Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who doesn’t love a good party?

This morning started out as “one of those mornings”…missing my husband…listening to sad music…then feeling sorry for myself.  Yes, I successfully created a pity party.  Who doesn’t love a good pity party now and then?

I was thinking about the singleness I feel.  How at times you can be in a room full of people, yet, feel so alone.  Missing my best friend.  Missing my greatest supporter.  Just plain missing…everything about him.

So grateful for friends you can call to join your pity party and cry until the “sup sups” start…then you feel oh so much better.  Yes, there is therapy in crying…lots of good, wet, salty tears!

Then, I decided…enough with the pity party.  Time to move forward!  Just so you know, the pity party will come back again someday…but fortunately it doesn’t come around very often!  It is all just a part of the process…and it’s ok.

So, how did I get myself out of my funk? 

Last night, my youngest daughter had just finished showering.  She had a great time, sitting on the shower floor playing with the designated tub/shower toys.  She loves to play with them, but hates to clean them up.

So, after she is done showering, my other daughter goes in to take her shower and starts to throw a huge fit.  She comes running out of the bathroom screaming at her sister to get in there and pick up the toys.  A screaming match starts.  Great. 

Being the amazing mom that I am, I decided it is not fair for my youngest daughter to always leave the toys laying in the shower, especially since no one else has a desire to play with them, and they can really hurt if you step on them!   I tell her to pick them up and she says no.  Really? Did you just tell me no?

Now the battle of the wills begins.  In all honesty, my children are more strong-willed than I am…but I just knew I had to stand my ground.  I informed my daughter if she did not pick them up, I was going to take them out to the garbage in the morning and she would not ever get to play with them again.  She said, “I don’t care.  I am not going to pick them up. I don’t really want to play with them anymore anyway.” 

I gave her every chance to go in and pick up those toys…but she flat out refused.  So, I told her that they WOULD be thrown away.  My other daughter interjects, “Well maybe mom you better not actually throw them away because she might want to play with them again someday, and you know how whiny she can be when she doesn’t get want she wants.”  After she said that, I realized, all the more reason to throw them away!!!
So, she didn’t pick them up.  So guess what I did today? Yep.  I did it!

Hey, sometimes it’s the little things that make us feel happy and amused!
I am actually glad she didn’t want to pick them up.  Now, I don’t have anymore bathroom toys…just one less thing to worry about!

Recently, I took this picture of my daughter and her efforts, or lack thereof, to clean her bedroom.

Yep, kind of tired of their messy bedroom.  I can remember my parents always getting on us to clean our bedrooms.  One day my dad warned my sister and I, that if we did not get our room cleaned up by that evening, something drastic was going to happen.  We didn’t get it cleaned.  I guess we didn’t believe him.

The next day we come home from school.  I will never forget walking into our bedroom.  It was messy before…but I was in total shock at how bad it looked now.  It literally looked like a tornado had hit it.  There was stuff everywhere…not only did he dump out all of drawers, empty the entire closet, take everything off the shelves, he dumped other things in there as well.  Honestly, I just remember that we had to climb over mountains of things to get in there.  It took my sister and I along time to get that mess cleaned up.  After that, we took my dad seriously.  If he said get your room cleaned, we couldn’t move fast enough!

Since my girls still have not cleaned their bedroom…do I do it?  Hah! The thought of it makes me laugh, but the reality of it makes me think it is not a wise choice at the moment!  So, I guess not today… Who knows maybe throwing out the toys will have some sort of impact?  I can only hope.

In the mean time I feel empowered.  I am doing what I can to raise my children on my own. As a single widowed parent you feel a huge amount of responsibility in raising your children.  You are both mom and dad.  You are it…

So, my therapy for today was throwing away some toys.  Who knew that could be so therapeutic.  My message in this post is simple, sometimes it really is the small things that bring us joy. It is about perspective.  It is about attitude.  It is about choice.

Now I can’t wait for them to come home from school and see the empty bucket sitting there!  Here’s to empowerment!  Here me roar!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


 We ALL have perceptions.  Perceptions are impacted by things we may have already learned through stereotypes and past experiences.  Perceptions affect our thoughts and they occur BEFORE judgment.  Judgment is the conclusion. The judgment we make or don’t make impacts our ACTIONS. 

Recently, I was at Walmart.  As usual, there was only a couple of cashiers open. As I got in line behind a woman, I noticed that she had a shopping cart FULL of items.  She also had a handful of coupons.  Oh yes, and she had three children with her that she was wrestling with. Quickly a perception started to form. My perception led to unhappy thoughts. I knew that this was going to take a long time!

As I stood in line…looking and hoping to see another line I could get in to…starting to feel anxious about all the things I needed to be doing…one of the children falls over on the floor and bonks her head…now the mother is trying to console the child…now the cashier is getting frustrated because all the bags are full and there is no where left to put the groceries…it is chaos!

As I stood there, thinking about how I wished I were in a different line (which was not an option anyway), I realized that maybe I could do something to help the situation.   Maybe I should put aside my unrighteous thoughts and help.  I realized that I had the ability to make this situation better.  

At first I was afraid that she would think I was trying to hurry her.  Well, wasn’t I?  Initially, that was my thought, but then I changed my thoughts.  When I changed my thoughts, it changed my actions.

I walked forward to help.  I showed this woman compassion, reassured her that I wanted to help and started to put the bags in the cart.  Then I started to help with the children. Amazing things transpired.  The more I helped the happier I felt.  I actually was happy!

A stressful situation was changed.  This woman hugged me and thanked me for my help.  She told me that just a couple of weeks ago, she was checking out and the woman behind her was getting really impatient.  Evidently, the woman was very irritated that she had coupons. She said the woman got angry with her and said, “If all you are trying to do is save a dollar, I will give you a dollar!”  

As she relayed this story to me, it really made me think. Our thoughts and then actions directly impact the outcome.  I am glad that we had a great outcome!  We all have perceptions/thoughts that may or may not be accurate.    Having the thought is not the problem, it is the action that comes as a result of the thought.  We have the power to change our thoughts and the power to act appropriately! 

I think that Heavenly Father has a lot for me to learn at Walmart!  Just last week, I was standing in line again.  I, of course, was in a hurry.  The woman in front of me was chatting on her iPhone while the cashier was checking her out.  I noticed that she was using government assistance to get her items.  I am ashamed to say my first thought when I noticed this was, “great she is getting government assistance, but she can still afford an iPhone.”  

 Of course, it was not going to be a simple transaction.  When she realized she did not have enough money to pay for her items she started to return them to the cashier.  My thoughts started to change…to one of compassion…kindness…I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to help her.  At first I ignored it.  Would she feel embarrassed if I tried to help her?  I continued to ignore the feeling, but it would not go away. So, I finally listened.

After this woman had put back several of her clothing items, she started to put back her bread.  I stepped forward and told her to put it back.  I told her I wanted to pay for the remaining items.  She looked at me with shock.  She told me it was not necessary, but I told her that I wanted to do it. 

This woman, whom I don’t know and will probably never see again, gave me a huge hug and thanked me profoundly.  I felt so amazingly happy!  I probably felt better than she did.  

It wasn’t about the thanks I received.  It was about the feelings of empowerment I received as I learned that I can change my thoughts and choose not to judge others.  I can act appropriately!  

To have charity we must act first.  I love Dallin H.Oaks explanation of charity, “The reason charity never fails and the reason charity is greater than even the most significant acts of goodness he cited is that charity, “the pure love of Christ”, is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes. Thus, as Moroni declared, “except men shall have charity they cannot inherit” the place prepared for them in the mansions of the Father.”-The Challenge to Become, Ensign, October 2000.

It is through our actions that we become charitable.  Our thoughts lead to our actions.  As I mentioned earlier, is not the initial thoughts we have that are the problem it is how we develop those thoughts and then act.

In a talk about the characteristics of Christ, David Bednar said, “It is interesting to me that one of the central elements of the word character is created by the letters A, C, and T. As we already have seen in the examples of Christ's character from the New Testament, the nature and consistency of how one acts reveals in a powerful way his or her true character. In the case of Christ, he is described as one ". . . who went about doing good" (Acts 10:38)...

I noted earlier in my remarks that the letters A, C, and T form a central component in the word character. Also noteworthy is the similarity between the words character and charity--as both words contain the letters C, H, A, and R. Etymologically there is no relationship between these two words. Nevertheless, I believe there are several conceptual connections that are important for us to consider and ponder.”-The Character of Christ, BYU Idaho, January 25, 2003.

There are times in our lives where we must make certain judgments.  I have learned it is better to err on the side of caution!  Perceptions quickly become judgments.  If we are not careful, we can make unfair/unrighteous judgments and behave inappropriately toward other individuals.  Change your thoughts!  ACT wisely!

My husband was an amazing example of someone who was charitable.  He did not pass judgments on others.  He just loved...when I grow up I want to be just like him!

 In this video clip, what were his perceptions?  Only he (and God) knows.   You can tell what his judgements were by his actions...


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Plans Change

“Once upon a time”…I had plans.  Those plans included romance, marriage, children, growing old with my husband…

Like many young girls, I created my own version of “happily ever after”.   My version had me married by the age of 21.   I would have five children all spaced exactly two years apart (I even knew all their names).  My children would NEVER be the ones with snotty noses dripping all over the shopping carts. I would always be thin and beautiful.  I would be the perfect mom.  My husband and I would grow old together and serve a mission for my church.   You get the picture!

Like many young girls my plans did NOT include trials.  Why would they?  After all, “once upon a time” always means “happily ever after,” right?  I just figured you create your plans and then you “live happily ever after.”

When I was about 2-years-old, my parents realized that I had vision problems and took me in to get some help.  They were informed that I had a lazy eye and that it was imperative they patch my good eye so that I would not become totally blind in the lazy eye.  In addition, I wore glasses.  I must say I looked really cute with my “cat-eye” glasses.   Although at the time I didn’t think I looked cute.

Anyway, my poor vision contributed to some of my shyness.  Partly because I had grown such a fear of things when I was an infant because I could not see properly and partly because once they corrected the problem with glasses I got teased!  Glasses are not viewed the same now as they were then.  I always hated being called four-eyes!

I was so shy, I had to hold my duck in front of me.

Love the hair and the cat-eye's!

See, don't I look cute?

My senior year of high school I entered the job release program and went to cosmetology school.  I was so excited to have my cosmetology license at just 18-years-old.  I thought how cool it was going to be to work until I got married at 21 and then I could quit and stay home.  I could create beautiful hairstyles on my daughters!

When I was in my early twenties, I had already started to see my plans change.  At the age of 21, I felt impressed that I needed to serve a mission for my church.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to England for 18 months.  While I was on my mission, I was able to overcome my shyness and many of my insecurity issues.  People who know me find it hard to believe that I was shy.  Yes, I was terribly shy.  Just ask my family.

I returned home from my mission and started to date.  I became engaged to a really nice guy.  The only problem was I didn’t feel good about it. I couldn’t understand why it was not the right thing.  After all, he was a good guy.  But, those feelings did not change, so I called my wedding off four weeks before it was supposed to happen. It was a very tough thing to do.  Many people questioned me.  I knew that some people thought I was just afraid of marriage.  It was hard knowing or at least feeling that people were “judging” me.  

As I continued to work in a salon doing hair, I came to the realization that my plans were not what I thought they were going to be.  I was now 23 years old and home from a mission and still just dating.  I was not married.  I started to think about furthering my education.  I decided to go to college. 

While working and going to college I continued to date and meet some very nice guys.  Before I knew it, I was graduating from college with my bachelor degree.  I had a double major in Family Studies and Communication.

I still had not met my “Prince Charming”.    I was starting to wonder if he existed.  My plans were quite different from what I thought they would be.  One of the hardest parts of this trial in my life (yes, it was a trial) was to deal with comments I would hear from others.  I heard that I was too picky. I worried that people thought I had blown my chances. I even started to wonder if I had blown my chances. I had opportunities to marry and did not take them.  Was I really too picky?  What was wrong with me?  Whether real or imagined, I was sure that others were wondering the same things too.  I even started to feel like I was not good enough in God’s eyes to be married.

One day, I met a man and we hit it off.  He was so fun to be around.  He was the life of the party kind of guy. We dated. We got engaged.  We made plans.

I started to have concerns.  I ignored the concerns.  My parents were not excited about this match.  Come to think of it, I don’t think any of my family or friends were too happy about it.  They just weren’t vocal about it like my parents.

I had this feeling my fiancé was not being completely honest with me.  I felt like he was seeing his ex-wife behind my back.  He never would confirm it.  Furthermore, he was always telling me things that I needed to fix about my physical appearance.  He would say things like, “tanned fat looks better than white fat”.   He would also say things like, “just think how much I will love you when you get thinner”.  He just knew I could be a size three instead of a seven.  Oh how he loved bright red nail polish on fake nails!

Somehow, I put up with his emotional abuse. This man did not accept me for who I was.  I was not fat.  But he started to convince me that I was.  He would call and check on me every day to make sure that I had gone to the gym.  He would ask me what I had eaten for the day.  He was one of those people who was very good at manipulating you…he made everything he said seem logical and real.

Plan change…one day after being engaged for five months, he informed me that his ex-wife wanted him back.  He said that he wanted to be with me, but if he went back he could be with his young daughter full time.  The rest is history…he chose to go back to his ex-wife.  To this day, I am grateful his desire to be with his daughter was greater than his desire to be with me.  In case you were wondering, yes, he is divorced from his wife again.

After this disastrous relationship, I was done.  I felt like my chances were gone.  I figured that all the plans I created for my “happily ever after” were not to be.  Even though I felt tired and defeated I started to date again.  Not that I was too excited about it.

Just four months later, I met my “Prince Charming” on the bus.  I know funny, right?  He and I both worked downtown Salt Lake City.  I won’t go into all the details on this post, but lets just say, it was a match made in heaven!  While we dated I never had any fear or doubts of any kind. 

A year later we were married.  So, at the age of 32, I married the most amazing man.  I was so grateful and still am that I was blessed to find him.  As I look back, I know that God has been guiding my path all along.  

My husband was previously married.  His first wife suffered from mental illness.  Unfortunately, she chose to take her life.  My heart is sad for her and all the suffering she endured. When I married my husband, I became the stepmom to three children.  I say children, but really they were two teenagers and a young adult.  I was anxious to start having more children to add to the family.  After all, I wasn’t getting any younger and neither was he.  He was seven years older than me.

Well, as usual my plans were changed.  It took longer than I expected.  I was a little bit angry with God.  First of all, He made me wait until I was 32 to get married and now I was forced to wait longer to have children…seriously?  Now I get to struggle with infertility too?

Well, it finally happened after almost three years.   I finally got the double lines on the pregnancy test.  What a thrilling moment!  Plan change…at 25 weeks pregnant I started to have a lot of contractions…preterm labor…I was forced to quit my job and stay home on bed rest for 10 weeks.  Fortunately, only a few weeks early, I had this beautiful new baby daughter.  She got her nickname of Cinnamon at this time because she had the most beautiful colored hair!

My new baby was so beautiful.  My new baby was also very inconsolable.  She cried all the time.  I mean all the time!  I remember one of the nurses in the hospital called her a brat because she was such a fusser.  Obviously, I didn’t like that nurse very much!  Seriously, who tells a new mother their baby is a brat?

To say that the first few months with our new baby was rough is an understatement.  My baby was fussy while she ate.  She would arch her back when she has held. She was so upset at three days old that she managed to roll over from her back to her stomach.  Not only was she fussy, she was not gaining any weight.   After testing in the hospital and an overnight stay, it was determined that she had severe reflux.  She was placed on medication. Now, we were also working with a pediatric gastroenterologist.  After a couple of weeks on the medication we saw improvement and she started to gain weight.

After a miscarriage, we became pregnant with our second baby.  Once again, I suffered pre-term labor.  This time, it started later and I only had to do bed rest for 6 weeks.

Our sweet little Skippy (nickname she inherited because she started to skip around everywhere she went at a young age---in fact right after she started walking) was born almost 4 weeks early.  Plan change…she did not have trouble breathing, but she had major blood sugar issues which landed her in the NICU for a week.  During that time it was also discovered that she had severe reflux after she had a  “blue episode”.  I am grateful she was in the NICU when it happened.  She had aspirated while sleeping and was not breathing.  Fortunately, they monitor the babies closely while they are in the NICU and they were able to help her.  Had she been at home she may not have made it.  This was another one of those times I counted my blessings!

Plan change…as time went on we noticed that our Cinnamon was very sensitive to sounds, textures, bright lights, and changes to her routine.  She was struggling in school socially and a bit academically.  Half way through her first grade year, I found a neuropsychologist for children.  After a lot of money and testing, we discovered that our daughter had Asperger Syndrome.  She also had a math learning disability.   Asperger Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. 

Someone with Asperger Syndrome can be very high functioning, like our daughter.  You do not look at her and think, “what is wrong with that child”?   The older she gets the less I see of the Asperger traits.  Although, I still see it at times…mostly socially.  With time, she is learning to handle and overcome this trial. I have explained to her that some people struggle with depression; some people struggle with ADHD (which is what they were originally thinking she had); some people struggle with diabetes; some people struggle with other ailments.  We all have our struggles in life...whatever that may be!

I am constantly trying to remind my daughter that there are many famous people who have been diagnosed with or thought to have had Asperger Syndrome!  She really is such a delight to me.  My heart aches as I watch her cry because she struggles so much with friendships.

Plan change…in 2009, his back really started to bother him again. Paul had broken his back when he was working as a lineman for the phone company in his early twenties. We knew that another surgery might be headed his way.  In 2010, we knew that he was going to have to have surgery.  He could hardly walk and his leg was starting to atrophy.  We took Paul in to the Neurosurgeon and we were told that his L4 and L5 were rubbing bone on bone.

It was decided that he would have surgery on May 21, 2010.  I remember that day well.  That was my first glimpse at what it would feel like to lose my husband.  The surgery they were performing was called an ALIF (Anterior Interbody Lumbar Fusion).  In this procedure they do the surgery through the abdomen rather than the back.  They move the organs out of the way to expose the spine.  While moving things somehow a vein attached to the Iliac artery ripped.  

It was approximately 4:40 p.m. when the nurse came out to tell us that doctor would like to meet with us in one of the conference rooms. My father, father-in-law, and I were relieved to know that the surgery was completed in almost the exact time they told us it would take....or so we thought. A very pale and weary doctor came in to meet with us. As he came in the room, I was thinking, man he looks pretty drained, it must have been a little harder than anticipated...little did I know. 

As the doctor started to speak his voice was very shaky...he did not make eye contact with us...he said, "There has been a complication. I am not sure exactly what happened...he is bleeding from a vein...we are working to save Paul's life". At that moment, I could not believe what I was hearing...What? He went in for back surgery? Why are they having to save his life?  After several intermittent updates, over a two hour span, they finally came and told us he would be going in to ICU...We had to wait for another hour or so before we could go in to see him...

I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked into Paul's room...I almost collapsed...he was full of tubes and IV's and his face was very swollen...but he did have good coloring in his face. As it was explained to me, Paul had coded on the table, had received 15 units of blood, had two vascular surgeons working on him and really was lucky to be alive.  We were informed that yes, he was truly a miracle!

Two months later, Paul went in for surgery on his back again.  Only this time they did it the traditional way, through his back.  After a couple more months of a grueling recovery, he was finally able to go back to work.  He had been off for six months!

Plan change…after Paul had been back to work for 13 months, we discovered that he had cancer.  You can read the cancer story on my blog.  The first post is this Are you serious?.  My husband died after a valiant battle with stomach cancer on February 25, 2013. 

No, my life is not what I planned.  My plan did not include cancer. My plan did not include my mom dying just six months before my husband. My plan did not include becoming a widow at a young age.  My plan did not include having a child with Asperger Syndrome.  My plan did not include having a child with major OCD issues.  My plan did not include my plans changing.

My “once upon time” is very different from what I thought it was going to be.  But you know what?  The plan that I am on is what I needed.   God knows what is best for me.  He knows how to help me.  I am not alone.  He knows what my “happily ever after” WILL be. 

Everyone experiences changes to their plans.  Everyone has trials, whether they are directly related to their change in plans or not.  Some people’s trials are less obvious than others.  There are people who silently suffer daily.  No matter what your trials are, know that God loves you and is mindful of you.  With God’s help, your trials will make you stronger if you allow them to.  

I have met other women who have written about the changes in their dreams and plans.  They are sharing their own personal struggles and trials and how they are dealing with them.  You can read about Veronica here Giving up My Plan and Learning to be Content with God's Plan; you can read about Julie here My Name is Julie; you can read about Ashlee here I Dream.

In the talk Your Happily Every After, Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop…Enduring adversity is not the only thing you must do to experience a happy life. Let me repeat: how you react to adversity and temptation is a critical factor in whether or not you arrive at your own “happily ever after.”

When I hear the phrase “happily ever after” it sounds like eternity to me.  I know that someday I will be reunited with Paul and all other loved ones that I have lost to death.  Now that sounds like “happily ever after” to me!

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Today has been one of “those” days.  I have been having flashbacks.  I am remembering the suffering.  I am remembering the days where Paul was vomiting over and over…there was nothing I could do…I felt so helpless.  I am remembering those words…”Paul is terminal.  There is nothing left to do…”  I am remembering the whole hospice experience… I am remembering the fear of raising my children alone… I am remembering the day he died…he died laying right next to me…I reached over to feel his chest…there was no movement…I flipped on the light…I knew he was gone…I knew that his body was only a shell…the spirit that was housed in that body was in a much better place…I wept tears of joy for him and tears of sadness for me…

I am also remembering how I got through those tough times.  I am remembering how I am getting through these tough times. 

The last couple months of Paul’s life were spent mostly at home.  We were either at the hospital, doctor’s appointments or at home.  I am remembering a Sunday that I was home with him…I did not go to church that day…I was in the shower feeling very sad and distraught…the song “A Child’s Prayer” came into my mind.  As I was singing it in my head, I started to sob uncontrollably.  The shower was and still is a safe place.  I can meditate and cry.  It is my time…no children…no cell phone…nothing but me and hot running water.

Unbeknownst to me, at that same time, they were singing this very song in my church.  My friend shared that with me after I told her about my day.  Anyway, as I was singing this song in my head, I had a warm feeling (no it was not just the hot water) that God and my Savior Jesus Christ were there for me.   That, yes, my prayers are heard and answered.  They just might not be answered in the way I would like them to be or in the time frame that I feel they should be answered.

I have discovered through my trials that prayer is key to survival.  
Richard G. Scott said, “The counsel about prayer is true. I have tested it thoroughly in the laboratory of my own personal life. I have discovered that what sometimes seems an impenetrable barrier to communication is a giant step to be taken in trust.”

I have discovered that trust in God is imperative.  Back in October, 2013, I wrote a post on Trusting God.  If I trust God than I need to trust that prayer is a true principle.  The only way I can discover if something is true, is to act.  So, if I want to know if prayer really works, I need to pray!  

This I know.  Everyone can pray.  Everyone can receive help from God. God loves all his children no matter what religion or lack of religion they participate in.  There is great power in prayer.

This I also know.  Prayers are not always answered immediately.  We do not get everything we pray for because God knows what is best for us.  He knows our plan. Sometimes we do not recognize that our prayers were answered because we are too busy to notice.  Prayer is not about convincing God that your will is better than His. It is about aligning our will with His. Prayer is about putting your trust in Him, that He will be by your side directing you on your path.

Please watch! This song has a beautiful message!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Life's a Journey--Serve With a Friend

Paul doing what he loved to do!  He was always cooking for others!

One year ago today, Paul passed away after courageously battling cancer.  He was such an inspiration to all who knew him.  He was that one-in-a-million kind of guy!

As I was thinking about his many great qualities today, I think his greatest qualities were his ability to love unconditionally and serve others.  He was always the first person to offer a helping hand…no matter what…if he was able, he would drop what he was doing and help someone else. 

This post is something that I feel Paul would like me to share with others.  This was his legacy…to serve others.  I feel that it is very important to share this message for and in behalf of my loving husband. 

Like Paul, I was raised in a home where service was always a top priority…for that I will always be grateful.  I learned the importance of serving others at a young age.  I learned that if at all possible, you stop what you are doing and help others.

Paul and I were “two peas in a pod”…honestly, we were inseparable…I miss taking his homemade rolls and cookies to people…I miss his optimistic outlook…I miss his kind and giving heart…I miss so many things…

To marry a man with the understanding of the importance of service was such a blessing for me.  It was something else we did together.  If we couldn’t do it together, we would SUPPORT EACH OTHER in accomplishing the things we needed to do.

Ok, I just have to say this…I enjoy the serving part more! To be the one receiving service is not easy…but in saying that, I am so grateful for all the many friends and family who have made our burdens lighter through their service.  Not only during Paul’s illness, but we are still receiving kind acts of service on a regular basis.

You know something really cool that I have discovered that has been a huge help to me?  You can still serve others, even during your own trials.   In fact, I have discovered that SERVICE is a great way to help YOU get THROUGH your TRIALS.  Besides the obvious thing like it helps you to focus on someone else, therefore you forget about yourself, service creates an enabling power which actually improves our own individual lives.

Jesus Christ taught, Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it”-Luke 9:24 

“I believe,” said Thomas S. Monson, “the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives”-Serve the Lord with Love, Ensign, Feb. 2014.

Thomas S. Monson also said, “Often we live side by side but do not communicate heart to heart. There are those within the sphere of our own influence who, with outstretched hands, cry out, “Is there no balm in Gilead?”

How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help? And yet how often has day-to-day living interfered and you’ve left it for others to help, feeling that “oh, surely someone will take care of that need.

We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step back, however, and take a good look at what we’re doing, we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the “thick of thin things.” In other words, too often we spend most of our time taking care of the things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes.

Many years ago I heard a poem which has stayed with me, by which I have tried to guide my life. 
 It’s one of my favorites:

I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind. 

My brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness—be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.

You may lament: I can barely make it through each day, doing all that I need to do. How can I provide service for others? What can I possibly do?

Just over a year ago, I was interviewed by the Church News prior to my birthday. At the conclusion of the interview, the reporter asked what I would consider the ideal gift that members worldwide could give to me. I replied, “Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely, and do something for him or her”-What Have I Done for Someone Today, Ensign, Nov. 2009.

I have asked myself these important questions and would encourage you to do the same. Am I willing to sacrifice my time to help someone else? Am I really too busy to help?   Am I waiting or hoping for someone else to do it…let that someone else be ME and YOU!

You might say, but I am serving.  I serve all the time.  I have family responsibilities that require me to serve them.  I have no time to serve anyone else but them.   They are my priority.  Yes, our immediate families are our priority so I am not suggesting that we don’t serve and take care of them.  What I am suggesting, and what Thomas Monson is suggesting is that just maybe we have more time to help than we think.  Maybe we can rearrange our schedules. Maybe we do actually have time to prepare a meal and take over to the sick neighbor.  Just maybe we can do it!

Yes, the dishes will still be there when you get home; the laundry will still be piled high; dinner will not be cooked; there may be little in your own cupboards; but this I know, we are blessed when we follow the teachings of our Savior.  Somehow those things will be taken care of.  Ironically, it may be through the help of someone else!

Paul was an example of true love and service up until the moment he went into a coma.  He found ways to serve while he was sick and in bed.  He would call and check on other people to see how they were doing and to offer words of encouragement.  He would greet others who came to visit with a warm smile…he always wanted to know about them.  He wanted to serve them. He wanted them to leave his presence knowing that they were loved.  Service doesn’t always have to be something big.  Sometimes it is the small things that matter most!

In Matthew Chapter 5 we read, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
“Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
“Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

This I know, when I stand before my Savior, He is not going to ask me if I had my laundry done; if my house was clean; what kind of car I drove; how big my house was; which soccer team my child played on; if I got an A on the math test…He is going to ask me how I loved and served others.  It is all about love.  And a large part of love is the service we render. 

Life can be busy.  We are counseled not to run faster than we have strength.  In fact, sometimes I have felt like I was pushing the edge a little.  Often times I wish I could do more, but find that my body just won’t allow it!  I hate to say no, but understand that sometimes it is necessary. I feel the way Anne Morrow Lindberg does, “My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds.”  

While I have never run the Ragnar Relay Race, I have numerous friends who have.  On the website it says this about the race,  “In the Ragnar Relay Series, teams of 12 run a 200-mile relay over two days and one night; in the Ragnar Relay Series teams of 8 run a 120-mile trail relay over the same time span. Often called a slumber party without sleep, pillows or deodorant, this unique relay turns out crazy costumes, inside jokes, close quarters and unforgettable stories.

Each Ragnar brings thousands of people together to create deeper connections and celebrate together as they conquer a challenge they couldn’t accomplish alone. Life’s a journey – run it with friends!”

At times, service can be like a relay race.  You go and go and then you need a break.  You need someone to pick up where you left off.  Together you can accomplish great things.  Together you can experience true joy and happiness.  Together you might get sweaty and stinky. Together you can find much laughter. Together, many hands make work light.  I would like to ask you to join my team and remember : Life’s a journey - serve with friends!