"Oh remember, remember . . . I urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God's kindness."

President Henry B. Eyring

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa Comes Early to Grandparents!

We figured Santa would be busy enough visiting our twelve wonderful grandchildren tonight, so he came to our home this evening! As I write this post on Christmas Eve at five minutes to twelve, I'm wearing my soft baby blue p.j.s my husband gave me, and I'm tickled about the gift card—I'm rich! Well, certainly rich in blessings!!!! Ron plugged in his new Norelco so he can have a good shave in the morning too! We waited to open some of our children's gifts so they can share the fun. I also took Ron to the movies this afternoon after he took me to the temple this morning! We saw “The Blindside.” I'm glad I had a pocket full of Kleenex for my cold, 'cause I cried like a baby nearly the whole movie! Everyone needs to see this movie. We definitely want to buy this one. If you've seen this movie then you might understand my sadness in my last post for people caught in poverty. REAL POVERTY—and why a toy for a tot at Christmas is a drop in the bucket of the needs of people in deep poverty. The movie is beautiful and ends on such a high! And, it's based on a very true story!

Then tonight I read a review in Meridian Magazine (I love this online magazine) about Dickens "A Christmas Carol." This amazing story opened the eyes of the people of his time to the cruelty and poverty of Dickens world, and probably gave birth to the idea of giving to the poor at Christmas time. Society has come such a long, long way in caring for the poor, but watching this movie today illustrates that there is still such a long way to go. When all the poor are cared for the way "Big Mike" was, then we will have Zion! It made me realize why I just can't participate in Sub for Santa's—the need is SO MUCH BIGGER than that, and I can't do what Sandra Bullock did for Big Mike. I feel too small for the enormity of the problem and terrified that I might do more harm than good by a pittance at Christmas time!

If that wasn't enough (I've never had such time on my hands on Christmas Eve before) tonight, I decided to read through a few old journal entries. I haven't been a great journal keeper — not a consistent one for sure — but I ran into this one from

January 26, 1998: "Well, I haven’t written in my journal for a very long time. Becky is in Florida with Kristi and Ron and I are alone. Just on an impulse I stopped by to look at an Ivory home again. It was lovely and upstairs was a magnificent master suite, with three other bedrooms. A nursery, a little boys room, and a little girls room. As I slowly passed through them I felt waves of nostalgia— I will never need a home like this again in this life. My children are nearly raised. The future stretches out before me, and the same question my children are asking becomes mine, “What shall I do when I grow up?” I may only be half-finished with my life! (Of course I could die tomorrow—one never knows.) But, if I live, forty-seven more years is a long time. Ron asked (I think almost sincerely) if we should adopt more children. But, I don’t think that is what the Lord would have me do now. I don’t think I could go through all that again. I know I have learned many, many things—but . . .I’m more inclined to think I’d better just pass them on to the good of my grandchildren! Anyway, I think I would like to write! Really write! Write such gripping and well told stories, that they hook people, and then bear a powerful witness of the Savior and His plan! Just knock the reader over! And then lift him to heaven! Make people go away from a book of mine feeling good—really, really good about life, with a resolve to live better, serve better, trust the Lord more completely, and most of all to turn to Him for their consolation! That’s what my desire is—to bring souls unto Christ!—with the power of the written word. I prayed that the Lord would give me this gift so that I might serve Him. Now I feel that I must write something everyday—practice if you will, before He would ever grant such a gift to me. So begins the day!"

Little did I know that just one year later my son would have chosen to end his life, and my heart would literally be broken in every way, and then only two months later I would have open heart surgery for a hole in my heart that had been causing mini-strokes for the last several years. It took a long, long time to heal physically, especially since I had the surgery AGAIN the next year. Compared to my grief, it was easy to heal a broken heart physically. It's been ten years! For most of them I didn't even so much as write a letter until my daughter encouraged me to start this blog. Did I really ever feel that way about writing? Such passion! Now, it really doesn't matter. I just want to do what the Lord would have me do — whatever that is — WHATEVER that is! Whatever shall I do with my life when/if I grow up? What?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Other Side of Christmas

There is another side of Christmas which is so hard for the poor, the downhearted, the discouraged and the lonely. I have to hold my childhood memories of Christmas at a far, far distance to keep them from engulfing me in the old gloom. I have to be so careful of well meaning Christmas stories. At the end of November a dear friend gave me a Christmas book entitled "Small Change." My first impression was that I should set it aside, at least for another season (other than Christmas) but my friend had given the book to me and so I read it. Oh my. I should have listened to my first impressions. So, the first part of this month started out with the painful old memories of my childhood; but slowly, the beauty of the season wrapped it's comforting arms around me as I reflected on all the things I have learned to LOVE about Christmas!

I love the music, I love the lights, I love my family gathered around. I love the gifts shared with loved ones, the cookies from neighbors, the shine in children's eyes, the Christmas program in church,and most of all the story of Jesus! I love all these things because I am on that beautiful side of Christmas now! And, this year I love the night I got to spend with my own flesh and blood sisters, with whom I was not raised, but am now just beginning to know! (And I love them!) We attended BYU's Christmas of Dance from around the world together. It was beautiful and warm and I felt loved.

I can say that I am glad that my friend shared this book with me because it has made me think again about writing "The Other Side of Christmas!" Most people will wonder what wasn't wonderful about the book "Small Change." It did have a good message, but my friend didn't have a clue that it would affect me like it did and I don't think she quite understands now. I know it hurt her very much to think she had caused me pain by giving me this gift. I should not have told her how it effected me, but I wanted her to understand. (I love my friend very much!)

Every year I've had this need to help people understand how hard it is for the poorest of the poor at this time of year especially. In my novel "Joy Outweighs The Sorrow" I coined the phrase, "the only real poverty is spiritual" and that's the worst kind of poverty to have at Christmas time. It's one of those things, that unless you've lived it, you would never understand. I have thought every Christmas that I need to write about "the other side of Christmas" to somehow help others understand, but I never do. I end up getting past that painful part of Christmas and then go on with my life.

Our neighbor and former bishop now works for the LDS Church heading the humanitarian division of the welfare program. He told us how the church has added Caring for the Poor as the fourth leg of the mission of the Church---along with, Proclaiming the Gospel, Perfecting the Saints and Redeeming the Dead. That is wonderful and exciting because it will bring us closer to Zion---closer to the time when we will have "no poor among us!" There is a way to care for the poor that lifts the "arms that hang down" but it ONLY works when done in the Lord's way!

“I would that ye should do alms unto the poor,” the Savior declared, “but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven” (3 Ne. 13:1; see also Matt. 6:1–2). I would add that unless we do alms for the poor in secret as the Savior counseled and out of the "true charity" of our hearts, or in other words with the "pure love of Christ" the adversary of us all will use the alms done to be seen of men, to do far more harm, and cause the poor to sink more deeply into despair and hopelessness!

In the book "Small Change" the author helps the protagonist find a solution to giving alms in secret, by using their church pastor dressed as Santa Claus as the vehicle. It sounds lovely, but it is wrong---so wrong. Only someone who is on "the other side of Christmas" could understand why that simply doesn't work and still hurts! That is what I wanted my friend to understand. Santa Claus is not our Savior! I testify that only Jesus of Nazareth, can save us---from sin, from sorrow, and from poverty of even the worst kind! And only Jesus Christ can teach us how to properly care for the poor as we progress toward Zion---where the pure in heart dwell, and where we will have no poor among us!