Thursday, August 25, 2011


my son Jack


I have lots of favorite things. If I were “Sound of Music’s” Maria, jumping on the bed with the seven Von Trapp children, singing, “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things,” the list would go on and on. One of those very, very favorite things would be looking into the faces of my children. There have been times, I have to admit, when my children have looked at me, and whatever I was about to say to them just goes away –the lecture, the admonition, the counsel…just melts away into complete adoration as I behold their freckled, dimpled, green/blue eyed, smiling faces.

This favorite thing, however, is something I find much more difficult to find now. The tops of my children’s heads are now becoming more familiar to me. Technology has transformed my accessibility to those shining “eyes” to “I’s” . . . I-Pad, I-Phone, I-Pod.

My brother, who is a doctor at Stanford University, commented that there is a new general posture among the students there, as they walk across campus . . . bent over, staring at their I-Phones.

I go to church and people all around me are holding I-Pads. We used to be able to cozy-up to one another, share a hymnal, and join our voices together to sing praises. Now, we sit next to hard, flat, heavy I-Pads, and while our “eyes” used to be fixed upon the speaker, who worked so hard to provide us with an inspired message, we now peruse the scriptures or the planets or other gospel related topics . . . or check e-mail. Eyes down, I-Pads open. Little children can’t help but be distracted by the wealth of possibilities for distraction in the magical I-Pad, the new-age “quiet book.”

We all walk around “hooked up,” or rather “hooked down,” unable to “see” all that is around us that continually testifies, in beautiful ways, that God is all around us . . . especially in the eyes of all the people in our lives, which is the ultimate gift of Life.

I believe the greatest “scientific” discovery that Leonardo Da Vinci made is that the eye is “the window of the soul.”

my daughter Annie's eyes

I wonder if we participated in a worldwide experiment together, we could get our “eyes” back. What if we left our I-Phones and I-Pads in the car whenever we entered a restaurant, or a church, or a movie or anywhere we might have the chance to look into the “windows to the soul” of the person who at that moment in time is our gift from God? These moments are often lost to whoever happens to be on the phone at the time, who is apparently more important than the person standing in front of us. We could discover that the grocery clerk just returned from Hawaii where they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary or that the teenager working behind the McDonald’s cash register is about to compete in a State tennis tournament. We can create small town familiarity even in a big city.

We, along with the students at Stanford University, could stand up straight again and behold the wonders of the earth – the expansive wonders of God’s gifts – and enjoy, once again, the greatest wonder of all – each other, Eye to Eye.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Circlehood/Sisterhood: a post by Lesa Mann

Lesa and her daughter Andrea


A Women’s Chorale

I belong to a women’s singing group called Harmony. We are all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although we are not affiliated with the Church, it is through our membership in this church that we became acquainted.

At any one time we typically have 16 women in the group. Members have come and gone over the years, but Harmony has been around for 26 years now. There have been around 80 women who have been a member of our group at one time or another.

We are all wives and mothers with busy lives, hobbies, families and careers, but we love singing and serving in our community.

For the past 26 years, every Thursday morning during the school year, this group gathers (in a circle) to sing for 3 hours. We hire a babysitter for all the preschoolers and thoroughly enjoy our time preparing a 30-minute program to perform at area schools, convalescent homes, hospitals, service clubs, etc. We perform about 30 times a year.

But the real story doesn’t involve notes and rhythm. The real story is our sisterhood. As we have sung, talked, shared, laughed and cried---we have developed an amazing love for each other. We have learned that every person’s life is a roller coaster – but it is nicer to share the ups and down with women who will hang on and share the ride with you, side by side!

I think we have weathered and celebrated it all: marriages, divorces, babies, stillborn babies, cancer, unemployment, depression, juvenile diabetes, world travels, death of spouse, college degrees, drowning, pregnancy, infertility, new careers, adoption, for richer, for poorer, and so on. We have helped one another hang on tight and stay steady through it all.

And when a group has loved this deeply, our performances have not only a wonderful vocal blend, but also a spiritual blend, that our audiences feel and almost always comment on. We exude love, warmth and unity that are palpable. We are women who have shared the inevitabilities of life and continue to smile because we can depend on our Savior, Jesus Christ and we have the shared strength of our sisterhood.

I am honored to be numbered among the wonderful sisterhood of Harmony!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Four Heavens

ONE***The first time I heard the heartbeat of my first child…it is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard…ever…

TWO***Getting up in the middle of the night with a little one- when everyone else is asleep – to behold, in the silence, the miracle …

THREE***Waking up in the morning to realize that, one by one, five children have crawled in bed with me…the baby on one side---a child on the other side, one at my feet, above my head – and the last one on my tummy…no more room left….a morning to remember and treasure forever…

FOUR***Sewing, on a hot summer afternoon in Seattle, at the top of our spiral stairs, in a very small loft area…looking behind me and realizing that, one by one, eight of my children have gathered together behind me, occupied in various activities… because children just like to be by Mommy and Mommy just likes to be by her children…the gravitation of love…

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story called “The Three Questions” – a story about rescuing an enemy and the profound connection with another human being. Jon J. Muth wrote a children’s story from Tolstoy’s story about a young boy rescuing a panda bear who was lost in the forest. After searching for the old turtle for answers to his life’s questions, young Nikolai learns from the wise turtle the answers, “Remember then that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world.” Each morning, in my prayers, I ask the Lord to show me who the “panda bears” in my life are so I can be “here and now” with them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ice Crystals

ICE CRYSTALS…… “Two nice things.”

“Don’t say that - you are damaging your ice crystals! ….Ok, now you have to say two nice things about that person (or yourself).” This is commonly heard in our home and is said when someone says something negative about themselves… or someone else…….Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto (2005) researched the effect that words have on the freezing process of water. Words were spoken and music played as water froze and the difference was astounding. When the water was exposed to words like kindness, or to music such as a lullabye, intricate, delicate, beautiful formations resulted. When exposed to words like “hate” or hard rock music, horrific contortions were created. The most fascinating of all – when the water was exposed to the word “love,” the ice crystals grew exponentially into the most beautiful artistic designs, far more intricate and glorious than any of the other crystal patterns created – and kept growing and growing without end. The human body is composed of 70% water – imagine how much of what is within us can be affected by something as commonplace as a word spoken or a tune heard. Our family has been fascinated by this scientist’s work and so we remind ourselves continually that we want to create only beautiful crystals in ourselves and in others --- and when we make a mistake – we try to repair the damage by -- “Ok, now you have to say two nice things.”

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bunny Box

I once read an article written by a child physiologist that talked about the importance of the “bunny box.” When bunnies are born they have to stay inside a small, dark area – in the ground or in a small box….. they tussle around in there and get stronger and stronger while they are confined to the small area… If they leave the bunny box too soon, they will die, because they are not strong enough. He compared this to children. Children wrestle and tussle with one another when they are small, physically and emotionally… By the time they are ready to leave the home, they are finally strong enough…. They have had lots of opportunities to develop relationships with multiple family members…so when they leave the “box” they are strong enough to take on the world. He said that we should not be too concerned about all the little contentions and “figurings out” that go on in a family – it is healthy -- and makes for stronger “bunnies.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Positive Reinforcement


I attended a course taught by Glen L. Latham, Ed.D, who was a professor at Utah State University. I was so impressed with his classes and the books he has written, “The Power of Positive Parenting,” and “Christlike Parenting,” that I have decided that every one of my children, for a wedding present, will receive a copy of these books, to help them on their parenting adventure. At the end of every chapter, in his positive parenting book, he quotes the same quote. It is by S.W. Bijou, The International Encyclopedia of Education, 1988. “Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce problem behavior in children is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement rather than trying to weaken undesirable behavior using aversive or negative processes.” This quote and these books have blessed us all.



Glen L. Latham’s book, “Christlike Parenting,” discusses the importance of starting every consequential statement with the word, “if.” He wrote that this positive approach will completely change the interaction. Instead of, “You do not get to play with your friends until you finish the dishes,” changes to, “If you get your dishes done, you will be able to play with your friends.” The child is able to feel much more positively about what he is about to do and is therefore able to do his task with a happier, more positive attitude…and ends up feeling much better about himself….and his parent. The key is to remember to start your sentence with the word, “If.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Everyone's Business


I have a dear friend who has been a nanny for most of her life. She is very interested in the welfare of “little ones.” If she notices a child being physically or emotionally abused in public, she will approach the offending parent and tell them to stop their behavior. The response she usually receives from the parent is, “It is none of your business,” to which she replies, “It is my business, it is everyone’s business.” Children are a gift from God, on loan to us as parents. How we treat His “little ones” is certainly His business and should be ours also.


In the scriptures it talks about how it would be better for someone, who offends a little one, to have been drowned in the ocean with a millstone tied around his neck. This is a powerful image used to describe the greatness of this offense.