Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Friday, April 23, 2010

Choosing Attitudes

Someone sent me this in an e-mail (one of those "forward this one on" kind of e-mails), and I like it so much I wanted to share it here:
"John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, 'If I were any better, I would be twins!'
"He was a natural motivator.
"If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.
"Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, 'I don't get it!'
" 'You can't be a positive person all of the time.
"How do you do it?'
"He replied, 'Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood.'
"Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it.
"Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or...I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.
" 'Yeah, right, it's not that easy,' I protested.
" 'Yes, it is,' he said. 'Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood.
"You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life.'
"I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.
"Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some 60 feet from a communications tower.
"After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.
"I saw him about six months after the accident.
"When I asked him how he was, he replied, 'If I were any better, I'd be twins...Wanna see my scars?'
"I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.
" 'The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,' he replied. 'Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live.'
" 'Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?' I asked.
"He continued, '...the paramedics were great.
"They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action.'
" 'What did you do?' I asked.
" 'Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,' said John. 'She asked if I was allergic to anything 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Gravity''
"Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'
"He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude....I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully.
"Attitude, after all, is everything. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.' Matthew 6:34.
"After all today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."

The first time I heard this theory I was in college. I tried putting it to the test one cold winter day when a young man I was dating was late picking me up. He was delightful, but habitually late, and I was really cold and really irritated, when I remembered hearing this lesson one day in a class. I tried putting myself in my friend's place, and realized he was undoubtedly frustrated and would come get me as soon as possible. (This was before cell phones.) It worked! I wasn't mad when he finally arrived, and he appreciated the fact that I didn't yell at him about something that wasn't his fault.

And that same attitude is something I admire about David. Even when he's having one of his bad days, he refuses to succumb to it. He might sit and mope for a day or two, but then he gets up and keeps going, even when it is so hard for him to do. He's been a little down the last few days because of stress relating to taking care of my old car, but I don't doubt he'll pull it together to carry on.
Family update: Our Katie had her baby on Monday night! (Another stressful, but happy event.) Little Sierra Rose weighed in at 6 lbs. 15 oz. and looks a lot like her mama. It's an awe-inspiring sight to see a brand-new baby arrive in the world. And watching my baby suddenly become a mother was amazing. She and her husband Kevin will be great parents, and I'm sure Sierra will be well-dressed and cared for!
I am also pleased to say that I planted some peony and dahlia bulbs last weekend, and the weather cooperated by watering them this week. I'm hoping to get some annuals planted as well as a small vegetable garden when we get back from our trip next week to Seattle.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kindness and Communication

This year I am enjoying a daily calender filled with kindness stories and quotes. Sometimes it features sweet stories of random acts of kindness that bring back memories of kindnesses shown to me.

One of those experiences happened when I was a young mother with 3 children in diapers. We were living in a married student apartment on an almost non-existent budget, and I spent a good portion of my time washing and hanging out and folding cloth diapers. At the time, disposable diapers were new and expensive, so a box of disposable diapers was a treasured luxury. One Mother's Day I opened up my door to find a box of diapers on my doorstep along with a sweet note from a friend who understood my feelings on the subject. A small thing, maybe, but it was one of the best gifts I have ever received. I still feel that way 30 years later.

On other days there are quotes that give me food for thought. I enjoyed this quote of the day a few months ago:

Kindness is love with hands and hearts and minds.It is both whimsical—causing our faces to crack into a smile—and deeply touching—causing our eyes to shimmer with tears.
Daphne Rose Kingma

Sometimes I surf the Internet for ideas on how to better help David, and come across a gem that makes a difference. I came across Support, Empathy, Truth (SET) at, and have been working on using it. The basic idea is to offer support and reassurance, validate feelings with empathy, and then give a realistic statement about a problem that needs solving. Simple, no? But it is effective, and don't we all wish to be treated with empathy and understanding?

On the family front: David's moods are continuing to be stable most of the time. He's working on his hot rod and starting to do yard work again. As you can see, yard work is something that we desperately need to do! My goal for the spring and summer is to paint some rooms in the house and start a container garden.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Looking at the Past and Going Forward

I finished up my assignment of producing clean copy for the Ensign's general conference edition of the magazine this week. It is an exciting, time-consuming, occasionally overwhelming project that has dominated my life for the last 28 Aprils and Octobers. But it has also been an incredible blessing and an important part of my life as well. The sermons have enriched my life, and this time was no exception. I especially liked this thought:
"As we pass through the trials of life, let us keep an eternal perspective, let us not complain, let us become even more prayerful, let us serve others, and let us forgive one another. As we do this, “all things [will] work together for good to [us] that love God.”10 I bear a solemn and certain witness that our Father loves us and He sent His Son to show and pave the way for us." (James Martino)
When I first started working for the magazine in 1982, technology was still primitive; I worked on a stand-alone word processor that was just one step up from a typewriter. In order to meet the press deadline for the magazine, we worked long hours, including a 10-hour day on the Saturday during conference. My personal life also seemed to intensify during that time period too: I left my 1st husband, the divorce became final, my romance with David blossomed, we moved into our house, I was barely back from maternity leave (2 times), etc.
Making sure my older children, who were very young at the time, were taken care of during those weeks always added extra anxiety to my life. Then, in October 1986, David saw my stress level rise and took charge. We were dating fairly seriously at the time, and he announced on the Thursday before conference, "I'm taking the kids for you after school on Friday and you won't see us again until Sunday afternoon!" That sealed the deal; we married one month later.
Since then, the marvels of technology has made the job increasingly easier, and because of my change in assignments a few years ago, I have been slowly turning over more and more of my responsibilities for conference to the very capable hands of the Ensign secretary.

The weather has been getting slowly warmer, and even with a few down days thrown in for good measure, David's mood is stabilizing. We've even been discussing vacation plans for the summer months. We're thinking another trip to southern Utah will be in order, as well as some fishing trips, and a visit to my dad in Idaho. (That's Goblin Valley on the left, near where we want to go.)

Baby Eric and Big Sister Libby
I also have a big surprise for David: I just bought tickets to go to Seattle the first weekend of May so that we can see Soldier Brian and his family! I'm giddy with excitement over this trip. I decided not to tell him about it until the week before we go because if I do, he will a) stress himself sick over it, or b) refuse to go. This way (and we've joked about my having to do this for trips) I will have everything already done, and after he gets over being (undoubtedly) upset, he won't have to worry about anything but getting on the airplane. I'm taking extra zyprexa, just in case. Wish us luck! But look at those sweet faces; how can I resist a chance to go see them? I'm also excited to see my aunt and uncle who live in the area. I simply can't wait to go! The challenge is keeping it a secret!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Thoughts

I love the verses in Isaiah that describe Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us:
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
"But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4–5, KJV)
And the joyous words of the angel to Mary Magdalene: "Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him." (Mark 16:6, KJV)

It seems appropriate that Easter is celebrated in the spring: a time of renewal and new life springing forth.
A reminder of Him who gave His life so that we can live with Him again.
Of increasing faith which works together with hope to make life feel bright again after enduring days of darkness. Indeed, we find hope in Jesus Christ.
A friend of mine at the magazines wrote an essay on the subject recently, and I wanted to share this poem of his that describes hope and faith so well:

Walking with Two Sisters

By Larry Hiller
Faith walks before me,
Holding up her lamp
As I try not to stumble in the ink-dark hours before the dawn.
Her light illuminates
One step and then another.
Beside me, Hope, arm linked with mine, encourages and steadies.
Sometimes in the tedium,
Distracted by the pain,
My mind begins to wander, then my feet.
I hesitate.
Unsure, I look to Hope.
Her hand takes mine.
The touch reminds me of another hand held out to me,
One pierced and scarred
Yet oh so tender
Lifting me and blessing me when I had fallen and despaired.
Remembering, I move ahead
Buoyed up by Hope, who sees the end with perfect clarity.

Update on David: His moods are finally stabilizing! The down days are not as extreme; most days he is in happy spirits. We are grateful!