Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Time and Tender Mercies

The older I get, the more I realize that God not only has plans for each one of us, but that those plans can be rather intricately organized. In ways we can't even begin to imagine, our lives and their various trajectories are interwoven, creating pathways that bend and loop and cross one another's in ways that may seem coincidental but are most often what the scriptures call "tender mercies." Where an agnostic might refer to these things as "meaningful coincidence," I frequently experience them as answers to prayer or reminders that the Lord is watching over us, caring for us on a very personal level.

While visiting my son and daughter-in-law's ward last Sunday, I was fortunate to attend a Relief Society lesson that impressed me once again with the perfect synchronicity of God's dealings with His children. The teacher was relating a true story about her mother-in-law. She began on a humorous note, saying that this very devout woman's family always thought of her as a "scripture fanatic." "She was crazy," our instructor insisted, smiling fondly. "My husband's mother was on her knees days and night, praying for and about nearly everything you can imagine." Apparently the unusually faithful lady filled many sets of scriptures with notes and dates, carefully recording most answers to prayer that she received, as well as when she received them. "Seriously," our instructor insisted, "my mother-in-law was a bit extreme."

It wasn't until the single-minded woman passed away that they realized how very close to the spirit she had been. As they read the notes and dates set down in her Bible and Book of Mormon, they came to realize how many answers to prayer she had received, and how much personal revelation the Lord had granted her. In ways large and small, that amazing woman had prayed her husband and children through ups and downs they hadn't even realized she was aware of at the time. Every set of scriptures inscribed by the beloved (but never entirely understood or appreciated) matriarch of this family was a lasting witness to each of its members that God lived and loved them. Relating these words brought our teacher to tears, and she went on to share something even more beautiful with us. In turn, I want to share it with you.

One evening, our instructor's father-in-law dropped by her home during family scripture study. Naturally, they invited him in to read along. He didn't have his own scriptures at hand, so they offered him one of his recently departed wife's self-annotated volumes to use. The lovely young woman teaching our class became quite emotional as she described what happened next to her husband's father, a man who had been missing his wife tremendously. Feeling abandoned, he had wandered over to visit that night seeking comfort. The man had imagined, close as he and his wife always were, that death would not entirely separate them. His conviction had been that they would have spiritual communication of some sort from beyond the grave until they were together again, but he had been disappointed. Though his head told him otherwise, his heart felt as if she had forgotten him, and he even began to question whether she had loved him as much as he loved and always would love her.

Needless to say, his spirit was depressed, and he had been praying for relief when he received the impression to visit them that night. As he opened his wife's book to the chapter and verse the family was studying, he found a little scrap of paper nestled there and read it with great interest, over and over again. His entire demeanor changed, and our teacher remembers being curious. After their study was completed, he enlightened his family. Apparently, this grieving husband had received the most tender of tender mercies, a timeless message from his wife, written years before and yet somehow sent to him in the present, from beyond the veil of death. "I always knew that you were mine," it said. 7 words on a piece of paper, but they meant the world to him. And he knew that they were meant FOR that moment, in that time. Tears streaming down his face, he shared them with his family. Tears streaming down her face, his daughter-in-law shared them with us.

My heart was touched, not just by the story, and not just by the tender mercy itself, but by this evidence of divine complexity in the planning and execution of our lives. We cannot even begin to imagine the blessings the Lord has in store for us, nor can we imagine the ways and means by which these things will be brought to pass. Who knows how many years ago she left that paper in her scriptures? And what are the chances that he just happened to come over right during scripture study, that they just happened to hand him that particular volume out of the many his wife owned, and that they managed to be reading on the very pages where the note had been secreted for who knows how long?

The message to me is that the Lord has our backs, even when certain periods in our lives don't feel like it. His concept and usage of time is infinitely different from ours, and His planning is beyond strategic. I am grateful that years and experience continue to teach us that something good will always be waiting in the wings...or between the pages...of our lives. And I will be watching with increased awareness for His hand in my own life.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Old-Fashioned Christmas

I picked up these cute Christmas coasters in Old Town last week while visiting my kids for Thanksgiving. Pretty cute, huh? (And even cuter in person!) They remind me of a good, old-fashioned Christmas, and that makes me happy.

Christmas time is here,
happiness and cheer,
fun for all that children call
their favorite time of year.

Snowflakes in the air,
carols everywhere,
olden times and ancient rhymes
and love and dreams to share.

Sleigh bells in the air;
beauty every where;
yuletide by the fireside
and joyful memories there.

Christmas time is here;
we'll be drawing near;
oh that we could always see
such spirit through the year.

-Vince Guaraldi

click below for more happiness

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Trip Round-Up

Our hostess with the mostest.

Our host, take 1.

Our host, take 2. (Rico Suave style)

Our excellent grandson, just home from Disneyland.

Close-up of excellent grandson.

Carli and Jeremiah, at The Muppets, a very silly show.

Dave (the hubby) and Ryan (son 2).

Kitchen setting.

Family room setting.

And that's all you're getting.
Cause that's all I've got.
(I was slightly remiss in taking photos!)

On to Christmas------------>


Saturday, November 26, 2011

There Oughta Be a Law

It's Saturday Centus again, and since the hubby and I will soon head over to visit our grandkids, I'll be sticking with the tried 'n true poetry post today. That rascally Ms. Matlock is up to no good this morning, doing her darnedest to gross us out with pictures of potatoes so soon after Thanksgiving, but it won't work on me! I happen to have unusually good stamina for potato overload. More's the pity.

The prompt, as always, is in red.


There Oughta Be a Law

How could they do it to me? Geez!
There oughta be a law.
The way these hucksters bleed you dry
is stuck up in my craw.

It's all about their bottom line.
Their customer? Who cares?
The only thing they fret about
is selling all their wares.

It really is a pity to
be caught up in such greed.
Accountability is key.
Payback is what they need.

Arrest these peddlers of plaque,
these fiends who trade in fat.
Jail all who query, "Super-size?...
Would you like fries with that?"


Friday, November 25, 2011

Nothing Beats These Tasty Treats!

From a distance.

Up close and personal.

Just a little sample of the mouth-watering delights Heather
offered us for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Need I say more?

And I didn't even take pictures of the pie array...


...because I was too busy putting a big dent in it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Thanksgiving Prayer

A Thanksgiving Prayer

I’m thankful for my mother,

and I’m thankful for my dad.

I’m thankful for my sisters,

and for all the fun we’ve had.

I’m thankful for my brother, Tom,

(even when he’s jerky).

But most of all, I’m oh-so-thankful

not to be a turkey!

Okay, I freely admit that this poem and "inspiration point" are not necessarily compatible. ;) Guess I just couldn't resist the opportunity to fake you guys out.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks, Indeed...

When asked by his preschool teacher what he was thankful for,
Bryce replied, "Everything. Except for the not awesome things."



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Monday, November 21, 2011

A Study in Celibacy

Magpie Tale's photo prompt


A Study in Celibacy
©2011 Susan Noyes Anderson

We wanted to experiment
with abstinence and self-restraint.
At first, surprised how well it went,
we muddled through without complaint.

The climate changed, and so did we.
Love’s "higher plane" was torture, squared.
Our celibate ability
was quite impaired; our tempers flared.

The tension swept through days and weeks.
Our longing triggered an eclipse.
Two heads, together, made some tweaks...
true meetings of the minds and lips.

But ix-nay on the hips. No hips.


I'm flying with that Magpie gang again.
For more responses to the picture prompt, click below.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Grateful, We Gather: A Prayer of Thanksgiving

I was glad to see Jenny pick a Thanksgiving theme for our Saturday Centus today, because my life is full of blessings for which I am grateful. The prompt is "We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing," a hymn that originated in the Netherlands and is likely based upon Psalm 100:4-5.

Whenever I think of gathering, the first thing that comes to mind is family, for mine is a particularly warm and wonderful one. The second thing I think of puts family in a larger context and is expressed in the final line of my poem today.


We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing,
for richly He's blessed us, in years now gone by.
The warmth of our hearth and the love of our family
are more than good fortune; they're gifts from on high.

Beside us to guide us, His hand reaches o'er us...
protecting, directing...our good He secures.
No matter the storm or the tempest that threatens.
in Him are we anchored, and safety endures.

With love do we praise Him and ever extol Him,
our Rock and our Anchor in days that are past.
We trust Him today, and we'll trust Him forever,
until at His feet, we are gathered at last.


"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered
thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and yet would not" (Matthew 23:37).

first picture is by Norman Rockwell
last two pictures are by Greg Olsen

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Makes a Writer?

"The Thinking Cap"

I love this art by Leah Saulnier, and I thank her for permitting me to post it here. Isn't the depiction of those "light bulb" moments wonderful? Ms. Saulner's delightfully whimsical thinking cap houses all of those wonderful, creative ideas that flow in and through the windows of our minds, yet the look on her subject's face implies that this is pretty serious business. She has really sparked my imagination, and I like where this piece takes me.

Having just completed the 1,000th post on this little blog o' mine––and as I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as it were) to create my annual Christmas story––the process of writing has meandered through the windows of my mind to the extent that I want to explore it a bit. Sharing Leah's work with you today affords me the perfect excuse!

On another blog recently, there was some conversation about how a person knows he or she is a writer. My own answer is fairly simple: You know you are a writer because you can't stop writing! In other words, the act of writing has become a necessary part of who you are, to the extent that you are compelled to capture your thoughts and feelings on paper in order to make sense of the world. It is both your mechanism of understanding and your reflexive response. It is comprehension, contribution, and resolution. It makes you real.

I must admit that this particular (self-coined) definition is fairly new to me. Being someone who has held a pencil in her hand and poetry in her heart from a very young age, it still took me a long time to think of myself as a writer. Mrs. Russell, when I was seven years old, was the first of many fine teachers to tell me that I was "quite a writer," but taking any of these people literally never occurred to me. When I was asked to write a little story in fourth grade and came back the next morning with a near novel about Helen Keller (as told from the POV of her right eye, no less!), it never occurred to me that this behavior was unusual. I journaled and rhymed and prosed my way through middle and high school without ever considering the possibility that I might be a writer. I was just "someone who liked to write," and I was told many times how difficult (nigh on to impossible) it was to get published.

Once published, I still found it hard to claim the title. Publicists introduced me as the "author" on my book tours, but even that didn't put me over the top. I simply didn't think of myself in those terms. It call myself a writer. Happily for me, things have changed, and time has wrought a miracle. Today, I not only call myself a writer, but I have a card! (Here it is, Polly. I told you I'd post it!)
I'm even including the case...
So here's the question: When does someone go from being someone who runs, to a runner? Someone who paints, to a painter? Someone who plays an instrument, to a musician? Someone who takes pictures, to a photographer? Personally, I think it's when those individuals begin to own the essential nature of that activity in their lives...when it becomes or is recognized as a visceral part of them.

All I know is this. For me, writing is a gate to myself...and when that gate is open, words flow like sweet, sweet honey...making all the right sounds stick together and holding me together, too. The only thing better is praying, but then writing is a form of prayer anyway, isn't it? Because it brings the writer into communion with that Source from which all creativity is derived.

No matter what your particular medium of communion with the Source is, I wish you great joy in it. As for me?...Back to the drawing writing board. Christmas is only 36 days away, and I always like to get that story done before Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Celebration and Congratulations!

Today I am celebrating my 1000th post blogiversary and congratulating the lucky winners of two rather lovely quilts. Rumor has it that said quilts will be winging their way to a couple of new owners in the very near future. How's that for cool?

Before I announce the results of our drawing, I did want to remind the winners that they will need to email me ASAP with their mailing addresses. Also, the first place winner should let me know which quilt is her favorite.

Without further ado, the winners are:

First place - Linda @ a la carte
Second place - Jen @ Denton Sanatorium

Congratulations, quilt owners! And consider yourself hugged.

{I hope the rest of you will consider yourselves hugged, too.}
And thanks for supporting my blog!


click here for more C posts

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Inspiration Point: Gabby Giffords

I'm starting something new on Wednesdays (a recurring self-prompt), and I'm going to call it Inspiration Point.

The idea came because I want to be sure I'm spending enough time writing about the people, things, and places that inspire me...and I want to get it down "on paper" so that, when I'm gone, my children, grandchildren, etc. can revisit that part of me that thinks deeply, cares passionately, and believes wholeheartedly that life is a marvelous and uplifting experience. The added bonus is that I can revisit it myself (in the here and now), whenever I need a reminder.

Of course, you're invited, too! Every one of you. Hey, we all need a little inspiration now and again, right? And how could I leave out the best blog friends ever?

That said, let's get started...

Monday night, my husband and I watched Diane Sawyer interview a remarkable woman, Gabrielle Giffords. If this congresswoman isn't a point of inspiration, I can't imagine who would qualify. Her journey from survivor with limited responsiveness to bright-eyed and determined fighter with more responsiveness than most of us will ever demonstrate is beyond uplifting. While her language (at present) is in single words, I am willing to bet the farm that she will be speaking in full sentences before she completes a recovery that is nothing short of amazing. Even one of her doctors refers to it as "miraculous" (which is a bit of a miracle in itself, given the prove-it-to-me mindset of neurologists in general).

I am deeply impressed by the generosity of Ms. Giffords in sharing her most vulnerable moments with countless TV viewers, and I wonder how many would be willing to do the same. Not one of us likes to be seen at our weakest and most helpless, especially when we are used to being as strong and competent as this congresswoman surely is. How frustrating it must be to experience aphasia while holding on to all of one's considerable intellectual capacities, yet Gabby battles tenaciously for every bit of ground she can regain. It is this tenacity that assures me she will continue to make an excellent recovery, and it is this same tenacity that will inform and encourage other survivors of brain injury and their families. With so many soldiers coming home affected by diverse repercussions from devastating head trauma, her courage and example can provide a beacon of hope that all will be well again. Or at the very least, good enough.

What struck me most strongly of all was the love...between Gabby and her husband, Gabby and her mother, Gabby and her helpers. How infinitely healing the loving relationships in our lives can be. Indeed, there is no greater power on earth than selfless, unconditional love––which is not surprising, considering Who taught us what that looks like. Because of Him, we are given to know that even in our own Gethsemanes, even on our own crosses, and no matter what we may endure, this sure promise is always left to us: We are never alone. Though not every person is blessed with the support system Ms. Giffords enjoys, every person IS blessed with a faithful and eternal Father in Heaven, whose love will always be the very best medicine for whatever ails us.

"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18).


Quilts are good medicine, too, so don't forget to comment here
before midnight (Pacific time) and become part of my 1000th-post contest!
The lucky quilt winners will be announced tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Life Is Beautiful

The view is great.

Pumpkins await.

Helpers are dutiful.

Life IS beautiful.


pumpkin photos by tendershootz

Quilts are beautiful, too, so don't forget to comment here
and become part of my 1000th-post contest!
The lucky quilt winners will be announced on Thursday.

for more happiness, click below

Monday, November 14, 2011

Do You Know Robert Brault?

A good point, Bob, and a timely one!

Becky Povich is hosting a blog hop and giveaway to introduce readers who are not already aware of him to our friend, Robert Brault, a famed freelance writer (and quote-master) whose name isn't nearly as well known as it ought to be.

For instance, did you know it was he who coined the phrase, Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things?

Enough said! If you love a good wordsmith, then I suggest you head on over and check out his marvelous blog, where pithy thinking is the order of the day.

Typical of his political acumen and humor is this quote that he posted recently:

Overheard in a Washington D.C. church confessional: "Bless me Father, for sins have been committed."

Ya gotta love it, right? Talk about nailing political-speak and lack of accountability on the head. Nobody does it better.


PS. If you're looking for lovely but reasonably-priced Christmas gifts, Robert has a calendar out this season, and the price is right. For the letter-writing crowd, he also has note cards. As a matter of fact, Becky will be giving away a calendar or set of note cards to the lucky winner of her blog hop drawing. So head on over and check it out, okay?

And just in case you've got nothing better to do than win a handmade quilt, don't forget to comment here so you can take part in my 1000th-post contest! Winners will be announced on Thursday.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Graves and Chairities

I'm trying something new today, just because the picture prompt sort of called to me. You may have heard of Magpie Tales, where wonderful poems and stories (and inspiration for them) abound. If time permits, you might want to visit there and enjoy the offerings of others poets and writers.

What does it mean?
I am part of a scene,
and the chairs are filled
with ghosts.

If no more alive,
I would rather arrive
in a field graced by
heav’nly hosts.

Angels with wings
sing and strum at harp-strings;
a ghost is unshriven
and moans.

Unholy, it seems,
to surrender my dreams
in a graveyard whilst flesh
coats my bones.

Chairs to the right
and the left as the night
inches into me. Nay,
let me go.

I turn around,
seeking; but oh, the ground
pulls. It it pulls
me below.


You have given us 4 years of pure pleasure.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Smells Like Team Spirit

Believe it or not, I'm headed out for another wedding, but I'm determined to turn out a Centus before we leave. Saturdays have been pretty crazy lately. (So have Jenny's prompts, by the way.) This one is the same photo from a different viewpoint––namely, the character circled in pink. Oh, joy. 100 words


Smells Like Team Spirit
©2011 Susan Noyes Anderson

Here she was, pushed to the edge of the circle again...and Polly the same. These guys were jerks. Freakin' idiots. Didn't they realize they'd lose the game without their two best strikers? They'd lose every game, and it'd serve 'em right. All these *you-know-what* for brains boys cared about were dumb stunts like dyeing their hair red. Well, she'd even gone along with that chunk of lameness. Polly, too. But they were still on the outside looking in, and it stunk up the field like dead fish.

Team spirit. Smelly fish guts. One. And. The. Same.

(Not exactly Nirvana.)


If you haven't had a chance to enter my 1000th post quilt giveaway yet, click here. It's easy!