Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Wonder

I wonder
As I look out at the world so lovely from my window
How does the sun know to come up each morning?
How does the moon know to rise up above the mountain that is behind our house?
I wonder
How the seasons know to change and move?
I wonder
Why I am so blessed?
Not lucky
For the wondrous gifts in my life do NOT feel like simple random experiences
They feel like as I said before "gifts,"
I wonder
if there is a God a Creator how could he possibly care about a tiny dot in this large universe, Me
I wonder
How important are we?
That a Creator would create all this beauty for us
I wonder
That such a being would long to communicate with us through prayer
I wonder
That one minute Nyle and I were two, joined together in the love of marriage
Then the next we were three and then four
I wonder

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sexual Slavery and Human Trafficking

As I wrote my novel "Celeste, Women of the Drifting Anchor Ranch," I broke the first rule of writing.

#1.  Write what you know.  I knew very little about sexual slavery in the 19th century OR the 21st century.

#2.  Write what you know.  Again the same rule but broken in two different ways, I have never been to France, I have never emmigrated to another country, and I have never tasted wine. 

As I wrote Celeste imagine my surprise to discover she was a French girl, child of a vintner, and emmigrated to America, only to be trapped in sexual slavery.

I have probably told this story many times but now I will add the newest piece.  Yesterday I spent about two hours doing research on sexual slavery.  What frightening, dark, evil things I learned.  I feel impelled to shine the light on this practice.  As we all know darkness can NOT remain when a bright enough light fills its space.

So, hopefully, my little novel will help to make others wish to make a difference.  If just one soul was saved from this pernicious practice what a gift this would be to our world.  One of my friends said, "I have no power.  What difference can I make?" 

One person can make a HUGE difference.  For example my ONE Mama.  She gave birth to four children.  One died.  Then she proceeded to officially foster 7 children, and unofficially another 8 or so.  Now all of those children are grown and have children, and they will have children, and can you imagine the difference her love has made in this world?

Just in her own family she had 18 grandchildren, and now has over 40 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.  She did not become a famous anything.  The world will never see her as a person of power or acclaim.  Yet is she and did she make the world a better place just by being here?  I don't think anyone would argue with me if I said a firm and resounding YES!

So what difference can you and I make in the heinous practice of sexual slavery?  We can teach our children and grand-children how to protect themselves.  We can empower our children to make wise choices and help their friends to do likewise.

We can volunteer to assist with organizations that provide helplines and different methods to reach out to the disenfranchised that need our help.

The way that I am currently helping is by being a voice (I have a good LOUD voice) for education, and self-empowerment.  I will continue to shine the brightest of lights that I can find on sexual slavery and human trafficking.  Again as I said at the beginning darkness is dispelled by bright lights.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


We were on a date.  I didn't know Nyle very well.  It was one of our first dates.  A couple walked by and said "Hello" in unison.  Their voices were friendly.  I returned the salutation with a "Hello," of my own.  Imagine my surprise when my husband who spoke with the accents of a man that grew up in the Western United States said, "Howdy." 

After the couple had walked away I turned to Nyle and said, "Wait, what did you just say?"  He looked perplexed and said, "What do you mean?"  I said, "Just now, the couple said, "Hello,"  I said, "Hello."  You said, "Howdy!"  What was that all about?  He said with surprise in his voice, "I did?"  "Yes" I responded, "You must certainly did say 'Howdy.'" 

Then came out the fact that between being born in California (I knew that part) and growing up in Salt Lake City, (I also knew that part) there were several years of living in Texas.  (That was a surprise to me). 

Wisely, Nyle married me.  Wisely, I married Nyle.  Together, we were a dynamic force.  As we went through life together I learned that Nyle had a few "Texas" words that never went away.  "Howdy," was his greeting to others.  "Y'all was his way of referring to more than one person.  "All y'all" was his way of referring to a group.  I especially enjoyed the fact that there was a z or Zed (If you are British or Canadian), in words that actually were spelled with an S.  "Greazy," referred to things that were....well...."GreaSy."  "Blouze" was referencing the upper portion of woman's apparel.

What pieces of places have a bearing on your life?  Were you born, raised, and now live in the same place that these activities happened?  Did you like me, move around quite a bit in your life?  I joyously claim California, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota, and Oregon.  In California I learned that life should be "chill."  A laid back existence that eases frustrations.  (It was long before "Roadrage," made it's ugly arrival.)  Think surfing movies, Annette Funicello, and Bobby Darrin."

Utah brought me the experience of heritage.  My family were directly involved in the creation of this place.  The sacrifices that they made to create Utah were monumental.  That includes one beloved 2nd Great Grandma who left England, literally left behind all her possessions, crossed the American prairies with a handcart holding their few belongings.  She gave birth outside, with no Doctor attending her.  The baby died.  She died several days later.  Some may think that her contributions ended there.  They would be wrong.  Her son went on to build a home, create a successful business, and raise six children of his own.  

Idaho, again that heritage thing.  I will never understand how my great grandparents faced the brutal ruthlessness of the seven to eight month long winters in Idaho.

Oregon was a place that demanded determination to create.  When I moved there as a relatively young bride with two small children I felt the need of creating our universe.  I had always lived close to family, and there we were our OWN family.

So, now I've included the lessons and definition that my living places have helped to give me.  I didn't include Wyoming or Minnesota.  Maybe those places will spawn a "Blog" post another day.

Please do give me some of the places and spaces that define your experience.  As always I LOVE to hear the contributions of others. 


The definition of a miracle is not well defined.  What is a miracle to one person is not for another.  My honeybunch and I used to have rather emotionally heated debates on this issue.  His side was that if you see every little thing as a miracle then you take away from shaking miracles.

My side was that everyday is a miracle!  Just being able to breathe consistently is a miracle!  (I should know having spent a goodly portion of my life fighting to breathe.)  I claim God's hand in all around me.  I claim that miracles include the changing of the seasons on a regular basis.  As a child, frequently unable to breathe, sick a great deal of the time because of a weak immune system it was a miracle when a breathless night of gasping for air turned into the newness of the next day.  A day filled with the hopes of breathing. 

Miracles include the joy of seeing Nyle beat many an illness that threatened his life.  Miracles include that before he died he was able to talk to us, and give our girls one more priesthood blessing.  (In our faith a father's blessing is very sacred.  It gives directions to his children like a map through the high points and low points of life.  In that sacred time he was able to help them navigate the biggest roadblock yet, his own death).

Since Nyle's death I feel that now he sees my point of view a little more.  Maybe it's just because I want to BELIEVE that he sees my point of view.  Still since his death I've had tiny miracles and tender mercies that have shown me he lives on and he is not far away.

What do YOU consider a miracle?  If you are a Bible reader you know about the miracles included in the pages of that book.  Think of the Children of Israel crossing through the Red Sea which has been parted for them to walk through.  Think of a pillar of fire protecting their nights, and God going before them by day.  Then there are the miracles that Jesus did.  Turning water to wine, was a little miracle, but healing the woman who had "an issue of blood for YEARS."  That one touches a chord with me, and probably any woman that is reading this blog.  (Men, if my reference makes you uncomfortable you may refer to the miracle of the lame man trying for decades to get into the waters that were said to have healing properties.  Jesus heals him and the man takes up his bed and walks!)

The Jewish folk refer to the miracle of the Passover.  That was an amazing thing when the oldest child of every Egyptian, including the Pharoah's son was killed.  The Israelites were spared by painting blood on the front of their doors, sacrificial blood from a first born lamb.

I am not familiar with the accepted miracles of other faiths.  Yet I wish to be inclusive, not exclusive.  What I mean by that is that I would like to include readers of all faiths and no faiths in this discussion.  What DO you consider a miracle?  Anyone, anyone?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunrise Sunset

Fiddler on the Roof is one of my favorite musicals of all time.  The very best Tevye of all times was played with sensitivity, humor, and joyeux de vivre by my beloved husband Nyle.  I always wanted the chance to portray Golda to his Tevya...sigh, I'm certain that in Heaven we'll finally get our chance.

This last week I went to a production of Fiddler by a group of talented teenagers.  Oh trust me, Tevye was no NYLE SMITH, but he did a terrific job for a teenage boy.  It was strange for me to have an all teenage cast sing the poignant song, "Sunrise, Sunset."  I mean in our teens how do any of us comprehend that someday we actually WILL be old?  It seems impossible at that stage of life to comprehend that we will ever be older than 21.

Today we went to an Open House for one of our beloved friends who just returned from a two year LDS Mission in Brazil.  I first met this young man when he was about three years old.  He was a red headed dynamo.  He was particularly talented at getting involved in mischief.  Just about the time that Wes would get on my last nerve he would do something so incredibly adorable that I knew that I would love him forever and beyond!

One night our oldest daughter was babysitting for Wes and several of his siblings.  Wes simply refused to stay in bed, and since he shared his bedroom he was keeping his sisters awake as well.  Our girl was just beginning her babysitting career.  She called me almost in tears asking for my help.  I went over with my superior parental authority (at least I thought I had this power, I have since learned that I was delusional in this regard).

I pretty much wrestled Wes into bed.  I then began to sing him lullabies.  I have perfected the ability over the years of singing such soothing songs that I can lull the most fractious and rambunctious of children to sleep.
After singing a couple of songs to Wes he said, "May I sing MY favorite song to you?"  I figured he would sing some nursery rhyme, something elegant and refined such as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  Imagine my surprise when he began to sing in clear little boy tones, "When you walk through a storm keep your head up high, and don't be afraid of the dark..."  This amazing song is from the musical "Carousel."  I have never before or since heard it performed word perfect by a small boy.

In the years since I've come to understand that Wes got into mischief generally because he's quite brilliant.  When he would get bored,  the trouble would begin.  If that brilliant mind, and need for activity could be channeled he was a joy to be with.

Wes grew into a loving young man.  One example is a warm spring afternoon when I drove around a corner and there he was with a group of his high school buddies.  He literally waved at me to stop my car.  He ran across the road to hug me with one of his all engulfing hugs.  When Wes hugs you, you know you've been good and properly hugged!  No sissy stilted hugs from this dear boy!

Somehow today seeing twenty-one year old Wes felt unreal, as though he should still be that brilliant, red-headed little boy of my dreams in his clear, sincerely sweet voice singing, "Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart, and you'll never walk alone..."  Yet even though he's now handsome, and grown up I will always keep that precious boy that he used to be alive and close to my heart.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

They Were Muddy!

My husband was speaking to a student who was struggling with a title for her dissertation.  He asked about the subject matter.  She replied that her subject was Peasants in Medieval times.  Nyle's quick response was to my mind an excellent title.  He suggested that she entitle it, "Peasant's, They Were Muddy."

Now moving sharply forward several hundred years we have "Mormon Pioneers, They Were Muddy."  Those pioneers left home and family to come to Utah.  They had endured mobbings, their leaders had been murdered and they had been forced out of one city after another.

In 1847 a group of pioneers came to a lovely mountainous place in Utah.  Imagine how disappointed they were to find that the two most abundant building supplies were rocks, and mud.  There were trees but they were way up high in the mountains.  The trees up high were scrub oak and pine, neither an ideal material for building homes, churches, and other types of buildings. 

When they began to plow the fields to provide food for the next winter they again found enormous quantities of rocks, small to large.  They spent great periods of time removing rocks.  So the piles of rocks began to pile up.

These pioneers were not just muddy they were innovative.  They said, "Hey we have rocks and mud.  Why don't we use those materials to build?"  Voila (OK, most of the pioneers did not speak French but if they did they would use that word), walls, houses, rock gardens, all sorts of creative methods of using rocks and mud developed.

Is anyone reading this asking themselves, "Ummmm....what is she trying to discuss with those muddy peasants and pioneers?"  I promise that at long last I am coming to the point of my Post.

Pioneers and peasants shared one thing in common besides the letter P at the beginning of those titles.  They worked HARD.  In fact in the dictionary next to HARD I believe it states, "The way that muddy Peasants and Pioneers worked."  They also needed a great amount of patience and vision to see past the drawbacks, and envision a future for a place that had mostly rocks and mud and little else.

How amazed those pioneers would be to see the beautiful town that has grown up where once there was mostly only rocks and mud.  There are thousands of people living in beautiful mansions (which still use rocks and mud, just on a grander scale). 

When we are stuck in the minute to minute existence of life do we ever stop and envision what a difference our life will make to the future?  Are we using the things that have been put before us to make our lives better?  Are we busily counting our blessings instead of bemoaning our struggles?

So the next time all you can see is "Rocks and Mud," think of those muddy peasants and pioneers.  While they worked on the future they were thinking about you.