Monday, June 16, 2014


One of my favorite books is "Cheaper by the Dozen" by Frank Gilbreth and his sister, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey.  Yes, I know there is a show with Steve Martin out with this name, but the book came before it!   Major industries would hire Frank Gilbreth, Sr. and his wife Lillian to be efficiency experts. They were industrial engineers who were way ahead of their time.  And...that is what they did!  They saved time.  Someone asked Mr. Gilbreth why he wanted to save time, and what was he going to do with it once he saved it.  He replied, "For work, if you love that best, for education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure.  He then added, "For mumblety-peg, if that's where your heart lies."  I had read this book at least once a year for forty years before I finally looked up "mumblety-peg".  It is actually a children's game that was played with pocket knives many years and was even mentioned in Mark Twain's , "Tom Sawyer, Detective". I knew it was old when I saw "children and pocket knives".  I always surmised that he meant mumblety-peg as a synonym for "stupid wasting of time".

I do quite a bit of that myself, and find myself a little frantic about accomplishing great tasks this summer.  Too much to do, and so little time!  How do I clean, garden , organize and have time for family and friends?  Right now, the boy's friends, Alex and Nate are downstairs cleaning out their bedrooms.  I try not to go downstairs.  It has become a huge collect-all area.   When Emily lived with us last summer, she used the rooms as a bit of storage.  Sadly, enough, we even put the cat box in Mark's room.  Who else is going to use that room? We thought Sam might as well have a quiet moment in there.  Well, It's time to rid ourselves of the carpet, (maybe the cat, since he is Emily's cat anyway)  clothes from Ben and Adam when they were in their teens, and really ugly christmas decorations.   I used to save clothes, and pass them down. My babies are twenty, and we have clothing that needs to go to a third world country. I see a big DI run in the near future!!

People who know me know that I am somewhat of a hoarder.  I like to throw out the term ADD , so that I have an excuse as if a medical term will give me allowance.   Lest you think the worst of me, our house could hardly be condemned, but we do not always have a "place of everything and put that everything in its place".  My time is spent playing and teaching piano, reading wonderful books, and spending time with family and friends.  I would like to be the type of person who can keep up on everything , and I often agonize over my inability to do so.  I would like to figure out how to save time, and to do the things I want to do, yet feel comfortable in my space.  I have spent a lifetime enjoying the quiet moments, but feel I could enjoy them a little more if I were a little like my friends Dorma and SueAnn.  They are workaholics, however they know how to have fun.

Kylie, SueAnn's daughter, said that she lay last night in the quietness listening to her husband breathe, and it was wonderful.  She spoke about the little moments in life.  She is a lot like her mom, always accomplishing something , and so she relishes those quiet moments where we can just think and appreciate. I suppose that is what I am trying to do this summer and yet....time...what to do with it?

It has occurred to me that the next twenty years are going to go even faster than the last twenty, and I am a little melancholy thinking of how quickly time passes.  How to spend it?  How to accomplish the things that matter, and yet....truly enjoy the moments?  I think I would like to write more, to read an hour every day and to get that exercise that I really need.

Stephen R. Covey, who while a terrific example of achieving success spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally....makes me feel as if I cannot do it all.  He says that if we spend one hour a day total on the three types of this exercise, we will see fabulous results.  We must never get too busy "sawing to sharpen the saw, too busy driving to get gas." I think I really am going to try to take a balanced, systematic (and this word is not in my vernacular) regular approach to improve the capacity of my body and brain.  He speaks of habit.  He says that in his opinion, "habit is the most single, beneficial discipline in life."  He says that he still struggles, but always tries. If every writer  or speaker postponed doing so until they were perfect, nothing would ever be written or spoken!

My mom gave me a book when I was first married.  She knew I loved Stephen R. Covey, but although I read parts of the book, I soon became crazy busy with kids and life.  I pulled this book out this morning, and got a little teary, when I read , "For Jane, I love you!,  love Mom".  She was my biggest advocate, and my cheerleader when I was overwhelmed with responsibilities.  I believe she still looks in on me from time to time, and wants me to succeed.  What parent would not?

I am going to read this book from cover to cover and recommend it highly to anyone who feels "they cannot do it all".  It is entitled, "The Divine Center".  Stephen Covey says,  "divinely centered people savor life.  Because their securities comes from within instead of from without, they have no need to categorize and stereotype everything and everybody in life to give them a sense of certainty and predictability.  They see old faces freshly, old scenes as for the first time.  They rediscover people each time they meet them.  They are interested in them. They ask questions and get involved.  They are present when they listen.  They learn from them.  They see no one bigger than life.  They are not overawed by General Authorities, top government figures, or celebrities.  They build on their strengths and strive to complement their weaknesses with the strengths of others."

Yes, I think its time to quit wishing I was someone else and learn to be happy in  both the quietness and business of my own life. I know that there are others out there who compare themselves with others.  Isn't it wonderful we are all so different?  Different doesn't have to be superior or inadequate.

And, so, even as I marvel over Dorma's carefully organized kitchen cupboards, I will do what I can to make myself comfortable  with who I am, and find ways to give myself the time to do what I truly what to accomplish.  Perhaps, then the guilt and inferiority complete will pass well as the next twenty years. but joyfully without the comparison I have always carried with me.

Thanks Nate and Alex for getting me thinking!!

service is a process, and hopefully the process will give Mark a beautiful new room!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Last Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a baptism for Kofi and Ama Herrick. I was elated to witness these two children coming to the waters of baptism , to receive the Holy Ghost and to be members of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Amy, their mother,  had asked me a few weeks ago to play the piano,  and I was so happy to do so.  I played my favorite baptism song appropriately named Baptism, and  the words are so special that they never fail in making me cry.
                         "Jesus came to John the Baptist in Judea long ago,
                          and was baptized by immersion in the river Jordan's flow.
                          To fulfill the law said Jesus, when the Baptist questioned why,
                           and to enter with my Father in the Kingdom up on High.
                           Now we know that we must also witness faith in Jesus word,
                           be baptized to show obedience, as was Jesus Christ, our Lord."

I work with Amy at Club Heights Elementary School where we teach ESL (English as a second Language).  She's the one with the  Master's degree , and I am the one who gets to have the neatest friend/boss in the world!  She is a talented and magnificent teacher, and I have learned so much from her.   Still, the most valuable lessons I have witnessed these past few years are in the love, devotion and faith she and her husband had in making it possible for two kids in Ghana, Africa to join their family.
Kofi and Ama Herrick
The parents of one of their friends were in Africa for work,  and had visited an orphanage in Ghana where they discovered a little spitfire of a girl named Ama. They fell in love with her and would bring her back to the home where they were staying.   Amy had always known that adoption was the way she wanted to extend her family, and when she heard of this little girl, she and Chad proceeded to begin the long and arduous journey of adopting Ama.  Through many hurdles, she became theirs and was sealed to them six months later in the Logan Temple. She spoke the language Twi which is prominent in Ghana, but quickly picked up the English language.  It was kind of sad that she would say, "huh?" when speaking on the phone to the Pastor.  She seemed to lose her own language so quickly, but was eager to understand and be understood in English.

 When Amy visited the orphanage early on in the adoption process, she noticed a young boy who took special care to protect Ama.  They were not sister and brother, but treated each other as if they were, and had a special bond.  She was told his name was "Isaac" but the name given to him at birth by a mother who could not keep him, was Kofi.  She simply could not get this child out of her mind and heart, and convinced Chad, (who is likewise a wonderful and spiritual guy) that they needed this boy in their family.  She had asked him in the orphanage if he would "like to come to America" and he replied "yes".  She did not know the circumstances of his being in the orphanage but made inquiries and found that he had been placed there at a very young age by a crippled mother who could not care for him.   The mother would see her son usually once a year, and when approached by Amy about the chance of a new life in the United States, turned the matter over to Kofi.  When he was asked if he would want to be adopted, he replied that yes, he would!  Kofi's mother said simply, "the boy has spoken."

Well, as time went on, I got to see first-hand the many obstacles that stand in the way of international adoptions, and we as a family prayed for both Ama and Kofi to "come home".  Lots of tears, prayers, faith , time, and money were expended  as both Chad and Amy traveled that long way to Ghana several times to bring  Kofi home at last.  It was so tiring and both emotionally and financially draining, but they never looked back on their decision.  I still remember stepping into our classroom and seeing her shining face after she received word that her son was joining their family.  She didn't speak, but there was such a glow emanating from her I will never forget the confirmation I felt before she spoke that this boy was being allowed to join this choice family. What a glorious moment it was!! There were still a couple of determents  ahead, but the story had an incredible ending, and Amy was able to see an entire village turn out to wish Kofi farewell.  Amy and Kofi's mother shared a hug, and cried because as mothers, they both wanted the same thing.  They wanted Kofi to have amazing opportunities and a chance for  good health and education.

I can scarcely comprehend the love and sacrifice for two orphaned children whose future is now so bright with endless possibilities.  Kofi talks to his mother in Ghana regularly and knows he will return some day to see her.  He speaks English well, (the King's English that is, and they all had a good laugh when he told his Mom he needed "knickers" for school!!) He  loves soccer, got a 4.0 last quarter in school and watches "Separated at Birth episodes" on Netflix with his Mom. A very bonding experience! (sorry I told, Amy..I thought since Kofi told on you, I could!! ) He has a fun and quirky sense of humor and makes his family laugh a lot. The school and neighborhood have been so great about accepting and befriending these kids.  He can be a typical moody fourteen year old at times, but is mostly fun-loving and helpful.  In fact, Chad warned Amy that the neighbors might suspect he was brought over to be an indentured servant because Kofi took so long to impeccably clean the family car!  Ama loves her bike, playing with her sister Emma, and electronics.  These kids can operate any video game and computer as if they had grown up with them. Ama is a bit of a drama queen, but has firmly entrenched herself into the hearts of her family.  She is passionate beyond belief and according to Kofi was quite dramatic as well in the orphanage.  When asked by Amy as to why he watched out for her there, he stated, "she is my sistah!!"  He knew then as he knows even more strongly now that blood does not make a family, love does....
Kofi Nyarko Herrick

Ama turned eight in April, and it is in the age of accountability and baptism in our church.  Ama was no different than the other eight year olds; she wanted to be baptized!  Kofi and Ama had been raised as christians in the orphanage, and loved their pastor dearly. To Kofi, there was not a question as to whether he would be baptized in the faith of his new family. Amy and Chad had told him of their beliefs, stipulating that he was  not expected to join until he fully understood.  He boldly declared that if his family were members, then he would also be one!  He received the discussions from the missionaries, read his scriptures,  attended church, and declared that he would be baptized along with Ama.
Ama Mansah Herrick

As I played the piano  in that room and looked over friends and family who had gathered there to witness this sacred ordinance, I was filled with such insight and joy.  It occured to me that my own missionary son, Mark, was baptizing a lady named Linda that very day.  Linda had stopped smoking, read everything the missionaries gave her, and developed a testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ and the restored gospel. These missionaries give hope to people  that this life is not all there is, and that obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel bring true happiness and joy in the eternities.

 I thought about taking the name of Christ upon us, being his disciples, and what a gift we receive through the laying on of hands.  What a blessing my own baptism and gift of the Holy Ghost has been in my own life as I move through mortality experiencing both sorrow and joy.

As disciples, as Christians, we want that feeling of physical and emotional closeness, of being cherished and protected under the Savior's wings.  I have a picture my kids gave me of Jesus looking over the city of Jerusalem.  He said, "Oh Jerusalem, often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings and ye would not".

We all want safety, peace and shelter. We all have situations that frighten and challenge us.  We live in a fallen world, we are afflicted and oppressed.  We have a need for refuge even as Ama and Kofi did, and we need to feel that there is a safe place of love and shelter.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "When it is dark enough, men see the stars." No one prays for adversity, but it comes, and as Christians, as disciples of the Lord we cannot turn out back on him.  A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal son of God sent by His father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement.  We take upon us the name of Christ through being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those holding His priesthood authority. Being a Christian means talking about what you believe and letting people know you love and respect them.

I have four missionary children, two sons and two daughters who are currently doing just this....being disciples of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is so difficult at times, but they are strengthening themselves and learning to love unconditionally.  If we who also believe, behave with honor, dignity while exhibiting faith, we will rejoice someday even we face trial and affliction in this life.  The Savior lives, and he loves us, and as we minister to others, we minister to Him.  Our Savior's path leads to eternal happiness, joy and everlasting life.  I am so thankful for the example of those ministering to others and know they will be beyond blessed!!  Thank you Herrick family and Taylor missionaries and so many others in my life for your discipleship and for your example to me!

Elder Mark Taylor before performing Linda's baptism

Brother Robertson is baptized that same day

Chad, Madelyn, Kofi, Ethan, Amy, Ama and Emma Herrick