heavenly places

Dear friends, when I became a latter day saint, nearly three decades ago, temples as part of Christian worship felt right. It was another part of the Lord’s church that seemed missing to me. 

The House of the Lord

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Holiness to the Lord.

This is what it reads on latter day temples.  They are truly beautiful, ethereal edifices. 
Our dear youngest child, having read the words above the temple doors said to me, “how many houses does the Lord have?” We agreed it must be quite a lot, and then he added “lots especially if you add all the church buildings!”
And in each we can feel His love and know we are His children. 
I am very grateful to our Heavenly Father for temples in these last days – they are like ponds of solace in a forest of turmoil and we need to bathe in them as often as we can for the sake of our souls, literally.

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a good read

Dear friends, do you enjoy reading? Probably, because you’re reading this! When I was a child I did not like reading; I knew why; I was a slow reader.  And that all began some time back in first school when I was reading out loud, in a group, and my teacher asked me a question about what I had read, and I didn’t know.  I still remember how awful I felt as I was told to slow down and to read to understand.  So, throughout school I read only what I had to.  My reading interests were kindled by the set texts for English Literature in secondary school – Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet; Arthur Miller ‘Death of a Salesman’; Thomas Hardy ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’; and, of course, Harper Lee ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’  I was particularly struck by Thomas Hardy, who had been an apprentice to an architect before becoming an author 🙂
The summer before starting college I began to read for pleasure, for the first time that I can recall since reading A A Milne’s ‘When We Were Six!’ Tess of the d’Urbervilles was my first book 🙂 I’ve gradually built up my reading over the years, especially during my rail commuter days (Victor Hugo’s The  Hunchback of Notre Dame brought tears as did Hardy’s Jude The Obscure) and now I always have a reading book on the go (currently Tom West’s The Titanic Enigma, recommended by our daughter as I was struggling to get into Alan Spence).
With our dear children, I’ve encouraged them to read, and to keep reading, having no television helps. Our dear eldest daughter is the resident book worm so I’ve tried to keep up with the young adult/ older teen fiction that currently often enters the house.  It is reassuring that they strive to follow the gospel standards and guidance from the Holy Spirit for their reading choices.  We’ve even managed to apply stories into more spiritual settings, such as Pittacus Lore’s series with legacies and inheritances being like our own talents and blessings to help us through our life tasks but sometimes lie undiscovered until needed or developed. 
Keep reading – there is so much good reading to be done – and don’t be discouraged if it takes a little effort because it will be worth it! 🙂

PS – I’m writing about reading because we’re going to spend a few days at the LDS temple and I hope to get some reading of books and scripture done in a wonderful, peaceful, uplifting, environment.

intolerant love

Dear friends, it’s Valentine’s Day and there’s much red, pink, hearts, chocolate, flowers etc. in the air. Love goes beyond the romantic (Eros) love to embrace all types of love, which is great because love is very important. So, today our family decided to do something different and it was unanimous, lunch and a browse through our local IKEA. We don’t really eat out so this was a treat for the children and me – my dear husband always preferring to eat homemade food, but today he treated us. 🙂
Main meal, drinks and dessert – I love cream. The latter was my downfall 😦  The chocolate truffle slice with a little container, almost thimble size, of whipped cream. And I thought, ooh, that is such a small amount of cream, I’ll be safe… I even finished my husband’s Swedish apple cake.  That was probably my mistake – the cake (which looked like a pie) most likely was made with butter.  By the time we headed out the store my stomach was cramping, bloating, toilets, arriving home feeling very drained – it’s hard to explain.  I’ve struggled trying to work out this intolerance.  It is clearly dairy related but I can’t quite work it out.
As a child I loathed milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter (I did like cream, but I suspect it was more the pie it was with that I enjoyed!).  At school I watched my friends play outside as I was made to drink ALL of my small bottle of milk that all first school children were given; my friends downed it in seconds; me, I sucked it through that straw as slowly as possible, hoping my teacher would eventually give up and let me go – that rarely happened!!  My milk intake was through breakfast cereals.  And that’s the way it continued until my student days when I developed a taste for melted cheese – cheese on toast, macaroni cheese, pizza (what student doesn’t!?) – but I still only liked mild cheese and never drank milk, except with cereals.  When I returned from serving a full time mission (mid 20s) and began working I noticed the stomach cramps and visited the doctor who suggested it was diet related – by trial and error I narrowed it down to the cheese sandwiches I made for lunch.  Since that time, maybe 20 years ago, I’ve noticed the affects getting worse, especially the last 2/3 years, and it’s getting harder to work out the precise cause.  I’ve read that cheese is made differently now compared to decades ago so most cheese doesn’t affect me. A friend has suggested the fat content of butter & cream may be the issue.  Any thoughts?  I can tolerate Greek yoghurt (which I’ve been substituting for cream the past few months) but a pro biotic one left me exhausted!  (I’ve only tried it once!) And cream, I still love but some months ago I realised it was an offender when we went through a phase of apple strudel (yum!) but today’s reaction leaves me thinking I’m going to have to give up my love!  😦 
I really must take care of my body – we only get one! – clearly mine is not going to tolerate cream abuse for any longer.  (Sigh) I suppose I’ll have to wait for the resurrection and a restored body to really enjoy Swedish apple cake and cream!!

a brief encounter

Dear friends, I confess, I’m probably becoming a grumpy older woman,  especially exasperated (though I’m not rude) by middle aged white men who have little in common with me, except that we work for the same company.  This week I found myself in the elevator with such a one and the brief conversation went something like this (I’ll call him Bob): Me: (hurrying in as elevator doors are about to close and pulling off woolly bobble hat) Oh, hi Bob, you alright? Bob: (looking in elevator mirror, turning as I enter, holding Costa Coffee drink) Oh Hi! I must say I do like your dreadlocks. Me: They’re braids!  Thanks though. Bob: Of course, not dreadlocks, but didn’t you get it done over Christmas? Me: Yes, before New Year. Bob: That first Monday back in the office,  I saw this person and thought who’s that? And then realised… Me: (interrupting before Bob breaks the third commandment) Yep! It’s me, afro gone!! Elevator reaches our floor and we exit, heading for separate doors into the same office… Me: Well, have a good day! Bob: (with back to me, catching the door from someone heading out) Yes, and you! So, my thoughts?  It’s been several weeks now since the braids replaced my afro, my twa! So, please,  get over it, while it’s lovely to receive compliments,  you see me everyday; you may not talk to me everyday but I very much doubt that if I were white we would be discussing my 6 week old hairstyle,  would we? Someone, help me understand!  And then, I think any intelligent person knows the difference between dreadlocks and braids; and if you don’t,  don’t use the word!  Simply say, ‘hair’ – it’s obvious I will know what you are talking about. This is a bit of a rant, I know, but I think we can all do with a bit less ignorance and more genuineness and respect all round. 

change

Dear friends,

change is necessary for progress

that’s my motto. I tell myself this when things are going well and when things are going not so well.  I also remind our children of this as they face new schools or classes – do you really think you’d want to be thirteen and still in primary?
Not sure why I thought of that this morning but hope it encourages you to face what you have to! 🙂

older…

Dear friends, the Sabbath day started regular enough – though one of our dear children is on a school residential trip in France so things are fairly irregular for a few more days – but took on an unusual turn when my dear mother passed a note down the row at church after the sacrament was passed, during the first speaker, stating – my side is hurting badly, I’m going to drop-in centre. I wrote back, I’ll take you to A&E. So, the first speaker finished and I left with Mum, explaining there was no point going to the centre on a Sunday as they couldn’t do scans or x-rays.
Some hours later, Mum is discharged, nothing more than ‘wear ‘n’ tear’ of the bones.  And a couple hours later I’m explaining the event to my younger brother who is greatly reassured by my laid back manner since by then we can laugh about me driving “rather quickly” as Mum recalls to the hospital. I didn’t tell anyone about the teary eyes I had as I brought the car round, or my prayers while waiting, or my immense relief to hear the blood tests were clear and the x-ray showed wear only. At 80 years, that’s allowed! 🙂

prayers heard

Dear friends, I haven’t felt too queenly or regal at times these past couple of days!! But the great thing about writing to you is that I can express myself and be more positive 🙂  I mentioned about prayers always being heard and answered in my last post
(come soon!), so I have decided to share with you my earliest, and one of the most profound, times of prayer being answered in my own life.  I hope you take time to read on.
I was about 10 years old. My mother had taught us to pray and this was reinforced through school and Sunday school teachers. I must have been very diligent as a child because by this age I routinely knelt down by the bed at night to offer prayer.  I would repeat all the ones I learnt at school but rarely added my own words. I routinely fell asleep at the bottom of the bed too!! 
This particular evening, things were in a bad state for our family – we had no money. Nothing at all. So little that I didn’t know how I would get to school (no bus fare) or what we would eat the next day.  I imagine we ate mum’s ‘pancakes’ for dinner (a simple mix of flour, sugar and water fried in lard, with jam if we were lucky!). I asked Mum what we were going to do. Mummy said, “we can pray.”  I knew exactly what I was going to pray for. My Dad. My parents were not married but my Dad would visit usually each week and give Mum some money. But, it was late. Later than he usually came and us children, including my older teenage sister, were going to bed. So, that night, I knelt and with all my heart I asked God to send Daddy. I fell asleep, on my knees.
I awoke to the sound of keys at the door and the voice of my father. As I realised what was happening, my mind was filled with thanks to God but also the thought – is that really Daddy, at this time of night, or did God send an angel to look like my Dad? Either way, God sent help and we were rescued 🙂 I climbed into bed knowing all was OK.
Since that time I have come to trust God more, but that was the simple start. I know God lives and that we are His children – He hears us when we speak and He wants to bless us with what is right for us.  It is for us to trust Him and to listen.  I love this quote from the Bible Dictionary (King James Version, LDS edition, 2008) – the whole section (too much to repeat here) is inspiring:

As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matthew 7 verses 7-11)

come soon!

Dear friends, I was truly saddened to hear of the recent killings, particularly sickened by the killing of Jordan’s pilot, but any murder is horrible.  It left me feeling rather low yesterday evening as the news reports on the radio continued to discuss the incident, the video, the reactions.  And despite newspaper headlines such as “Their brutality succeeds in spreading fear” (The i newspaper, 4 Feb 2015, Alistair Dawber article), I do have hope.

I have hope because all this reminds me that these are the latter days, and sadly there will be no true, lasting peace until our Saviour returns to Earth, this time for all mankind to know.  There are some good signs leading up to His return, like the gospel of Jesus Christ being preached across the world and the ‘stick of Ephraim’ (Book of Mormon) being with the ‘stick of Judah’ (the Bible).  There are also those signs which show a world in turmoil. So I often pray for the return of our Saviour so there will be an end to all these horrible deeds.  I know all our prayers are heard and will be answered, one day. 🙂

snow day 2

Dear friends, snow day was a little anticlimactic (well, that doesn’t sound like a real word!). In fact it was quite sunny after the grey skies of the morning and the seagulls were in town scavenging for worms in the grass so it must’ve been bad out at sea.
Back in the office I had forgotten we had a full day of Autodesk Revit training lined up.  Put simply, this is a 3D software tool that the business has adopted to deliver drawings for future projects.  It’s a bit like training draughtsman to put down the pencil and pick up a mouse.  The whole construction industry is changing so it’s an exciting time – but during the training it’s so intense one can almost feel synapses forming in my brain! 
And back at home, all was well and I was sufficiently recovered to be allowed in the kitchen to cook dinner 🙂  My recovery could be attributed to vitamins, menthol crystals, avoiding air conditioning (one of my colleagues was sent home yesterday!), chicken soup or any combination.  Whatever reason, I feel there’s nothing more humbling than hearing your children pray for you and I thank my Heavenly Father for that 🙂

snow day!!

Dear friends, “it’s a Snow Day,” as our dear eldest daughter gleefully stated this morning before they headed for seminary.  Looking out, and listening to the local radio, it’s all a bit random and nobody was really expecting it. We have about 10mm (half an inch) and it seems to be heavier in town than some of the rural areas (we’re on the edge of town).  But it’s all along the coast, very unusual (read my ‘frosty day’ post – we have mini micro climates in our part of Europe).
Of course, none of the roads were gritted in advance, but no significant problems (it’s only 7h!).  And I know our youngest child will be delighted! I might be able to get him into his winter coat, rather than gilet! And our eldest son actually wore his hat to seminary, so there’s hope!!
So this is a quick blog; I’m going to venture into the office (we’ll see how long I survive the air conditioning with my blocked nose). Have a great day whatever you are doing.

Let the day begin!