My current tool kit

My current tool kit for life includes:

Tissues: I sense over time that there is a correlation between trust and the number of tears I witness as a Relief Society president. When I hand a sister a tissue, I know her tears are precious, and I am honored to share the moment with her.

Chartreuse, Olive, Purple, Tan, and Silver Thread: These are the colors needed to sew on Scout patches. Recently, I transferred Mark’s patches to Daniel’s old shirt and moved Daniel’s old patches to a larger shirt. Timothy needed me to sew on about 15 merit badges. I do this sewing so they are prepared for big evenings like we had this week. Daniel completed his board of review for Eagle Scout rank, and I was asked to give a few words about his scouting experience. I shared a little of what it is like to send my 11 or 12-year-old to Scout camp for the first time, and to hear later from a leader that he did well. I shared what it feels like to let go, and see a son grow in leadership and ability because I allowed him some danger and adventure.  I didn’t earn Daniel’s Eagle for him. What I did was watch, wait, and encourage. This was the longer and more difficult path, but better. Later, I noticed this was the shirt I was wearing beneath my sweater for the Eagle board of review. Perfect.

One, Three-ring Binder for Each Child: When a child comes home with a certificate, report card, recital program, or blue card for a Scout merit badge, it goes in a sheet protector in this binder. When college and scholarship applications are due, this is a great reference for what they have done during high school. To keep merit badge blue cards organized, I use plastic sheets made for baseball trading cards. I can’t emphasize enough how important it was for me to keep track of these, through a move and changes in leaders.

Small notebooks: I carry these around with me so I can keep track of ideas, which swirl around me and are fickle about staying in my head very long.

Sugar free Ice Breakers Wintergreen Mints: because I talk to many people.

Small fabric bags with zippers in my purse: I have one for keys, and one for pens. They keep me organized.

A great phone plan for texting: for teens and church work

Laser printer: I am learning that writing a book means endless drafts.

Paper scriptures: Lately, I gravitate toward paper over electronic, because I have 20 years worth of notes in the margins of these scriptures. They have been steady friends during times of change.

Yearly tasks written on a calendar: In January, when I put up a new calendar, I took some time to write in the margins some hints about what needed to happen each month. For November, I wrote that during the first week I needed to go to a certain store for the best selection of Christmas cards. Another week we needed to do the Christmas picture. This has been so helpful! (And I realize probably everyone does this already.)

Less: Our family doesn’t need as much as it used to. Toys, art supplies, curriculum, and smaller clothing need to make steady exits from our house… as I have the courage to part with them.

If I think of you, I will make some effort to contact you: This isn’t a tangible thing in my tool kit, just an idea that I have recommitted to this month. Basically, I trust there are reasons I think of random people in a day, and make efforts to find out why.

Goblin Valley

Richard took the Scouts to Goblin Valley a couple of weekends ago. I am finally getting to the pictures. Mark is lucky to get some extra camping as an eleven year old. I think the picture of Richard and Mark shows the same smile on two people.


My Favorite Chapter in the Book of Mormon

Mosiah 18 has it all: an imperfect, repentant priest who preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ to great effect; persecution, blessings for those who labor in the church, wise counsel on religious behavior, and protection from the Lord. If I had to choose just one chapter to keep from the Book of Mormon, it would probably be this one. I wonder which one you would choose. It’s a tough question to answer, I know.

Daniel’s Eagle Project

For Daniel’s Eagle project, we freed these teens who were locked in the nursery closet for several years. They had grown a few feet taller, and had survived on goldfish crackers and kept clean with hand sanitizer. They didn’t seem to be bored with the toys. They played happily with the cash register, farm toys, tools, puzzles and kitchen sets as we cleaned the area. The reunions with their parents were too precious to photograph.

The shelf installation went smoothly. Not pictured are many people who donated the materials for the project, and Daniel’s grandpa who helped him with a design and ideas. I feel very grateful for the support people showed Daniel.

What I might have missed

If I had canceled the Relief Society presidency meeting like I wanted to, because I was tired, we wouldn’t have gone through the names of the sisters in the ward. If we hadn’t gone through the names, one by one, we wouldn’t have thought to visit a sister yesterday, and we would have missed out on one of the most remarkable visits ever. During the visit, the woman told us some of her life story, which I would never have guessed, all around the theme of God being involved in her life.

I came away from the visit with a few lessons.

  1. Everyone has a story, and it needs to be shared. Write your stories for your families! Don’t wait until you are old.
  2. You can’t always gauge a person’s faith by appearances.
  3. The Lord directs the work of Relief Society. How else would we have known to go to this home?
  4. My counselors and secretary are inspired. They are the right ones for the job.
  5. Connection can only happen when we show who we really are.

A piece of cake and trips to Home Depot

Yesterday, my friend Janine brought Timothy a piece of chocolate cake to congratulate him on his piano solo played in church. Many others have cheered for him and congratulated him in other ways.

Daniel’s Eagle project is this week, and the doorbell keeps ringing with people coming by with supplies. So far, every person who has come by has asked how he or she could help more. Other people have heard about it and have taken time to inquire what else is needed. Weeks ago, my parents gave up an evening to help Daniel begin the planning and design of his project.

I am no stranger to seeing the generosity of our neighbors, whether it is for funerals, illnesses, moves, births, gatherings, or weddings. This week, though, we are the direct recipients of this generosity and my heart is touched. When your child stretches, or does something difficult or new, you just love the people who show up to help and encourage.


What a Week

Photo by Heather
Photo by Jaussis

There were uncomplicated, lovely times last week: a Relief Society garden party in Charlene’s gorgeous backyard, my nieces’ puppet booth, and a good date night. There was an unplanned trip to a joke shop and a small town drive-in with Timothy and Mark, where they said the food was the best they had ever had. Daniel went on a backpacking trip with a friend, which felt like a milestone because he has never done something like this without adults. He came home covered in bug bites (not mosquito), but had a great view of the valley.

It was a week of work for body, mind, and heart. There was the satisfaction of finishing a quilt top and removing bags of unneeded things from the house and cleaning up a flower bed in the backyard. I prepared several messages for my Church calling, only to realize that the simplest one was best. I felt deep concern for some friends, and molded it into prayer. In return, I feel heard, and more like the person I should be: more connected with God and my neighbors.

This upcoming week peers around the corner, and I see glimpses of what can be, and I smile.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

(photo by Susan)

My dad shared with us at his birthday party that this is also the 50th anniversary of his baptism. He joined the Church as a teenager, and was the first member to join the Church in his family. He said that there are decisions that have the power to alter the course of your life, and this decision to be baptized has made all the difference in who he is, and what his family has become.

My sister Sarah presented him the Harris family Bible from the 1800’s that our family commissioned to be restored. The leather binding is intact and beautiful again. As he looked through the pages of family names listed in the Bible, it was a central moment, surrounded by the new generations and looking backward to ancestors, all who have or will be influenced by his decision to be baptized.

Sometimes little things like this remind me of what is really important. It all comes down to lists of names in a Bible,  the dear ones surrounding us, and the decisions we make to stay true to the faith.