Monday, January 23, 2017

Favorites

Today I am contemplating the concept of "favorite" - favorite child, favorite student, favorite person.

I am confident in saying I really don't have favorites.  I love all my children equally.  I love my students - seminary, singing, or the students in the classes I help with equally. Honestly.  I am willing to listen to, teach, care for etc. pretty much most people that I meet.

During the show I just finished I had several sleepless night worrying for kids I barely met and don't know as well as I know other kids.  My lack of a solid relationship with them did not stop me from worrying, nor waking from nightmares, nor crying myself to sleep at the heartache I see in the world around me.  The thing is, I care.  I care deeply.

As I was driving today, pondering what would make someone think I had favorites, it occurred to me that I knew this pattern.

We love him, because he loved us first.

Does God have favorites?

I would say no.  He loves all of His children equally.  He wants all of His children to grow and to learn and succeed equally.  God gives to His children all that they need equally - WHAT THEY NEED and we all don't have the same needs.  He sees the potential in each of His children.  His heart aches when His children make mistakes, or are disappointed, or feel great sorrow.  His purpose is to bring to pass the happiness and success of all His children... equally.

Sometimes, we mistakenly believe that God loves some of His children more than He loves others.  We perceive that because He deals with one child differently than an other child there is favoritism.  We are convinced that when we see the good fortunes of some of His children that there is favoritism.  We mistakenly believe that He loves some more than others because we decide life isn't fair.

I haven't always known this in my heart.  I have been jealous of the blessing I see others receive. I have wondered if He was there because He didn't give me the answer I wanted to hear.  I have wondered why I wasn't on the "favorite" list when trials and disappointments have not been removed from my path.  I have been jealous of the relationship I have seen others have with God.

Where do we get those ideas?

Then it came to me.  Those whom we believe are the favorite are those who have put the time in to KNOW God.  They have long conversations with Him.  They try the principles and truths that God teaches them and thus learn for themselves.  They get to know Him by serving God and serving His other children.

That doesn't sound like God's problem.  It's our problem.

As I softened my heart and tried hard to know Him I realized more and more just how much God loves everyone.  He blesses those who ask and those who don't, yet those who ask see His hand more often.  He blesses those who have conversations with Him and those who do not, yet those who talk with Him and read His word see His hand in their lives more frequently.  He blesses those who are obedient and those who are not, yet those who are obedient feel His love more deeply for themselves.
He blesses those who work and serve and those who wait to be waited on, yet those who serve develop a greater understanding of God's love.

God does not have favorites.

Some children feel God's love more readily because they took the time to know Him.

A parent, a teacher, a friend, a leader... at least the good ones... love people equally.  They want people to grow, learn and succeed equally.  They see potential in everyone and focus on the positive.  They listen to everyone.  Their heart aches when mistakes are made; when meanness and intolerance and anger flourish.  Their heart aches when the people near them suffer - disappointment, harshness,  and sorrow.

I am sorry that it may look like I have favorites.  I do try my best to make myself available to lift and strengthen those I come in contact with.  Some of those I love take the time to talk with me, to try the concepts and lessons I attempt to teach them, to work along side me.  I can see how they appear to be closer.

God loves equally.

As a parent... as I teacher... as a human... I try my best to love all people equally.

I am grateful for the perfect example of perfect love that I can strive to be more like loving each day.  It my goal to love as He loves everyday...

... no favorites here, accept for God.  He is my favorite.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cold Snap

We are having a cold snap in these parts.  I know we don't have the snow that my home town of Bend has, nor do we have the snow my daughter, McKay, has in Utah, but we have cold and snow.  It is rare, even unheard of, for our little part of the world.

Last night, as I hopped out of my truck and cruised, carefully, up the sidewalk to the door, I was reminded of the usual winters in Central Oregon where the biting wind nipped at your fingers making your hands a strange mixture of numb and pain.  The wind was blowing and it was a balmy 26 degrees right here in little old Monmouth, Oregon.  The wind blew through me.  The tiny icy crystal-like snowflakes stung my fingers as they hit my bare hands.

I walked into the house and was instantly grateful I didn't have to carry firewood to be in a warm house.  I was grateful I no longer have to walk in the cold to a bus stop nearly a mile away through the sage brush.  I was grateful I had a warm dinner waiting for me in the crock pot.

I also thought of all the funny things we did to warm up fingers... putting your cold hands on mom's tummy... the Naugahyde mittens I mentioned before... and socks.  Yup.  I said socks.  When you couldn't find mittens mom would pull socks out of the single sock drawer and shove them on your hands. It really worked!  Like mittens, you could ball up your hands and your fingers could work together to keep each other warm.

Losing your mittens never got you out of carrying wood.  This was a good thing, for if you didn't carry wood you would not be warm.  The only source of heat for the house was the old fashioned wood kitchen stove the gave heat to the "little house" (and mom used to to cook with as well) and what we affectionately called "central heating," a large barrel type wood stove in the middle of the "big house."

I have some great memories of cold mornings.  I remember getting up very early and starting fires so that the little kids would wake up to a warm house.  I can still start a great fire very quickly, no gasoline needed.  I loved warming myself in front of the wood stoves, baking myself on one side and turning around to bake the other side.  I burned a hole in my favorite coat doing that.

In junior high my sister and I shared a shed across the yard from the main house because 7 kids was a bit much for the small bedroom that was in "the little house."  The shed had a heater... the yard you had to run across, sometimes in your bare feet across the snow, to go to the bathroom did not.  Sometimes the pipes would freeze or the ditch that brought water to the cistern would not run water down it because of the cold so you had to shower at school.  I hated that.  Never been a fan of standing in the middle of a big open shower room butt naked with others or getting dressed in the locker room while everyone stared at you because the only undies your mom found you were "granny pants."  Talk about feeling like a loser.  So, I went most of my junior high school and early high school years not showering during the winter and only taking "spit bathes" next to the wood stove with water my mom heated up for the purpose of washing.

During my high school years the log house or "big house" was finished enough to move into.  My "bedroom" (in quotes because the walls were not finished until after my wedding years later) was on the southeast corner of the house.  The wind blew hard on that side of the house.  I remember several winter mornings waking to tiny snow drifts on the logs because the wind had blown it through the cracks before we had a chance to chink the logs.

I have this very early memory of walking down the mile long drive after dark to get things from the car with my dad.  We had to walk single file, stepping into his footsteps as we went.  I remember the world being whiter and and more peaceful than usual.  So quiet as we walked.  It was bright... nearly as bright a the day time, but it was a different kind of light.  It was a blue silver light as the full moon light up the sky and the snow reflected its light making it easy to see everything around us.  This is actually one of my favorite memories.  The picture in my mind of this memory has inspired many theatre lighting scenes for me.

I think it was the same snow storm that buried the car and my dad had to use a broom handle to find the car.  A few years later brought another large storm to the Central Oregon area.  This storm came at my birthday.  I think I was turning 7 or 8.  I was excited.  We didn't get much at birthdays and I was sure that that storm came just for my birthday.  We were snowed in and couldn't go to school.  We got to play and sit by the fire and read for days.

As I drove Lillian to school today and slide through intersections and starts I reminisced about taking my drives test during a big snow storm in Bend.  I think the DMV was over behind Payless and some grocery store, neither of which are there anymore.  The snow was a couple feet deep.  I was driving the family car.  A school bus yellow/orange 15 passenger van that my dad got from a school/government auction.  We got in the van, and the test giver ask me to go out of the parking lot.  He clung to the door handle and the dashboard.  His knuckles went white.  He asked me to drive down the street and to parallel park between two cars.  The snow was still falling.  I drove slowly down the street.  The back of the van slipped and slid along the rode.  I came along side the front car and slowly backed the car into the space, parking the van in one try.  The man told me to go back to the DMV. I was done.  My mom was shocked to see me.  It had only been 10 minutes.  She asked if I passed.  I didn't know.  I just knew he said to go back.  He called me to the counter and handed me my license.  He said anyone who could park a large van in that weather would be a good driver.  I drove us home... and drove my mom everywhere after that until I moved out of the house.

Well, these little stories have been rolling around my brain ever since we got this cold snap.  It isn't as cold as those Bend winters of my childhood, nor as cold as the Utah winters of my college years.  Still.  It's cold.  The roads are slick.  Very few people around here know what to do when it gets like this, therefore, it's rather dangerous.  Now that I am old I still enjoy a good snow day and a small cold snap.  I also enjoy a warm house and a nice cup of peppermint tea.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 wrap up


The past week has been a great one! 2016 was a great year and ended just as great!  First, we had Christmas morning.  Ray, Kimber Ben, and Freya came over before church and opened stockings and presents.  I really don't know what's wrong with me, but didn't break out the camera once.  LOL  Good thing Kimber did so I could steal a couple picture off Facebook.
John made a horse for Freya and Lillian painted it.  It turned out super cute.

Freya was trilled with the mermaid tail Kimber made her.  The rest of us didn't do to bad either.  I got a new iPad because I dropped my old one and I use it everyday all day.  John got a fitbit and has accomplished his goals 95% of the time this week.  Lillian sent me links to all the things she wanted.  I picked out things that worked with my budget and she was super happy.  Hannah was harder to shop for, but I think I did well with the shoes and skirt and the coloring book I got her.

John was in charge of the program at church because he directs the choir.  It turned out well.  My favorites were the song Hannah sang that was written by Allison Bevans and the song we sang as a family.  It was nice to actually not have to try to work at celebrating the real reason for Christmas.  With Christmas on a Sunday it was a natural fit!

After church we came home and enjoyed each other and made food... too much food.

Eventually we all got to talk to Chad.  It was fun to hear his stories.  My favorite is his giggle when he talks to Hannah.  Sure miss that kid.

Right now he is in Midland Michigan.  However, tomorrow he moves to Sault Saint Marie, Michigan near the Canadian boarder.  And he thought Midland was cold.  I looked it up and they get 150-180 inches of snow per year.

He now has less than a year left of his mission.  I think his sisters may need to make a paper chain to count down the days until he gets here. hint hint.

After Christmas  Lillian played with friends...

She got to go night skiing at HooDoo....

... and ice skating in Portland.

I am glad that she has a good friend like Brynn to hang out with.  I have to be careful.  Sometimes I say "play with" and "that's not what we do, mom."  insert roll of the eyeballs.



I, meanwhile, stayed home and made blankets for the grand-babies... and cleaned house... and watched a  few movies... slept in until 7:30 each day... wrote a few blog posts... and did our once-a-month cooking... it was a productive week.


I also went to the school and worked on the set for our next production and had a few rehearsals.  The snow days just before Christmas break bit off a huge chunk of rehearsal time.  We open in a week and half and we were just not ready.  I am glad the kids were willing to come in on the break.  


This next show is a fun show.  It speaks to so much of my daily struggles... fitting to keep the arts in school... teenage drama... the works.


These kids are super talented and I am excited to see them polish the show and get it out there.


Meanwhile, Hannah played with Dylan and worked on a couple jobs to help pay for her next semester at Willamette.  She made a cheese cake.  She made some cds. and painted a drop for a show at a charter school in Salem.  It works out nicely.


As I look back on the year I am impressed with all the things we experienced this year as a family:  John's job is doing well.  Saw a couple great shows.  Directed, created and/or performed in some great shows.  Had a Snoball Queen in the house and the winner of Mr. and Ms. Central Pageant.  Hannah was able to raise around $2200 for charity through the pageant. Danced in two recitals and sang in several concerts.  Auditioned for several colleges.  Won regionals of NATS and went all the way to Nationals, performing in Chicago.  Had a high school graduate.  Had a great year at CET.  Had a happy missionary.  Started 8th grade for the first time at a public school.  Started college at Willamette.  Had a new grand baby!  Had a great year teaching seminary.  

I'd say our greatest blessings have come because of our faith in Jesus Christ.  Without Him, we would have nothing.  We are blessed as a family because we try each day to focus more  and more on what He would have us do and as we try harder each day to be like Him.  We have blessed as we have extended understanding hearts and been blessed by His mercy.  We have been blessed as we share our faith and work at gaining more faith through study and service.  We have blessed as we center our lives around Jesus Christ.  He is the Redeemer.  Without His grace we are nothing.  It is our hope that we can all be more Christ-like and more devoted to him in the coming year.  2016 came and went. We are now embarking on the adventures that 2017 hold.