Friday, May 31, 2013


I feel I must preface my remarks here by saying I am not sure I have had any trials or tribulations in life that have threatened to kill me, however , I have had plenty that have brought me discouragement and sorrow.  Certain circumstances have caused me to feel as if I just couldn't wake up another day and face everything.  As I grow older, I see many tragedies in the world around me, and wonder about the strength of the people who must bear them.

I am so humbled by the stories of people who are fighting cancer, enduring the loss of a loved one, or the people in Oklahoma who have suffered the devastating effects of the tornadoes.  Mark is helping in the clean-up effort and I cry while reading the words written by my youngest son, "don't worry about me, I'm fine, but please pray for all the good people who are hurting here."  He says that every morning he gets up, puts on his safety glasses , mask, and gloves and heads out to work in the neighborhoods destroyed by the storms.  He says the city looks terrible and so many houses are completely gone.  He says that all you can see for miles is giant piles of garbage, bricks, and the remains of people's lives.  All the churches have come together to answer the call of duty and love.  Fema, Red Cross, Medical Reserves, and all the different church denominations are working side by side.  The Baptists have the best food, he claims!!

One of my dear friend's daughter-in-law has breast cancer.  She is young and beautiful, and has always eaten the right kinds of food, and has exercised daily.  She has four young children, and now must undergo a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.  It is devastating for their family, but they are trying to have the faith and courage they need to combat this trial in their lives.

My nephew, Nathan, father of eight and husband to the wonderful Christina....has cancer.  I have been reading his blog lately, and am amazed by the faith he has and the desire to endure this lymphoma.  He is having chemo and will undergo a bone marrow transplant with the donor being his youngest brother, Jarom, who is 16 years old.  My brother has 11 children, with Nathan being the oldest and Jarom being the baby.  Nathan was such a good boy when he was little, and was always  such an example for his many siblings. Now he is the awesome father of a beautiful family of his own.  I read his words about faith, "I believe in many ways God gives us enough light to see our next step into the darkness, but not much more than that."  He says that the feelings he has is something that Heavenly Father has given him, and although we must have doubt to have faith, this is something outside of that, and he believes that he will be okay in the end no matter the outcome.  I sometimes think  it would be great to know everything about the next five years, so that we can prepare ourselves for the unpleasant things, and relax and enjoy the pleasant ones.  Seriously, not...

Adam ran 26 miles in the Ogden Marathon.  Well, maybe running is stretching it a bit.  It was his first race ( seriously, why did he not do the half-marathon??)  Being a non runner (I have a car, thanks) I was truly amazed at the people the who ran and completed the race.  It was cold, rainy, and it didn't look that much fun to me.  Yet, I was buoyed up in the excitement of it all, and waited for my son to finish the race.  I had doubts he would do so, as the time crept past five hours.  It was so joyous to see the runners come in and greet their family members.  There was sheer happiness, and triumphant hugs all around.  It was exciting to wait for each runner, and to look into their faces and witness their ability to "finish the race".  There were young and old, and some looked a little prepared than others, but in they came and crossed that race.  We, who stood waiting, were happy for them all.  I loved looking into the expectant face of the people who stood waiting for the people they knew.   There were wheelchairs waiting for those who looked as if they could not make that last stretch, and a first aid station waited nearby.

We worried as the time passed.  I wondered if perhaps Adam was not weeping in a bush in the canyon, but .....finally, in he came.  He was not running, but rather loping clumsily and dragging his leg behind him.  He was exhausted, but his eyes still bore the determination of one who had defied the odds, and the pain.  He looked victorious even as we hugged, and he muttered, "I feel like crap".  His feet were bleeding, and he painfully made his way to the first aid station.  This mother felt her eyes mist over, as she witnessed the end of his race.  He finished, and in the end, that was what mattered most.

Everybody who knows me knows I read everything by and about Helen Keller.  She defied the physical limitations that would have rendered most people incapable of doing most things in life. Instead, she became learned, traveled the world, impacted it in every way possible, and was happy. She said, "I am conscious of a soul sense that lifts me above the narrow, cramping circumstances of my life.  My physical limitations are forgotten-my world lies upward, the length and the breadth and the sweep of the heavens are mine!"

We must gird up our loins, dispel the doubt, and move forward and finish the race.  The only recourse we have, because not to do so would be unbearable.  I am so thankful that I believe in a higher power , an omnipotent God who knows us, who knows our trials, and who weeps when we weep. We are like the poet John Keats wrote,  "straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness".  Heavenly Father knew us before the earth was formed, and He knows us now.  He is waiting for us to finish the race and someday, we will all be home again.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

    Ahh, it's over!!  Mother's Day--the day we all feel a little guilty for not being the perfect mom!  It was a good day, actually.  I received all my favorite things-- flowers,  a gift card for Italian food, and books!!  And....I saw all my kids, and talked to my missionaries who are absent from my home. Ben and Jess made a wonderful "CostaVida" dinner with sweet pork, cilantro-lime rice, black beans, pico de gallo, that really delicious green dressing and tortillas!  Yummy!!  Thank you,  guys!!

    For years now, I have not particularly cared for Mother's Day.  Many of my acquaintances feel the same way about it as I do, and are not shy about voicing their opinions.  Now that my beloved mother has been gone for 13 years, it is a yearly reminder (not that I need one) that she is not longer in my physical presence.  I miss her....everything about her.   She was my one true advocate when I was feeling like a lousy mother.  She was quick to point out everything that was good and decent about me, and I eagerly nudged her for more praise in my behalf.    I never felt like I quite measured up, and constantly bemoaned my ability to be as good as "other" mothers.  My lack of patience and housekeeping skills amongst all the other traits necessary for "good" mothering I thought I was deficit in--- constantly deteriorated my self esteem.  Each night I would pray to be the kind of mother I had always wanted to be, but found myself still severely lacking in the qualities I so desired.

     Somehow we got through the baby years, and as I watch Emily with sweet, colicky Ruby, I give thanks that I am no longer the mother of infants.  However,  that being said, I wish sometimes I could have a do-over.  Each mother's day I inwardly cringe that I am not the "exceptional" mother I still wish I could be.  Still, I believe I am loved for all that things that I am, and in spite of the things that I am not...and my kids do love me.  I know that ....even as I whine about the many shortcomings that are a part of me.  I am so beyond unorganized that I watch "Hoarders" just to feel a little better about my house and belongings.

    I think that as I focus less upon myself and more on others, I feel better about my own inadequacies.  When I leave this earth, it will not be my house that is remembered, my orderly cupboards, or my immaculate floors and pristine bathrooms.  It will be about me, and about the way I treated other people, and the friends I made throughout my lifetime.  It will be lessons I learned through interactions with all different kinds of people with varying experiences and problems that teach me and help to define my character.

 Fay Johnson, my mother, was that kind of person, and so was my father.  When my father passed away, all kinds of people from all kinds of walks of life greeted me at his viewing, saying "Thiel Johnson was a man without guile".  He loved people, and showed it through his service to them.  Fay Johnson talked to everyone, but more than that, she listened.  She was a huge source of comfort and solace for so many friends.  Alas, her housekeeping skills were also lacking.  But her heart was not, and she would rather talk on the phone with someone who needed advice or go for a walk with someone who was despondent than clean her cupboards.  She was not a PTA president.  She was not a civic leader, and she did not volunteer for endless committees.  She did not belong to sororities and bridge clubs, but she exemplified love and friendship every day that she lived by just being her.

   Perhaps I could have a cleaner bathroom AND friends, but I am trying to convince myself that a mother, a true friend,  a caring person does not have to be everything to be something to someone out there who needs to be uplifted.  To all of those who can do more than I--- I covet your skills.  Would that I could have them, but as I try to work on bettering myself,  I hope that you, too, will be gentle with yourselves.  Give yourself more credit for everything that you do right.

   A card came from Mark who told me how much he loves me, and said, "I love that I could always come and talk to you, even when you thought I was arguing".  (He does like to argue a bit)  Somewhere, sometime I must have done something good (Sound of Music song?)  because I have such good kids. I am truly grateful.

   I spoke to all my missionaries who are doing very well although it is not always so easy. Matthew loves Ohio, and Mark loves the people he is trying to talk to (Spanish is not so easy)  in Oklahoma. Rachel arrived in Michigan and  loves her trainer and companion, Sara.  Still, I cried just a little as I hung up the phone because I know it will be Christmas before I hear their sweet voices again. My mother would be so proud of them,  and I am sure she knows how they are doing  because every aspect of their lives was so important to her.

   I pay homage to my mother and to my mother-in-law who always tried their best and have a huge posterity and friends who love them.  JoAnn, (Jerry's Mom) said today that a Bishop  once said, "I don't understand why you and Jack have such good kids!"  I laughed, but I am married to one of her "good kids" and am thankful for all her efforts.  She, too, loves people and has always reached out to others.

   I guess I can try to stop coveting the organizational skills of others, and as I work on my own faults, learn to like myself in spite of them.  Happy Mother's Day to all the women who try so hard to make a difference.  I am hoping that in the grand scheme of things, that no one will care that weeds grew in my yard, or that my soup cans  tumble out of my cupboards when I open the doors.   Dorma, my couch is crooked,  my rug needs vacuuming, and no one has filled the dishwasher, but I am here for you:)

  I have so many great role models in my life of women who fill their lives so effectively and are always  doing for others.  I could not get through life with my friends, and the examples they are to me.  I think we are great, and just need to remind ourselves of how wonderful we are --a little more often!!