Monday, July 30, 2012

Our Calling as Parents

“And a Little Child Shall Lead Them.” ~ Isaiah 11:6 

My parents moved to Highland from Salt Lake City just before I began my third year at BYU. I had a waitressing job at the Alpine Country Club, but due to finances that year, I decided to live at home and carpool to the Y with a group of freshmen boys in my ward who needed another driver. The year was 1971, and there was only one Highland Ward––the Highland 1st Ward across from Strasburg Park. We were part of what was then called, The Highland Alpine Stake. It was in this ward that I received my first calling in the church––a call to teach the Sunbeam class. I was very excited. I was an Elementary Education major with an English Literature minor and I was excited to try out the creative new teaching ideas I had been learning. I arrived on that first Sunday feeling confident. I had carefully prepared visual aids. I had a fun opening activity to get their attention, and I’d made a coloring activity sheet to reinforce my lesson. I arrived early and arranged the chairs in a semi circle, as I had been taught in one of my Teacher’s Ed courses, so I would be able to look into the eyes of every child. Following the opening prayer and my activity, I begin to tell a story with my visual aids. I was thrilled to see all the eyes in my little class looking at me. They appeared to be spellbound—focused on what I was teaching. I was thinking, Wow! This really works! I have these children in the palm of my hands, completely mesmerized! Then remembering that I needed to encourage class participation, I asked a question. Hands shot up high in the air! I called on a cute little girl in a ruffled dress with curly pigtails. Katie was eager to comment. Lifting up her dress for all to see beneath, she said excitedly, “Guess what teacher? I have a brand new slip. And you know what else teacher? My mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole world!” I think it was at that point that I suddenly realized that it was ‘not me’ that would be doing the majority of the teaching. That year I learned far more from my little primary class of three year olds than they could have ever learned from me!

During April's General Conference Elder Boyd K. Packer reminded us, “One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about ‘what really matters’ from our children than we ever did from our parents. We come to recognize the truth in Isaiah’s prophecy that, ‘A little child shall lead them.’” 

My husband, Dale, and I have reflected many times over the years about how much we have learned from our children. What would our lives have been like if not for the opportunity to learn selfless love from that emotional bond.  In our Father in Heaven’s eternal plan, we have a sacred calling as parents to teach His children.

Elder Packer said, “The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood. Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children.” 

The Lord’s plan is a Plan of Happiness—a Plan of Unconditional Love for families. During General Conference, Cheryl Espin, 2nd councilor in the General Primary Presidency, reminded us of the importance of “Love” when teaching our children. She said, “In every teaching situation all learning and all understanding are best nurtured in an atmosphere of ‘warmth and love,’ where the Spirit is present.” 

My mother used to sing a song around our house when I was growing up called, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, from one of her favorite movies. To quote another famous movie musical she loved, “Love Makes the World Go Round.” The Beatles said it all when they sang, “All You Need is Love.” And our Hymns council, “There is Beauty All Around When There’s Love at Home,” and “Love One Another as I Have Loved You”––reflecting the teachings of our Savior. In every General Conference we are reminded of the importance of “Love” as the main ingredient in the recipe of teaching our children.

Elder Robert D. Hales said, “The greatest missionary work we will ever do will be in our homes. ... Our children and grandchildren are our most important investigators. ... The greatest love and the greatest teachings should be in our homes.” 

I was the middle child in a family of five children, with two older sisters, and a younger brother and sister. There was 20 years separating my oldest and youngest sisters, with all of us born five years apart. Yet, despite the distance in our ages, we knew we were loved because our parents spent time with each of us and our dreams became their dreams. My parents grew up during the time of the Great Depression, before World War II. Both of their families were poor. In fact, everybody was poor in their Logan, Utah town. My mother’s family especially struggled to make ends meet. Growing up she only had two dresses. Think about how many outfits you have in your own closet. It’s hard to imagine having only two dresses. She had one that she wore to school, and one that was saved for special occasions and church. Every day when she came home from school she and her sisters helped their mother wash their school dresses and hang them up to dry so that they could be ironed for the following school day. There were no modern washing machines and electric irons. Water was heated on a coal stove and poured into a wash tub, and the iron was also heated on the stove.

I asked my mother once what it felt like to be so poor. Did she feel bitter and sad, wishing she could have pretty clothes and toys she saw in store windows and catalogs? She said, “Of course there were things we wished we could have, but we never felt poor. Everyone in our community lived like we did. “But more important,” she said, “we felt rich, because we knew how much our parents loved us.” She told me that her mother, the grandmother I never knew, who died before I was born, referred to her children as, “My Little Blessings from Heaven”—all eight of them.

Sister Cheryl Espin said, “What a sacred responsibility Heavenly Father places upon us as parents to partner with Him in helping His choice spirits become what He knows they can become.” 

Dale and I have six children, five girls, two of which are twins, and only one son, just like in the family I was raised in. The days that each of our children were born were the closest I have ever felt to Heaven. I remember the details of each of their births like it was yesterday. I remember thinking about where they had just come from and who might have been there to bid them farewell. I wondered if the grandmother I never knew, had kissed them goodbye. As a new mother, when our first child was born, I especially felt the enormous responsibility of parenthood, to raise my baby boy, a son of God, in righteousness. I wanted to be a perfect mother for him, and although I was 22 years old and a college graduate, I felt inadequate and unprepared.

Having grown up mostly around girls, it was difficult for me to understand little boys. My sister-in-law and I had baby boys about the same age, so for fun, when they were two years old, we decided to take a “Mommy and Me” parenting class. One afternoon a week our boys would spent a couple of hours in a very creative nursery school atmosphere, while the mothers watched through a one-sided window as we attended a mommy class. We were all new mothers and we all had a lot of questions for the teacher. I remember asking the teacher about my little boy. I remember wishing he’d arrived with a set of directions, and telling her it felt like he was smarter than I was. Sometimes it felt like he was out to get me! I remember the teachers kind face when she asked me to think about what my child saw in my face when he looked at me. Did he see a stern, worried face, always in the teaching mode, instructing, and perfecting his behavior? Or did he see in my eyes “Love.” I wondered to myself, Does my son see the love in my face that I feel for him? Does he see the kind of unconditional, pure love that my Savior has for me? It was a great lesson to me and I decided that day that I would try to be the kind of mother whose face would light up when my children entered the room—that no matter how many parenting mistakes I made, I wanted them to see in my eyes and in my smile, how much they were loved. 

Brothers and Sisters, even though it would be nice, we don’t need our children to come down with a detailed set of instructions, if we have Faith in His plan for our family. He knows exactly what our children ‘need to know,’ ‘what they need to do,’ and ‘what they need to be’ to come back into His presence. 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “The success of the gospel message depends upon its being taught with LOVE and then understood, and then lived in such a way that its promise of happiness and salvation can be realized.” 

I am grateful for my own children—my “Blessings from Heaven.” When I return to my Heavenly home, I hope to be judged as good a mother as my own earthly mother. Like you, I want to hear those words “Well Done” from my Heavenly Father. Recently I held a new grandchild in my arms—a perfect little glimpse of heaven for me. The next time you cradle a newborn child, may you, as Elder Packer has said, ‘have an inner vision of the mysteries and purposes of life.’ May you better understand why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is as it is, and why the family is the basic organization in time and in eternity. May we teach our children to feel His Spirit, and radiate His Love, so they can experience the warmth of His arms around them as they travel life’s journey.

I bear witness that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that the Plan of Salvation, which has been called the Plan of Happiness, is a Plan of “Love” … A set of detailed instructions to help us raise His children. It is a Plan of Unconditional Love for families.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Husband Store

“Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” 
~ Henry Higgins (My Fair Lady) 

Recently, after having my monthly acupuncture treatment, my therapist tested me for a “Bach Flower” remedy to enhance my treatment during the following month. Now for those of you who know a little something about homopathic medicine, you know that Bach Flowers are medicinal remedies made from flower essences to aid and assist emotional healing. Every Bach Flower has a negative and a positive quality. Positive qualities are displayed when our emotions are balanced, while the negative qualities surface when our emotions are imbalanced. So you might say that having your body call for a particular Bach flower is like wearing a Scarlet Letter displaying all your worst qualities! Needless to say, it can be a test of self evaluation––facing your reality and understanding how others may see you.

Bach Flower remedies are usually short-term remedies—a little pick-me-up, that helps rebalance and redirect your emotions positively. While the negative traits can be a slap in the face with your own reality, more annoying to me is that my husband never needs one. Never! My husband, who also has a monthly acupuncture treatment at the same clinic, never tests for a remedy. Why is this? “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” 

If I entered a room full of men and women and asked if anyone knew what a Bach Flower was, more than likely there would be a handful of women who not only knew what they were, but would instantly relate personal testimonials of their effectiveness. The men in the room wouldn’t have a clue. Or care. At all. As women, we display our emotions on our sleaves for all to see. We are sharers of information and caregivers of emotional therapy to oneanother. A simple question posed in a group of women can be the opening statement for a thesis of wisdom! Men, on the other hand, tend to keep their emotions safely bottled up inside themselves. When asked a direct question, they answer it––short and to the point. The End. They don’t feel the need to share life experiences or personal anecdotes. They are content to let others “live and let live” without need of their acquired knowledge. Instead they save up all their buried emotions as “road rage” for the jerk that cuts them off in traffic, or “phone range” for the unsuspecting phone solicitor who has called one too many times! But as women, we enjoy sharing every aspect of our lives with one another, leaving our husband’s to wonder, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”

So in honor of the month we celebrate Father’s Day––our sons, husbands, dads, and grandfathers, I am sharing this wonderful allegory. Although unflattering to my gender, it is a humorous example of our high female expectations. A man takes life at face value, allowing everyone to be themselves more or less. As women we expect more. We expect perfection. With women there is always room for growth and improvement––especially within ourselves, and more importantly within our husband’s! Enjoy!

* * * * * 

The Husband Store 

A store that sells husbands has just opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates. You may visit the store ONLY ONCE! There are six floors, and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch: You may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building.

So, a woman goes to The Husband Store to find herself a husband.

On the first floor, the sign on the door reads: Floor 1 — “These men have jobs and love the Lord.”

The second floor sign reads: Floor 2 — “These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.”

The third floor sign reads: Floor 3 — “These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking.” “Wow,” she thinks excitedly, but feels compelled to keep shopping.

She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads: Floor 4 — “These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead good looking, and help with the housework.” “Oh, mercy me!” she exclaims. “I can hardly stand it!”

Still, she goes to the fifth floor where the sign reads: Floor 5 — “These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.”

She is thrilled and so tempted to stay, but unable to resist her curiousity, she goes to the sixth floor where the sign reads: Floor 6 — “You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at The Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chapstick: A Mother’s Day Story

My Mother, Shirley, at 19-years-old (1941) 

In honor of Mother’s Day and everyone working with small children, I present the following story––my favorite Mother’s Day story ever! This was an actual letter read by Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen Show on Tuesday, May 15, 2007.  It was a letter submitted by a viewer for a Mother’s Day contest about “mothering moments” and confessions.

* * * * * 

We had this great 10-year-old cat named, Jack, who recently died. Jack was a great cat, and the kids would carry him around and sit on him and nothing ever bothered him. He used to hang out and nap all day long on the mat in our bathroom.

We have three kids, and at the time of this story, they were four years old, three years old, and one year old. The middle one is Eli. Eli really loved ChapStick. LOVED it! He kept asking to use my ChapStick and then would lose it. Finally one day I showed him where in the bathroom I keep my ChapStick and explained he could use it whenever he wanted to, but he needed to put it right back in the drawer after he finished.

That year on Mother's Day, we were having the typical rush around, trying to get ready for church with everyone crying and carrying on. My two boys were fighting over the toy in the cereal box. I was trying to nurse my little one at the same time I was putting on my make-up. Everything was a mess, and everyone had long forgotten that this was a wonderful day to honor me, and the amazing job that is called, “Motherhood.”

We finally had the older one and the baby loaded in the car and I was looking for Eli. I searched everywhere and I finally went into the bathroom. There was Eli. He was applying my ChapStick very carefully to Jack's ... rear end. Eli looked right into my eyes and said, “Chapped.” 

Now if you have a cat, you know that he is right—their little bottoms DO look pretty chapped. And, frankly, Jack didn't seem to mind. The only question to ask at that point was whether it was the FIRST time Eli had done that to the cat's behind or the hundredth!!?

And THAT is my favorite Mother's Day moment ever—because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try to civilize these glorious little creatures, there will always be that day when you realize they've been using your ChapStick on the cat's butt! ~ Author Unknown

* * * * * 

“Some of my greatest blessings call me mommy!” ~ Author Unknown 

“The noblest calling in the world is that of mother. True Motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. She who can paint a masterpiece or who can write a book that will influence millions deserves the plaudits and admiration of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose immortal souls will be exerting an influence throughout the ages long after painting shall have faded, and books and statues shall have been destroyed, deserves the highest honor that man can give.” ~ President David O. McKay 

“There's a story behind everything . . . How a picture got on a wall . . . How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother's story because hers is where yours begins.” ~ Mitch Albom, For One More Day 

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” ~ Abraham Lincoln 

“Mothers need not fear. When mothers know ‘who they are’ and ‘who God is’ and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children.” ~ Julie Beck (General Conference, October 2007)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Like New Things!

I LIKE TRYING NEW THINGS! I like new movies, rarely seeing the same movie twice, unless, of course, it’s an all time favorite that I haven’t seen in a number of years. But usually I like the anticipation of seeing something new––to be surprised at the ending. I like old movies too, because they remind me of my childhood and simpler, less complicated times. But generally I love old movies that are new to me––one’s where it has been so long since I’ve seen them that I’ve forgotten the plot, or else old movies I have never seen before, starring a favorite actor or actress of mine.

I like reading new books, seeing new theatrical productions, downloading new music, and trying new foods. I like new, never before tried, fruits and vegetables, and to experience new ways of preparing them. I like new recipes. Other favorites are new puppies, spring flowers, baby chicks, and the feel of a new born baby’s soft head on my shoulder. I like the smell of new leather in a new car, the fresh smell of newly washed sheets, and wearing new clothes. I like new holiday decorations, new home decor, new technology, and new innovative ideas. I LIKE NEW THINGS!

I was raised by two very modern parents. They grew up during the Depression years, but were never opposed to change and improving their situation. They never hung onto old, worn out things—”hoarding” was not a word in their vocabulary. They threw out the old, replacing with new. Material possessions were saved for financially and taken care of carefully, but not valued above family. Treasures were photos and memories written down for posterity. They were an oddity for their generation of people—a generation who grew up learning not to waste—saving string, elastics, used tinfoil, and black bananas. My parents were not risk takers. They did not go into debt. They were financially conservative—saving money for the future. When they bought their first house my mother made herself a bedroom dressing table from an old wooden orange crate, contact paper, and material scraps, and she passed those creative skills on to her children. When I was young, growing up in the summers at our Bear Lake cabin, I remember mother showing me how to take boards and apply contact paper to them, stacking bricks between them to make my own small dressing table. She even hung a mirror above it. I remember collecting sea shells and painting them with clear fingernail polish, proudly displaying them on my little vanity table. As a young bride, I used this principle to build our first bookcase. Our first marital kitchen table was a card table we received for a wedding present, sporting a round plywood topper, covered with contact paper for washability. I was raised by parents that taught us how to MAKE OLD THINGS “NEW.”

The first “new” house my parents built was a “modern” house. Everything was custom-built from the beds to the kitchen cupboards. My mother designed it, decorated it, and painted every square inch of the interior by herself. She was one of the first of her generation to have the same color of carpets and wall paint throughout her house. My father was equally innovative. He landscaped the yard with cement sidewalks and patios everywhere, including a big fish pond and a cement wading pool. His irrigation ditches were cemented in too. We even had cement borders around our garden and play yard. The man loved making cement! He kept everything looking new. Car’s were never rusty and fences always had fresh paint. HE LIKED NEW THINGS.

My name, “Linda,” was a new, modern name from the 50s. I have never met anyone with my name that wasn’t born during that era! When I asked my mother how I got my name, she said she liked it because it was cute and “modern.” It was new, and MY PARENTS LIKED NEW THINGS!

Once my husband and I bought an old waterski boat because it looked brand “new.” It was a beautiful yellow boat that had been well cared for by it’s owner. It was clean and shiny and the leather seats were in perfect addition. We decided “old or gently used” was the way to go––an affordable way to teach our kids how to waterski! We bought the boat with my brother and his family and together we looked forward to a summer full of fun at our own Bear Lake cabin. We even established a list of rules so our “old” boat would continue to look brand-new. Funny thing though, every time we took the boat out on the lake the engine would suddenly stall and we couldn’t get it going again. That would be followed by several weeks in the repair shop getting it fixed. I think that boat spent more time in the shop getting fixed that summer than it actually did in the water! I can remember countless outings, sitting in the middle of the lake unable to get the boat to start, finally paddling it to shore! Thank goodness that boat came with a lovely set of shiny new ores! It didn’t run, but boy—was it shiny and clean. And we were dedicated to keeping it that way. Every time we brought it back in from another disappointing excursion on the lake, we cleaned it until it shone like a shiny new penny! However, by the end of that summer we discovered it was better to buy “new” rather than inheriting someone else’s “old” problems. Lesson learned. That’s why I LIKE NEW THINGS!”

Spring is my favorite season because it brings with it “new” growth––new sunny weather after a winter’s sleep, fragrant new flowers, fresh new garden vegetables, new buds on the fruit trees, and new blades of green grass. I like that spring symbolizes being “new” and I like that we celebrate Easter in the spring––a symbol of hope and renewal of our Savior’s unconditional love—His atoning gift. I LIKE NEW THINGS!

* * * * * 

“Don’t quit. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, and, as you do, I promise you will feel the enabling power we call His amazing grace.” ~ Brad Wilcox (“His Grace Is Sufficient,” BYU Devotional Address, July 12, 2011 

“Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it. .… However many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.” ~ Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (“The Laborers in the Vineyard,” General Conference, April 2012)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Beauty and The Beast

While sitting in Salt Lake’s Capitol Theater Saturday night, watching the theatrical production of “Beauty and The Beast,” I was reminded of its timeless message of focusing on the ‘inner beauty,’ rather than the outward appearance.

The play revolves around a prince who has been transformed into an ugly beast, and a young woman named, Belle, imprisoned in his castle. To become a prince again, the beast must fall in love with Belle and win her love in return, or he will remain a beast forever.

In a world filled with Beasts—war and violence, bullies and social pressure, deadlines and high expectations, it is sometimes difficult to ‘see’ the Beauty all around us. Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, said, “Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” True beauty is a magical gift of transformation that must be ‘felt with the heart’ before it can be seen. It is a gift of love with “mystical powers,” capable of altering the world, just like Belle’s love changed The Beast.

Perhaps our gift of transformation to one another can be a kind word, a smile, or a thoughtful act of service to someone in need. And as each person pays that gift of love forward, together we can revolutionize the world!

There is Beauty All Around

A Baby’s Smile

A Sunset

A Magical Moment

Walking Side by Side Through Life

A Grandmother’s Love

A Single Bloom

Bonded Sisters

A Family Reunion

A Child’s Artwork

A Celebrated Life

“Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don’t expect it and often feel they don’t deserve it. . . . However many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.” ~ Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (“The Laborers in the Vineyard,” General Conference, April 2012)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eight Friends Every Woman Needs

February—the month we celebrate love and friendship. Close friendships feel good, but did you know just how much of a health boost they can be? According to a 10-year study of older people in Adelaide, Australia, satisfying friendships predict longevity better than even close family ties, and they can protect against obesity, depression, and heart disease, among other health problems. “When women get stressed, our instinct is often to find a friend and talk things through,” says Joan Borysenko, PhD, author of “Inner Peace for Busy Women.” “Both touch and talk release the hormone oxytocin, which has a profoundly calming effect on your mind and body.”

Fortunately, we don’t need 600 Facebook friends or a jam-packed social calendar to reap these impressive perks (in fact both can backfire). [I tend to humorously agree with actress and comedian, Betty White, when she hosted Saturday Night Live. She thanked everyone that voted for her to guest host, admitting she hadn’t even known what Facebook was. She said, “And now that I do, I have to admit––it sounds like a huge waste of time!”]

Research shows the following “Eight Types of Friendships” are especially important for our health. In an article in Prevention Magazine, editors explained how these buddies will give your health a boost!

1. A CHILDHOOD FRIEND: A childhood friend can still remember the boy-crazy, artistic girl you were at 16. She knew you and your family while you were growing up and likely has many memories and stories of you that no one else does. "These friends remind you that you are still the person you've always been," says Rebecca G. Adams, PhD, a leading friendship researcher and sociology professor at the University of North Carolina.

2. A NEW FRIEND: Newly acquired pals have no preconceived notions about you. "As we get older, we can fall into ruts," says Pamela McLean, PhD, a psychologist in Santa Barbara, CA. "New friends ignite different kinds of thinking and fresh ways of being." 

3. A WORKOUT FRIEND: Experts agree that exercising — whether walking, golfing, or salsa dancing — is one of the most important things you can do for your physical and mental health and longevity. And a good friend may be the glue that makes this healthy habit stick. A University of Connecticut study of 189 women, ages 59 to 78, found that strong social support was key to maintaining a new exercise regimen for 1 year.

4. A SPIRITUAL FRIEND: Research shows that being part of a spiritual community helps people stay resilient. A study from Duke University Medical Center found that people who regularly attended religious services or engaged in activities such as prayer, meditation, or Bible study, had a 50% lower risk of dying over a 6-year period than others of the same age and health status.

5. A YOUNGER FRIEND: Research shows that an essential element of a happy life is to nurture and feel useful to others—by cooking a wholesome meal, say, or passing on what you've learned through experience. For many women, that itch gets scratched by raising children. But mentoring younger friends can give you that same feeling. A younger confidante can explain the social networking site du jour or offer a fresh take on current events.

6. YOUR PARTNER'S FRIENDS: Becoming tight with your husband’s pals is good for your marriage. The more a couple's family and friends intermingle, the happier spouses are after even just 1 year of marriage, found one study that examined the social circles of 347 couples. "We were surprised," says researcher Kenneth Leonard, PhD, a professor of clinical psychology at SUNY Buffalo. "Including your spouse in your network of friends is nearly as important for marital happiness as making them feel they are a part of your family."

7. YOUR MOM: About 85% of adult women say they have a good relationship with their mother, according to a Pennsylvania State University study. Despite the inevitable conflicts between grown moms and daughters, the relationships are generally strong, supportive, and close. "There is great value in this bond because mothers and daughters care so much for one another," says study author Karen L. Fingerman, PhD. If you’d like to be closer but run into the same roadblocks over and over, here’s some advice to overcome the most common issues.
• You find it hard to enjoy time with mom: Stop trying to change her, and focus on what you do enjoy, says Fingerman.
• You keep clashing over the same old issues: The women who had the strongest relationships didn't take the conflicts personally. Instead, they tended to see criticism as a reflection of their mother's habits or traits.
• The relationship feels too close for comfort: Daughters who did the best with this accepted that their mothers wanted more time together. Instead of telling their moms what they couldn't do, these daughters focused on when they could get together and what they could do for their mothers.

8. YOURSELF: As women, we often drop everything to help a friend in need, but often don’t pay ourselves the same respect. So, how does one befriend herself, exactly? It starts with self-knowledge, says Prevention advisor Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. “Getting to know yourself is an amazing adventure,” she says. “Think of what makes you fall in love with someone: how genuine, sincere, and caring they can be; the unconditional love they offer, no matter what. Doesn't that describe how you should feel about yourself?” Peeke recommends you repeat the following mantra as a reminder: "I love and honor myself as I do the other important people in my life." To give yourself the TLC you deserve, write down seven things that make you feel happy and healthy (cooking dinner, talking to a friend, running, reading a book), and make sure you do at least one every day! ~ Excerpts taken from Prevention Magazine

“Every woman who heals herself helps heal all the women who came before her and all those who will come after her!” ~ Dr. Christiana Northrup, MD

“To heal our world, we must heal our families!” ~ Stephen Covey

“Blood is not thicker than water. Your family is—the people who love you when you need them.” ~ Investigator Troy Dunn

“The most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love . . . God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him.” ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf (“You Matter to Him,” Oct 2011 General Conference)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Memories of Dad

There is a missing piece in my family this year, as our beloved father has hung up his final gone fishin’ sign and returned to his Heavenly Home. My father, Milton, loved to fish, but he is warmly remembered as a fisher of men.

Leon Milton Sealy, age 89, passed away on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at the Ted Warthen Center, in the St. George, Utah, from causes due to old age. On Monday, December 5, 2011, family and friends came together to celebration his life—his graduation day!

Dad has returned home into the loving arms of his Heavenly Father. If you are wondering what he’s doing now, I know . . . because when I was a little girl dad used to tell me that when we went to heaven we would all get to do what we loved best in life. He’d say, “Don’t worry about me Linda, I’ll be up there fishin' and making donuts!” So there you go!

Whatever dad is doing now, I know he’s excited to be working again! Dad’s motto for success was, “Work, Work, Work!” Work was dad’s play! There is nothing he enjoyed more than working in his garden, cleaning out his fishpond, or digging a post hole. Playtime for dad was a day of fishing or logging in the mountains.

I remember one particular summer when my husband, Dale, and I decided to take our children on an afternoon boating trip to play in the shallow, warm water along the North Bear Lake shore. We packed a lunch, preparing to spend the afternoon away from our cabin. As usual, dad was outside chopping wood and I asked him if he’d like to come along. He said, “Why would you want to do that? We’ve got water here!”

“I know Dad,” I said, “but the water on the Idaho side is shallow and warm and the kids love to play there.” Reluctantly he decided to come along, and soon we were all on the North shore, playing in the water and having a great time.

I remember sitting on the beach beside Dad while we ate a sandwich together. He looked at me with a big Milt grin on his face and said, “So are we having fun yet Linda?”

I said, “Sure Dad! See how much fun the kids are having in the water?”

Then he laughed and said, “Are you sure it wouldn’t be more fun to be back home digging a post hole or planting a tree?” That was Dad. He loved to be outdoors working hard.

When I think of my father, I think of him as “a big fish” in the big fish pond of life. He just loved to fish. In our house the cost of material possessions were counted in dozens of donuts he’d need to make to pay for them, and jokes were related to fishing! His great sense of humor gave us laughter and the strength to endure the hardships and sorrows of life. When I think of my father I think of his big smile, the twinkle in his eye, and all of his funny sayings. No matter what happens in my life, I can always hear my dad’s voice in my head––the things he said, or would have said, in any given situation. For example, when talking about his posterity he’d say, “We need more Indians in this family. We have too many chiefs!” When bragging about his Grandchildren he’d say, “There’s not an ugly one in the bunch!” On my college graduation day he said, “Well congratulations Linda! But ya know . . . college graduates are some of the stupidest people I know––very little common sense!” And before he’d leave for work in the morning he’d pop his head in my little sister Loni’s room and say, “Well, ya going to amount to anything?” We hope he’s looking down on us now, seeing how great all his Indian Chiefs turned out.

When I think of my dad I recall the proud look he had on his face the day he and mom returned home from their LDS Church mission service. When I think of my father I think of a man that stood for honesty beyond reproach. He always took responsibility for his actions––his mistakes. I remember him saying, “I have no one to blame but myself. I did it to myself!” His Patriarchal Blessing said he would be “a help unto many people in showing them the right way to go, setting an example before all men—of the life of a true Latter-day Saint.” That was Dad.

Throughout my high schools years I worked in Bear Lake during my summers. Most of the time the family was at the lake, but once in a while it was just Dad and I. I remember after being alone for a few days I called home from work to see when they were coming back. “When are you coming back Dad?” I said.

Dad’s voice was reassuring over the phone. “Don’t worry Linda. I just wrote you a nice letter explaining everything. We’ll be there soon. And don’t forget to water the lawn!”

I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to get to the post office. Imagine! A letter from my dad! Dad wasn’t one to write letters––mom was the writer of the family. So you can imagine my excitement when I retrieved the long #10 business envelope from the post office, with my name on it. I ripped open the envelope revealing a small, yellow, ripped notepad sheet with the words: “Linda . . . Be there soon. Water lawn, Milt.” Dad was never one for small talk—he was direct and to the point.

I know that each of us are called home in the Lords time––when our mission is complete. Dad had several near death experiences before his actual death, but he was preserved in life until his mission was completed. Once Dad was involved in a terrible accident while on his way to work at Won-door Corporation. His lightweight truck was struck from behind on the freeway causing him to roll several times. The highway patrolman at the scene of the accident looked into the cab of Dad’s pickup truck and saw him laying on the floor with his eyes wide open. “You're alive!” the officer exclaimed.

“I believe I am!” was Dad’s reply. Later, when Dad went to claim his tools from the salvage yard, he was told that they had been sold because they thought that, “no one could have survived that wreck!”

After that Dad always said that, “When it's your time to go, it's your time! Not before!”

Only God knows when it’s our time. He is in charge. He gives us each breath. He is preserving each of us from day to day, lending us breath, that we may learn, grow, and love, and to serve one another. Dad was lovingly served by many willing hands in his declining years. He came to accept that service, and along with him, we are so grateful for the love and care he received. Surely there is a great mansion prepared in Heaven for such a man of love and strength—where he can continue to do great work among men, as a new fish in a Heavenly sea.

Dad’s younger brother, Ramon, has said that Dad was the “single most influence in his life—one of his real heros and a great role model.” I have to agree. He was my hero too.

I love you Dad. Work hard, and don’t forget to water the lawn! We’ll be there soon!