Friday, September 25, 2015

Little Women-a book report

One of my 101 things is to read the eight class books of Louisa May Alcott’s that she is most known for.  Tonight, I finished the one that is the most famous, “Little Women.”  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read this wonderful story and it still does me so much good every time I read it.  I have quite the history with this story as well, as I was named after Beth.   She has been a good little literary heroine to look up to and emulate and I am grateful for this sweet character’s influence in my life.  There have been times in my life when I have felt more like Jo than Beth, and especially this time when I read about her loneliness waiting for love.  For some reason, I feel like my love story will be similar to Jo and Friedrich’s and I just have to smile when they get together at the end. 

I have heard a lot of people say, “Oh, I’ve seen the movie.” Well, if you love the movie, (I loved all three movies!) let me tell you…the book is SO much better!  Did you know that Laurie did not propose to Jo until after she had returned from New York? Did you know that there is so much more to Jo and Friedrich’s, Meg and John’s and Amy and Laurie’s love stories? Did you know there is a whole other chapter after Jo says the words “Not empty now?”  Read the book and you will find the gems of the story of the jelly that would not jell, and the disastrous dinner Jo tries to put on.  This book is such a wonderful friend and I feel like a better person every time I read it.  I don’t know how I could feel otherwise with beautiful passages like this one, where Jo and Marmee are talking “If I don't seem to need help, it is because I have a better friend, even than Father, to comfort and sustain me. My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning and may be many, but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidently as you come to your mother.”

I am so glad I was able to read this book again.  Now, on to “Little Men” !

Saturday, September 12, 2015

#41 Walk the Greenbelt in Boise

It was a beautiful day today as my dad, my brother-in-law and I drove down the road towards the park in Boise.   I was born here in Boise and we lived here until I was 8. We past the old train station where we used to go meet the 3:00 am Amtrak train that would be bringing my aunt and my cousins for a week of fun. We drove down the hill where I would ride on the back of my mom’s bicycle for Monday night bike rides. We passed Elmer’s Pancake House where I loved to go eat because there was a wishing well right inside the door.  So much history here, but no place holds more memories for me than the Greenbelt, a lovely walkway along the wide beautiful Boise River that flows gently beside Ann Morrison and Julia Davis Park.  As a kid I used to imagine what Ann Morrison and Julia Davis looked like, figuring they must have been grand ladies because their parks are something to behold.  The playgrounds, the fresh green grass, the Rose garden, the zoo of my childhood, the art museum with the big beautiful stained glass rotunda—it was all so beautiful. Along the Greenbelt you could see the big friendly river and watch the people in paddle-boats and inner tubes gently floating along.  There were little hidden places of thick grass and twisted tree roots that I was certain housed shy but friendly leprechauns.  The smell was even magical, and as I came across the bridge today and smelled that fragrance of summer and twilight, it was just like I was seven years old again.  

It was fun to see the river and people enjoying the last of summer by floating on inner tubes or just simply going waiting.  As I walked down the path, I saw a large tree that had leaves almost shaped like leprechaun hats.  Perhaps a new millinery shop for the little people?  There were some patches of clover along the way and yes…I did keep my eye out for those elusive four leaf luck charms. I walked to where we went as children and I thought about my mom and how it’s her birthday tomorrow.  I thought about how most of the magic of this place was because she brought us here and genuinely played with us.  It was a park that she went to as a child and now was passing it on to us.  How lovely to have a park and a rose garden and an art museum and a river as part of your heritage, as if they were cherished heirlooms.  One day I hope that I will bring my child here and show him or her the ducks that gather by the river and tell them that those ducks are perhaps the great grandchildren of the ducks that I used to feed with leftover Wonder Bread. I hope that I will be able to show them the bike trails we rode and the place where the Funspot used to be, where I would ride the Ferris wheel with my dad and feel safe.  More than anything, that’s what I felt today as I walked along the Greenbelt…safety, peace.  It was a beautiful day to remember beautiful memories in this city I first called home. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Lesson of Legacy Lake

Heber Valley Camp—for a year I had been hearing about what a magical place it was.  When the stake Young Women leaders told us that would be the place for the upcoming stake camp, I was delighted I was going to get to see the beautiful camp grounds and feel the special spirit that was there.  When I was told it was a “mountain temple” and heard stories of people receiving direction and answers to questions and problems I was even more excited.  If there is one thing I need in my life right now, it’s answers! I prayed for a long time before Girl’s Camp, hoping that I would get there and receive precise, detailed instructions on what God had planned for me next.  An important revelation did come, but not entirely in the way I was expecting it. 

It was Wednesday morning and there had been some off and on rain since we’d arrived there.  It was our morning to go to Legacy Lake and I was excited! I had heard that the lake was beautiful and it would be a treat to have some fun on the water and see the girls enjoy themselves.  There was a hike to get to the lake.  I was accustomed to hiking being a part of Girl’s Camp since I was 12 years old.  Off we went and it was great fun at first.  I enjoyed looking at the different trees and birds and experiencing all the nature around me.  It was fun to hike with my friends and my Young Women girls.  The trail soon became a bit tougher, a lot of uphill and then downhill and back up again and I began to get tired and look forward to seeing the end of the trail. Just as we started walking down the main road that led to the lake, it started to rain…and then it started to hail.  I could imagine us in two days pulling back into the church with a busload of sniffly and fevered girls to hand back to their parents.  By the time we got to the lake, it was pouring and even though some ladies braver than I went out onto the lake in downpour, when the thunder and lightning came, they pulled everybody off.  We decided that since we brought a few girls down in cars who couldn’t physically do the hike, we would take all of our ward girls back up to the camp in cars in order to get them quickly out of the rain.  Needless to say, it was a whole lot shorter to drive back on the road to camp, then it was to hike. 

That evening we were told that our ward would get another chance to go to the lake, but were reminded that the rule of Heber Valley camp was that if you are going to go to the lake, you have to hike to the lake unless you are physically unable.  I was thinking in my mind: “We’ve done that, we’ve already walked to the lake.”  We were obedient to that rule and surely there was an exception this time because of the weather.  They could not expect us to hike that 45 minute hike again when we had only been able to get on the water for about five minutes the first time we were there.  We planned to take everyone down in cars this time because we figured that would be just fine to do that.  We ate breakfast that morning and group of us was standing outside ready to get in the cars.  There was a group of girls from the other wards that had just left to hike back down to the lake.  It was then that we were told again that this was the rule of the camp, and that we couldn’t take everybody down in cars.  We had to walk if we were able and so we had to get going.  I started off with the group of girls who were with me.  There were some avid hikers among us who were really excited about another hike, but there were some other girls who definitely less enthusiastic.  I tried to be the “cheerleader” leader, telling the girls that they could do this and how fun it would be but inside my heart just sank and the prospect of making that long hike again and I was thinking “You have GOT to be kidding me” What possible sense did this make? Why in the world did such a rule exist? Couldn’t there be an exception this time? I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to enjoy the beauty of the hike again and think about fun we’d have on the lake.  When we got to the lake I was pretty tired and my feet hurt but oh the lake was beautiful! The light shimmered on it like beautiful diamonds and the weather was perfect.  It was fun to watch the girls out on their paddle boats and canoes.  It was refreshing in many ways and I admit, was worth the hike to get there. 
When we started to go back, I had heard that there was a simpler way to walk back which wasn’t as steep but then I found out we weren’t going that way, we were going back the way we came.  I took a deep breath and steeled myself for the way back, knowing that this time, the last stretch would be all uphill.   As I walked I eventually became the last one, walking with the two leaders who were supposed to bring up the rear.  I was tired, I was hurting, I was hot and I was very embarrassed to be last one that the other leaders had to stay behind for.  Because of that, I probably took the uphill last stretch a little faster than I should have.  By the time I got to the top of the hill and the end of the hike, I was in some trouble.  I could feel my face was very flushed and I felt pretty weak.  My stake friends got me inside for some shade and some cold water.  Sitting inside I was more exhausted than I had been in a long time.  After I felt a little better I geared up for the walk back to my ward’s campsite…which was of course uphill. 

As I walked back up the hill I started to feel some fears of the past.  It seemed like my whole life I was always last when it came to sports, and the kids would tease me because of it.  I remember literally praying at times that I would just come in second to the last.  I didn’t care about being first, but I absolutely dreaded being last.  When I walked into the camp, one of my fellow leader buddies started applauding me and the girls quickly followed suit.   It was such a special moment for me and helped heal that hurt inside of me that came from years of being teased.

I went to my cabin to lie down, still exhausted emotionally and physically.  I still didn’t understand what the point of doing the hike again was. In the midst of my thoughts and a little grumbling, there came one clear impression: “You are stronger than you think you are.” I didn’t understand until later just how important that lesson is in my life.  For years I have been trying to figure out my future because it has not been the one I planned on.  It never even occurred to me that at this point in my life I wouldn’t be a wife and a mother.  I am in between jobs and trying to figure out what is next for me in life.   I get scared.  I doubt. I feel as emotionally and mentally weak as I was physically feeling in that moment.   I am so blessed in that right now, the Lord chose to reveal something to me about myself: I am stronger than I think I am and I can do hard things. 

This was the answer that I was looking for.  It was the revelation that I needed and I am so grateful for wise camp host missionaries who kept to that wonderful rule because the lesson of Legacy Lake for me was this: God asks his people to do things, hard things, that may make absolutely no sense, and he’s been doing it since the beginning of time.  He is not a grand master of chess, moving his children around on some cosmic board, he is a grand master of people and he knows exactly what experiences his children need to become like him. Sometimes we grumble, sometimes we are inwardly saying “You have GOT to be kidding me” but we keep putting one foot in front of the other and we obey.  And in the process of obedience, God reveals something about ourselves to us.  Sometimes I forget that while I do have a veil of forgetfulness, God does not and he knows exactly who I have been my entire existence and what I am capable of with his direction and help.  I am so grateful for the process of growing and changing.  I am so grateful for the Atonement and the help I receive on a daily basis.  It’s okay to be last.  It’s okay when you just don’t get it.  The Lord takes us where we’re at and I am so grateful for his loving compassion. 

So yep, Heber Valley didn’t disappoint.  It was beautiful.  I had a wonderful time bonding with my stellar girls and fellow leader buddies.  We had a wonderful testimony meeting, lots of fun playing games, and when the week ended I was sad to go.  But probably my favorite memory will always be that blessed trail I hiked three times back and forth to Legacy Lake, where the sun sparkled on the water like diamonds.