Posts Tagged With: service

A Little More

The hostess slipped two menus off the desk. “Right this way, please.” I smiled to myself as we passed by the high chairs. That’s right, two. No high chairs for us. No crayons, no kiddie menus no over-priced macaroni, no bibs. Just a table for two. I could count on one hand the times in the last three years my husband and I had been out on a true, blue, honest-to-goodness date. You know, not the ones that involve doing dishes together after the kids are asleep then watching the much-anticipated episode of Downton Abbey. An actual date!

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That day I had spent crunching numbers. My husband had spent the day attempting to do his work while making dozens of phone calls to the county. Our septic system has been on the fritz since we moved in, and that week’s batch of laundry seemed to have done it in. Like all unexpected expenses, I can’t say we were any too thrilled about this rather large project, nor the amount it would cost. Financially we would be just fine, but it certainly wouldn’t be convenient. I could think of dozens of ways I’d prefer to spend our savings, but so goes life.

We dropped the boys off at our friends’ house for a fun pizza and movie night and continued our conversation of worries in the car. Spending money on dinner seemed a little silly considering our newest rather large expense looming in the near future, but we had planned it all week, and this was an outing that we rarely had a chance to take.

We settled in the booth and vowed to not talk any more about that blasted septic system and just enjoy our night away. Instead, our conversation turned to our kids (what else?) and then to the kindness people have shown us and how we want to be more like them. From our friends offering to watch our kids for the night, to grandparents and aunts and uncles who do so much, to the small acts of service we’ve witnessed over the years. As we were getting ready to leave, the waitress came to our table. “Would you like any dessert?” We shook our heads and thanked her. “Well, you are all set to go. That couple over there paid for your tab. Yes, all of it. You can just go when you are ready.” I turned away hoping the waitress didn’t see the tears welling up in my eyes. The two generous people were slipping their jackets on and briskly walking to the door before we could catch them. I had read about things like that in the paper, but to actually be the recipient touched me to the core.

Out of all the couples sitting in that restaurant, why had they chosen us? They didn’t know about our unexpected septic system expense or that we rarely got a chance to go out as a couple. They didn’t hear our conversation about selfless kindness, but they gave us yet another example of goodness to add to our list.

A little more. It’s amazing what a difference a small act of kindness can make. It doesn’t have to be money. Share a little more smiles, be a little more patient, say a little more kind words, listen a little more closely. Give a little more love, offer a little more help, be a little more conscientious. A little more. That’s all it would take, just a little more every day. We have no idea what story is hidden in each person. We don’t know what they are experiencing. Why not show them, give them, just a little more? I’m grateful for wonderful examples of kindness I have so often witnessed. To that kind couple who slipped away at the restaurant on Friday night before we could offer our thanks, your kindness warmed my heart.

This is one of my favorite little clips on kindness. I hope you can take a second and watch it!

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Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

You can Create

“I wanna be a Brontosaurus!” “Mom, can I be a train conductor?” Thank goodness for pinterest, I thought to myself. A vague memory from the year before of me venting to my husband after all the Halloween festivities were over, “Next year we BUY the costumes!” floated back to my mind. I brushed it off, like I do every year. Eh, last year was different, and it really wasn’t THAT bad, was it? M, dressed up as the “Red Barron” even won the costume contest. That had to have been worth something. The hours and hours of work to create a plane out of cardboard boxes and duct tape resulted in one exhausted mom, three tuckered out kids, and a $5 coupon to the ice cream shop for winning grand prize. Totally worth it.

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We scoured pinterest for a couple minutes, and soon they’d decided on pirates. No, lions. Firefighters? Cowboys!! Cowboys. It was settled. R and N would be cowboys, M would be the horse, Dad would be the bad guy, and mom would be the “Damsel in distress?” I offered. “No, Mom. You can be the cactus.” Ok, the cactus. The cowboys we found in our closets, and the horse head we paper mached half of a milk jug and painted brown with a mess of yarn hot glued to the top.

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I threw myself on our couch and sat back to admire our work. Then, like every year, the thought came back. “Why do I go through this every single October? It would be easier, cheaper, and loads faster to just go buy them.” And then words from one of my favorite talks came to my mind.

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.

Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty…”

It seemed silly, really. I’m just creating Halloween costumes, I’m not generating amazing pieces of art for the world to enjoy. I’m not serenading visitors with beautiful melodies flowing from my fingers or my voice.

You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.

What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. So what if the eggs are greasy or the toast is burned? Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside.”

Creating is an inherent trait we received from the greatest Creator of all. Whether it is Halloween costumes, happy homes, loving children, meals for our family, or lovely paint strokes on a canvas. We often get down on ourselves and feel like we don’t measure up. But even when our contributions seem small, when our works fall short of a masterpiece, they still make a difference. And we must keep trying.

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Peggy is older and lives in a small house all on her own. Chances are you have never heard of her. I only met her a handful of times, but her story of creation will forever be with me. Gram would visit her often, helping with grocery shopping, housework, and whatever else she needed. That’s how her story became a part of my life. You see, she is completely blind. She was diagnosed with MS and has suffered for years from the effects, but that never slows her down. Even with her loss of eyesight, she continues to bake bread for those in her small town. Gram would often get phone calls from Peggy asking her to deliver a loaf of bread to this family or that, one having just returned from the hospital with a new baby, another simply needing a friendly gesture. Her bread doesn’t always look perfect, but her creations bless the lives of all who receive it. It’s a simple act of love that she shares with others. A few weeks after Gram passed away, we received a note in the mail. It was from Peggy, someone we vaguely knew. The writing was slanted and some words went over the others. She so kindly sent her sympathy and expressed her love for the amazing woman we all would so dearly miss. That simple note was not written with beautiful penmanship. It was difficult to make out the words as they jumbled together. But that card touched us so deeply.

If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify a space and beautify it…”

In the end, the number of prayers we say may contribute to our happiness, but the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance. Let us open our eyes and see the heavy hearts, notice the loneliness and despair; let us feel the silent prayers of others around us, and let us be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to answer those prayers.”

YOU are an artist. You can create masterpieces, you can touch lives. Maybe you don’t feel like your medium is a paintbrush, a hammer, a keyboard, a cooking spoon, or the ivory keys of a piano. Start with a smile, and go from there. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect, if it doesn’t measure up to that of others. Even if our Red Barron hadn’t won the costume contest last year, it would have still been worth the time we spent together duct taping, cutting, and painting, laughing, working, and talking. Don’t allow yourself to feel like your contributions are small. Even if your efforts only touch one, that one is worth it. Even if that one is simply you.

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All quotes taken from a talk given by Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Happiness, Your Heritage October 2008)

A really great 2 minute video!! Please watch: Create

 

Categories: Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Parents are Moving to Malaysia for 18 Months, and Why I’m OK With It

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From Soccer games to cross country meets, late night papers to guitar lessons, my parents have always been my biggest fans. I could see them in the stands cheering, they were at my side when I needed someone to edit my papers. They were a phone call away when I was in a different state attending college and needed to hear a friendly voice. They were there to hold my boys when each came into the world.

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So when they told us of their decision to put their life on hold and serve a mission for our church, I knew loving and supporting them in their endeavours was the least I could do.

Early in July our entire family sat around a picnic table. Our annual camping trip is something we look forward to every year, but this time the air was thick with excitement and curiosity. For years my parents had planned, prepared, wondered about, and sacrificed for that moment, and here it was. The next two years of their lives waiting inside a large, white envelope. My parents opened the seal carefully and pulled out a thick packet. With a deep breath, my dad read.

You are hearby called to serve as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Singapore Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months…”

(Choosing to serve a mission for our church typically means that you could serve anywhere in the world, and you don’t know beforehand where that may be.)

Singapore? My guess had been Arizona. Maybe Virginia. Canada was my wild guess, you know, something really out there. But Singapore? We were all shocked. Dad was holding the paper, and I could see his hand shaking. They might as well have been asked to fly to Mars. For 18 months they would live a 24 hour flight away, in an entirely different place than they had ever experienced. I call my mom frequently for questions about laundry and recipes, advice, and emotional support. Not only would they be gone for the next 18 months of their lives, but mine and my children’s –their grandchildren that they adore– as well. I immediately felt the pain I knew would come. I knew then more than ever I would miss them more than words.

But I felt peace.

In that moment I knew that this was right. They would be OK. I would be OK!

It has been a lifetime in the making. My parents are some of the purest examples of service I have ever seen. At the age of four I can vividly remember going to the nursing home up the road. I think her name was Mrs. Brooks, and her room smelled like old perfume and cats. She was wrinkly and sat in a wheelchair, and as we walked up the hall to her door, my mom would always whisper in my ear to remember to give her a hug when we walked in. I’d sit on her lap while my parents visited. It meant the world to her, and that was enough reason for my parents to keep going back. Their service has never been limited to visiting. It often includes manual labor, financial assistance, emotional help, and meals. Just a couple weeks ago my dad and a close friend of his spent two days (or more) helping a family in need with a plumbing issue, requiring digging, walking through sewage, and intensive labor. My parents’ devotion to their neighbors and the community has never been about being noticed or recognized, their service is simply an act of love.

The Singapore Mission includes parts of Malaysia, which we recently learned is where they will be, speaking some Malay, helping where needed. I truly believe they are needed in Malaysia. That they will serve the people there with just as much love and compassion as they have those in our small town for so many years.

My children might not get to play at the park or swim at the pool with their grandparents for 18 months, but they will get to see them sacrifice for something great. They will witness the devotion and love that my parents have for their Father in Heaven not just in word, but also in deed. My parents will serve and learn and grow, and share with us their experiences. The legacy of faith will be something that we, as a family, will always cherish. They will be in our thoughts and prayers more than ever before. What they will leave behind is something more powerful than we could express in words. It might not make much sense to the casual observer, but THAT is why I feel peace.

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My parents will be boarding a plane next week, and while I will be praying for them, thinking of them, missing them, and wondering if there’s any way in the world we could fly the five of us the long 24 hours to see them, I will be thankful for their great example to my children and to myself of a lifetime of service and love.

Waiting for their Uncle to get off the plane after serving a two-year LDS mission in Mexico.

Waiting for their Uncle to get off the plane after serving a two-year LDS mission in Mexico.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)

And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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