Sunday, June 15, 2014

Don't wait for Disneyland

         Don't wait for Disneyland. 
         Disneyland bills itself as "The Happiest Place on Earth".  It is a lot of fun and there is definitely magic there.  But it shouldn't be the happiest place on earth. That should be home. 
        Home is where the heart is.  Where one feels welcome and safe. Where your favorite people are glad to see you.  A place of learning, laughter, songs, prayer, and companionable quiet.
        The happiest place on earth should be wherever you are with your family.  Shopping in Costco on a busy Saturday, I saw a father pushing the cart along the crowded aisles laughing and joking with his children as he had them help look for the items they needed. 
       Disneyland can be a great family vacation.  But it can be very expensive.  Don't wait until you can afford a super vacation to have fun with your family.  Be goofy at home.  Take walks together.  Play in the park.  Explore your neighborhood. Go to free or inexpensive community events.  Play games. Work together - chatting as you work.  Share yourselves with each other.
        My daughter took me to Disney World for a week.  I had a WONDERFUL time.  I want to go again.  But besides the attractions and the rides, the joy was that my daughter wanted to share it with me.  The magic was that cast members treated me - and everyone - like they were so glad to see me / them.  We can create that magic in our homes. 

Fathers

   My parents were only 17 when I was born.  Their marriage did not last.  I did not see my birth father again until after I had a child of my own.  During my childhood there were two more men my mother married, who adopted me, divorced, and moved on without looking back. She married a fourth time after I was married, so he didn't adopt me. We never developed a deep relationship.
     I did a little better in providing a father for my children.  We were sealed in the temple and all my children were sired by the same man.  He provided for us enough that I could stay home with the children, but we always had to scrimp, while he did not.  He didn't just send his family to church; we all went.  He served well and faithfully in many church callings, too.  But whether or he loved us as best he could, it was not enough.  None of us are perfect, I know.  But he didn't love his wife and children as we should have been loved, provide for us as well as he could, preside in the home, or treat us with courtesy. 
      Partly because of the disappointments of the fathers in my life, in contrast I greatly admire and appreciate the men who are true  fathers.  Most of all, I am grateful that my grandchildren have good fathers. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ava's baptism

     This morning I attended the baptism of one of our Primary girls who had recently turned 8.  Time taken away from always too-full Saturday.  This was a Stake youth baptism.  In our Stake, baptisms for all the children who have turned 8 are held on the 2nd Saturday.  Everyone meets together in the chapel for opening song, prayer, talk on baptism and perhaps a musical number.  Then one by one, each ward is dismissed to the Primary/font room for the baptism ordinance.  Baptism complete, the ward leaves the Primary room to another assigned room to wait while the baptizer and baptized change into dry clothes.  While waiting, they might listen to music or watch a video.  When all are together again, there is a talk about the Holy Ghost, the ordinance of confirmation, and welcome by a member of the Bishopric and then by a member of the Primary presidency.  Song, prayer, done.  Today 8 youth from 3 wards were baptized.  We went first, maybe because we had only one baptism and would be quickest.  Completely done in an hour. Time well invested.

     The meeting was very nice.  Nice talks.  The music touched me.

The opening song "When I am Baptized" is one of my favorites.

"I like to look for rainbows whenever there is rain
And ponder on the beauty of an earth made clean again.
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again. 
 
"I know when I am baptized my wrongs are washed away,
And I can be forgiven and improve myself each day.
I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain.
I want to be the best I can and live with God again. "
 
Then children singing "I Stand All Amazed" - another favorite
 
"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.
 
"Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me! 
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!"
 
      That was all lovely.  But when the Priesthood holder, dressed in white, stepped into the water and reached his hand to help young Ava, also dressed in white, step down, I began to cry.  Filled to overflow with a witness of the spirit. So happy for this beautiful, young girl to be making this major step in her life.  So grateful that the Priesthood has been restored on the earth and saving ordinances given to us.  The spirit witnesses to me that this is truth and life.  
 
     Nearly everyone there was damp of eye.   After the closing prayer, Ava, brimming with tears and smiles, hugged pretty much everyone who had come to her baptism.  She clearly "received the Holy Ghost" as invited and felt his witness and Heavenly Father's love.
     
 
 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Should Have Stayed Home In Bed



     2014.03.19  Wednesday 0815 
     One hour of overtime like slogging through mud.  Received a query – forwarded by my boss – “why hasn’t my claim been paid”? No sign of the claim anywhere – not in action queues, not in approver’s queues, not in archives, not as paid or as returned, not in draft.  I cannot find it anywhere in my electronic search or in our paper files of completed claims or stacks of claims waiting to be done. 
     Next, a claim where the employee used a non-contracted non-approved car rental company.  Claims he got a discount, but it looks more expensive than our contracted company.  Same person training either for or from Fish and Wildlife – no authorization or certificate of completion.  Same person - he is charging Parks for tips he paid on not fully documented but expensive shuttle rides. I cannot reimburse the shuttle ride without out a receipt – what he gave us was a schedule. And Parks does not pay tips.  Employees who pay tips can claim it out of their incidentals not charge it as transportation costs.  Three claims from that one person – none of them actionable at the moment. This person may not be my pick for employee of the month.  
    It’s been a long day already and now my regular workday begins.  Let’s hope it gets better.  Bound to, don’t you think?
    0937 Not yet.  Everything I pick up has some kind of unusual problem.  I try to get as much information as I can, run into a dead-end, try another angle and hit another roadblock.  Finally consult a co-worker (Amar, the only one) or Boss to the 2nd Power (all other bosses are out of office at some training thing –giving training, I think).  Amar and Kathryn both stymied.  We all retreat in different directions to look up more information or another person who might know something or finally set it aside to await some miraculous brainwave.  Then I pick up the next item.  Another unique problem I cannot readily understand or resolve.   I think I should have stayed home today.  Possibly stayed in bed.  Aaaah! Sounds so good.
   1030 But wait!  There’s more.  It just keeps coming. In January I scheduled some Travel Reimbursements including one to Larry which, as it turns out, was mysterious $40 too much.  No supporting documentation for the $40 although I reference a Travel Expense Claim we now cannot find.  (I only hope that it actually got scheduled correctly in another schedule).  Tried to contact Larry to either return the check when it arrived or to reimburse Parks the $40.  I have no direct contact information for him, so I was contacting his approver.  I know his approver reached out to him, but I have gotten no word back. Then the Controller’s Office sends me notice that the check they sent out was undeliverable and what do I want them to do – I can give them a corrected address or something else or they can return the funds.  Aha! Yes! Return the funds and we will request a check for the correct amount when we get a good address. Easy fix, right?  So my boss and I think.   I contact the approver and use the e-address he used for Larry and ask both of them for an address update.  Nothing yet. In the meantime, after consulting with my super, I reverse the entries for his (incorrect) reimbursement.   Today I am on the error file. It took half an hour of research to figure out what the error was related to and then I learned that I should not have reversed the entries because that is done by GL (General Ledger) when they get the abatement from SCO (Controllers) (that makes sense, why didn’t I think of that?).  So I had to reverse the reversal to correct the incorrect correction so GL can correct it later.  Got that?
     All the way to morning break without really accomplishing anything except dealing with strange problems most of which without resolution yet. 
     
    

Monday, January 6, 2014

That's Lame

    Today my knee has been really bothering me.  Usually when I put on my brace it feels ok, but not today. Fortunately, it likes biking better than walking.
     Biking home all seemed fine until at still about 4 miles out or so, suddenly the pedals didn't want to go forward.  The nice thing is that as soon as I dismounted and started looking at my bike, another bicyclist showed up to see if I was OK.  I could back-pedal and then it would forward pedal again, so I sent him on. But! it turned out I could only forward pedal a little before I had to back pedal again.  Sometimes I could not even forward pedal half a rotation.  But I could move.  It was that way all the way home, back and forthing sort of like those hand chargers you squeeze and release and squeeze and release. Sometimes I could get several rotations in and begin to hope, when it would stop again. I stopped another time to see if I could see anything wrong and right away a couple of joggers stopped to help.  We find anything.  I told them it wasn't far anyway, and sent them on.  Distance is relative, but I was sure glad my problem wasn't worse.  I could sort of pedal and the bicycle moved along faster than people walking - probably not all that much slower than my usual pace although it felt that way.  I was only a bit over 20 minutes late.  Joseph looked at the bike and can't figure it out either.  We think it's a shop problem.  Now I get to figure out when I can find time to take it in and how to pay for it. 
    I am grateful that the weather is nice.  Nice people stopped to help.  And I made it home.  Also, I have the option of driving to light rail and getting to work by transit.  I am quite blessed even if I do think Sylvia (the bike) going lame is inconvenient.  I am also glad that "Sylvia" doesn't feel pain.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Midnight Miracle and lessons learned

I went on two trips I had never before even dreamed of - each with and as a gift from a (different) special and wonderful person who loves me.  But definitely one of my most significant experiences in 2013 involved a lost dog.

I shared it in testimony meeting and most of you already know about the Midnight Miracle as you suffered through it with me via my blog or in person, but to me it was a really big thing and I contemplate it again and again.

In short my boys found a lost dog which we took in.  We could not find her home and she did not fit in our home.  In fact, she, our other dog, and we were all very, very unhappy.  The dogs wanted to fight and we could not find a safe way to keep them apart without one of them being in total isolation. 

Finally after trying everything we could, we resigned ourselves to sending her to the pound. 

Diamond Cut Loyalty Canine Rescue & Pit Bull Rehabilitation up in Portland,OR (donate if you can) tried to help us in our plight. On that last fateful day their gal was on the phone all day even after the dog had been surrendered.  She talked with every contact she had in our area and others.   Miraculously one of her cat rescue contacts was talking to a friend who was temporarily dogless.  Hearing about the dog we called Miss Jane Pitman, he hurried to the shelter and rescued her just at closing time. 

She and his family are a perfect fit and they love each other. Miss Jane is now Midnight and one happy lucky dog. Mello Mel and I are now FB friends.  I rejoice at the miracle whenever I think of it. 

 lessons - We had to suffer, work, pray, and do all that we could do.  When we thought we had run out of all hope, the miracle happened.  If the Lord will work a miracle for a homeless dog, what does He have in store for His faithful children? We have to do what we can, pray, exercise our faith, and we may suffer, but through it all keep faith the Lord knows you, He knows your problem, and He has blessings in store for you - probably more than you even thought possible.

Friday, October 4, 2013

getting ready

    I believe that just in Old Testament times, we have a living prophet on the earth today who speaks to us in God's name.  Actually, I believe that 15 men are commissioned by God as prophets, seers, and revelators. Isn't that an incredible and exciting thought?!  Well, not incredible, because I do believe and have personal testimony that it is true. 
     We receive their counsel frequently through many media, but twice a year we can see and hear them speak to us in real time at General Conference.  Salt Lake City will be full to bursting with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who have traveled to be there in person. Millions of people around the world will gather in meeting houses or in front of their televisions or computers, probably radios, too.  In some places around the world, people will get together at awkward  times for them to hear it live.  Others will have to wait for the recordings. Quickly the talks will be available to everyone on-line to access any time from then on.  Last night I listened to Joseph Fielding Smith speaking in 1971.  In November our magazine The Ensign will arrive a few days later than usual containing all the talks.  But this weekend we will sit at their feet (electronically) and listen to them speak.
     I admit that not often do they tell us something new or different.  Over and over again they teach us the same basic truths and principles.  We have not mastered them yet.  But they counsel, warn, call to repentance, offer comfort, and inspire us. 
     I can remember a time when conference seemed oh so long to me.  But now even though I admit I sometimes get drowsy and even might drift off briefly, now it is a delight and as each of our leaders comes to the stand I find myself thinking "Oh I like him (or her)!  (S)He is one of my favorites!"
     Our family has food traditions to go with conference.  Breakfast croissants (started to help get people willing to be up and out on time,although late arrivals know they will get a croissant too), lunch with the full-time missionaries, and an ice cream party after the afternoon session.  Which means today instead of going to the office (or preparing for my trip) I will be busy buying and preparing food. (And trying to figure out how to fit it and us in our little car)
   But first I get to drive my son to work because it is excessively windy which is unpeasant and unsafe for bicyclists and I can.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What were they thinking? What would I do if I were there?



  As our family has been reading about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus in Matthew, we have been trying to understand the people who did these terrible things.  And not doing very well. 
   The Jewish leaders – how dumb were they!  It seems to be that either 1) Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God – in which case, pretty stupid to mess with Him. Or 2) He was a fake.  I would think that the less said the better.  Oh, sure He’s popular now, but if He’s a fake, the people will probably get tired of Him when He does not  do all the wonderful miracles and things they hope for.  Oh, wait.  He does.  Back to option 1).   But we know that Jesus is the Christ.  How well do we follow His counsel?  If we don’t, aren’t we denying Him?
   Pilot was Roman, so we don’t expect him to be a believer or to know the scriptures. Yet he seems to almost at least wonder a little, to sort of want to know, but to be a little afraid of what that would mean.  At the very least he knows that Jesus does not deserve what is happening to him.  And yet he goes along with it because he is afraid of the people.  Some conquering ruler he is.  How many times have I not stood up for the right because I was afraid? 
   The soldiers.  Ok, some of them are just following orders and I understand the Roman army could be pretty strict.  Still how can human beings torture anyone or anything? – even under orders I don’t think I could.  I would like to think that I would rather be tortured that inflict torture, although coward and wuss that I am, I don’t know what I would actually do.  But they not only obeyed orders, they went beyond the whipping to the taunting.  To enjoying the pain, humiliation and suffering of another being.  An innocent one at that.  To torture and torment even a guilty person is just not right.  How can people do that? 
    The people.  Really.  What is with people?  How could people so thirst for anyone’s torturous death?!  Let alone someone who had only done good?!  Were some of the people the same ones who had cheered His entry into Jerusalem with waving palms?  Some of them probably were.  People who were always looking to see what interesting/exciting entertainment is going on.  People who want to be in on the action whatever it is. People who are easily swayed by mob mentality. These people I don’t think were acting out of fear of the populace like Pilot.  They gave their brains and emotions to the rabble rousers – they thought, did, said, felt what the mob leaders wanted them to do.  They must be people who pretty much don’t THINK.  I just really hope I would never be that kind of person.  Have I ever gone along with the crowd when I should have stood up against them or at the very least walked away?  Have I bought into what someone else was saying without finding out if it was right, true, or good?
    My heart goes out to His disciples and especially His mother and other special women.  He tried to prepare them.  He told them what was going to happen (perhaps not in gory detail).  But how could anyone be ready for the horrible reality?  Did they doubt Him when they saw Him like that?  Did they understand at all that this was His choice, that He was allowing this to happen? How shaken was their faith?  Not completely, that’s for sure.  They met together in prayer while He was dead.  They didn’t chuck it all and go home saying, “Well, I was stupid.  That was a wasted 3 years.”    They still believed. They may not have fully understood HOW it was all going to work out, but they believed. They still loved Him. If they thought He had been lying to them, would the women still have gone to the tomb to anoint His body?  They still loved Him and wanted to serve Him.  Now THESE are role models.  We want to be found with the other faithful, praying and awaiting His word.
     How great is our Lord and His selfless, immeasurable redeeming love!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Obstacles and Doors

   The other day I had it in my head to do something that I thought might be helpful to both a friend and to me.  I planned to go directly to her house after work and arrange it.  On the way home, I got a flat tire.  That's always a bit inconvenient.  What made it more annoying is that I couldn't figure out what caused the flat which means that the replacement tube may also be in jeopardy. Slightly delayed by this little incident, I continued home instead of to my friend's house - after texting that I would be late.   As I was a bit disgruntled and lazy, I decided to drive the few blocks to her house rather than walk.  Except the car wouldn't start.  So I did walk.  It was a lovely evening and a pleasant walk.  But I wondered -  Was the Lord putting obstacles in my path to tell me that what I was doing was a bad idea?  I didn't have a bad feeling about my plan.  So I wondered, was the Other Guy putting obstacles in my path to keep be from doing something good?  Or was it just that's the way life is sometimes?   Still not too sure.

     But it got me thinking about obstacles and stumbling blocks and doors and things.  When is it a test?  When is it a warning?  When is it our bad brother trying to throw us off? And when is jt just dumb luck?

     Here's what I think.  The Lord is often subtle, but He is not usually really sneaky.  This didn't seem to be the kind of thing He uses (for me usually, anyway) by way of direction.  He sometimes closes doors.  And that is something I often pray for, "Please open and close the right doors for me."  When I was looking for my current job and going on interviews,  I really needed a job, but I also wanted a good fit - a place I would not hate going to work.  I prayed for the right doors.  Places where I interviewed and really did not want to work did not call me.  Even though I thought I muffed this interview, I knew that I would rather work for Parks than most places and they did call me.  I still remember when Liz offered me the job and asked when I could start.  It was Friday and I was at the church working on a ward activity I was in charge of.  I told her I could start Monday and she said, "I am so exited!"  What an uplift that was!   but I digress.  The Lord has given me dark cloud feelings or just kind of dullness or had someone turn me down.  I don't know.  The bike tire and the dead battery just didn't feel like heavenly messages.  But how can you tell?  Do you know?  Yes, of course, you can ASK.  Always should check with the Boss.

    What are some ways the Lord directs your path?  I remember once being called to serve in the Primary presidency, knowing the call was right, but having a dark cloud descend UNTIL I chose the names of my counselors.  Another one,  I don't usually instigate phone calls partly because I have a bad habit of staying on the phone too long once I get there.  But I remember calling a friend who then told me that she had been crying and praying, and then the phone rang and it was me and it was her answer. (!) I don't remember feeling INSPIRED to call her, but I was.  When I made a HUGE decision that runs somewhat counter to the Mormon ideal - so that was a hard thing to choose, everything felt lighter - the air around me, my spirit, even my body (which was not and is not light).  As we implemented the decision,  light came into my home and the lives of me and my children that I had not realized was so badly missing. I was almost afraid that the temple doors would refuse to open for me, but they didn't.  In fact, I remember feeling a "welcome."

   Well, I have rambled and not made much sense and my time is more than up. Can you share -  How does the Lord direct you?