My Source of Strength

Life is not easy for any of us.  I believe we are here on earth to be tried and tested.  It’s not supposed to be easy — and knowing that doesn’t make it any easier.  🙂

So how do we get through this journey we call life?  Each of us must find our own way.  My personal source of strength is my knowledge and testimony of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I know He is always there for me, if I only seek Him out.  He will give me peace.  The world is a noisy place, however, and sometimes it is not easy to block out the confusion and turmoil of the world.  I love to go to the mountains or the ocean where I can easily feel close to the Savior and to my Heavenly Father.  When that is not possible, I have another option.  I go to the temple — the House of the Lord.  I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).

The temple is a quiet, reverent, beautiful place where I can go and block out the world.  We speak only in whispers in the temple.  I can sit in a beautiful quiet room called the celestial room and pray uninterrupted.  Then I can sit quietly and listen until I receive answers to prayer, or “personal revelation.”  While I pray every day at home and even in my car, those prayers are often hurried or interrupted by life’s challenges.  I don’t always have the opportunity to sit back and “listen” for the answers.  The temple allows me that opportunity.

Sacramento Temple

Sacramento Temple

Special Temple Day

Special Temple Day

Going to the temple also gives me a chance to reflect on the covenants or promises that I made with my Heavenly Father in the temple previously.  It reminds me of my commitment to be the best person I can be, to strive to be an honest person, and to live according to God’s commandments.

I’m so grateful to have the temples.  The temple is a very sacred place.  It is so special to me that I’d like to share it with you today.  The short video below has beautiful pictures of temples — inside and outside.  The video explains why we build temples, and what we do inside.  There is nothing secret about what we do in the temple.  We often don’t talk much about it because it is so sacred and special to us, but there is nothing that is mysterious or secret.  If you’ve ever been curious about our temples, this short video is your chance to see the inside of temples up close and personal.  I invite you to take a look.  If you have any questions, leave a comment, and I’d be most happy to answer your questions.

Taking the Mystery Out of Mormon Temple Worship

I Can Really Do This

All my life, I’ve wanted to be a writer.  In another time, a different generation, I was told, “That’s not a dignified enough profession for a lady.”  So I became a legal secretary.  It was a good decision that I don’t regret.  I made enough money to help support my family, and I loved the life experience.  The desire to write, though, never went away.

A few years ago, thinking my time had finally come to write, I started a blog, and recently I started this second blog.  I’ve written eight articles for an on-line magazine.  I gained a little confidence, but there was still doubt in my head that I could ever write a book.  I mean, who am I to think I could really write?  I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college.  Our local community college won’t even let me take a creative writing course because I don’t have the “prerequisites.”  (Interesting when I’m not asking for a degree, just one stinking class.)  So who am I to think I can actually do this?

I’ve had a children’s story in my head for many years, so I wrote it down, and someone will be illustrating it for me shortly.  So, big deal.  It’s a children’s story like I would make up to tell my grandchildren to put them to sleep, right?  That doesn’t mean I can really write, does it?

Taking a few deep breaths, I sat down recently to actually write a book.  It’s a young adult novel.  I was so scared!  You would have thought I was facing a firing squad!  Gently, I began pressing computer keys.  Should I do an outline?  Should I just type and see what happens? Who will my characters be?  Where will they live?  What will the plot be?  I had no idea. I just typed.

Amazingly enough, I actually wrote a chapter with some fair characters.  I walked away from the computer to wash the dishes.  The characters were developing in my mind.  Back at the computer, revisions were quickly made.  I wrote more.  Suddenly, things began to happen to these characters — they were becoming real people, with real ideas, and real problems. Each time I walk away from the computer, more ideas come racing into my head.

Is it really possible I can do this?  Me?  Can I really write?  Maybe, just maybe, this isn’t a pipe dream.  Yet there is fear. My dad always wanted a red convertible.  He told me one time that if he actually ever got one, it would spoil the dream.  He always dreamed big for that reason — like having the first hot dog stand on the moon.  Is writing my red convertible or moon dog stand?  Or is this something I was really meant to do?  Hmmmm!  I think I can really do this!  So — now what’s the new dream?

A Writer’s Night

Warm, quiet night.

Only the chirp of the old table fan as it oscillates disturbs the silence.

Man’s best friend asleep at my feet.

His loyalty does not go unnoticed.

I tap the computer keys a bit slower than in days past.

Arthritis has taken its toll.

The wonder of the evening quiet fills my heart.

Problems of the day fade as my fantasy world is entered.

Words transport me to lands far away from worries and cares.

Fingers race to catch up with ideas and plots

Running wild through my brain.

The clock ticks away undetected.

Dragons and giant flowers replace cobwebs in my mind.

Wild horses and spotted deer leap

Fences between real and imaginary

Until exhaustion sets in.

Regretfully, sleep is inevitable

And I awake to 16 hours of reality

Before I can again cross over to lands far away.

Coveralls Danny

Danny & Model T, Winnemucca, Nevada

Danny & Model T, Winnemucca, Nevada

This is my guy.  If you were to see any picture taken of him in the last 25 years or so, he would most assuredly be dressed in coveralls.  He lives in them — and it’s my fault.

Years ago I would travel up and down the freeway system in Sacramento, California, running errands and depositing children.  As I traveled, I would see my husband (Caltrans landscape worker) bent over taking care of plants, picking up liter, or fixing a broken sprinkler — with undies blowing in the wind.  The man has no behind to keep up a pair of pants.  I suggested suspenders for Sunday suit pants and coveralls for work.  Little did I know the monster I would create.

Danny loves the coveralls.  We rarely can get him into anything else, Sunday church clothes excepted.  I don’t think people would recognize him without the coveralls.  We’ve teased him unmercifully for years.

Last week on vacation in Idaho, we had the standard “brothers” picture that we’ve taken every time Danny and his brothers get together.  Danny decided to make sure that he was not in coveralls for this particular picture.  Apparently, he wanted to be different this time.

Dick, Del, Danny at Lincoln School

Dick, Del, Danny at Lincoln School, Idaho Falls, Idaho where Lon White went to elementary school.

Maybe it’s just me — but he looks more comfortable in the first picture in coveralls.  The man is a creature of habit.  He looks like a fish out of water here.  Even his smile isn’t the same.

By the way, the red t-shirt is from “Race for the Arts,” which he has participated in the last two years.  He walks almost every day, and often participates in 5K walks.  He walked this particular 5K in just under an hour.

A recent picture with the youngest grandchild:

Danny and Eli

Danny and Eli

Yep — he’s just more comfortable in the Dickies coveralls.  I hope they have a Dickies store in heaven, or we’re all in trouble!

I Can See Clearly Now

Vacations are wonderful things if they are designed right.  My vacations have always been planned around getting my head screwed back on tight, and last week was no different.

I grew up in the desert, and I love wide open spaces. The desert is beautiful!  DON’T STOP READING! Yes, I said the desert is beautiful.  If you think of the desert as barren and ugly, you have not stopped your busy life long enough to notice the colors and watch the shadows move and change.  There is a peace in the desert that brings calm to the heart and spiritual awareness to the soul.

We traveled from Sacramento, California to Idaho Falls, Idaho last week to visit with family. It is always nice to start a trip traveling over the gorgeous Sierra Nevada mountain range, but my heart doesn’t change until we hit the desert.  As soon as we drop down into the sagebrush and I feel the dry, salty desert air on my skin, the world’s troubles are miraculously lifted from my shoulders.

As I drive, I watch the shadows formed on the mountains from high clouds.  Pinks, blues, purples, reds, browns, and greens can all been seen back to back in the vast space that is my desert. Each day of traveling, my world gets a little brighter.  Problems melt away.  Solutions become apparent.  Struggles become trivial matters.  Tribulations seem to get caught in the wind and blown into the vast desert space.  Tense body muscles begin to relax.  I begin to realize how small my problems are in comparison with the universe.

The beauty and serenity of the desert inspires and enlightens.  It is a great blessing and brings me great joy.  Today my “daily gratitude” is for God’s lovely desert.

 

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet?  Every parent has heard that call from the backseat of the car on a long trip.  It’s not the vacation trip call, however, that I want to talk about today.  As we strive to be our best selves, we often hear our inner voice call, “Are we there yet?”  As irritating as the children in the backseat, our inner voice always hears the answer as no, because we are never there.  In this life, our destination cannot be reached.   There is always more to give, more to do, and more to be in order to be our best selves.

Being our best selves is easiest when we have a good support system — people who love us enough to help us get there.  Sometimes, however, those who love us and those we love can unintentionally block the path to being our best selves.  Sometimes being our best selves requires courage to remove ourselves from the influence of others.  It is interesting that those we love can often bring out the worst in us — and vice versa.

My mother and her sister loved each other very much.  They lived in the same town most of their adult lives, and talked on the telephone every single day — except during the years they weren’t speaking to each other — which happened periodically throughout my childhood.  The two of them would do battle over something seemingly insignificant, and then they wouldn’t speak for a time.  Then, my mother would pick up the phone, call my aunt, and act as if nothing was wrong and they had talked just the day before.  Neither one of them ever apologized for anything; it was not their way.  The relationship between the sisters would go on as if there had never been a day between phone calls.  When my mom died, she and her sister had not spoken in a couple of years.  Some people thought that was sad.  My cousin went so far as to blame my mother for dying first so that it was her mother who had to feel guilty –yep — and she said this to me at my mother’s funeral.  Whatever!

While some family members thought it was sad that the sisters weren’t speaking at the time of my mother’s death, I didn’t feel that way at all.  Mom needed to be Mom — without her sister’s criticism.  She needed to be free from the daily influence of someone who brought her down.  Mom loved her sister very much.  Love isn’t always enough.  There are many forms of love.  In fact, there are as many kinds of love as there are people.  We all love in a different way.  That’s what makes it so special, but also what makes it so complicated.  Mom loved her sister, but needed to live her own life without turmoil and stress.  I don’t think that is a bad thing.  We all need to be able to live our lives as we see fit, free from constant stress and the meddling of others.  She needed to be “her best self,” and realized that there were times when she couldn’t do that and be a sister at the same time.

When Mom had her life in order again, she would renew the relationship as if nothing had ever happened and move on.  I may not totally understand that — as a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ll ever understand that part of their relationship — because for me to move on requires apologies or  forgiveness — preferably both.  I know for a fact that neither my mother, nor my aunt ever apologized for anything — although I assume they both had forgiving hearts.  They simply moved on — always after my mom picked up the phone first.  Mom learned with each break in the relationship how to “be a better self.”  I watched the growth in her each time as she separated herself, regrouped, and moved on.  It was akin to pulling up large galloshes and sloshing through the rain puddles until the sky had cleared.  She came away stronger and more self-reliant each time.  By the time she died, she knew she didn’t need her sister’s approval, advice, or even daily conversation.  She could be her best self all by herself.  Did she still love her sister?  Of course, she did.  Did she miss her?  I’m sure at times she did.  Was it worth it?  I think for mom, it was.  I don’t know about her sister, but maybe it was good for her, as well.

Before I’m misunderstood, I do believe in forgiveness.  It is something I strive for, even though it does not come easy for me.  Forgiving is different from continually putting yourself in situations which drag you down, depress you, or (heaven forbid) are abusive.  It is possible to forgive someone without placing yourself in a position to allow further hurt.  For me, personally, I can forgive you for what you did yesterday and today, but I won’t allow you to do it tomorrow.  I will remove myself from the situation until such time as trust has been rebuilt.   Forgiving and trusting are two completely different animals.

My inner voice often yells, “Am I there yet?”  The answer is always the same.  I’m not there yet — not even close.  At this point in my life, I’m racing against the clock.  I have less years to live than I have already lived.  I did the whole get married, have kids thing.  The time flew by so quickly while we were trying to carve decent human beings out of those little creatures, that I feel I haven’t spent much time on making me into a decent human being.  I surmise that’s probably true of most parents.  It’s back to me and my husband now.  I’m trying to be a better me, and I think he is trying equally hard to be a better him.  There are some people who aren’t going to understand the path our lives will take for a time.  We have some work to do on ourselves — and we need to do that away from drama.  Our entire lives have been spent doing things for others:  our kids, our extended family, our friends, our church, and our neighbors.  That’s not a bad thing, and I cherish those moments.  We want to continue serving others, but we must also take care of business.  That takes time.  Time to progress.  Quiet time.  Time away from stressors and turmoil.  Time away from voices that bring us down — even if we love those behind the voices.

Some will misunderstand.  I get that.  Wow, do I get that.  I’ve been misunderstood for a number of years.  This will not be anything new for me.  I don’t mean to be hurtful to anyone or to shun anyone.  I’m not trying to be mean spirited, spiteful, or malicious.  I just need to remove myself from turmoil and regain peace in my life.  When I do that, I’ll be able to again move forward.  Then, and only then, will I be able to say, “I’m not there, but I’m closer.”

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