Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winter Wonderland? I don't think so....

Well, it's that time of year.  No, I am not thinking of the holidays, but rather the dark, cold days that lay ahead.  There are those times that I find beauty in the new fallen snow, or watch in awe as the street lights illuminate the falling snowflakes.  I love the way the trees look that first morning after a snowfall as their bare, heavily laden branches sparkle when the sun comes up.  Mostly, however, I just try to tough it out until Spring comes.  The night falls, and I find myself wanting to just crawl in bed.  I miss the sounds of kids playing outside in the summer evening,  and the sprinklers wetting down the freshly mown grass.  I like seeing little sprouted things coming up through the earth, and soo  do not like the demise  of the many beautiful flowers I nurtured all summer.  Clearly, I am not a winter person.  I hate being cold.  Don't even get me started on the driving conditions.  I come home white-knuckled after driving in a winter storm. Are there fun sports in winter?  I feel too old to personally like doing any of that now, although I love watching the Olympics.  People laughed at me when I tried ice skating.  Can I help it that my family has genetically weak ankles?   I really tried to like skiing, but was no good at it at all. I have no athletic abilities, but thought I could have a go at it.   I quit altogether when I fell off the ski lift and tore up my knee badly (the same knee I am having surgery on this Thursday, by the way.  For the last thirty years the pain has reminded me that snow is , indeed, my enemy.

  I feel guilty for my bad attitude.  I know we need the snow.  I realize that it will bring us much needed water and that we need plenty of it to enjoy the many pleasures of summer.  Still, I endure much of it and scoff at my friends who insist they enjoy the winter.  Robin loves to cuddle up in her spotless house and cross stitch away all comfy and cozy.  I don't have a spotless house, and I don't cross stitch.  The darkness closes in and I don't even feel like cleaning.  I eat more because I feel anxious, and that is never good.  I believe I suffer from SAD, (seasonal affective disorder).  I feel my best in the light of day, and tend to want to hibernate when it is dark and cold.  I do feel a little sad, and sometimes very sad! I am very excited for December 21 not because it is right before Christmas, but because the days will start getting longer.  Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas.  I love the lights, the music, the feelings of goodwill toward men, but Christmas comes during winter.  I am ashamed that even in the celebration of our Savior's birth, I whine about the darkness and cold.

This winter I have vowed to try to be more positive.  I have four kids serving LDS missions in the states.  Matthew and Rachel are in Ohio and Michigan and will, no doubt, be cold the next few months.  Mark does not think he will be in temperatures any colder than 50 degrees, and Bethany, well...she is in paradise.  The San Fernando Valley does not experience much in the way of winter.
I really do not want to equate happiness with summer even though I rejoice when spring starts to creep between the cold cracks of winter.  I know that I appreciate spring more because of the winter.  It is more miraculous, more beautiful and enjoyable because of the harshness of winter.

I like the scripture in the Book of Mormon where Lehi says "it must needs be that there was an opposition" talking about all things that are created.  We cannot fully appreciate the good without the bad.  Not that winter is all bad, but spring is so sweet because it follows winter.   When you live in Utah, you have the beauty of all the seasons, and each one is truly miraculous.  I happen to like some more than others, but I know my enjoyment would wane just a bit if I had spring all year long.

So...bring on the snow, the cold, the ice and scary driving conditions.  I will be grateful for a warm house that shields me from the cold, and a bed to lie down at night.  I know that many people in the world do not have this luxury.   When I see the devastation in the Phillippines and the people who have suffered at the hands of a typhoon, I am humbled and more than  disgusted with myself.  I have food , clothing and my family and friends are safe.   The coming of a different season seems a very trivial thing to be concerned about. I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves his children and mourns with them.

I believe that much good can be found in every day, and that a little quiet contemplation about how to help other people will alleviate a lot of the seasonal depression I experience.  I  am hoping that we might all realize our blessings and rejoice in the arrival of another new year.

The morning Bethany leaves Utah for a year and a half to dwell in Sunny California.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Missionaries are a busy blessing

Writing and sending packages to four missionaries can be difficult for anyone let alone someone as unorganized as myself.  Okay, I will admit it......letters and pictures from my four kids are stuffed in various drawers.  They are not in beautifully scrapbooked pages with clever headings and quotes.  I am hoping to unearth some of them this summer with Dorma's help.  She is very talented when it comes to organizing, and maybe I can get some semblance of a recording of their time in the mission field.
I write regularly to them, and should have files of different subjects that can be addressed should a topic arise....but I have to rely on my brain which is quickly fading.  I have had to send letters that should be filed under:

     How to feel good about yourself when you seem to be a failure.
     How to get along with people who bug you.
     How to fight frustration when no one wants to hear your message.
     How the Atonement can help you with feelings of inadequacy.
     How to be humble when you know more than your companion.
     How to be teachable when you realize you know nothing.
     How to accept the fact that your mother always knew more than you thought she did.

Lately, I wish I had more time to learn the things that my kids are learning.  I want to take the time to ponder the scriptures, to think about the things they are thinking, and to be teachable as well.
I have cut way back on the TV watching, and try to find time to study the Gospel every day.  I have scriptures on CD in my car, and that helps a great deal in bringing the Spirit.  Still, I have to go to school and teach piano every day and find myself too tired many nights.  I tell them all the time how lucky they are to have the time to immerse themselves in the Gospel.

Rachel is still with Sister Heywood, Matthew is awaiting a new companion , Mark is with Elder Guzman, who is from Mexico, and Bethany is with Sister Cameron.  Bethany is in Sunny Burbank where she talks about "sun-kissed people" and swaying palm trees and the cute red door of her apartment.  She sounds like she is on vacation.  She is two blocks away from Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, and NBC.
 Rachel and Matthew are preparing for a cold, wet winter where they say the bitter wind from the lakes cuts to the bone.  Mark is in Texas where they will probably have a fairly mild time of it.

I will now attempt to add some photos.  This may or may not work.  Yay!!!, It did!  Maybe
I can organize their letters!!
Rachel and Sister Heywood

Bethany and Sister Cameron

Matthew with Thomas and Rachel (a recent convert)

Matthew and some of his district members

Matthew riding his bike in Cleveland

Mark with a cow?

Mark and his companion, Elder Guzman

Rachel and Sister Heywood looking cute

Hey!!!  It did work!
Rachel and her hand-me-downs
hat, scarf, and coat from ward member
skirt from companion.