Sunday, September 18, 2016

Day 193 of 365 days of Solace: Death on the Sabbath

I knew a friend of mine in her 80's was dying and I planned to go do something nice for her, but I hadn't gotten to her house to see her in the last few weeks since I learned of her cancer. I guess I thought she had longer to live. But today at church when my Relief Society President, and Bishop asked us to pray she would be quickly free of pain and return home to heaven I knew I had to go get one last hug from her--if possible. I considered going right after church, but I was empty handed and wanted to take her something to brighten her day. So I came and sat on my bed and with tearful emotion I considered all the times she filled my empty cup.
I hurried to finish my painting and poem for her, well knowing she could pass away at any moment. My son, who had gone earlier today to take the sacrament to her said that when they went she was unable to eat anything, and that there was a lot of family there (Meaning, in his teenage way NOT to bug them!;)
Undaunted, I knew I wanted to try to see her one last time. But I have to tell you, that as I finished up gluing my poem onto a quick watercolor rainbow sunshine picture (with 2 suns--the smaller one representing her, and the larger one representing God) I remembered the thought I had before I wrote the poem, which was: It's alright if she has passed away before you finish it because it will comfort her family to remember how loved she is.
When I walked up to her house around the block, I discovered a lot of cars and when I asked if she was well enough for me to give her a last hug I learned that she has passed away not to long before. I hugged some family and handed my poem and tearfully walked away wondering how I'd feel about going back to church with her no longer to return. :(
Here's the poem I wrote. Not a masterpiece, but it's everything Carol has been to me, and so many others! She was a one of kind woman.
Carol, enjoy soaring with your husband, my Mom, Tyler, Susan, and so many loved ones in God's peaceful and joyful courts above. I'll miss you.

*This song comforts me. And Carol showed the Savior's loving kindness. I know that in time all aches will be soothed and healed through the power of Christ. I'm thankful for the reminders Carol always showed me of His love.

I wish I could go back in time and visit her before she passed away, but time moves on. I take comfort in knowing that she knew of my love, and even more comfort in knowing that she knows even now how many of us mourn her loss. I know the veil between heaven and earth is very thin.

The angels rejoice at reuniting with their angels, and we weep at her departure, but I take comfort in knowing that I too will see her, and all those I love, again one day-- after my frail mortal body is laid to rest. In the meantime I am going to fight with my every breath to live in a way to please God, and to show Him all my love, and give him all my will.  I want to make a difference in this world, like she did.

Let's renew our efforts to do a little more tomorrow, than we did today.

Love, Christine

Monday, September 12, 2016

Day 187 of 365 days of Solace: Hold on to dreams.

Last night as I slept several songs played into my thoughts while I slept.  One of them I hear on occasion as a reminder that I don't need to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or upset at who I am. That song is, "There's a Hero," by Mariah Carey.  I smiled as I heard it, but I also prayed in my sleep state and asked Heavenly Father wanted me to learn from that song, which I wasn't quite understanding? I didn't get an answer, but fell to sleep again, far more deeply.

This morning as I went about getting my little boys ready for school, I heard a line from a song. I couldn't place the song, but I did an online search with the few words that I could pull from memory---  "Tear them away....tomorrow..."

Well, I found Mariah's song, and I smiled because I'd gotten the answer I had prayed for as I slept many hours prior.  God was letting me know that I can believe in my dreams, no matter how others may try to dissuade me. I know that the future holds wonderful things, even though the journey is currently heart-breaking at times.

Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don't let anyone
Tear them away

Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time
You'll find the way

I don't know what your dreams are, but I know that if God plants them in your heart and mind, and you live up to making Godly choices, He will help your fondest dreams to be realized. I don't know when I will see fruition of mine, but I trust Him completely.

This reminds us to abound in "every good work." As we do so we will have all that we need. Hold fast to the righteous dreams (desires) of your heart.

We can "do all things through Christ who strengtheneth (us)"! (Phil 4:13)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Day 175 of 365 days of Solace: A sincere apology

Recently I went to exchange a defective 8x10" print from a local store. I explained to the man about the defective print the night prior. The man at the counter was a gruff, grumpy man and he used rude, disrespectful tones to speak to me. I gave a sharp reply to him, and he consented to let me exchange the prints out. 

Without looking up at him, I studied the graphic image I'd spent the entire day working on to get just right. The irony was that the image was none other than that of Jesus Christ!! - a painting by artist, Del Parson, which I modified the background, coloration, and added text and flourishes to suit my needs (a gift for a friend). Looking at Jesus I knew I needed to apologize-- even though the circumstances SEEMed to warrant a like reply.

Looking down at the pictures, I simply said, "I'm sorry for being snappy with you. I was just really taken off guard by how you spoke to me." He said nothing, and I kept busy comparing which of the two prints to get. I chose the most beautiful of prints (which if you are interested was without the in-store automatic color correct on. The other was far too blue looking!)

I made my choice, and only look down at his hands we switched pictures. I was about to walk off and leave an unpleasant situation. I said in passing, "Again, I'm sorry for how I spoke," but I had the thought to look up at him, so I did. As our eyes met, it was as if something in him softened, and the previous attitude of his had melted. He smiled at me, raised his hand up to me, and with a wave he said, "Have a good day." He didn't ever apologize, but his apology was in his new kindness toward me. I felt very thankful to feel that sweetness of life. 

It was odd that my determination to apologize, and then to look at him made such a dramatic difference, but it did.  And I would propose that anytime we can humble ourselves and apologize, even though we may feel justified in our words or actions, that beautiful things can happen in our lives!

I'd love to hear about a time that you found the power of apology transformed a situation in your life! Please share!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Day 162 of 365 days of Solace: A Weeping Walmart Stranger

I've been working on a photography project, and it's kept me too busy too blog! But I wanted to drop a quick line about an experience I had tonight.

I headed toward walmart to pick of my 8x10 prints for a temple photo shoot I did last week.  As I drove I prayed aloud to Heavenly Father. I find those are my best, most heartfelt prayers because I'm not distracted, or hurting by kneeling on my knees! ;) 

No really, for some reason I just pour out my heart more easily as I drive. (Maybe it's because I pray aloud, and I don't always do that as I kneel.) Tonight was no exception. I told God about my sorrows, and joys, and before I knew it I was in tears as I spoke about the love I feel in my heart. I thanked him for filling my heart with that love, especially when I never thought I would know love in this life.

I formally closed my prayer with a "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" before I got out of my car. But, of course, my prayers never really cease because I want to give my heart and life to the will of God, and if I remember to always have a prayer in my heart, then I'm more likely to make good choices, and be accountable to God. 

Well, I digress...

I walked into Walmart, as I wiped the last few tears from my eyes, and I look over to see a Walmart associate walking quickly down the front aisle and turning to head to the back of the store. She had a tissue in hand, and was wiping her nose. I looked to see if she had just sneezed, or had allergies, but the expression on her face was much like the one I'd had as I drove there. She had that open mouth, anguished look, and she was taking heaving breaths.  

I wondered, "What can I do?"  I hurried my pace, to an almost run.  I came up behind her (she hadn't even noticed me), and I threw my right arm around her, and said, "I'm so sorry you are feeling sad." 

I kept my arm around her, as I kept pace with her. She looked over at me, made a puzzled expression, like, "Who are you, and why are you being so nice to me?" 

I quickly filled in her silence, and said, "I was crying, just like you are now, as I drove here.  I can't help but wonder if it has something to do with Walmart!" She cracked a smile.  I proceeded, "Do you have a support system to help you through this hard time?" She sincerely spoke and said "Yes, I have three wonderful supports at home." I told her I was so happy to hear that, and as I turned to head down another aisle, I added, "I'll be praying for you hon." She thanked me, and we parted ways.

I felt so very thankful that I had the right words for the situation. God helped me to have quick thoughts of what to say.  

I also felt thankful that I could comfort this woman, who seemed to feel much like me. 

I felt thankful that God had placed in my path, with his perfect timing, a woman that I could uniquely give some assurance to.  

I felt comforted by giving comfort.

I felt the Spirit witness to me that by serving others, I am showing God's love on earth. And I felt His love for me because I am willing to show His love.

I am not the woman I used to be. I used to think more about how I felt than about how others felt I didn't comfort others very well because I thought about myself too much, instead of wondering how God could use my hands and heart for the good of others.  
We  can each have regular opportunities like I had tonight. There are chances all around us. They may be  small things, like putting your arm around a stranger and saying you will pray for them, or it may be visiting an elderly person in a care center.  But, if you look for meaningful ways to give your time to others, and pray to have charity, you will begin to see that there is hope in life, even where it seems hopeless.  

You must hold on to hope. Hope helped me overcome depression. Hope in Christ, and in His love, is what keeps me moving forward through the sometimes very dark days of life.
Seek the Lord in prayer, and he will bless you with hope and strength to face life,

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Day 149 of 365 days of Solace: Letter to my Niece, K.

K., this is a poem I wrote recently. You're the first person I'm letting read it all.
Well, I did make the mistake of letting my stake president read a line or two of it to understand how I've been feeling, and he wrote back saying we needed to meet again this Sunday!! (I guess I sound sad, or something!;]

How Much?

How much sorrow can one heart hold,
I ask myself today.
If I have anymore sorrow will my heart break
or my spirit simply slip away.

How much shame can one person take,
I wonder time and again.
Do I have the strength to suffer more
and emulate His name?

How many eyes must peer at me
with wonder, and disbelief
before I cease humility
and angrily wave my fist
and tell them to go away?

And, oh,
what of the gossip whispered
behind closed doors?
What of the accusations false,
that bind me with scarlet pain.

Who can see my spirit sweet
and feel the love that pours from me?
Must I lonely wander with the bereaving
the remaining days of life?

Will anyone stand with me
and decry the mocking tones?
Can anyone see my honor
or am I doomed to stand alone?

With heavy burden I walk each day
stepping across labels that pave my way.
I try to smile and act unafraid
but the searing often scars in waves

I close my eyes with mustered hope,
combined with faith unseen,
I take a step into the dark
knowing in the end I shall win.

The path I walk is narrow
untrod by cowards feet.
Angels attend me each step of the way
and make my hours seem sweet.

At times like these I falter,
and doubt my strength from within
but trusting my all to one perfect man
I know that I shall win in the end

Yet, on days like this
when my heart is heavy
I clutch my chest and ask
How much sorrow can one heart hold?

26 July 2016- Tuesday 5:10 pm
Original Poem by Christine

Today is day 149 since some adversity really began to face me, and this trial continue to happen. I 
try to put on a good front and smile, but oh my heart has been so sad. I keep going to church because I'm not there for others. I'm there to improve myself, and to learn more about the will of God, as well as to learn to love others- even when that is not always easy.

It's been a hard journey for me, but I just keep remembering the shame and agony the Savior suffered, unimaginably harder than my own, and that through Him I can face all things. There are times you are going to feel very much alone, but at those times you need to pray to remember the things that the Spirit has already taught you.

K., Hold on to what you know and remember of sweet moments in your life. And pray to remember those sweet, spiritual moments. Try not to let the anger of injustice and hurt dictate your actions. When I let those negative feelings rile me up I start to feel so much worse.

Pray for Christ pure love--Charity. And pray for humility to submissively face things like Christ would. It's what I do everyday. And sometimes all day long- when it's especially hard! You are loved! I know it's hard to imagine, but someday you and I will look back on these hard times and realize that they were making us strong, brave champtions before the Lord!

Love, Aunt Christine

Monday, July 18, 2016

Day 132 of 365 days of solace: Bus Ride Adventures

Selfie with my summer camp girl.
My daughter needed to get up to a church youth summer camp this week.  Since our van is broken, I decided to take her to camp by bus. I brought 3 of my other children with me. (My fifth child, age 17, is on a humanitarian mission building schools in Mexico.)

Little brother points to big brother
to look at something out the window. 

When I climbed on the bus, I asked the bus driver to please let me know when we arrived at a certain building on campus.  She assured me she would.  My children and I sat down at the back of the bus. 

A man in his 30's turned toward me.  He has one eye that was tightly shut (I assume there was no eye under the lid). He spoke with slow, drawn out words, and with he gravely, deep voice, he often paused, or repeated his words. Although his one eye sometimes looked my direction, I couldn't help wonder if he was partially blind in it. began to tell me what bus stop I needed to get off at. He was very nice, but it was clear that he had some type of cognitive impairment. I listened to his directions, which weren't particularly helpful, but then I smiled and thanked him "for letting me know."

I then turned back to my daughter, who I was taking to camp. She's 15 and I wanted to take out the small tree leaves (for lack of a better word...there were smallish round, pod-like things) that had dropped into her hair at the bus stop. As I began to pick out the little white balls from her hair, the man I'd been speaking too reached over and gave a gentle tug to my long hair to get my attention. 

I was not bothered by it, and I turned to him and smiled to see what he wanted.  He wanted to add some other type of information to the bus stop that I could get off at. It really wasn't needed information, but I thought of how the Savior ministered to people in need.  I knew that in a small way I could minister to this man by giving him my time and attention.  

I began asking "Nathan" if he was from around here, and if he was going to work.  I really listened to him and I showed interest in him as a person.  In fact, I became interested in what he was talking about.  I learned he was going to his mom's work to have lunch, and that he was born here, and I also learned some unexpected, and fascinating history of what used to be in the lower parking lot of a nearby LDS temple.

If I had allowed my distraction of cleaning out my daughter's hair to keep me from giving this man
my time, I would not have had the opportunity of his pleasant company. I learned that the time we give others doesn't need to be big and expensive, but that the little things make the difference.  

If you think about it, can you recall a time when someone paid attention to you and showed interest in things about yourself?  I know that I can remember many times where someone listened to me. There is something special that happens when people really take time to listen to us.  Listening of itself can be a gift to others. Is there someone you can give the gift of listening and attention to? 
My daughter read us family scriptures in the 20 minutes
that we had while waiting for the bus. She's a sweetheart!
You can't give the gift of listening while you are on the computer, cell phone, or reading the 
newspaper! I suggest that you use this gift of kind listening to bless the lives of others. There are opportunities all around us, each day of our lives. If you are prayerful, and seek the help of the Lord, He will help you to see where our gift of listening is needed--but starting in our homes is the most important place to begin.

God Bless You, 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Day 121 of 365 days of solace: Mirror, Mirror

Last night I went to bed feeling upset. I've been feeling so happy, but my heart began hurting again,
and I began to wonder, "When is this all going to be over?" I just tried to change my unhappy thoughts by thinking upon my precious little children and my many blessing.

As I slept I heard several songs.  I heard these words "I'm sorry for breaking your heart" (to the well known Adele song, "Hello.") and I knew that one of the people who has caused so much sorrow to me feels badly about how it's all turned out. That is of some comfort, and it helps me to be able to forgive, but well... it's going to take time for this sorrow to be completely healed. I'm thankful for the grace of God, which is the only reason I can face my sorrow with such grace, but healing still takes time. And that's okay, it's part of our learning experience.

Later in the night (or wee hours of the morning), I heard this song:
Nichole Nordeman
Every girl young and old has to face her own reflection
Twirl around, stare it down
What’s the mirror gonna say
With some luck, you’ll measure up
But you might not hold a candle to the rest
“Is that your best?” says the mirror to the mess
But there’s a whisper in the noise
Can you hear a little voice
and he says
Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me
If it’s true beauty lies in the eye of the beholder
What my life and what’s inside to give him something to behold
I want a heart that’s captivating
I wanna hear my Father say

Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful for me
Close your eyes
Look inside
Let me see the you that you’ve been trying to hide
Long ago, I made you so very beautiful
So I ought to know you’re beautiful
Has anybody told you you’re beautiful?
You might agree if you could see what I see
‘Cuz everything about you is incredible
You should have seen me smile the day that I made you beautiful
You’re so beautiful
Beautiful for me
So beautiful for me
Has anybody told you?

The message is clearly to understand that no matter who misunderstands me, or rejects me, that I will always be loved and beautiful to my Heavenly Father.

Well, a few minutes ago, as I sat to work on a  lesson I'm teaching for my Pathway class tonight (I LOVE ) I began to consider upon the painful life experiences I was thinking about at bedtime.  As my sadness grew, this song began to play into my memory. If you don't think God isn't an active part of our lives, think again! This was not a coincidence!

I'm thankful that God is aware of each one of use. I am choosing to let LOVE win. I am choosing to FORGIVE.

We cannot be happy when we act, think, or speak unkindly. I want to be happy, so I will let God fight my battles.

I have so much that I am thankful for. I am choosing to forgive, and I will let God fight my battles. I
have the strength to carry on. I am choosing to be happy by how I think and act and speak.

I am thankful that God is helping me to focus on the hero in me.  If you ever find yourself thinking that you are a miserable failure, PLEASE know that is NOT the voice of God.  Pray to be able to change those thoughts.
God's voice will always teach or direct us in love!

There's a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don't have to be afraid
Of what you are
There's an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away
And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
It's a long road
When you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand
For you to hold
You can find love
If you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt
Will disappear
And then a hero comes alongWith the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Lord knows
Dreams are hard to follow
But don't let anyone
Tear them away
Hold on
There will be tomorrow
In time
You'll find the way
And then a hero comes alongWith the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you

I'm going to move forward in my day, and keep this sweet reminders from the Spirit of God in my heart and mind.
It doesn't matter what a few people on this enormous earth may think of me, or speak of me.  All that matters is that I am choosing to do my best to try and please my God.

As you move through the minutes of your life, I hope you will join me in turning to God in prayer, and then listening for his (generally) soft answers.

I'm happy you stopped by. Please, share it with a friend!