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Look carefully...at the seemingly small moments...in the constant shaping of souls.- Neal A.Maxwell

Allotment

"My High-Schooler's history assignment was to write about one "defining moment" for each year of his life.  I found the assignment intriguing and began thinking of defining moments in my life.  At the top of the list was a moment that occured during a conversation with my father when I was in college.  To him it was likely just a conversation - to me it was literally life changing. 

"Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote, 'We must look carefully, therefore, not only at life's large defining moments but also at the seemingly small moments.  Even small acts and brief conversations count...in the constant shaping of souls...What will we bring to all of those moments small and large?'"

My first blog post over 3 years ago.  In the time since my mother has passed away, my oldest is on a 2-year mission, my middle son is soon to be driving and my youngest is starting middle-school next year.  I have had dear friends move away and new friends move in.  I have been healthy, I have been not so healthy.  I have house hunted, almost moved, stayed put - and yet moved on in the process.

"Life’s necessary defining moments come within our allotments. … Our responses are what matter. Sufficient unto each life are the tests thereof!" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell)
 
I have many friends who are currently dealing with difficult trials.  I am impressed with the courage and optimism I see in them.
 
"...within our allotments we see how the saintly display kindness even within barbed-wire circumstances, yet others have barbed attitudes even within opulence. Meanwhile, the discontented continue to build their own pools of self-pity, some Olympic size." (Elder Maxwell)
 
I am grateful we have the opportunity to be "alloted" with others by our side.  I am even more grateful for an eternal perspective. 
 
Again quoting Elder Maxwell, "Colleen and I have a special granddaughter, Anna Josephine, who was born without a left hand. The other day a conversation was overheard between Anna Jo, almost five, and her cousin Talmage, three. Talmage said reassuringly as they played together, “Anna Jo, when you grow up you will have five fingers.” Anna Jo said, 'No, Talmage, when I grow up I won’t have five fingers, but when I get to heaven I will have a hand.'”
 
 
 
 
 
 
success

6-year old B asked for a metal detector for Christmas.

7-year old B asked for a metal detector for Christmas.

8-year old B asked for a metal detector for Christmas.

9 and 10-year old B asked for a metal detector for Christmas.

11-year old B received a metal detector for Christmas.

Husband planted 3 coins in front, 4 coins in back.  Neighbor planted 4 additional coins in front.  Thus far 11-year old has found 3 coins out front plus 2 coins and a mystery object out back.

     metal detector 003 cropped.jpg      metal detector 004 - cropped.jpg

B had incentive to look when he knew coins had been planted.  Sensing, digging and finding something unplanted was striking gold.

 

 

 

From pockets to purses

I inherited two coats from my mom.  I think of her every time I wear them.  Emptying the pockets yesterday, in preparation for washing the coats, I was reminded of when I emptied the pockets before bringing the coats home.  There was a little bit of mom in those  pockets.  The remembering continued…

 

Going through mom's purse as a child was a delight.  I never knew all that I would find but there was a sense of security in knowing certain items would always be there.  There might be candy but there was always gum and the minty smell that came with it.  There might be loose change but there was always a container with a snap on lid and a neatly folded plastic scarf inside.  There might be bobby-pins but there was always a small, brown Avon hairbrush.  There might be two tubes of lipstick but there was always at least one.  There might be a small pack of tissue but there was always a pretty handkerchief that smelled of "White Shoulders".

 

As I got older my favorite items in mom's purse were her little notebook and pen.  It was fun looking at her short-hand trying to guess what it said.  It was also nice for playing pen and paper games, doodling or passing notes.

 

When my grandmother on my father's side passed away I inherited her black clutch.  Inside was minty gum, a pretty handkerchief that smelled of dusting powder and a small notebook.  I can't remember if there was shorthand or doodles or games in grandma's notebook.  What I do remember is a page with two items:

 

A man locked his keys in the car and had to break a window to get his family out.

 

cross-eyed cow, farmer, hose

 

I thought it was cute that my grandma carried a joke in her purse but I had no idea what “cow, farmer, hose” was about.  When I mentioned it to my dad he started laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes.  When he could speak he told me a lengthy joke involving a cow, a farmer and a hose – laughing the entire time.  The joke was not that funny.  I think my dad was laughing more that his mother had wanted to remember the joke more than he was laughing at the joke itself.

 

 

I no longer have grandma’s clutch,  I can’t even remember what mom’s old purse looked like.  I do carry minty gum and a small notebook and pen in my purse.  I have mom’s brown Avon hairbush tucked away in a drawer.  I occasionally tell a joke about a cross-eyed cow.  It’s not very funny but I laugh everytime.

 

He knows

We were new parents newly moved to Oregon.  We had not yet made friends and family was far away.  I was struggling with post-partum depression.  My husband's jobs kept him and our only vehicle away most days and evenings.  Our apartment had only a north exposure and it rained a lot.  The loneliness and lack of sun only added to my depression.  One Sunday had been particularly difficult.  I was longing to be told that someone knew I was trying and that things would be okay.  That evening a woman from church called.  She told me that she had been thinking of me all day and that she wanted me to know that she knew I was trying to make the best of my current situation and that things would be okay.  I was amazed and grateful - she knew what I needed and she followed through.

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Our apartment was very small compared to where we had been living.  We had a number of items stacked in the corner of the living room because we had nowhere else to put them.  A woman came by to introduce herself and visit for a few minutes.  I apologized for the crowded living room, she made some remark about having lived in tight apartments herself.  The next day she called and told me that she had made space in her attic where I could store items if I wanted.  Another person who knew what I needed and followed through. 

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I have been praying for opportunities to serve others.  Over Christmas break I wondered how I could serve others when I am home with the kids.  It is interesting how prayers are answered.  I called a friend, just to talk.  She had had a stressful week.  She said just talking through the situation helped her think more calmly and clearly.  I went to a choir practice and talked with a fellow soprano after practice was over.  The next day she thanked me for the conversation - she said that it had been "a real service" to her to be able to discuss some health concerns and get feedback from my experience with similar issues.

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We were to have friends over for games and dessert Friday evening.  They canceled but I had already made the dessert.  I brought some over to my neighbor.  Her grand and great-grandkids were away for the evening.  I thought of inviting her over to play games with us BUT I argued the thought away, thinking she would enjoy a rare evening alone.  The next day I was telling her about one of the games my family had played the night before.  She said that she had been so lonely that night and almost called us to see if we were playing games and could she join.  I kick myself for arguing the thought to invite away.

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Today a teenaged girl told me that she feels overloaded at times.  She told me sometimes it gets so bad she wishes she were dead and then she reminds herself who would miss her if she were gone.  She told me she knew I would miss her because I always call her by name and say hi when I see her.

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This is what I know.  I know God knew that I needed to hear that someone knew I was trying and that things would be okay.  I know He also knew who would listen and heed His prompting.  I know He knew I needed to be listened to - even when I did not ask for attic space.  I know He knew who would listen with her heart.  I know he knew my friend needed to talk and that He knew the soprano would benefit from my medical experience. I know He knew my neighbor would be lonely - I wish I had heeded His prompting then.  I know that He knows that teenager.  I know He knows her name and her needs.  I did not know until today that He was allowing me to help Him by simply saying hello.

 

Bruised and Bent but Happy.

My husband had New Year's day off.  He suggested we go sledding up in the hills where there is snow.  11 year old was thrilled at the prospect.  15 year old and I were unenthusiastic but willing.  When we arrived at snow level we learned many others had decided to bring in the New Year in similar fashion.  The small slope was crowded with sledders waiting their turn at 3 runs - 1 smooth, 2 quite bumpy.  11 year old grabbed his sled and ran to the bumpiest run.  He grinned ear to ear the whole way down.  At his urging I got my sled and joined him.  My grin rivaled his.  On the way home, after three hours of sledding, we all agreed it had been a great day.

This morning my bruised tail-bone area is reminding me of yesterday's fun.  I am also reminded of happy events from my past.

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I was almost 22 when my husband D, first called and asked me out.  My mom had planned a family outing for the same weekend.  I declined D's offer but asked if the next weekend would work.  He agreed.

My 19 year old brother was leaving on a mission to Brazil.  My mom wanted one final family vacation before he left.  Work schedules and other commitments made planning the vacation difficult.  We finally settled on a one night stay at Lava Hot Springs in Idaho.  I don't remember much of the trip but I laugh thinking about the bits I do remember.  Our low budget motel room was pretty grimy.  My brothers, who are funny alone and hilarious together, made a game of having as little contact as possible with any motel surface.  I can still see them jumping from towel to towel to get around the room.  We enjoyed the Hot Springs that evening and again the next morning and then headed for home.  We stopped to look at the Olympic sized pool where there were a number of diving boards including a 10-meter diving platform.  My dad said that it would be worth paying admission to the pool if all any of us did was jump off the platform.  I took the bait.  Dad paid my admission, I changed into my suit and went straight up the platform ladder and straight off the platform board.  Not to be outdone my older brother decided to go off the platform as well.  He asked me to join him.  He jumped first so I had the opportunity to stand at the top of the platform and see how high 10 meters really was.  It was a little scary.  On my second jump I pulled my legs up and landed on my tailbone - apparently, according to my subsequent chiropractor visit, dislocating it in the process.  The 2-plus hour drive home was interesting.  My brothers were kind enough to let me lay across their laps so that my tailbone did not need to make contact but not kind enough to refrain from making humorous comments throughout the trip.

I was still in pain the next weekend, my scheduled first date with D.  Sitting I was okay, not great but okay.  Going from standing to sitting or sitting to standing was very painful.  I did not want D to see me grimace as I got into the car so, after he opened the door for me, I said, "What's that?" and pointed behind him.  I did something similar getting out of the car and again while sitting to watch the outdoor play we were attending.  Three times of a similar ploy had me feeling pretty silly so I told D what I was doing and why.  When it was time to leave the play D said, "What's that?" and looked behind himself while I stood.  He did something similar after opening the car door for me.  A kind and humorous gesture that still makes me smile.

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