Thursday, February 28, 2013


A few years ago I read something that changed me. The author (I have forgotten the reference) related that when teaching, we need to get ourselves out of the way enough so that we are like windows through which the light of Heaven can shine.

The idea impacted me in a significant way. Obviously, the light of Heaven was going to be superior to anything my feeble intellect and knowledge could provide the students in my Sunday School class and I wanted that light as well. I began to prepare lessons differently with this idea in mind and prayed earnestly for the blessing.

That blessing came and my classes went from a struggle to keep everyone awake to wonderful discussions led by the Spirit. It was not anything I was doing that contributed to the improvement. I simply put my own personality in check and strove to listen for the still small voice. In fact, when I would start to feel too congratulatory about how well things were going the lights would go out.

This last week as I came to the conclusion that I was a self-righteous, sanctimonious jerk (recovering), another idea about windows came into my remembrance. In a beautiful talk titled Charity Never Faileth President Monson related the following story.
“A young couple, Lisa and John, moved into a new neighborhood. One morning while they were eating breakfast, Lisa looked out the window and watched her next-door neighbor hanging out her wash.

“That laundry’s not clean!” Lisa exclaimed. “Our neighbor doesn’t know how to get clothes clean!”

John looked on but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, Lisa would make the same comments.

A few weeks later Lisa was surprised to glance out her window and see a nice, clean wash hanging in her neighbor’s yard. She said to her husband, “Look, John—she’s finally learned how to wash correctly! I wonder how she did it.”

John replied, “Well, dear, I have the answer for you. You’ll be interested to know that I got up early this morning and washed our windows!”

Can’t you hear his voice as you read that story?

Not only can we be like windows when we are teaching, but it is just as important to be that window all of the time. As we humble ourselves and allow the light of Heaven to shine through, it warms and lifts those around us. In the process we are blessed to see the beauty and goodness of our spirit brothers and sisters through the eyes of the Savior. Our impatience and unrighteous judgement of others goes right out the window. We just need to get ourselves out of the way and keep clean.



How has humbling yourself led to more light in your life?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Pet Peeve

I recently happened upon an online discussion about the culture that has developed in many Latter Day Saint congregations where meetings start at least 15 minutes late because a large portion of the membership can’t bother to get there on time. It is so prevalent that people pass it off by humorously saying we run on Mormon Standard Time.

While the article made some good points about the need to make punctuality a priority, the numerous comments that followed almost exclusively ran in the same vein. Things like “that is my pet peeve” and “people who aren’t on time think their time is more valuable than mine” and “I have 12 kids and I’m an hour early every week, others should be able to do it if I can!”

As I read I got mad, and found myself thinking the following. “What a bunch of self-righteous, sanctimonious jerks! Do they not understand that some of those folks dragging in 10 minutes after the festivities have started don’t have the same life they do? How many people have walked out of the Church forever because of unkind judgment and nitpicking just like this?”

7 seconds later while huffing and puffing, I was reminded by a still small voice that I was currently involved in the conduct I was so harshly condemning those commentators of. Not only that, but in the past had said some of the exact phrases they were using about people doing activities that irritated me.

People being perfectly punctual is not one of the things that bothers me (considering my family runs on Mormon Standard Time regularly) but I do have a large and assorted laundry list of behaviors I like to criticize others for.


So I started looking up information. Here’s what defines a pet peeve as.

(pet peeve) an opportunity for complaint that is seldom missed.

A search on brought up the topics murmuring, judging others, and gossip.

Double bugger.

While it is commendable to strive for the ideal, it is when we start criticizing others for not being as punctual, or neat, or as righteous as we are that we have stepped over into the realm of pride and unrighteous judgment.

Elder Neal A Maxwell said “Those of deep faith do not murmur. They are generously disposed, and they are reluctant to murmur, even while in deep difficulties…”

And in one of the best General Conference talks ever Elder Uctdorf said the following.

"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven? . . .

The people around us are not perfect (see Romans 3:23). People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.

Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way."

Judgement of this kind is damaging in so many ways. It hurts the one it is directed at (yes, they can actually tell that you are annoyed and judging them) and it is destroying to our own souls. Meekness, patience, longsuffering, those virtues that we must acquire to make it home are demolished by this behavior, and it is so easy to fall into.

So the next time I catch myself thinking “it just drives me crazy that they can’t manage to…” or “that is one of my pet peeves” or “why can’t they just…” I think I’ll just STOP IT.



Friday, February 22, 2013

Cow Poetry

I love poetry and I have a phobia/fascination of cows. It's a dichotomy I know.

My compulsive nature has led me to seek out a combination of these two powerful forces in my life, and so as a courtesy to all other poetry loving cow obsessors out there (and I know there are thousands of you) I present a literary snack. The world's best cow poetry.

We begin our voyage to lands of bovine bliss with a childhood classic.

The Purple Cow
by Gelett Burgess

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

No compilation would be complete without the genius of Gary Larson and his ode to the aching hearts of the pasture.

 Distant Hills

The distant hills call to me,
Their rolling waves seduce my heart.
Oh, how I want to graze in their lush valleys,
Oh, how I want to run down their green slopes.

Alas, I cannot.

D@mn the electric fence!
D@mn the electric fence!

To conclude our pastoral frolic amid the mythical beasts of the farm, a gem by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The Cow

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:

She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.

Thank-you ladies and gentlemen for sharing in this captivating overview of the great cow poetry of modern time. I hope that you have been inspired by your reading and that it will stay with you always.

And should you somehow think this has changed my feelings towards our milky friends, alas I still think they are evil. 



What poems silly or not speak to you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ten Ways to Drive Your Husband Absolutely Batty

A few things to avoid if you want a sane and happy hubby, or employ should you be feeling vindictive.

1. Acting like one of the characters on your favorite TV show is real. *sobbing* “Can you believe they killed off Matthew? He was such a good maaaa-aaannn wahhhh”.

2. Forcing him to watch any movie based on a Jane Austin novel and then expecting him to speak and behave like Mr. Darcy. “What do you mean you don’t want to get up at dawn and meet me in a field so we can look deeply into each other’s eyes?!?”

He's got the crazy eyes.
3. Telling him not to waste money on flowers for your birthday/Mother’s Day/Valentine’s Day/Ground Hog’s Day and then getting mad because he didn’t. Don't do it, you will never get flowers again.

4. Saying you don’t care about something when you do. Men are not any good at mind reading. The course on reading tea leaves is not offered in man school. You need to be honest and clear. Hints are also useless.

5. Criticizing him constantly about things that make no difference. “Why do you always chew that way? Couldn’t you chew a little slower?!? Is this a chewing NASCAR race?” Let it go ladies, please.

6. Giving him the thumbs up on intimacy and then falling asleep before things get started. This will cause  him to be a major Grumpy McGrumperpants.

7. Deleting his favorite TV show from the DVR before he has a chance to watch it because it is “stupid”. He most likely feels the same about Downton Abbey and The Bachelor but leaves your programs alone.

8. Getting after him for buying junk food because he is “holding you back from being healthy” and then when he complies, making him go to the store to get you chocolate ice cream because you are “dying”.

9. Asking “does this make me look fat?” and then getting upset when he is honest. Granted most husbands have learned that if they want to live they lie about this one, but maybe those jeans really do look like doo-doo on you.

10. Griping that his hobby of shooting/writing/car repair/video gaming/origami/kite flying/skiing/bird watching is a waste of time and money. He needs an outlet that is his, you will not go bankrupt because of it and you will both be happier for it, I swear.

These are some things I know drive Buns up the wall and cause his intermittent eye twitch. When I knock it off he is a much happier compadre and in turn so am I.

What habits send your other half around the bend to crazyland and how do you avoid them?



Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Teacher of Girls

Here is a story of true love for your Valentine's Day. 

At fifteen I was a wannabe rabble rouser. An insecure, rebellious, plaid flannel wearing, grunge rock listening teen that shunned make-up and anything “girly”. The main interests of my life were the all consuming quest to date a drummer in a garage band and to be the most sarcastic kid alive. I went to the Young Women activities on Wednesday night only because my friends were there. I had no use whatsoever for the floral dress wearing leaders that wanted to teach us how to quilt and do crafts.

Sunday’s were much the same with me attending church mainly by force of my sweet mother. I did my best to be a pain in the you-know-what to the teachers and rarely paid attention to the lessons. It was on one of these Sundays that a new YW President was deposited in our midst. I immediately didn’t like her, mainly because she intimidated me.

Sister J was a stately looking woman with perfectly coiffed silver and black hair. She was immaculately dressed and wore flawlessly executed make-up. When she walked into the room all chatter stopped. She was a powerful presence.

She introduced herself in a business-like manner and class went on. I could tell immediately that she was going to put the kibosh on all of my mouthy shenanigans, and I was not happy about it.

Time passed and true to my prediction the new President did bring me into line, but not in the way I had imagined. She firmly but patiently included me in any discussion that was being had. Then she really listened to what I had to say. She let me know that she expected me to treat her with respect and she returned the favor. She treated me like an adult.

Over the course of the next year the woman I had thought was going to ruin all of my fun turned out to be an unexpected role model and friend. As Laurels, our class met at her home every Wednesday night for activities and we loved it. My three best friends and I soon became more than just girls in her class, we became "her girls". We could be found there other nights besides Wednesday, watching movies, hanging out, and having Gospel discussions.

She was a trusted confidant when it came to boy trouble, friend issues, and questions about the meaning of life, love, and happiness. She didn’t give pat answers but helped us really understand and learn about God’s love and plan for His children. She helped us gain perspective and rise above the heartbreak and drama of our High School world.

She had a fabulous sense of humor. When we visited and the hour grew late she would say to us in a deadpan voice “I love you girls, but get out”. Then she would smile and hug us as we went out the door.

She took us to Salt Lake City to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Handel's Messiah at Christmas in the Tabernacle. Something she assured us everyone must do once in their life even if it meant enduring an eight hour journey in a camper with a malfunctioning toilet. Many a Renuzit air freshener was utilized on that trip.

During the summer she held water balloon volleyball tournaments in her back yard much to the watery and sun burnt delight of those involved.

In the middle of a snowy January Sister J finally bought the car she had been dreaming of all of her life, a white convertible. She immediately picked us up and we went for a drive in the 13 degree air with the top down. As that frigid wind blew through our hair she smiled bigger than I had ever seen.

More time passed and graduation from high school neared. As we prepared ourselves to enter the real world Sister J was right there. Directly after the ceremony the four of us met up at her house for a last hurrah. She encouraged us to cherish the friendships we had made and helped us to understand that things were changing. She was convinced big things were ahead for all of us.

It was sometime near this time of our beginnings that we learned that Sister J was approaching an ending. She had a rare form of adult onset leukemia. Not to worry; it was a slow moving disease and even though it would eventually take her life there would be many years before that would happen.

College, marriages, missions, babies, and work took the four of us far from one another, but any chance one of us returned home, a visit to Sister J’s was on the agenda. Wit, wisdom, and love would always be dispensed as she related the lessons learned from the difficulties she experienced in the course of treatment for her cancer, and the pain she so bravely endured.

Then ten short years from her diagnosis she was gone. Once again “her girls” gathered together to remember her, and laugh, and cry. She was buried on a hilltop overlooking a valley. She would have loved the wind that blows through your hair in that place. As we stood at her graveside trying to hang on a little longer you could almost hear her say. “I love you girls, but get out.”

Sister J was a teacher of girls, a teacher whose love and wisdom shaped the lives of those who came under her care. She was a person who followed in the path of the Savior.

Thomas S. Monson said “Each of us can be a leader. We need to remember that the mantle of leadership is not the cloak of comfort, but the robe of responsibility. Perhaps our service is to youth. If so, I caution: “Youth needs fewer critics and more models.” One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of a car we drove, what kind of a house we lived in, how much we had in the bank account, nor what our clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because we were important in the life of a boy or a girl.
Sister J was a model and not a critic, and in being who she was changed the world for at least one rebellious teenager she was called to serve. I know there were many others as well.

Now as one of "her girls" I find myself in the position to pass on her legacy to the next generation, it is something I hope I can live up to, it's important.

Thanks Sister J and Happy Valentine's Day.



Monday, February 4, 2013

It’s Herb Alpert Monday!

When I was six, my younger sister and I both came down with Chicken Pox. And while theoretically I was always glad for a reason to stay home from school for a week and be doted on by my mom, Chicken Pox was soon found to be a less than desirable, itchy, scratchy, miserable affair. 

Not only did we miss school but we weren’t allowed to watch TV because it might harm our eyes. We also had to wear sunglasses in the house, were ordered to stay in bed, and had to put up with hourly head-to-toe slatherings of calamine lotion. Above all we were NOT TO SCRATCH!!! Under any circumstances. Even the welt that was on my eyelid that drove me absolutely batty was off limits. The whole situation was pretty much like being in a six-year-olds version of a North Korean torture camp.

To keep us entertained, and certainly to cut down on the level of whining coming out of our room, mom set up our portable Mickey Mouse record player and some records to listen to. Included in the pile along with “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and “Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” was an album by Herb Alpert.

My sister and I immediately found a song we liked on that record called “Rise” and proceeded to listen to it hiss and pop along exactly 332 times over the course of the next few days. 

“Rise” is an instrumental, nacho cheese covered, disco beating piece of awesomeness. It is almost impossible to listen to and not compulsively go strap on a pair of roller skates, find your rainbow leg warmers, don a fuzzy headband and go grooving down a beach boardwalk somewhere. Snapping and clapping as you go. Oh yeah. 

After recovering from the dreaded Pox, you could find me most days wearing my purple hand-me-down spandex unitard with the sparkly words “ROLLER DROME” emblazoned on the front, roller skating in the driveway while listening to old Herb. Sometimes instead of wearing the unitard under my jeans I would snap it over the top of them. I was very fashion forward back then. 

That song was my favorite up until “For the Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera replaced it in the 4th grade. (I have always been a connoisseur of dairy products.) Being replaced, “Rise” made its way to the back of my memory to stay for nearly 25 years. 

Then one fateful day I happened to be rifling through some vinyl LP’s that were in a box at my parents’ house and came across Herb once again. Having gotten over the musical insecurity of my teen and young adult years which had made me lactose intolerant in my musical diet, I dusted it off, put it on the turn table and found myself transported back to a simpler, more innocent version of myself. 

No time was wasted in finding the track on Amazon and downloading it to my MP3 player. Now when it pops up in the shuffle I crank up the volume, call my little Sis, wait for voicemail, and then yell into the phone IT’S HERB ALPERT MONDAY!!!! Or whatever day of the week it happens to be.  Then I let Herb do his magic as her phone records away. 

Cheese is just no good unless you share it with someone. 

“Rise” evokes almost tangible feelings and memories for me about a very particular time in my life. It seems that other songs do the same. I can’t listen to "Teen Spirit” by Nirvana without reliving some of my sixteen year old angst. “Claire de Lune” by DeBussy brings my Grandma back; I can feel her presence and almost smell her perfume as I listen to her favorite piece. What is it about music that is so tied with emotion and memory? 

I’m sure that the official answer has something to do with the region of our brain that captures musical information being tied to the memory center and other such logical fluff. What make sense to me is that music is one of the gifts that God gives to us to help us along. It is so easy to forget the important things like sparkly purple unitards, a grandmother’s perfume, how we agonized over some boy, that He gives us music as a way to store it and bring it back in 3-D. How grateful I am that He does. 

Happy Herb Alpert Monday!



What songs transport you to a different time? And how much of it would do Chester Cheetah proud?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...