"Beam-ectomy should precede all mote micro-surgery. Just saying." Ginger Conrad paraphrasing Jesus Christ.

Paradigm Shift

“The list of health problems I think it would very hard to live with is SO much longer than the list of foods I previously thought I couldn’t live without,” Merrill Alley.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

two peas

Dear Gayle,

We hope you are happy, healthy, safe, and loving school. While your weather is getting cold, we move into the best time of year here. Although I know many people love snow, I am not a fan at all. When we lived in snow country, I slipped on the ice many, many times. A couple times I was hurt. Anyway, during our scorching summers, I have to keep reminding myself that I can’t slip on sunshine and don’t have to shovel heat. That keeps the hot summer and awesome fall, winter, and spring in perspective.

What are you doing lately? Do you still cheer? Do you still ride your bike a lot? Do you still love to read and love school? Do you enjoy your piano lessons? I imagine you getting taller and more beautiful every day but hope this growth also includes increased empathy and kindness. When we are blessed with so much, it is hard to remember that others don’t often have such a charmed life.

Lately, I’ve been working with a kindergarten girl at school. She has a terrible history of neglect and abuse, which required her removal from her mother’s custody. It’s tragic. Although she is super smart, already reading nicely, writing a lovely hand, and beginning multiplication, her personality needs a bit of TLC. When she is excited, she sneers and tells what she did in a nah-nah-nah voice. Because I found this unnerving, I knew it would be a problem for her unless we helped her learn an alternative. So, I told her how her meanness hurt my feelings. She was shocked, saying she wasn’t trying to be mean. Responding, I told her to practice smiling, as she conveyed excitement. Another time I caught her taunting a child and talked to her about kindness. Anyway, Thursday while she waited her turn to read with me, she complimented the little girl next to her. She asked, ‘Was that nice Mrs. Conrad?’ Because the other child was used to the first girl’s rudeness, she didn’t even listen but complained of rudeness. I encouraged the first girl to explain what she meant to her classmate; now the two are fast friends. She showed me some handwriting the next day with a pleasant face and kind tone. Her progress indicates her desire to be a peaceful, pleasant person.

I do this volunteer teaching as a service to God, but it is sooo rewarding to make a difference in a life. I tend to think that’s why Jesus commanded us to serve one another. Our Father and the Son knew the selfish but self-depreciating nature of man, so commanded us to do the one thing that could remedy both ills and at the same time care for his other children. If we look closely, we can see that all the commandments are tools for a happy life. There are no happy 40 year old addicts or alcoholics, none. Heavenly Father knows what will make us happy, service being one of those things.

I traveled alone the other day. Well, I had a big layover coming back and forgot to bring a book. Uncle Spencer took me to Barnes and Nobel on the way to the airport, where I found Fever 1793. As I read it, I thought it would be perfect for you. Although it might be a bit challenging, I think you are up for it. It could be one you and your mother would enjoy reading together; I don’t know. Anyway, this bit of historical fiction taught me a few things, but more importantly, it was a real page-turner. Even though I liked it, I wasn’t sure if a nearly young woman, such as yourself, would enjoy it as much as me. After reading the reviews, I knew it was the one to send this time. Hopefully, I’m right.

As you know, I can’t eat wheat, eggs, milk, soy, and a bunch of other things. Without those things, I had cakeless birthdays, until now. This year we found a vegan bakery that offers wheat and soy free upon request. For the first time in six years, I ate cake for my birthday. While I can’t say it’s all I remember, it was somewhat enjoyable. I just may have another one next year. However, it did eliminate the craving for pastries I endured for all that time. Sweets are nice but not something I just gotta have. I’m so glad I got over that one.

Gayle, we love you very much even though we don’t see you often. Although we pray daily for you in a general way, this week we will pray specifically and in great detail. No, I don’t specifically know what problems you have, but I do remember the problems I had at your age. Those memories lead me to pray that you will be safe, secure, happy, and health. We pray that God will inspire you to be quick to listen, slow to react, and never speak unkindly especially to those you love. We pray that you will develop deep faith, love of learning, and beautiful touch on the piano. We pray that you are happy, healthy, safe, and secure. We pray that you will be motivated to be an obedient daughter, a loyal sister, a trustworthy friend, and a compassionate servant of Jesus Christ. We pray that you will choose to embrace all that is good and stay close to the gospel

Forgot to post this one last week.

Hi Cole!

We hope you are happy, healthy, and having a wonderful fall. We especially love autumn here. After months of scorching hot weather, 80 degrees is very nice. Living in the hot desert is sort of opposite of snow country. There, nobody goes outside much because of the ice, snow, and cold. You have to be very careful to dress properly and not get frostbite. Here, we have to dress properly and not get sunburn. I think I like the hot weather better than ice and snow, since I’ve not once slipped on sunshine.

One time, when we lived in snow country, I didn’t notice a patch of black ice. My feet flew out from under me, and I landed on my head. Hmmmm…maybe that’s why I’m so weird now. Oh, yah, I’ve always been weird…I have no excuse. Anyway, after that I didn’t go out during the winter much for fear of falling.

I still see lots of coyotes but haven’t yet gotten any pepper spray. We decided a noisemaker is a better choice so will get a starter pistol. Have you ever gone to a track meet? They start the races with a gunshot. Although the gun isn’t the kind that shoots bullets, it makes a huge racket—hopefully enough to scare a coyote. Now that I’ve realized I live and walk in their home, I don’t feel such irritation toward them anymore.

Did you watch General Conference last weekend? To me Conference is a huge treat. As people grow to adulthood, their problems are bigger. We pray for help and answers. If we listen carefully, we can hear the Holy Ghost whisper the answers during these sermons and while reading scriptures. All the sermons held gems of inspiration for me, but the last two especially spoke to my heart as answers to prayer.

General Conference used to be something to be endured until I learned a little secret. When Uncle Spencer was your age, he and I bought and listened to all of John Bytheway’s CDs. He loved them so much that he shared them with his friends. They memorized all the talks, and John Bytheway’s jokes became a basis for their crazy humor for years. More importantly for them and me, several ideas changed how we saw church. For instance, he talked about the church journal. Since then I use a journal during all meetings to keep my mind focused. I write down things that are funny or interesting. I write any inspiration I receive. Sometimes, I draw in the margins. A church journal doesn’t need to be fancy; it can be as simple as a 50-cent spiral notebook from Wal-Mart. But it can change your spiritual life.

What are you doing these days? Baseball is over, so you can’t be doing that. Maybe you are kicking a soccer ball or riding a bike a lot. Maybe you wait for the first good snow to go sledding. Maybe you are more like me and read for hours and hours. Maybe do lots of science experiments. Maybe you draw. Maybe like Spencer and Jason, you love scouting.

We hope you love learning and work hard at school. Sometimes school can be a bear, but working through the hard times is so worth the reward. It is fun to be smart, AND people who paid the price to be smart are better off during adulthood. They have happier families, better resources, and more meaningful employment. Does that mean life will be perfect and rosy if you are diligent with your studies. No, we are not remotely promised that. However, it will be a better journey with a good education.

“God who created the heavens and the earth knows the grand design of this earth, that He has dominion over all things in the heavens and the earth, and that in order to bring to pass the plan of salvation, He provides us with many different experiences—including some trials—while we are on this earth...The test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered Him and the commandments He gave us,” Koichi Aoyagi, October 2015 General Conference.

So a good education isn’t enough either. We must also develop deep faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. This brings me back to that church journal. Each week as Sunday approaches, I think over my week. How could things have goon better? What could I have done differently? How can I help my dear ones? What questions or problems do I need to bring before my Father in Heaven? What are my areas of weakness and needs for repentance? During Sacrament Meeting, I ponder these while listening and writing. It sure is a lot more interesting and enlightening than enduring church with great boredom. Give it a try and see if I’m right.

Well, Cole, we love you. Please, don’t ever forget this. We think about you all the time, but this week we pray especially for you. We pray that God will inspire you to be quick to listen, slow to react, and never speak unkindly especially to those you love. We pray that you will develop a deep faith and love of learning. We pray that you are happy, healthy, safe, and secure. We pray that you will be motivated to be an obedient son, a loyal brother, and a trustworthy friend. We pray that you will choose to embrace all that is good in the scouting program and stay close to the gospel.