Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Life on Earth: Is it Worth It?

It’s difficult in our modern times to listen to the nightly news without getting totally disgusted.  There are so many negative reports of all the crime, corruption and destruction of our great nation, it can really weigh you down.

I received an email from an old friend, from where I grew up in New Jersey, last week telling me that her father passed away at the age of 78.  A rush of memories had filled my head.  I loved her father.  He was a very giving person.  He used to drive us around to church activities, singing songs and telling stories and we all had such a great time together.  No generation gap there.  My friend and I were teenagers during the 70’s too. I “googled” his name to find the obituary because he had accomplished so much when I knew him, I wanted to see what else he had done after I went off to college and their family moved away.

It was amazing to see. He already had a PhD in nuclear chemistry and helped Bell Labs in New Jersey get a satellite up in orbit. After moving away, he then became the head of the department of physics at the State University of New York in Albany. He did Research in X-ray optics and then eventually did research on the effects of metal in the human brain helping to find how to cure Alzheimer’s disease.  Besides all the work he accomplished in his career, he was very active in his church and spent a lot of time with his family making his life very full right up until the end.

Another friend of mine wrote this week about a speech she heard Sunday night at a church fireside of a woman who spent time in a concentration camp as a child in Indonesia during WWII.  Her name is Kitty De Ruyer Bon and she wrote all about her experiences in a book called “As I Have Loved You”. The amazing thing about this woman is that in the face of the most humiliating of circumstances and inhumane physical treatment, she kept faith, courage, strength and dignity.  With no hope of any earthly reward or return for the good she gave, she still gave even to her captors.

The lives of these two people have touched my life and gave me such a great example to never give up when life seems so overwhelming.  At times life does get overwhelming and discouraging and the temptation to throw it all away is sometimes very great. Even to give up on mankind, but that would accomplish nothing. The wisdom to give to others is much better than always thinking: What’s in it for me?   Raising children, filling a calling at church, finishing a college degree, building a house; all have their moments when we stop and think--Is this really worth it?  A resounding: yes. This is most definitely worth our time on earth.  A great lesson for us to learn while we are here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Importance of Family Time Together

As the holidays approach us, our thoughts turn to home and how happy we are when we are experience positive ideals of home and our families.
Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we are given words of wisdom from our leaders in Salt Lake City every six months.  It’s usually the first weekend in April and October but this time the April meeting was schedule March 31, 2012 to April 1st, 2012 and I had the opportunity to watch most of it.
As I previewed all the different speeches of these leaders this week, I saw a reoccurring theme through out the entire weekend: the importance of family and parenthood. One particular speech stayed with me and that is of Boyd K. Packer’s remarks on Saturday morning (March 31, 2012).
His talk is called “And A Little Child Shall Lead Them” (see Ensign Magazine, May 2012, page 6-9) and it is great reminder of keeping our families in the front of our minds. President Packer who is the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, related several heart wrenching stories of poor and orphaned children he met or heard of during his travels and the difficult conditions they experienced.  The anguish we feel from reading or seeing children in such dire straights is distressing but yet in our own country of milk and honey, we find ourselves unable to cope with the children we have brought into the world. 
We are parents with great responsibility from the time we conceive or bring a child into our home.  Enduring to the end takes patience, love and time and President Packer has reminded us with his words why parents should be devoted to their children. Devotion meaning choosing wisely in decisions for our children and then letting them experience what has been taught as they grow older.  Not to be confused with thinking that many material possessions are important for each child, we should teach correct principles and let them learn and govern themselves.
As President Packer has reminded us with his words of wisdom, we need to remember “the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ” in our homes and not just busying ourselves with too many commitments. Our time is very precious in the course of a child’s life and we can remind ourselves of what priorities.
President Packer tells us: “One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far mare about what really matters from our children than we ever did from our parents.  We come to recognize the truth in Isaiah’s prophesy that “a little child shall lead them”.
As parents raising the small spiritual beings, we are to humble ourselves as we are encouraged by President Packer and do all we can do within our own life to make sure our children are taught gospel principles at home.  It’s not going to be perfect but we can continue to try to do the best we can.
We should always include Family Home Evening time every week and pray every day as well as read and study scriptures together as much as possible.  These are golden opportunities to really instill the gospel in our children’s life.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said it well: “You mothers are the real builders of the nation wherever you live, for you have created homes of strength and peace and security. These become the very sinew of any nation.”
As we continue on in this life, we can be comforted to know we spent well invested time and did what we could for our children. What ever the outcome of our children’s choices, we can remember and put our hope in Jesus Christ our Savior and teach them the same. We can remind ourselves of the importance of this season. Let’s hope the message stays with us for a long time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Families Are Important

           I have been anxiously reviewing and analyzing my life as it has been so far.  I know change will always be a part of what I experience on earth just like the winds and the weather of Spring.  But one aspect of my life I can count on for support and confidences for me, it's my family.

          With the uncertainty of life’s trials and tribulations, going home every night to a family can be very comforting.  Like eating comfort good, your family is a haven away from the affects of the world.  When family members put their own families first, a safe place is created in our lives to run away to when the world is crazy and right now with elections high gas prices, it seems as if this is happening.
            The voice of reason is not always within the distance of a listening ear when wars break out or terrorists strike but putting your family first helps keep you sane in an insane world.  Sometimes it takes the ideas of a second party to understand the full effect of how losing employment of the downward spiral our nations financial state can affect you but with your family living their life with your life, common sense can have a place in your home.
            There are many aspects of life to consider through the eyes of a family.  We are the keepers of our homes and most of us would agree that we should guard that home against the ravages of the world.  The world doesn’t seem to cater to the health and wealth of the American family and believe it or not there are many current events which greatly affect how families live their lives. For example, there is the great controversy of same sex-marriages.  Should the country give gay relationships the green light for legal marriage?  What about the Fairness Doctrine in radio talk shows.  If they shut down conservative talk shows, who can we listen to for sensible news?  How will these high gas prices affect family vacations?  These are all unanswered questions which affect families but with knowing and appreciating what we have at home, we can get up every morning to a more peaceful setting.
            The number one teacher in a child’s life is his parents.  If there were no parents to teach children by good example or vocal instruction, how can correct role models in a society be taught?  They can learn from neighbors, teachers or peers if they spend time with them.  Maybe even learn how families function from television, if there are any good examples to watch.  But there is not much taught if children don’t get it form their parents living in a family structure.  The importance of families go way beyond what television, public school or even government can do for us.
            I recently watched a movie called “The Family Man”. It was the story of a man making choices.  On choice was to marry his college sweetheart and the other was to focus on his career.  The path he chose led him to a big career in New York and one day ten years later he was given a glimpse of what it would have been like if he had married his sweetheart.  It was an adjustment for him, no doubt, but once he understood what was happening, he really enjoyed the time he had with this family that would have been his.  He was then put back into his real life with no family and realized what was really important and wanted that family life back.
            I might not write exactly to your liking but consider all your read here food for thought.  As I think about writing about the family, it seems like common sense.  It is common sense that most people are striving for in our modern world. 
            So the next time you dread coming home at night to your family, think about all of the positive aspects a family can bring and tell them how much you appreciate them.  It will make all the difference.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vegetable Gardens and Other Thoughts

Driving around Baldwin County (where I live) these past few weeks, I have noticed quite a few vegetable gardens throughout the county.  They are beautifully kept and will be an asset to all who use them.  Growing vegetables during the Spring and Summer in Lower Alabama is not only great exercise but it helps the soul to become grounded to what is important.  Digging in the earth gives your spirit a lift and gets you out doors, especially when the weather has been so beautiful.

Waking up in the morning with a cup of orange juice and a walk outside to my garden to visit all of my “babies” is very refreshing.  My tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and radishes are all growing profusely and I have started harvesting vegetables already. The garden is my thinking place and I have pondered many topics about my life which help me to shape my opinions.

One of those thought provoking topics is the “Law of the Harvest”. The Law of the Harvest is an important lesson to learn for all families as there is responsibility in gleaning in what a person has planted. We plant a seed in our lives; whether a project we started, a sport we play for a season, a degree at school, or children we bring to earth; we should follow through until we are have finished the job.  I think as time marches on, my garden gets more difficult to maintain.  Adversity as in hot weather, lack of time, too many weeds and other distractions keep me from my garden.  I’m over whelmed by all the produce and I am tired. But the “Law of the Harvest” tells me to follow through until the end. 

For those who do not have a vegetable garden, you are in luck.  Living in Baldwin County, especially on the eastern side of the county, the farmlands are in abundance.  Many farmers grow vegetables to sell to large company buyers but also have left over for those families who are interested in stocking their refrigerators. A great place to find fresh fruits and vegetables are at the many fruit and vegetable stands along Highway 59 and your local farmer’s market.  There are four farmer’s markets in Baldwin County which boast of fresh fruits and vegetables all summer long.

Our bodies stay healthy when we eat healthy and if we can't have our own garden, we can by all means buy from someone else's. It great to work in the earth and get back to nature as well.

Happy Spring!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What Season Are You?

Valerie J. Steimle

This is the beginning of a new year and we are once again faced with goals and aspirations.  Upon pondering what to accomplish in the coming months, I thought about the differences between what I was doing ten years ago and what I am doing now. Ten years ago I still had very small children to take care of, several teenagers to drive around and my oldest leaving the nest.  I was in a different season back then. 

There is much to accomplish in a lifetime but we can’t do it all at once.  During my twenties, after graduating college, I got married and started a family.  Diapers and teething was my season in between keeping my head afloat on the computer scene. 

During my thirties, there were more children added but I also started writing at home at night when everyone was asleep.  I didn’t work much outside the home because of my responsibilities at home but we did find time to have a vegetable garden.  We didn’t go out much and we worked hard keeping our home life running smoothly. I also started homeschooling my oldest children.  I accomplished a lot in my world.

During my forties, I ventured out in part-time work and really concentrated on my writing.  I published four books and wrote hundreds of articles. Children were still at home but they were more independent and I didn’t have to change any more diapers. (Whew) Now in my fifties, I can participate in more outside activities and focus on my hobbies and especially my writing.  It all depended on what season I was in.

Everyone accomplishes what they can by what season they are in during their lifetime.  Most young mothers can’t do many extra curricular activities because of their responsibilities at home, but as we grow older and our children are more independent, we as women, can take an art class, write that novel buzzing around in our head, join the Audubon Society to watch birds, research family history or volunteer at the library. Whatever suits our fancy, we can accomplish in our own season. The same goes with men who start their careers in their twenties and spend many hours making their way to a comfortable living. By the time their fifties roll around there is more time for hobbies and other interests.

Pondering those thoughts, here are the ten keys to a happy life:
1.Compliment three people every day. 2. Be the first to say hello. 3. Don’t rain on other people’s parade. 4. Live beneath your means. 5. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. 6. Never give up on anyone; miracles do happen. 7. Forget the Jones’ 8. Be tough-minded and tender-hearted. 9. Learn to show cheerfulness even when you don’t have to. 10. Don’t waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.

Someone once said: “We are spiritual beings having a human experience”. I really believe that so live up to your aspirations and your season for a better year and a happy life. Happy New Year!