"Men are that they might have joy..."

Happiness comes in small moments of laughter and surprise. Joy is a destination - something that we reach after all of the lessons have been learned, and blessings counted. This is my journey to joy, one baby step at a time...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

JOURNEY TO JOY (24): Take a Break

In addition to having a bad week in general (and it's only Wednesday), I fell this morning and slammed my head into a mirror while getting ready for work.  Not a good omen by any means!

I arrived at work a bit unsteady on my feet but determined to have a better attitude than yesterday's which, well, yesterday sucked rocks.  The morning progressed along with a mirror-induced headache, and I was resigned to the fact that today was a wash, and tomorrow would be better.

My youngest son, Miles, is working in my office for a few days, and asked if I wanted to go to lunch.  He was meeting up with my oldest son, Blake, at the Portland food carts.  I have food cart phobia (germs, dirty fingers, old grease, you get the idea), but forced myself to put on my sunglasses and head outside into what may be one of the last real summer days for Oregon in 2012.

It was beautiful outside!  Walking through downtown Portland with my ex-soldier son was such a treat, and something that I didn't know if I would ever have the opportunity to experience again a year ago.  We met up with Blake, picked our poison, and sat down at a filthy picnic table to eat while cars sped by spitting out fumes and dust, and the rest of Portland strolled by to enjoy the nice weather.

We laughed, reminisced, debated the difference between fry sauce and western sauce, and coined a new term: Hot Barker.

My head still hurts, and my problems still exist, but I feel so much better!  I love those guys!

Monday, April 30, 2012

JOURNEY TO JOY (23): The Learning Curve

I've been taking some online classes recently, and while I'm enjoying myself and feeling challenged, I have to admit that my brain is a bit rusty.  In my recently completed 12 assignment term, I got a 90%-100% on all assignments except for ONE: and I couldn't seem to pass it -- even with open book assistance.  Let's admit it folks, this was my best subject during my formal education.  I redid the assignment several times, and based on the response of the 'instructor' - it got worse each time I tried to fix it.  Either the instructor was an imposter, or I'm nuts.  I passed the course with a 90%, but that one stray assignment is still frustrating me.

A few weeks ago I sat in the Marriott Center watching my middle son graduate from BYU along with 6,000 other students.  One brother and sister walked across the stage with their mother.  It was really touching.

After we got home, we were having dinner with my daughter and her family.  My grand-daughter, Amber, who is finishing up first grade, was showing me how she can multiply in her head now - that is really impressive!

All this got me to thinking about how lucky we are to live in a time where information and knowledge are so available to us!  I don't even need to go to the library to look for a book.  I can power up my e-reader and download it from my bed in the middle of the night if I want to, and I can continue my education online. 

Five-year-old Zack and I were playing Angry Birds on my tablet last night.  I was struggling, and he was trying to explain to me how to make the bombs blow up, make a red bird turn into three birds, and make the yellow bird speed up -- all in an effort to kill the pigs.  He said, "Grandma, just do it the way that I'm showing you.  You can learn how if you watch me."  Hmmm.

Who'd have thunk it?

Friday, April 13, 2012

JOURNEY TO JOY (22): The Old Folks Home

I had the pleasure of spending the night at the Old Folks Home this week.  Not that my parents live in an assisted living facility, mind you, they are firmly entrenched in the home that we spent more growing up years in than any other.  As a military brat, the Old Folks Home is filled with memories and mementos of our childhood and is important to me. 

When I walked in the door after work with my overnight bag, Dad rushed to help me in.  The table was set (what??) with 3 place settings for dinner, and Dad scurried back to the kitchen to put the finishing touches on what can only be described as a gourmet dinner.  My weeknight dinners often consist of a peanut butter sandwich or bowl of cereal, so it doesn't take much to impress me.  That being said, this really was a gourmet dinner!

I sat down at the table with Mom and Dad, and we prayed over the food.  It was delicious.  We talked about our day, complained about a few things, and laughed about a few more.

That was about all of the energy we had for the evening.  Dad went downstairs to work on a secret project of some sort, and Mom and I went upstairs and climbed into her bed to watch American Idol.  We talked about writing, and cooking, and our kids, you know.  The stuff friends talk about.

Then I started to fall asleep, so I strolled across the hall and climbed into bed surrounded by the sights, smells and sounds of the home I grew up in. 

I slept like a log. 

Morning arrived, and my creaky bones climbed out of bed to get ready to head out the door early.  Downstairs, Dad was waiting for me to fix me breakfast.  (What???)  I had a bowl of cold cereal (dinner for breakfast?), got a kiss and a hug on my way out the door, and went off to face the world, confident that there will always be a place for me in the Old Folks Home.

Monday, April 9, 2012

JOURNEY TO JOY (21): A Matter of Perspective

Saturday dawned bright, sunny, and beautiful!  It was the day before Easter, and we all climbed out of hibernation to enjoy the warm weather.

Five year old Zackary was also bitten by the Spring bug, and decided that the hanging baskets Grandpa had pulled from the garage needed flowers NOW.  Being the resourceful kid that he is, he improvised.  Using a screwdriver, he dug deep holes in the soil.  He then placed exactly four dandelions into the pots.  "I like dandelions."  "Why do you like them?" I asked.  "Well, because they're yellow."  "Yellow is a very nice color," I replied. "Some people don't like dandelions - they think they are weeds." 

"What???  But they turn into wish flowers!"

It's all a matter of perspective, isn't it?  I will try to look at my world through dandelion-colored glasses this week.  After all, we can all use a good wish flower, can't we?

Friday, April 6, 2012


I saw an article this week in Oprah Magazine about a columnist who challenged his followers to 'write your memoir of your life to date in SIX WORDS!'  He opened the posts for 2 weeks.  Five years later, he is still receiving six word memoirs.  I thought this was such a great idea.  One of my favorites was "Thin. Fat. Thin. Fat. Thin. Fat."  Another was "Recipe for failure.  Changed my ingredients." and "The good child - until I wasn't." 

Since my life is really busy right now, I have about enough time to write my memoir in six words today:

Beautiful family, warm home, warm heart.

And just in case you need a bit of laughter in your day today, here is my Easter message to all:

Sunday, April 1, 2012


I have been enjoying a quiet house this morning, listening to the messages of General Conference.  I've been a bit under the weather, so my goal this weekend was to rest up and recuperate.  This can be a difficult thing to do when the pressures of life are so powerful that I don't seem to have the ability to let the stress go and find some peace. 

I always look forward to the presentations during the intermission between the sessions.  Today, there was a story about a woman who was unable to move past the grief of losing her baby boy to illness.  Natalie knew that she had to find the strength to move on in order to be a good mother to her three little boys who still needed her, and so she went on a geneology search to see how her ancestors dealt with hardship, hoping to find some strength from their experiences.  Natalie learned that her grandmother had gone through the same heartbreak several times, and it had broken her.  She then learned of another ancestor who had also led a difficult life, but had found joy in her life despite her circumstances.  This woman's motto had been "Look at all that I have!"

This reminds me of my friend Marie, who has experienced much difficulty during her lifetime.  I would expect her to be bitter and unhappy, but she isn't!  Marie looks to the gospel to heal her soul at every turn, and is engaged in acts of service always.  She is such an inspiration to me.

I hope that I can remember to always be thankful for what I have, and not look backward toward what is lost, wishes left unfulfilled, or troubles best left alone.  Today, I feel blessed to have friends like Marie who can show me the way.

Friday, March 30, 2012


When I was younger and surrounded by all of my ducklings, their friends, cousins, and various neighborhood stragglers, I looked forward to midnight, when everyone had finally fallen asleep and the house would grow quiet.  I would occasionally sneak out onto the front porch to take full advantage of the night's peaceful solitude.  (Tyler once bought me a sign that said "Raising kids is like being pecked to death by a duck!")

Then they were all teenagers, and I would look forward to quiet - plain and simple.

Then they moved out, and the quiet was deafening.  I roamed the house looking for something to do or someone to talk to.  Yes, Mike was there, but he'd been there before, too, and being empty nesters was a completely different living experience.

The beauty of the human spirit is that we adapt, and what seems incomprehensible one day becomes ordinary the next.  My evenings and weekends are often filled with noise of the next generation of ducklings in our family, but sometimes they are silent, too.  Learning to love the silence was a growing experience, giving new meaning to "a time for every season under heaven."