. You see, there is nothing I wanted more than that. But I was an ugly, unloved by boys girl who thought I would never be married. I was embarrassed that that was a desire of my heart. The other thing—I did not want my lineage to be from the house of Ephraim. I wanted to be different. The time came for me to receive my blessing. One of the first blessings I received was a promise from Heavenly Father that I would be a mother in Zion. (YES!) The next part of my blessing was counsel from Heavenly Father telling me how cool it was to be from the house of Ephraim. He made it become a desirable thing. Beyond the blessing itself, what I received from this experience is that Heavenly Father is real. He hears and answers our prayers. Even those of a 15 year old girl.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Red Hat

A few months ago I arrived at my bench in church only to find a stranger there. A woman I did not know. I wondered if she felt comfortable wearing jeans amidst all the dress-wearing women. I noticed she had placed a red hat next to her. I imagined the anticipation she must have felt as she picked out her hat for church. How disappointed or out of place she must have felt when she arrived seeing no one else wearing a hat. My heart went out to her. I slid down the bench and told her how pretty her hat was. She responded with a smile and told me I could have it. Of course I thanked her for her kind offer but told her no. I did tell her it would look super cute on me though and held it up over my head and asked where she bought it. She told me she picked it up yesterday at a store in Los Angeles. (A store, by the way, that I probably wouldn't be able to afford even the shopping bag) She told me that I really could have it and that she would just go get another one for her tomorrow. As I sat there I thought how kind she was and that she totally offered me, a stranger, her hat. I thought, I don't even have a stick of gum or a mint to offer her. I was racking my brain thinking what can I give her? what can I give her? When the still small voice told me that I had a gift to offer her even more precious and valuable than a red hat. I knew what I had to do. Being testimony meeting, I got up and my bore my testimony to this woman. As I returned to my row, this woman stood up and with tears in her eyes hugged me and thanked me for giving her the gospel. And she told me that now I HAD to keep the hat.

Footnote to story-I learned later that this woman had accidentally walked into our church. She was looking for the Catholic church which is further down the road. The missionaries taught her later that week and reported to me that my friend said hello and goodbye. She was moving to Los Angeles but promised to look up the church there.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Songs I Cannot Sing

"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads." D&C 25:12

My brother, Dave, in his blog mentioned how how he misses singing. (For those of you who don't know, he has been diagnosed with MS.) His story reminded me of one of my favorites I found in the Ensign a few years ago. (I edited it for space.)

I have never forgotten how, in one fleeting moment, the Spirit was powerfully manifest to me through two bright blue eyes.

The eyes belong to Heather, a nine-year-old girl with a keen mind, infectious giggle, and a determined spirit housed in a frame with great physical restrictions. Because of her handicaps, the simplest of life’s activities are major tasks for her.

Unable to verbalize, Heather sends messages with her eyes. She is quite efficient. A direct gaze means yes, and a blink means no. Through a series of questions, gazes, blinks, giggles, and facial expressions, Heather shares her vibrant spirit and brings joy to the lives of those who interact with her.

One Monday morning, Heather and I visited about the previous weekend. Heather indicated to me that she had attended Primary, so I began singing some Primary songs. A smile broke across her face whenever she recognized a song. I sang her my favorite, “I Wonder When He Comes Again.” Then I asked her if she had a favorite song. Immediately her eyes focused on mine and I was suddenly faced with the challenge of determining which song she loved above all others.

Through a series of questions I discovered that her favorite song was one she had heard in Primary. She wasn’t sure which songbook it was in, but knew it was about Jesus. I went through every possible song I could think of. To my dismay and Heather’s disappointment, none of them was the right one.

Heather came to school the next day more determined than ever to find her song. Tucked in her wheelchair was the new Church hymnbook. I positioned myself next to her and, page by page, we made our way through. I sang the first phrase of each song, and each time Heather’s eyes closed in a definite no. Halfway through the book, I began to sing: “There is sunshine in my soul today …”

As if someone had stuck her with a pin, Heather jumped and smiled. Her bright eyes looked directly at me. Together we laughed. “OK, now we can finally sing your favorite song,” I said. She smiled as I sang the first verse, and as I began the chorus she mustered all the effort she could and joined in with occasional sigh-like sounds. As I finished the chorus she looked at me steadily as if to say, “I liked that part.” I was so grateful I had found the song! I asked if she wanted to hear the rest of the verses and she responded with a firm yes. Again I began:

There is music in my soul today,
A carol to my King,
And Jesus listening can hear
The songs I cannot sing …

Heather’s reaction to that line was so strong that I stopped. I looked at her as the reality and significance of the moment pressed on my mind. “Heather, is that what you like about the song?” I asked. “Is that what you want me to know? That Jesus is listening, and he can hear the songs you cannot sing?” She lifted her head and looked me straight in the eyes. The testimony had been borne.

The moment seemed too sacred for further words. I leaned forward and pressed her cheek against my own. Without words, but through the bright blue windows to her soul, the truth had been made known.

Yes, Heather, Jesus, listening, can hear.

Jean Ernstrom, “Jesus, Listening, Can Hear,” Ensign, June 1988, 46–47

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kindness Still Exists

Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes. Kind words not only lift our spirits in the moment they are given, but they can linger with us over the years.-Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Virtue of Kindness,” Liahona, May 2005
The other day I was at Costco with my almost 87 year old in-laws, Pat and Ruth. It had been a stressful shopping venture. We finally made it through the checkout when my father-in-law announced that he needed to go to the bathroom. So Ruth and I were waiting. I remembered that Ruth needed stamps. I remembered that Costco sold stamps. I left Ruth and ran to get the stamps. Upon my return I told Ruth to go back and get in line...the short one...and I'd wait for Pat while she purchased stamps. Well, as she was heading for the short line a younger man beat her to the line. Grrrr. Was it her fault she was a slower walker? She was so much closer to the line when they both started out. Did the man know that in my mind he had taken cuts in front of an old lady? Well, within seconds, this man turned to Ruth and said, since you only have one thing why don't you go in front of me. (YEAH!) And amazingly enough the next man (who also only had one thing) told Ruth to go in front of him as well. Now, I was watching this scene unfold, unknown to these two kind men. I was watching their faces during the transaction. They couldn't tuck their grins in. They had been kind...and they knew it. A simple act of kindness...and they had a better day. You could just tell from their demeanor. Which got me thinking. Doing a kindness for someone does indeed help the person, but I think that the kind deed do-er gets so much more. The kind deed do-er gets to feel better about him or herself. Try it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sometimes I wish I could...

This story makes me smile. I don't know President Eyring's wife...but I love her!

“My brother and I were in front of the TV one Saturday night around midnight,” says Henry J. “A tawdry comedy show that we shouldn’t have been watching was on. The basement room was dark except for the light from the television. Without warning, Mother walked in. She was wearing a white, flowing nightgown and carrying a pair of shears. Making no sound, she reached behind the set, grabbed the cord, and gathered it into a loop. She then inserted the shears and cut the cord with a single stroke. Sparks flew and the set went dead, but not before Mother had turned and glided out of the room.”

Unnerved, Henry J. headed to bed. His innovative brother, however, cut a cord from a broken vacuum and connected it to the television. Soon the boys had plopped back down in front of the television, hardly missing any of their show.

“Mother, however, got the last laugh,” Henry J. says. “When we came home from school the next Monday, we found the television set in the middle of the floor with a huge crack through the thick glass screen. We immediately suspected Mother. When confronted, she responded with a perfectly straight face: ‘I was dusting under the TV, and it slipped.’ ”

Robert D. Hales, “President Henry B. Eyring: Called of God,” Ensign, Jul 2008

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


"Verily, verily, I say unto you, my servants, that inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you." (Doctrine and Covenants 82:1)

Years ago, when I was not even 20, I helped our neighbors the Bakers with transporting their girls to and from places when they were gone. One day, as I was pulling their Suburban into their garage, I miscalculated the distance between the car and the wall and well---you get the picture. I was sick. I dented up their car and their house. I figured if I became an indentured servant to them I might be able to pay for the damage before I turned 40. Keith and Ellen were expected home that night, so I sat and waited for their arrival. Time went by slowly. Their son and nephews didn't help matters by telling me that Keith was going to kill me. It got later and later. I got sicker and sicker. I did not want to face the consequences that awaited me. After several hours I decided to go home. I left a message for Keith, expressing my sorrow and my willingness to do whatever was needed to rectify this situation. I slept restlessly. In the morning, I heard the doorbell ring. I knew my fate was to be sealed momentarily. A few minutes later my mom came to my bedroom with a message from Keith. He said that when he was a young boy he had crashed his uncle's car and his uncle had taken care of it. Never got upset. Never brought it up again. Keith had been waiting his whole life to do the same thing for someone else. Lucky me.

It was never mentioned again.

This story has taught me alot about forgiveness. And that if a mortal man with mortal weaknesses is able to forgive my trespasses against him, Heavenly Father in his perfectness is totally able to forgive me as well. And never to be mentioned again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

He hears me

So-a few years ago I decided I needed to home school one of my children. It was a hard decision for me to make. The consequences of this choice seemed massive to me. Although I felt really good about this decision, I was still apprehensive and concerned. My prayers were a constant expression of these concerns and fears. At this same time in my life, my calling in church had changed. It just so happened that during the first week of homeschooling, I was to be set apart. The High Councilor who was to set me apart knew nothing of my life and the events occurring in it. He laid his hands upon my head and set me apart. After the formalities were taken care of, the first words he spoke were, "Cindy, the Lord wants you to know that the decisions you have made regarding your family are pleasing to him."

There was more, but that was all I needed.
It was like a cupcake---with extra sprinkles for me that day.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fun Family History

"And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers..." Malachi 4:6

This story about the conversion of my great, great, great grandfather, David Minshall Evans, makes me smile.

In the fall of 1841, David's brother, William, was walking down the street of Liverpool, England, on his way to church. While walking he heard singing...the most beautiful singing he had ever heard. He followed the sound of the music down an alley and up some rickety stairs, to where a few people were congregated. The singer was John Taylor. (The same John Taylor who later became the 3rd President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) Well, the singing was so beautiful that William decided to stay and listen to the sermon. Upon returning home, my great, great, great grandfather reprimanded his brother for missing church. William responded by telling them that he was where they should have been and that they all needed to hear the wonderful truth he had heard that morning.

Before long, both of these brothers were converted to the gospel and then helped convert other members in their family.

This story does not end here.

I later learned that William Minshall Evans is the great grandfather of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of Gordon B. Hinckley. She said of this event, "I never sing the hymns of the church without remembering that is was the singing of a hymn that opened the door to the gospel for my family and made it possible for me to enjoy all the blessings that have followed."

One more point of interest...(I am still smiling)...

Becky and Nancy Hoole, sisters and great, great, great granddaughters of David Minshall Evans married Jeffery and James Taylor, brothers and great, great, great, great grandsons of John Taylor. Fascinating to me---that both great grandfathers on both sides were together in a meeting in England in 1841-one teaching--one learning the gospel.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Small and Simple Things Part II

(may be long---but worth the read)

You would think that I would learn...

In 1988, a dear friend of mine, Krista, gave birth to a boy who died shortly after his arrival to earth. A few years later, Krista moved from Burbank, Ca. to Bountiful, Ut. Shortly thereafter I would periodically, and at random times, receive promptings to call my friend Krista and ask where her son Adam was buried, so that I could go and tend his grave. Now--for me to call Krista would mean that I would have to find her phone number, which in all likelihood was up in the rafters of the attic (in a box with the Christmas card mailing list). As I mentioned, the promptings came at random times and there was always some excuse as to why I would ignore these promptings. Sometimes I would tell myself that it was a ridiculous thought since Rod's family lived in the area. Other times it was that no one was home who could climb up into the attic to get Krista's phone number. One time I even remember thinking, my hands are wet right now because I am doing the dishes. Imagine how I felt when in 2004 I received the following newspaper article from Krista that she had penned.

(Now the good part starts.)

"At Christmastime it is common to see poinsettias and evergreen wreaths decorating the graves in cemeteries.

Search out the baby section of a cemetery and you will also find pinwheels, balloons, teddy bears, toys, ornaments, notes, and every imaginable decoration left by loving parents in honor of their little ones.

For the past ten years I had noticed these graves and had been overcome with sadness as my thoughts would travel to the untended grave of my son Adam, left behind when a new job brought our family from California to Utah.

Adam died as a tiny baby of a rare genetic disorder. We have hung his Christmas stocking on the mantle each year alongside those of his brothers and sisters, talked about him and done our best to keep his memory alive.

But the thought of his neglected grave always left me with an ache that was difficult for others to understand.

In 2003, my sister's family experienced a tragedy similar to ours, when their baby son, Cole, died.

There is much to be said about walking in another's shoes and as my sister grieved over the loss of her baby, she found empathy for me that she had not known before.

The day after she buried her own son in the Bountiful cemetery, she and her husband returned to the cemetery and purchased the plot next to Cole's for our son, Adam.

She then called family members and close friends and quietly collected enough money to cover the expense of having Adam moved from California to the Bountiful cemetery. There were tears of gratitude shed as she presented us with the deed to the small plot and a check that would make it possible to bring our son to Utah.

Thanks to the kindness and generosity of family and friends, Adam was brought home to rest in the Bountiful cemetery. As Christmas approached this year we felt a closeness to our son as we gathered at his grave. The children left little trinkets, messages and flowers and when the snows came they built a small snowman between Adam's and Cole's headstones.

With frequent visits to the cemetery, I have become familiar with the surrounding graves. I know the names of the children buried there and how old each of them was when he or she died.

There are twins and newborns, one-year-olds and toddlers, each with a name and a story.

I know which graves are recent and which have been there 20 or 30 years, visited by mothers now in their 60's and 70s still bringing flowers for their beloved babies.

I give a sigh of relief every time I return and there are no new graves and when I do come upon a fresh grave marked by cut sod and countless flowers, I remember how difficult those first days were and wonder how the parents are coping.

But most of all, I notice the graves that go untended and unvisited.

I wonder if there is a mother whose heart is heavy because distance or other circumstances keep her from visiting the grave of her baby.

Perhaps she cries, as I did, at Christmastime thinking of the little headstone bearing her child's name that sits snow-covered and unadorned as all those around it sparkle with cheery decorations.

Last year, my sister and I started a new Christmas tradition with our families.

Meeting at the Bountiful cemetery, we went through the baby section and placed a small Christmas decoration on each of the nearly 300 graves. Each of these children have a story, each is dearly loved and each, whether near or far from family, has a symbol of this love left on his or her grave.

Just as the Christmas story tells of the three wise men bringing gifts to honor a tiny baby, two loving mothers, their husbands and 13 children will bring small gifts to honor the babies in the cemetery each year at Christmastime.

This new tradition and the joy and comfort it has brought us, will be a highlight of the Christmas season for our families for years to come." (Davis County News(?) Thursday, December 23, 2004, Krista R. Mortensen)

Just for the record, I immediately found Krista's phone number and called and through my tears apologized profusely for my not heeding the spirit.

Do I have a testimony that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and is aware of our sorrows? You bet I do. Am I trying better to follow promptings as they come to me? You bet I am. How grateful I am to Heavenly Father and his tender mercies that come and sweeten my life.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Small and Simple Things

The book "Small and Simple Things" by Marjorie Pay Hinckley has some of my most favorite and most oft quoted thoughts.

"How simple it is, really, to extend a kindness when we see the need. Jesus set the example on many occasions. He led the blind man out of the town. Just a small kindness, but a powerful example. God helps us to recognize the opportunities we have every day to touch lives in small and simple ways." (p. 98)

One of my goals for this year is to act on the promptings that I receive. I have learned that God does indeed give us opportunities to bless the lives of others if we just act on the promptings we receive.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine had baby number 8. I was in grocery store and was prompted to bring her a meal. I felt a little overwhelmed by this prompting. I told Heavenly Father that I would get to it, but that I had other things I had to take care of I ignored the prompting.

A few days later this same friend called me and shared with me something that had happened to answer to her prayers. She told me that a lady in our stake came to her door and said essentially..."Hi. You don't know me very well but I got a prompting that you needed a meal , so here it is." My friend then shared that she had been praying for help.

I, of course, felt horrible. My friend was praying for needed help. Heavenly Father was trying to answer her prayers, through me. I told him I had a better plan. He found someone who was willing to listen to him. I immediately ran to the store and brought over Eggo waffles to my friend. Her kids loved having Eggo's for dinner. Small and simple things.

It is not very often that we get glimpses like this. But, Heavenly Father does hear and answer our prayers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Squeeze Every Minute Out of Life

This is from Erma Bombeck-shortly before she died...

Someone asked me the other day if I had my life to live over, would I change anything.

My answer was no, but then I thought about it and changed my mind.

If I had my life to live over again I would have waxed less and listened more.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy and complaining about the shadow over my feet, I'd have cherished every minute of it and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was to be my only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have eaten popcorn in the "good living room" and worried less about the dirt when I lit the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have burnt the pink candle sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.

I would have sat cross-legged on the lawn with my children and never worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television...and more while watching real life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband which I took for granted.

I would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream.

I would have one to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for a day.

There would have been more "I love you's"...more "I'm sorry's"...more "I'm listening"...but mostly, given another shot at my life, I would sieze every minute of it...look at it and really see it...try it it...exhaust it...and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it.