Thursday, April 16, 2015

What "Be Prepared" Means to Me

Please note that I actually wrote this blog post yesterday (Wednesday, April 15th), but I didn't have time to publish it because I was creating my typographic designs to go with it. :)

This morning began like every other morning: wake up at 7:00; wake up my uber-tired junior-high-aged children; take my thyroid pill with a huge glass of water; change into my favorite yellow and grey comfy-cozies; make my children's gluten-free lunches; drive my beautiful daughter and handsome son to school; breathe deeply as I drive home (I strongly dislike others' lame driving skills!); wake up my youngest sleeping child and tell him the weather report—so he can choose what to wear; eat a breakfast of champions (Frosted absolute favorite!); sit by my adorable baby boy on the couch for a few minutes while he watches NetFlix; check Instagram while my darling boy brushes his teeth; tell my sweet son it's time to leave for school; ask my Gregor if he's coming with us; drive to school; drive home, go inside, wish I could go back to sleep; put in my contacts; do my oral-cleansing routine; make Greg's and my bed look puffy and peaceful; call my sweet mama and talk on the phone with while I do dishes; hang up the phone; remove the yummy clothes from the dryer (Clean laundry is one of my most favorite smells ever!); switch the wet laundry from the washer to the dryer; watch a few minutes of a fascinating "House" episode (I absolutely l.o.v.e. that show! I would be completely thrilled to meet Hugh Laurie one day. I also love the fact that Mr. Laurie is still married to his original/first/only wife—and they have three children!)...

That's when things became not like every other morning: our home phone rang.

As I walked over to answer the phone, I thought about how I was surprised the phone rang because we don't usually get many phone calls during the day, and I had already talked with my mom. It was Greg's dad calling, so I gave the phone to Greg (he worked from home today). Greg and his dad don't talk on the phone too often, but they have a great relationship so I wasn't surprised he called.

Sadly, it wasn't the kind of phone conversation anyone wants to receive. Greg's dad said his (Greg's) Aunt Carol died suddenly from a heart attack this morning around 7:00. Even as I write that, I can't believe it's really true. Aunt Carol was the baby sister of Greg's amazing mom. Both of these wonderful, sweet, kind, funny and feisty women died entirely too soon. None of our family members were ready to see them go! I wish we would have been able to keep Anne and Carol until they were in their nineties! Sadly, I don't always get what I wish...

I found it highly interesting that just last week, I had a dream about Greg's darling mom. In my dream, Greg and I walked into a room filled with his immediate and (a few) extended family members. Some of them were casually sitting on a queen-sized white bed, and some of them were standing around. Everyone was casually chatting in smallish groups, but also together as a whole group. I looked directly at Anne and very surprisingly said, "Oh my goodness, HI!!! Can everybody see you?! Or, is it just me?!"—you know, because Anne is no longer with us. Anne smiled with her familiar twinkle and cheerfully said, "Yes, they can all see me too!"

In my dream, I realized what a special treat it was for us to be able to see Anne and spend time with her again. After Anne's and my initial conversation, everybody settled in, happily talking with each other. It was so awesome to just be in Anne's presence. Her entertaining personality was—as always—larger than life! Anne was just so delightful and fun to be with. In my dream we all joyfully conversed for a long time, but then I woke up. :(

Even though I was sad I saw Anne only in a dream, I felt so peaceful and happy! I knew this wasn't an ordinary dream. I knew it was a dream of comfort not only for me, but it was also meant for Greg and his family. The only problem was, I felt a little silly sharing my dream with his entire family because I wasn't sure what they would think. So, I only shared it with Greg and his sister when she "randomly" called me last Friday to chat for a few minutes. Remember though, there are no coincidences!

So this morning as I thought back to the happy dream I had less than a week ago, I realized that my Anne dream was helping prepare me for a sad today. Even though we are heartbroken to have to say goodbye to our lovely Aunt Carol—who also happens to remind us of Greg's splendid mother, Anne, we absolutely know that both of their spirits live on!

The only two positives I can think about today's news are: 1) Aunt Carol has been reunited with her beautiful sister, whom she dearly missed; and 2) Anne and Carol are with our Heavenly Father, and our Savior, Jesus Christ—and the rest of humankind who have departed this earthly life. Here is one of my favorite scriptures that mirrors my thoughts—it gives me little tears every time I read it!
"...[T]he spirits of all men [and women], as soon as they are departed from this mortal body...whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life." – Alma 40:11

No, dear readers, my happy Anne dream was not meant just for me. It was a beautiful reminder that even though our lives are relatively short in the grand scheme of things, we are not left here all alone. Let me repeat: we are most definitely not alone in our lives! No matter our circumstances, we have sweet, heavenly angels watching over each one of us, reaching out to us when we need them!

After thinking about this morning's life-changing events, I called my mom again. We chatted for a few minutes before she needed to attend to my nephew. I hung up and had a good cry about Aunt Carol. When I finished crying, I called my dad. We had a nice conversation that went on for quite a while. I made sure both my parents know how much I love them, and how grateful I am that they are still living healthily and doing so well. Life is such a gift! :)

Throughout today I've had recurring thoughts about being prepared. I've decided to expound on what "Be Prepared" means to me.

Being prepared usually implies we should have many physical objects that will enable us to continue living in the event of an emergency or a catastrophe. We talk of food storage, water, flashlights, soap, gas, generators, 72-hour kits, bedding, first-aid kits, clothing, shoes, medication, oral care, visual aids (i.e., contacts and glasses—not technology, ha ha.), sunscreen, health/life/homeowners/renters/auto insurance, etc. If we're talking about outdoor adventures, the be prepared list grows significantly.

I fully agree it's important to work on gaining emergency supplies for the benefit of our families and friends, but I see the most vital element in being prepared in terms of relationships, for they—and our memories and knowledge—are truly the only things we take with us when we depart this earthy life.

Yes, even though we don't know when the moment will come, we must daily prepare to meet our maker. Every one of us must carefully evaluate right now to see if we are doing what it takes to have confidence when meeting God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. We'll never know exactly when we'll be chosen to go to the other side, but just like so many of our family members, friends and acquaintances have done in the past, it will happen eventually. I can think of nothing more wonderful and worrisome than meeting our Heavenly Father, and Savior, so I hope we're ready for that amazing moment!

I think one of the most important ways to be prepared is by having a clear conscience in regard to our family relationships. We must never let a day go by without saying, "I love you!" to each other. We don't need to throw out a continuous barrage of "I love you...I love you...I love you!" all day long (reminiscent of Don Lockwood fake professing his love to Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain—one of my favorite movies ever!), for that would become tedious and the recipient might doubt our sincerity! Yet it is very possible through our actions, words, and deeds, to show our dear family members every day just how much they mean to special they are to us!

Of course I understand that not every family relationship is a perfectly beautiful walk around Secret Lake, but it is possible and essential to never let our family members wonder of our love for them. :)

I loved finding these cute flowers to represent the "He/she loves me; she/he loves me not" idea. :)
Similarly, if we have family relationships that aren't so rosy, it's vital for us to find a way to put the past behind us, make amends, and move on. Forgiveness is a must in every family relationship! I know sometimes it might be hard to want to forgive our family members, yet that's when we need to pray for help—like we are going to meet our maker tomorrow. We must pray to have the desire to forgive those who have hurt us. I'm not implying we should ever allow ourselves to be put in harm's way, but I am saying we need to completely forgive, while simultaneously staying safe.

Once we have made every family relationship right, it's time to work on our other friendships or acquaintance relationships. When the time comes and we find ourselves in heaven, we should be ready to meet anyone we know—without a cloud of disappointment or regret overshadowing our reunions.

When those heavenly meet and greets come for me, I dearly want to have a crystal clear conscience. I know I won't ever be perfect here in this earth life, but I never want to bump into someone in heaven whom I haven't forgiven here on Earth. Obviously it's up to them if they choose to forgive me, but I'll at least try to ask for their forgiveness. That said, I know I have some work to might take me a while to get there, but please know that I'll be actively working on my forgiveness skillz! :)

I'm filled with gratitude in the fact that my relationships with my departed family members were in excellent standing before their dear souls were taken home to heaven. Even though I miss them terribly, I have such peace knowing we're all good!

Even though I try really hard to consciously live my life in the moment, every moment, days like today help me re-internalize just how temporary and priceless our lives are! We'll never know how much time we have to enjoy with those most important souls we adore. I hope each and every one of us makes the very best use of each invaluable moment we are given!

P.S. Off to P90X I go—it's KenpoX day! *Because of our sweet Aunt Carol's sudden tragedy, I've decided I will never, ever, stop exercising until the day I die. Of course I won't exercise completely continuously—for that would be unhealthy for me to never rest, but I will definitely exercise enough that my body remains as healthy and strong for as long as possible! P90X Foreva'! Ha ha.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hello, Your Dustiness!

One of my regular household jobs I had as a little girl was dusting. Even though I was given either a dust cloth or a feather duster to get the job done, I dreaded dusting on Saturdays. I detested both dust catchers because I found them both incredibly, well, dusty!

Even now, I can vividly remember moving all of my family's trinkets and picture frames off our many shelves, tabletops, piano lids, speakers, etc., trying my best to encapsulate the dusty dust. Yet no matter how hard I tried, there was inevitably swarming dust where I had just cleaned. To me, Saturdays were a never-ending, sneezefest! Eww, gross!!

Thus, as a happily married woman, I determined I would never use a dust-spreading feather duster or dust cloth. Instead, I used a hand-held vacuum attachment with soft bristles on the end (do you know what I mean?) to rid our residence of dust mites and skin cells. :)

My vacuum version of dusting worked very well until 2013, for that's when my handsome husband began working from home. It became apparent that I couldn't just vacuum whenever I saw or felt the need. I had to ask my eternally-on-a-conference-call husband, "Do you have a conference call starting soon, or can I vacuum?"

Greg tried his best to accommodate me, but I finally realized that my vacuuming-at-my-leisure days were toast! Thus, when I actually found a moment to vacuum during Greg's rare non-conference-call work time, I used my noisy time wisely and vacuumed our floors. The only problem was, during Greg's quiet work time, I rarely got to the dusting (vacuum style), so it was put on the back burner until I could find time to do it...which usually took months to get around to.

Yes, our house became quite the dust hatchery. I was always slightly embarrassed when people came over and saw our layer of skin cells everywhere! Eww, that sounds so disgusting! Thankfully, it wasn't all that bad if I turned off the lights! Ha ha. Who knows, maybe no one ever saw our dustiness? Oh, who am I kidding?! Of course they saw it! :)

Anyway, a few weeks ago I decided I had had it(!) with our dusty palace. I thought, "There has to be a better answer! I've got to get rid of this dust in a quieter way, but I refuse to use a dust-enhancing feather duster or dust cloth!"

I suddenly remembered when we lived in Colorado that I went through a Swiffer Hand Duster phase—their ad campaigns were pretty convincing! But I also remember feeling less-than-satisfied at their results because I couldn't apply enough pressure with their floppy duster, and the dust seemed to linger—even though there was much less dust than before. That said, I felt desperate to clean our dusty palace, so I decided to see if there were any new quiet dusters on the market.

As I walked down Walmart's cleaning aisle, I happened upon the dust-cleaning section. I read all the boxes carefully to help me choose. I suddenly realized there was a store version of disposable floor dusters that could work as hand dusters too! Yippee! Feeling optimistic, I bought a large box! *Please don't think me a fool for not discovering this dusting tip earlier, for I was perfectly happy with my vacuum-dusting! :) (And yes, I shop at Walmart because there are certain gluten-free brands only Walmart carries for the price we can afford—it's one of the four stores I frequent.)

I was a bit skeptical at first, but when I tried hand dusting the first time with the disposable floor duster cloth, I was amazed at its effectiveness! Not only did it remove the dusty-dust, it held it under lock and key! I was thrilled to internalize that the dusty memories of my youth would no longer haunt me! Yes, I would finally be free of PTDD, i.e., post traumatic dust disorder! Ha ha. I also realized I didn't need a large dust cloth for my chores, so I spent quite a bit of time cutting each cloth into fourths—which makes them last even longer! Yay for inexpensive cleaning!

Don't laugh, but I literally danced from room to room (squealing now and then), dusting every dusty item in sight! Okay, I didn't get to everything because I ran out of time, but I've been dusting regularly and quietly catching up for the months of dusting I missed out on.

It's practically nonsensical, the tremendous joy those little disposable dusters have brought me! My heart is so light knowing I can dust any old time I desire without interrupting Greg's conference calls, and the dust won't fluff all over my house! Gone are my sneezing days of yore, and the PTDD that accompanied my dust-shifting attempts! (You know, because back-in-the-day, I really only moved the dust around from one shelf to another!)

I definitely classify this happy little box under "Momsanity"! :)

So, thank you, Walmart (I can't believe I just wrote that!), for your lovely, sane-inducing disposable dry sweeping refills (I had to include the proper name)! You have cured this previously traumatized dust queen of her PTDD! I truly and highly recommend these happy cloths to anyone wishing to have a dust-free palace of their own!

P.S. I'm not being compensated in any way for my write-up of these happy little disposable dust cloths. Yes I have Google Ad Sense on my blog, but again, I've only "made" $1.54 for my blogging efforts! (It only shows up in my Ad Sense accounts—I haven't actually been paid yet.) I just had to clarify that for my own satisfaction so you wouldn't think this was some kind of advertisement. Thanks for reading! :)

P.P.S. I categorized this post under "decluttering" because these dust cloths have most definitely helped me declutter the dust in my home! :)

Friday, April 3, 2015

My Heart is With You!

Another reason I've been a little quieter here on my blog over the past few weeks is because I've been thinking, praying and grieving for some people in my life who are suffering.

Over the past several weeks, I've received news of two of my dear extended family members who are dealing with life-threatening cancers. Unfortunately, these are not simple cancers that will simply and completely disappear with the prescribed treatments. Don't get me wrong, the excellent care my extended family members are receiving will extend their lives for a time, but the cancers they are battling mightily will eventually win. Until that happens, they are dealing with the dreaded unknowns that specialists can't predict, or cure. Even though I know none of us are getting off this earth alive, this news breaks my heart to a point that I can't describe. I hate losing people I love!

I have another extended family member who is in active duty in the military. This wonderful soul is most assuredly in harms way, and I am deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. I can't fathom the worry his close family members are suppressing on a daily basis, either!

One of my good friends recently shared with the people in her life that she is suddenly dealing with a life-altering long-term illness. Tears have filled my eyes multiple times as I've read blog posts about what this chronic illness is doing to her. Unless she receives a medical miracle (And believe me, I'm praying daily and fasting {on Fast Sundays} for one!), her life is changed forever. Forever. Thankfully, she is a very strong woman. I have no doubt she will endure this trial well, but I dearly wish I could wave my magic wand and banish her suffering! :)

I can't even count the other great people I care about who've been dealing with death of loved ones, divorce, unemployment, infertility, significant financial woes, emotional instability, physical limitations, etc., for a long time. Even though the initially-mentioned bad news is in the forefront of my mind—because it's new and shocking—that doesn't diminish my thoughts and prayers for my other extended family members' and friends' previous setbacks, struggles and losses. That said, I've noticed when news of a loss isn't so fresh—and our loved ones are dealing with their new normal on a daily basis—our thoughts and actions tend to revert back to whatever our normal is because it's virtually impossible to continually live with our minds in those sorrowful moments. Nor would our loved ones want us to go to those dark places.

Yet as I think about those beloved souls, I have faith. I firmly believe they are being watched over, blessed and protected! I know their lives matter greatly to our Heavenly Father, He sends angels to look after His suffering children! I know each of them are living their lives to the best of their abilities, and our Savior's Atonement literally makes up the difference—that fact always gives me great hope.

Just last week, I was shown again that the miracle of Greg and I moving back to our beloved Utah was not small. As I've reflected over the past seven years, I have zero doubts we were meant to move from Colorado to Utah in 2008; we were meant to move from Utah to Texas in 2010; and we were absolutely supposed to move from Texas to Utah in 2013. Even though I didn't see it at the time, I now see with 20/20 vision that the Lord was always very aware of our situation—to the point that every bit of our lives mattered to Him! It still blows my mind when I really go back and think about everything that happened from 2008 to 2013, and the revelations and confirmations we've received since June, 2013. There are no coincidences in our lives! There simply aren't enough explanations or justifications to explain away Greg's and my miracles! :)

Thus, I can't reiterate enough to this crazy internet world that every day we live matters! Every choice we make is crucial to our personal development and eternal futures! We must be constantly prayerful to know what our Father in Heaven (God) wants from us, for only He knows everything about our divine potential and true greatness!

Yes, to my dear family members and friends who are suffering, my heart is with you! Even though I can't fully understand what you're enduring, my thoughts, prayers, and fasting efforts are completely directed toward you! :)

I don't know if this thought helps you at all, but if you ever find yourself in the deepest, darkest, saddest corner of your misery, please imagine me smiling at you—trying my best to relieve your suffering...and possibly annoying you in the process?! It's true, I've been known to annoy others with my extreme optimism! Ha ha.

As much as I sincerely wish I could change everything to be sunshine and hyacinths for everyone (Those lovely little flowers smell sooo heavenly!), I know from personal experience that we attain so much more from faithfully enduring our soul-wearying experiences than we ever could just by hanging out in Everything is Awesome Land!

Thus, in the meantime of waiting, wondering, praying and trying our best, I hope we'll follow the advice of this marvelous quote from March's Visiting Teaching message (from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) about patience,
"As we choose to align our will with His during our earthly life, He 'will make an instrument of [us] in [His] hands unto the salvation of many souls' (Alma 17:11)."President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Attributes of Jesus Christ: Long-Suffering and Patient," Ensign, March, 2015.
Yes, we need to keep our faith and fight the good fight! We must never give up, never surrender! :)