Sunday, September 25, 2011

Charity, Covenants, and Forget-Me-Nots

Sept. 24th Relief Society and Sept.25th 2011

Marnie and I stepped into the foyer at the Stake Center and saw four tables filled with dresses. I thought at that moment I was so grateful I had made an extra effort to make seven dresses. Without anyone looking and busy in the Cultural Hall, I added my dresses to the side table.

Tada! I entered a beautiful decorated and food-filled room that the Relief Society had prepared for us. I was floored at the number of dresses covering the whole, huge cultural hall. The little dresses were pinned as decorations for our meeting and as a reminder of our mission of service. There were boxes everywhere and I had heard there weren't enough boxes to contain the amount of humanitarian kits that had been made through-out the stake. We stood, took pictures, and greeted old friends and hugged the new ones we were meeting for the first time. The first count on the kits were 780 hygiene kits, 200 infant kits, and 562 dresses. We were surprised at the number of dresses still to come in toward the end of the next week. I'm still amazed.

My youngest daughter, Kiely, had arrived a minute before the meeting had started. I knew where she was sitting. The time difference was an hour earlier, but I strained to see her as we sang and the camera swung quickly across the audience in attendance. I thought then, I wouldn't recognize her and the camera was moving so fast and even if it had been slower it would have been hard to spot her, the mother (me) looks for a blond ... and not brunette with glasses. She was there!

Kiely is on the far left and attending with her husband's family
I couldn't help and be in awe of our Sunday Sabbath meeting and the talks presented to us all revolved around the same subjects spoken last night. The talks were about covenants and the Priesthood It was  a widening of what we had heard just the night before. It seems without any knowledge what another is talking about or what the lessons might be, often our Sunday services have a theme. Today is was about our covenants and service to others and the blessing of the Priesthood. I soaked it in.

LDS Conference Center
Last night, at our General Relief Society Meeting, we definitely were uplifted by every single talk that was given to us. I was writing frantically trying to keep some memory of what I was hearing and not even thinking that we would have all this probably again in a week. Of course it's recorded and definitely written down in the Church News. I was a bit wrong on the timing. I saw even before midnight, last night in the Deseret News there was a link on Twitter and there were summaries of what I needed to recall what was said in the meeting. I wanted to share with my Steve the great meeting we were able to attend. I should have sat in the pew and absorbed it in and left the note-taking and saved my pages for what would not be recorded.  I took five pages of notes and my daughter, Marnie, who was sitting next to me took four pages. I had, right in the middle of Sister Beck's talk torn-out of my journal two pieces of paper. Marnie wrote really small, front to back, and I could tell by the time of President Uchtdorf's talk, she was just plain out-of-room.

The talks are online and will be published soon. The printed word seemed to land deeper in me than trying to read the computer. Sister Beck's talk was about granddaughters and what she hopes that they will gain from their knowledge of Relief Society and understand why we have this great organization. I feel the same way and I know that reading our new manual will help us learn even more details of it's beginnings and restoration. That was new to me, restoration of Relief Society. It was an organization of ministry and discipleship organized by the Savior. And it was patterned again after The Priesthood. A restoration.

The early and mid-1800's had lots of organizations for women, but none under the direction of the Priesthood and patterned like the Priesthood. Women weren't voted into their positions, but appointed by those having keys to send direction from our Heavenly Father. Relief Society was organized for a specific work and a place of learning, so that all women will be ready to receive of the temple blessings that we are blessed to obtain.

The challenges that lie ahead for all of us are different in each area of the world, but we have a common desire to provide relief to those challenges and hardships. I can make a promise to myself here, that even though there are life changes and a new direction given, there is always choice of another path we could take.

I will be certain to hold to the rod and not let those paths take me off the course that I have set for my life. We study the early saints to gain a respect and learn from the women that endured to the end in all hardships and trials. We'll also have hard times in this life. We have so many great examples to follow and some that are own family members, our ancestors. The burdens that we carry are made lighter by lifting each other and this provides a way to learn to protect our homes and family. The strength that comes with  caring for others, makes us stronger and more faithful in keeping all the Lord's commandments. It provides standards to live by, examples to follow, and by improves our own discipleship of Jesus Christ.

Sister Allred also had additional admonitions about providing service to all that are in need. She said that by our own service to others we can come to an understanding that helps our own difficulties seem less of a burden. She wants us to remember to "abound in charity."

Again, Sister Thompson spoke of the joy and happiness that comes by keeping our covenants. She promised us that joy, happiness, and protection is ours if we hold to those covenants that we've made. The blessings from these also help us when we have trials of our own. Remember and keep close the covenants and blessings of the Temple.

I could only reflect on how blessed our family has been this past month with the help of our members rebuilding our porches that have been such a danger. I think that my accident in the barn was not as bad, first, because I recieved a blessing of the Priesthood, just after it happened ... and also the pain was lessened, as I fretted about the "Little dresses" getting done in time. It wasn't a burden, it was a determination.

Lastly, we heard from President Uchtdorf. His lovely talk will certainly go down as one of the loved and respected by women. First it is represented by a little flower. That alone endears all of us. The Forget-Me-Not is beautiful and each pedal has a great significance. The flower helps us not to forget the lessons that we have so many times not heard, not understood, or misunderstood before. President Uchtdorf made plain what we needed to hear. The Forget-Me-Not flower is to remind us that Heavenly Father will not ever forget us. He knows each of us and loves us.

The flower metaphor is so lovely I can't help but try and share just a little bit of his talk. The Forget-Me-Not has five petals and each petal that serves as an important reminder to each woman in the church.

The first petal was to help us remember to be patient with ourselves and that Heavenly Fathers knows all of us are imperfect. We are here on earth to strive to become better and that's our purpose. Our time here on earth is for that very endeavor, to improve ourselves and become more like the Savior.

 President Uchtdorf said that the second pedal was to remind us that we needed to pick those sacrifices that are most important. I felt that was an admonition to use our time wisely. Do the sacrifice that will bring the most worth. I was going to embellish each dress with a design on the front to make them even more than just a tee-shirt. If I had done that, I would've have been short, four dresses. I felt this lesson from President Uchtdorf was spoken straight to me. The number was important, not how pretty the dress could be.

The third pedal made me smile because I had recently written a journal entry about enjoying life now and not waiting for a time when___(fill in the blank)___ as in more money, more time, or when we get a longed-for "golden ticket" that allows us to be happy. I need to take some of his advice and enjoy more now. Life is flying by and we need to find joy in the moment. Find our happiness now.

The fourth pedal was that we shouldn't forget the "why" of the Gospel. Why does the Lord ask us to all  these things and how we're suppose to do them? Let's have another meeting (he didn't say that) but our thinking should always have a "why" and remembrance. We all do so much all the time and our focus should always be on the point that it is because, we can feel joy. The things we find difficult or burdensome that we do in the church, become sweet. The "why" should be in our thoughts if we are thinking about what we are doing. It's those negative thoughts or vocal complaints that we maybe feeling ... that really make even any small job, assignment, or calling burdensome and hard. Here is the ***WHY ***. These things are our pathway back to our Heavenly Father. We need to understand what makes the way and the "how" and the "why" inspires and uplifts us. Then it's magnified to an holy consecration to our Heavenly Father. Little dresses and little kits of kindness are changed into something even more special than the joy of giving them.

The fifth pedal is for us to always remember and to be never be forgotten and that is ... that we are loved. No matter what our circumstances we are in, and what we are facing, Heavenly Father knows us and loves us. This love gives us comfort, healing, love toward others, and all that is good. Heavenly Father cares for us with more love than we can imagine.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Relief Society Service Learning

Sept 24th 2011
I finished my little dresses that I had signed-up to do and promised to make for the little girls in the country of Sierra Leone. It was so much harder this time around. When I hurry, I take short-cuts and each time I do that ...  my messes begin with the gathering, adding on the skirt the top side, and it would all bunch-up! I would make small stitches, of course the smallest stitches would be among the many that ended-up where they didn't belong.

The project for Relief Society for this year, was one of service to Muslim girls and boys that live in the poorest country in the world. It's similar to the project we had done last year. This is the country that was mostly taken into slavery at the end of this century for the diamond mines. Sierra Leone and the people who call it home, were the inspiration for a famous movie, "Blood Diamonds" and was written somewhat about the terrible things that happened to a whole country when the greed of people become more important than human lives.

This humanitarian project was started early in the year. It was a goal accomplished without any notoriety and very anonymous. This was a very personal commitment. I guess I'm writing about it now, because I'm so overwhelmed by every one's commitment and great sacrifice of time, energy, effort, and money as a group. I want to share the joy that we have received, by trying honestly to have Christ-like charity.

This Was the picture in The Desert News
 Last year, I made five dresses and made one to represent each of my five daughters. I think the final count of dresses the last time we did this the count for our stake was around 800 dresses. This year I wanted to "Lengthen my stride" and do more, two more. Then, at the same time the Relief Society presidency also wanted to do more, and asked for additional humanitarian hygiene kits ... as many as we could make. One kit was for anyone and all the others would be for infants. These packages have a bunch of very important items contained in them; as soap, a washcloth, diapers (if needed) toothpaste, and toothbrushes and more. The kicker here is my daughter, Kiely and her husband arrived here from Utah after her school let-out in May. She was called as the person that kept a record of all the humanitarian items being turned-in to the coordinator. I would hear her say, "Oh, we need more soap and more toothbrushes." "I hope everyone remembers." I just saw the goal sign and knew I needed to help in this. The sign-up sheet would pass me on Sunday and I just felt I needed to again, do more. We would give knowing that it would be a sacrifice for us money-wise and also I had suffered another fall. (It takes forever for me to get patched-up) Instead of asking for money to buy the washcloths, or other items I had a new idea. .I would go in a store and come-out telling Steve what a great price the soap, washcloths, or toothbrushes were in a bundle. My Steve's very generous and he'd reach in his pocket and pull-out a few dollars and little by little, in time, and I mean THE ... wire, in time... I had done it.

My Seven Dresses
This whole project isn't  exclusively a "Mormon" service. We work with another couple of churches and the person that helps take the needed supplies into the county is a children's doctor from our county of Ventura, California. I think one of the names of the church is Lighthouse Ministries in Santa Monica, but I'm not sure. Again, our church doesn't care about getting recognition, it's mission to provide a very needed service. Stake Centers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints all have assignments on the inspiration of their Relief Society presidencies and the Stake President. I'm not sure there are Mormons in this Sierra Leone because it's exclusively Muslim. I hope they know that we do care about them and saddened that we have so much in clean clothes and bodies and ... we take all of this for granted, the children need so much. This service has been a real catharsis for me and my family.

Mostly, the way of dealing with 9/11 has been one of patriotism, but with also fueled with the emotional hurt and anger directed of a large group of people in this world that want us to not be here or exist. Our feelings should be different and the only way we could truly be Christlike is to love our enemies and love those that strive to hurt us. This process of trying to purify myself has changed me and I can't write or find words to write what my heart feels.

We have brothers and sisters that don't like us, because we are Mormon or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, still ... in our own county. I'm not sure why, because our country was founded on the right to religious freedom. All humanitarian missions have some supplies that go to those of our faith and even more are given to those who are our neighbors and non-members. It isn't as some believe, that we (Mormons) just take care of ourselves.

This particular project has brought a healing and there's not a more combined group of people that have suffered more from 9/11 than those that are a part of the fire service. From the beginning when our country was young, almost all the firemen were related in various departments and these men were usually the poor working class that joined the volunteer departments. Firefighting has been a vocation that really believes in family within the department so much, that they would die for each other. The firefighters are a close-knit family and we all have to believe that Heavenly Father gives justice to all those doing unrighteous acts and still claiming to be of a certain religion. Anyone can become capable and warped, and still belong to any religion. One charismatic person can twist and  provide a way to gain followers to believe an interpretation that's completely off-kilter and do very unspeakable acts of terrorism, just like others before. We know that these things happened in just a few past decades. Who is it that twists and changes scripture and the Prophets voice? The great deceiver, Satan himself.

Oh, the dresses! It was more than a charitable heart that helped me finish what I had started. The spring that holds the presser foot on my sewing machine had quit working. I had to do something and the fix-it shop would take too long and ordering a new one was also out-of-the-question. I used some jewelry tools to fix the wire and continued working on that project, I ran all the straight stitching with the foot off my mother's 1922 Singer. It fit the shank, I've never been so happy to actually rig something that would work. By the time the fourth dress had begun, I had just bent the whole fast-change foot attachment with every bit of muscle in me and the foot stayed. It was better than the day I received the machine and in the mean time, I found that basting and well-ironed garment on a gathered waist or anything for that matter, is actually faster ... because there are no mistakes and no ripping-out endless seams.

The day I finished the dresses the electricity went out all over the county. It came back-on in almost all the areas, but ours. The tree that fell and caused the problem was less than a mile from our house. It went on-line  for the evening, but Verizon came to my door and told us that the electricity would be out again in the morning because the adjustment on the huge electrical towers in our pastures. My work was done and the Lord blessed me and helped me in what I desired to accomplish.

Today, I'm thankful for the help I received and I'm grateful for my daughter, Kiely that pushed me to do more. I'm glad my daughter, Kiely be attending with all of her husband's family at The Latter-day Saints Conference Center, near Temple Square. I look forward to this meeting and have prepared myself so that I can receive counsel and learn in summary, about the new lessons that we'll be receiving in Relief Society this year. I've already learned and received blessings this entire year. The "topping on the cake" will be the final course of the spiritual meal that we have been receiving. Relief Society conference and I'm truly excited to go. Yum.

Added note: Oct. 9th, 2011
Our Relief Society President Carolee Johnson reported:
The final stake count for the stake humanitarian service project was:  926 hygiene kits, 306 infant kits, and 636 dresses.  The Relief Society Stake presidency is sincerely grateful for the time and service given.   Me: All I can think to say about the loving service in our own little Ventura Stake is, wow!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Wake-Up Call

What a great Sunday we've had today! It didn't start out so great. My husband came into our bedroom and shook me, "Get-up, get-up." "We need to be at church a little early this morning." My husband had taken the day off from his fire-duty and we also had Tanner, our grandson, staying here with us. I could see they both were all dressed and ready for church. I wasn't going to church today because I didn't sleep at all, the night before. I had terrible cramps in my leg and arm muscles. The loss of sleep doesn't do well for how I look or act. Sixty-year old women need beauty sleep more than anyone, because when we don't sleep, the red, bloodshot eyes, and our saggy face seems to be greatly enhanced. My hair was in every direction; I thrashed-around all night to find a comfortable position. I needed sleep. Steve said again, "You're going to church." 'No, I'm not!" I said, "Steven, Why are you forcing me to church?" he said, "I can't say, but you HAVE TO GO!" I was back at him, knowing my daughter, Marnie, had an appointment with the Stake Presidency a couple weeks ago (I had watched her little ones) I blurted out in a smarty-tone (remember...I was really grumpy/groggy/sleepy) and I said in a louder than normal, talking voice, "What!" "Is Marnie receiving the Priesthood?"

Steve gave me "the look", anyone who knows us or is related to us, know the "look."  Steve then said, "This isn't a guessing game, you really need to get ready." I CAN throw myself together and be showered, dressed, and hair done,  in 45 minutes. Maybe I'll wear? Anything. I rushed.

Tanner passed the Sacrament and there on the podium sat the whole Stake Presidency. I could see that they were here on business and not to visit our little ward. I reflected on our entrance on the side of the building. It's the entrance that everyone seems to feel comfortable using each week. Maybe it's because of the proximity of Bishop's office and that's the very first office we see ... as we step through the door. Anyway ... we came down the hall and there was my son-in-law, all dressed-up. His suit looked new and he even stood differently, he looked dashing. Yep, perfect word--dashing. I hadn't given that even a thought  until after the Sacrament had been passed. This is where I usually can put 2+2 together, but I didn't quite understand. Just as the Stake President started to announce the change, I knew it was my son-in-laws calling to be second counselor in the bishopric.

Lt: Our Son-in-Law, Steve, Bishop LaPointe, and Brother Ennis

Our son-in-law is a convert of about fourteen or so years and had been called a few weeks earlier. He had some questions and a bit of wavering maybe, of his own abilities, so he needed to talk to my husband. My Steve has been both counselors and also a Bishop. He has on many occasions talked to those coming into these callings. He did only what was asked of him. He help solve their questions and was able to reassure them that the Lord would bless them in their calling. The reassurance comes at the time that they are "set-apart" to do their work, all will fall into place, because of the Priesthood. We often had new bishops here at our house talking to Steve. They would take walks and talk or stand and then sit under the big Oak tree on Sunday afternoons.  I asked him once why do the "newbies" come here and do you tell them how to be a bishop. He said this exactly, "They are here to pick my brain." and then Steve always laughs. The funny part is that he doesn't remember much about it, not the callings he's had, nor the people he met with, nor e any of the fire and medical calls he's been on. Steve has trained himself to forget after the reports are done. He files all of it away in his brain in some dark, secret spot, that has a security lock on it. My Steve did know and was aware that Steve, my son-in-law, was going to be called into the bishopric and there was never a whisper or suggestion of the coming change.

I thought the Stake President, President Jones, was so thoughtful and much like the Savior when he knelt-down in front of Marnie and Steve's children. I thought of the Scriptures I had just read in the Book of Mormon, in 3rd Nephi, Chapters 17 and 18.  President Jones spoke softly and looked in each of their eyes and told them about their dad's new calling. I could see all of them looked back at him, knowing the things that he was telling them was to reassure them that their father was doing an important calling in the Church. We could all feel the Spirit there.

My Steve blessed their father to the office of a High Priest and then Steve, the younger, was set-apart by the Stake Presidency. The Bishop was grinning ear to ear. Brother Bill Ennis, my Steve's buddy, was put in the office of first counselor. We know that these two men will be a great service to our ward and will bless us all.

Bishop LaPointe is... humble, down-to-earth, approachable, and truly could be any man's best friend. He works hard in the "oil patch" now that he retired and sold his business. The men that he works with on the mountain are very rough around the edges. I know the kind. My dad also worked the oil fields and my husband did too. When Steve and I first started dating, my boyfriend, Steve (later husband) met my dad, not at our home or our front yard, but over 25 feet in the air and sitting on the edge of a huge oil tank eating lunch together. My father was one of those "rough around the edges" oil field roustabouts. Our bishop said that he was called by all his oil field buddies, the "grand pooh-paw". The bishop grinned. It makes me sad that the men make light of his position. They have no idea how important and scared a bishop's calling is in the church. Our bishop is forgiving and understands. I know we will be blessed by these great men.

My dear Mother-in-Law, Dune and My Steve
We've had a huge Sunday. Tanner and I cleaned-up the puppy-pens and while my husband was looking on. I gave all the puppies their first puppy shots. I felt they needed this shot to protect them from the stray dogs that linger around the ranch. There are few times when the sleep-need is more than the eat-need. This was one of those evenings and I knew it would be an early-to-bed evening because I couldn't see through my eyelids.

 My bed was calling me and I nearly sleep-walked my way to the hall and into our bedroom. My thoughts were that I had read a lot of Scriptures in class today and was probably enough. I put my head down on the pillow and instead of the instant sleep I expected, I looked right over at my Scriptures and thought of all I'm so grateful for in this world. I couldn't let sleep come without the need to express my appreciation, so I read, I prayed, and sleep came to me quickly.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

10th Anniversary of 9/11 Memorial For Firemen and Heroes

My Captain, Steve Lazenby Station 81 B Shift
It's so hard to go to a memorial... as this is today. Our memorial was for the fire fighters, but the heroes of 9/11 were many and were included in the service. It's Sunday, so we went to Church first and then over to the Ventura Government Center for the memorial. Earlier, one was at our Station 81 and then there was another in Ventura at a later time of the day. My Steve dressed in his full dress uniform as did my daughter's husband,  Steve is a peace officer. They both looked so nice. I wish the departments would do more pictures of them in their dress uniforms, it seems lately that the only time I see the very formal wear is during a sad occasion.

Steve In His Formal Uniform
The day of 9/11 I recall just like everyone else, such shock after the one explosion and then seeing the other happen, as it happened. I cried when I saw the firemen walking together as a squad into the smoke and people running away. Tressa called crying and said, "See those guys? Those firemen?" I said, "Yeah, I do." She said, "Mom they're not coming out." and I returned, "I know." She hung-up the phone. Her husband's also a peace officer.

The towers fell and the firemen and peace officers that responded were gone to dust. I believe that's why this memorial is so important. The firefighters always know that any call could be their last. They have faith and know if protection is needed Heavenly Father will be there to provide it. If Heavenly Father wills otherwise, it's always their hope, that at the time, they "go" while in the service of others.

Sept. 15th 2011
Today Steve went under a big tractor that was used for loading huge, heavy equipment. The trailer had collapsed  on a young man and the real risk in this is ... that the heaviest part went across the young man's chest. An old-time heavy equipment operator and owner was on scene and he climbed into a large crane and lifted the trailer up just enough for the firefighters to rescue the victim. When there was just enough room for my skinny Norwegian captain to get under the trailer, he slid to be beside the young man. Steve wanted to tell me how it seemed his injuries were very severe, but he was talking to him. The young man didn't bleed-out when he was carefully taken-out from under the trailer, and he was speaking to the ambulance crew, too. I said, "Don't you think that's probably not a good place for you to talk to him, right under the trailer?" I didn't understand what my husband was thinking! He said to me he needed to be beside him, he needed information, even if it was only a whisper. If it was the moment of his last breath, he wanted him to know that he had someone there with him and reassure him as he leaves this earth. I asked him, "You could have been crushed if the trailer had slipped, just like the young man that was trapped." He said in a very matter-of-fact and serious tone, "I didn't think of that, I was just doing what we do." That was it, he didn't want to talk of the accident anymore. I could tell the conversation was over, but still wanted to know. "Did you know him?" "No." I asked, "Did he live?" and he added that he was okay and and I don't remember the terms he used but, like critical and stable, and yes, he now he knows who he is. Steve told me that the victim was talking to the hospital staff and doctors, but was really busted-up and that is interpreted as a lot of big.broken bones. "You think you'll talk to him, again?" Steve just gave me the look.

I don't know any firefighter's personal fears or thoughts, but I do know some of my husband's. My firefighter has lost piece by piece parts of him that can't be replaced. First are the images of things he can't ever tell me or show me. The physical parts have been taken by the service to in behalf of the fire department are measured by the chunks, and some of them I recognize easily. What I can share is his hearing loss, his knees, one at a time ... first as an engineer jumping out on one side, and then the other knee, as he has jumped, repeatedly out to help others, as a captain on the other side of the engine. He has a terrible back because he has fallen so many times from wet mud on a mountains,  yanks from another firefighte that has pulled him down, or even the wind as he was trying to close the door to the engine compartment during the Moorpark Fire. He landed flat on his back and then the door had blown-off. My husband has even laid unconscious on the floor of the engine bay, when someone had polished the step to fine that his feet slipped. Steve's legs when under from the top step and he landed on his head and back at about 2:00 AM. Other things just as hard to bear is his gut has been torn, and hernias developed ... when he first started pulling hose lines. There are obvious marks on his face, arms, and feet... all have pre-cancerous patches from the repeated burns. I know his lungs are black from the smoke he's eaten over all the years. I'm grateful everyday that he's still here with me and amazed at his insistence to still go to work, even when his body aches. Every shift is a prayer.

I can't think of anything but sorrow for the families that lost loved ones in 9/11 and have gone ahead to Heaven earlier than expected. The memorial prompted little Presslee, my grand daughter to ask me, "Who died?" Kenna leaned-in to try and find-out why everyone was crying. I'm thinking, "Oh no...How's there a simple answer to this event and of all it represents?" There was a speaker at the podium, and really, how could I whisper? She asked me the same question again; I was taking too long to answer. I told them both quietly and respectfully and that this all happened before they were born.

Following The Memorial, Some of my Grandchildren
Behind is a Piece of the Twin Towers, Physical
Reminder that all of what was said today, really happened.
We as a people, have spent a decade not showing the tragedy of 9/11 on television (for my daughter's that wouldn't even be possible, because they don't receive a signal even from an antenna, they only have wii and videos) I know there was a very important purpose as to why to not show the whole thing over and over in our living rooms. First, it was to the dismay to our enemies who sought to cause more and more pain in the aftermath. And even more importantly it was also for thousands of family members that lost someone there at the Pentagon, the Pennsylvania field, and The Towers, It was out of respect and honor that it wasn't shown. The repetition of it all only would hurt their tender hearts.

Everyone Sang With The Military Band
We all had our Hands on our Hearts. We All Cried
    Flags Were Raised And Then Lowered To Half-mast
The firetrucks though-out the country all carry flags on their engines and trucks. All of the equipment carry the stickers of 9/11 and all of them say that they "will never forget". All the firemen wear their 9/11 tee shirts.

I see a whole generation from about the age of thirteen and fourteen down to little Presslee's age, that now know to ask. This children don't know. My grandchildren do not have a clue to what happened that day, all sixteen of them.  Still, how many children were able to see it, if they didn't have television or the parents didn't turn on the television when they had come home from school. There wasn't the crowd that I had expected at the memorial. Only four visitors came to the memorial in Santa Paula and only two had no family involved in the fire and police service. Two people and it was a well-published event and welcomed all to join in the memorial. Two. There were people standing at the Ventura memorial, but it wasn't crowded.

Steve, second from the Left
I thought the study of history is to remind us of past mistakes and how "man" can lower themselves to do terrible tragedies on others, and not inflict the same horrible disastrous effect that brought so many such extreme sorrow. We are setting ourselves up for forgetting and the circle will repeat itself again. Our media news channels seem to be bent on exaggerating weather extremes and what the new "Reality TV" is going to bring to us this television season. This isn't real and given to us for entertainment. It's on the news, as news.

I don't know what age is appropriate for children to start learning about all this, but I know at some point there needs to be a time to show them. The children need to learn about sacrifice, service, faith, liberty, and freedom. They need to learn about courage and love of fellow beings of the earth and to help everyone. People need to appreciate, to be grateful, and thankful for what we all have in the United States. All of these ideals should be taught in the home and the teachings gently provided and with the guidance of the Spirit.

The Book of Mormon teaches us graphically about war and terrible things that happen when hate, pride, and evil thoughts take hold of a people, and the dreadful results of those intentions. We are taught about the circle of forgetting, the repenting and returning to the blessings of that which comes with the teachings of the Savior, Jesus Christ. We believe that to have the Spirit with us we need a remembrance of the teachings of the Book  of Mormon, The Bible, and all other scriptures that we have been blessed to study and learn from earnestly and with the desire to make ourselves more like Jesus Christ.

The memorial was good because it made me think a lot about sacrifice and teaching. It helped me to remember to write down today. I hope if my grandchildren or children forget these things, that this journal will be another "tap on the shoulder" to remember what they need to know. Children stay humble, charitable, and always trying to sacrifice for the good of others. Please never say, "hate" as one of the four-letter, ugly words and replace it with the one that is always perfect ... and that is, love.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Grandparent's Day? Is That Real?

 Sept 12th
Steve and I has a video, face to face with our granddaughter, Jane's class at school,today. I think it's either 2nd or 3rd grade or both. But it was Grandparent's Day and we were invited! We all used our large Android Tablets to see each other. I'm writing this and I'm thinking the Tango Application has to be the best invention and clearest transmission, surely there will be no better. I know as technology expands at the  "Mach I" rate like it has been, all that I'm saying is that the future will look back at this time and it'll seem  we actually arrived here in Santa Paula in wagon trains. Steve and I always think we have the newest gadget, but we're already behind by four, and counting.

We met Jane's teacher and she has the cutest Southern accent. She was introducing herself and using her high voice, "I'm so happy ya'll could come see us'all taday." The school is in a little town in Central Arkansas. I really don't know how my daughter Bree was able to handle pre-schooler Charlie, Jane, in her school chair and not only hold her little baby, Susan, and hold this Tablet up for us to see everything. It was a juggling act.

My Cute Arkansas Daughter, Bree
Mini Me? No, It's my Newest Granddaughter, Susan
It was a relief that our grandchildren remembered us from our trip back this summer. We laughed about how they must remember our names. Steve wanted to give Charlie a "nickname" so that he'd remember his Grandpa Steve always called him "Spike". Well, Charlie wasn't having none of that! "Ma name is Charrlie!" I tried to write his heavy accent. "Yip!"

I noticed while we were visiting, Charlie would call me by his other grandma's name and that's Grandma Bea. She's also in California and lives the neighboring town. We see each other at special occasions at the stake center. I thought if Charlie called me Grandma Bea one more time, I was going to call him, Spike. There was a nap and a short drive to North Little Rock to see the Old Mill. I was stalling a little because of the weather temperature. I'm not used to this humidity and I'm not running down a cement sidewalk and an uneven slope. I can't even touch the metal fence, let alone hang-on to keep my balance. The fence is so hot it could burn your hand. The weather here is unbelievable, but everything grows. Arkansas is one huge hot-house in the summer. And ... I now I know, why things are slower in the South.
Old Mill, hotter than you can imagine 106 Degrees, 90% Humidity
Charlie said, "Grandma Bea, herrrry!"  and I said, "Okay, Spike,"  "Hayyyy! I'm naw Spike!" "I'm Charrrr-lie!" I countered him with, "I'm not your Grandma Bea, so if you call me by my name, Grandma Susie, I'll call you by your name, Charlie." He said, "Yip, Okay" and started laughing. That worked instantly and he never forgot to call me by my right name the rest of our visit. Steve and I agree Charlie really isn't Spike.

I loved this time we had together "video talking" and it even though it was brief--to us, the chance to see Jane, her desk, her school work, and her teacher seemed incredible. Actually, seeing everyone and hearing the children all around, I can honestly say that it seemed like we were there. The children both called me Grandma Susie and I know it won't be long before Baby Susan will be smiling at us when she realizes that there's crazy people at the other end of the Tango. I had just come out of my swimming class and had my robe on and my hair was all wet, so there in the car we were visiting school on Grandparent's Day.

The teacher needed to finish her presentation and Bree was still juggling the Tablet and Susan, so we ended the call. We visited, we exchanged our love, but missed the touch of tight hugs and little hands and arms squeezing our necks. Oh, how I miss my children and grandchildren and wish for them to be close to me. I feel blessed to be able to have a call we can see, somehow, I think it makes the separation a bit easier. I can only imagine in just a few years, we'll be doing maybe a 3-D visit or jumping in our flying car and buzz back to visit in person. Really!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Don't Put Off What You Love Doing

This is what I'm thinking.... "Today, I need to give advice to my children and grandchildren". It's good advice and I wish someone had told me this while I was a lot younger and stronger.

I know what you're procrastinating in life, my children. You're fussing with your own children and there's no time to accomplish all that you want to pursue in life, right now. You tell yourself, "My passion for ___________ (fill in the blank) will have to come later in life when ____________(fill it in, again)  and I are on our own, and our lives will need hobbies, learning, just doing great things together, because then we'll have the TIME.

Don't wait until you're my age, at 60 years old, to try and do all the dreams you've had in your heart. Don't wait until everything is perfect. If your dad and I had waited until we had the money to birth each of you children, we would be childless. We didn't have insurance until I was seven months along with Kiely. 

One of my dreams was to paint like Nellie Lee. She was an elderly lady that loved to paint and she was very, very good. She only painted a few lovely oil landscapes and then her life on earth was over. 

My hopes were to quilt like Ethyl Dalyrmple, spin wool and crochet lovely little things for my children. I'm not sure my darling children want Christmas slippers, now. Especially, Dustin! I'm not sure I can remember how to crochet, now, and I was great at it at one time. My spinning wheel is broken--but I'm going to buy some wool and get started without my own sheep's wool and while I'm trying to relearn it all, I'm going to work on fixing the sheep shearers, the spinning wheel, the carders, and go dig in all my stuff down in the basement, and find some hooks. Here's where the little doubts creep in. 

It's dark down there and I'll fall and do I have time? I'm still BUSY! Get it? Still, I'm very busy!

I've dreamed of rocking on my porch enjoying the fabulous sunsets, reading and doing my genealogy. Oh, and how I've dreamed of trail-riding with my husband and going out camping in our little egg-shaped trailer.

Please Remember These Words

All my dreams that I have planned for at this time in my life, are not happening. I had to let the porch just rot-off the house before I now, will go out and really do that wonderful goal. I could've set-out to have done this when I had my own little children to rock in my arms, and I could've read them stories and showed them how lovely the sunset was, and how sunsets are a part of God's blessing to us in this glorious world that we have to enjoy. We can enjoy it all now. I'm going to ... and I may even grab a grandchild to sit with me. You all need a rocking chair. Oh, BTW...Cracker Barrel Restaurants have the rockers. I have one in my bin. Soooo, you think the spiders will get me if I try and take it out?

Honestly, I feel like when I'm trying to do something, anything .... it's like digging holes at the beach in the sand. The water level rises up and the sand falls back in the hole and it's shallow again or an in-coming wave brings a bunch of water and sand with it, and my hole utterly disappears. Should I keep digging or wait until the tide is low? Would I still get my task accomplished? No, because the high-tide comes back again. Give-up? I did. I should have moved from the beach.

My time is not wasted, not one bit. I do things that are mostly for good, but as life changes and we become older, time goes faster. It does, I promise. We're truly here living for only a wink of eternity. All of this advice makes me think... Do I really want to make wool junk?

I Can Go With Everything, but "The Flirt With Disaster" and no more "Risks" I've Done Those Things ... Way Too Many Times, Already. *smile*

Races Again! One Half Marathon-Disneyland Resort

We had the time of our lives again at the Grand Californian Resort Hotel at Disneyland in Anaheim. This has become a tradition in our family to get a huge suite not to far-up (firefighter husband keeps us close to the 3rd or 4th level and no higher) and it's always pretty close to the concierge lounge. We had been going for years at Christmas and Halloween, but the park became super crowded. Halloween during the 1970s and 1980s we rode the rides without even standing in line. But, we changed our timing and what a change. We now come when there's more people at Disneyland than any other time of the year. The One Half Marathon and the Children's Marathon are so exciting. There were 14,000 runners and they all had families. Our family is staying on this healthy running trend and a few of them, while they have their knees still, are doing the marathons. They are different than any other of the Wellman-side of the family. The runners receive  lots of goodie bags of stuff and that's FUN!

Everyone Is A Winner!

The children's race and really...the everyone race, has blossomed into a costume race. Just about any attire that's fun and appropriate is allowed. We've done family shirts, but now it's either princess attire or the classic shirts that Disneyland  hands-out to everyone. This time it was Star Wars and the theme was so great for the runners and all that supported them on the route. Star Troopers and Princesses all joined in helping racers along. At the beginning of the race everyone had to swear : "To enter this race, we all want you to promise to not ever go to the Dark Side" Of course, all promised! Hey! They want to run, right? At the end of the race----there HE WAS .... Darth Vader, himself ... trying to get everyone to join him on the 'Dark Side" It really was a big promotion for the new 3-D attraction, but we loved it, adults and children.  Everyone that raced found new friends and we giving "knuckle-bumps" to people that they would run into again in the park or in the Hotel. Congratulations were everywhere.

The Half Marathon was wonderful, as well. Marnie and Larin, my daughters, went all the way to Disneyland with their Aunt Luana and their Grandmother Dune to Florida, to run the Marathon on the east coast.

Princess Run!

The Run For The Bi-Coastal Metal

Everyone Was Congratulating Marnie And Even The Chipmunks. Actually, I Think He Wanted Her Metal

And...if you do both runs, a "Bi-Coastal" metal can be earned when a participant comes here after the Florida race and run the other the Half Marathon here in Anaheim.  Larin's husband just changed jobs and unfortunately it was just the wrong time, even though Larin had paid for everything. Kelsey, Larin's cousin Matt's new bride, ran for Larin. She's a runner, but almost died when she heard that it was so much longer than her usual daily runs. She did wonderful and came in about the same time Larin would have arrived at....guess where? Home plate at Angel Stadium. Is that just so great?

The Half Marathon started before daybreak and I got a picture out of my window of the runners at dawn running in the bottom, right corner from our room. It started with the National Anthem and then a bunch of Disneyland Fireworks. It was a wonderful starting ceremony.

 The Angel's Baseball Stadium
and The Finish Line!

I really didn't want to say the day we all went down there, because everyone that reads this blog will want to do this. It really is the best family event. Every time or each year the different races take the kids and adults to places not seen by the regular visitors to Disneyland. "The Magical Kingdom" makes it really special for everyone, because there's lots of hugging by all the characters, pictures, and awards to all participants. This event is very, very well-planned. Disneyland is almost exactly 100 miles south of our driveway. There's shortcuts and we love them. Okay...I'll say it: This is held on Labor Day Weekend, every year.

 My Steve Is Right In the Middle with the Star Wars T-shirt and 
Marnie and The Little Girls At Her Sides

I'm so proud of my Marnie and grateful for Kelsey and proud of her...she really stepped-up literally for going through with it, even though she hardly slept the night before the run. She finished well. Both did wonderful!

Marnie and Kelsey.  Kelsey Ran For Larin 
and It Was Really Sweet For Her To Do!

That evening we went to a different restaurant than we usually go to celebrate. We love the movie star restaurant in the other hotel with the famous stars of the 1960's and 1970's. This time we went to the Napa Rose, just downstairs from our room in the Grand Californian Hotel. was an extraordinary treat. The kids were bored, so they all went up to eat at the concierge and the concierge does have very healthy food. The children sit and then all watch television. A treat to the grandchildren because they don't have regular TV at their homes. Our menu is one I can't describe, but I did have just one item explained to me, because I want to copy it. Baked chicken with a large piece of lemon grass inserted into a boneless white meat and partly marinated with red cabbage and mango. There wasn't enough time for our waitresses to talk to us about every single ingredient because everyone was asking about the food. Oh yeah, the tenderloin is perfect. I love Napa Rose and it's on my list of favorites for sure.

Great, Great Food
My Chicken is In The Center, Yum!

Steve and I Didn't Sit Right-Up To This Light but, 
This Was My View from Where This Picture was Taken. 
Really Wonderful Atmosphere, Too

My bum leg kept me out of the pool. I brought all my duds for swimming but, I just propped-up my leg on pillows and Steve and I both rested. It was the best vacation. So much to be grateful for all of this and my sister-in-law is the greatest to get all this organized and help us spend time together. I really enjoyed the fireworks, the view, the music outside our big windows and balcony, even the weather was wonderful. The children have so much to do besides go in the resorts. There's a playroom and story time by the big fireplace. OMGsh, it really is a step-away from real life. My Larin is coming next time and she has her big winner metals. My family is amazing and again, I'm so blessed!