Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Gift of the Child

"Let us Bring Him Silver and Gold"
December 10, 2011

A Christmas Show where many children were able to give glory to God by sharing their various talents. First, was a Nativity scene with all the children dressed in costume and singing songs of Christmas, followed by individual and family performances. The stage then was filled with pajama-clad children who couldn't sleep because of the "visions of sugar-plums" that were still dancing in their head. Santa proceeded to "tuck them in bed" by revealing to them some of the very special things he always carries in his Santa Bag that remind him of the true meaning of Christmas. He showed them a wreath (eternal love), a candle (the Light of Christ and our own inner light), a gift (giving, sharing, thinking of others), a bow (tied in the bonds of brotherly love), a bell (rings to bring lost sheep home), a tree (the evergreen of everlasting life, pointing heavenward), a candy cane (Shepherd's crook for bringing lambs back to the fold), red (The Savior's sacrifice for all), a star (The Bethlehem star, a sign of prophecy, the light of the world) . . . Santa Claus (The spirit of Christmas, giving and receiving love, caring, sharing, kindness, cheerfulness, happiness, peace, good will to all, Christlike living). The evening concluded with all the children, on stage, gathered around Santa, with the audience, singing "Away in the Manger."

I wrote a poem to describe the "hope" for the night.
The Gift of the Child . . . The Christ Child
The Gift of the Child . . . Our Child
The Gift of the Child . . . Their God-given talents


The gift of the Child from heaven to earth

The Savior, our King -the sacred birth

Brought forth a brilliant burst of light

Starlight’s bright beam transformed the night

And so it is with each new birth

The moment –the Chance—to see heaven touch earth

To deep within feel the light

That transforms our hearts, our souls, our sight

The Gift of the Child—the gift of our child

So our eyes can see the meek, the mild

And then to watch the years reveal

In sinew of soul—gifts of God sealed

The child giving gifts to glorify God

As they seek to follow the path he trod

Let us hear them, see them- give their praise

To God for all his starry rays

That shot down the light from heaven above

That taught them to sing and dance and love

Like praises from shepherds and kings of old

Let us see the child bring Him silver and gold. . .

Written by Karen Nelson

Christmas 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baby in a Manger


All ahush in stable below
Babe in a manger – all aglow
Soft are the sounds, sweet and mild
All amazed at the newborn child

Heaven, however, could not refrain
Responding in music of unearthly strain
The angels that night could not be hushed
Between shepherd fields, singing, they rushed
The Son of God, a king is crowned
Music of heaven was heard all around
Loud proclamations of His birth
Announcing arrival… the Christ Child to earth

All sounds surrounding that sacred night
Were holy…some soft… some brilliantly bright
Angels above were singing and singing
As Babe in a manger lay dreaming and dreaming….

Poem by Karen Nelson

Monday, November 21, 2011


My son, Tommy, who is sixteen years of age, was assigned to give a talk for "Standards Night" for the youth in our church...

My father grew up in McLean, Virginia, not far from Washington D.C. The year he went away to college at BYU was the same year that my Mom’s family moved to McLean. My dad, as he was away at college, got to know Mom’s brother, Jeff, but had not yet met my mom. Then, in November of his freshman year, my Dad decided to come home from BYU for Thanksgiving. On Mutual night, Dad and Mom saw one another in the foyer of the Chapel but didn’t recognize each other. That night my mom’s Laurel Advisor taught a lesson on Temple Marriage. In part of her lesson, she said, “You never know. The person who you are going to marry may be right in this building tonight.” My mom remembered that when she and my Dad got to know each other a year later. Dad went on his mission. They consistently wrote back and forth, and then were married a year after he came home.

The same could be for us. For all we know the person we will marry could be in this room right now. Whether that’s the case for us or not, one thing is certain, for most of us, our future spouses are somewhere in this world today with the same types of trials that we have. Lately I have been thinking a lot about where my future wife may be and what she might be doing. It is my hope more than anything that she is learning the habits of living righteously, just as I hope all young women here are trying to do, so that you may all participate in the spreading of the Lord’s kingdom.

My mother worked in the Young Women’s Program for many years. Two of her young women were sisters that were slowly becoming disconnected from the church. She said that they started to attend church less and less and their clothing became increasingly immodest. My mom has always felt that spirituality is intricately connected with modesty. From years of experience, she knew the signs, knew that these girls were slipping away, so she essentially “went after them.” For months, the leaders and the young women made loving efforts to reach out, include and encourage them in deeply caring ways. Gradually, the girls started to regain the light in their eyes and how they clothed themselves began to change dramatically to reflect the regained spirituality in their lives.

I am sure many of you have heard the saying “modest is hottest”. We use it in kind of a joking way, but it’s true. I have had many conversations with friends about how girls dress and we all are greatly appreciative of the efforts young women make to dress modestly. My mom has always said, “You get what you dress for.” She is essentially saying that those who dress immodestly will attract those who take you for less than who you are. Dressing modestly will attract those worthy of an eternal relationship. I believe that immodest dress can actually be a disservice to young women because it is harder to find the real you with the distractions caused by wearing something revealing. Another thing is certain: anyone who is modest is much less likely to do anything that isn’t morally clean. It is my hope that the young woman I will one day marry is today making modesty a priority in her life as a sign that she is a devoted daughter of God.

Among all the programs in the church; church itself, seminary, Young Mens Young Womens, scout and girls camps, etc., we have been told that none has a more powerful effect on a person’s testimony than personal scripture study. I believe this is because when you are alone with God, as you read, you can hear his voice just for you. The power of that connection is what changes you and directs your life.

One of our family mottos is: “Be There!” It means that it is important to attend “everything” that the Lord has prepared for us. My mother and father were each raised this way and over time, by being immersed in the programs in the church, their testimonies grew and grew. Another thing I also hear around my home, and some of you may have heard my family members say, is– if you don’t go, you must think that you are smarter than God…. And then my mom’s classic saying, “even if the activity at Young Mens is just painting your toe nails purple – you should go– and you will always be blessed for doing so.” I believe that for all young men and young women it is important to attend all church functions that are available for the youth so our testimonies will remain steadfast and immovable.

Technology has made connecting of lives so easy. With the press of a key we can write or talk to people all over the world. There is one thing easier than this, though, and it is prayer. All one has to do is close your eyes and you can connect with God on high. Prayer is still, and has always been, the easiest way of communication. I know, for myself, that there is no life without regularly making that connection with my Heavenly Father. I hope that all young women realize the importance of prayer and how it will, not only help guide you to an eternal companion, but guide him to you as well.

Throughout my life I have realized that the most attractive thing to me about any girl is her confidence, not the kind of temporary confidence that comes from being cute, talented, or even smart. It is the kind of enduring confidence that comes from understanding our relationship with Heavenly Father. I believe that if one has confidence through the Lord, all temptations and worldly desires can be rid from them, and they will find joy in all they do and know how to better serve the Lord. As I have said before, whenever I go to school, a game, a party, or some other function, my father always says, “Remember who you are.” As I think of him saying this I realize how great he thinks I am and how proud he is of me. When he says this I remember that I am a son of god. When I remember this it makes me wants to be clean in my actions, words and thoughts. He has a better perspective and high hopes for the kind of man that I might one day become. He wants me to remember my responsibility as a disciple of Jesus Christ. If my dad or your dads have that kind of perspective, imagine our Heavenly Father, as he sent us off to our earthly experience saying, “Remember who you are.” We are His children. He has high hopes for us and His hopes go far beyond what even our earthly fathers thoroughly comprehend. Above all other things, I hope that my future wife is being taught who she is and will remember it.

All the hopes I have for my future spouse are the basics of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is by “small and simple things” that great things are accomplished.

All of you young women are futures wives and mothers and will participate in the spreading of the Lord’s kingdom. Remember who you are. You are daughters of a Heavenly Father who wants you to have everything that he has—just as your earthly fathers do. This is my prayer for you—and for myself as well, because I know that I have the same responsibility that you do to prepare myself. My prayer for you is that you will love and serve everyone, and that you will be pure—letting virtue garnish your thoughts,

Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth. And thy kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom and without compulsory means, it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.

I bear my testimony that God lives and loves us, and that through Christ’s atonement we can and will create eternal families with confidence through the Lord. And I leave this with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011



When I was a young girl my Grandma Bessie told me a story about a dear neighbor friend who passed away. After several years her husband remarried. Grandma Bessie and her friends noticed, as they became acquainted with their new neighbor, that all the treasures, heirloom linens and valuables that their friend had stowed away for years, because they were too valuable to use or keep out, were all being used on a daily basis and displayed everywhere in the home. As they watched the new wife enjoy all the things they knew their friend never allowed herself to enjoy, while she was alive, they determined that this was not going to happen to them! So out came everything. They started using all their fine china and linens and once hidden keepsakes were now placed where they could see them. It no longer mattered that they might break or get worn out. All around them, now, were beautiful things that gladdened their hearts and filled their minds with sweet memories.

You can probably imagine, as the mother of ten children, that I have seen amazing amounts of broken, crashed and destroyed - and because of the lesson learned at a grandmother’s knee, I have probably provided opportunity for more things to break than a seemingly wiser approach would have allowed.

I was reminded of my long-held determination to be true to my Grandma the other day. I have a smiling sunshine plate that was painted by my seven-year old daughter, Annie, twelve years ago. It makes me happy everyday. I noticed a few days ago that it had been broken and then carefully glued back together. It was not perfect anymore – but the sunshine of my Annie was still smiling back at me – and the beautiful thing about this is - I haven’t missed a day of Annie’s sun shining into my heart for twelve years.

Thursday, November 10, 2011




When I was sixteen, I crashed our brand new car into our family station wagon. I went to tell this to my father, who was lounging around a pool with the family. He calmed my tears and told me to not worry…“It is just a car,” ---- and then he didn’t even get up to go and look at the damage. He wanted to make extra sure that I knew I was more valuable to him than a car.


One night I walked into the house after midnight, after crashing our brand-new car out on the freeway. I had fallen asleep, hit the guardrail and totaled our car.

I had hitch-hiked home in the snow with our new 3-week old daughter. When I walked in and told my husband what had happened, he said, “I am just glad you walked through that door.”


I was describing the car crash I had been in, that caused our car to be totaled. A woman, who overheard me, came up to me and said, “Don let me hear you talk about your car. Last summer, I fell asleep at the wheel, rolled our RV, and killed my 14- year old son. Don’t let me ever hear you talk about your car!”

In the midst of difficult situations it is important that we keep in mind what is most important.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sometimes it takes an Angel


My son Jack, when he was 7 years old, was playing on our neighborhood playground equipment with several friends. They, all of a sudden, discovered a beehive and everyone scattered - except for Jack, who in the panic of the moment, slipped and fell into the vice grip of a wedge that his head had slipped into. His legs were flailing around, in an attempt to find an escape, but he could not move his head. He was strangling. My friend, who was supposed to already be at the church with me for a youth activity, was still at the park with her grandchildren. She had told them twice that it was time to leave, but they begged to "just stay a little longer." That "stay a little longer" is why my son, Jack, is alive today. She dashed to him and was unable to find a way to help him - but then figured out a way to use the strength of her legs to manage him, since there was nothing her arms could do to help. Miraculously she was able to release his neck from the grip of the wedge. Jack did not come home and tell me about this. My friend, Kara, did not tell me either. A few days later, when I was at her house, she told me that for three nights she had been unable to sleep, staring at the ceiling, contemplating what would have happened if she had not been there. She said she could not tell me because she did not have the strength, yet, to be able to speak of it.

I think on this - and wonder - perhaps this situation needed an angel friend, and not a mother. Perhaps only she could have heard the voices of "stay a little longer" and heavenly instructions about how to save a strangling child, reminding me of Esther - "Yet who knows whether you have come ... for such a time as this." Esther saved her people. Kara saved "my people."

Since writing poetry has been my friend in expressing the depth of my feelings, throughout my life, I wrote:


She happened to be at the playground one day

Dreamily watching the children at play

Merrily they danced through the grass and the sand

From climbing to swinging, they gleefully ran

Then….. all of a sudden, a bee was in sight

And all the young ones ran away with their might

But one small, blond boy was not part of their flee

There was one left behind…he could not get free

She desperately ran to the struggling boy

His neck wedged tight in the jungle-gym toy

Giving her all…with her strength, did create…

An inspired rescue, quite changing his fate

Gently she worked with the young, distressed one

Her friend’s small son that would run in the sun

She brought him to safety…sent on his way

Knowing he’d see, now, many anew day…

And in the night…her eyes would not close

As she pondered the miracle, that just arose

She could have been most anywhere

But Kara… of light… was… “right there”

Stirrings within… sent her to the grove

And now we see Jack through neighbor paths rove…

And her friend, not knowing how to express

Her heartfelt thanks of deep, deep depth

…Picks up a pen, a silly old pen…

And tries to describe what she feels in her heart

How to thank Kara for playing the part…

In God’s saving plan on that warm, sunny day

To give back to Karen her Jack to still play

“No tongue can express, nor can it be written”

The joy of escape from a possible smitten

From mother friend… to mother friend

I beg you to know… that to the end

I will bless your name forevermore

For giving me back…… my Jack….my last-born…

This last summer, years later, when we were together, she rehearsed the event to me, showing what she had done to save my son.
Afterwards, we held each other and wept.

Kara Davis

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Of Course We Are

Darci, my daughter

This is a talk my daughter, Darci, gave in church, which I entitled:


I skipped work this week and went to Disneyland for a day. I love Disneyland. Where else can you go where it snows bubbles, where people break into song in the streets, and where no matter how small the child, they can still defeat the menacing Darth Vader.

I especially love going at Halloween when all of the kids come in costume. Every girl is a princess and every boy a gallant hero. And when you’re child, why shouldn’t you believe that birds’ can help you get dressed for the day or that you have the power to pull a sword from a stone to claim a regal inheritance?

Although life is not a Disney fairytale, what is true is that WE ARE THE LITERAL spiritual offspring of an HEAVENLY KING, heirs to a royal inheritance and with infinite potential.

There is a reason we are told to become as a little child. They believe it when they sing the words “I am a child of God, and he has sent me here.”

My first niece was born yesterday – little Vivienne. It makes me think of Wordsworth, who our general authorities so often quote, “But trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home. Heaven lies about us in our infancy!”

I think Wordsworth is also right though when he continues: “Shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy.”

As we get older I think it becomes easy to we forget the significance of our divine heritage and what it should mean for our lives – and perhaps in the forgetting we do become a little more Malificent and a little less Cinderella.

Case in point being perhaps that my go-to Halloween Costume is Medusa, while my mom’s is Cruella D’Ville.

Nothing can change the fact, however, that we truly are children of a loving and DIVINE Heavenly Father.

Paul declared to the Athenians that we are the “offspring” of God.

And in the Doctrine and Covenants: the “inhabitants [of the worlds] are begotten sons and daughters unto God.”

And the Pearl of Great Price God teaches Moses this important truth: “For behold, this is my work and my Glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

The God of the universe, the Creator of all things, stands at the ready to help us reach our full potential “for the worth of souls is GREAT in the sight of God.” And oh, what we can become under God’s loving stewardship.


But Satan, the Father of Lies, seeks to distort our view of our great individual worth.

The adversary seeks to make us believe we are less than we are.

We see evidence of this as we look to Moses, who after communing with God on the Mount of Transfiguration is visited by Satan, who immediately challenges Moses’ spiritual lineage by calling him, “Moses, son of man.”

He tries to separate us from the Love of God and convince us that God is not mindful of us. Isn’t that the grossest lie of all? That God, in his heaven, is not mindful of his children.

God is ever mindful us. I was reminded of this when I was set apart as a missionary. After the blessing, my grandma came up to me with a small slip of paper with words she had dictated from the blessing that spoke the simple truth that “God is personally aware of you.”

My parents are nick-name givers and all 10 of us have a random assortment that we answer to. Among the more interesting are Bernaldo for Katherine, Spikapoo for Jack, DeGailing for Jimmie, and they get even weirder. And although I also have my fair share that sound like jibberish, my mom also often calls me her “first born in the wilderness” me, being the first born while my parents were in their wilderness of starving student life.

I remember an experience a few years ago when I was feeling far removed and forgotten by the Lord. I turned to the scriptures. However, like the bratty daughter I was being, I begrudgingly put forth minimal effort, merely flipping the book open at random.

The book fell open to 2 NEPHI 2, and I began to read and in the 2nd verse I read – “Jacob, my first-born in the wilderness . . . thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.”

I knew in that moment that I was not forgotten by the Lord, and it was, as Elder Bednar calls them, a tender mercy for a suffering daughter.

On the other end of the spectrum, the adversary seeks to distort our view through PRIDE.

PRESIDENT UCHTDORF explains that to some, “the great deceiver appeals to their prideful tendencies, puffing them up and encouraging them to believe in the fantasy of their own self-importance and invincibility. He tells them they have transcended the ordinary and that because of ability, birthright, or social status, they are set apart from the common measure of all that surrounds them.”

Pride would also have us seek after personal glory rather than the glory of God. In the recent movie, “Tree of Life” by Terrence Malick, a father who struggled for years in business comes to realize that his focus was misplaced and states: “I wanted to be loved because I was great; A big man. I'm nothing. Look at the glory around us; trees, birds. I lived in shame. I dishonored it all, and didn't notice the glory. I'm a foolish man.”

A prideful heart focuses inward, giving little regard to the Lord’s hand or the worth of others.
There is a funny sketch the comedian Brian Regan does where he talks about being the “ME-MONSTER,” which essentially means someone who is prideful and self-obsessed. In the bit, he says, "Me myself right and then I and then myself and me me me me me. I couldn’t tell this one about I cause I was talking about myself and Me.”

The scriptures teach us plainly that it is the meek who will inherit the earth and that “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Another way, the adversary challenges our view of our individual worth is by convincing us that the world’s view is the right one. And face it, the world’s view of worth splashed on magazines, in crazy reality TV shows, and hundreds of other mediums has strayed far from what the Lord values in us.

SHERI DEW shared the following: A 45-year-old mother of six told me recently that when she stopped pouring over magazines that plagued her with images of how her home and wardrobe should look, she began to feel more at peace. She said, “I may be chubby, gray, and wrinkled, but I am a chubby, gray, wrinkled daughter of God, who knows me and loves me.”

The world would have us believe that we are not pretty enough, good enough, smart enough, successful enough, and that we need more and more and more and more to fill our well of worth that could never possibly be filled with such things, until our faces are puffed up with collagen and our chests are puffed up with pride.

I worked in DC for 10 years, and I love it there. It’s alive with education and opinions, and everyone’s got one. Amidst all the things I love about it however, it is very much a culture based on the idea that “YOU ARE DEFINED BY YOUR CAREER.” In fact, I have some colleagues who wore their failed marriages as badges of honor, claiming that they were sacrificed for THE JOB.

While there, my career gave me the opportunity to work among world and political leaders, business gurus, media and sports personalities and people who have received the greatest accolades, honors, and recognition the world has to offer. It was interesting to note, however, that success by the world’s standards didn’t mean these people were more happy or more fulfilled or by any means BETTER people. In many cases, it was just the opposite.

PRESIDENT UCHTDORF -- The Lord doesn’t care at all if we spend our days working in marble halls or stable stalls. God knows that some of the greatest souls who have ever lived are those who will never appear in the chronicles of history. They are the blessed, humble souls who emulate the Savior’s example and spend the days of their lives doing good.

I love the movie THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE. It’s a sentimental movie set during The Great Depression. In it the main character, who is a professional golfer, is talking to a young boy who idolizes him. The boy is complaining that he is embarrassed and being made fun of because his dad, who once had a thriving business is now sweeping streets to make a living.

The main character responds with wisdom that could instruct all of us: "Oh, grow up Hardy. Your daddy's out sweepin’ streets because he took every last dime he had, and used it to pay up every last man and woman he owed instead of declaring bankruptcy like everyone else in town, including your best friend Wilburs' dad, which is why he's able to sit around all day long on his 'dignity.' Your daddy stared adversity in the eye, and he beat it back with a broom."

I know that it means more to GOD that we are good, than what worldly “dignity” we carry with us.

That’s not to say, however, that there is anything wrong with achieving or doing many things that the world finds praiseworthy. In fact, we are encouraged to be industrious, to pursue education and careers, to develop talents and to share them. And certainly since we are commanded to support one another openly, receiving praise from the world and from others is not bad in and of itself. It’s what we do and how we feel about such recognition. Do we crave it, depend on it, seek after it or do we Glory in God because he has given us “all that we hath.”

The movie “Chariots of Fire” which is about the 1924 Olympics is also, in part, a biography of a Scottish runner and rugby player, Eric Liddle. Besides being a world-class runner, Eric was also a devout theological student studying to become a missionary. In a particularly poignant scene, Eric is speaking with his sister Jenny, who is concerned with his decision to put his missionary work on hold to compete in the games, fearing that he’s seeking for personal glory. Eric says to her, "I believe God made me for a purpose; but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure.”

God is happy when we pursue our talents and live up to our potential, but how important it is to acknowledge Him, from whom all such blessings flow and through whom all things are possible.

I love this thought from English author John Ruskin “the first test of a truly great man is his humility. I do not mean, by humility, doubt of his own power. But really great men have a curious feeling that greatness is not in them, but through them. And they see something Divine in every other man, and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful.”

Once we truly come to understand who we are and to what source we look to for our individual worth, we understand that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God and the worth of others becomes great to us as well.

Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle said that one of the most Godlike of virtues is the appreciation of human worth as shown by the hearts of men.

How much more secure and free would we feel to live up to our divine potential if we treated one another like the cherished children of God that we are.

Eliza Doolittle, the pupil of Professor Henry Higgins in the play My Fair Lady says, “The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins because he always treats me as a flower girl and always will. But I know that I shall always be a lady to Colonel Pickering because he always treats me as a lady, and always will.”

We have such an opportunity and indeed an obligation to help one another recognize and fulfill our potential on this earth.

One of the lessons I cherish most that my parents worked to teach all of us was the principle of what they called “being for” people. They taught us that it was important to REJOICE in the success of others, to be in their corner 100% and that our actions should always be to support, encourage, and love.

Elder Glenn Pace said, “I am convinced that when we obtain a witness of who we really are and possess healthy feelings of self-worth because of it, our joy in the accomplishments of others is magnified. When that joy is felt, we should share it.”

ALMA is a great example of this. After being reunited with Ammon and his bretheren, he says, “I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is MORE full because of the success of my brethren.”

We should take every opportunity to rejoice in one another. Understanding the worth of souls should guide our behavior even when others have disappointed us or turned away from what we know to be true.

We may at times feel justified to speak ill of people who have exhibited bad behavior but how much clearer is their path back if paved with love rather than criticism. And since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we will each have times when we hope that path is clear for us. How much wiser is it then to hold our tongues and to keep people’s names safe in our keeping.

JOSEPH SMITH taught, “Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

JOSEPH SMITH also teaches us that “A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race.”

We have a dear family friend, Anita, who we met in our ward when we lived in England who is just this sort of person. She is a true example of someone who “mourns with those who mourn” and seeks to “comfort those who stand in need of comfort.”

We lived in England in the 80s while there was famine in Ethiopia that received wide news coverage. Anita felt such anxious desire to help the people of Ethiopia, she figured even though she couldn’t offer much, she could still do something. At the time, Anita was working as a nanny for Bob Geldof, of the British band the Boom Town Rats. Hoping to take advantage of the opportunity afforded her by living in the home of a rock star who boasted other rock star friends who frequented the house, she placed a poster in the kitchen with a jar underneath that said, something like “HELP THE STARVING IN ETHIOPIA.” Bob Geldof was inspired by Anita and her poster, and said to her, “I think there is something more we can do about this.” He went on then to organize Band Aid, which produced the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” attracting such artists as Sting, Bono, Phil Collins and others and raised 8 million pounds. That led to the Live Aid concert and the recording of “We are the World” in the US the following year, which included artists like Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross and countless others. It was considered an historic event and the proceeds for this recording reached over $50 million in only one year. In 2005 Geldof again organized a series of concerts to raise money and awareness for Africa, and millions more were raised and Geldof was knighted by the Queen for his efforts.

My mom once asked Anita if she would ever write about this experience, but she simply dismissed the idea. “So,” my mom said, “we’ll be the only ones who ever know what you inspired.” “Yes”, she replied, entirely content with that idea.

Because of one jar on one counter, and one heart who felt so deeply the worth of souls that she had to do something, millions of people have been blessed and even millions more touched by the spirit of love that began with one humble follower of the Gospel of Christ.

Indeed, “the worth of souls is great.” And of this I testify . . .

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where Heaven and Earth Meet

How often are we able to capture the ultimate essence of "new" . . . this rare and sacred chance was made possible two days ago . . . with the birth of my granddaughter

I asked my daughter to allow us to look into her window . . .

Where Heaven and Earth Meet

A New Mother’s Thoughts…

Holding my new baby girl fresh from Heaven two days ago and crying. So overwhelmed in every way. Overwhelmed that she is mine…that I am so blessed to be the one who gets to be Vivienne’s Mom. Overwhelmed at my responsibility… taking care of this gift from Heaven, making sure her every need is met emotionally, physically, intellectually, spiritually. Overwhelmed by the feelings of love I have received from friends, family, strangers, and my Father in Heaven. Overwhelmed at her perfection…you can feel Heaven in the room when you look at her, everything is peaceful and bright.

When my Husband Sam and I were in the delivery room I felt this overwhelming desire to keep this space sacred. It wasn’t something I consciously decided, but I kept the TV off and didn’t get distracted by things that didn’t matter, it was just Sam and I receiving this new life into the world. The room was mostly filled with laughter while I was laboring, until the epidural wore off:) Then it was filled with breathing and pain, and holding my partner's beautiful, strong, careful hand. I had never experienced those really horrible labor pains before since I am one of those women who admit proudly to loving epidurals, they are Disneyland! It was amazing though to see what comfort just the hand of a loving partner could do to ease my burden. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to endure any more pain here comes my princess Vivienne out of my womb and onto my belly. So beautiful in every way. Sam and I took turns warming her skin to skin. So connected.

The next few days were filled with snuggling, cramping, laughter, visitors, crying, nursing, shuffling kids from one generous friend to the next, changing diapers, figuring out this whole business again… but, throughout it all, there was always Peace. Even though the life of a Mother is a hard path, and maybe some might look at my life with 3 boys (and now a girl), juggling our busy schedules, wading through the tornado that usually is our house, the poop, the throw up, the general high volume of children playing/fighting, and think it is too much…but, at the end of the day there is peace, peace in knowing who those children really are and that what you are doing reaches much farther than the walls around you.

Written by Kim Nelson Hirt (a daughter)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Go to the ocean whenever possible ~~~ clears the mind ~~~ opens the heart ~~~

.... allowing for "gone with the wind"


She looks into beyond…what can it be
Rolls of white foam in bright turquoise sea
It keeps coming and coming, to her pure child glee
She stares at the wonder, sensing how free

After her eyes melt into delight
She steps slowly forward to feel the sight
Over her toes, over her feet
Climbing her legs up to her knees

She looks back to gather a sense of belong
Then smiles turn to laughter when crashing grows strong
All of a sudden she’s racing the waves
They dance with her soul in ecstasy’s rave

Finally she’s come…the sea seems to be speaking
We’ve waited for her… the one we’ve been seeking
When she alighted upon our shore
We knew she’d arrived through heaven’s door

She is the one…bright blond like the sun
We knew in our waters she one day would run
The one who knows truly of God’s beauty gift
The one who knows surely of how we can lift

She knows our power… the power to heal
She knows our spirit brings one to kneel
Only she senses with full heart and soul
The gift of the ages from our ebb and flow

And now she is here…she will tell them at last
That waters of heaven can heal the past
And move one full forward…the feel of surround
Bringing remembrance…how His love abounds

Dance with us child…tell us your story
Sing to us now…how you came from glory
To bring to the earth the gift of the sea
An offering from God to help children see

That waters of love pouring over a heart
Can mend and tend, create a new start
For all broken children not knowing how
For those who’ve forgotten how to bow

Tell them dear child to run in our waves
Tell them to come to the sea to pray
Tell them to dance with us…we’ll sing our song
And soon they, again, will know they belong

To God above who loves them, so dear
The love that you see and know… is clear
Tell them, oh tell them, to come to the sea
And we will teach them how to be

You are the one… flowing hair like the waves
You are the one to teach them He saves
All that God hath…it’s beautiful…you know…
Bring them dear sea-child… bless their soul

Little blond child runs in pure delight
Blessed, sacred, holy sight…

Poem Written By Karen Nelson



We each “approach” life differently for a reason. It is a necessity. “That all may be edified” together, we have been given different talents and propensities. We use these to create our lives and brighten and bless the lives of those we have the privilege to have in our life. I call this “style.” We each have a style uniquely our own. To the degree we are true to our created “style” is the degree to which we can be effective in influencing others and making a difference in their life for good. We have the ultimate superb opportunity as mothers to accomplish this.

I watch my mother friends and glory in their difference in “approach.”


One friend is raising five children, one of which has Angelman Syndrome. She shows me her hour-by-hour schedule for the summertime months, mapped out in startling, perfect detail…and I see the match up. Brilliant, intellectual, creative, driven, artistic mama with a host of children with varying interests and challenges. They each thrive expansively under her dedicated, inspired “reign.”

Another mother spends her summers in the backyard on a swing full of daughters to talk to -- laying by the pool with lemonade and flowers and cookies and crafts. Creative, magical, bright, lacy, crafty mama. Every child thriving in sweet peace and bonding creativity.

Another mother, with two autistic children, takes her six children to Disneyland over and over again and lets the color and delight of magic fill their fantastic souls. Sunshine, indominatable, mama. Each developing in unimaginably beautiful ways.

Another mother hikes and bikes and runs and exposes her children to the wonders of the outdoors that can only be truly felt and explored in ways that involve the unity of feeling the joy of all that the human body can do joined with trees that can only be seen atop an unreachable mountain, or wild flowers that only can be found on hidden trails – and only for certain days, if you happen to catch them. Outdoor, rugged, insightful, spiritual mama. All thrive with the song of nature in their hearts, and minds and bodies.

Each mama … her own approach to life, to summer… for a reason … that all may be edified…


Mary seeks light, sits at His feet
Head held high, hoping eyes to meet
Steadies her gaze upon His face
Enthralled by His love, His peace, His grace

Martha seeks light, stands at His side
Captures each word, as through the room glides
Hopes her devotion He still can see
Seeking to serve, though not by His knee

Both seek His light…at His feet, by His side
One sees, one hears… their souls to Him tied…
“Mary and Martha, Come unto Me…
Bring “each” your hearts…see eternity”…

(Poem by Karen Nelson)

Play this scene out in your mind

Mary and Martha approach the Lord in very different ways … as we do…each of our unique offerings graciously accepted … evidence presented that we have honored the gifts He has given us to work with on earth to beautify and bless and “Come Unto Him.”

Play the scene out in your mind….your “approach” – your offering before the Lord.

Friday, October 14, 2011



I read an article in a magazine that featured movie stars that were now in their later years. Although their stories varied there was one thing that stood out as common among them. They each said that they would trade all the fame, money … the glitz, the glamour … everything… to be able to grow old with someone.


I believe we should grow old gracefully. Developing habits that support the goals of mental and physical health are, of course, important. I believe, however, there are many things that the world offers that upset the natural flow into growing older. There are emotional and physical needs that can require alterations but I believe we should, whenever we can, “leave our beautiful bodies alone.”

I watched my Grandma Bessie “grow old gracefully.” Right up until the time she passed away, at 93 years of age, she was doing yoga, jumping on her mini trampoline, making her green drinks and reading every book she could get her hands on, keeping her mind bright and body healhthey ttttttthy.

She once told me that, when you are old, what becomes most important to you is that you are “useful.” She was able to “use” her beautiful, old body to bless the lives of us young’ins until her very last day; nursing relatives through illnesses, helping in the home when granddaughters were bringing new ones into the world, working tirelessly wherever there was a need. She was “gracefully” able to make her “needed” dreams come true.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Growing up, I moved from California to Washington DC to Arizona to Washington DC to Venezuela, for two years, to California to Washington DC (three weeks before my senior year) and California. Since we have been married, we have moved from Utah to Washington DC to Utah to Massachusetts to Utah to California to Massachusetts to England, for two years, to California to Washington State to Utah and, for the third time, to California. My great discovery, from all these opportunities, has been that God is mindful of every person involved in moving from one place to another. We have moved our children irrespective of age or stage or grade, as did my parents. It wasn’t without tears, but the wealth of experience and expansion of mind that has come from “ripping and dragging” children “here, there and everywhere” has been worth all the short-lived heartache. When I would pick a child up from school, after that first day, after a new move, it seemed as if there was no hope for recovery. I would then wait patiently to hear the words, “I am SO glad we moved here!” These words always came with emphasis and gratitude as they watched new opportunities grow in to experiences they could not have had in any other way or in any other place … people they would never have met that have become eternally dear. They have all remarked that it has all, most definitely, “worked for good” in their lives.

Once, when we were about to move, I was expressing to my daughter how sad I was to be leaving. She quoted Dr. Suess to me, “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” In the final scene of “Last of the Mohicans,” the Mohican father looks out over the vast cavern and talks about all the people that will soon come in and struggle and fight to create a new life … and then he says…. “but once we were here …” Loved ones pass away, we leave homes and friends we love, beloved pets grow old, children grow up …. everything keeps going away … but we get to keep it ALL and we find that moving, leaving, passing, changing has nothing to do with losing and everything to do with gaining. It is all held in our hearts; memorized, remembered, held sacred, forever.

My Dad, who taught me, better than anyone else, how to “move” through life, would often expose us to the wisdom of Dr. Suess. “Oh The Places You Will Go,” was, for obvious reasons, a favorite of his in his quest to open the hearts of his seven children to all the possibilities for “wonder.”

I have written a poem that I dedicate to my Father who was successful in that quest.

me with my father


…Don’t want to grow up …. Please Daddy please
Let me still be the child at your knee
Let me still hear your lullabyes sing
Let me still sail upon your wings…

Daughter dear… but can’t you see
Come with me…we’ll climb our tree
Look out there at mountains high
Look straight up and see the sky
Look at forests… and oceans beyond
And at the soft meadows and lily-filled ponds

You will want to see the world
Watch God’s plan for you unfurled
You’ll learn to dance and sing and think
Be all grown up before we blink
You’ll breathe in all God’s hopes for you
And breathe out love in all you do
You’ll learn, then teach…you’ll save mankind
You’ll bless the earth with ties that bind
I’ve taught you well and you will know
Just what to do and where to go
You’ll love the Lord with all your soul
And bring His lost into His fold

And one day Heaven will reach down
And bring new ones …jewels in your crown
And you will bring all life within
Into their hearts….teach where they’ve been…
And where they’ll go …like you and me
You’ll climb our tree…show them the sea

And round and round our circles go
Oh, daughter mine… you’ll one day know
That searching far and wide will bring
More than any song can sing
You’ll love life…its gifts…its days
And seek always His Name to praise…

Dedicated to My Father
Written by Karen Nelson

Friday, September 30, 2011




On a frosty night in Boston the man I married walked into our family room and said, “We could move to England for a few years, if you would like.” My Humanities graduate mind and heart felt like they would explode with happiness at this new possibility - and then we were there! leaving behind the place we had determined we would live and be happy in forever. After living north of London for two years and then moving to California, Washington, Utah and now Santa Barbara, I now, finally, know why.

Katherine the Great, my Katherine the Great, was born there. “Could it be” that she, who has been called, by her family, since she was born, “Queen of the Universe,” had to be? Did she have to literally be born on the land where Queens have ruled for centuries, as a symbol that would breathe up into her soul forever; a place that has called to her ever since, and continued to bring her back, as a student and as a traveler, to her “homeland.” Did she need to know that her name was shared by three of King Henry VIII’s wives, the French Queen, Katherine de’ Medici, two Empresses of Russia, one of the first Christian Saints, Catherine of Alexandria? Did she need to find out later in her life that she is actually a descendant of King Henry VIII and Robert the Bruce? Did her middle name, Rushforth, an Ole 7th Century English surname, “river crossing by the rushbeds,” help her find the hidden path she would have to take in her life? Did her first name need to mean “Pure’? Did her English surname need to mean “Champion?”


Shakespeare’s Polonius said to Laertes, “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow – as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man…my blessing season this in thee.” We all knew, from the very start, that Katherine had the God-ordained responsibility to the world to be “true to her queenly self.”

A day in the life of the Queen: Four sisters are playing princesses. Katherine is two years old and smaller than most two years olds. She is informed by her eldest sister that she will be playing the part of Princess. She furrows her brow and loudly proclaims across the “land” of our livingroom, “I’m the Queen!” All the sisters immediately agreed that she, indeed, must be The Queen. This is how it all began and Katherine has remained true to this God-ordained mission, to come to earth and forevermore, wherever she is, be The Queen. Her parents and nine other siblings can testify, most assuredly, that she has been “true to herself” all her days. We have been taking royal commands from her since she was tiny and have all been blessed by her power wielded across the years of our lives. Her father said once, “I never have any problems with Katherine because I always do what she says.”

Among friends: There was no toleration for bad language, immodesty or signs of lack of devotion to God. She had the courage to reprimand and encourage in an effort to bring out the best in others.

Going Back: In the sixth grade, Lady (one of her appropriate nicknames) all of a sudden discovered she could not read. Not possible … remember …”I’m the Queen!” Through sacrifice and diligence and a God-sent friend, Katherine began to read. She grabbed hold of her dyslexia and put it out in front of her and “commanded” it to serve her – and it obeyed. This forging through, however, was not done without significant collateral damage---self esteem plummet.

Another “could it be?” - “Could it be” that Katherine needed to have her Queen’s place in the world securely in her heart and emblazoned into her soul to make it through what would be a rocky climb through paths of astonishment and discouragement as she forged her way over the next sixteen years?

… and then I find myself sitting next to my son, whose academic achievements were accomplished with comparative ease, at Katherine’s graduation from college. He looks across at his sister, in a huge field of graduates, and says, “What Katherine has achieved is monumental and makes anything I have accomplished pale into insignificance.” A Bachelors of Fine Arts in English, which would have frightened off any other dislexic mind - but not hers - because she allowed her queenly mind to overrule the voice of the people who were looking up at the castle and saying, “Not possible!” - and now she is conquering new territories to be able to teach English and let her “story” and “champion” spirit bless the lives who will be honored to enter her river crossing through the rushbeds.

Now: Powerful everything. Powerfully influential, powerfully righteous, powerfully bright, spectacularly entertaining, an inspired and inspiring artist, a highly perceptive confidant, deeply loving, endlessly devoted to God and perfectly “true to herself.” Whatever there is to do or be in life, she does it with, and “is” the essence of Magnificence.

It has been our family privilege to watch what can happen when, just “as the night follows the day,” a child is true to God, herself and all mankind.


To find out all the “could it be’s”- symbolically and in reality - in our children’s lives – and to look for the miracles and angels – and all that continue to announce into our hearts that the hand of God is everywhere as we strive to teach young ones to find the “self” that God is continually opening “all” our eyes to see. (“Could it be” the entire reason we moved to Seattle was so Katherine could one day be playing with the daughters of Rojean Garnica, a renown reading specialist/therapist. “Could it be” that we moved to England to meet Anita Debney, a revered and trusted friend who is a champion for the betterment of children’s lives, who was first to reveal to the world the reality of Katherine’s great soul.) Could it be, Could it be….

Katherine – Rushforth – Nelson

Pure - Path Finder - Champion

American Queen

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


painting by Yin Ping Zheng


Etched in the heart of the Moon are the many moments my children and I have stood at a bedroom window, before going to sleep and said, “Moon, Moon!” and as they grew older, “The Moon is shining!,” which opened their hearts to speak of all the wonderful things that were important at that time in their young lives. Decades of children’s hearts have now passed through my heart and I still, before going to bed, look up and proclaim, “The Moon is shining on us tonight!” Recently, after a year long trial, with no apparent end in sight, I looked up at the Moon, and said, “The Moon is not shining on us anymore…” I then closed the blinds and went to sleep. The very next day the year of “Faith’s struggle to rise above Fear,” ended. I think the Lord did not want me thinking the Moon was not shining on us….even for one night…I will never close my blinds again….

Friday, September 23, 2011

Signs of Life

Rejoice in the “signs of life” around you. You walk in the door and see shoes, coats and backpacks …you walk in family room and see books, papers and toys ….you go in the kitchen and see dishes and food strewn around…. beautiful signs that people are “living.” The abundant life is filled with these “signs.”


Open the oven…a bright red ball

No one will answer any phone call

Swimming in milk dumped on the floor

Coats and shoes bursting out the door

Laundry piled high upon the bed

Paint bucket spilling on top your head

Mud tracks across a bright, clean floor

Open a door…hear music roar

Glass window broken by thrown baseball

Wrestling children end up in a brawl

Rubbing the butter all over your face

Stepping in honey all over the place

Applesauce flung up on the walls

Hide and seek players up and down the halls

Chaos and crashing and breaking and sighing

Life at its best is both funny and trying

The “signs of life” are bright and wild

Accompanying the gift of every child

Witness of their stirring soul

Creating stories to be told

Of brilliant life lived full and free

Expanding all possibility

And when life’s song is sung at last

The “signs of life” will bless the past

Treasures rare in the behold

That bless the lives of young and old

….Songs to sing, souls to grow

Hearts to love as life unfolds…

by Karen Nelson