Friday, April 18, 2014

The Miracle of Easter

I've been diligently practicing the hymns for Easter Sunday. The organ in our YSA Ward isn't like the one I've been playing for 15  years in our old ward - minus the time we were in Armenia - so I'm having quite a time adjusting to not being able to control the dynamics with the foot pedal and not being able to determine which stops I want to use.

Since the Easter hymns are difficult for my arthritic fingers, I've been playing them over and over to get them perfect so when I sit down at the organ, the frustration of not being able to do what I want won't overflow into my accuracy at the keys. I don't want to set the congregations nerves on edge with glaring mistakes, especially on this special Sabbath.

While I'm playing, I sing the words - glorious words! Beautiful promises! Eternal blessings! Our sacrament hymn will be "God Loved Us So He Sent His Son." I know as you read those words your mind will fill in the rest. I'll have to remind our YSA chorister that we must sing all the verses - they are beautiful and may times forgotten as they are the bottom of the page.

I love the exclamation of He Is Risen! Yes, He is! And because of that, so can we all rise again! "Tell it out with joyful voice! He hath opened heaven's gate. We are free from sin's dark prison"....what glorious statements and promises!

"Christ the Lord is Risen Today" - sung with exultation - is a triumphant declaration we want the world to know! I love the Alleluia's - but my feet don't go quite fast enough anymore to get in all those pedals. Hopefully no one will notice as they sing these praises -"Love's redeeming work is done! Lives again our glorious King! Where O Death is now thy sting?"

I would not have thought to choose "Rejoice, the Lord is King!" but it is a perfect Easter hymn. Easter, and the miracle we celebrate, is a time of rejoicing! I love the hymns. I love the music and the messages. I love the gospel. I love my Savior!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

NO SUBSTITUTES PLEASE


Give me the real deal.  I'm not fond of artificial sweeteners, fake eyelashes, or phony apologies. Carob doesn't satisfy me when I want chocolate. It annoys me to pay for a product and receive a substitute in its place. This may seem like an odd analogy, but I feel the same way about those politically correct non-prayers that substitute for denominational prayers at public gatherings. 

Many years ago I attended a special service at a centuries old Catholic cathedral.  The priest, in what no doubt was an attempt not to offend the many non-Catholics attending, recited some vague bit of poetry about nature's beauties instead of offering a Catholic prayer.  I was disappointed.  I was in a Catholic church, I wanted and expected a Catholic prayer.  

I've come to very much dislike the bits of poetry, the vague references to some euphemism, random references to some force of nature, and empty moments of silence that substitute for prayer at many public gatherings.  In our zealousness to not offend anyone, we've become atheistic worshippers of a non-god, followers of a pessimistic religion of doubt. 

When visiting a synagogue, mosque, revival meeting, or Christian Sunday School, I want to hear the prayers of the people who ascribe to those faiths.  I don't want them to cater to my beliefs.  When I attend a public meeting, I want to experience the prayers that have meaning for those who attend the meeting.  I want to experience the richness of prayers given by those of other cultures and faiths. 

There are those who deem public prayers as unconstitutional.  I don't agree.  Prayers are only unconstitutional if they are mandated to be of a particular denomination.  My fifth grade teacher made each of us in her class responsible for the prayer on a rotation basis (down one row, then the next, so we each had a turn then started over.)  We could say the prayer ourselves, have clergy come, or skip the prayer for that day.  It was our call on our assigned day. As the only Mormon in the class, I found it a great opportunity to learn how others prayed and what was important to them.  When I worked for the legislature I had a similar experience when each day someone different offered the prayer and we heard from religious leaders from Reverend Francis Davis, an imam, a rabbi, LDS General Authorities, and many local protestant leaders. 

For those of faith there is something deep and meaningful in prayer.  For those who profess no belief, it is an opportunity to build group cohesiveness and discover what matters to others.  To me prayer is both of these things and I feel cheated when that opening appeal for divine guidance is skipped or a substitute is offered.  Even when a prayer feels strange and not of my choosing, I consider it an educational opportunity.  When it's an honest appeal for those of diverse beliefs to work together, there can be no substitute.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tribute

                                      Some of the ladies of Once Upon a Mattress with Mr. Nak!

In this picture you will see me standing in a pink feathered frock (I was the bird who was to sing the princess to sleep) between two wonderful people. My friend Andree, and one of my favorite teachers of all time, Mr. Nakamoto. He was my high school drama teacher and he inspired a lot of young people. He actually set the course of my life. With the confidence he gave me, I would go on to get a Bachelors and a Masters degree in theater. I would spend many years acting, writing plays, and directing productions. I also followed in his footsteps and taught drama for several years.

Mr. Nakamoto passed away in October 2013--age 81. On March 29, in Honolulu a few of his students got together for a memorial celebration...actually a few hundred! We met in the auditorium at McKinley High School (where many of us performed) and had a huge celebration. It was most fitting.

Such good memories. Thank you Mr. Nakamoto.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Balancing Act


Recently the diabetic specialist I had been seeing on a regular basis decided to retire. I was told that a new specialist would take her place. However, after the new doctor tried things out at that diabetic clinic for a month, she quit. It was then I decided to take matters into my own hands and find myself a new doctor, one that was hopefully a little closer to home.This task proved to be rather complicated as I had to consider the limitations of our insurance (it will only cover certain, PPO approved physicians,) and the fact that I am an odd duck--a Type 1 diabetic on an insulin pump. As such, I had to find someone who was comfortable handling an insulin pump patient. (Most diabetics are Type 2 and control things with diet, exercise, oral meds, etc.)

I searched the internet for a physician that would satisfy everyone's requirements. After a few days of sorting through endless lists, I narrowed it down to an individual that seemed to stand out. He was on our insurance roster as an approved doctor--and when I called to talk to the nice receptionist, she assured me that he was taking new patients and he had worked with other insulin pump dependent diabetics. Also, he was a D.O.--the type of doctor my youngest son is seeking to become.(Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.) From what I've learned through experience, and what my son has taught me, D.O.'s tend to be very patient friendly. Also, they are trained to use the best of Western and Eastern medicine. This is extremely cool. =)

Deciding I had struck pay-dirt, I told the receptionist that I would like to lock this doctor in as my new diabetic specialist. That's when I was told that this particular doctor likes to look through files and decide which patients he is willing to add to his clientele. Ah. This was new. Not only was I evaluating him, but he would be going through the same process with me. Interesting.

The next day I received a phone call and was informed that I had been accepted as a patient. I did the dance of joy, hoping this was a good change. About a week later, my husband and I drove to Logan and met up with my new specialist. It was a good experience, even though my A1C test was a little higher than it should've been. (The test that reveals the average blood sugar level for the past 3 months.) Because of that, I was told that I needed to meet with the office dietician--a bright young man that the nurses and my new doctor highly recommended. I still pouted. I mean, seriously? I've been a Type 1 diabetic since I was the tender age of 19. After ten years . . . (Kidding. My 30-year-old son informed me last year that I can no longer be 29. Sigh . . .) okay . . . after 33 years, I think I know what I'm doing . . . most of the time. ;) I knew my blood sugar levels had been bouncing for a couple of months. It's the time of year when my RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) acts up (compliments of the wacky weather) and with the inflammation comes increased blood sugar levels. It's just how my silly body rolls. Everything (and I do mean everything) affects blood sugar levels. Pain, heat, cold, illnesses, exercise, carbs consumed, etc. It proves to be quite the balancing act, and something I live with every day. True character building moments. Back to my story:

After silently protesting, I decided to be a sport. I reasoned that this was a new start . . . a big change. And maybe the dietician could help me get things balanced. On the other hand . . . I've been counting carbs for years--what more was there to learn? I soon found out. About two weeks later, I met with the dietician. I had been asked to keep track of everything during the preceding two weeks: Basal rates, insulin boluses, meals consumed, exercise, the works. I found the old charting graphs I had used when I first became a pump patient and after making copies, I used them to record all of this lovely information.

My mother went with me to this appointment. She was curious about what this new dietician could possibly teach me about diabetes, something we've already established that I've lived with for a gracious long time. An hour and a half later, my mind was reeling with new information. It turns out that things have changed . . . a lot within the past five years. I left the clinic that day so excited, I could barely contain myself. And as everyone had said, the dietician was awesome. He was upbeat, encouraging, and didn't put me on a guilt trip over days when my levels were less than impressive. Instead, he praised my efforts and then used entertaining props to help me understand what my silly body is doing these days.

Later that night, I had to call my oldest son, who is becoming a dietician, and shared my new-found enthusiasm. He understood everything I had learned and told me that it has been amazing what has been discovered about diabetes in recent times. He was excited that I had stumbled onto a doctor and a dietician that make a great team. Though the past few weeks have been challenging (we're in the process of changing basal rates--the insulin levels that drip in continuously from my insulin pump) to get things to balance out, I know it will all be worth it. Eventually, we'll have things stream-lined and I will likely be in better shape than I've been in for a long time.

So I'm realizing . . . again . . . that change is important. It's how we learn, grow, and better ourselves in this crazy world. We weren't meant to exist in a state of constant bliss in an environment that stays the same. We need to be flexible enough to "ride the waves," as they come into our lives and glean those things that will make a positive difference. Though I tend to fall off my "surfboard" . . . a lot (yep, I am a descendant of the dude who fell off the Mayflower--John Howland) I'm learning how crucial it is to keep trying, knowing that someday, the balance I'm seeking will be attained and I will be a better person as a result.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

THIS AND THAT


I'll begin with a little updating.  I'm now beginning chapter three of my new work in progress.  It looks like it's going to be another romantic/suspense novel.  I'm also almost finished going through the second of my seven plastic drawers full of material that might be considered genealogy verification. Sorting through memories is kind of fun, but entering names, dates, etc., in the computer is time consuming and I can see I need more info from several of my nieces. 

Two of my daughters have books coming out this year.  Janice Sperry's book is a middle grade reader with a really cute cover and it's a fun spoof on dozens of fairy tales.  Lezlie Anderson's book is a Christmas booklet and I got a sneak peak at its cute cover a couple of days ago. I'll have more to say about it closer to its fall publication date. 

I just made my first Whitney nomination for 2014!  2013 awards are coming up next month, but it's not too soon to start making nominations for the next round of awards. 

Like almost everyone else, I'm really tired of winter, but all the rain we've gotten the past couple of days has really turned the grass green and it's so inviting to see daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, violets, and some purple flower (I don't know its name) blooming in my yard.  I love spring! My husband even bought two more half barrels so we won't have to fight over which barrels get flowers and which will host vegies this year.  

It's funny but I have a hard time believing it's really spring until April conference has come and gone and my accountant finishes preparing my taxes.  I'll admit I'm a little less than enthused about including children in this year's Women's Conference session, but I'll see how it goes.  It will seem a little strange not to do any conference signings this year.  After twenty years of Celebrating Sisterhood and Ladies' Night, I feel a little left out.  I hope all of my readers won't forget me before I have another book out.  (My old books are still available on Amazon/Kindle and LDS book stores still carry quite a few of them.)  As for taxes--there aren't a lot of happy memories associated with them as there is with conference, but I'll just be glad to know what I have to pay and get the sorry deed over with. 

Today marks eighteen months since the first of the four surgeries that sidelined much of my life for a time.  Both knees are doing fine and the left one serves as a barometer to let me know when we're going to get rain or snow.  My doctor assures me that with the removal of my pancreas I won't ever get pancreatic cancer as so many of my close loved ones have done. I'm still adjusting to using an insulin pump and skipping most of my favorite snacks.  Alas no malt balls, Cadbury eggs, or jelly beans for Easter this year.  On second thought, I might sneak in a stray jelly bean or two on days my glucose count is low.

Friday, March 21, 2014

All I Need to Know....I Learned From The Easter Bunny

I was going to share some serious thoughts on Easter but ran across this and decided to save those thoughts until next month when it is closer to Easter, though you'd never know it by looking at the wares on store shelves!

1. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
2. Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.
3. There's no such thing as too much candy!
4. All work and no play can make you a basket case.
5. A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.
6. Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.
7. Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.
8. Some body parts should be floppy.
9. Keep your paws off other people's jelly beans.
10. Good things come in small, sugar-coated packages.
11. The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.
12. To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell.
13. The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.

And I think some of them are actually true!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Caucus Meetings

Tonight in Utah are the caucus meetings for the Republican party. Tuesday were the caucus meetings for the Democratic party. It is a great system of grassroots participation in the political system. A chance for neighbors to get together and choose delegates who will represent their values and expectations in a candidate. Those men and women who wish to run for office must then go to each delegate, introduce themselves, and state their case. It's a way for the office seeker to be vetted, unlike a primary system where the person who has the most money can put up a myriad of flashy signs and win through popularity, not substance.

The United States of America is a Republic not a Democracy.

James Madison, who was called the Father of the Constitution, offered a concise definition of a republic as follows:

     "We may define a republic to be...a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior." (Federalist Papers, No. 39, p. 241)

Sadly, we've slid away from participation in our government; our voices have been silent in the political system, thereby allowing the duel negative creatures of human nature (power and avarice) to overtake many of our representatives.

Perhaps it's time to reengage in the process. Let's attend our caucus meetings.