Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cake Choice Indicator

Wanting to treat my wife to a sweet indulgence, I invited her to choose any kind of cake from the grocery store's bakery. I'll often long for their tempting, rich looking miniature cakes, and I supposed she would choose something similar.

I was wrong.

While acknowledging that the others looked tasty, she chose a comparatively plain cake (in my opinion). It was a yellow cake with white butter cream frosting, decorated with orange piping and three colored frosting balloons. I thought it was more appropriate for small children, not a sophisticated, beautiful woman.

So did she.

When I asked why she selected that particular cake amidst the other more tempting choices, she gave me more than her answer, but a practical example of who she really is. She said that her choice was based on the perceived likability by our children. "David will love the balloons," she added.

She was right. I think his first observation was about the balloons and how much he liked them.

What does this tell me about my wife? Even while splurging for a rare treat, she abandoned thoughts of self and turned, instead, to others—her children.

We had cake for dinner that night (We're great parents). While not the thick, rich treat I had initially expected, I was completely satisfied with the additional accompanying treat of profound appreciation for my wonderful wife. And that was better than any kind of cake.

This is just one of the many ways that my Maryann reminds me of the virtuous woman spoken of in Proverbs (see Prov. 31:10-31): "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her" (v. 28).

Is it any wonder that her children wailed when she had to leave for a meeting that very evening? David tried to run down the street after her, in just his underwear, to be with her. He and Rebecca would only be comforted upon hearing that Mommy would be home when they awoke in the morning. David's prayers included the plea that "Mommy would be safe," and that "the night will go fast so we can be with Mommy in the morning."

Thank you for being you, Maryann.

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all
(v. 29).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Helping Angola

We often wonder what we can do to help others. Some time ago, a nice opportunity arose.

Relatives of two families in our ward are living and working in Angola. Apparently, their company provides cargo space annually to its employees for shipping needed items from the United States. A group of employees decided that instead of sending things for themselves, they would pool their space and ask friends and family to contribute humanitarian aid items (toys, clothing, first aid, etc.).

This is one of the real-life applications of how "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6).

Many in our area contributed small things and the combined result was truly great. The allowable shipping space was quickly exceeded by the amount donated. The most useful items were shipped, the surplus was offered to local poor, and the remaining items were sold at a huge yard sale, with proceeds going to Angola.

It really feels good to help, and not in a patting-yourself-on-the-back sort of way, but in the higher "ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" sort of way (see Mosiah 2:17).

Here is where the nice twist come in. Because we had access to those on the other side of the equation—the distributing side—we could actually see the results of our actions. Instead of sending love, compassion, and goods off into the unknown, we saw the smiles and circumstances of those receiving help. Because this experience brought good feeling to our hearts, we made a short video that shows some of the people benefited. I say "some of the people" because it doesn't show our little family—we feel that we were benefited, too.

Here is a link to another site where you can download the video, if you're interested.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What We Have To Do

We do what we have to do so we can do what we want to do.

I heard this phrase some time ago, and it continues to return to my thoughts. At the end of one of my classes, I longed to be at home with my family, or to have them with me instead of walking across a beautiful campus alone. Pop! The phrase came again.

We do what we have to do so we can do what we want to do.

I thought of the many answers I had given over the childhood years to the "What do you want to be when you grow up" question. I could remember some of my aspirations, so I thought I would compare them to where I am now. I may not have imagined being a graduate student at thirty, but I imagine I must have realized some aspects of my childhood goals—I don't think I knew what a civil engineer was as a child, so the current me doesn't exactly fit into the future projection of the past me.

Not satisfied, I tried turning the question around by asking what I want to do now. As expected, I would much rather be doing something else much of the time. I guess that's a logical extension of the original phrase: I am doing what I have to do so I can do what I want to do. But what do I want to do?

As I think of the "when you grow up" answers, I don't remember if I explicitly stated that I wanted to be a loving husband and father when I grew up. However, that is all I want to be, and all I want to do all the time. No offense to my colleagues, but they don't compare to my family.

If what I want to do is be a loving husband and father, then I guess I will have to find a way to support my family. Hence, school and work. Apparently my life is the realization of that phrase. I do what I have to do so I can do what I want to do.

Now, some will say that if I spent all my time with my family, then I would get sick of them (or, more likely, they would get sick of me). While I don't know if this is true, I do know that I love coming home after a long day of doing what I have to do to receive the big hugs and loving play (what I want to do).

There is an eternal application of this principle. If I do what I have to do to have a happy family now and in the future, then I will have a celestial family now and in the future. This is only possible, though, because Christ did what he had to do so he could do what he wanted to do, "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39), which allows us to do what we want to do, and ultimately be where and what we want to be.