Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Jubilation Of Winter

Emily Dickinson

I counted till they danced so
Their slippers leaped the town,
And then I took a pencil
To note the rebels down.
And then they grew so jolly
I did resign the prig,
And ten of my once stately toes
Are marshalled for a jig!
Country Lane   Marsing  Idaho

Up Close And Beautiful

Winter Calm On The Snake River

Looking Heavenward

Delicate Jewel

Pompom Splendor

Hidden Icy Brook

Feathery Plumes

God's Masterpiece

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cookies, Hot Chocolate, And A Christmas Poem
One of our special Idaho friends is a  talented man in woodwork, leather, welding, knowledge of rocks and minerals, and cooking, but especially in friendship and kindness.  We REALLY like him!
I had made some Hungarian cookies for Christmas.  One two inch circle of  rolled cookie dough receives a teaspoon of jam,  is immediately topped with another two inch dough circle, baked, and then dusted with powdered sugar!
When we called him to set up a time for cookie delivery, he suggested we top it off with some hot chocolate at his home on Christmas Eve. Enclosed in his Christmas card was a touching Christmas poem about SPECIAL friendship.
When another family joined us at his house, he asked the man to read the poem out loud to all of us.  It was a touching moment, indeed. There's something about Christmas Eve that seems to get right into the fibers and sinews of our emotion and spirituality.
While family is the MOST special, no question, friendhip is up there also in terms of precious possessions!

"I have a list of folks I know, all written in a book,
And every year at Christmas time I go and take a look.

Never think my Christmas cards are just mere routine,
Of names upon a Christmas list forgotten in between.
For when I send a Christmas card that is addressed to you,
It's because you are on that list of folks I am indebted to;

For you are but a total of the many folks I've met,
And you happen to be one of those I prefer not to forget.
And whether I have known you for many years or few,
In some way you have had a part in shaping the things I do.

And every year when Christmas comes I realize anew,
The biggest gifts that life can give is meeting folks like you."

Christmas Away From Home
Being raised American and Christian, it is very difficult to celebrate Christmas without family.  Imagine what it would have been like years ago with the only communication being via letter.  Amidst all the blessings of modern life, I would rank high tech communications as one blessing for which I am most grateful.

In short, it was a great blessing to touch bases with our family on Christmas Day, one of the most special days of the entire year!

A couple who were recently baptized into the church invited us and the Tongan Sister Missionaries to both Thanksgiving AND Christmas dinner.  We are VERY grateful for their hospitality. 

We love the faith and enthusiasm of our young Tongan sisters.
Norm and Christine    Christmas 2013

Our Gracious Hosts    

Our Special Tongan Sister Missionaries  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Titles of Respect and Honor

The respect we show to others in terms of tiles has, in general, come down a notch or two from when I was a child. For example, I would never dream of calling my aunts or uncles by their first names.  Nor would I ever have called my mom or dad by their first names.

Times have changed and some people prefer the familiarity that comes from eliminating these titles.

Our mission president, President Cannon, asked that we, as missionaries, underline every reference to Deity we could find in the Book of Mormon.He gave each of us a soft back copy of the Book of Mormon and said he wanted the task completed by December 18th, the date of our next Zone Conference. I decided to also write all the titles of Deity I could find in the front of my Book of Mormon.

The titles of respect and honor for Our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon, as well as in the Holy Bible, are many.  While all the titles are sacred, the titles listed below really touched my heart and brought special meaning to my mind.

The Eternal Father of Heaven
A God of Miracles
Christmas Christmas Everywhere
The Caldwell Train Depot was dressed in her brightest Christmas colors this past Thursday evening.  Evergreen garlands with large red bows cradled the windows and archways, an elegant dessert bar graced the serving tables, and the chamber orchestra had us enjoying, applaluding, singing, and laughing! 

The sparkling colors from Caldwell's Winter Wonderland display peeked through the windows as miriad nativity sets reminded us of the true reason for our joyousness. Two of these nativity sets were ours and are special to us as they are the nativity sets
I felt that I was in the midst of the grandest of circumstances and truly celebrating the season in style!

Norm's Christmas present, a watercolor print of the Caldwell Train Depot in 1906, was purchased for our downstairs Grandpa's Train Room.

Christine At The Caldwell Train Station With Two Of Our Nativity Scenes And Our Three Kings Statue

Our Snowman Nativity
For Us, This Was The Most Beautiful Nativity Displayed.
The Owner Explained That She Bought It At A Yard Sale!

Caldwell's City Christmas Light Extravaganza Is Reflected Through The Train Depot's Windows
Ice Crystal Delight
Sounds like a dessert, doesn't it?
For nearly three days or more, the temperatures remained below freezing rendering an ice crystal wonderland all around Caldwell and environs.  While the beauty in the city was stunning, the beauty in the countryside was breathtaking!  What a joy to behold and an even greater joy to partake of.
Dark Brown Tree Trunks and Branches Against Pure White Ice Crystals

A Grand Old Tree Displays Large Feathery Pmpoms Of Grandeur

Winter Morning Splendor Graces The Snowy Owyhee Mountains

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Santa Claus And Marriage Vows
Picture Friday, December 20, 1974.  A young couple was busy preparing for a winter trip to from Sacramento, California to Casper, Wyoming.  With a few clothing items and toiletries hastily packed in suitcases and a 1959 Volkswagon Bug with heater not working,
they intended to make a life defining decision to get married that very night in Reno, Nevada of all places!

That young couple was us!  But, wait a second, we couldn't begin the journey until Norm had played Santa Claus at the old James Marshall School in downtown Sacramento!
Once that was completed and the Santa Claus suit was put away, we were ready to begin our trip to Reno.  Preparations had been made for Don and Cherie Keele, Norm's friends who had introduced him to the LDS church, to contact their bishop and make arrangements for a marriage ceremony.

Who would think that a simple ceremony in an LDS Meetinghouse in a Relief Soceity Room, not even the chapel, would be so precious, sacred, and memorable.  Well, strange things DO happen and that is exactly what happned that night.  It happened in the most humble and unpretentious of circumstances, but, for us, no royal wedding ceremony of pomp and circumstance could equal our happiness on that most special of nights!

Afterwards, the Keeles treated us to an Italian dinner. With that completed, we drove to Winnemucca, Nevada where we spent our first night as newlyweds.  The next day it was off to Casper where I met my new mother-in-law and my new brother and sister-in-law.

Fast forward to last night, December 20, 2013, when we celebrated our 39th Wedding Anniversary with our love for each other way stronger than on that wedding night 39 years earlier.

I always say when something good occurs, we should celebrate it to the hilt because who knows what could be lurking around the corner.  So celebrate we did with our traditional cards to each other, a snowy night, and a fine dinner at the Outback.

Now it's off and running for our 40th year!
Matches, Streets Of New York, And A Precious Child
For those of you out there who look for a favorite story to read each Christmas,
may I suggest The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson?

A glimpse, and more, of love, dedication, purity, and devotion will call out to you.
Also present, in the shadows, fear, cruelty, and poverty will raise their ugly hands ominously towards you.

Miraculous scenes of true Christmas joy will beckon you.
The climax of triumph and exaltation will overcome you.

What a masterpiece of sorrow and joy!

Consider giving this one a read. 
Who knows, it may become YOUR favorite Christmas story!
Good Tidings Of Great Joy
"And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."
A Planet Or A Star?
A mother of an eight year old son told us that during this Christmas season when she sees Venus shining brightly in the night sky, she points to it and explains to her son that this star is like the Star of David or the Star of Bethlehem!

Sounds good to me!  

As I gazed at Venus last night, I thought of Our Saviors's birth in Bethlehem and the dawning of good tidings, indeed, for all men and women everywhere.  Good tidings are available for us of faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance for our sins and imperfections,  baptism, and the great gift of the Holy Ghost. Not the least among these good tidings is the supernal gift of prayer which "shall suffice for thy daily walk; even unto the end of thy life."
Doctrine and Covenants 19:32

Who says this isn't a season of good tidings of great joy?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Where Were The Snowplows?
Granted it only snowed about an inch and a half on Saturday morning 12/7/13, but where were the snowplows? Not on the interstate, residential neighborhoods, or the main thoroughfare between Caldwell and Nampa!  We were informed that snowplows are not brought out for such a light snow.
This differs quite drastically from Utah where  snowplows appear very early on after it snows.
Fifteen Mile Stretch Caldwell-Nampa Blvd. With Four Lanes

Old-Fashioned Town Nativity Scene
A few December evenings ago,  we were excited to see a lovely, old-fashioned town nativity scene as we entered Homedale, Idaho!
Such displays symbolize the faith, good will, and determination of the townspeople regardless of creed.
Homedale Idaho Nativity Scene

The Spirit Of Christmas
What a treasure the stained glass window below is as it depicts the various scenes of the nativity story complete with scripture verses!
Just like this exquisite stained glass window, the spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul.
LDS President Thomas S. Monson

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS; for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21
The Story of Christmas is more than merely retelling the advent of a babe in Bethlehem. It is one of the seminal events in human history.
That babe in Bethlehem, born in a lowly manger, was Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and the Son of God—our Redeemer.
Jesus Christ suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only through His mercy and grace can we be saved. His subsequent resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, he is very literally our Savior and Redeemer.
This season, we invite you to read the Christmas story anew with your family and friends. Look for the hope and meaning it can bring to your life.
We join with the angels of old as they announced the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to the shepherds: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14
Small Simple Things
Phillips Brooks, an American man of distinction in the religious world, a graduate of Harvard, a friend to all races and creeds, was born in Boston, Massachusetts and died in Boston.
Despite his many, admired accomplishments, when I raised my eyes to study his inspiring statue in Boston, his worldly skills did not even enter my mind.

Rather, I, like I suppose most people, focused with pride on him as the American author of the words to one of our Christmas carols, O Little Town of Bethlehem.
There are three stanzas to his Christmas poem and I am so glad he didn't quit after the second stanza! 

The last line of the third stanza reads
"Where meek souls will receive Him still
The dear Christ enters in."

The glories of the world fade rather quickly when the humble in heart pierce our beings to the very soul with profound, but simple, easily understandable truths.
During this special season, let us take the opportunity  to close our eyes, pause for a brief moment, and humble ourselves before our Savior.
The result will be immediate, no doubt about it.  He surely will enter our hearts and souls creating in us a desire to serve His Father and ours, to recognize the needs of others, and to bless their lives throiugh devoted service.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Caldwell Christmas Lights Beckon The Beginning Of The Season

Merry Christmas 2013 From Sister And Elder Masters

Gearing Up For The Winter

Monday, December 2, 2013

Titles Of Honor and Respect
Times have changed and using titles of respect have come down a notch or two since I was a child.  For example, I would never dream of addressing my parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles with their first names.

Some people like  the change and feel the familiarity brings more opportunity for bonding.

Our mission president, President Cannon, gave the missionaries an assignment to read the Book of Mormon underlining all references to Deity. We were then given a copy of the Book of Mormon. I decided to also list all the titles of Deity I could find.

The references to Deity in the Book of Mormon, as well as in the Holy Bible, are many.  While they are all most sacred, the titles of Deity in the list below especially touch my heart and mind.

The Eternal Father Of Heaven
A God Of Miracles
Creator of All Things From The Beginning
Our Great And Everlasting God
A God Of Truth
The Eternal Judge Of Both Quick And Dead
Lord God Omnipotent
The God Of The Whole Earth

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ready, Set, Go!
Are you ready?  Pull out those Christmas lights and decorations!
Decorate the tree, set up the outdoor and indoor decor, put the wreath on the door, arrange those Christmas villages, pull out the Christmas recipes, and set up your nativity scene.
There are only 24 more days until Christmas.  Off we go!

Last Christmas 2012, I admired my sister Janette and brother-in-law Gary's nativity scene.
When asked why the wise men and the shepherds were so far away from the manger,
Gary explained that his mother always started off the season with the the wise men and shepherds quite far from the manger.

Each day preceeding Christmas, they were moved a bit closer until on Christmas Day they reached their destination.
What a great idea to visually prepare our hearts to welcome our Savior Jesus on this His most special day!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gravy Geiser
The morning of Thanksgiving Day 2013 started calmly and sanely enough with me doing a marathon cooking feat of mashed potatoes and gravy, yam casserole, and a homemade sweet potato pie.  You can't believe how everything was in perfect order as we loaded the car and started off to our Thanksgiving dinner.  All went so well until at an intersection, now set in infamy for us, Norm had to brake for a red light.

A strange sound came from the back of the car and we thought, "What in the world is that?" Well, THAT was half a crock pot of gravy all over the seats, floor and, magnificently enough, all over my well labored over, first time ever made in my lifetime, sweet potato pie! 
Well, what a fine mishap this was!

Strangely enough, the pie survived quite well, as it was covered with saran wrap, and our hostess had made some gravy from the turkey drippings! 
What's that play of Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well?
Hot Cocoa And Vanilla Ice Cream In The Winter And Root Beer And Vanilla Ice Cream In The Summer
During the evening of Thanksgiving, we went for a walk through Caldwell's "Winter Wonderland" of holiday lights.  Afterwards, we drove back to our toasty warm apartment to enjoy hot cocoa ,cookies, and vanilla ice cream.
To our surprise, one of our guests shoved aside her bowl of ice cream, quickly scooped her ice cream in the hot cocoa and announced, "Now THIS is the way to enjoy hot cocoa!" 
In turn, most of us abandoned our ice cream bowls and followed suit.
You've got to try hot cocoa this way!
For me, this is the method I'm going to use to enjoy hot cocoa forevermore!
Hot cocoa with vanilla ice cream in the winter and root beer with vanilla ice cream in the summer!  Now THAT is the good life!
The Fruitful Fields And Healthful Skies Of Our Beneficent Father
President Abraham Lincoln, on October 3, 1863, 150 years ago,in the midst of the greatest conflict our native land has endured thus far, invited the nation to embrace a spirit of Thanksgiving to our Creator, the God of us all. 
From this time forward, the citizens of the United States of America would be asked to pause each fourth Thursday in November to ponder and consider their many blessings - seen and unseen.

Listen with your heart to President Lincoln's words so many years ago.

"This year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.......

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, Who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.
I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States,and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last
Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens...."

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day 2013, we, as an American people, had the most precious privilege of celebrating the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of October 3, 1863.

May God be praised for our native land, a promised land to us, the United States of America!

Lest We Forget
The Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, was, as we know, the pivotal battle of the civil war when the south made it all the way up to Pennsylvania. This most horrific of battles was fought bravely by both sides and has been memorialized through formal history as well as private conversation from that time to the present day.
The north proved the victors and President Abraham Lincoln traved to the battle site on November 19, 1863 to commemorate the loss of those noble ones from both sides.

November 19, 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. As we reflect on this battle and the bravery of those who fought, no doubt some of us, if we listen hard enough, will be able to hear those Rebel yells.
May God bless the United States of America.
Head Bowed In Reverence ForThe Year 1863
For me just about no other year in the history of the United States, my native land, brings the avalanche  of emotion as does the year 1863! 
This most definitely would NOT have been the case if Norm and I had not taken our two and one half month trip to the southern states in the summer of 2012. There the Civil War came alive and I learned the perspective of the South during this monumental conflict. My heart softened towards both sides and, after reflection, I held on to this dear country of mine even tighter than ever.
The most prominent events that spark my solemn thoughts and emotions are The Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation October 3, 1863, and The Gettysburg Address November 19, 1863.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Tailor And Porcelain Dolls
Brand new suits always mean a visit to the tailor for Norm. So one cold morning when Norm visited the tailor, I was prepared to wait out in the car contentedly reading, my all time favorite pastime. But my contentedness was jarred by Norm saying, "You've got to come in and see the tailor's porcelain dolls.  Come on!."  My brain was making adjustments like crazy with the words tailor, sewing, thread, sewing machine,and measuring trying to connect with the words dolls, porcelain, doll clothes, painting, casting, and firing.  Okay, okay, I'll come in to check out this expected horrific menagerie.  Why should I be afraid of in a tailor's shop in Caldwell, Idaho anyway?

My first thought was not  sophisticated or even academic, when, upon entering the shop, my brain registered the mental response of  "Holy cow!  These dolls are unique, gorgeous, and there are so many!  The clothing is stupendous with a wide variety of fashions from Victorian to Bohemian (my favorite by far.)  What's going on here?"  All this happened in nano seconds before my mouth sounded a "Good Morning" to the tailor followed instantly by "Surely you didn't cast all these dolls AND make all the beautiful clothing , did you?"  To which he answered, "Why yes I did and I even give doll making classes here in the evening. Watch for the outside yellow sign in early January 2014!"

The tailor's porcelain doll story began many, many years ago when his daughter was very young and wanted a porcelain doll. When the tailor discovered how costly porcelain dolls were, he decided to take the bull by the horns and learn to make them himself.  Of course, clothing them would be no problem since he was a tailor, for heaven's sake.

Thus, the tailor and porcelain doll maker, similar to  the horseshoeer and horseshoe art sculptor, prove, once again and forever more, that from little things great things can proceed.
392 Years Ago
Try to set your mind in backwards motion to the year 1621, 392 years ago.  For the American people, 1621 is truly a year to remember and cherish in the great and inspiring history of the United States of America, our native land.  That year the Pilgrims, all 110 of them, celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day on American soil.  What a minute.  Something doesn't seem right. When 47 of the 110 died during the first grueling winter, how could the remaining 63 possibly consider a mind set of hope and harvest the following autumn?

Incredibly, this legacy of the American spirit of hope, plenty, and industry has been handed to us as a precious gift.  Now, with this gift in hand, what are we going to do with it?

H.U. Westermayer said, "The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished; nevertheless, they set aside days of thanksgiving, days of praise and prayer."
Reconciliation and Thanksgiving     Dieter F. Uchdorf
Arithmetic And Counting Your Blessings
Who knows what nut came up with the word Arithmetic anyway, but these days it sure seems mighty archaic! Like a fair number of English words and phrases, Arithmetic has been plucked up and set aside by the more sleek word "Math."
Doesn't sound quite as complicated, does it?
Thinking back to my second grade Arithmetic days, my memories are vivid of working like mad in my Arithmetic workbook and not having too much of a clue what I was doing.  Of course, I could only half concentrate anyway because I was too worried that the teacher, who was making the rounds, would poke her nose in my workbook and see what a mess I had created! Oh, the frustrations and fears of a seven year old school girl.  Amazingly, even in the midst of such problems, I LOVED school!

One person, far wiser than I, has said, "The hardest Arithmeitc to master is that which enables you to count your blessings."

Well, let's see, with five more days left until Thanksgiving, maybe we can resurrect our Arithmetic skills from bygone days and start getting the old thinker going on how many blessings we can count in our lives.  There's no better way than by using our basic  Arithmetic skills and starting the count "one by one."

Who says we can't be good at the higher level Arithmetic?  Oops, I mean the higher level math!
Jay Russell's Horseshoe Cinderella's Carriage Against A Caldwell Idaho Sunset
Who Says Dreams Can't Come True Even Here In Rural Idaho!

Horseshoe Honeybees Busy At Work On A Bright Autumn Day In Marsing, Idaho

Yes, My Magnificent Elk Horns Are Made From Molten Horseshoes!
Eggs And Horseshoes
How on earth could the quest for farm fresh eggs lead to a sculptor of horseshoe art?
Well, it happened yesterday with no effort at all!
While lost in the vicinity of Old Bruneau Highway in Marsing, Idaho, we came upon a sign that read "Farm Fresh Eggs." Suddenly the frustration of not finding an address vanished and the lure of eggs fresh from the chicken dominated!

Guess who answered the door? No other than a Mormon who could provide us not only with the fresh chicken eggs, but also with the answer to our address problem! 
This is how giving directions is done in the farmlands of western Idaho.  I was taken to the dining room window.  Then was told, "See the big green house?"  I saw and was told the property we were seeking was just beyond the Old Bruneau Highway Pond a little to the left of the big green house. And, oh, by the way, remember to not turn on the first DIRT road to the right, but the first GRAVEL road to the right!  Oh dear!
Dirt. Gravel. This stuff is just too much fun.  Our longings for future cruises, tours, safaris, cross country wanderings, and other scenic and historic trips are fading as we have such fun out here in the hinterlands.  How is it that this place is only about six hours from our Utah home?   Who would ever guess?

While admiring the horseshoe wreath to the left of the front door of this Mormon's home, we were shocked to learn that the wreath was made by the very artist of the horseshoe art we had been admiring and discovering right and left in the Caldwell countryside!  So off we went to visit with Jay Russell and learn his story.The crux of the story is that one day Brother Russell, who is a horseshoer and cattle foot shaver, had all his appointments cancelled. He sat there and thought, "Well, what shall I do today?"  The idea came to him to weld a life-size horse out of horseshoes and after about 30 minutes he had a horse head!  Things proceeded from there.  What beautiful scuptures he's created from such humble and nondescript beginnings!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why Just Chicken Or Turkey?
Many years ago when our children were young, I learned that roasting a goose for Christmas was a German tradition.  Since my husband's paternal grandparents were German with the orginal name of Maister, I decided that we would roast a goose for  Christmas!
Initially, it didn't seem that complicated.  However, I soon learned that I wasn't going to get a goose from a store!
So one morning before Christmas, all the kids were piled into the car, along with our neighbor Amelia who happened to be German, and off we went to get the goose!
I was pretty well shocked with what happened next.  The goose was not ready for sale, so to speak, as I expected!  All of us witnessed the catching of the goose, the butchering, the plunking of the goose in boiling water to more easily remove the feathers, and the gutting of the goose. Yikes.  That sure was a day to remember.  And to top it all off we hauled the goose up to Lake Tahoe where we were celebrating Christmas that year!
Very important for those of you who want to roast a goose.  Be sure to prick it like crazy with a fork before you roast it in order to release the grease.  A goose is quite greasy if you don't do this.  Oh my goodness, the unnecessary things one learns in life!
As if this wouldn't be enough, I saw frozen duck in Winco the other day.  Since we're invited out to Thanksgiving dinner and thus I won't be cooking a full blown Thanksgiving dinner this year, I thought maybe I would roast a duck for Norm and I a few days before the big day.  
And, oh well, why not a goose for Christmas again?
Any one know where we might get a pheasant for New Years?!

Mowing The Lawn
Revelation from our Heavenly Father and promptings from the Holy Ghost, in the form of thoughts coming to our minds or feelings to our hearts, can come in any setting - sacred or mundane.
Having said that, I still wonder about one of my most prized promptings that came to me while mowing the lawn, of all things, many years ago.
For twelve years we had the privilege of living in "our dream country home" in Yuba City, California. The yard was a "park-like setting" dream also. Our riding lawn mower was short lived and I mowed that acre faithfully for all those years walking the acre and loving every minute of it!  Sure do miss it.
One day as I was mowing the front yard, I received an insight, too personal to discuss here, regarding a significant problem.
I've often thought back and wondered why this insight wasn't revealed in a more "sacred" setting, such as the temple, the church, or a poignant moment with a family member or friend.
I guess the moral of the story is be on your toes because the Lord is ready to help you at any given moment and, sometimes, in the most unlikely places. 
 How grateful and humbled we are for such a concerned Supreme Being!
Stronger Than Sight
Sometimes individuals of varied belief systems have incredible faith in God Our Father. They have what I think of as "faith stronger than sight." Such was the faith we witnessed last evening as we watched the film  The Saratov Account, a true story about two young Mormon elders kidnapped in Russia during the late 1990's.
Knowing the church would not pay a ransom for their release and knowing their fate was certain death, these two indiviuals kept their focus steadily on God, a God who loves ALL His children.
The climax of their struggles came when they managed to free themselves of their handcuffs and were on the verge of assaulting the captors.  After praying and getting ready for the attack, they felt impressed that their actions were not in accord with God at that moment and they  chose to put the handcuffs back on!   Incredible. 
When they were blindfolded, taken to a remote spot, had a gun pointed toward them for execution, the executioner had a last minute change of heart and they were released!
Oh that we all might have such faith as part of our very fiber!  Oh that we all might have the determination to have our eyes unwaveringly  focused on Our Supreme Creator!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Floor Lamps And The Motley Crew
Many years ago now, when I was the Relief Society President in the Yuba City California Feather River Ward, we held a Relief Society Board Meeting with the theme of The Light of Christ.  Every aspect of that meeting focused on light from all the overhead lights being turned off with just floor lamps providing  light.  The talks and discussions, as well as the hymns sung, were focused on LIGHT.

We sure were a "motley crew" that night.  Some of us had hardened hearts. Some were struggling with young children while others were fighting the ailments of old age.  But in we came and it is amazing what happened to us that night.  The older sisters had a new glow on their faces. The younger ones seemed more confident to return to their little ones with renewed purpose.  And, best of all, the sister with a very hardened heart, expressed her gratitude for the beautiful, inspiring gathering.  Even the features of her face looked softened in the light of that night.

All of us seek to escape the darkness of our lives in any form.  We gladly walk towards and in the light.  We know that the light we enjoy is good when it causes our hearts to burn within us with love for our Eternal Father in Heaven and Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Season of Light
For me, the time after Halloween to New Year's Day is a season of light.  I'll admit that I'm not a fan of the "dark side" of Halloween.  Pumpkin patches, caramel apples, hayrides, scarecrows, autumn colors, and the like are okay with me, but the dark side of skeletons, skulls, blood, guts, etc are off limits.  Sorry to all you Stephen King fans out there!

After Halloween, I think there is a spirit of light here in America that can be practically physically felt.  People realize that the holiday season is approaching and thoughts automatically turn to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and, ultimately, New Year's Day.  The world around us has a newness of life and beauty.  We have a tendency to think more about family and friends.  Our minds begin to recollect our gratitude for the good things life has brought us.  We are more aware of the bounty of blessings we enjoy in the form of shelter, transportation, clothing, and food.  Our generosity seems to blossom a bit more in the spirit of giving to our loved ones as well as those who are less fortunate than we.

In other words, the season of light is upon us and we turn toward it and welcome it.
Our battery candles are in the windows, the light of family, friends, our blessings, and our spirit of giving open our hearts to this special season.
Six Month Deadline
At our last Missionary Zone Conference, our Idaho Nampa Mission President, President Cannon, asked that all missionaries read the Book of Mormon marking all references to  the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, with the goal of finishing the task in six weeks! President Cannon said that if Joseph Smith could translate the Book of Mormon in six weeks, we could read it in six weeks!  Okay, that's a unique perspective on the assignment! Out came the highlighter and colored pens and off to work we went.

As Mormons, we believe in the Holy Bible. We love the Bible, its teachings, its lessons, and its spirit.  When we join the church, we do not give up our faith in the Bible, but we strengthen it. The Book of Mormon does not de-emphasize the Bible, but it expands it and exalts it.
Both the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon testify of Chirst.  The first testament of Christ is the Bible's Old Testament. The second Bible testament of Christ is the New Testament. The third testament of Christ is the Book of Mormon. If you believe that one of these three testaments is more important or more true than the other, you are missing some of the beauty and completeness of the canon of ancient scripture.
 The Miracle of the Holy Bible        M. Russell Ballard       Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Modern Widow's Mite
Who has read the New Testament account of the widow's mite and not had their heart touched by the story of Jesus and his observation and declaration regarding a poor widow?
When at the temple and observing people casting money into the temple treasury, He pointed out the striking difference between a rich man casting much into the treasury, seeking the attention of those about him, and a poor widow who quietly cast in a mite, a small amount of money, but all she could afford to give.
Jesus explained that because of her pure intent, she was the greater of the two despite the smallness of her contribution.
Yesterday, I experienced a similar situation with an older woman who, though not a widow, is poor in worldly monetary standards who gives quietly and with pure intent just like the widow of New Testament times.
This woman, despite her age, has been raising a young boy, who is now eight years old, since his infancy and is now working to legally adopt him.  She has been consistently saving money for attorney's fees associated with the adoption.
At the end of a lesson on a previous visit, I had mentioned that I needed to get a hat to keep my head warm during the upcoming winder months since we would be out and about in the elements a lot.
On our next visit, she had remembered my comments and insisted that I take one of her two hats.  You can imagine how reluctant I was to take a hat especially in light of her poor circumstances and her saving for the adoption! But she insisted that she wanted to give me a gift - pure and simple. I was humbled and accepted thinking immediately of the widow and her mite.
You would no doubt agree  it would have been amazing to have lived in New Testament times and to have been taught by Jesus personally. But yesterday I truly realized that the Lord gives us the very same heart-burning experiences in our day and age if we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to receive them.
A Ring Lost And Found
Our daughter, Rebecca, had lost a beautiful ring, but thought it just might be in the vicinity of a living room couch.  One his day off, her husband, Diego, took time to look for the ring and found it!
A few days before this happy discovery, Rebecca had said that if they found the ring, she would like me to have it.
Well, it WAS found and now I sentimentally wear it on my mission as something special from my daughter that I can keep close to me always.
Although material things are not our main focus in life, some have that poignant sentimental value that pierces our heart.
Caldwell Idaho  Train Depot
The Caldwell Idaho Train Depot was built in 1906.  Caldwell had a train depot even before Boise and was referred to as "the train town" all over the Treasure Valley! The train depot was affiliated with the Union Pacific Railroad.
The train depot was renovated and dedicated on its 100th birthday in 2006.  It is open  to the public on the first Saturday of each month between noon and 4pm as well as on designated special occasions throughout the year.
Ever since Norm was a little boy, he has been fascinated with trains.  He especially loves the old steam engines.  As a youth, the Masters family would often travel by train both locally and once across country on a trip to the west coast. This special trip was financed by Norm's adoptive mother, Ruth Masters. As a single woman, she had been saving money for an around the world trip.  However, upon marrying a widower with two small boys, the goal was changed from an around the world trip to an across country USA trip with a husband and two young sons!
At home in Utah, one of the downstairs bedrooms is a train- themed room under the careful supervision of Grandpa Masters. It is appropriately labelled with a sign "Grandpa's Train Room."

Caldwell Idaho Train Depot  Built in 1906   Renovated in 2006

Christine at Caldwell Idaho Train Station   November 2013

This Will Be A Great PhotoTo Add To Grandpa Masters' Train Room At Home In Utah

Happily Ever After
The old fairy tales we read as children explained it perfectly.  We would lead lives with some problems, some quite challenging, but in the end, everything would work out and we'd definitely live happily ever after!
Sounds great, doesn't it?  Remember the sigh of relief as you'd finish a fairy tale and realize that all was resolved and not a fragment of worry rested upon anyone's mind?

Wait a minute, you might say, things sure haven't worked that way in MY life.  Despite my gargantuan, persistent, and monumental efforts, one and one hasn't always equaled two! Strange.

As we gain more wisdom, we are more perceptive in realizing that when things DO turn out well, we should celebrate with great gusto, relish the moment, and give thanks to the Lord for His great bounty.  That's right and proper.

Looking at it from the flip side, when we work like crazy to make something work in life that ends up not to our liking, it's time to work  like mad to fix it the best we can.  Although the situation may not be exactily as we would have it, we can always make things just a bit better by accecting the situation, making necessary changes and amends, and moving forward.  That, in turn, is also right and proper.

Looking forward is always the way to go.  Troubles purify us, not defeat us!
The Old Desk
Okay, picture a spacious master bedroom with French doors and a plethora of windows looking out on surrounding orchards and a beautiful yard.
Now picture a large, heavy, scratched, bulky, and old metal desk purchased from the State of California salvage furniture.
Yes, such was the desk that was plunked down in our master bedroom at our Yuba City California country home about ten years ago.
Having just been called as the ward Relief Society President, I was counseled to have a desk set aside just for Relief Society work. 
When looking at attractive new wooden desks that might match our bedroom set, they just simply seemed not to "fit the bill" mostly in the sense of roominess and practicality.

So the old "clunker" desk was purchased, hauled in, and set amidst more prosperous looking furniture pieces.
This old desk saw many an hour of working to meet the needs of the women of our ward at that time as well as women in the community.  Early morning hours before work, daylight hours on days off, and late night vigils at the desk were spent praying for divine guidance, turning the pages of well worn scriptures, pondering sisters' needs, planning upcoming events, searching for comforting words for those sorrowing for a myriad of reasons, and organizing lessons.
Yes, this old desk was my faithful companion during a special time in my life.  The old desk,just like people, didn't necessarily look so great, but was what the Lord had at hand to spread His love and service to others at the time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Train Whistles - Home and Here
One of the "little things" I love about our retirement home in Utah is that in the early morning as well as late at night we can hear the train whistle. Well, guess what, here in Caldwell it is the same with the train whistle here being even a little louder!
For me, the train whistle represents a beckoning to see new places, meet new people, learn new things.  Being a Bohemian at heart, my greatest happiness is being on the road whether it is cruising down country lanes or up and down the freeway.  I love to pack that suitcase and, yes, I actually LIKE to live out of a  suitcase!  No Problem.  When the vacation is ended, I never want to come home. It's not that I don't love home, but, then again, you never know what discoveries there may be around the bend or over the mountain so to speak.
Grandpa's Train Room, a downstairs bedroom in our Utah home, is filled with train memorabilia here, there, and everywhere. Love those trains.
Treasures Close To The Heart
I have treasures I always carry in my wallet.  Please note ahead of time the disappointment a thief would have discovering the contents of MY wallet!
   1.   A Copy of the Preamble of the Constitution of the United States
How grateful I am for my ancestors, every one of them, journeying across the Atlantic, at one point or another, to make their home in this land of individual liberty.  I'm so appreciative that they braved the voyage as I am reaping the blessings.  THANK YOU to them from the bottom of my heart.
   2.  A Copy of my Patriarchal Blessing  
A patriarchal blessing is a special, one time blessing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that points out certain things one is capable of achieving and, in turn, blessings one can receive if faith is exercised and life is lived as righteously as possible.  I love my blessing so a copy is always with me.
   3.   My Temple Recommend 
I love to go to the temple to learn, make covenants, and receive blessings from the Lord. So I keep my recommend close at hand.
   4.   My Missionary Badge
I opened my eyes this morning and the first thought that popped into my head was that, after my mission, there is one thing I must add to the above treasures to carry with me always.  That would be my missionary badge.  I know that there will be moist eyes and strong emotion when I take off my missionary badge, worn during my service to the Lord in the Idaho Nampa Mission, for the last time. Norm feels every bit the same way.
The above are my "portable" treasures.  I lug them around with me wherever I go.  Other treasures, such as pictures of all seven children, grace our bedroom and are the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning.
Each of us have our individual treasures in life.  May we always keep them close to our hearts!

Friday, November 8, 2013

 Contraptions, Implements, And Curiosities
Displays of antique farming equipment abound here in western Idaho.  Here, there, and everywhere
one can spot some farming implement from bygone times gracing a yard or roadside plot. One senses that, by and large, these people proudly claim their heritage of tillers of the earth.  For those who love the land, dirt is as precious, and even more precious, than gold.  Working the land gets into your blood and becomes a part of you that lingers even when your farming days are over.
You may as well admit it.  This looks like some type of  a "contraption" or to another's skillful eye maybe it looks like simply a piece of junk!  To us, it looks like an antique harvester of who knows what.  It struck our fancy as it looked quite handsome in appearance.  Thus, we made an effort to capture it on film..Displays of antique farming equipment and implements abound here is western Idaho. 
Okay, we may as well add Gunfire Rd. to the likes of Working Dog Lane, Chicken Dinner Rd, Cemetery Rd., Old Dump Rd,  and Graveyard Rd.  Love these western Idaho street names!
Caldwell Idaho City Christmas Tree
It seems way too early, but two days ago a procession of about 10 to 15 vehicles associated with hauling Caldwell's Christmas Tree crept into town with the tree branches dragging along the street!  The tree is tall, very wide, and quite handsome in appearance.  One's imagination can picture its lighting and the yuletide joy it will bring to the residents of Caldwell during the Christmas season!
 The Caldwell Idaho City Christmas Tree Is Being Set Up In Early November 2013.
The Caldwell Idaho City Christmas Tree will have a lighted American Flag At Its Top!
                      Caldwell Idaho Carnegie Library 1913      100th Birthday Celebration
Are You Working For Them Or For Me?
Most of us like to do a good job with whatever we do and we certainly enjoy receiving recognition for our efforts.  In other words, effort and hard work often are reflected in good job performance evaluations or maybe praise from someone we highly esteem.  It feels good to get these pats on the back or, in other words, reassurances of our individual worth.
Missionary work is a totally different ball game. In missionary work you partner up with the Lord, strive to be an instrument in His hands, plead daily for His help, and rely on the promptings of the Holy Ghost in all you say and do.
The following poem sums up a misisonary's dedication and love for the Lord.  The true missionary seeks not his or her individual praise, but praise for the Lord.
It is truly a noble endeavor and the treasure of a lifetime!

Where Shall I Work Today?
Master, where shall I work today?
My love flowed warm and free.
He pointed out a tiny spot
And said, tend that for me.

I answered quickly, oh no, not there,
Not any one could see
No matter how well my work was done;
Not that little spot for me.

When He spoke, He was not stern.
But He answered me tenderly,
Search that heart of thine;
Are you working for them or for Me?

Nazareth was just a little place.
And so was Galilee.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sunset on the Snake River      Homedale, Idaho
This was a picture perfect scene of the beautiful Snake River in Homedale, Idaho that Norm was able to capture on film right at sunset.  Of all the beauties in the world, this scene would surely rank high in the midst of them.
This picture at sunset seems to fit very well with the poem/song Lead Me Gently Home, Father.
Shopping and Inspiration
What in the world could shopping and inspiration have to do with each other? Let me tell you a story. It happened a few months before we began our mission.
Norm was in a store busy with shopping when a song caught his attention over the store's background music.
Remembering some of the words, Norm went on the internet to find that the song was Lead Me Gently Home,Father.  It was sung by the Sons of the Pioneers with Lloyd Perryman as the lead singer in this particular rendition.  Be aware that the Sons of the Pioneer rendered a version of this same song earlier, but you want to hear the Lloyd Perryman version.  There is simply no comparision. The words follow.

Lead Me Gently Home

Lead me gently home, Father,
Lead me gently home
When life's toils are ended
And parting days have come.
Sin no more shall tempt me.
Ne'er from Thee I'll roam.
If Thou'd only lead me, Father,
Lead me gently home.

Lead me gently home, Father,
Lead me gently home, Father
Lest I fall upon the wayside
Lead me gently, gently lead me home.

Lead me gently home, Father,
Lead me gently home
In life's darkest hours, Father,
When life's troubles come
Keep my feet from wandering
Lest from Thee I roam.
Lest I fall upon the wayside
Lead me gently, gently home.

If you're interested in a very moving experience, go to at the following address to hear Lloyd Perryman sing this amazing song.
Kicking and Sceaming
Have you ever noticed that when a personal change is recommended in your life, there is a tendency to get slightly mifted at first, the nose is tilted a bit more upward, and the body stiffens ever so slightly?  Me change?  Indeed!
But then comes the pause when you begin to slowly consider the suggestion.
If upon pondering, the suggestion appears warranted, you bravely make the change - be it a habit or the tone of your speech and the like.
You  feel so  - flat out - GOOD. What can be better than that?
Dinner Time Woes No More
For all you ladies out there who dread the words, "What shall we have for dinner tonight?", here is a suggestion given to us by our daughter, Rebecca.  The answer is Crock Pot Orange Chicken!
Put six boneless chicken breasts OR six bone-in chicken thighs into a crockpot. Spread one large can of orange juice concentrate over chicken. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on low. Shred chicken, mix in sauce, and serve over rice.  Easy, delicious, and very tasty!  Thanks, Becky.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Uncle Paul
Uncle Paul died yesterday afternoon at age 90 while taking an afternoon nap.
He was a very bright, knowledgeable man.  He was nicknamed "The Professor!"
When I was a child and beyond, he has been a special part of my life.  I can remember him washing his car and packing when he would prepare to go to San Pedro to court my Aunt Tina.
He raced boats and won several trophies.
He was a mastermind when it came to farm equipment and everything that went with it.  He'd take me all around  the ranch and in town in his pickup and talk endlessly about farming, engines, and the like.  Often, when I was a child, I couldn't follow what he was talking about, but just enjoyed being in his company!
He nicknamed me "Toogie" when I was young and even made up a song entitled
"Toogie" which he would sing in Italian.  I can still sing it in Italian to this day.

Often, he would shorten my nickname to "Toog"  He never called me Christine.  It would have seemed so strange if he had.
What a unique individual.  My cousins and I and all his family will miss him so much.