Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Little People Crack Me Up!

Playing Rummikub with Louella today, I was sitting on the floor. We were using a little exercise trampoline as our game table. I guess my spread-eagle stance (avoiding the tramp's legs) made my knee visible to her.

Louella: {Gasp} what happened to your knee?
Me: I think it's warts.
Louella: What are warts?
Me: They're like what's on my knee... And that, my dear, is circular reasoning.
Louella: What's circular reasoning?
Me: OK, circular reasoning is like if I asked you, 'What's your name?' and you tell me, 'Louella,' and then I ask you, 'What is Louella?' and you say, 'It's my name,' and then I ask you, 'What's a name?'

Louella, blue eyes sparkling, smiles a very smart smile.

We keep playing. I'm reinforcing counting, colors, order, matching . . . and she says, "Mom, what is Louella?" with a great big smile on her face.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

God Loves His Children So Much!

A couple of days ago, I had the first opportunity in a long time to play the piano.

I had been sad, but now I was ecstatic!

I played children's songs from a church music book I'd received a strong impression to use this time, instead of the hymnal I was about to play from.

I was amazed at how good this one song sounded.

("We Are Different", Children's Songbook)

I had not played it for a very long time, but I was able to do it pretty well, and so I played it through several times, with feeling.

A little while later, I was driving my daughters to church during a blinding rainstorm.

I was very nervous, doubtful that I should even be trying to get to church during a downpour that could easily flood the old-town streets surrounding our little chapel.

But somehow, we had gotten in the car early enough, so I was able to take the long way, in order to avoid the more-likely-to-flood streets, and still make it to church on time. I decided to do that, and then as I continued to drive a little bit more slowly than I usually would, with the windshield wipers going as fast as they could, we sang the song I'd just played at home:

I know you, and you know me.
We are as different as the sun and the sea.
I know you, and you know me.
And that's the way it is supposed to be.

I help you, and you help me.
We learn from problems, and we're starting to see
I help you, and you help me.
And that's the way it is supposed to be.

I love you, and you love me.
We reach together for the best we can be.
I love you, and you love me.
And that's the way it is supposed to be!

The song has a Caribbean rhythm, and really is fun to sing.

I felt so much more calm and confident afterward.

After our worship service, I took my 4-y-o to the children's chapel, so that I could help her recite a scripture for the children's service.

The chapel was quickly filling up with darling energetic souls, and their devoted teachers, but the pianist was nowhere in sight.

I offered to play a few songs until she showed up, and soon began to play prelude music.

The pianist never showed up, probably because she's having terrible morning sickness.

I was blessed to participate in this most joyous children's worship.

My heart rejoiced with those innocent boys and girls as they sang their testimonies of truth in beautiful songs like "I am a Child of God" and "A Child's Prayer".

As I played newer songs, like "Scripture Power" and "I Know My Savior Loves Me", I was startled at how my childhood practice of sight-reading helped me to help the children.

God loves His children so much, that He prompted me to prepare to play for them.

And I felt so good, just being part of that blessing.

Truth for Tuesday: These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Getting a letter from someone I love

Being given the ability to do something for someone else that I didn't know I could do

Finding a greater love for others as I'm serving them

Hearing my daughters laugh
Seeing my sons smile
Feeling my husband relax

Seeing them excel
Hearing them sing together
Watching them learn

Feeling together

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Anxiously Engaged

Maxine Campbell was my hero. I never saw her sitting still. I never saw her standing still. If she was sitting, she was waiting for sacrament meeting to begin, but she was eagerly waiting, thinking, looking for someone, getting her scriptures out, reading, smiling at someone. If she was standing, she was on her way to teach a lesson. And her lessons were memorable!

She taught a powerful Relief Society lesson once about having meaningful family home evenings and having them consistently, and how the tradition became a legacy. I remember that she related to us how she had had a strong desire to have family home evening when her children were young, even though she had not grown up with it; and that she had had to prepare the lessons on her own, since Bishop Campbell traveled a lot; and that she used whatever she had on hand in order to make visual aids for the children. She even mentioned that sometimes when David was little, that Bishop had to call for an intermission, and have David run up and down the stairs, before resuming the lesson. No excuses.

Sister Campbell rescued me at least twice while I was a teenager. There was not a day that went by, it seemed, that my mom wasn't talking to, or about, Maxine. We had her number memorized, and that was long before the advent of caller ID. If Mom wasn't reachable, I knew I could call her best friend. She was always there. My teenage years were no worse than anyone else's, but they were awkward. Many times I was almost paralyzed with fear that I would say or do the wrong thing, and be forever judged for a single word. But when Sister Campbell was there rescuing me in my most embarrassing moments, she was so quick to put me at ease by telling me about her own. She talked to me as if I were her equal. She talked to me about every-day things like a dream she had had the night before, and her plan to send a word processor with Rod when he went off to college.

I remember Sister Campbell came to a baby shower my mom threw for me at Sister Christiansen's home. She made sure I knew that the gifts she brought were not just from her. She explained that although attending a baby shower was too painful for her daughter-in-law, who had already had two beautiful children, but who could have no more, that Sharee had definitely contributed. It was the cutest little pink Piglet outfit!

While I was teaching Primary, I once took a child to the bathroom, and Sister Campbell was there. She observed my interactions with the child, and then told me that I was a good teacher. I did not feel that I deserved the praise, but I felt so appreciated, and I really valued her opinion, because she was just so good.

When I was in the hospital for a short time, she came to visit. I knew she knew what I was going through. During her illness, I was impressed that I so often saw her at church. I heard the prognosis was not great, but she just looked so good! When I asked her how she was doing one Sunday, she just said, "Keep praying for me." And then she was off to take care of some church business. No excuses, no complaints.

Shortly after Sister Campbell had been diagnosed with cancer a second time, she attended our ward's fast and testimony meeting. She stood and started walking toward the pulpit. She tripped and fell. She got right back up and headed forward. She fell again. Up again, and forward she walked. And then she fell a third time. Undeterred, she walked to the pulpit and bore her remarkable testimony. I know my Savior lives.

At Sister Campbell's funeral, I learned, or was reminded, of things about her that surprised me a little bit. Not that they were hard to believe, but I just don't remember her telling me all that stuff, like about how she loved to dance and to go to the beach. I love those things, too. Come to think of it, I really relate to Sister Campbell. She loved my family, especially my mom. I want to be more like Maxine. I want to be a best friend to my mom. I want to give priceless gifts to my children and grandchildren. I want to be in the temple every week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Mama's Prayer

Fast Sunday. First one of the new year, and a new decade.
Kneeling to pray. But what to ask?
When there's so much to want, but nothing seems urgent. I pray for my son.

Sitting in Relief Society (women's church auxilary, largest & oldest in the world)
Sitting in the front row, nodding in response to the announcements and instructions. Changes are under way. Pray for understanding and confirmation.

Suddenly my mind's eye opens just enough so that instead of my dear sister at the podium facing me, I see the back of someone's legs in a public place. Struck hard from behind, someone slams the ground. It's Jack!

I close my eyes. I'm in the front row of the Relief Society room, with at least fifty women who are participating in a high-energy discussion--reverent, but close quarters, with women of all ages paying close attention--and the ladies at the front I'm trying to pay attention to with earnestness, I have to shut out by closing my eyes.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please just bless Jack. Really, really bless him. More even than ever, please.

meetings end. family gathers. we travel home. we break our fast. we cook and eat.

E-mailing my son a nice long newsletter-ish weekly message that evening, I suddenly remember my vision. I write to Jack about it, and then press "send".

Bedtime prayers and teeth brushing. The tucking in and tickles.

Next morning, checking emails. A message from Jack! I read, smiling, about everything from what he can buy at the Russian grocery store (called Magnet), to how he has adapted so well to the cold weather, that anything above 10 degrees is hot, and he starts sweating.

It's pretty rough, I'm not going to lie. I almost had someone punch me in the back when I wasn't watching the other day, but he decided to throw a snowball instead. Thanks for praying for me Mom. I'm pretty sure that helped. I would've fallen to the ground for sure. Some other elders in the mission got hit by a gazell on the sidewalk. It's a small bus. Well the success we have is really great and I love the work. Please keep praying. I'm in solnechniy right now in saratov. Love you all goodbye!