Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday Reflections

Every Sunday morning I express gratitude to Heavenly Father for a Sabbath Day during which I do not have to think about yard work, or do laundry, pay bills, or blow out the garage. And I always pray that my spirit will be lifted and sensitive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Yet some Sundays are better than others-- some seem very long and lonely to me, uninspiring, and yes, even boring! Of late, I've been taking inventory at the end of the sabbath to find at least one thing that left an impression of consequence. Here is what I thought was special about yesterday. . .

In Relief Society we talked about the last two days of Christ's life. Knowing what was ahead of him, he could have been caught up in preparing a defense for himself, but he went about doing the important things he still needed to do. One of those was to institute the sacrament. As we talked about the sacrament my friend shared something that has come back to my mind multiple times since she shared it. Jolyne suffers from an illness that has caused her entire digestive system to stop functioning. She has not had any food or liquid by mouth since forever ago. Okay, for at least 20 years. For eight or ten hours a day she is infused with TPN (a liquid nutrient) delivered through a port into a central line directly into her blood stream. Sometimes we talk together about what it is like to sit at a table and watch others eating the foods that you used to love and enjoy. Food is an incredibly big part of all friendship and society!

Jolyne comes to Relief Society as often as she is physically able, but the schedule of her meds does not allow her to come to sacrament meeting. Every Sunday afternoon, two priests and one of their priesthood leaders go to Jolyne's home where they bless and pass the sacrament to her. She said, "You know, I can only eat a crumb of bread and one drop of water. Perhaps you might think that would not warrant the effort to bring the sacrament to me each week, but the physical act of partaking of the emblems is oh so precious to me."

The sacrament has always been a time for personal introspection and reflection for me. Listening to the sacrament prayers is a time to think about the baptismal promises I have made, but I hadn't quite thought about what a privilege it is to be able to eat the bread and drink the water that represent the physical sacrifice the Lord made for me. I am looking forward to the next opportunity I will have to partake of the sacrament, which sadly for me is three weeks away (general conference and stake conference intervening). I'm grateful that from time to time something just a little out of the ordinary takes the "ordinary" out of something that has become very common to us.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

32-year Anniversary

Thirty-two years ago today my brother Don was killed in a commercial airline crash. He was on a PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) flight from Sacramento to San Diego when the 727 collided with a one-engine Cessna whose pilot was practicing instrument landings. The plane plunged to earth in the North Park residential area killing all passengers aboard the plane and another 10 persons on the ground in what was (at that time) the worst disaster in U.S. aviation history.

He was such a great guy! (I would use multiple exclamation points, but I heard on the radio today that one exclamation point is always enough). He was 42 years old, and with each year I realize more how young that was and how much of this life he missed. He had three sons and two daughters. I think of all the priesthood ordinations he missed, the eagle courts of honor, the missionary farewells (and homecomings), the graduations from high school and college, the weddings, the birth of dozens of grandchildren, the family reunions, the wedding anniversaries, the family vacations. He would be so proud of his family, and so am I!

My sister-in-law once told me that when the accident happened the Lord mercifully wrapped her in a protective cocoon which shielded her from the trauma of his death. She never re-lived it, never dreamed about it, never questioned how it happened or what it may have been like. I wish I had been privy to a blessing like that. I see pictures of that plane coming down with fire streaming from it. I wonder which seat was his. I wonder who he was sitting by, and what he thought about during that 3,000 foot ride down. I'm so grateful for all that the gospel teaches us about death and life after life. Although there may be lots to tell Don about the things he has missed here, I wonder what he will be able to tell us about what he has been doing for 32 years.

Friday, September 24, 2010

When Things Come Together

There is a saga that goes along with our kitchen remodel. You'd think after 33 years of waiting that I would know exactly what I wanted, but that has not been the case. I did know that I wanted painted cabinets and that I like a lot of light. The hard part has been deciding how to decorate.

I paid someone to come in and give me some suggestions. She walked through the house and gathered up all the things she liked from the other rooms and put it all together. I liked it, but quickly realized that the reason I liked it was that I was the one who picked and purchased all those things for a different room. I was "stuck" for a couple of months until I decided that it was the wrong color scheme and I needed to start over. Out went the brown, gold and orange. In came red and green. Slowly, one piece at a time, I purchased the furniture, the cushions, the fabric for curtains, the pictures for the wall. Finally it all came together yesterday when Randy helped me hang the curtains. I like it and I did it all by myself. The timing couldn't have been better. My sister and her husband came from Utah to spend the day with us. Don't you love company.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good Friends, Good Food, Good Music

A few years ago Randy and I discovered the Chicago Civic Orchestra and have fallen in love with it. It is made up of young musicians that feed into the Chicago Symphony or other major orchestras around the world. They play at Symphony Hall which is a pretty amazing place. We like to sit in the terrace seats behind the orchestra where the view (and the sound) is superb.

Most of their concerts are on Sunday which doesn't work for us. When I saw a Monday concert I ordered six tickets (which are free). We invited two other couples to have dinner at our home and then an evening in the city. (If you look at the picture you can tell which one of the group had been cooking and cleaning all day. Lovely photo!) It was delightful! I just ate the last of the leftovers for lunch, including the last piece of fresh pear pie!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Sad Goodbye?

This summer we re-did our kitchen. They took it clear down to the studs which meant that EVERYTHING had to be removed. In the process we identified a LOT of stuff that we knew would never go back. We thought about having a garage sale, but after looking things over we decided that would be way too embarrassing. So it has simply filled up one half of the garage for months while poor Randy has parked outside in the blazing sun, rain, and bird poop.

We're all motivated by different things. For me, it took the news that in three weeks Elder Gerritt Gong of the First Quorum of Seventy will be staying with us for our stake conference. I have made multiple trips to Goodwill and we're getting close. Ask me if it was a sad parting--

Goodbye Cootie game. Randy and I will miss finding eyes between the sofa cushions and antenae in our shoes.
Goodbye hot rollers. What will I ever do without your metal pins to clean my toenails.
Farewell seven bread pans which haven't been used since they rusted too long ago to remember.
Goodbye chin rest for a three-quarter-size violin. What will we ever do with you.
Goodbye muslin kitchen towels embroidered when I was six.
Goodbye spare slate tiles which we never needed. I tried for 33 years to damage that floor. It was impossible.
Farewell green and purple sequined cane from the high school musical.
Farewell empty canning jars too many to fit on the shelves.
Farewell rotary dial telephone.
Goodbye to ties Randy wore in high school.
Goodbye to eight mis-matched ramekins.
Goodbye to garden shoes that could only be worn with curled toes.
Goodbye microwave bacon rack.
Farewell unopened boxes of color film.
Goodbye pressure cooker, fry pan and roaster pan. (Does having a new kitchen mean I still have to cook?).
Goodbye to boxes of florist vases in various sizes and shapes.
Goodbye to boxes of candles with no scent.
Hello to clean cupboards! Hooray!!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Day in the City

Fall has been my favorite season of the year ever since we moved to Chicago 33 years ago--cool temps, clear blue skies, and NO humidity. Today was about as perfect a day as you could ever ask for. I went into the City with two of my friends. Each of us was in a different decade of our lives. It's wonderful to have friends of all different ages. We took the Metra, walked the streets, and had lunch at a delightful Mexican restaurant. I'm praying for a very loooong Indian Summer followed by a very short winter.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I did not know a single person involved with 9/11, but I do feel a real sadness each year as the anniversary rolls around. One thing that makes me sad is that my life was really complicated at that time and during those first few weeks I did not have any time to watch TV. I know that there were amazing stories of heroism and kindness that I just plain missed out on, and I'm left with just the memory of a few bad images.

In commemoration of 9/11 our ward does a service project on that day. This year we did a project with Feed My Starving Children. A hundred people came out to participate. We packaged food that is sent to feed hungry children around the world. It is a dry mixture of chicken, dehydrated veggies, soy and rice. One packet is mixed with 1.5 liters of boiling water and will feed six. We packaged 4,320 packets, which is 26,000 servings, which is enough to feed 71 children for a whole year. At the conclusion of the project they served small samples of what we had put together. If I'm ever starving I hope someone sends me a box. Not bad!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Pieces of our Lives

I wanted to post pictures of a couple of quilts I have recently finished. When our grandmothers were quilting, they took the little scraps of fabric from their worn out clothing and sewed them together to make a piece of fabric big enough to be a quilt. Today we spend hundreds of dollars on beautiful fabric large enough to make a quilt, then cut it into little pieces and sew it all back together. It seems kind of crazy, doesn't it?!
I think quilts (and quilting) teach many beautiful lessons of life and belong in a category along with sheep, coins, wheat and fish--the stuff that allegories and parables are made of. My daughter passed this little allegory/parable/story to me and I'd like to share it:

The Threadbare Quilt

As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles. An angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.

But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.

I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.

Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.

My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn't had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and death, and false accusations that took from me my world as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me. And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, "Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.

May all our quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing Christ to shine through.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Beginnings

I had an interesting experience the other day. I looked at my own blog for the first time in almost a year and a half. I was shocked to see that on Friday, 14 people looked at my blog. I thought if, after a year and a half, there are still people interested in what Judy is thinking, then surely I can come up with something. So I've been thinking.

Does this picture look familiar? On January 1, 2008, I created this blog using this very same picture. I love to write and to express myself. These binders hold all of the letters I've written since 1964 (almost 50 years) in an attempt to stay connected to people. And in the process I've learned something I think is important. As long as I would write regularly, writing was easy and enjoyable, but if I let a few weeks slide by I found myself really struggling. You would think the opposite would be true--that waiting a few weeks would give you more things to write about, but that is not the way it works. I can't remember details, I no longer feel passionate about it, it all feels boring and like 'old news', it's too overwhelming, where do I even begin!

I have learned that the same thing is true with prayer. If I pray regularly, the communication seems easy and enjoyable, but if circumstances allow me to let a few days pass without praying I find praying to be difficult, overwhelming, and shallow. Where should I even begin. Should I go back and try to explain everything? justify myself for not checking in? act as though nothing has happened? wait another day to figure out what to do? Definitely not a good situation to be in.

Perhaps you're wondering where I have been. It seems too difficult and overwhelming to go back. So without explaining, without trying to justify myself, and not wanting to wait longer trying to figure out what to do, I am simply starting again. I don't promise anything daily, but I want to share my life. I still want to be connected!