Sunday, February 1, 2009
Let the love begin.
My slightly insane friend Les has issued a challenge. The 14 days of Valentines challenge. "Which means everyday from the first through the 14th of February you do something nice, something extra for your spouse, your kids, or your friends- or all of them. It's about personalizing our lives and putting more effort into the thing that matters most -- relationships." That's all nice and good, but did I mention there are prizes? Oh yeah. So this is my plan. You can steal it, but I get the credit okay? Each day for the next 14 days I will show love for someone in one of these categories: Spouse: Feb. 1 My dh and I have different expectations of the term "Sunday dinner." For him, it means a nice sit-down dinner with the family. Perhaps a roast chicken is served. Potatoes are a must. There is homemade bread with butter and jam, and a selection home-canned fruit and/or vegetables. A nice meal. For me, Sunday is a day of rest. I say get a bowl of cereal and call it good. Today when my ever-hopeful dh approached me and asked if I had any plans for dinner, I brightly replied, "Yes! I thought I would prepare a nice chicken dinner for everyone." He stepped closer to me and gently laid a hand on my forehead. "Are you feeling all right?" he said, extremely concerned. Ha ha, very funny. So my act of love for today was chicken. With potatoes, vegetables and home-canned fruit. Freshly baked bread would have been nice, but I didn't want to set an unrealistic precedent for future Sunday dinners. An old friend: Feb. 2 I think Facebook is amazing. Just this past month, I have reconnected with dozens of friends from my childhood. Not just high school, but people I've known since before Kindergarten. Just today, a childhood friend sent me a friend request. I don't think I have seen this person since middle school/Jr. high. There is a Facebook group for my elementary school and she commented on a Kindergarten class photo that I had posted a while ago. She said she was glad to see this pic because when she was a teenager her house burned down and they lost all their childhood photos. Today's gift of love was scanning and emailing old class photos, Kindergarten through 6th grade, to an old friend. A stranger I will never meet: Feb. 3 Don Antonio is a small rice farmer in Nicaragua. His family is made up of 5 other people—4 children and his wife. They all live on the farm where they work making rice for human consumption and for commercial use. Adding a rice thresher to the community will allow him to maximize his crop. This is his main goal, to contribute to the purchase of the thresher and achieve his dreams as a small farmer. Today I loaned a very small amount of my money to Don Antonio so he can buy farm equipment that will change his and his family's life. The money I lent him was repaid to me from loans I made to other small-business owners in Peru, Tajikistan, Cambodia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. Please check out Kiva.org. Parents: Feb. 4 I don't want to spoil the surprise, so if you are my mom or dad, please stop reading now. Thank you. I sympathize with those of you around the country who are snowed in, iced over, or otherwise ensnared in the deathly grip of winter. I remember snow and ice and bitter cold and I just have to say I am glad I am not you! My parents live in a cold and wintry place, so to brighten their bleak existence with a little California sunshine I sent them a box of sweet, juicy Valencia oranges picked right from the tree in my backyard. A sibling: Feb. 5 I tried, Dan. I really did. I tried to read/proofread your first draft of your first novel all in one day but I didn't quite make it. Today was not my day off. I'm on page 55 and I can't wait to read more. I am enjoying the action/fantasy/history combos. I like the character names. Except for the main character's first name. Just my opinion. I was worried when you used the word "spiffy" but I just heard that the President of the USA used that exact same word when referring to Air Force One, so I think you'll be okay. Love you, brother. Ancestors: Feb. 6 Families can be together forever. Today, thanks to a friend who watched our children, my dh and I were able to attend the temple and perform vicarious sealings for some of our ancestors. A sealing is an ordinance that cements or "seals" relationships in this life and after death. Husbands and wives can be sealed together. Children can be sealed to their parents. We believe that family relationships do not have to end with death. In heaven, my husband and I will still be married. My parents will still be my parents. My children will still be my children. That is why members of my church work so hard to research genealogy and family history; we want to be with our families in the next life too. Our work today, as we believe, will allow a few more of our ancestors to continue the loving family relationships they enjoyed during their lifetimes. A new friend: Feb. 7 Today's love was fairly simple and easy. I babysat a new friend's children for a few hours so she and her husband could go out. Piece of cake. I was especially happy that my new friends arrived home just before I started to change a stinky diaper. I guess it would have been more loving of me to change the diaper. Oh, well. A teacher: Feb. 8 There is an older couple that we know from church. I'll call them Bro. and Sis. C. These great people are teachers to my family in so many ways, both formally and informally. Bro. C is our home teacher. Sis. C. is my visiting teacher. This means they visit us in our home each month to teach us a gospel lesson and see if we are doing all right. Bro. C. teaches the family history class dh and I attend on Sundays. Sis C. teaches my children songs on Sundays during Primary. They are examples to us of faithful, hard-working people who have finished raising their family and are still going strong with volunteer work at church and in the community. They are cheerful and loving and make us laugh. When I needed someone to pick me up from the airport after dh's injury, they were the ones to be there for us. This evening we delivered freshly baked banana nut mini muffins and expressed to them our gratitude for their friendship and the many ways in which they are teachers to us. A stranger I see face to face: Feb. 9 Oh, man, this was tough. I am not an outgoing person. I hate making phone calls to people I don't know very well. I do not like to chat with people on the airplane or at the park. I just barely started having conversations with the girl who has cut my hair for two years. I did not really have a plan for this category, but today as I went to the grocery store I knew what I had to do when I saw her. A tiny woman, apparently homeless, holding a cardboard sign and seated on a curb in the parking lot. I avoided her gaze as I drove past. I parked far from the entrance and took a circuitous route to the front doors. As I pushed my cart up and down the aisles my heart was thumping and my mind was distracted. I wanted to buy something for her. What? Something ready to eat. Non-perishable. Filling. My ds was with me today. I did not tell him my plan. As we left the store, I pushed my cart directly toward her. She stood up. I asked her if she would like some bagels. "God bless you. Thank you," she smiled, "You have a fine son." I tried very hard to look her in the face, but I'm afraid my eyes quickly glanced away. I gave her the bag of bagels. I said something polite, but I don't remember exactly what. I wish I had given her some fruit too. Children: Feb. 10 Today I sacrificed of myself for the sake of my children. I did not use the computer even one time while they were awake. I know. It was tough. I was a little disoriented, a bit shaky, but I did not give in. I know I spend too much time here. But it is my link. All my best friends live in my computer, you know. I mentioned to my kids during dinner what I had accomplished today and they both sincerely congratulated me. I do have valid reasons for using the computer during a regular day. I look up lesson plans and instructions. I check which library books are due. I find the answers to pressing questions from my children; "Where does earwax come from, Mommy?" But I also entertain myself when I could be interacting with my kids. Today's effort made a positive impact on the day, and I'm going to continue my reduced computer diet. Not cutting out the computer entirely, just using it with more prudence. Sparingly. While they are awake. An enemy: Feb. 11 I don't really consider anyone my enemy. There is no Joker to my Batman or Professor Moriarty to my Sherlock Holmes. No Death Eaters and Order of the Phoenix, vampires and werewolves, Dorothy and the Wicked Witch...I could go on. I consider myself fairly easy to get along with, but there are a few people who just annoy me. Not many, but a few. I singled out one of these people with whom I have had an uncomfortable relationship for quite some time. Without revealing too many details, I have finally decided to start to let go of my hard feelings and allow my relationship with this person to improve. As I was considering how to start this process, a scripture came to mind; "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5: 44.) Following the words of Jesus Christ, I have been praying. A neighbor and a widow: Feb. 12 & 13 Heart-shaped frosted sugar cookies. With sprinkles. The Valentine's day requisite. I used this recipe but halved it. My kids and I spent a cold, rainy day baking and decorating. Then when the downpour slowed to a drizzle we grabbed our umbrellas and took a refreshing walk in the rain with our plates of fresh cookies. Stomping in a few puddles along the way. My next-door neighbor's kitchen window is literally 15 feet from my kitchen window, yet days can pass and we never see each other. Weeks can pass between conversations. We are both busy moms of young kids and sometimes thats just how it goes. Around the corner from our house lives a widow of about two years. She and her husband were original homeowners in our neighborhood -meaning they bought that house in the 1950's. I felt bad that we woke her from a nap when we rang her doorbell, (I know I get cranky if anyone wakes me up) but she, as always, had a smile on her face. Myself: Feb. 14 Today I am packing up my art supplies and taking them on a little trip with me. Making time for art is a rare gift to myself. Maybe when I'm done I'll have something good to show for the effort, maybe not. I look forward to finding out. Happy Valentine's day. I'm not going to go in order, but I will complete an act of love for someone in each of these relationships, updating with explanations as I accomplish them. I will not reveal who the enemy is, so don't even ask. But, if I send you a box of cookies out of the blue... Please join me in filling the next two weeks with a little extra something to let those around you know you care. Document your efforts and share them. If you need help with ideas, check out some of Les's 250 ways to say I love you. Ready? Go!