Judging Myself

Have you ever read a quote or an excerpt from a book or an article that just seemed to hit you like a ton of bricks? Something that seemed so simple, so obvious, yet so profound? Something that made you wonder why the thought had never occurred to you before? Earlier this week, I read just such a quote.

This particular quote was about judging, or more precisely, about not judging. While I readily and humbly admit that I am far from perfect on this topic, I have always tried not to judge my fellow brothers and sisters and endeavored to find the good and positive in each of them.

This quote, however, suggested that the commandment to not judge includes not judging ourselves. As I read this quote, suddenly my far from perfect mastery of this precept became even farther from perfect in my mind. Am I really supposed to resist the continual urge to judge myself?

This is a challenging concept for me because I tend to be somewhat hypercritical of myself. I strive for perfection and instead of applauding myself when I get closer to my goal, I berate myself when I fall short.

I think we all struggle with this from time to time. We seem to have no trouble overlooking the minor indiscretions and mistakes of others but condemn and judge ourselves for the very same actions. We allow others to be human, to have weaknesses and make mistakes but do not allow ourselves the same courtesy.

As I pondered this concept, I remembered the Savior’s teaching to “…love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39) So, to truly love our neighbor or our brothers and sisters, we must first love ourselves. We need to treat ourselves with the same patience, love and compassion with which we treat others.

I will continue to strive for perfection, but I will try to be more patient and forgiving of myself when I fall short. I will continue to look for the good and the positive in others, and I will try to follow the example of the Savior and love everyone…including myself.

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The Dandelion Perspective

I love dandelions. My love for the tiny yellow blooms began early on in my life. In fact, one of my favorite childhood memories is of a time I spent in the park making dandelion chains with my mother. We spent all afternoon making chains so long we were able to use them as jump ropes.

I have many fond memories of these flowers. I remember running through yellow fields of them. I remember spending hours picking dozens and dozens of them and then carefully making huge sunny yellow bouquets for my mother. To her, they were just weeds but she loved them just the same.

As a child, I could not understand why so many adults disliked these flowers. They called them ugly weeds and did their best to eliminate them from their yards. To me, they were beautiful. They made me happy.

As an adult, they still make me happy. While I now understand why other adults find them displeasing, it still makes me smile when I see a bright yellow field of them. To me, they are still beautiful.

As I reflected on the vastly different ways that people can view the same flower, the same “weed”, it occurred to me that there are many things in this world that people view differently.

People have vastly different viewpoints about books, music, movies, cars, politics, religion and just about everything else, and that’s okay. Life would be boring if everyone had exactly the same opinions about everything.

What is not okay is when people hold negative viewpoints or perspectives about a group of people or an individual without reason. Like the lowly dandelion, they view these people, these individuals as “weeds”, undesired and unwanted.

If only they could see each other from the perspective of a child. If only they could look past labels and preconceived notions and see the beauty and value in one another. If they did, instead of weeds and bitterness, they would find the world full of flowers and love.

I will continue to love dandelions. I will continue to see flowers instead of weeds. I will strive to look at the world through the eyes of a child and find beauty, love and value in everything and everyone I see.

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Twenty Million Moments

Today is my sweet husband’s birthday. For the past 38 years, we have celebrated his birthdays together, but this year he will be celebrating in Heaven. As I reflected on these birthdays, these years, I discovered that we had been together for more than 20 million minutes.

Sometimes, these 20 million minutes seem like forever and at other times they seem to have passed in the blink of an eye. I am grateful for every single moment. It was during these moments that my husband gave me many treasured and precious gifts.

The first of these was the gift of unconditional love. My husband was a considerably large man with a heart to match. He was unselfish, compassionate and empathetic. He loved helping others and would strive to do or give whatever was needed to do so. He showed me and others how it felt to be loved unconditionally.

The second gift was the gift of friendship. My husband’s huge heart and tremendous capacity to love made him a treasured friend. He did his best to make people feel important and valued. He was an extraordinary friend to many and my best friend.

The third gift that my husband gave me was the gift of embracing imperfection. He knew that we are all human and we all make mistakes, but when he made a mistake, he always apologized sincerely and immediately. He knew he was not perfect, he knew that I was not perfect, but he loved me, imperfections and all.

One of the most important gifts that my husband gave me was understanding the value of hard work. My husband was extremely intelligent and exceptionally strong. He used both his mind and muscles and worked very hard to support his family and serve others.

My husband also gave me the gift of finding joy in the journey. While he worked very hard, my husband also understood the importance of enjoying life. He loved celebrating holidays, special occasions and people. He enjoyed being spontaneous. He liked going to midnight movies on the spur of the moment, grocery shopping at 2 AM and dancing in the kitchen on an ordinary Tuesday night.

The final gift my husband gave me was the gift of gratitude. He taught me to be grateful and to never take things for granted. During the past months, I have thought back upon thousands of the more than twenty million moments I spent with my husband. Even the most trivial of moments seem so exceedingly important to me now. I regret the moments when I passed up opportunities to create even more memories and those moments I took for granted.

I know that we will be together again and we will spend the eternities making more memories. Until then, I will celebrate his birthday by doing my best to incorporate all of his gifts into my daily life. I will try to be the best person I can be and share these gifts with others until we can celebrate together again…

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Seeing Beyond the Fog

***Originally posted February 17, 2013***

One day last week, I had to drive to work in a dense fog. It was one of those times that the fog was so thick I could barely see a few feet beyond my car in all directions. It was a curious feeling to be driving on a road that I had been on a thousand times and yet have it feel so foreign, so different.

As I drove along this usually familiar route, I found myself struggling to recall landmarks normally seen that were invisible at the time. I mentally reminded myself that the road curved to the right soon, that there was a hill up ahead and other helpful details about this road.

As I successfully navigated through the fog, I thought of how difficult this task would be for someone who was not familiar with this road. I thought how their success would be dependent upon only what they could see at that moment.

It occurred to me that someone familiar with this road like myself, could serve as a guide for this unfamiliar traveler. I could warn the traveler of the curves, hills and obstacles ahead. I could describe the landscape, buildings and houses that lie hidden to their view.

The safety and success of this traveler, however, would be dependent upon the faith and trust they placed in me. Their knowledge of this road would be limited to the tiny piece of it that they could see. They would not be able to see the obstacles ahead that I know are there.

We are all like this traveler in the fog on an unknown road. Our vision is limited now. We do not know what lies ahead for us. We cannot see the curves, hills and obstacles in our future. We also cannot see the beauty and treasure that may lie a short distance ahead but is now obscured from our view.

Our Heavenly Father knows what is ahead for us. He knows the trials and blessings that await us. He loves us and wants to be our guide. If we will place our faith in Him, He will lead, guide and direct us. He will lead us home.

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I Am Only One

I am only one, but I know that one person can make a difference in the world. If we strive to change the world for good, we will. We can make the world a better place one smile, one thought, one act and one person at a time.

I am only one, but I can make a difference.

I am only one, but I know that even one soul is of great worth to our Heavenly Father. As we strive to serve our fellow brothers and sisters, He will help us to see their true worth. He will touch our hearts and we will feel greater love for one another and for ourselves.

I am only one, but I understand the value and importance of one.

I am only one, but I know I am one part of a greater whole. As we follow the Savior’s counsel to be one, in our homes, our churches, our communities, our nation and our world, we will find greater happiness and an increased capacity to serve. We will find that nothing is impossible if we are unified in the purpose of serving our Heavenly Father and each other.

I am only one, but I know that I am an important part of a marvelous whole.

I am only one, but I know that my Savior, the “Anointed One,” is there to help me when I feel too weak, too sad, too sick or just too tired to go on. I know that He is always there for us during times of pain and trial. I know that He loves and cares for us far more than we can comprehend.

I am only one, but I know that the “Anointed One” is there for me. I am not alone.

I am only one, but I know that with the help of my Heavenly Father and Savior, I can make a difference for good in the world. I can find the joy of becoming one with my brothers and sisters and hopefully, I can find my own worth as I strive to show them theirs.

I am only one, but with God’s help, one is more than enough.

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Learning to Dance in the Rain

I have always loved storms. Even as a child, I enjoyed curling up in the breezeway of our home watching the storms roll in. I would sit mesmerized until either the last clouds floated past the horizon or my mother told me to come inside.

I still love them today. In fact, one of my favorite memories is of the time I spent in a beautiful corner hotel room high above the streets below. Two walls of this room were covered with floor-to-ceiling windows. They created the perfect spot for me to watch the magnificent storms my first evening there. I watched with delight as the clouds rolled in, threw their tantrum and exited stage left.

While I love storms, I also respect and recognize the immense power they can possess. I do my best to prepare for and protect myself from their potential danger. I watch forecasts, pay attention to weather service watches and warnings, and listen for tornado sirens. If the storm is severe, I take shelter.

Despite their inherent danger, I still love these storms. I do not, however, share this affinity for the other “storms” in my life–the trials, tribulations and adversity that sometimes engulf us.

We all experience these storms. They come at different times and in different intensities for each of us. Some seasons of our lives are full of sunshine and blue skies while others are full of dark, threatening clouds and raging floods. Sometimes these storms produce only a fine misting of rain, barely dampening our path. Other times, they come like a monsoon with harsh, damaging winds and terrible lightning, literally stopping us in our tracks.

It is important that we learn not only to survive these storms but also to embrace them. Our natural tendency is to feel sorry for ourselves. We feel despondent and discouraged. We suffer and agonize over our plight trying merely to weather the storm until the sun comes out again. But these storms will return again…

If we are to embrace them, we must do all we can to prepare for and protect ourselves. Once we have done all that we can, our Heavenly Father will be there to help us. We need not face the darkness and fierce winds of this life alone. He will be there waiting to help.

So when I am struggling and tempted to give up, when the storms of life have left me scarred and weathered. I will fervently seek my Heavenly Father’s help. With His guidance, support and love, I will be able to embrace the storms. I will find joy in this journey of life, and even during the most difficult of trials, I will be found dancing in the rain.

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Angel Friends

I find it difficult to believe, but it has been more than four years since I last posted anything on this site. These years have been challenging, full of trials, illness, pain, and sorrow. They have left me feeling depleted, exhausted and a little bit lost.

As I have reflected on these years, I have wondered how I survived them. But I did survive them, and I did so with my sanity mostly intact and my faith and hope for the future preserved.

Without hesitation, I fully acknowledge that the credit for my survival goes first and foremost to my Heavenly Father, and I am profoundly grateful to Him.

I am grateful for His unlimited, unconditional love for me. I am grateful that He hears and answers my prayers, and I am grateful for His angels that care for and watch over me.

I believe without a doubt that there are angels in Heaven watching over us. I also believe that God inspires and directs people here on Earth to help us when we are troubled and in times of need. We call these Earthly angels friends.

I have been richly blessed throughout my life by these friends. They have always seemed to show up when things were darkest, when I was at my lowest, the times when I have needed them the most.

These friends have “shown up” in person, by telephone, Facebook, email, text, and even the U.S. mail….Often, these visits provided no more than a listening ear. But they brought me comfort, encouragement, and most importantly, they gave me hope.

I am grateful for these angels and their visits. I am grateful for their love, support, and willingness to serve and inspire others. I am grateful that when their Heavenly Father called, they answered.

It has been a long, arduous journey. It has not been easy, but it has been possible with the help of my Heavenly Father and His angels, both in Heaven and here on Earth.

Throughout this perilous journey full of trials and blessings that we call life, I have learned three things.

The first is that there are far more blessings than trials.

The second and more powerful is that “…with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26).

And the third is how undeniably true are the words of Clarence the angel to George Bailey in the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life: “…no man is a failure who has friends.”

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In the Midst of the Storm

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Does your life ever feel like that scene near the beginning of The Wizard of Oz? You know, the one where Dorothy sits on her bed, a helpless spectator inside the tornado, while all the pieces of her life swirl frantically around her.

I remember watching it as a child with both apprehension and amusement as all the people and things floated past Dorothy’s window. I remember smiling as I saw the cow, the chicken coop, the old men fishing and the old lady knitting but Miss Gulch on her bicycle and the wicked witch frightened me. I empathized with Dorothy as she sat mesmerized by the scene as if she were a movie patron or the captive of a bad dream.

I remember my relief when her house stopped spiraling out of control and landed in Oz and how beautiful and peaceful it seemed by comparison.

In the chaotic, fast-paced, topsy-turvy world we live in today, it is difficult not to feel like Dorothy sometimes. It is easy to feel like a helpless spectator watching the world spinning frantically around us. It is natural to long for the calm, peacefulness of a place like Oz. But Oz wasn’t the solution, even for Dorothy.

So how do we find peace and tranquility while the world swirls madly around us? How do we find a way to feel in control and still or at least slow the storms in our lives?

There have been many times throughout my life that I have let the storms and chaos overwhelm me and keep me a captive spectator like Dorothy. It is during these times I have learned that while it is true, I cannot control all things, I can control some things. I can strive to make that part of the world that I can control as peaceful and calm as possible. I do not have to remain a spectator in my own life.

I have also learned that once I have done all that I can do alone, my Heavenly Father is there to help me. He may not always make the storms go away but He can and will help me to feel peaceful and calm while I am in the midst of them.

So the next time the storms in my life begin raging and I begin to feel like Dorothy, I know that I will not feel that way for long. I will remember that I am not helpless, I am not a spectator, and I am not alone.

I will remember these things, and I will feel peace in the midst of the fiercest of storms.

 

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Mountains and Mustard Seeds

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I have spent the majority of my life living on the plains, but I have always loved the mountains.

As a young child, my family visited relatives in Colorado and I saw my first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains. I still remember the feeling of awe and wonder I felt at the massive, majestic peaks that surrounded me. I remembered my Sunday school teacher had told me if I had faith the size of a mustard seed I could move mountains. At the time, I didn’t know how big a mustard seed was, but I remember thinking that it must be pretty big.

Later, as a young adult, I visited Yosemite National Park and witnessed the breathtaking beauty of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. As I sat at the foot of the towering peaks, my thoughts were drawn once again to that tiny mustard seed. Moving these huge walls of rock seemed an impossible feat to me but even then I knew that with God’s help all things are possible.

Today, as I look back, I recognize that my Heavenly Father has helped me to move many mountains throughout my life. He has helped me to move mountains of fear, mountains of worry and mountains of grief. He has helped me to move mountains of doubt, mountains of pain and mountains of regret. He has always been there to remove the mountainous obstacles in my life.

I still live on the plains but I still love the mountains and the reminder that they are to me. I know that no matter how large, no matter how mountainous a problem or obstacle may appear, it can be moved.

If I call upon my Heavenly Father and have sufficient faith, I can move mountains…

 

 

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Life in the rearview mirror

 

rear-view-mirror-835085_1920One morning recently, while leaving for work, I was struck by the beautiful reflection in my rearview mirror. The morning sunrise was shining through the trees behind me and filled the mirror with brilliant hues of orange, pink and purple. I was so impressed by the sight that I stopped the car and got out to take a picture.

As I gazed at the view before me, I was disappointed to find that it was not the same as the view in my mirror. The morning sun’s rays were brighter, harsher. The colors were faded and washed out. It was nowhere near as impressive as its reflection had been.

As I drove to work, I contemplated the cause of this disparity. I wondered what could cause these two views to be so different. I remembered that both my rearview mirror and my back window were tinted. The beautiful reflection that had captivated me so, had been filtered and softened by the tinted glass.

It occurred to me that our reflections of the past are much the same. As we reflect on the events and relationships of our past we color them through filters of our own making. Like the tinted glass of my rearview mirror, these filters soften and enhance our memories causing them to sometimes appear more beautiful or desirable than they actually were.

Sometimes this tinted view of the past is preferable to the harsh reality of our present view or the view of what lies ahead of us. The difficulties and trials of the present and the uncertainty of the future can often prompt us to seek refuge in our memories of the past.

It may appear to be more comfortable or even safer to live in the tinted reality of the past. But if we are to progress and be happy it is important that we live in and enjoy the present always looking forward towards the future.

So I will enjoy today remembering that one day it will be that memory I see in the rearview mirror of my mind.

 

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