Sunday, May 17, 2009

Imitating Mother

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:19)

My daughter-in-law celebrated her birthday on Saturday. Since May 16th is also my mother-in-law's birthday, I spent the day wishing Bri had known her. And then I realized...

if you know me, you know something about LeOra.

When my father-in-law first laid eyes on me, he was stunned. I flew down the street with youthful exuberance and landed in his arms. All he could think was: “LeOra! She’s LeOra! ” Sweethearts since childhood, he remembered her well at the same age: eighteen.

I am a lot like her, or so people have told me. One of those times was on the day of her funeral. Elisa watched me flutter around Mom’s kitchen, trying to take care of things. Though she’d been married to Mother’s brother for nearly fifty years, I’d only met Elisa-from-California once before, so we were something of a revelation to each other. With wonder, she finally articulated what she was thinking.

“Ramona,” she said, “You are LeOra.”

Mom was raised in a less active home, as was I. We both married young: at 18. Each of us was the only (pampered) daughter in a family of boys. Our children were of the same number and gender. We shared shoes, wardrobes, music, and theater.

But it was more than that.

She was my mother.

In the most classic sense of the role, she nurtured me through young adulthood and young motherhood. She taught me overtly. She taught me by example.

In my first year of marriage, I watched with awe as she just talked to people. How did she do that, converse with so much ease? Each person she spoke to was touched and uplifted by the simplest comment, the most ordinary communication. How did she do that? I wanted to be that.

She taught me how to cook chicken soup from scratch. She taught me how to make homemade noodles. She taught me how to put a Sunday roast on the table.

"Mom,” I often phoned, “How do you...” and then I’d ask a question so basic it would be embarrassing to ask anyone else.

She explained a lot through the years as she pruned a rose bush, trimmed the shrubs, fertilized the trees, pulled the weeds. I know she hoped some of it was sinking in, but mostly I watched her puttering around the yard.

I gradually absorbed her good taste. As a young wife, without a comparable bank account, I couldn’t shop from the same upscale department stores that she did, but I tailed along anyway, and learned loveliness.

Though Mom wanted to be a writer, most of her writing is in her journals; a spiritual pursuit she wanted me to learn. She loved the gospel, the work of the Kingdom, the divine principle of family. I watched how she honored, respected, sustained, supported, and cared for her eternal companion and the Priesthood. I experienced firsthand her employment of patience, long suffering, charity and forgiveness. She taught me how to have faith in people who seemed not to want it or deserve it.

She taught me to love spirituality. She taught me to love the Brethren. She taught me to love the scriptures. She taught me to love the Church. She taught me to love the temple and family history.

She taught me to not be afraid of missionary work, or trials, or repentance.

She showed me how to turn my kitchen into a concert hall, how to sing old tunes and dance jigs with babies. She held my hand when I gave birth.

The phone rang on an August afternoon. Dale said Mom had suffered a stroke. As I prepared to meet him at the hospital, I knew that I would not leave her side.

The last words she heard were mine: "I love you Mother.”

Her funeral was nothing less than majestic with nine-hundred people filling the chapel and cultural hall; yet I knew, in the midst of it all, that I was special to her. I felt the Spirit assign me to remember her, by representing her, for the rest of my life.

I’m not worried about what happens after that because when the Lord releases me from mortality she will come for me.

And then all I will have to do is imitate mother.

Muse with me: Who have you tried to emulate? Who are you trying to lead to Christ through your example?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Match Made in Heaven

Happy Mother's Day! This Musing was written for you and all the mommies at Mormon Mommy Blogs! MMB’s invitation to share a Mother’s Day Musing was lathered in butter…how could I resist? And who would want to? MMB is “the place” for Latter-day women...and THIS day is a “akin to a holy day" there! (You will forgive me for not mentioning Daddies this week – especially if you will read The Final Test of True Manhood.)

Mother, I love you.
Mother I do.
Father in Heaven has sent me to you.
(Primary songbook, #207)

“Shall we excuse the Sunbeams early today?”

The whole Primary looked relieved. With Singing Time on pause, teachers (whose hard-day-on-the-ranch had just begun) rounded-up thirteen three-year-olds and headed out. The culprit behind the banditos starred me down as he brought up the rear. He’d really outdone himself that day, exciting the herd into a frenzy. I’d caught on and dismissed them just before they would have stampeded anyway. As soon as the dust settled, we went back to practicing our Mother’s Day program.

Twenty-four hours later I had a run-in with Bandito at the town saloon (Applebees at lunchtime.) Instead of shooting me, he lit up like the stars of Wyoming. His mommy said that he had come home from Primary on fire the day before.

“Mommy!” he whooped, “The Curly Lady said Heavenly Father sent me to YOU!”

His delightful interpretation of lyrical doctrine gave my curly head lots to muse about this week: Does Heavenly Father send specific spirits to specific women for specific reasons? What about my own four children?

In youth, I felt impervious to adversity; that is, until my first baby grew physically -- but not mentally. I had sensed an impending challenge for months, even when everything seemed perfectly normal. Slightly more experienced friends had laughed when I confessed my fears. But mommies are realists, not mythmakers (contrary to popular thought) and I knew before the doctors knew. Twenty-nine years later, I bathe, dress, transport and feed her, aaannnd don’t-u-know: that’ll mold or melt a person.

A second baby arrived, and though thrilled with a healthy boy, my intuition kicked into high gear. I sensed a call to brace myself. His super-charged intellect has taken me through so many hills and valleys and twists and turns, I have felt upside-down for most of his twenty-seven years. It took me almost that long to get my heart on straight; its capacity for charity has grown at least “three sizes”. I love him in a way that I can love no one else.

During a third pregnancy, I discerned a different sort of personality. Even prenatally, this child soothed and comforted me. Like a warm blanket, his humility, consistency, and sweet creativity have calmed my heart. Following close behind came his compatriot - and mine: a daughter who shouldered the responsibilities of a firstborn in cheerfully caring for her sister and leading an exemplary life. I felt our team spirit by the time she turned two.

Musing on these things, I couldn’t help humming “Mother I love you…” over and over this week. With each repetition of “Father in Heaven has sent me to you…” I felt the Spirit bear testimony to its truthfulness. THERE IS A REASON.

Our omnipotent Father planted me in my circumstances. He also planted them. I am THEIR mama because of what I, in particular, can do for them; that is the more obvious truth. My every breath is for their sake. What has not always been so obvious is that they are my children because of what they can do for me. My character burst out of the ground when those particular personalities sprang into my life. I grew as they grew; our individual strengths and weaknesses intertwining in a garden that is our own. I am the fruits of my children.

Leading the banditos in their Mothers Day presentation will have more meaning, now that I have mused over their song… I’ll be thinking how little cowpokes, under all those wild-west wiggles, are very much at home on their particular range…

BECAUSE that IS exactly where they are supposed to be.

Muse with me:
How do you see a Heavenly Hand in the making of your family?

DEEElightful...for you AND the kiddos!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Final Test of True Manhood

“When one puts business or pleasure above his home, he that moment starts on the downgrade to soul-weakness. When the club becomes more attractive to any man than his home, it is time for him to confess in bitter shame that he has failed to measure up to the supreme opportunity of his life and flunked in the final test of true manhood. ... The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles.” (Pres. David O. McKay, 2005 PH/RS Manual, 148-149)

There! I thought with satisfaction, surveying the clean garage. Winter has a way of piling up stuff, but at last it is spring and time to liberate the cement floor and fling open the cabinets busting with Miracle Grow, slug bait, and gardening gloves. Spring is also the time to celebrate my honey’s birthday, so this year I decided to combine a clean garage with a happy birthday, since it was all I could think to give him.

Now, that last statement is a true one and a significant one. It means we have passed through the “accumulation stage” and have embarked on the “give-it-to-the-kids” stage. I honestly could not think of a single meaningful “thing” to give my honey this week. He has books and music and electronics and ties coming out of his ears. His sock drawer is bulging and we just beefed up his shirt collection.

‘Twas not always thus. We have done our time crawling like beggars through the muddy trenches of unemployment, the battlefield of under-employment, and the mine-field called corporate America. At this time, we are balanced on a tight-rope of uncertainty (like everyone today), but at least we have a rope.

My heart filled with charity last night as I listened to a very dear friend who lost his job recently. Hearing his fears and frustrations awoke poignant memories, one in particular…

It was a season of unemployment for us (not the first time), the result of corporate down-sizing, and after many, many weeks, we had exhausted our resources, our list of contacts, and our initiative. Like mountaineers gasping for air with the summit just behind the clouds, we had no idea how close we were to being delivered.

Then it came, the last proverbial straw; a certified “threat” from the electric company, delivered by a guy with a logo on his shirt, wearing a tool belt. With deep foreboding, I handed it to Dale at his desk. He slit open the envelope and starred at the contents. The red print bled through so that I could make out the numbers, even from the other side of the desk. I knew they could not be matched by what remained in our bank account. Our eyes met, searching for some inkling of hope and faith in the other, but instead, a terrifying realization overcame us both; we had nothing left. We were paupers, temporally and emotionally.

Then, the strangest thing happened. My husband fell forward, his forehead to his arms, and he wept. He wept and wept and wept. The Spirit waved over me, followed by a tidal wave of compassion. All of a sudden I comprehended, like I never had before, the immense burden my husband carried being wholly responsible for the lives of six people.

That eye-opener established a new empathetic undergirding in my relationships with men; husband, adult male family, and Priesthood brothers. My claims upon their time, or evaluation of their performance in familiar roles or church callings became much more liberal. I took great care, ever after, to express my sincere appreciation for what they do for me, for my family, and for others. Particularly in the church, as I served with Bishoprics, High Council and Stake Presidencies, I made a concerted effort to respect their many obligations and lighten their load whenever possible.

The birthday wish I gave Dale yesterday reflected the understanding I gained all those years ago:

“…you provided beautifully and at great strain and sacrifice through the decades,” I wrote, “…so that our children are raised and providing essentially for themselves now. You did it. They never went cold or hungry or felt deprived in any way; quite the opposite. And our sweet Ashley has had an amazing life for an individual with her severity of disability. She has been well fed, well loved, well dressed, and well serviced in the schools and community. Last night, you credited me for that, but the truth is that you always did whatever it took so that we could keep her close to us and expose her to every advantage.

"As for the future, it doesn’t really matter. I believe the Lord will prepare the way and orchestrate our lives so that our remaining time on earth will be productive and safe. Our union is so complete we can weather anything and live anywhere and in any situation together. This is perhaps the most important outcome of your 32 years of devotion.

"So on your birthday, I want you to know that our family’s success, even existence, has been entirely dependent on you for a very long time, and you have not failed us. You have blessed us, like a true Father in every way. I pray that God will bless you with continued joy and progress in your career at this point, for your OWN sake, as you so richly deserve.”

He was touched by that of course. I got a doozy of a hug and kiss for it. And the surprise party I threw later than night didn't hurt.

But the tidy garage comforted him most.

“After all,” he said, “if worse comes to worse, at least we’ve got the space now to hold a moving sale!”

Related Musings: What You Don't Have or Have Lost
and Belonging

Muse with me SISTERS:
How does your husband or the men in your life contribute to your family in a positive way?
(And send your husbands to comment too please -- we would LOVE a man's point of view on this...)
Muse with me BROTHERS:
How does your wife or the other women in your life (daughters, mothers, sisters in the church) sustain you? What does that mean to you?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Brightest Generation

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just – yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them --- therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. (Alma 31:5)

An amazing young mother named Jessica bore her testimony in church today. Despite a desperately rocky childhood (seriously troubled parents, every kind of abuse, and years of foster care) this resilient woman has found the gospel of Jesus Christ and is raising her own family in it. Her conversion is remarkable, not only because she beat the statistics, but how she beat them.

As a little girl, she was given her own copy of the New Testament, which she read regularly without prompting or reinforcement while growing up. And she prayed…without example or instruction. As I visualized Jessica growing into a young woman, holding those scriptures for dear life… her face morphed into many young faces…

In teaching four years of Seminary, I had proven over and over to myself (through trial and error) that though teens enjoy Scripture Jeopardy and gumdrop Rameumptoms, they will eat gospel meat, even at 6:00 a.m. Yet with that experience shoring me up, I still felt intimidated when I stood in front of hundreds of teenagers one summer morning with nothing more than scriptures in hand.

I had been a presenter on the Church Education System’s Especially for Youth faculty for a few years at the time, so it wasn’t the size or age of the audience that worried me; it wasn’t that they’d given me the giant gymnasium instead of a lecture hall to present in; it wasn’t even that the schedule had landed this class right before lunch, when the adolescent stomach would rather feast on food than scripture. What worried me most was the subject itself: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here is the actual class description from the printed EFY program:

“What is our greatest potential? Is it not to achieve godhood ourselves?” How wonderful that we know that the answer to President Kimball’s question is yes! But until the Plan of Redemption was presented to us in the pre-mortal life, we must have wondered how it was possible. This class is for the serious student of the gospel who is interested in exploring Father’s Plan of Happiness as we must have contemplated it preparatory to entering mortality. We can find our place in this world when we comprehend our beautiful beginnings and divine destination. Bring your scriptures.

Based on this preview (I had composed it more as a warning), I expected relative few to choose my class; after all, more popular and entertaining teachers were presenting the same hour. Ten minutes before start time, however, boys slouched and girls giggled through the gym doors - in droves – eventually filling every available chair.

Yiks! I thought. What a rambunctious crowd! Some of them look downright scary. Oh, WHY hadn’t I had put together a slide show or at least a personal anecdote or two - or a hundred?! Sweaty palms made my scriptures sticky.

Like the end credits of a disaster movie, the dozens of scripture references and prophet quotes I was about to discuss scrolled through my brain. I panicked that too many in a row would come across as dull and complicated, though I had definitely felt inspired when organizing them. The most earnest kids might stick it out, I thought. Maybe my best hope was to excuse the tag-alongs, the kids who would prefer a class on dating. I decided to offer an escape.

“Alright everyone,” I began, “You should know that this discussion is all doctrine – straight up. You will be expected to keep your scriptures open and to turn to every reference, and we will be trucking.”

I looked for discouraged expressions, but didn’t see any. In fact, I thought for a second that they all seemed to sit up a bit.

“There is a lot to cover,” I continued my disclaimer, “so we may go into your lunch hour some. If this doesn’t appeal to you, it’s perfectly alright to excuse yourself now and join another class. You won’t offend me in the least.”

That’ll do it, I thought; then braced myself for an outbreak of sidebar discussions and clanking metal chairs.

But nothing happened. No one stirred.

Whether it was genuine interest in the subject, peer pressure, too much trouble to move, or a wave of compassion for the lady shaking at the mic, I had no idea. There was nothing left to do but preach.

We did go over-time. We went several minutes over-time. No one left. No one even packed up early. They ALL kept their scriptures open and stayed intent. Afterward, they crowded around with questions and insights that were stunning.

I repented of having underestimated their spiritual intelligence, humbled by the Spirit which testified that these youth exceeded me - and my generation. It was clear - and many experiences since have reinforced the fact - that the class' success had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with serving the doctrine of Christ “straight up” to young latter-day minds, naturally inquisitive and basically brilliant.

Related Musings: Romance the Heart
and Come to Church

Muse with me: What evidence of spiritual talent do you see in the children and youth of the church today, including those in your own home?

Elisabeth's little one falls asleep with her Book of Mormon.

MORE: "Teaching True Doctrine" by President Henry D. Eyring

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hawaiian Magic

"It seems like such a simple thing, but how much time do we spend laughing with our spouses and enjoying their company? In our daily interactions, appropriate humor can defuse tense situations and counter negative reactions to some of the troubles of life. Laughter and a cheerful disposition can create a bond of friendship. They are medicine for the heart and lighten the troubled soul.” (Carin Lund, Ensign, August 2000)

You know how relatively little time Dale and I have together because of his business travels. So, it was a twist of irony that -- when he finally lined up a whole week at home earlier this month -- circumstances took ME away to Florida (Dream House), while HE stayed home with Ashley (Angel Talkin). I consoled myself musing about “compensatory blessings” (What You Don’t Have or Have Lost) and sure enough! he got a second week knocked off his regular itinerary! When I returned, we hit the road TOGETHER for Hannah's concert at BYU, Grant's 23rd birthday, and Easter.

What a glorious 12 hours in the car -- non-stop conversation. Come Monday morning however, I was in the Provo Regional Medical Center, diagnosed with shingles! The wonder of it is that as I sat for hours on the emergency room gurney, my honey, rather than huff frustration and disappointment, continued the conversation. Running now for 31 years (from far and near) this conversation is part practical, part pleasure, part daydream, part counsel, part observation, part opinion. We call it “Solving the World’s Problems.”

We also like to reminisce, as most couples do, or should. Not only does re-living shared-memory act like crazy glue on hearts, on that morning in the hospital (as it has so many tough times before) reminiscing gave us the right dose of perspective: the best possible prescription.

This is what we remembered…

Two days and nights in Salt Lake City; not exactly the exotic honeymoon a boy or girl dreams about, but with the pocketbooks and planners of university students, it was the best we could do. Our professors expected the new "Mr. & Mrs." back to campus in time for winter semester finals.

Our reminicing wasn't about those two days though. It was about five years and two babies later when the chance for a "real" honeymoon finally presented itself. For years we had dreamed...and in the weeks leading up to our great Hawaiian adventure, we ate, slept, and spoke of almost nothing else: visions of solitary strolls on the beach, hand in hand, timid waves glancing our bare feet. We would return a radiant brown, renewed by strange vistas, quiet nights, and lazy days.

On page one of our photo album we are framed by a sagging palm tree and a stop sign at the airport. Our get-a-way was not yet a postcard one, but we could smell it from there. That night we had dinner at an outdoor table on Waikiki Beach. The same breeze which ruffled our hair sent pink clouds chasing across an amber sky. Flaming torches lit our faces...which occasionally broke from concentrating on each other, to look out over the violet sea; sails and ships were silhouetted against a glorious sunset.

It was the beginning - and the end - of a dream come true.

The next day, we decided to snorkel off Hanauma Bay. Having a touch of stateside practicality still in hand, I lathered up with my #45 sunscreen. I was generous to every appendage except my head and (accidentally) a little triangle of peach just below my shoulder. Dale, on the other hand (a Californian by birth) thought nothing of absorbing ultra-violet rays in the raw. An experienced snorkeler, he "geared" us both up for our undersea exploration - BUT - despite the best flippers money could rent - I just couldn't overcome my fear of the deep. A couple of fainthearted attempts to navigate the reef left me smarting with lacerations where unforgiving corral had met unpracticed diver. Dale, of course, evaded similar injury. He moved with ease through the water; but that was the last time he moved with ease on our entire vacation.

Scorched from top to bottom, his inflamed skin progressed gradually from a concerning pink to an alarming red. The sun's effect on me was more immediate. The moment we got back in the car, I screamed with horror into the rear view mirror. What was that big, red balloon I used to call my face?! I had no eyes, no nose, no chin; just a bloated crimson sphere with a crop of curls on top.

Frightened, we hastened to the hotel and hobbled to our sanctuary. Blisters had begun to swell between our toes. Though they were the preferred foot-gear of the tropics, we were more accustomed to rubber boots than rubber thongs.

Inside our room even bed sheets were painful to the touch. We were burning up. What could be more soothing than a cool swim? Diving out the window to sizzle in the hotel pool provided a few minutes of relief...but, as we began to pucker up like sun-dried tomatoes, we headed back . Toweling off, Dale suddenly knew he was in trouble. An ominous sting began to creep up his shins, his already irritated pores now infected with chlorine! The sting blossomed into a full-body itch, and the rest of the long night was spent trying to purge his enraged epidermis. Countless runs to the drug store proved ineffective. We were beyond desperation -- nothing would stop that itch. Of course by now, the fire had spread to Dale's brain and my island-lover had become a mad-man. His only salve and salvation, at last, was to sit in the bathroom, beside a scalding shower, steam and sweat working their magic.

In the morning we learned that our welcome to paradise was not yet over. Dale had a rocketing fever and throbbing pain inside both ears. An expensive trip to the doctor confirmed our own diagnosis: infection caused by entrapped water. Sensitive to the touch and yowling in agony, all we could do for the next several days was to administer medicine every two hours and watch all-night reruns of "Hawaii Five-O".

When we finally braved the world of the living (on our last day of "vacation"), we moved with the speed and agility of injured skiers in full body casts. Somehow we managed to taste fresh Dole pineapple, cry a little at Pearl Harbor, and sit very still in the canoes of the Polynesian Culture Center.

As we waved Hawaii good-bye from the clouds, we knew that the “next time” we would give ourselves at least three weeks: the first for exposing ourselves to the hostile Hawaiian environment, the second for recovery, and the third...well, we never really did have that Honolulu honeymoon. the time we get around to going back...T-shirts for grandchildren and viewing Hanauma Bay from a tour bus will be all the romance we'll need.

Oh. And a lot of wonderful conversation.

Muse with me:
How have you seen enjoyable conversation strengthen your marriage or other's marriages? Though there's not a Hawaiian Vacation drawing for commentors on this one -- how about dinner for two? On May 17th, I'll draw for a $30 gift certificate to the favorite chain restaurant of a lucky fellow Muser and their honey.

Talented Musers and a Winner!

You make me feel like singing and dancing! Kudos to follower friends who mused on The Kids Have Got Talent and Romance the Heart! I made a list with all your names and numbered them (two for those who commented both weeks.) With witnesses looking over my shoulder (who have the same last name as I do) I then entered the numbers into the True Random Number Generator and pop! up came the number 35, which correlated to SERENE!

Take the kiddos out for ice cream Serene – which do you like best? Cold Stone?...Baskin and Robbins?…or MY personal favorite – McDonalds! (Did you know McCones are always 3 points?!) Just kidding - splurge!

P.S. Sorry this is late...I was in the hospital on the afore-appointed date for the "drawing"!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dream House

The neighborhood was a typical Florida neighborhood – streets winding through hundreds of houses that all looked a lot alike, at least when they were built. After thirty or forty years, a parade of owners had come and gone, leaving their imprints on each house. Most of the streets looked like the current occupants didn’t have time, money, or sympathy for their aging residences.

We followed the faded curb-numbers until we pulled into the driveway of one of the most dilapidated homes of all. My heart sank. If my son and his kiddo were going to move into their first house, I had hoped for better…even just a little better. My boy had a more open mind (and tighter checkbook) that I had obviously, because he jumped out of the car with enthusiasm, eager to snoop. I waited with Biscuit.

After making the rounds, trudging through the weedy, grassless yard, peeking in the dirty windows, he reported: “Well, it’s kind of eclectic, but I think it’ll work!”

I bit my tongue for the entire ten seconds it took to back out of the driveway.

“You are such a man.”


“Men are buyers. They want to buy the first thing they see. I am a woman, a professional shopper, and I think we should keep looking. Drive down that street.”

He mumbled a protest, but mom won. We had made only a couple of lefts and rights when suddenly – the whole world changed…(well, maybe not the whole world – but at least that neighborhood)…white picket fences, trees and flowers, bright paint, cars resting on tires not blocks – it was a dream!

“There! There!” I shouted. “Look at that one!”

It may have been a one-story, flat-roofed, cinder-block house, but to me it looked like a million bucks. Biscuit’s dad made the same assessment.

“I can’t afford it Mom.”

“You don’t know that! Let’s just stop. Stop! Stop!”

We stopped.

Moving tentatively around the house perimeter, like a Kmart regular at Macy’s, my son came back with that look Professional Shoppers know too well: the “there-is-no-way---but-I want-there-to-be-a-way-so- bad” look.

He let me call the number on the sign in the window.

Imagine his surprise…the thrill us professional shoppers know too well…the electricity that fills the universe when you turn over the price tag and see numbers YOU CAN COMPREHEND! It was exactly in his price range with extras and pluses out the ying-yang. We were home.

That was just last week, but the memories of drooling over home ownership are as fresh as the paint in Biscuit’s new bedroom. The way it turned out, our family had three babies before we had a nest, and they were all flying away before we moved into our “dream” house. It’s okay. The home I really want is still being built on the ultimate “Street of Dreams”.

Has anyone else ever thought about this? I like to imagine what my celestial mansion will be like. Will it be on a mountain top? Or come with an ocean view? Will there be a waterfall or a lagoon beside a tropical rain forest??? I have come to the conclusion that it will be whatever I want it to be. And right now, that’s WAY beyond my experience, let alone my price range. Musing on it makes me happy though and keeps me motivated. Eternal rewards do that. (1 Cor. 2:9)

In the same breath however, I must admit that divine promises have occasionally lost their punch, but only when I forget the reality of infinity, when the here-and-now usurps my imagination. And when that happens, I -- like my boy on his house hunt -- am more willing to accept the unacceptable. I come way too close to “settling” for much less than is actually available to me.

Elder George Q. Cannon: “I think it is of great importance to us as a people to know what we shall do. Are we content to aim for telestial glory? I never heard a prayer offered, especially in the family circle in which the family does not beseech God to give them celestial glory…celestial glory is our aim…All that I am on this earth for is to get celestial glory.”

When I think of my children and grandchildren gathered on a celestial Sabbath; when I visualize Ashley at a truly GRAND piano of celestial make, finally able to play the magnificent concertos she’s composed all her silent life; when I close my eyes to feel the arms of my beloved mother-in-law around me again, or picture the scene when Dale and I face each other on Resurrection Morning then bow together to kiss the feet of the Savior; I am more valiant, more committed, more courageous, more brilliant, more capable, more loving, more glorious than I EVER am as my fallen, natural, mortal-thinking self.

For me, it is vital to have hope, to point and align and rivet myself on the goal of eternal life, this in spite of my imperfections. Though building a celestial mansion is a process; a lengthy process that extends beyond death, the Savior is with me every mile. I sense Him directing me down one path and then the next, asking only that I go with him all the way to the end. He knows that my Celestial Mansion waits there - sitting on a hill, surrounded by crystal clear, forested lakes, overlooking endless fields of wild flowers.

Related Musings: "Wish List"
and"The Flying Dream"

Muse with me: Which of the images comes closest to your idea of the Celestial Kingdom? What are your dreams for your Dream House?