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My Faith

No Tomorrow?

Well, the world did not end this week either! I am glad about that, how about you? It seems that whenever a year ends, or natural disasters abound and cosmic events like this year’s eclipse, or the spooky cools super moons show up, people start to talk about the end of the world. Of course, most of us do not know when our lives will end, but if we did…

I have always wondered if I would make any changes in my life, do things differently, or refocus my priorities if I knew my life would end on a specific day. I don’t know that I would. I learned a great lesson from my grandmother many years ago. At a young age she was told that she had a hole in her heart that could not be repaired. She was told day after day, week after week, month after month and even year after year that she had just a few days left to live.
My grandmother, Pearl, lived each day as if it were her last. She spent her time reading and studying. Gathering family around her and telling stories. She called family members often just to say hello and to let them know of her love.  She was careful not to offend. If she did, she quickly apologized. Her priorities were clear to all – faith and family. What a wonderful example to follow!

On Christmas Eve this year we lost a very dear family member after a short (thank goodness) battle with ALS. (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). It came on quickly, destroyed her body one muscle at a time, and she was gone. She knew there was no cure and it was moving very fast. She knew that she would likely not live but a few months more. Once she received and understood her fate, she immediately planned for her husband and daughter’s life without her. She made the decision to donate her body to the University of Utah for research. She had had polio, cancer, and now ALS. No doubt, much will be learned from her generous gift. Then, she planned her funeral service. I have been asked to speak. I am honored and challenged by this request.

I can’t help but ponder her life, her death and contemplate what I might have done in the same situation. What if there were no tomorrow for me? I often wonder if it will take our being told that we only have a few weeks or months to live for us to spend our time on that which is most important? Are our lives “in order”? Would we have any regrets if today was our last?

Well. It appears we have a new year ahead of us. “Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on… This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.”  Thomas S. Monson (Who passed away January 3, 2018). 

As far as we know, there will be many tomorrows for us. May we all use this time, this season, this new beginning to re-focus, re-evaluate, and re-commit to those things most important to us in our lives. So, if tomorrow never comes…

All Creatures Great & Small

Knowing in our hearts that it would be impossible for our little dog Zoey to survive the -21 degree temperatures, our hope was that someone picked her up and decided to keep her. After 3 subzero nights, that was the only scenario we could live with.

On Friday, January 16th, 2016, amidst one of the coldest and snowest winters on record, Roger and I were on our way from Alpine, WY to Jackson, WY to stock up on food and supplies. The week ahead was to be treacherous. When we stopped for gas at the Alpine Junction Chevron station, neither of us noticed that our 2-year old little Morkie had jumped out of the car. It was only 20 miles up the canyon that we realized that she was not in the back, as we had expected, but that she must still be at the gas station.

In a panic we called the Chevron station. “Yes, she said, “we saw a little dog running around the parking lot.” Please bring her in.” I pleaded. “We are on our way!” We quickly made our way back down the icy canyon road to rescue our Zoey. Our hearts sank when we arrived and she was nowhere to be found. We called, searched, drove, walked and hiked for 4 ½ hours. Asking anyone and everyone if they had seen her. People were kind and sympathetic, offering to “keep an eye out” and “spread the word” and “pray for her.”

Surely someone has picked her up. But why haven’t they called? She had a tag on with her name and my phone. We called the vet, the sheriff’s office and Lucky’s Place, the local humane society.  All were kind and sympathetic, but I could hear in their voices that at this point, it was likely that we would never see her again. And with the temperatures, well…

Our desperate prayers were pleas for help that she would be safe and if not, that our hearts would be healed from the loss.

By Saturday afternoon, the hard truth began to set in. There was no possible way she could have survived the night and if someone had her, surely, they would have called us by now. With each passing hour, the prospects grew dimmer. Saturday passed into Sunday and we began to feel the emptiness.

img958367On Monday, beyond all comprehension, and in disbelief we received a call from an awesome family that Zoey had been found! They had seen her running through their field and assumed that she had found shelter under their shed. She was wet, cold and scared and would not come to them or let them catch her. She just kept running. They took photos and tried to zoom in to see if they could read her tag, but to no avail.

This great little family, The Dales, went above and beyond to rescue her. Adam & Gretchen put out a wild animal trap with some food on Sunday night.img_8397

They caught her on Monday morning and brought her in to warm her up and called us. We, of course dropped everything and through roads were closed, schools had been shut down and the county was calling for no unnecessary travel, we went to pick up our Zoey. She was about 1 mile north of the Alpine Junction where we left her. Safe, but frozen, exhausted, hungry and thirsty.

20170110_085354Today, she is bundled up on the sofa with her little toy lamb, warm, fed and loved more than ever. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the power of prayer and for this kind family who knew how much this little dog needed help. They refused our reward asking us to pay the kindness forward.  What a great lesson they have taught their two daughters, Juniper and Hazel. Thank you for your example of goodness and caring.

As I close this remarkable story, may I share with you a poem that I learned when I was little. “All creatures great and small, the good Lord watches over all.” Indeed! And please enjoy this song that has been playing in my head this morning. Consider the Lilies of the Field. We are beyond grateful. May we show our gratitude and do as the Dale’s asked and pay it forward at every opportunity.

 

Embracing Moments That Matter

Excited to share this great new book. Honored to have had the privilege to collaborate with such extraordinary people! In this Anthology, you will find uplifting, inspiring and engaging stories from me and a select group of my fellow professional speakers. You may laugh a little, cry a little, find yourself deep in thought, or just simply relax as you read and enjoy insights from some of my favorite people. Get your copy today and pass it on!

 

For The Beauty of The Earth

“For the beauty of the earth. For the beauty of the skies. For the land which from our birth, over and around us lies.Lord of all the we raise. This our hymn of grateful praise.”
Christian hymn by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)

I’m especially grateful and feel so blessed this morning to be able to be here in these beautiful mountains. Every day I am able to breathe clean air, hike and be renewed. May I never take for granted the beauty that surrounds me. May I never become blind to the magnificence of God’s creations. May I always do my best to care for and preserve the beauty of the earth.

And may I be forever willing to share all that I see and feel with those who may be overwhelmed with life’s challenges. May the words I write and photos I share enrich your life and fill you with peace.

The Road Less Traveled

It’s a beautiful morning and I am enjoying a nice walk with our 2 dogs down a road less traveled. Obviously, the guy in this picture gave up way too soon.  As unfortunately, many people seem to do.

I think this is a good parable today for Roger and I. We recently made a very brave decision to sell our home other property and move to Star Valley Wyoming to build our dream log home. We are literally and figuratively on one of  life’s less traveled roads.  As we worked the last few months moving all of our belongings into storage, selling homes and packing to move so many of our friends, neighbors and relatives have commented, “You are living our dream.”

For many years I’ve incorporated into my speaking engagements a little something about dreaming big dreams. I learned early on that “It costs no more to dream a big dream than it does to dream a big dream”  So, why not? We dreamed it, now we are doing it! “Living the Dream” as they say takes commitment, hard work,  sacrifice and courage. And more of the same will surely be required as we continue on this adventure. Lets hope we are up for it, because here we are. Living in our 5th wheel trailer while we clear our land and build our dream home. We are blessed to have our family behind us and look forward to creating a peaceful retreat for them. We are so encouraged as people share that they are inspired by our decision.

Unfortunately, the road less traveled is a lonely one. So many dream, but never dare. So many hope but never follow through.   But life offers everyone the choice to travel any road they choose. Perhaps you are ready for a new direction. Perhaps you see a pathway in the distance that will lead you to your dreams. Follow it! Dream, then dare, hope and pray, then get to work!

Small & Simple Things

The following is a talk that I gave in church in February 2016

In contrast to the world in which we live. This crazy busy big, loud, complex and complicated life.. is the sweet peace living the gospel brings. The simple truths, the consistent, gentle commands. The quiet promptings of the Spirit, and the tender mercies of the Lord.

In the Old Testament The Prophet Elijah writes Kings 19: 11

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:  And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice

We all know that the happiness we seek is not in the chaos of the world, it is not in the crazy busy; it wasn’t in the powerball either– it is by living each day in accordance with principles of the Gospel

In our day, our challenges are not the elements, or pulling a handcarts, or being tarred and feathered – it is the very speed of life, the crazy business that places demands on our time, distracts us from what matters most.

Words to an old county song by Joe Diffy “Cause and effect, chain of events, all of this chaos makes perfect sense, when the world is spinning round, things come undone – welcome to earth third rock from the sun.”

Maybe it is just my age, but life seems to go faster and faster –always in constant chaos, crazy busy. The adversary has literally turned up the volume, increased the speed. Our lives these days are complicated and noisy. And all too often, we get caught up in the busy – miss the important.

Corrie Ten Boom quote “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”

Dallin H Oaks “We do not improve our position in eternity just by flying farther and faster in mortality, but only by moving knowledgeably in the right direction.”

If we don’t slow down, and be mindful, we might miss a prompting to serve another with a small act of kindness, we might miss simple opportunities for growth, we may miss some of the small blessings our Father has in store for us.

I have been given a special warning in my patriarchal blessing. “Calm yourself and wait and all good things will come to you.”

Implies that I am in charge of that!

A lesson I am learning…

Summer Vacation

The speed of life these days is one of our greatest challenges. The world often seems spinning out of control. Information flies faster and faster, requiring our constant response to keep up. Faster and faster we go, sometimes unaware of why we are hurrying and missing so much along the way.

In a favorite scene in the Star Trek Movie “Insurrection,” a woman friend of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Anij appears to slow down time. A waterfall becomes a magical display of beauty, a hummingbird’s wings flap so slowly one can count the beats, and pollen blown from a flower floats softly in mid-air for the longest time. What an inspiring scene depicting what life would be like if we could control time. Of course, we can’t. We can however, control ourselves, the speed in which we live our lives, and what we choose to do with our time.

I agree with these words from Mormon Apostle, Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

“One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles. Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. “The wise resist the temptation to get caught up in the frantic rush of everyday life.”

They follow the advice from Mahatma Gandhi. ‘There is more to life than increasing its speed.’ In short, they focus on the things that matter most.”

Many of life’s meaningful moments are so easily missed in the busy of our daily routines. Dr. Seuss “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory

 I want to embrace more of those simple moments, don’t you?

It is helpful to recognize that we are ultimately in control. We are the creators of this “chaos.” We have both the responsibility and opportunity to choose what we do with our time. We have all been invited to live in the eye of the storm where we find the calm assurance that He lives, that he loves us.

The great thing is each of us gets to decide how often we choose to truly experience and embrace the small and simple things.

New Orleans

On the banks of the Mississippi River, this grateful man sang with heart and soul. It was both inspiring and humbling. It was a moment that mattered to me and to him, and we embraced it. It is a memory I will forever hold dear. This was one of those moments that Maya Angelou was talking about when she said, “Life is not measured by the breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.” To think what I might have missed had I not stopped my crazy-busy life for just a moment to listen to his story, hear his song, and connect in such a powerful way.

As I have reflected back on this experience, I wonder if I should have snapped a quick selfie with him, or tweeted #homeless #Katrina #survivor. Maybe I should have recorded a video for YouTube, blogged the experience, or posted it on Facebook. I could have even created a “GoFundMe” page for him. At the very least, I could have sent an email or text to my colleagues who were attending the same conference to come and hear him play. I did none of those things.

What I have recognized since is that any one of these things would have detracted from that very special moment in time. I would have been worried about how I might look in the picture. Was the lighting right? Would the video sound be okay? Would it go viral? Would I misspell something in my blog or would my text interrupt friends? Instead, I chose to simply live life and be fully present in the moment. To relish the connection, to really soak it in and to wholeheartedly embrace a moment that mattered. I am so grateful that I did.

 

I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. I know He loves all of his children just like we love our children. He wants only the best for us, only our eternal happiness. He sent his son, Jesus Christ to earth to teach us; to lead us and to provide the necessary atoning sacrifice for our mistakes.

I know the Joseph Smith was called to fulfill his mission on this earth to translate the Book of Mormon and restore essential truths. To provide greater clarity and understanding of our who we are and our Heavenly Father’s plan for us.

Our Savior said,

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)

“When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.”

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet” Nancy Levin