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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The Christmas Chasm


This year, like many others before, I have found myself caught in what I refer to as the “Christmas chasm”. This chasm is the great divide between the ideal Christmas in my head and the Christmas that I actually have the time, energy and means to accomplish.

This chasm is further complicated by the fact that there are actually two ideal Christmases in my head.

The first of these ideal Christmases is very elaborate. In this Christmas, I prepare months ahead of time and spend hours finding or making the perfect gift for each and every person on my list. In this Christmas, the decorations are up and the menu is planned before the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed. This Christmas is filled with cookies, candy, caroling and parties.

The second of these ideal Christmases is much simpler. It is filled with peace, quiet and tranquility. In this Christmas, the focus is not on gifts, decorations and cookies, but on the birth of a child in a quiet stable over two-thousand years ago. In this Christmas, I focus not on the perfect gift or the perfect occasion but on the perfect child that was born and the perfect life that He led.

So, once again, I am caught in this Christmas chasm struggling between what the ideal Christmas is and how best to accomplish it. At times, I feel like this chasm is impossible to traverse, but like all the other chasms and valleys in my life, I know that my Savior is there willing to help lift me out and show me the way.

I know that He was the child born in that quiet stable more than two-thousand years ago. I know that He lived a perfect life and that He suffered and died for me. I know that He still lives and that when I need Him, He is always there for me.

Because I know this, with His help, I will try harder to celebrate the perfect Christmas-the one that focuses on His birth and His life.

I will strive to keep the things that He taught in my mind and in my heart this Christmas, next Christmas and all the days in between…

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Learning to Wait

Lite BritePatience has never been one of my strong suits. I’ve never been very good at waiting. Although, I have to admit that I have gotten better at it over the years.

The year that I turned seven, the Hasbro company introduced an amazing new toy called the Lite-Brite. It was a light box with little colored pegs and templates that created wonderful glowing pictures. It was the “must have” toy that year and was at the top of everyone’s Christmas list. My list was no exception and I gave my parents plenty of casual reminders to make sure they did not forget.

It seemed to take forever but Christmas morning finally arrived and I was not disappointed. I still remember the excitement I felt as I ripped off the wrapping paper. My reminders had worked and I had my very own Lite-Brite.

I couldn’t wait to start making my own glowing masterpieces. As soon as the last present was opened I raced up the stairs and tore open the box. I carefully removed my treasured gift from it’s box and plugged it in but nothing happened. My parents had failed to read a few very important words printed on the box…“light bulb not included”.

My excitement faded instantly. It was Christmas day! There were no stores open to purchase light bulbs. There would be no glowing pictures for me that day. My parents assured me they would buy me a light bulb the next day but I could not be consoled. I had waited long enough.

I spent that afternoon making every single picture that came with my Lite-Brite. I created pictures of butterflies, clowns, roosters and flowers. But the pictures I made were not light. They were not bright. They were just barely recognizable shapes made of colored pegs. They were not the wonderful, glowing pictures that I had eagerly anticipated.

The next day my parents kept their word and bought me a light bulb but it did me no good. I had used up all of the picture templates the day before. I had light but no more pictures to make. I had wasted them all the day before because I could not wait one more day.

I have thought about this experience many times over the years. It has always served to remind me to be more patient. It has also reminded me that sometimes we must sacrifice the things we want now for something better or greater in the future.

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The Master Gardener


It might be my dread of the cold, dark winter soon to come or perhaps my anticipation of the glorious spring I know will follow. Whatever the reason, this week, as the crisp, chill of autumn made its entrance, I was entertaining fond memories of gardening with my grandmother.

Many years have come and gone since I helped my grandmother in her garden. I was very young and I am quite sure I wasn’t very much help. Many times I couldn’t tell the young plants from the weeds, but Granny knew what she had planted and where she had planted it. She knew what the young seedlings and plants should look like and more importantly, she knew what they could become.

My grandmother taught me that each plant looked different and had a different form and structure because each had a different job to do. Potato plants grew potatoes. Carrot plants grew carrots and corn stalks grew corn. Each seed and each plant contained within it exactly what it needed to do what it was created to do.

She taught me that each plant had to get just the right amount of sun, water and fertilizer. Each needed to be protected from weeds, insects and other predators. Each of them had to be carefully nurtured and cared for to fulfill their purpose and produce the fruit or flowers they were meant to produce.

My wise grandmother also taught me that people were a lot like the plants in her garden. Each is different and unique because they have different jobs to do and different talents and gifts to offer. Each has a special place on this earth and a purpose they were meant to fulfill. Each of them needs to be nurtured and cared for if they are to grow, thrive and fulfill that purpose.

Just as my grandmother knew the potential of the little seedlings and plants in her garden, our Heavenly Father, the master gardener, knows the potential that lies within each of us. He watches over, nurtures and protects us so that we might become who He knows we can become.

As we uplift, inspire and help those around us recognize their own potential and then work beside them as they strive to achieve it, we are helping in His garden.

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The Warmth of Angels on a Cold Winter’s Night

winter-625925_1280This week, as the last lingering days of summer were making their exit, my thoughts were led to a cold winter’s night outside of St. Louis, Missouri. That night, more than forty years ago, I witnessed an example of kindness that I have never forgotten.

My family and I were in town to watch the St. Louis Cardinals play. We were excited about the game but I don’t remember who they played or even if they won that day. The only thing I remember about that game was that it was played in single digit temperatures and we were all freezing.

When the game was over, we stopped to fill our gas tank and started our journey home. At the time, we had no way of knowing that the gas we had just purchased was watered down. As the sun set and the temperatures continued to fall, the water in our gas tank froze and our car stopped.

On a cold, dark road in the middle of nowhere, our family was stranded. There were no city lights in the distance. There were no lights from a nearby house or business. There were no cell phones, no OnStar. We were freezing, frightened and alone.

Just as my father was about to set off on foot to find help, we saw a pair of headlights that seemed to come out of nowhere. As they got closer we saw an old truck come toward us, slow down and pull over. The driver of the truck was a kind old man. He drove my father to the nearest service station, waited with him while they towed and fixed our car and took my mother, sister and I to his home to wait while he did.

His wife was equally as kind. She made sure we were warm and made us hot cocoa. She made and decorated Christmas cookies with us. She even showed us how to make little Santa Claus figures out of apples and marshmallows. She could have made us feel that we were an inconvenience or intrusion but instead she welcomed us. Her heart was as warm and inviting as her home was that night.

The night could have ended very badly for us. At the very least, we could have come away from it feeling bitter, hurt and defeated. Instead, the kindness of the old couple left us feeling warm, safe and loved.

Sometimes, I think if I had gone back the next day, the old truck, the house and the couple themselves would have all magically vanished because they were really angels sent to rescue my family on that cold, dark night. I know they were probably just as real as you and me but that doesn’t make them any less Heavenly messengers or any less sent from above.

We were never really alone that night. As we travel the cold, dark, scary roads of this world we are never truly alone. Our Heavenly Father is always there and He will always send His messengers both Heavenly and earthly to rescue us in our time of need.

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The Other Side of the Street

zebra-crossing-377532_1280From time to time when traffic is heavy and my patience is light, I get off the main highway and take the back roads to work. I’m not really sure why, but for some reason, I never choose to do this on the return trip.

Recently, due to an errand, I had the occasion to take these back roads on my trip home. I took the same route that I often take to work but in reverse. I drove the same streets, at the same speeds. Everything was the same except I was going in a different direction.

It was strange to me that everything felt so foreign, so different. Roads and neighborhoods that I frequently travel somehow seemed new to me. I saw gas stations and stores that I did not know were there. I saw homes, flowers and trees that I had not seen before. I was amazed by how many things I had passed a hundred times but had not seen. I wondered how many other things I might have missed.

It occurred to me that how we view the world and what it has to offer depends on where we stand or where we view it from. We see things differently depending upon how far away we are, how high or low we are or even which house or side of the street we are on.

The way we view the world is also colored or influenced by the things we learn, the people we know and the experiences that we have. We cannot see our street or our world from exactly the same perspective as our neighbor across the street, down the road or on the other side of town. We cannot stand in exactly the same spot or have exactly the same view or experiences as another.

While we cannot have exactly the same life experiences, interact with exactly the same people or occupy exactly the same spot as another person, we can try to be more understanding, more empathetic and more compassionate to those around us. We can attempt to see the world through eyes of another.

We may not occupy the same spot, the same street or even the same country, but we all occupy the same world and we are all children of the kind, wise and loving Heavenly Father who created it.

If only we could all view the world and each other the way that He does…

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Listening to Life

rest-413103_1280One morning recently, running hopelessly behind schedule, I rushed out the door and down the road, only to find myself sitting in standstill traffic once I reached the interstate. Several minutes later, when I reached the next exit, I opted to take my chances with the less congested city streets.

As it turned out, the city streets were less congested but not any faster. As I maneuvered my way through road construction, potholes, school zones and crosswalks, I grew more frustrated with each delay. But something I witnessed while waiting for a traffic light to change, changed my perspective, changed me.

As I sat in the turn lane waiting impatiently for the red light to change to green, I saw a man standing on the corner waiting to cross the busy street. That in itself was not unusual, but this particular man was blind.

I watched as he carefully listened to the sounds of the traffic. I watched as he began to step off the curb once or twice during a lull in traffic. I watched as he stopped himself because he heard the traffic moving again, because he was still listening.

As I continued on my way, less stressed and less impatient, I thought about this man. I thought about how difficult it must be for him to navigate the world around him. I thought how vital it was for him to listen. I thought how vital it is for all of us to listen.

What if our ability to successfully navigate this life depended solely upon our ability to listen? What if we listened to the world around us as if it did? What if we listened to others as if it did?

What if we listened more carefully to our friends, our spouses, our children? What if we listened more carefully to our mother, our father….our Heavenly Father?  How much more successful and enjoyable might our journey through this life be?

The beautiful world that our Heavenly Father has created for us and the people in it can offer us a wealth of information to help us navigate our way back home to Him if we are listening…

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Flight and Other Miracles


I live not far from a major airport. I drive past it every day and always see planes taking off and landing when I do. Most of the time, I take it for granted. I don’t give it a second thought. But some days, I watch in awe as the massive planes lift off the ground and soar higher and higher into the air and I wonder how it is possible.

It’s not that I don’t understand how it works. I have studied the principles of aerodynamics. I know that it has to do with lift, thrust and acceleration. But even though I have studied the concepts, deep down, I don’t really understand how it works. It still amazes me that these multi-ton, massive chunks of metal can fly through the air.

But just because I don’t fully understand how it works does not mean that I don’t believe that it works. I believe that planes can fly. I see them fly every day. Similarly, just because I don’t understand how miracles occur does not mean that I do not believe that they exist. I see them all around me every day.

This week as I drove past the airport and saw the miraculous take off of yet another airplane, I thought about all of the miracles like flight that we so often take for granted. I thought about all of the miracles that I know exist but I don’t fully understand

I don’t completely understand how our kind, loving and very wise Heavenly Father keeps our little planet orbiting the sun or how He made the sun hot enough to keep us from freezing but not hot enough to burn us up. I don’t know how He creates such beautiful sunrises and sunsets or how gravity really works.

I don’t know exactly how He does all the amazing and miraculous things that He does. I don’t know how He caused the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk…but I know that He did

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There will your heart be also

FullSizeRender (6)In the far back darkest corner of my closet, wrapped in plastic and gathering dust, lies one of my greatest treasures.

It is a patchwork quilt.

It is not fancy. It has earned no blue ribbons, no awards. It is old, tattered and torn. It is worn thin, threadbare and faded. In fact, someone without knowledge of the sentimental value it holds would probably consider it worthless and cast it aside.

Even when new it wasn’t worth much monetarily. It was made from old scrap material and secondhand clothes. But to me it is priceless. I treasure it because it was made by and given to me by the woman who taught me what real treasure is—my grandmother.

She has been gone for many years now, but when I see my quilt, I am reminded of her. I am reminded of the treasure that she was to me and to all who knew her.

My grandmother treasured life. She found value in everything and in everyone she encountered. She believed that each day she lived and every person she met held a hidden treasure and she made it her mission not only to find it but to share it with everyone else.

She believed there are treasures all around us in this life that are easily missed if we don’t take the time to look for them. She had a way of making every day feel like a treasure hunt.

When I visited her, we would take daily walks. We never returned without some little treasure we had found along the way. They were never much–colored rocks, wildflowers, a few berries, an oddly shaped stick, but on those walks I learned that value has nothing to do with money. Value and worth are determined by what the items mean to us and the feelings that they create or that we attach to them.

I learned so much from my grandmother on those long walks so many years ago. She taught me that the real treasure in this life is found in the relationships we make and the love we give and receive.

I am going to try to pull that quilt out of the back of my closet more often. When I do, I will remember my grandmother and I will remember what is truly important.

I will remember that each day is a treasure given to us from a kind Heavenly Father who loves and treasures each and every one of us more than we know.

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Up on the Roof

rooftop-691617_1280One afternoon recently, I accompanied my husband on a visit to the doctor. The appointment was near the end of a very full, very hectic day and as usual I was rushing to get there. I hurriedly drove around and around the increasingly higher levels of the parking garage searching for an empty spot. Eventually, I found an empty space on the very top level, parked and went inside.

When the appointment was over, as I was leaving, I was struck by the beautiful view from the roof of the parking garage. It was only six stories high, but from this vantage point I could see for miles. I could see the beautiful landscapes in the distance and the impressive architecture of the buildings of the city around me. I was so in awe of this view that I sat quietly in my car for a few minutes and just admired it. For these few minutes the cares and stresses of the world melted away and I was at peace.

After a few, peaceful moments the world below beckoned me on my way. As I drove round and round the descending levels of the parking garage following the arrows and signs that directed me to the exit, I reflected on the solitude I found a few stories above. I marveled at the difference that 50 or 60 feet of altitude could make in the way that I view the world around me.

I thought about this experience for some time after that day. I was impressed with both the importance of taking the time to stop and enjoy the beauty that is all around us and the importance of taking the time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the world and view life and it’s problems from a different perspective.

So, I am striving to do both. I am finding beauty and viewing my problems from a higher perspective even if it is just up on the roof…

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