Friday, November 11, 2016

Eleven years ago today I lost my mom to liver cancer. This tree was given to me as a token of compassion and love from Larry's family. It started out as a little thing and has grown by leaves and branches. Every day that goes by as I look at "my tree" I think of mom. I miss her. I wish I would have shown her more and told her I loved her. Affection was not really shown in my family. She grew up in difficult circumstances, and I know she was the best mom she knew how to be. This life is the time to make sure you have no regrets before you lose someone. Oh! Happy Birthday tomorrow mom!

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Phone Call That Changed my Life (Essay #5, The Personal Essay)

With this post I have finished the family capstone assignment for my religion class. In English we were assigned to write a personal essay on an event that had changed our life. I chose to write about my conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It all started with seeing the families at church and wanting for myself what they had.  
Families are the most important unit in society, and they are being ripped apart by Satan and worldly influence. I pray that the post I have included in my blog stand as a witness to defend and strengthen the family. I decided that I will continue to post about family and The Family Proclamation going forward in some of my post. Just because my project is over doesn't mean I should stop sharing. I've learned a lot, and I am a better wife, mother, grandmother, and individual because of it.

The Phone Call That Changed My Life
        The other day I heard my grandson tell my son, “I’m glad I picked you.” If that is the case, and I believe it very well may be, then why did I pick my parents?  My mom had three divorces and eight children before she married my dad. He had had one divorce before they married. Then, throw in an alcohol addiction to spice up the family dynamics and you have the family I chose to come to.
       Four years before I was born my mother joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That was the best choice she made for me. I don’t recall her talking of having a responsibility in the church, or how active she was. I do know that as a two month old infant she dressed me in a gorgeous billowing lacey white dress for a baby’s priesthood blessing.  In that blessing I received my name, and a blessing for my life, by a man with authority from God. I believe that receiving the baby blessing impacted my life fourteen years later.
         Life, work, raising kids, another divorce (which was from my dad) and not living the gospel played havoc on her. She stopped having anything to do with the church. Was her decision a conscious one? Or did she slowly slip away?  Her choice affected me. I was but a child. A child usually does not have the opportunity to choose where to go to church, or to be taught of God. But, there is deep inside a child, an inner knowledge that is dormant until awakened by the Spirit of God. The knowledge that Heavenly Father loves him or her, and that His gospel is there for them to choose the path back to Him.
       I remember being about eight years old and being invited to the children’s class at church (Primary).  My mother never took me. After school I was picked up by a teacher in
Primary. I would go for a while, but as I think about it now, I imagine the teacher was released and the new one failed to keep me going. I don’t hold any animosity or regret towards the unknown teachers. It was probably for the best I slipped through the crack of the church’s missionary effort. If I had been baptized as a child, I wouldn’t have understood the importance of the ordinance being performed. I was not taught, and I only went because I was invited. I had fun there, and it got me away from home for a while. When I went I remember feeling something virtuous, but not knowing what it was.
       I stopped going completely around the age of ten years old. I was busy with school and Girl Scouts. My mother helped often with my Girl Scout activities. I don’t recall my mother ever reading to me, cozily tucking me in bed, hugging me, or kissing me goodnight, but I do remember her helping me earn my badges in Girls Scouts. When I went into junior high I quit Girl Scouts. I felt it wasn’t ‘cool’ anymore. I did not want to be made fun of wearing the uniform to school. School and reading became my escape.
       My escape was soon to become much better. It was early summer before my ninth grade, I was outside trying to cool off from the sweltering heat, when I was called into the house for a phone call. A girl my age, who I didn’t know, was calling me. “Hello”, I said. Then I heard the words inviting me to go to an activity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 14 year old girls. I surprised myself by saying I would go. To this day I do not remember what we did, but I do remember feeling like I belonged, and I wanted that very much. I must have been told what time church was on Sunday because I found myself getting ready to attend Sacrament meeting.  I asked my mom to take me. I was so nervous I almost didn’t go. I didn’t know anyone but the girls I saw at the activity I had gone to. They were nice, but we were not friends. When I thought of not going I felt the tugging of the Spirit urging me to go. I believe that the Priesthood blessing I was given as a baby was coming to fruition. I’m positive I was blessed to be active in the church, and to be married in the temple. Neither was a possibility until I walked nervously, shaking in my shoes, into the chapel on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I sat on the back pew alone, I listened, and I felt the feeling that I had felt before. The feeling of goodness, and of being where I belonged. I looked around the chapel and saw mothers, fathers, and children sitting together as families. I love my parents and I am glad I came to this family, but I do not recall a time when I sat with my mother and father as a family. I decided that I wanted the kind of family that goes to church together, that prays together, and most importantly of all, stays together.
       I went to the activities, and I attended church for several months. I also began the seminary program for teenagers. Not one soul asked me if I wanted to take the missionary lessons, or to be baptized.  I decided while I was at the church one day to talk to the bishop about being baptized. He immediately began the process so I could. I found out later that he left out an important detail, the missionary discussions. I did not know anything about the gospel, I only knew what I felt inside my heart. I wanted a family that loved, laughed, played, learned, worked, and worshiped together. I was baptized in the fall of my freshman year. I remember my mom taking me to the church, getting dressed in a crisp white jumper, and sitting on a chair feeling giant in a row with the eight year old children, while waiting my turn. As I attended church and learned the teachings of Heavenly Father, I gained a testimony of the gospel. I was excited to learn that the family I greatly desired, could be a family that is together not only in this life, but for the eternities to come.

       I did get the forever family I desired. I married a good man in the Manti Temple, we have been together for almost thirty-eight years, and have the greatest posterity.  As my husband and I toast our sparkling juice on our anniversary this fall we will say, “Thirty-eight down and an eternity to go. Love you babe.” 
Family Easter Picture, 1991, taken at Grandma and Grandpa Johnson's 
The next comment I added on July 21, 2016 after I received my grade on this assignment from my teacher. I received a 100%!!!!!  Yep, I am excited. the following is what she had to say.
Your writing has come so far this semester. Keep it up. I love what I'm seeing. I can relate to so much of your essay. My experiences with the Church are very similar to yours. 
Good work relaying a personal experience here. I really like the vulnerability that you showed, and the details that you shared. It is not easy to share personal details, but you did it well here. Also, you were able to make the theme of your paper clear and powerful. Great work!
Great work using specific examples and details here instead of just telling the reader everything. The descriptions that you used are powerful. Good work showing us how it felt to be there.
I like the way that you organized this essay. The order that you put the events in makes sense, and I like the way that you relate the story. Good work using transitions to unify your story and transition from one time to another time.
Your formatting and length are great here. Good work editing and proofreading so that your essay is clean and professional. I’m glad to see that you’re applying the grammatical and mechanical skills that we’ve worked on in this course. 

Whole Foods for Health, To Eat or Not to Eat? That is the Question - Essay #4

This essay is a persuasive essay. I chose a topic that is important to me. Eating wholesome, healthy food for your overall good health. My teacher gave me a score of 94 because she thought I needed more facts.  The woman in the essay, Jacqueline, is my daughter-in-law. She is a great example to me of eating healthy and having courage.
Whole Foods for Health, To Eat or Not to Eat? That is the Question
       Jacqueline Johnson was 24 when her life changed forever. She was young, and she had plans for her future that abruptly got side tracked when she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Follicular Lymphoma. This type of cancer she was told had no cure, but was treatable with chemotherapy. At that moment she began to fight for her life.  Jacqueline began chemo, and during the series of treatments she was introduced to a naturopathic doctor. She tried many things to battle the cancer, extra vitamins, B-12 shots, drinking natural juices to detoxify her body from the chemo, and acupuncture. She searched for others who had incurable cancer and discovered a woman who thrives with cancer, which means she has found a balance within her body that the cancer had stopped growing. She found that balance by what she ate. In that moment, Jacqueline made the decision to change her diet by eating whole organic food and eliminating processed food.  Eating whole food is healthier for our bodies than processed food. We as a people need to prioritize eating the kinds of food that contribute to our overall good health.
       In an online blog, Food and Nutrition, Brittany Chin, RD, LD explains, “Whole food are nutrient dense food and processed food is energy dense.” The difference being that whole foods provide nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber for your body. The sources of which keep your body running smoothly. Processed food has high empty calories that fill your stomach but is not beneficial for your health.
     Whole food is simple food. Chin explains, “A whole food would be considered ideally, as a food with only one ingredient i.e. corn on the cob, apple, chicken or a cucumber. These foods will assist you in reducing your cholesterol, regulating your blood sugars and reducing risk for diabetes while also assisting you in maintaining your weight.” There are many cancer fighting whole foods available. On the American Institute for Cancer Research blog it says,No single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. However, strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans helps lower risk for many cancers.”
       The simplicity of preparing processed food has many families addicted to that diet. The grocery store aisles are filled with heat and eat foods. I read a post on Facebook of a young mother putting together a lasagna for dinner. Her husband walked in the kitchen and asked in amazement if it was his birthday. A meal made from scratch is rare in that family. Families are so busy with everyone seeming to be involved in after school sports, music, jobs and other activities, that they feel it is out of necessity to use already prepared processed food.  Is food filled with ingredients that contribute to heart disease, diabetes and cancer a good tradeoff for food that fight against these diseases?
     I know that life style and diet contribute to the kind of health you have. My mother died of liver cancer, and my father died of lung cancer. They suffered agonizing, painful deaths. Both of these cancers may have been prevented if they had taken better care of themselves.  Instead, they died a death that they may have helped contribute to.  When we go to the grocery store, we can choose to pick up a box of Instant Potato Flakes with ingredients like sodium bisulfate, BHA, citric acid, and monoglycerides or we can pick up an orange, firm sweet potato.  The choice is to eat sticky, colorless, bland white mash or deep orange sweet potato fries seasoned with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. The sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fiber and niacin to name a few of the vegetable’s health benefits.  Shop for and eat the best for your good health because life is valuable.
     Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store to find where the whole foods are. Buy the vegetables and fruit that are in season. The price will be better. Plan your meals with the seasonal food in mind. Make the time to plan your menu. When you have a plan, you will more likely stick to it.
       An economical way to obtain whole food for your table is to grow your own. If you have a place for a flower bed, you have a spot to plant some vegetables. A patio or deck can hold potted tomato plants or strawberries. There is nothing like walking out your door into the garden and picking a huge red ripe, sweet strawberry. I have never tasted a better strawberry than the ones I’ve picked from my garden. Later in the day realization comes that lettuce and spinach is needed for a salad. The walk to the garden begins again to pick vibrant green spinach and mottled burgundy green lettuce. That is real honest from garden to table whole food. It’s a sense of accomplishment, and of gratitude that the work it takes to garden benefits the health of those I love.

       Whole food is not always the easy way, but it’s the best way to fuel your body over processed, chemically filled food. Let me tell you more of Jacqueline’s story.  She was diagnosed in 2008 with incurable cancer. It is 8 years later and she is cancer free. She feels empowered that she can make lifestyle choices which include the foods she eats and the foods she will not eat to have beat the cancer.  Individually, we each have that choice. We each can be empowered to choose food that will contribute to our overall good health.