A Day At The Apple I-Phone Store….

I have to tell you something that happened yesterday that was SO funny! We were in the Apple store waiting for a 12:00 appointment to get my phone hard set. It had been “jail broken”–hacked. (This guy has been hacking our family’s tech devices for 7 years.) Anyway, I told my daughter Kacy to use her cuteness to flirt with the reps so we could get in earlier. I didn’t want to be late for our business conference at 1 pm. SO…. I challenged Kacy to flip her hair, use her bedroom eyes, raise her eyebrows, play coy, look sexy, and make the gestures that would draw attention to her from any of the male reps. (You have to understand, we are not the typical family–doing zany things is so normal for us.) Anyway, Kacy did her thing and my guts ached from laughing so hard. She was hilarious. The dramatics were over the top funny. Then I said, “I can do THAT!” So, I started flipping my (short) hair, playing coy, raising my eyebrows and looking as sexy as I could at 66. So, then I asked Kacy, “How’d I do?” She was nearly comatose on the floor, but when she could finally catch her breath she said, “Mom, I don’t think you should put the flirting thing on your resume–you looked like you were having a stroke!” We both nearly fell off our chairs ….and of course the giggles set in. It was so much fun being so silly with my girl! (We still had to wait till 12 to get in. No one noticed either of us!  We FAILED!)

I Pass These Seeds To You

To my mother and my children…

June 10, 1981 by Rene’e La Montagne Hazen


As I hold you in my arms rocking back and forth, your eyelids close, then open, then close.  I smile as you stretch again—and yawn—trying to push sleep a little further in the distance, but to no avail.  “Night, night, my little one.”  Counting the sun kisses on your nose and brushing the lock of golden hair from your brow, my thoughts travel beyond today and into the possibilities of your tomorrows.  What are your hopes and dreams?  What kind of person will you be?  How will you interact with people?  Will you have a happy marriage?  What will your children be like?  How well will you accept your daily responsibilities?  How will you fare as a wife and mother?  What kind of example will you set as a daughter of our Father in Heaven?

My heart skips a beat as you pull your baby doll up closer and snuggle down into my arms to the deepest dreams of sleep.  You suckle from my breast and the feelings of love permeate my soul… oh, how I love these moments with you!  Such joy reverberates my being!  How grateful I am to be your mommy. How grateful I am to have you at my breast with only the creak of the rocker imposing on our solitude.  These are precious, intimate and sacred Moments in Time together, my baby.

My days begin early with dishes and spilled milk and jam dripped from your peanut butter sandwich all the way to the back door.  Bills to pay.  What shall I cook for dinner?  Hurry kids, it’s my turn to car pool.  (Oh, why do these days go by so fast?)

A warm feeling comes over me as I think again of that jam sandwich and the look on your face as you analyzed the look on my face when I wiped up the mess you so innocently left behind.  What kind of mother will you be?  What kind of mother am I?

As I sit here with you, I think of the eleven loads of wash that still need folding—then my thoughts go back in time when I was just a little girl with pigtails just like you….

I remember the patience my mother had with her responsibilities of life.  She never seemed hurried, and everything got done—sooner or later, I guess.  I don’t remember the wash piled high, but I do remember my mom helping us set up the lemonade stand on the corner, helping us to count our pennies, never mentioning all that lemonade we had spilled and drank ourselves, or that she bought it on sale for only 29 cents at the market—just for us. She didn’t mention the sticky kitchen floor, or the enormous mess in the kitchen…. she just helped mix another batch of lemonade—and smiled as we giggled about our enormous financial success measured in dimes and nickels and pennies.

Although I can’t see the jam on the floor, I’m sure my brother Barney and I blanketed our home with out-of-control messes!  I’ll never forget the look on my Mom’s face when I cooked dinner for the first time—and she helped me clean what was once a kitchen!  She didn’t complain about the mess…. she just bragged and bragged about the delicious taste of my almost-burnt pot roast!  How grateful I am that she spent so much time with me in the kitchen!

It was your Nana that had time to pop corn for the entire neighborhood.  Our home was the gathering place—probably because my mother was so much fun to be with—right in the middle, always laughing, always looking at the sunny side of things, making people laugh and feel important.

She taught my brother and I through her example never to lie—no matter what the cost–and though we didn’t appreciate that lesson growing up, that one principle has added so much depth and stabilization to my relationships.  She taught us compassion and shared with me her respect for all people—no matter what color, what shape, or what kind.

When your Uncle Barney was 6 and I was 8 we did an awful thing.  We were playing with matches in the forest.  We knew what we were doing was wrong but it seemed like such fun to light the piles of pine needles on fire, then pound the blazes out with our jackets.  We didn’t realize the extreme danger involved.  All the neighborhood kids were doing it; why shouldn’t we?

When we were finally home, we noticed the heavy, billowing smoke behind the trailer park across the street.  We heard sirens and watched all the commotion (caused by a few little thoughtless children. We didn’t even have a clue some of those children included US!).

The sheriff knocked at our door.  He spoke with mommy and daddy, then they came in the bedroom to talk to my brother and I.  I held my little brother, Barney’s hand.  Just seeing the look on my mother’s face told me something was very wrong.  I’m sure the Sheriff must have told us some very important things like how dangerous it is to play with matches and how we could have been seriously burned and how we could have killed someone–or even ourselves.  But I don’t remember all that.

What I do remember were the tears on my mother’s cheeks as she spoke of the tiny baby squirrels and chipmunks and birds whose mommies and daddies had died because of the fire and were now all alone with no one to love them or feed them or protect them, and because of our carelessness, the babies would die, too.  Mom didn’t yell or scream or tell us how angry she was.  But the lessons she taught rooted deep in our hearts.  We were so sad that we had done such an awful thing.  We never played with matches again.  And Barney and I cried and cried for those baby chipmunks and birds. Mom just held us in her arms and cried with us.  Great lessons were taught with her gentleness and compassion.

My mom has such a sweet spirit and tender heart.  And though at times it is a handicap to feel things so deeply, I have learned from her to find joy in even the simplest things of life.  My heart swelled when you took your first step—and my eyes fill when you offer your last bite of apple to your sissie.  Life is so sentimentally beautiful—and from your grandmother I have learned to appreciate the fruit of my spirit that learned from her spirit to bring love, joy and peace to our home.

As I review now the garden that your own mother will be planting in you, I am overwhelmed at the responsibility at hand.  How will I teach all that you need to know in the few short years I will have you?  There are so many noxious weeds I must pluck from my own garden in order to plant and fertilize and nourish what you should have in yours.

Lord, please help me to control my temper.  Help me to be patient and understanding and accepting of the problems children face in their everyday lives.  Pleases help me to treat this little one with kindness even when her temper flares and she throws unkindness back at me.  Help me to teach that communication is an art, that behavior is learned, and that self-control is a tremendous asset in personal and professional success.  It is so difficult to express bad feelings without hurting others.  No problem that needs to be solved is more important than the eternal perspective of the relationship at hand.

Please, Father, help me to be her role model.  Please help me to withstand the temptation to demand respect rather than earning it.  And please, help me to always swallow my pride, to keep the Spirit close to my side.  I love to kiss my children at days’ end—no matter how frustrated I feel, no matter how tired I am, no matter how overwhelmed I felt about the day—that is always the highlight!  Kissing their tender cheeks, brushing their locks from their brows, sitting snuggled with them as we read stories and giggle and talk about the day…. oh, what joyous privileges this mother enjoys!

Please, Father, help me to take time to talk to myself!  In all instances, what would the Savior do? How would He react?  Help me to transplant only the best and hardiest seedlings from my garden to theirs—and as time goes by, help my children to realize my efforts to pluck out my weeds, repent, apologize, and acknowledge my own weaknesses before God.  Oh, Father, I am so far from perfect—but, oh, please help them to see how much I want to be like You!

Please help them see my efforts to stay close to You, Father.  Please help them know how important prayer is—a sacred communication between You and I—and such a blessing when sorting through problems and the difficulties in life.  You have never let me down, Father.  And no matter how much I blow it, you are always there to pick up the pieces, dust me off, and set me up right to try one more time. My mom inherited from you those same endearing qualities, Father….. I can’t even begin to count how many times she has picked me up, brushed me off, stood me up right, and sent me on my way to try and try again.  She taught me never to give up.

My testimony is so precious, Father.  Help me to share it often with these little spirits.  Help them to know I love You, Lord, that I love Your Son, that I appreciate and love the scriptures and the teachings that come from the Gospel of Jesus Christ!   Help them to know You are the hypostasis of my life, and that all that I am, all that I hope to be, all that I strive to do, is because I LOVE YOU—and I want more than anything to live with You again!

In my efforts with everyday life, I pass all my good seeds to you, dear child.  As you watch me wipe up your dribbled jam from the floor, fold the clothes, hug and kiss your daddy as he walks in the door, kneel at my bedside to say my prayers, read the scriptures, go to church, and make popsicles for your friends, carry your lemonade to your pop stand, kiss your “owies” away, can and preserve food as the prophet has asked, pay tithing, serve others, and take the time from my busy day just to hold you, rock you, love you, think about you, and pray for your future and your heart and all the goodness that I know is brewing inside of you….I pray you will remember all these very loud but silent lessons that are being fertilized in your little heart and tiny mind.  You will learn from me—mostly from watching…. And I must remember the magnitude of the lessons I am teaching.  A good part of me will be taken with you as you raise your own babies…. Oh, Father!  Please help me leave a legacy that is good and beautiful and worthy of my stewardship over them—and their children!

In the endless circle of life, we are given the God-given right to choose.  He has blessed us with free agency—to adopt or decline qualities that will enable us to become gods or goddesses.  Someday, we will inherit all that He has, and will be given the opportunity to meet God and tell Him all about what we did with the love in our hearts.

The seeds I pass on to you, you may freely accept or reject. I hope I have shared only the best from me, but, if not, know that the worst is there for you to evaluate and set aside as education.

And now, as I hold you tenderly against my breast, a lump in my throat swells and tears roll down my cheeks.  On has slipped from my chin to rest on yours, and as I brush it away, the joy I feel is overwhelming.  It is such a privilege to be your mother.  I will take time!  I will choose carefully the seeds I wish to share with you.

For you see, my darling, I could be holding…. a mother of nations …..


Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.  And out for small things proceedeth that which is great.                     Doctrine and Covenants 64:33



I believe this tops all years as the most meager collection of Hazen history ever—and absolutely the most delinquent in getting The Hazen Herald published. Here it is June of 2006 and I am just now putting 2005 behind me! Usually I am done and have it mailed by December 15. I can claim laziness; but I guess since this is an historic family document, I must tell the absolute, unrestricted, irrefutable, unequivocal, unquestionable, incontrovertible truth. It’s hard, though, I mean, telling THIS truth. I have thought of many different ways to say it—I mean write it—but nothing is better than just being blunt. Right? Just spit it out, Rene’e! So rather than trying to cover up for myself admitting inexcusable and deliberate, pre-meditated procrastination, I have decided to just gut it. Lay it on the line. Tell it like it is. Just say it. Cough it up. Paint the picture. Play the cards. Don’t beat around the bush. Speak my peace. Get it over with. No hem-hawing. No dawdling. Slap it on the table. Spill my guts. YaknowwhatImean? So, without furthering that ado thing (Shakespeare somebody) I regret allthewaydowntomytoes to inform you that I was in prison for over a year. Now, in my defense, you need to know that running a lodge is not easy. I mean, there are many facets to the business that most people just don’t give a second thought to, or just take for granted. Like the full service thing. Go the extra mile. The customer is always right. Always entertain. Please the guest. But occasionally there are complications and circumstances that arise that really do cause an unbelievable amount of stress for the owner/manager, which in this case is moi. (Answering to the United States Forest Service on leased land probably causes an eensy-teensy-weensy bit of the stress!) So here it is….My prison term of only 90 days had nearly come to an end. I went before the parole board and tripped over my shoe lace (the low-top sneaker tied to the other ankle). When I bent down to tie it, I (accidentallyandverymuchnotonpurposecrossmyheartIdidn’tmeanit) passed a little gas. Well…. not really a little….. It wouldn’t have been half bad if I had just done the usual and pointed my finger and blamed it on that fat, sweaty-faced, hound-dog-looking guy with the coarse nose hairs hanging just above his saliva-spitting lips, but instead, I started laughing— just a giggle at first—a little tee-hee. And then I started really thinking about it all…it was so funny, ya know! Here I was in this serious, messy predicament, with these pompous, high-folutin’, highly educated, never-pick-your-nose-in-public people who were judging ME! just for such a silly little crime, that I just couldn’t control myself. My tee-hees became all-out guttural guffaws. You should have seen their faces! That one lady with the lop-sided-not-so-true-to-life synthetic pathetic wig and crimson red puffy pimpled cheeks looked like she had just had a pencil stuck up her nose which made it even funnier and I tried eversohard really I did to stop the giggles but what I thought could have been a lady at the other end of the table with the porcupine eyebrows and rather generous black mustache acted like I had hatched a disease or something ‘cuz her eyes started to water and she covered her nose and started gasping like she was smelling a ruptured gas line or a 2-day old road kill or something. And, oh, mercy, I just couldn’t stop myself. I started laughing even HARDER—and of course, you know what that did—you guessed it! HERE CAME ANOTHER ONE, FOLKS! I thought the hound dog would have a coronary right there behind that desk. When he lifted his 380 pound body off that chair… HE tooted!! I fell to the floor unable to muster even the teensiest bit of mannerly composure. He was mortified, of course, and maa-aad! Boy, was he mad! And when he started shouting at me and pointing his finger and yelling for me to stop laughing, his hound-doggy face started flapping back and forth like that gaggle hangy-down thingy on a turkey when it gets its beak stuck in a light socket or something. The pimply-cheek broad stood up and accidentally knocked over her water pitcher and honest-to-goodness when she stooped over to pick up the pitcher SHE let a really good one and then she ripped off that very pathetic synthetic wig and threw it across the floor and she tried to speak but only “aw-wk”s came out. That topped it. She looked like a plucked-clean duck that had just swallowed a barbed catfish. Her neck kept twitching like she was choking or something. I was nearly comatose by then. The face of the mister-looking broad started twitching—all out spastically even—totellyouthetruth! She stood at pompous attention with that Roman nose in the air, and dropped her pen and paper, bent over, and well….you can imagine the chaos when SHE letter’rip! A great big one, folks, right there in front of the whole parole board! He/she or whatever it was then yelled a very naughty, very unfeminine, very un-lady-like proclamation—which truly made me think my first impression of him/her was anatomically correct. That did it. I nearly passed out from oxygen deprivation and because I was unable to talk and defend myself, they slapped another 9.5333 unmerciful months to my prison term, and here I am, very delinquent at getting all this history stuff written down for posterity’s sake and all. Anyway, you are probably wondering why I went to prison in the first place. Well, it ain’t pretty, folks. You see, a year ago last February, I moved back to Grand Mesa to start the remodeling of Spruce Lodge. Remodeling Spruce Lodge was mostly a man’s thing. There were plenty of them around—those male kinda people everywhere. Carpenters. Since we had no heat, no water, no plumbing, we had to trek into the wilderness to doo-little. The females were far more modest than the men in the crew taking great precautions so thatkindabusiness was done privately. One afternoon, it was Rene’e’s turn to go…youknowwhatImean. So she counted the men, made sure all were present and inside the lodge. She trekked to the parking lot, double-checked again for any male species, snuck around the 38-foot snow bank, whipped down her pants, squatted, and started peeing. Then—in mid-stream—she looked up…. and there—just in front of her—packed into a 2002almostnewcranberryreddentedontherightfront bumper Honda Accord was a car load of guests who had circled around the snow pile and parked FIVE FEET FROM HER FACE! They were guffawing so hard their car was rocking! Aghast, Rene’e tried to stop the golden-age flow in mid-stream— she stood up—but mid-life post-menapausal kagal blow-out proved to be SO unkind. The waterfall continued in spite of such eversogiveityerall determination. She gave up, squatted again, shrugged, and finished the job. After the mostembarrassingmomentofher life, the owner of the lodge pulled up her drawers and meandered eversoslowly over to her potential guests, and spoke calmly and very professionally, “Good afternoon, folks. Please pass the word that we do all we can to make your experience here at Spruce Lodge exciting, oneofakind, truly memorable, quite unique, and unbelievably entertaining.” They howled (!) and politely asked if I would do it all over again for a Kodak moment. It could have been worse, folks—the car could have been filled with those MALE kinda humans!  What? Oh!   I’m sorry….The jail thing??  Oh, yes. I almost forgot. Well, asIwassaying just around the corner of the lodge came the U.S. District Forest Ranger! It was a male kind of ranger….and he wasn’t happy. He whipped out his ticket book and commenced to write me a CITATION! I asked him whatthehay for, and he curtly said, “Lady, I’ve seen a lot of crimes in my day. But never have I seen such a deliberate case of illegal dumping! There has been spillage here of top secret material and I am citing you for failing to install proper drainage, failing to wait for the proper permits to dispose of toxic waste, failing to initiate an EPA study, and failing to notify us about uncontrollable leakage. You are hereby fined $1000, and you’re going straight to prison!” ♫♪ Que Será, Será  ♪♫  What more can I say? Well, OK, then!   THE END!

Gotta Love Those Nuts!


1 yellow cake mix pkg. (Duncan Hines), 1 small pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1/2 C water, 1/2 C brandy, 1/2 C canola oil, 1&1/2 C chopped walnuts. Spray bunt pan with Pam Spray. Mix cake & pudding mixes. Add water, oil & brandy & mix well. Add eggs & mix well. Add walnuts & pour into Pam-sprayed bunt pan. Bake 350° for 40-45 mins. Let the cake stand 1 hour to overnight, then remove from bunt pan. Make glaze: 1 cube butter (1/2 C), 1 C sugar, 1/4 C water. Boil until dissolved & set aside. Before glazing the cake, add 1/4 C brandy to glaze.

NOTE: For my Mormon tea-totalling brothers and sisters….if you add the brandy to the glaze while boiling, the alcohol cooks out….leaving just the flavor of the brandy. Boring—but kosher—and sinless. (Hee hee) A bit befuddled as to how to GET the brandy with no one knowing?

SUGGESTION: Before trekking to the liquor store for this tabooandeversoevil purchase, you may want to consider going incognito—but you must prepare ahead to be absolutelywithoutadoubt grossly inconspicuous. (Your not-so-Mormon friends and family will always remind you of your scarlet sins, so be careful pursueing the prohibited libations!) Wear two different kinds of shoes, maybe a 3-inch high heal and a low-top sneeker, that way no one will ever know if you are a guy or a gal—always throws them off. Make sure you tie the laces of the sneeker around your other ankle so you don’t look as brilliant as you truly are. Dawn the sweatshirt Uncle Bud neverinhislife laundered—that way, if they have an inkling you may be a girl, they’ll think of an elk in rutting season instead. Wear the not-so-baggy-now pants that shrunk yesterday, exposing your mayonnaise calves and your numerous/ generous/gelatinous rolls of midriff, and make sure you have planned this waaaay ahead, leaving your wooley alabaster legs and belly button unshaved for several years. If you have time before this escapade, French braid the hair on your belly button—no one will have a clue you are who you are ’cuz everyone knows you always wear your hair curly. Place a bag over your head and breathe like you have asthma. (Make sure the bag is paper—plastic will prevent you from ever making this delicious brandy-walnut cake.) Walk with a limp and take baby steps, but be careful not to trip yourself with the shoe lace tied to your other ankle. Light a cigar and puff it normally and with finite finesse—through your left nostril. Exhale through your carefully coifed naval, of course. Speak to the clerk like you have electrical tape over your mouth, and twitch a little—not too much—just enough to make the bag rattle a bit giving the impression you are truly low on zinc. (Mormons never twitch and they are never low on zinc—’cuz they always stock a 2-year supply.) And then, when you ask the clerk for the brandy, sneeze, cough, wheeze, and vomit justa bit—no one will ever guess you are you ‘cuz everyone knows Mormons don’t get sick ‘cuz thy never drink or smoke. One catch, though….If the clerk asks for your I.D., you just might be in trouble. At that moment, pretend to throw your back out…crawl out the door on all fours, making sure the brandy bottle is tucked up between your numerous/generous/gelatinous rolls of midriff…. HURRAH! YOU NOW HAVE THE BRANDY TO MAKE YOUR CAKE, and no one ever had a clue! …. and for five buckaroos, your secret might be safe with me, you sinful, sinister, slothful, sickening piece of soap scum! (But the cake is worth it—s’pecially the NUTS!)

Not An Ordinary Day At The Dentist…

Shots are not my thingy.  But, all painful things can be perfectly peachy with enough nitris oxide to stifle uncontrollable PTSD panic attacks and a dentist that pats my hand and reassures me that the last world war is still in the distance and Trump made sure that that Hillary kinda presidential candidate is now in jail.

What started out to be just a filling replacement went the whole gamut to a full blown crown.  Going from $300 to $1400 was no big deal to HIM—actually, a VERY big deal to him since it meant a boat, truck and partial house payment made in a whole 60 minutes!  BUT…..there were a few complications.  Today he actually worked for his money.

The first problem:  It takes a LOT of numb stuff in me to actually get stuff numb.  Having a recent torturous face peal was enough to throw me over the edge (another sordid story!)—so I was sure to warn him before he began.  When he hit my tooth and I shot to the ceiling knocking his instrument tray off the holder, he knew he had to numb me even more.  So he wedged in one of those open-wide thingys in order to reach all the way into the back of my mouth with his scary-as-heck Novocain needles.  I endured.

And then….(I won’t repeat the actual O-word here), but I’ve told you in the past what happens to my body with the absolutely wonderful side effects of nitris oxide.  Well, I was truly enjoying that sensual full-body feeling when it happened…..

All was well through the whole ordeal—even up till the point the temporary crown was cemented in place–until he hit my gag reflex.  It wasn’t ALL that bad considering I had only consumed enough green smoothie for breakfast to fill the basement bathtub.  His request to “Open wide now…” came with a gag of projected kale, spinach and a bit of carrot juice that actually hit his bifocals then slimed down and dangled on the bridge of his nose.  He wasn’t all that mad–just a little shocked—mouth all agog–well, shocked so much that he shared a few expletives that really weren’t all that respectful in the presence of a pay-as-you-go female senior citizen.  What made it really quite funny though is that he inhaled just as I unintentionally but innocently wretched the smoothie thru the air hitting his tonsils which made him spontaneously swallow his second (I’m assuming), breakfast!  I thought he really should give me a discount on the crown since I literally, in all reality, treated him to at least a partial meal! He didn’t appreciate my reminding him via my second bi-lingual talent, American Sign Language (just ‘cuz of my inability to actually speak with my mouth pried open), that green smoothies were actually good for the gums.  What was really bad was that while enjoying my pleasurable side effects from the laughing gas, I had to endure that open-wide thingy stuck in my mouth and it really was quite the feat to vomit without working the lips and tongue to spit out all the left-overs.  Instead, I started laughing—quite awkwardly, of course, as it was very difficult—but I must say, quite skillful, honestly–to get the giggles to emerge and since there was extra left-over-un-ground-up celery on my tongue, I accidentally gasped for air just a bit and gagged again!  This time the hygienist got it—and I must say, green really matched quite nicely with her soft pink lab coat.  She didn’t think so and actually ripped the slobbering bib from my neck to wipe the projected emesis from her now-color-coordinated dental office attire.  I had created quite the stir in the office, and all came running to see what they could do to help.  I actually was doubling over with laughter but couldn’t get the guffaws to extricate normally so I sounded like a donkey in heat which really made this whole escapade even more hilarious.  By now the dentist was quite red in the face, puffed up, and breathing heavy and being the concerned and loving person that I am I wanted to tell him about Pro Argi-9+ and all the miraculous cardiovascular benefits since he looked like he would have a stroke any minute but trying to talk beyond that open-wide thingy to sufficiently warn him that he was in danger of imminent demise was a very difficult-to-do service project, so, I just decided my heart was in the right place anyway.   Out of shear desperation and self-protection, I’m sure, the hygienist was kind enough to pop the open-wide thingy from my mouth and I then apologized profusely for the upset.  Trying to be sincere about an apology between tears of total hilarious hysteria took a lot of self-control, but I managed, thank you very much.  (AND, trying to be compassionate when totally enjoying the sensuous full-body laughing gas effect was very difficult also—but I forced myself to decide that the real O-thing without chemical inducement on a someday wedding night would be worth setting aside the in-the-moment artificial pleasure.)  When all was calm he gathered his wits about him and politely told me he didn’t think to install a shower in his new office to wash away vomit smell….but I reassured him that perhaps an alternate splash of Old Spice was all that it was cracked up to be.  I must say, he was very glad for me to say good-bye and get RID OF ME! And then he realized….

….this crown replacement was only a temporary……….I WOULD BE BACK!

Lonely Is….

Lonely is knowing he is out there, that he has a name and face…but “In God’s Time” prevents recognition presently; he remains nameless, faceless; still, her prayers rise for his safety, knowing that Christ’s armor will continue to protect his character and the sacred spirit He shields within.  God be with him.

Lonely is dreaming of the day that horses carry both to a floating stream; toes seep deep into lush green grass; the birds sing songs of love and romance; bellies fill with a picnic lunch, and two in love intertwine beneath the trees, breathing in the lushness of fragrant flowers as humming birds and butterflies flit and fly away; yet, ‘tis only a dream.

Lonely is hearing the breathless gasps of determination, as two slam the racquets against balls of speed, bouncing off the windowless walls; he plays hard; she plays harder but he doesn’t let her win…yet the racquets only echo playing ball together–no sound.

Lonely is the walk on the beach with only one set of footprints imprinting sand; listening to the pounding of waves that roll in, reminding her how life could be…if only his footprints pooled beside hers when the waves washed out.

Lonely is the empty home with walls that offer no melody of laughter and giggles and talks way into dusk–then dawn–as two people explore hearts and memories and sacred moments and a future filled with promise that bind them into one…but the walls stay silent.

Lonely is bacon frying with no one but one to savor the aromas of a breakfast prepared for only one; meals eaten alone, with no feasting on words or whispers together.

Lonely is rolling over, wanting desperately to snuggle close, knowing that real love and intimacy lay within the circle of his arms…but the heat of their passion lays dormant, and still, the bed sleeps one, and the hunger of lust through love simmers without igniting as she reaches out to the other pillow only wishing to feel his face, touch his skin, run her hands down strong loins of passion and power.

Lonely is dreaming of soft, deep kisses and caressing and hearing the breathless passion of a love that goes beyond the bounds of earth life; sounds of grunting and groaning and ecstasy spasm and filter through a veil of forevers and eternities—yet, still, without cords that bind them.

But, alas.  Someday…..God willing.

The Other Side of Addiction — Give it to God

Talk in Sacrament 9/18/16

As members of Christ’s church, we are a people who try to strive daily to commune with God, live His principles, and be worthy of His Grace.   But we are no exception to the devastating talons of addiction.  And ANYTHING can become an addiction! The list is not limited to drugs or alcohol or pornography!  Every General Conference brings admonitions from our Prophet and Church leaders to those of us that are afflicted as warnings and pleadings to turn away, come unto Christ, and shed the shackles that bind us.

We know from our Leaders and scriptures that the only way to completely overcome anything in life is to give it to God by truly accepting–and living by–and fully grasping–the absolute power of The Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Life is oftentimes not easy.  There is so much that hurts, so many that are wounded, so many that are suffering.

What I have to share today is honest and very candid.  I’m sure you have discussed with your chidren the dangers of drinking alcohol or taking drugs, and what addiction can do to themselves or others.  Drinking alcohol at first may seem fun; but, truly, alcohol or drugs could very well be a deadly weapon–and there is a consequence to every choice.  Sometimes, very serious consequences.

It is not my intent here to point fingers, or minimize the heartache of those suffering from such pain.  My prayer is that I can humbly, carefully, and lovingly present another side of this story.  Please know I respect and appreciate each one of us as a very special and unique child of God.  We all have problems; no one is exempt.  We all carry labels.  We all suffer.  We all experience pain.

My daughter is a very severe alcoholic who is now in the terminal stages of alcoholism.  “Terminal” in her case means that she is a “black-out” drinker.  With the first few drinks of alcohol she becomes oblivious to her actions but is still capable of consuming more and more alcohol.  She does not know when to stop and in the past, has consumed enough alcohol to reach a .44 blood alcohol level.  Not many people survive a blood alcohol level above .20—especially if they are not used to alcohol consumption.  At .44, nearly half my daughter’s blood is alcohol—and as she is still somewhat coherent and capable of drinking more due to her high alcohol tolerance, she could swallow just one more drink and unknowingly and unintentionally push herself right over the edge to respiratory failure.  This is a very critical and dangerous stage of alcoholism.

My daughter (is sitting in this chapel today and) has given me permission to refer to our story in hopes that these words may help even one wounded heart.  Earlier this year, my daughter’s, and our family’s story was aired on television.  It is our united goal to do all we can in this joint effort to help those who are addicted, and those who live with the addicted one. We understand the pain.  We understand the grief.

I’d like to address today the other side of addiction: the impact that the afflicted one’s behavior may have on other family members who struggle desperately in what seems often, utter hopelessness.  This may or may not always be the case; and I am not the judge and jury.  To stereotype every addict or addict’s family in this category would be unfair.

I am very familiar with the oftentimes on-going egregious behavior of an addict.  For 12 years now, I have been intimately involved with the merciless and selfish side of an alcoholic.  I am not an expert in this field; I am a mother.  So, what I share with you today comes from my heart, not from the annals of academia or educated professionals about the science of addiction, nor do I profess I have the solutions for those who are touched by addiction.

I have gained, however, an extensive and intellectual education of this disease by studying many books, and more specifically, the research of Dr. Kevin McCauley, an LDS medical doctor in SLC who is a great proponent of our LDS 12-Step Addiction Recovery program.  Dr. McCauley reveals how the body reacts to addiction in his DVD called, “Pleasure Unwoven.”  God bless him for making his research available to us via the Mormon Channel.  It helps to know how the brain is affected by the biological consequences and progression of this disease.  In all my research, however, I am far from being an expert and offer only my experience on this path.

As the addict is robbed of joy, happiness, self-worth, success, family, and health—and ultimately, sometimes life itself–so it is with those who love and live with the addicted one. Their lives can also be just as tormented and devastated.

When carrying such pain, addressing horrendous stress and overwhelming issues associated with alcoholism, I asked God if it is truly possible to give my grief to Him.  How can I bear such relentless and often insane behaviors and burdens—especially being single with no priesthood holder to help me carry the load?  But as a responsible mother, how can I face these demands?  How can I maintain a Christian attitude helping to shoulder my daughter’s burdens that they may be light, or mourn with her as she mourns? (Mosiah 18:9) How can I love her unconditionally, when oftentimes she is so unlovable?

The sadness and guilt and grief of the addicted one is dreadful.  They don’t need to be told over and over or even reminded how their behavior negatively affects or destroys relationships.  They know it.  They feel it.  They live it.  Yet, still, they are overwhelmed by uncontrollable urges and cravings.  I have had many an addict tell me that they would rather face ANY other abhorrent thing than the extreme torture caused by their addictions.

On this journey I allowed my life to be consumed with anger.   I often berated her, blamed her, belittled her, reminded her of her failings—hoping to somehow awaken her to all the sadness and to all her lost potential!  She was so successful!  Underneath it all, she is so vibrant!  Underneath it all, she is such a delightful, hysterically funny and charitable person!  I love her dearly!

I was furious that she would not stop the insanity that affected ALL of our family!  I thought she deliberately turned her back on healthy choices!  I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t just turn away! Make the decision!  Have enough will power!  Little did I know that addiction is often more than just making a choice and certainly much more than having will power.  And how dare I judge her!  For was it not said by our firm but loving God, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”   (3 Nephi 13:2,3, Matthew 7:1-4)

But, still, I screamed and yelled at her.  Wasn’t she even cognizant of the ignominy and reproach that surrounds addiction?   And then I would feel guilty.  “Father, please pluck these ugly weeds from my garden!  I desperately need to show her love and kindness and walk her through this devastating disease that plagues her.  But I am not capable!  I am tired and don’t have what it takes to do this!  I can’t always place beautiful roses of triumph on Your alter!  I have so many weeds and weaknesses, and I am so ill-equipped to handle this!”

I very seriously needed God to take my anger and pain.  I needed to recognize and accept my Savior’s sacrifice FOR ME!  I desperately needed to rest, re-group, define my role in my daughter’s life, and re-define me—as myself—and as her mother.  He promised He would take it!  Psalms 55:22 reads: “Cast thy burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”  But how does that feel?  What does that look like?  How do I let it all go?  How can I turn from carrying the burdens, and yet still support the one I love through her Satan-inflicted agony?  I often felt as Moses, complaining to God that I couldn’t carry these burdens any longer, and to please take me home! (Numbers 11:14,15)

Depression gripped me! I was consumed in myself and unable to appreciate the scripture God gave to sustain me in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There have no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” But if He promised that to me, why was it so hard for me—and my daughter?  Why wouldn’t He take her temptations away and make her whole again?  Why couldn’t I bear it all? And how could I back away from her?  How could I detach and still let her know I loved her? Why was my life crumbling?

Nearly five years ago, I could barely function. I could no longer endure the enervating issues.  My health suffered from the extreme stress and it seemed like I couldn’t bear the burdens any longer.  I wondered how one actually turns things over to God.  How does one go about letting go?  I read so many books about co-dependency; I attended AA and the LDS 12-Step program for years with my daughter, and I went to Al-Anon.  Though those exceptional and inspired programs helped me tremendously, nothing helped mitigate the pain felt in the heart of this mother.  Each time my daughter would go on a binge and would pull the poison to her lips, she would get closer and closer to death. Oh, how could I bear it? How could I stand by and watch her suffer in such agony?

Nothing I had done for her worked.  There was nothing I could do to stop the progression of this disease!  I felt like I was failing as her caretaker, her steward.  And yet, in all this I didn’t realize that I was also very sick—unknowingly, I was addicted to co-dependency, and rather than allowing her to face her own consequences, I oftentimes ran to save her, taking the pain from her, thinking I should shoulder her burdens and consequences myself as her mother!  Anyone who loves an addict knows supporting them can be a tricky thing at times.  There’s a fine line between helping and hindering when it comes to addiction, and it can be difficult to know which side of the line to fall.  How do I even recognize the division of the line?

God said in Psalms 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.How could l even begin to have such faith that God could really take it?

Finally, I was determined to learn the difference between a mother’s desperation—and a Father’s inspiration!  After all, God loves her more than I!  He knows what she needs more than I!  He is acutely aware of her pain and anguish and wants only the best for her!  How could I deny God His right to do His will, rather than me taking the reins thinking I knew what was best for her?  Wasn’t He in charge of helping her become all she can be?  And didn’t He say Christ ALREADY shouldered MY burdens? (Isaiah 53:4, Mosiah 14:4)   “(He)…hath borne our grief, and carried our sorrows…!”

I wanted desperately to DELIGHT in my Lord….but I had to begin by planting the seed of DESIRE (Psalms 37:4), and then EXPERIMENT on His words:   ”…but behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can do more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. (Alma 32:27)

I devoured the scriptures. I poured over conference talks. I prayed.  I fasted.  I read books written by addiction experts and our Church leaders. I was determined to do all I could so that He could fulfill His promise in me.  I desperately needed His inspiration. 

Through all this, reading the Bible helped heal my wounds. Those words brought solace and a balm of comfort.  But, the one book that truly changed my life was the Book of Mormon—another witness that Jesus is the Christ.   Yes, I still consider it a tragic history of war and wickedness. How can people be so evil and cruel to each other?  But, as I poured over these sacred scriptures again, I had a magnificent life-changing paradigm shift!   I began to recognize a BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY–from fathers to sons and families—and from prophets to ALL people!  These ancient American inhabitants prayed for me—and us!  They wept for me!  They plead with me to come unto Christ!  God’s prophets loved me enough to write to me!

This sacred book is a compilation of love letters written to me from ancient ancestors and great friends that knew I would need their testimonies and would profit from the details of their experiences through pride, pain, and suffering, wars and bloodshed—and how Christ redeems.  And they loved me enough to MIRACULOUSLY preserve their words so that my life could be blessed!  Through those pages of antiquity were ALL the answers to ALL the problems in my life!  My testimony was renewed and I was reminded of God’s love for me; His love for my daughter, and His desire that through all the trauma, I could do it!  She is only on loan to me.  And Heavenly Father must have believed I could do this or He would have given her to someone else!

The Prophet Brigham Young placed his hands on the head of Ephraim Hanks who prepared himself to go to the rescue of the starving and freezing people in the Martin Handcart Company.  The Prophet Brigham blessed and promised Ephraim, as he faced this enormous, dangerous challenge, “The Lord prepares each of us for the purposes that He has placed us on this earth to accomplish.  Moments are set before each of one of us that if we give all that is within us, He will bring us to an ability, a power that we have not before known.”

I was willing to pay the price and incorporate into my journey even a particle of desire.  I offered my weeds to God.  I placed upon His alter what little I had and asked that He would turn my weeds into beautiful blossoms of relief, inspired direction, hope and promise!  I began to believe that God had it!  God knew better than I what to do.  He knew what I needed to learn.  He knew what she needed to learn.  So, over the course of these 5 years, I finally learned how to let it go and give it to God. I learned (for the most part), to be angry with her disease instead of spewing my anger at her.

Now, instead of jumping in and doing what I think must be done, I sit and wait upon the Lord. If I don’t get answers, I don’t do anything.  When He whispers direction, I know that is what He feels is best in this quest to help her—and me! And THEN I take action!

It has not been easy.  Many times, unless I heard my God whisper otherwise, I left my daughter in the rubble.  Sadly, her story is replete with broken bones and personal assault violations!  I left her on the streets with no food, no shelter, no money, nowhere to go.  But I had to trust.  I had to believe.  I had to listen.  I didn’t know the answers.  But He did.  I believed His angels watched over her.  I believed He watched over her. Whatever she faced, whatever lessons she learned were for her benefit—and mine.  Trusting didn’t eliminate my sadness for her; but, it eliminated my heavy burden of FEELING RESPONSIBLE for her choices!

I magnetized my mind with intense desire FOR FAITH and belief.  I not only began to heal from my own wounds, but I felt an immense relief from carrying the burdens all by myself.

I had to talk to myself many times not to take back what I had given Him.  When she suffered, when she fell, when she cried out in agony, I had to have enough faith to wait for His answers, and not take her problems back.

I have learned again through these challenges that it is the plan of God for us to come to earth for experience.  In the midst of deep affliction, the Prophet Joseph Smith was told, “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” (D & C 122:7)   God is aware of man’s suffering, and pain is not without purpose.  As Marvin J. Ashton said, “(God) gives us affliction to pull out the best in us.”

Each one of us has God-given potential.  What will it take for us to become like Him?  I have come to believe that, not only does it take faith, it takes PRACTICE!

(D & C 136:31) “My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion.”

Carole Stephens said, “God never loses sight of our eternal potential even when we do.”

I know that if I begin and end my day on my knees, praising God and thanking Him for my countless blessings (especially the blessings that come from challenge), giving my will to Him in grateful exchange for His guidance and inspiration, my day goes better, my attitude is lighter, my smiles are genuine, and I am more capable of withstanding the day’s struggles. That doesn’t mean I am always able!  That doesn’t mean I am always happy.  That doesn’t mean I can always control my anger at her. That only means I keep trying.  I keep PRACTICING.  My goal is the Celestial Kingdom, and though I cannot even imagine the magnitude of those Heavenly and exalted blessings, I want to comply, be obedient, listen, and then take action. I want to get there!

We can either face our challenges with a negative attitude, or face them with a smile in our hearts knowing we are part of a great plan of redemption, perfection, and purpose.  I don’t understand it all, but I accept it.  And I rejoice!

I can say now that GOD HAS GIVEN ME THE GIFT OF ENORMOUS FAITH!  But it is still a daily decision.  I am still practicing believing.  I know that God will do what He must in order to “…bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”  (Moses 1: 39) And that includes me….and my daughter.

Life may not be always easy.  But it is beautiful and full and rich with texture and color and a vibrancy and depth and meaning that surpasses our human appreciation and understanding.  All this was made for us, for our benefit, and even though sadness may enter in, we can regroup, repent, process, re-prioritize, study, pray fervently, and stand up to meet the challenges and act on His inspiration as steadfast and grateful followers of Christ.

Heavenly Father and Mother loaned my daughter to ME because they believed I could do it!  And I WILL!

It is my prayer that we will have MIGHTY courage; courage to recognize, admit, and face addiction; courage to talk about addiction; courage to go to meetings, ask for help, and share our sincere stories with others; courage to shoulder and share burdens and mourn with those affected by addictions; courage not to stand in judgement but to be examples of Christ and love and serve unconditionally; courage to stand up and PRACTICE living lives of faith, belief and action; courage to nourish, compliment, fortify and buoy everyone that comes into our lives; courage to stretch and do all we can to become what God intended us to be!

My problems don’t stop here.  I still need understanding and oftentimes a shoulder to cry on.  We are all in this together, and none of us is impervious to pain.  But when I choose to replace my fear with Heavenly Father’s strength—the less I wallow in self-pity and desperation!

Even placing weeds on His alter is better than placing nothing at all.  The rewards and blessings come with PRACTICE.  Someday my weeds will blossom and MAGNIFICENT, BEAUTIFUL, GLORIOUS, and SPECTACULAR YELLOW DANDELIONS will immerge!

Following Father’s inspiration is much easier than living with a mother’s desperation. And, oh, how I rejoice when my daughter rises again like a Phoenix from the ashes to fight for another sober day, to stand again in spite of all that pulls her down! I marvel at her courage and I KNOW her miracles will come.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and indeed, is the hypostasis of my life.  Heavenly Father has given me a way to bear all things!  I am so grateful to have these lessons in my life.  I have come to believe that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  I know now what God meant when He said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

The Gospel of Christ is another name for “opportunity;” it offers us the privilege and responsibility of giving something back as we become better than we were.

In President Uchtdorf’s Conference talk entitled, “He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home,” he shared with us that no matter how broken we are, there is still hope.  I quote, “It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem.   It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be.  Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God, can be rebuilt.  Save those rare sons of perdition, there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored.” (Unquote.)

Henry Ford said, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind—not with it!”

I must remember that, I, too, must be very careful with my choices for I, too, may not be impervious to the tragic grip and talons of addiction.…for there by the grace of God go I.   (1 Corinthians 15:8-10)

I leave these things with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!