Different songs from Hello Dolly have been sung in our home very regularly lately. Our sophomore daughter has been a part of this production and we have thoroughly enjoyed seeing it several times the past two weeks. One of the assignments I had the weekend before opening night, was to pull together the props for the scene in Harmonia Gardens (if you remember the movie this is the scene where Louie Armstrong sings the title song to Barbara Streisand). There are 8 tables in this fine dining establishment on stage at Mesa High. I needed plates, silverware, wine glasses, food, vases and flowers.
I have never done anything with props before – but I figured I could find stuff to set a table with. The director, Sandy Stones took the time to give me her vision of the tables and then I was on my own. I did the best I could but I had a few questions long after Mrs. Stones had gone on to solve other issues that inevitably arise. What to do? Do I bother this totally busy, needed by so many people, amazing woman? Do I try and figure it out? Do I ask someone else? This was 3 days before dress rehearsal and to say things were very chaotic would be an understatement!
So the easiest was to ask someone else – which I did. The assistant director didn’t know and directed me to ask Stones. I wandered around backstage and eventually found her – surrounded by several people who needed direction from her (just like I did). I hated to join the line but really had no choice. It was crowded and busy and I waited for my chance to quickly talk to her.
When it was my turn I was amazed at how calm and caring Sandy was. She looked at me and gave me her full attention. We had to move to a different room to get the answer to my question and she willingly came and provided the needed direction. I felt like she was happy to see me, to give me direction, and grateful that I was willing to help.
I have been thinking about this short interaction for a while. I couldn’t help but compare her interaction with me to that of the Savior. I am pretty sure He is busy – but He always has time for me. I know he is aware of what I need. I know he will give me the direction I seek. I feel love, concern, and comfort from Him as I pray.
What a blessing to me to feel of the Savior’s love and be reminded of how the Savior treats me by the way I was treated by another of His daughters. And what a good reminder that I can treat others the same way! Thanks Sandy for being such an example to me of Christ-like kindness and concern!
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Seventy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints shared the following story:
In the late 1980s a man I will call Mr. Brown came to a hospital in Salt Lake City with severe heart disease. Despite the most advanced medications available, his heart could not adequately support his circulation. His medical providers determined that he would soon die without a heart transplant. While he waited for a suitable donor heart, his condition worsened and surgeons had to implant mechanical pumps.
At that time mechanical pumps were useful for only a short time. After a few days other organ systems would begin to fail. All involved in Mr. Brown’s care knew that if a donor heart did not become available soon, he would certainly die.
A suitable donor heart became available, and Mr. Brown received a new heart. Unfortunately, the heart did not work. Now his situation became dire. But just as his doctors were about to give up, another donor heart became available. This donor heart was marginal at best and could not be used for any other recipient. The doctors involved in Mr. Brown’s care decided that this marginal heart was his last hope and that they should attempt to use it.
Mr. Brown soon underwent another operation, and within hours he began to recover. The mechanical pumps were removed, and over the course of 10 days he was ready to be discharged from the hospital.
The day before his discharge, I walked into Mr. Brown’s hospital room and noticed that something was not right. He looked angry. He sat on his bed, gripping the hospital tray with his breakfast on it.
“Mr. Brown, what is wrong?” I asked.
Through clenched teeth, he replied, “The oatmeal isn’t hot, and the milk isn’t cold!”
Think of it! Ten days before, Mr. Brown was near death. Now he was complaining about the hospital food. For that moment he had lost sight of the bigger picture—of where he had been and of the future he now had. He would go on to live 18 years with an excellent quality of life and die of something unrelated to his heart. Elder Renlund article
I wonder how often I find myself reacting like Mr. Brown as I deal with my day-to-day challenges. I think it is easy to focus on the difficulties and choose to be upset or offended instead of taking a long-term view of the situation. I like to think of it as eternal perspective. Am I choosing to see my difficulties as something to depress me or cause hopelessness? Something to be angry or discouraged about? Or do I understand and see them as ways to learn, to endure gracefully, as well as an opportunity to give others the benefit of the doubt?
As Dale Renlund said, “Maintaing an eternal perspective means we remember that life is more than the here and now, that life continues after death, and that our choices have eternal consequences.”
And how do I remember to keep the right perspective? The suggestion Elder Renlund makes is to remember the many good things God has done for us. When I live in gratitude it makes it easier to see my blessings and not be bothered by so many of the inconveniences of earth life. (and quite frankly our inconveniences today pale in comparison of the inconveniences of years ago)
Eternal perspective and gratitude – two things to remember when life is coming hard and fast.
We need each other. Probably more that we understand or realize. And yet – we often try to go it alone – why is that? In my case – it is always due to pride. I don’t want others to think I can’t do it all or perhaps see some of my weakness.
This weekend I saw firsthand how much I need others. I volunteered to help Scott’s brother with a wedding luncheon. I figured that the parents of the groom had more important things to do after the wedding than set up tables and serve food. I figured that they needed me and I could do that – no problem. They brought me everything I needed 2 days before the wedding. As I looked over the food/serving utensils I started making a list (and does that surprise you that I needed to make a list!). I realized that I couldn’t do this alone.
So I called 2 of my sisters who live in town to see if they would help at the luncheon to set up and serve. They also volunteered to bring their 12 year old daughters. I then texted 5 of my friends to see if they had crock pots I could borrow. Between the 5 of them they had 7 (and I only needed 5 and one had a drink dispenser that she let me borrow as well!). I called another friend to ask a cooking question. She had the answer I needed and helped me walk through how to prepare the meat correctly (because killing the wedding party and all of Scott’s family would be a bad ending to the day!). I called another sister for ideas and help with the table decorations (they were having a bit of a problem staying up). She had a great idea as well as some advice to go read the first chapter of a book that would help (and it helped me laugh and gain some much needed perspective). Scott was a huge help hauling stuff, putting up tables and chairs, and providing encouragement. I needed 12 people. Family and friends – if we don’t have one we always have the other – God is good to make sure we have one or both.
That doesn’t count the other people that brought food or supplies, helped with set up and clean up, offered help and expressed gratitude. Marjorie Hinckley said “Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old.” In Virginia H. Pearce, ed., Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley (1999), 254–55
We need each other.
I was thinking today of the words to a John Denver song (yup – I’m dating myself here – and for the record I did have flush toilets, running water, and color TV when I was growing up!)
“Some days are diamonds … some days are stone … sometimes the hard times won’t leave me alone”
Isn’t that the truth. Some days are good – full of good memories and happy times – working hard and feeling accomplished. And other days .. well … not so much. And isn’t part of our time here on earth to prove to ourselves that we can make it through all kinds of days and emerge victorious.
Some days it is a victory to put on clean clothes before dinner and other days a victory is not yelling – even if you were perfectly justified. Some days a victory isn’t crying in the car to or from work and other days a victory is cheering up someone even when you feel lousy yourself. Some days getting one thing accomplished is a victory and other days you feel you could scale buildings and solve all your children’s problems (with them agreeing with your solutions and so grateful for your amazing brilliance!)
For me – the one thing that enables me to get up on those hard days is knowing that Christ has promised: “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua 1:5 I know that sometimes the Savior calms the storm and sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms me. The history of the world is full of those who have struggled and who have remained of good cheer and steadfast to the Lord. To those heroes of mine I owe a huge debt of gratitude for those who came to the kingdom for such a time as this.
One short example – A woman from my church recently came to visit me. It was a get-to-know-you visit. She didn’t really know me and I didn’t really know her. I was struggling with a variety of things and I certainly wasn’t going to let her know of my humanity -so I put on a good face. (Isn’t that what most of us do!) In the middle of our very nice visit (it is nice to have someone want to know us better!) we found a mutual love of an author and she suggested a book by this author that I had never read. Being a voracious reader – I pulled up Amazon and soon had that book coming to me! As I read the book it occurred to me that this wonderful woman (whom I now count as a friend) in suggesting this particular book, knew exactly what I needed to read and think about to help with some of my struggling. Well, perhaps she didn’t know what I needed, but God did. And she listened and I was blessed. God never fails us or forsakes us. Never.
I recently finished the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This biography deals primarily with Lincoln’s cabinet and, as Ms. Goodwin says, “the political genius of Abraham Lincoln”. It details how he took the most able minds of the time (who were often his political rivals) and forged a team that was able to preserve the Union and abolish slavery.
As I read the book I was amazed at Lincoln’s wisdom and courage. I am not a Lincoln scholar. I knew he did an amazing work during the civil war but my knowledge wasn’t much beyond my high school American history class. He was obviously in the right place at the right time and was able to accomplish much. His ability to work with people of different persuasions and thoughts – to bring them together – was unparalleled, in my opinion. He loved the United States and desired to do whatever was needed to keep the country together. He also managed to keep his ego in place (and how often does that happen in Washington?). As US history teacher Richard Hourula said, “Finding a president who was more thoughtful or articulate a writer, more persuasive or eloquent a speaker or more compassionate a human being would be a futile task.”
Walt Whitman said: “Why, if the old Greeks had had this man, what trilogies of plays – what epics – would have been made out of him! How the rhapsodies would have recited him! How quickly that quaint tall form would have enter’d into the region where men vitalize gods, and gods divinify men! But Lincoln, his times, his death – great as any, any age – belong altogether to our own.”
How refreshing to read a biography of such a leader and person as President Lincoln. It makes me want to stand a little taller, be a little more like him, be grateful for leaders that had the courage and wisdom to do the right thing, and reminds me of my love for my country. Thank you God that Abraham Lincoln was come to the country for such a time as this.
About 24 years ago Scott and I had twins that died at birth. Last month my Dad asked me to write a letter to our family from the girls – what they would say to us living here on earth from their vantage point of being in heaven. Below is what I came up with …
We love you and are looking forward to the time when we are able to greet you and share experiences with you! Family is forever and we are so grateful that we can be with you for eternity – please don’t give up – keep moving forward – knowing that it is oh so worth it!
We wish we could share with you what we can see and what we know – but you still have that great privilege of walking by faith, learning from and listening to prophets, and becoming who your Heavenly Father knows you are! How lucky are you to experience earth – to have difficulties and to know through your own experiences that you can choose good – learning to understand and feel the whispering of the Holy Ghost as He guides you – knowing that you can be strong and of a good courage, being not afraid or dismayed, knowing that God is with you wherever you are. He knows you! He loves you!
As you remember people throughout the ages – did the Lord forsake His people when they were trying? Did He leave Nephi? (how many times in 1st Nephi was the Lord there?) Or the Children of Israel as Pharaohs army was chasing them? Or Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail? (just read D&C 121!) Or Esther in the court of King Ahasuerus? No he didn’t. We know that each of you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this! The Lord needs you! He knows your strengths and your weaknesses! And He will make week things strong as you believe and try.
Can we give you a few pieces of advice? Things that are not new to you – but things that we know will help you make good choices, help you to not feel alone, and to have joy.
· Pray. Often. Talk to your Heavenly Father. He is waiting and wanting to hear from you. He often cannot bless you if you don’t ask. So ask! Tell him of your joys and your sorrows. Tell him of your successes and your discouragements. Tell him of your goals and the desires of your heart. Tell him when you are hurt. He is always there.
· Read the scriptures. Every day. There is strength given to you as you read from God’s word. Some of your questions, concerns, and difficulties will be answered as you read. The Lord will often answer your prayers as you read the scriptures. Please give yourself the power that comes from reading the scriptures.
· Be where you should be, when you should be there. As you are obedient to your parents, leaders, and your conscience – you will be blessed beyond your ability to comprehend. You will be able to see Satan and his lies for what they are. You will be able to make choices that will lead you along the pathway to joy and happiness.
It is worth it to follow Christ! Remember the atonement is real – it is for you – so you can repent and so you can be comforted! Never give up! We are waiting for you! We love you!
Last night I went to a fireside where the architect and the stained glass window designer for the Gilbert Arizona LDS temple were speaking. Several things touched my heart.
President Thomas Monson said: “God left the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of finished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation.” March 1988 Ensign
The speakers spoke about the creation of the temple and of the art work inside. It was fascinating to learn of their creative process and to see the beautiful results. The glass designer then remarked that it was his belief that many of the creative talents that we enjoy on this earth were developed before we came here and those talents are just being polished on earth. I loved that thought!
And then (of course) I had the thought that my only talents were being really good at Excel and making lists and I’m pretty sure I didn’t sit in “Listmaking 301” before I came to earth! But Heavenly Father was kind (as he is so often) and reminded me that just because one of the creative arts isn’t a talent of mine – it doesn’t mean that I have no talents that aren’t needed.
A stained glass window is made up of many, many pieces and if even one of those pieces is missing – the finished product isn’t complete. This world is made up of many people with talents to share that all can benefit from – and if one of those people doesn’t share their talents – something is missing.
God is good. We all have talents to share. Someone needs something that I can offer today!