26 July 2016

No Looking Back

A little over nine years ago, my oldest son and I exchanged good-bye waves and smiled at each other as he backed out of our driveway for the last time. My husband and I had sold our house, and were moving out of state to live nearer our grandchildren.

As he drove off, my son’s head was held high, and he didn’t look back.

He had recently been laid off from his job; but he was now excited about beginning a new career as a writer. Despite the known difficulties of breaking into the ranks of literary professionals, his success in getting several stories published during the last few years spurred him to consider the loss of his increasingly joyless job as an opportunity to jump wholeheartedly into that other field. With concerted effort, determination and a bit of luck, he was hopeful that he would soon be able to make his living doing what he truly loved to do.

As I watched his car disappear around a bend, the tears began to flow, and my mind went back to another farewell experience that had occurred when he was nineteen:

22 July 2016

Building Bridges rather than Walls

About ten years ago, I received very positive audience response to a talk I gave in church, probably because it dealt with situations most people could identify with. I recently ran across a Word document that contains the post I subsequently wrote for this blog containing the substance of that talk.  For some unknown reason, the original post seems to have disappeared. So here it is again:

What are some of the things that prevent us from achieving more harmony in our adult family relationships? Selfishness and pride are often the culprits. But many times, I think it is misunderstandings that promote strife, hurt feelings and alienation. We all have different personalities, and we see things from different perspectives. We can't always find the right words to express our feelings; and sometimes we let the emotion of the moment lead us to say things we don't really mean, and immediately regret. If left unresolved, misunderstandings in the family can foster mounting stress, anger, and resentment, and may prevent us from enjoying the trust and confidence of those we love most.

I’ve heard it said that when faced with difficulties in a relationship, we can choose to build either walls, or bridges. A few years ago I had an experience with one of our adult children which taught me how useful bridge-building can be in uncovering and resolving misunderstandings.

07 September 2015

Maintaining Trust When God’s Ways Seem Inscrutable, Part 2: Reflection vs. Reality

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12 

In the verse above, from a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the relatively new church members in Corinth, he used an analogy that was particularly meaningful to them when he described how we  understand God and his ways. That analogy becomes clearer for 21st century English speakers if we know that the words translated into English as “glass” and “darkly” have slightly different meanings in the original Greek. “Glass” meant a looking-glass, or mirror, many of which were manufactured in Corinth out of polished brass. Those mirrors often revealed a distorted or discolored image of the thing being reflected. The Greek words translated as “darkly” meant “in a riddle or puzzle, by an enigma.”[1]  Paul’s analogy helped the Corinthians resolve questions that were creating disunity in their congregation. I believe it can help us, in our day, to deal with questions about spiritual matters that some find puzzling, or even disquieting.

06 September 2015

Maintaining Trust When God’s Ways Seem Inscrutable, Part 1: Understanding the Meaning of Revelations

While a student at Brigham Young University, my husband had a very intriguing personal experience with President Hugh B. Brown (an apostle and a counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS church at the time), his wife, and one of their granddaughters who was a good friend of David’s. The four of them had lunch together in a restaurant in Salt Lake City sometime in 1963 or 1964.

Considering himself a lowly university student, David remembered feeling very much in awe of President Brown. One part of the conversation in particular stuck in his mind, and he told me about it after we were married in 1966, because it raised such interesting questions and possibilities regarding the policy of Priesthood ordination not being available to men of black African ancestry at the time.

02 June 2015

Being of Good Cheer

Inspired by a post I originally published on “A Prayer of Faith” in 2006.

Nine years ago this month, my father passed away peacefully just eighteen days short of his hundredth birthday. Even as his physical capacities gradually diminished during the last few years, he continued to live by himself, fixing his own meals, and using his own recipe to bake his super-nutritious bread. Both he and my mother, who had died seven years previously, impressed all who knew them with their positive, cheerful outlook on life, even in the midst of their challenges.

I have sometimes wondered if my own basically cheerful nature was inherited, or more a result of seeing and following my parents’ example. Both genetics and observation no doubt come into play, but shortly after my father’s passing I found evidence that they were actively trying to teach me the value of being cheerful when I was very young.

29 April 2015

Oh Say, Where Is Truth? Part 3: Facts or Feelings?

This final post in a trilogy on discerning truth recounts a poignant example of memory distortion that has bittersweet connotations for our family now that my husband has passed on.

Genuine tragedies have occurred when false memories have resulted in false accusations. Fortunately, most false memories are relatively harmless, and easily corrected when brought to light. Our family has a “false memory” story, which we laughingly bring up whenever we doubt one another’s recollection of an event.

During a time before everyone had cell phones, when we were living in a suburb of Baltimore, our seventeen year-old daughter J called from a friend’s house to ask for an extension of her curfew. My late husband, David, was in Europe on business, and as I listened to J’s request, I prayed I would make a decision that he would agree with.

28 April 2015

Oh Say, Where Is Truth? Part 2: Do We “Remember It Well?”

Part 1 of this trilogy of posts about truth posited that fiction could sometimes be more “truthful” than non-fiction. This follow-up post deals with the challenge of finding truth in memories.

When faced with conflicting memories of our past, my husband and I often smiled as we quoted the opening lines from a duet “I Remember it Well.” They epitomize the tendency to we have to believe that we personally remember things correctly, even when faced with evidence that others remember the same events quite differently.

               We met at nine.
                        We met at eight.
 I was on time.
                        No, you were late.
Ah yes! I remember it well[1]

We all tend to believe that we remember things correctly, and often misunderstandings arise when people disagree about what “really” happened. But psychologists have discovered that our minds definitely can be fooled.