Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kids Do the Darnedest Things

When my youngest son was in kindergarten, I got a phone call from his teacher expressing serious concerns about his mental health. Needless to say, finding out that the principal wanted a joint conference with the two of us aroused my concerns, too.

I arrived in the classroom only to be shown a picture my son had drawn of himself at the teacher's request. He'd created a pretty reasonable facsimile, as had the other children. The only difference was this: After drawing the picture, he had taken a black crayon and scribbled all over it, as dark as he could. Basically, he had crossed himself out.

I don't think I need to tell you that the implications of this were not good. Still, I'd seen no signs of the depression (or worse) that his teacher and principal were suggesting, and I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea. The whole thing was disturbing, though; and when I got home, I asked my little boy why he had used a black crayon to scribble all over the self-portrait he had drawn. His answer surprised me.

"I want to be black, like Michael Cooper," he answered matter-of-factly. (Michael Cooper was his then-favorite basketball player on the Lakers.) In other words, his "depression" was actually hero worship!

I tell this story for two reasons. One, because it's kinda funny. His answer really tickled me at the time, and I think the teacher was pretty amused too...well, equal parts of relieved and amused.

The second reason I tell this story is because it's a good one for parents to hear. Things are not always what they seem, and while it's important to investigate any red flags or warning bells that we see (or hear of) in regard to our children, it's also best not to jump to conclusions. Sometimes there are logical explanations for seemingly illogical things.

Just something to think about vis a vis the parenting process...


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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Neglect Not the Gift!

Neglect not the gift that is in thee."
1 Timothy 4:14

Recently, I led a Relief Society discussion at church on the subject of talents. I opened that discussion by sharing my experiences teaching an exceptional group of adolescent girls several years ago. A phrase I heard far too often from these young women, in response to the concept of God-given gifts, was this: “I don’t have any.” Time and time again, these lovely and accomplished young women insisted that they had no special talents at all…or at least, none worth mentioning. “How can that be?” I would challenge. If God is no respecter of persons, if Father in Heaven loves each of us equally, then why would He favor one child over another, especially when it comes to the gifts and attributes that make us who we are...and make possible the person we can become? The Lord uses our talents to bless us and to bless others, and He promises that “there are many gifts, and to every man [and woman] is given a gift by the Spirit of God” (D&C 46:11).

In other words, God does not play favorites. Some gifts are more visible than others, but that doesn't mean they are more valuable. Neither does it mean we have less obligation to use them.

Talents are meant to be shared, which is why the Lord spreads them around a bit. They’re also intended to be developed. (No-brainer, right?) But there is one catch: In order to share talents…in order to develop them…we must first be able to see them. In ourselves. And if we can’t or won’t see them, we need to believe the Lord when He tells us they are there and resolve to find them.

How do we do this? First, we open our minds. Then we make a comprehensive list of things we like to do, including every dimension of our lives—spiritual, musical, dramatic, academic, athletic, and so on. Consulting family members, trusted friends, teachers, religious leaders, etc. is an excellent way to gather information, because others see in us what we might overlook in ourselves. (Of course, we have to be willing to listen to what they say!) We can also listen to what the Lord has to say, seeking additional insight through prayer.

One thing is certain. We need to make it our business to know what our talents are, because if we can’t name 'em, we can’t claim 'em. And if we can’t claim 'em, we can’t develop, share, or consecrate them to the Lord. Every gift we’ve been given, whether we are magnifying it or not, is a sacred responsibility, and God has expectations about what we do with it.

God-given talents should be acknowledged, like good friends, and introduced to others. It wasn’t until about 15 years ago that I began to understand that it wasn't prideful to "own up" to a talent...because if you couldn't own up to it, you couldn't own it, either. (And by “own” I mean take responsibility for…be a good steward over.) Remember the parable of the talents in the New Testament? The talent that was carefully placed underground (to languish there, unused) was taken away and given to someone willing to give it life and make the most of it.

Of course, in order to give a talent life, we must be courageous enough to embrace the risk inherent in admitting that it’s there in the first place. After all, if we never admit it exists, then we don't have to experience the growing pains of developing it...the trial and error of putting it out there and accepting the feedback (sometimes positive and sometimes negative) that makes it ready for prime time. Quite simply, we must create an open space for our talents to grow, or they will not grow at all. They may even wither away completely.

The Lord likes a go-getter. He’s made it clear that it is not good enough for us simply to return to Him the talents He has given us. We are to improve upon and add to our talents. He has promised that if we multiply our talents, our joy will be eternal.

"Neglect not the gift that is in thee” (1 Timothy 4:14).

Short and sweet, right?

But it definitely packs a punch.

For every gift must have its time and place
or be forgotten…and the Giver, too.
Come, let us dedicate ourselves anew.
Receive and magnify each gift with grace.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Good Man Meets a Good Girl

My granddaughter was Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

(You're a Good Girl, Carli Bear!)

Grandma says so.



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Monday, June 27, 2011

Irvine or Bust

I went missing for a couple of days, but I have a stellar excuse. Dave and I took a last-minute trip to Southern California Wednesday, where we met Todd at my parents' house in the desert. After a short but enjoyable visit with the two of them, we headed out to Irvine, rented a studio apartment, and went a good way toward furnishing it. Not a bad weekend's work! Todd and I will finish the job in mid-July.

Friday night we drove over to the campus and walked around a bit. It was fun to imagine our son hurrying through those halls––and hospital corridors––in the white coat he will receive in a ceremony next month. (Sadly, he's allowed only six tickets for that event, but he hopes to beg or borrow a few more so the whole family can attend.) Needless to say, every one of us would love to be there to support him.


PS. We also enjoyed our two nights in Matt and Heather's home. Those grandkids of ours get cuter every time we see them. (I offer no excuses for not taking pictures. Mea culpa.) Saturday morning, everyone enjoyed a delicious but shamefully gluttonous brunch at the Original House of Pancakes before going our separate ways. As is my custom, I ordered the Dutch Baby. (Don't worry; it's a German pancake.)

Can't wait to spend a week with the whole gang in Newport come July.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Taking Charge

Sorry my Saturday Centus is the Sunday variety this week. (We got in pretty late last night from our road trip to Irvine, and my brain was on the blink.) As you can see, Jenny Matlock is up to her old tricks again. This time, we have no more than 60 words to turn the prompt into some kind of cogent story. Talk about word economy! And there's no better form for word economy than a poem, right? (The prompt is in red.)


Taking Charge
©2011 Susan Noyes Anderson

Dear John:
You’re gone.
Life goes on.
On and on.

Take a jet.
Don’t fret.
You can bet
I’ll forget.

Too bad.
So sad.
I’m the best
you’ve had.

You lack.
Stay on track.
I’ll be fine.
Don’t look back.

Too late.
Won’t wait.
Leaving me
sealed your fate.

That’s a wrap.
No recap.
No more us.
No more crap.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Joy Ride

As I followed my husband across California yesterday to meet our son in Irvine, deliver a working car (his finally bit the dust), and find an apartment as close to his medical school as possible (love saying those words), the overriding feeling in my heart was JOY.

A few years ago, he wasn't even sure what he wanted to do with his life. (You could even say he was floundering a bit.)

Today, he's in medical school! Sorry to keep repeating that, but that's what my mind keeps doing: repeating those words, over and over. Because it's kind of a miracle, really. A blessing. And he is the one who made it all happen.

Is it almost time for the letter P? I think I feel a Pride post coming on...


PS. I promise not to do any more bragging about this! (Do you believe me??)

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life is Sweet

The friends we pass along the way

remind us that we're A-okay...

And even when we wander through

those paths removed from others' view,

we find that peace is all around,

and there is goodness to be found.

We pluck from life the things that feed

our hungry spirits. Every need

is ours to seek and satisfy,

with help, of course, from friends on high.

The rich, ripe fruit makes living sweet

and gives our souls enough to eat.

Such fruit, once shared, is always sweet.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taking the Pledge

My grandson (in the middle) takes the pledge of allegiance seriously...
(even though he does put the wrong hand over his heart) ;)

©2011 Susan Noyes Anderson

Every day, we pledge the flag.

I say the words real loud.

I stand up straight and tall because

it makes me feel so proud.

My daddy is a soldier, and

the flag makes him proud, too.

He fights for what it stands for.

It stands for me and you.


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Monday, June 20, 2011


You say you're feeling trapped? Break free.
Just get on up and ride a tree!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Arrow Is Only As Good As Its Bow

"Our children take their flight into the future with our thrust and with our aim. And even as we anxiously watch that arrow in flight and know all the evils that can deflect its course after it has left our hand, nevertheless we take courage in remembering that the most important factor in determining that arrow's destination will be the stability, strength, and unwavering certainty of the holder of that bow" (Jeffrey R. Holland).

Today I want to take a minute to celebrate the "holder of that bow" for my children. I also want to thank him for holding it so firmly and with such steadiness over the years. With him in their world, my children have known a security that every child should have the opportunity to experience. Sadly, many do not.

When I was a young woman, my main ambition was to be a wife and a mother. Some of that desire was cultural, some generational, but I think the largest portion was spiritual. I simply longed to create, nurture, and raise a family. With that in mind, I was looking for a partner who would be solid and dependable, intelligent and ambitious, fun and funny, respectful and respect-worthy, committed and devoted. After all, I intended to be all of those things for him, so why should he not return the favor? (And be good-looking, to boot!)

I dated a lot of great guys, but not one of them even came close for me. When Dave finally hit the scene, I didn't have much trouble recognizing him for who he was and would be in my life. This guy was THE ONE, and he has spent the past 38 1/2 years proving the soundness of my judgment. He is the cream of the crop, and I have the privilege (and I know it is one) of being able to say, without reservation, that I would pick him all over again.

Dave is beloved by his wife AND his children.

From Matt:

These are my dad's qualities:

Dependability - can always count on him to show up
Athleticism - 60+ and still ballin'
Virility - has proven it 4 times, probably more... ;)
Integrity - great follow through, and not just his golf swing
Darn good dad

He is a great example and has provided me with a feeling of safety all my life. He is also a really good grandpa, who makes things feel special and magical (also did this as a dad). He has a great mustache that he should consider growing back. He has the ability to give VERY CLEAR AND CONCISE directions. ;) He will make sure you never get lost! (Translation from Sue:

Heather: Dad has been a wonderful example to Matt of how to be a good father, husband, and priesthood holder. He shaped the man I love. He is hard working and gives 110% in all he does. I appreciate his love for nature and his goal to visit all the national parks. It's so cute that he still plays ball with his "boys."

Karin: Dad has always brought a sense of security to my life. He has taught me what kind of person I want to be...and to work hard for what I want. My life without him wouldn't be as fun, and I wouldn't be as strong as I am today. I always thank my lucky stars that he is my dad. I love his creativity, his unconditional love, and his love for life. I always love his stories, too...and how much he loves and supports me in everything I do!

Bobby: Without Dad, I wouldn't have the love of my life. He is such a great example to me of what I want in my life, the love and respect of my family; and I want to start a family and have the kind of bond with my children that he has with his. I love his creative ideas for adventures for his grandchildren (ie magic trees, treasure hunts, etc.), his ability to make people comfortable with his friendly personality, and the fact that he's always interested in any conversation you may have with him.

Ryan: Dad brings an example and feeling of security to my life. Without him, I would not have a role model of how I should be. Some of the things I love most about him are his focus on our family, how hard he works for all of us and his ward (he's responsible), and how spontaneous he is with our vacations. ;) (Translation from Sue: He labors over every detail of every trip we take.)

Todd: Dad is dependable. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today without his support, financial and otherwise. It's fun to have a dad who played and introduced us to so many sports as a child...especially Lakers and basketball. It's also great that he can still play really well (considering his age). (Sue: Uh-oh, them's fightin' words!) I appreciate his intelligence, the good genes he gave me (I hope to look as good as he does when I'm 61), his kindness and selflessness (ie children first, he's never even had a nicer car than a Honda, which is unusual considering how well he's done for himself), and how generous he is with his time (always coming to sporting events no matter how busy he was, etc.).

Of course, his grandkids think he's pretty great, too.

Jeremiah: I love Grandpa because he's funny. He makes me laugh.

Carli: I love to go on Grandpa's hikes and treasure hunts. He's fun!

Bryce: I love when Grandpa takes me to the park.

Thanks for always catching the ball for us, Dad.
Even when we throw it kinda crooked.

We love you!
Happy Father's Day!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Jenny has Jeff C. to thank for this week's Saturday Centus prompt, and I thank Jeff as well. It was a good one! As directed by our illustrious leader, I have added exactly 100 words to create the following sonnet:


Within the stone-cold reaches of his heart,
a red-hot revolution had begun.
The feeblest of stirrings was its start,
mere embers, kindled by another’s sun.
She tasted sweet as honey, deftly spun
his head around; oh yes, this was her art.
Her magic crept into that inner part,
where secrets hide and old wounds cut and run.
He was undone. She was Diantha’s wine,
the flower of heaven; no man could resist.
Such grapes as hers grew on no earthly vine;
her lips were petals, pleading to be kissed.
He sipped, drank deeply, knelt before her shrine…
surrendered darkness to the morning mist.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Guess who doesn't need this any more!

Nearly a year ago, many of you old-timers around here responded to my pleading parent post by joining me and my family in wishing Todd well on the Medical College Admissions Test. In the angst-y months that followed, you supported one very stressed-out mom through a number of med school interviews across the country and encouraged me when Todd ended up on a couple of waitlists without any firm acceptances.

Lo and behold, your prayers, positive thoughts, and tightly crossed fingers must have done some good...because Todd was officially accepted yesterday by the University of California Irvine School of Medicine! That's right, my friends (and I DO mean friends), he will start August 5th as a first-year med student, and everyone who loves him is over the moon about it. In fact, Todd is flying pretty high himself. We simply could not be happier.

There's something quite wonderful about watching a child's dream begin to come true, no matter how old he gets.