Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Dad, the Cookies Didn't Turn Out!"

September 16, 2012
"Dad, the Cookies Didn't Turn Out!"

A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday evening, I was in my bedroom waiting to go down for the night. Jackie poked her head through the doorway, and in a matter of fact tone, said, "Dad, the cookies didn't turn out!" Those words went like a dagger into my heart! Now, I have learned to deal with paralysis and living on life support but to not have Jackie's warm chocolate chip cookies with ice cold milk on a Sunday evening is just almost more than I can endure. I consider it to be true adversity and bordering on "Quad Abuse."

Jackie, our youngest daughter, her husband Nathan Brown, and their two daughters, Halley, and Coralee, have been living with us for several years while Nathan completed his BA degree at Cal State Fullerton which he has now accomplished. I'm afraid they will be moving on soon. We will miss Nathan and Jackie, but we really wish they could leave the two little granddaughters behind. They have sort of woven themselves into our heartstrings.

Beginning as a young girl Jackie began to make great chocolate chip cookies. Her skill has only increased with the passage of time. I don't know a lot about many things but I am a connoisseur of chocolate chip cookies. I know when I am eating a superior cookie and Jackie's are gold-medal good. Maybe you can now better understand the pain I felt that Sunday evening.

As I thought about Jackie's statement about the cookies not turning out, and the way it made me feel, I began to contemplate how powerful words are in evoking an entire spectrum of emotions within us, ranging from unhappiness, frustration, fear, terror, despair, and depression, to joy, peace, hope, faith, and etc. We are all either speaking words or hearing words most of our waking hours. There are a few words I can speak to Jo Anne that I am sure are very frustrating or depressing, like, "It's going into extra innings!" Or, "Can you believe it, it's gone into overtime!" I also get the feeling that I am testing her patience a tad, when I call her for the umpteenth time to come and reboot my computer. Jo Anne is not a great sports fan and after one BYU football game several years ago in which both teams scored over 50 points, she commented, "That's an awfully lot of home runs isn't it?" I agreed with her that it certainly was an awfully lot of home runs.

At times, while shopping with her, endlessly going up and down the aisles, I finally get up enough courage to foolishly ask her if she knows what she is looking for. With a frown on her face which communicates to me what a dumb question I have asked, she says "I'm not sure, but when I see it I will know it." This statement always elicits a feeling of hopelessness in my heart. I guess justice is served however, for my "extra innings," and "overtime" statements.

Jo Anne is one of the most creative speakers of the English language that I know. Sales persons in shoe stores get a glazed look on their faces when she announces, "Show me the least inexpensive shoes you have." At a family gathering, I believe a grandchild made quite a profound statement and Jo Anne said, "I believe that is what we call a "Double Nintendo." Her statement continues to live on in the family memory and was the highlight of the evening.

Recently I was reading an article written by Susan Smiley, PhD, about the power of words. One of her ideas I felt to be so very true. "I once read that a word is like a living organism, capable of growing, changing, spreading, and influencing the world in many ways, directly and indirectly through others. I never thought about a word being 'alive' but then I thought of words spoken 3,000 years ago, written down and passed through many generations, and they seem quite alive when read or spoken today, having lived 3,000 years. As I ponder the power of the word to incite and divide, to calm and connect, or to create and effect change, I am ever more cautious in what I say and how I listen to the words around me."

As I read her statement I couldn't help but think of the words of Alma as he left his position as chief judge of the Nephites to go out among his people to hopefully reclaim their souls. "And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to clead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God." [Alma 31:5] I thought of how powerful a single word or short sentence of Scripture can be in communicating eternal truths that can create feelings of "awesome wonder," comfort, faith, peace, joy, and even sorrow at times.

For example (and there are literally thousands of course that could be mentioned) what a feeling of gratitude wells up in my heart when I read the brief sentence, "Here am I, send me!" [Abraham 3:27] Never have so few words impacted the lives and destiny of so many. And then I am equally filled with "awesome wonder" and gratitude even while not fully comprehending "… and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men." [D&C 19:18-19]

There are many one sentence or one line passages of Scripture that have nourished, sustained, and filled me with a "perfect brightness of hope" over the years. I'm sure this is the case also with many of you. Below are just a few that have been such a blessing in my life. "I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content." (Philippians 4:11) "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13) "… Without me ye can do nothing." [John 15:5] "… I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…" [2 Timothy 4:7] "… Press forward with a steadfastness in Christ… Feasting upon the words of Christ…" [2 Nephi 31:20] "… thine afflictions and adversity shall be but a small moment… And then if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high…" [D&C 121:7-8] "Be patient in afflictions, for thou shalt have many, but endure them, for lo I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days." [D&C 24:8]

By now I have probably worn you out, but the powerful words I have quoted mean everything to me and have helped sustain me through a difficult journey. There are many others as well that have blessed me, but I have probably worn out my welcome by now. Yes, there is great power in words to bless and to even change lives.

If any of you feel so inclined I would enjoy, and I am sure benefit from, some special one-liner or one sentence statements from the Scriptures that have personally impacted your lives. If you have read this far thank you for your patience, love and support for so many years.