Is Worry Worth It?

I admit it – I’ve been worried today.

My daughter, attending school over 2000 miles away, is not well. She’s been in pain for several hours now and is away from her home. She will have to rely on someone else to get her to help – which will be administered by doctors she doesn’t know, in an unfamiliar city.

It’s such a helpless feeling.

I’m texting back and forth with her as care is being arranged, and trying to remind myself that she is God’s daughter, first, and then mine, and because of that, I can trust that He will be watching over her and sending aid.

I read an article by Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer* this morning about the difference between worry and concern, stating that concern can prompt us to constructive action, while worry can paralyze us and send us “spiraling down to despair.” One quote from that article is going to carry me through this day.

“…worry boils down to a lack of trust and a desire for control. Who do you trust? Someone once said we should be more defined by who we trust than by what we fear.”

I know in Whom I trust. I have been blessed by Him in countless ways, and carried through many dark days by His tender hand. Every trial I have been through I have felt His unmistakable presence near me.

I have experienced what is described in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

So today I have a choice. Will I continue to trust Him, knowing that, somehow, good will come of this, too? Or will I allow myself to stew and worry, and begin that spiral toward despair?

It’s not a very hard choice, really. I don’t like that knot in my stomach that worry produces, nor the cloud that hangs over my day when I focus on the bad things that could happen. I much prefer trust and the peace it brings.

Because after all,

Worry isn’t worth it. 

Inevitable Ignorance

I admit it – there’s a lot I don’t know.

In his book, Snow Rising, Matt Baldwin calls that state “inevitable ignorance”, and I like the sound of that. It makes me feel like I’m not alone. J

Clara, one of the characters in his book says, “Accepting our own inevitable ignorance requires a real sense of humility. It requires us to admit to others and ourselves that there is much beyond our small understanding, that we can learn all kinds of stunningly remarkable things from the most unexpected people and circumstances if we’ll just give them a chance.”

I find that the more often I look at life that way, the more open I am to new knowledge, and the more exciting life gets. The people I encounter each day might just hold the answers to questions I’ve been asking. The circumstances I find myself in might just provide the experience I need to be able to serve others better, and to find greater happiness.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss.” Whether or not you feel that is true, I do believe that accepting our ‘Inevitable Ignorance’ is the first step toward gaining true wisdom. And I want to be on that pathway.

Just walk.

I dropped my daughter off at school last Thursday morning. The sky was a dreary grey, there was a cold wind blowing, and the rain that had fallen overnight had left the pavement black and damp.

Her school lies at the end of a long road winding through what used to be farmland, and now is lying mostly unused.
As I drove away from the school, I noticed a woman walking against the traffic. As I got closer, I could see her face – drawn, tense, and it looked like she’d been crying. She walked almost absently, mechanically.

At the worst of my grief, when my stomach would churn and my mind would go over and over the ‘why’ questions and the ‘if only’ scenarios, sometimes I felt I had to do something. I felt if I didn’t I’d surely lose my mind.

So I’d go walking.

I think I must have looked something like the woman I saw Thursday. Sometimes I would weep as I walked, sometimes I would think, and sometimes I’d try NOT to think. Sometimes I would talk to God, asking Him for answers, and for some semblance of peace.

It didn’t change my circumstances. But it felt like it did some good. And after walking I could usually function better, and could make it through one more day.

So, if you’re at a difficult place,

And your stomach is churning, and you can’t quiet your mind,

Just walk.


I’m fascinated with the things I’m learning from the book, “Snow Rising”.

In the book, Clara, a mentor, has a conversation with Jason, the person she is teaching, as they discuss how the more we learn, the more we realize how little we know. She explains to him that every answer we are given can bring up many more questions in our quest to understand.

To that, Jason asks,

“So when do we catch up?”

 “Never,….and isn’t that great! That means that life will always carry a sense of discovery. It’ll always be an exploration to see what’s around the next bend in the river or on top of the next summit.”

I loved that perspective. I know that when grief enveloped me and I felt crushed by the sense of complete lack of control that the death of my husband had created, the last thing I would have been excited about was what was “around the next bend in the river” of life. I’d had enough of the surprises and the unexpected, and the future held nothing but unanswered questions and who-knows-how-many-more tragedies and disappointments.

But now, I am at a place where I feel that the future is bright. I’m feeling that sense of discovery, and I have a confidence that if I am presented with something unexpected again – which I have come to believe is highly probable – there will somewhere be the knowledge I’ll need to make it through that challenge, too. On and on, challenges leading to a quest for knowledge, the journey will continue. When does it stop?


And isn’t that great!

A Core Book

I just put down a book I love to read from daily. It inspires me and lifts my sights, and helps me find hope even when challenges are looming. It assures me that I am not alone, and that what I see around me is not all there is. It reminds me that there are unseen forces and powers with my best interest at heart, and they are at work in my behalf today.

Years ago I heard the president of a small liberal arts college, Dr. Oliver DeMille, speak about the importance of having a “Core Book” to turn to, one that strengthens one’s ability to choose well how to live, and that holds guiding principles that can apply to every situation in life.

My Core Book teaches of the life of Christ, and each time I read it, I am motivated to more fully follow His example. I can always find in His life something to lift mine, and counsel that gives me courage to make needed changes. A favorite scripture from today: “Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” The more I try to be like Christ, the happier I am. And so I continue trying.

Do you have a Core Book? Do you turn to it daily for strength, and for peace?

It can make the difference between a dreary day and one full of light – especially in challenging times.

Crows Feet.

Could there be any less appealing name for what I see around my eyes in the mirror?

I first really noticed them yesterday as I was driving home. I’d been listening to the Showtime CD by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and when the song “Fill the World With Love” came on, I was overcome with emotion, and I wept. As I brushed away the tears, I glanced up at the mirror attached to the visor. I had bumped it that morning as I pushed the garage door opener, so it was hung at an odd angle. All I saw was the corner of my eye.

There they were – not just one or two, but ever so many lines, curving out from the corner of my eye. I adjusted the mirror and looked at both eyes at the same time, and sure enough, the lines had taken up permanent residence equally, evening out the effect.

Through my mind flew images from all the ads that come to my mailbox and which I see displayed on billboards lining the freeway: beautiful young women with flawless skin, next to the name of a treatment or potion that seems to promise it could make me look like she does.

I’ve seen the before and after photos of women near my age, having undergone various treatments, and how their ‘crows feet’ are diminished, and they do look younger.

I pondered, Where have the lines come from, anyway?

As I examined them, and then looked at the ones at the edges of my mouth that I found have become more pronounced, I realized most of them curve upward. That’s a good sign, I thought. At least they are a result of smiling!

I pondered all the things that had given me reason to smile over the past fifty or so years. The beauties of nature; the sweet fellowship of great friends; exquisite music; young love; holding newborns; thrilling achievements; kindnesses offered by others, both from people I’ve known and others given anonymously; deeply spiritual experiences; and budding rapport with my children as we move from a mentor-mentee relationship to fellow travelers on the pathway of life.

Were there other causes for those wrinkles?

Yes, as I thought about it, it became clear that I have had a habit of squinting to see things more clearly.  I did finally break down and buy glasses – but there was a lesson here for me, also. As I seek to see things more clearly, and as I continue on a lifelong quest for clarity and truth, my life gets better. My happiness expands; my outlook improves, and I am able to see the blessings and miracles all around me that I had been missing before.

I suppose I could pay to have those lines removed. Others have, and their skin does look smoother, and more youthful.

But maybe, at least for now, I could use the reminders they bring me, that I have so many reasons to smile, and that the strain to seek further truth is worth the effort – yes, even worth the crows feet.

I’ll keep them for now.

I love the scripture in Alma 5:19, where he asks, “Can ye look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” I hope that someday, when I look in the mirror, in spite of everything else there is to notice, that is what I will see. 

Still smiling,


A Sacred Work

In our church, members of the congregation help with the weekly cleaning of the church.  It was our family’s turn (along with three other families) to participate in the cleaning last night. We cleaned everything from the windows to the chair rails, the choir seats to the floors. It was a flurry of activity, with all ages working side by side, directed by a very capable member who has been asked to be in charge each week and to teach us what needs to be done.

The younger children were busily cleaning the glass entry doors (a great choice, by the way – it kept them busy for quite awhile,) while the older children and adults vacuumed, scrubbed toilets and sinks and cleaned chalkboard trays and countertops.

While I was in one of the classrooms shining the windows, I heard a vacuum out in the hall approaching, and I could hear what I thought was singing. Sure enough, as it got closer, I could hear a child’s voice singing, “Onward Christian Soldiers”, and my heart melted. I thought, “How wonderful that a child has been taught to sing while he works – and how sweet that he is singing praise to God!”

I looked at the crevices in the window, and saw that there was some soil that I hadn’t noticed before. The children’s song, “This Is God’s House” came to my mind, and I felt that I truly was cleaning God’s house, and I was suddenly inspired to do my very best to make it as clean as possible. I sprayed the window once again, and scrubbed anew.

At the end of the cleaning, the brother who was in charge called us together to have a prayer, in which he spoke the words, ‘We offer up Thy house to Thee now clean for the use of Thy children,” and again my heart was touched.

The hour or so that I’d given up to help seemed now not like a sacrifice, but rather like time sanctified. I felt I had been involved in a sacred work, and had been blessed by that offering.

And I was reminded that all the good we do, even cleaning toilets and scrubbing windows, can be done “to the Lord”*, and thus be a blessing to us.

*Colossians 3:23,
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men..”

**Alma 37:36 “…let all thy doings be unto the Lord…”

Heavenly Fire

I was talking yesterday with a woman who felt inadequate to meet the challenges she is facing being widowed and underemployed. She impressed me because she didn’t want me to fix her problem (which I could never do) but just wanted some encouragement, and to know that someone believed she COULD do this hard thing.

This morning I found the perfect quote to share with her. It is from Washington Irving (and I found it while reading Stephanie Nielson’s inspiring book “Heaven Is Here”.)

The quote reads:

“There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.”

I believe in that heavenly fire. I believe that a loving God above breathes life into that fire as we turn to Him and ask for His help. I have felt that fire, sometimes just flickering, but at other times beaming and blazing as I, with determination, worked with God to overcome the challenges I was facing.

In Psalms 59:17, David says, “Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.” God truly has been my strength, my defence, and my mercy through those times.

If you’re feeling inadequate, or frightened, or unsure, look inside for that dormant spark. Ask for kindling, and believe,

and soon you’ll experience…

Heavenly fire!

Set a Goal – and Take Courage!

Goal – and Take Courage!

I was told recently that making a decision and moving ahead with it, even if it’s not the perfect decision, is much better than wallowing in indecision. I’ve been pondering that thought and how it applies to my life right now, and then this morning I received this thought in my inbox:

“I have found that helping people to develop personal goals has proven to be the most effective way to help them cope with problems. Observing the lives of people who have mastered adversity, I have noted that they have established goals and sought with all their effort to achieve them. From the moment they decided to concentrate all their energies on a specific objective, they began to surmount the most difficult odds.”

Ari Kiev
1934-2009, Psychiatrist and Author

It reminded me that whenever I’m stuck in indecision, I can take a moment to set a goal – however small – and then with determination work on it, and that concentrated energy helps me focus and lifts me out of discouragement. 

I love the scripture in Psalms 31:24: “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”

I trust in the Lord constantly to strengthen my heart. I pray for that daily. And the courage I gain from small accomplishments helps me hope in the Lord even more. 

Is there a goal you can set today, and then work “with all your effort” to achieve? It could be as small as organizing a drawer, but the achievement of that goal can be what lifts you out of indecision and discouragement and helps you look forward with hope. 

I am taking courage – hoping in the Lord – and I’m off to set a goal right now!

Kids – and Smiles

The thermometer read 100 degrees today.

Driving slowly through a subdivision on my way home from a meeting I spotted what appeared to be a lemonade stand on the other side of the road.

Remembering my own children’s efforts to make money that way years ago, and how thrilled they were when anybody stopped to buy from them, I did a U-turn and pulled up to the curb.

There were four children in the yard, and two of them, apparently a sister and a younger brother, ran up to my window, and asked, “What do you want?”

Not seeing a legible sign anywhere, I asked, “Well, what do you have for sale?”

They both fought to be first to recite the list, but the big sister, being taller and able to lift her chin up over the edge of my window, was definitely winning.

“Ten cent otter pops, twenty-five cent juice, or seventy-five cent slushies – any color.”
“I’ll take a slushy,” and I handed the girl a one-dollar bill. “And you can keep the change.”
“Okay!” With big grins, they turned to run back to the cooler set up on the sidewalk next to four camp chairs under a large beach umbrella.

I smiled, certain that they’d be back soon for more information, and sure enough, the big sister suddenly turned and ran back to my window.
“What color do you want?”
“Well, what colors do you have?”
“Umm, I think green and orange and red. Maybe blue.”
“I’ll take green.” (I’ve always loved lime-flavored slushies.)

I watched as she hurried back to the cooler, and said something to the other two children at the cooler. I saw them open the cooler and rummage through it, then look at each other, and then they directed the other little girl who hadn’t yet been to the car to come deliver a message.
She ran up to my window. “We’re out of green.”
I waited to hear more, but she just stood there. 
Realizing it was my turn to speak,  I asked, “What colors do you have?”
“Pink . . . and red and maybe orange.”

She’d sounded so sure on the pink that I thought that would be the best choice. “I’ll take pink.”

She hurried back to the three waiting under the umbrella and a discussion ensued. Back she came. “We have to go get the pink so it will be just a minute.” And off she ran into the house.

I could see the other three were flustered, and not wanting to add to their embarrassment, I lowered my head and began reading from a book I had in the car. I must admit I took a few sideways peeks at them, and I noticed that the oldest sister was quite upset, making it clear to the boys that this was not her fault, and that the little brothers should have planned better. In her frustration she backed up against the beach umbrella and knocked it over, which then knocked over two of the chairs. Things were not going well. 
The other little girl hurried out of the house – empty-handed – and reported something to the group. I could see them pulling otter pops out of the cooler and looking to see what colors were available. Not finding any pink, she and the tallest of the boys approached my window. 

“We don’t have that color, either. What color do you want?” 
I thought I’d better do whatever I could to salvage the situation. 

“Oh, it really doesn’t matter. I’ll take whatever you have.”
I could see the relief on their faces as they ran back to the cooler. They pulled a blue and an orange otter pop out of the cooler, tore them open, and squeezed the contents into a paper cup. 

Triumphantly, they handed the cup to me through my window. “Thanks for stopping!”

I had to smile. I don’t think it was the best financial investment I’ve ever made, but those relieved faces – and the cool feeling of slushy in my mouth – made it all worth it.