Making a Difference

"It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." ~Tom Brokaw

I'm always amazed at how little effort it takes from me to really make a child [or adult, for that matter] happy. One thing I've always felt strongly about is knowing each Primary child by name, as well as as many things about them as I can find out. There's a big payoff -- when they realize that I do know them and I know some things about them, they literally light up. Sort of the Sally Field moment, remember? "You like me! You really like me!" Oh, and I do!

When I first was called to Primary, it was overwhelming to try to learn the names of every child [we have a big Primary!] but remembering that the scriptures teach us that our Heavenly Father knows each of us by name, and that He knows our hearts really helped me realize the importance of something so seemingly simple. So I studied and learned and reviewed until I knew every one of them. I knew who their parents were and who their siblings were.

And now I know if they have extended family in town or not, I know when they've had a new baby in the family and I like to try to attend extra things that they participate in, like soccer games. These little ones [big ones too] know that I love them, that I laugh at goofy things, and that I am someone who is safe for them.

I know their names. Just like their Heavenly Father does. And it matters. A lot.

picture by David Bowman


Fun in Primary

"What we learn with pleasure, we never forget." ~Alfred Mercier

This is why I feel so strongly that Primary needs to be a fun place. I know so well [from personal experience] that if it isn't fun, it's harder to learn. It follows then, that when we are doing something as important as teaching the gospel to children, it has to be fun.

So tune in this next Sunday. Our chorister Joan has some real fun planned. She always invites me to play along with her, so I'm in too. I think the kids will love it.

And since Joan and I are both pretty much nut-cases, we will too. Maybe more than the kids.


Loving the Beach

Our cute little beach house rental

Walkway to the Port Aransas beach

"It's hard for me to put into words why I like the beach so much. Everything about it is renewing for me, almost like therapy. . . beach therapy!" ~Amy Dykens

I love the beach. Always have, always will. Which is a little strange, considering I was brought up on the Canadian prairie, only an hour from the mountains. Beach? Me? But there is something about it that really does something for me, maybe to me. It calms me, it speaks peace to me, it is a restful place for me. I love to just sit in the sand and watch the waves and listen to them crashing on the shore. I love to walk down the beach, looking for a beautiful sea shell that once was part of the sea. I love digging my toes into the hot sand, wet or dry, and I love the feeling of it on my feet. I don't even mind it in my clothes, in my car, and in the house. And my hair. The only answer for me at the beach is a hat. With my hair being fairly curly, fine and hard to deal with normally, you can only imagine what it looks like at the beach, with the damp air and the wind. Crazy hair, that's for sure. But I don't mind, as long as I"m there at the beach.

I love to run into the waves, letting them carry me back to the shore. I love the tangy smell of the saltwater and I love the feeling of joy and freedom that it gives me. I don't know why it is that way with me. I just know it is.

With this past week being a little bit hard [long story - but having one expensive, painful dental implant fail is a big part of it], the beach was the perfect place for me to sit and contemplate. It was the right time for me to breathe in the salty air, to watch the kids play and see them enjoy it as much as I do, to take in some sun and sand, and to push the cares of everyday life away.

And now I want to go back. I think we need our own beach house!

Photo via flickr [but this is the very walkway we took every day to get to the beach]


The Fire Within

"You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light another fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul." ~Harold B. Lee

I've always loved this idea -- that if I want to help someone else, I have to be in a good, solid place myself. That means that I need to look inside to make sure that I am in that place - that my personal fire is bright enough to share. When I taught seminary, after a lot of years I was given a keepsake by our CES leader that says: "They warmed their hands by the fire of your faith", and that thought has stayed with me.

So my faith, my fire and my testimony need to be bright. My footing needs to be sure and steady and I need to make sure I live on high ground.

[picture via flickr]


Happy Mother's Day

"Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What's that supposed to mean? In my heart, it don't mean a thing." ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

I can hardly believe that it's nearly Mother's Day again. How the time is flying! And since I just returned from an actual, in-person visit with my own mama, I'm feeling so grateful for the her and the way I was raised. She was and is wonderful and I'm so thankful for her. But just like everyone else in this world, I have many other mothers in my life as well.

As I said, I have a fabulous mother and I have a great mother-in-law. I have an aunt who I love dearly and who meant [and still means, even though she passed away] the world to me. I still miss her. I have a daughter and a daughter-in-law who are now mamas themselves, and have become treasured friends of mine.
And I have friends whose lives I fit into as a 'mama' figure in some small ways.

But am I less of a mother because my children are grown? I don't think so. In my heart [just as Toni Morrison said], nothing has changed. They are still my children and I love them, pray for them, worry about them and want nothing but happiness and great blessings for them.

And now, because of these beloved children, I have been given the gift of grandma-hood. What a blessing! No, I am not their mother. I know that. But I am grandma -- and it's a mothering role as well, I think. I love the role -- unconditional loving.

And that's what Mamas are all about, right?!

Happy Mother's Day to all my favorite mamas!


Lesson from a 3 year old

"There are so many disciplines in being a parent besides the obvious ones like getting up in the night and putting up with noise during the day. And almost the hardest of all is learning to be a well of affection and not a fountain, to show them we love them, not when we feel like it, but when they do." ~Nan Fairbrother

I'm not a full-time parent anymore, but I do have three children, two in-laws and five beautiful grandchildren. So my life is full, busy and happy as I am involved with my loved ones and the things happening in their lives.

So, the story is this. Yesterday as I was playing with Mason he looked at me and said, "Grandma, stop talking. You talk too much!" And I have to say that I was the teensiest little bit insulted -- probably because I know I do. I was the kid who got the notes from the teachers [year after year] saying, "She is a good student, but she talks too much." My husband says the reason he is so quiet is simple self-defense. [?!] And there are times when I give myself a headache with all my talking and want myself to shut up. So I swallowed my [ever-so-slightly hurt] feelings, looked back at him and said, "OK, Mason, I will stop talking now," and was quiet for a minute. And of course, he didn't really want that -- and what I learned from his sad little reaction is that he needed to know that his Grandma loved him, even if he told her she talked too much. He wanted me to be that well of affection.

So I grabbed him, rolled around on the floor with him, hugged him and kissed him and tickled him and reassured him that all was well in his world and Grandma did love him, even if he thought she talked too much -- and made sure that he knew that at the point in time when he needed to know it.

The lesson? That we all need to be loved. Whether we talk too much or not. Whether we tell our Grandmas to be quiet or not. Constant, unconditional love matters most.