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

Making extra sure
     "Make sure the kitchen and bathroom cupboards are kept opened tonight so the pipes don't freeze." I tell 13-year old and 17-year old as 13-year old heads off to bed.  17-year old asks, "All the cupboards?"  I'm amused at his question.  "No, just the ones under the sinks," I reply.  I'm even more amused when I walk into the hall bath and find that 13-year old has opened not only the cabinet under the sink but also the wall medicine chest and the free standing linen cupboard.
Sleigh Bells and Phone Calls
     Newly 13-year walked in from school, gave me a hug and thanked me for attending all of his band concerts when he was in 6th grade.  Without him telling me, I knew there had been the annual Christmas assembly featuring the 6th grade band playing "Jingle Bells" that day.

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     A few days ago I came home to a blinking answering machine.  I pressed "play" expecting the usual meeting and appointment reminders and was surprised to hear, "Hey Mom, this is C.  I'm having a really good day for no reason in particular and hope you are too!"

     I had three messages I was saving - this makes four.

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Following His path
     I told my friend the other day that I was feeling a need for validation.  She said, "I can give you validation, but I'm not the one you should be seeking it from."
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     Some time ago I was concerned about a questionable young man who was showing a lot of attention to a vulnerable then 14-year old girl.  I read through and discussed with her a list of warning signs of an abusive relationship.  One of the signs was being continually demeaned by your partner.  I explained to her that no matter what labels someone else gave her it did not change who she actually was.  This boy saying unkind things about her did not define her.  I told her that I thought she was pretty, that she had a kind heart and that she was a talented artist. Then I added that what I thought did not define her either, what really gave her value was the fact that she is a daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves her and when she is feeling down to ask Him to let her feel His love.
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     I appreciate that my friend did give me kinds words but I appreciate even more the reminder of where to seek true comfort.
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    This week I was listening to  "Ponder the Path of Thy Feet", by President Thomas S. Monson ( https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/ponder-the-path-of-thy-feet?lang=eng ).  He told how a woman was thrilled to have visited Jerusalem and to have walked where Jesus walked.  He then said that even more important is to walk as Jesus walked.  Pres. Monson pointed out that Jesus walked the path of disappointment as when the children of Israel rejected Him (Luke 13:34).  He walked the path of temptation (Matthew 4:1-10)He walked the path of pain (Luke 22:44).  Pres. Monson said that we will all experience diappointment, temptation and pain in this life but we can choose to follow Christ's example as we walk these paths.  Quoting from the talk: "We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked. All of us can walk the path He walked when, with His words ringing in our ears, His Spirit filling our hearts, and His teachings guiding our lives, we choose to follow Him as we journey through mortality. His example lights the way. Said He, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life.[John 14:6]' "
    
I called my neighbor to tell her about what I had just listened to.  She did not sound happy when she answered the phone.  One of the great-grandkids had left the cap off the grape juice and it had spilled all over the floor when she opened the fridge.  I asked if she needed to go so she could clean up the mess.  She sighed and said that the dogs were licking it up.  She continued to tell me that her dishwasher was broken and that her grand-daughter had her vehicle for the week because the grand-daughter's vehicle was not functioning.  When I told her what I had called for she was silent for a minute and then said, with a tear choked voice, "That is just what I needed to hear."
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     I was part of a conversation recently.  A single mom lost her job a few months ago.  She has been applying anywhere she can think but is still unemployed.  Christmas is coming and her concern is being able to select a gift for her child.  My initial thought was that food, shelter, heat were immediate needs, shopping for a gift was not.  The more I thought, the more I understood that in our current culture her desire could be viewed as a need.  Means to shop were arranged for her.  She asked if someone could go with her.  She thought it would be fun to discuss ideas back and forth with someone else.  Of course it was agreed she would not shop alone.
     This conversation and a number of other recent interactions has left me with a lot of food for thought.  What is true service and what, as one of my friends says, is just a band-aid?  The answer, I know, is found in following He whose birth we celebrate this Christmas season.



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