Saturday, August 24, 2013
On a beautiful morning at the San Diego Temple in Southern California, my grandson, Scott Messick married his forever sweetheart, McKenzie. The date was August 23, 2013. I am sure...in fact, I am told that it was a perfectly beautiful ceremony. My heart and my spirit were with them, even though I could not be there in person. My thoughts were in tune with the spirit and I felt a wonderful peace during the time they were in the Temple.
What can I say about Scott Vernon Messick. He came to my daughter Kim's family after three girls; and I remember the joy that Kim felt with the birth of a son. He was definitely a Messick...the spitting image of his dad, Kenny.
He was destined to be an athlete, and as we all watched him grow up we also watched his interests turn to sports. He followed his dad around the golf course very early and when he picked up a club, he was a natural. He played basketball like his grandpa Gerry; and in High School, he took to Lacrosse and then to Surfing.
Surfing was his greatest love. When he was out in the water on his long board, he felt one with the ocean. And when he caught the perfect wave, after much patience, he rode it like a pro.
Scott met McKenzie in high school and it was love at first sight and they had that spark of eternity from the very beginning. She waited for him during his year at BYU Hawaii and she waited for him during his two years in South Korea while he served the Lord on a Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was only fitting that she would say, "yes" to his question of spending eternity with him. None of us were surprised!
It is my wish for the happy couple that their future will be as exciting and wonderful as their past has been. God bless you, Scott and McKenzie, as you go forward from this day and never forget to say, "I love you" every chance you get. Stay as beautifully joined 50 years from this day as you are right now.
I love you, and pray for you, eternally..
Friday, August 23, 2013
One of the first clues we get on the coast that summer is not too far distant is the influx of motorcycle caravans through our town. They come from the north and they come from the south and I envision that they have driven many hundreds of miles up or down the Oregon Coast on Highway 101. They come in large groups, or they come with only one or two other companions to enjoy our little town. And I smile.
I love to see their varied motor bikes come to our town, because I know summer will soon follow. Summer brings many travelers from all over the country to visit our seashore. They come for the week, or they come for just the week-end, but they do come. The population of Lincoln City triples in the summer time. Some complain because Highway 101 can get jammed with the influx of traffic. But, I love to see them enjoy our beaches, hillsides and mountains. And I smile.
At the end of summer, when all the kids are getting ready for school to start again, the motorhomes show up. Now, instead of motorcycles traveling through our town and up and down the coast, we have the huge motorhomes, pulling their little cars behind.
There are many varieties of motorhomes that visit our area. Some are small, but most are gigantic, like big busses.
I smile whenever I see these reminders of the seasons. I smile because you are welcome here. I smile because I live in a place that is desirable for the tourist because of its beauty. And I smile because together we can enjoy our summer season.
Living on the coast has so many benefits. One of my favorites is the beauty of the forests and the ocean and the myriad of hiking trails that lead to beautiful views.
I went on a hike the other day with the Young Women and Young Men from our church. Their leaders were also there. I'm not a spring chick any more, and they knew I could handle this hike. And, except for a brief asthma attack when I reached the top, I did handle it.
We walked through the woods on a clear, though sometimes muddy, path through the tall pines that are so typical of this region of the country. While watching my steps carefully (because I am prone to tripping over things), I couldn't help note the beauty of the foliage. God created this beauty here, as He has created beauty everywhere. And for that, I shall be eternally grateful.
When we came out of the forest, we hiked up a grassy path, which looked like a narrow deer path to the top of Cascade Head, which jutted out into the ocean. There we were met with a most spectacular view.
Looking south, we could see where the salmon river flows through a protected estuary to the sea. Beyond the river, if you look carefully, there is a little protrusion at the top of the next outcropping of rock and trees and grass that juts out into the ocean. The locals call that protrusion "the thumb", and that is the hike I took on my 70th birthday with my husband and my son, Billy. It is really steep up that protrusion, but the view is well worth it.
Beyond that outcropping, in the haze, is Lincoln City.
The Salmon River is appropriately named. Many a fisherman has caught his limit of salmon out of this river. It is a favorite fishing river for miles inland.
I love our beautiful coast. And I am grateful that we have such beauty to enjoy. In many ways, man has been good to preserve these areas for us. I had a wonderful hike with great kids and good leaders. Even our new Bishop, Bishop Orton, came up the trail with us. He stayed for a little while to enjoy the experience.
I am looking forward to more discovery of our beautiful Oregon coastline and mountains sometime in the future.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Not many women have been as fortunate as I to have loved two men and been able to carry that love locked securely in her heart. I married Gerald Vernon Henderson on June 7, 1958 in the Los Angeles Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We shared an amazing (though sometimes extremely bumpy) marriage for 22 years. And then Heavenly Father called him home in order to let me find my way alone for a season.
Marriage number two (and three) took place first on April 25, 1982 in Taos, New Mexico and second, on August 8, 1999 in Eugene, Oregon. Let me explain. I married Dean William Mickelson when I was still struggling with my loss, and I fear that was a bad combination for a lasting relationship. Therefore, we divorced in 1988. By the time we were ready for the second go-around, we both had experienced a great deal of refining in our lives, and were ready to "try again."
Having experienced marriage with two completely different men, I have learned a great deal about the institution that I would like to share here. Be patient with me, however, because even at my advanced age, I am still learning.
As I see it, and this is totally based on my experiences in my own marriages, I have isolated four phases or stages of growth in a marriage.
In this first stage, accompanied by butterflies, increased heart rate, and "love blindness", two people see each other as their perfect soul-mate. This is the necessary stage of falling in love.
That brings me to the question, "What is love?" Antoine de Saint-Empery sees it this way. "Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction." Keep this definition in mind as we explore the other stages. This definition talks to me, because it describes the properties of oneness. And this is not something that happens instantly, as in "love at first sight". Yes, the butterflies are there, and the "eyes for no other" are there, but it is when two people can "look outward together in the same direction" that seals their love.
These feelings are absolutely necessary for a permanent relationship to begin. In this phase, each sees only the very best that the other has to offer, and you experience the beginnings of love. This is the courtship, engagement, and marriage phase of the partnership you have chosen for the rest of your life. And in many cases, it is probably a good thing that "love is blind", or else no one would ever get married!
If you are lucky or extremely gifted in relationships, you can keep this phase going for endless years. Keep the courtship alive. Unfortunately, most couples do not stay here. Sooner or later, you move on into Stage Two--the stage of discovery. This is a critical stage.
It's in this stage that you discover that that perfect person you have committed your life and love to has (do I dare say it?) flaws. It is in this phase where relationships either grow stronger because they are willing to work through it, or it is the stage where many will say, "I've had enough. You are not the person I married!" And they will walk away from the growth through challenges in our relationships that imperfection will bring on.
St. Frances de Soles said this about attaining love and keeping it. "You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so you learn to love...by loving. Begin as a mere apprentice and the very power of love will lead you on to become a master of the art."
I have lived through these phases of discovery, and there were times when I forgot that all encompassing word, "love". When you focus on the faults or flaws of the other, you forget that you also have flaws. This period nearly destroyed my first marriage, and it did destroy my second the first time. Selfishness in this phase is the great destroyer.
Getting through this phase takes hard work, but when you keep God as one of your partners, and never let go of the love you have for your spouse, the two of you can work through this stage and the growth at the end makes it all so worth it.
At some point near the end of this phase, you once again reach that oneness I talked about in Stage One. And you will comfortably flow into Stage Three, the stage where you discover you can't see where one person ends and the other begins.
"Of all the music that reached farthest into Heaven, it is the beating of a loving heart." (Henry Ward Beecher) I would add to this, "...it is the beating of two loving hearts as one."
I haven't reached this phase yet...not in my first marriage, nor in my current. I really hope I live long enough to do so. But, I have known many elder couples who have reached this stage, and they are my role models. One example of two people in my life who reached this stage, are my in-laws.
My greatest joy was to watch the interactions between my mother-in-law, Betty, and my father-in-law, Bill. Bill was Betty's protector, her help-meet, her defender; Betty, up until her health failed her and she could no longer do the household chores, took the best and loving care of Bill. She was a master chef, a great homemaker, a supporter for everything Bill did in his life. In the last years of failing health for Betty, Bill was her care-taker and took over all of the household tasks she was no longer able to do. These two were truly "one flesh".
This is the last stage of a marriage. It is either the letting go period, or the saying good-bye at the end of one's life.
I never got to say good-bye to Gerry, because he was called home so abruptly and we were just beginning to experience the beginning phases of Stage Three. Again, the example of my in-laws comes to mind as an example of this final phase, because the loss of Dean's mother recently was one of the most beautiful displays of a life-long love between two people I have ever witnessed.
Saying good-bye is never easy, whether it is due to a sudden death or going through the final stages of a lingering illness. Faith plays a huge role in this final phase. Knowing what follows this life, after death, brings a comfort for the loved one who is leaving and also a comfort for the loved one left behind. Life does not end at death. And love does not end at death.
I don't know why I chose to write on this topic, except that I have been so touched by the experiences of my recent contact with family and friends and my observations in regard to their particular stages. I think I would like to say to those stuck in Stage Two, don't give up! Grab onto that love that brought you together, even if it's only a small shard. Use it to get you through, because the rewards of Stage Three and eventually, Stage Four will be worth the journey.
Friday, June 7, 2013
It was on this date that I married Gerald Vernon Henderson, a farm boy from Burley, Idaho. It was to be a union of a country boy and a city girl. Some would say that it couldn't last; city VS country was a lethal combination. True, we would find conflicts because of our individual backgrounds, but we managed to succeed in spite of the warnings. The joy I felt that day cannot be told. The journey we began would find us traveling all over this world!
The promise of children were realized. Together, we brought five beautiful spirits into this world.
Each one was an amazing gift from our Heavenly Father. Each one brought their own unique personality with them and did bring joy (and sometimes) sorrow into our lives. Each one has used their own talents and agency finding their way through their own lives. And each one has grown into a completion for the whole which defines our lives.
Gerry was a cute little boy, son of Maggie and George Henderson. He grew up in hard times and that gave him strengths that he would need throughout our life together. He learned about life early, and grew up much too fast for such a precious little boy.
As he grew up, he inherited those typical Scottish freckles and sandy colored hair that belied his inheritance from the land of his forefathers in Scotland. Those freckles and sandy colored hair were a part of him that I adored.
While we lived in Salt Lake City, Gerry served as Elder's Quorum President. He was diligent in his willingness to serve and with his counselors did a marvelous job leading. At times, I felt like a widow to the Quorum duties that would find him gone many nights during the week. But, I supported him in his calling. Looking back, I wonder if that period, like so many others in our life together, was a foreshadowing of things to come.
The other day, I was going through an old journal and came across the entries of the precious year before his death. I never dreamed when I married him that he would leave me so soon, but I should have paid attention more to the clues he was leaving in that year. It was a glorious year and many experiences brought us closer together. We shared joy and we shared heartache, but the strength of my husband brought us through and we became closer than we had been all of the previous 21 years. He taught me to find my own strengths. He taught me that even though we go through some really hard experiences, we (with the help of God) can get through them. We are not going to "melt"!
We celebrated our 22nd Anniversary on June 7, 1980, and in just 8 short months, on February 7, 1981, he was gone!
Gerry...I miss you so much today and always. There are times when I fall to my knees and ask my Heavenly Father, "Why?" and the tears flow. And there are other times when I realize that the growth in my own Testimony and strength that I have gained over all of these years since his passing, were all in the Good Lord's vision for me. He knew I could not grow as much as I have, had Gerry remained here.
And so, today I say, "Happy Anniversary, Gerry." I pray you are remembering me as much as I remember you. I love you, and I always will.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The other day I was getting my hair cut and my hair dresser asked me, "What was the most exciting thing you have ever done in your life?" This question stopped me in my tracks, because no one thing popped into my head. All I could say was, "At my age, I've done so many exciting things that I really can't pinpoint just one!"
I've stood behind Niagara Falls and watched the power of the falls as they plunged to the water below; I've climbed the stairs inside the Statue of Liberty and looked out over the amazing panorama of New York City; I've stood at the Feet of Abraham Lincoln in the Washington, DC memorial and looked up in awe at the man who went down in history as one of the greatest American Presidents this country has ever produced; I've walked the "trail of tears" in Nauvoo where the Saints were driven from their homes by the mobs in Illinois; I've stood on holy ground inside nine different Temples and mingled with both the Saints there and the spirits in attendance; I've walked on original Roman roads in York, England, and on the grounds of the Campbell Invarary Castle in Scotland; I've visited ancient castles in both Scotland and England and wondered at the miracle of history; and I've climbed mountains.
How does one choose which experience was "the most exciting"? That question has haunted me ever since that day. Could it be that my life has been so mundane that no ONE experience stands out in my mind as exciting? Or maybe my definition of exciting is different than the average persons.
EXCITING...hmmm...what in my life has been exciting?
Was it the first time I was up on a stage, performing my very first tap routine? That was pretty exciting to me. Or was it the day my mother brought my new baby sister home from the hospital? She was so tiny and I learned pretty quickly that she couldn't play with me for a very long time. Or maybe it was my very first kiss! That really was exciting...and wet and sloppy and yuck! No, that wasn't it.
I think for starters, the very first most exciting experience I had was my wedding day. It was a beautiful summer day in June, 1958. There was no other day like it...ever! I waited my whole life for that day. And it didn't disappoint me...it was the most exciting day of my life.
The second most exciting experience of my life was giving birth to my first child. No amount of preparation could ever get a girl ready to be a mother! I read all the books, talked to lots of mothers and listened to my own mother put in her two cents worth. None of that can teach you the absolute emotional joy of having that little tiny bundle of sunshine placed in your arms for the very first time. She was amazing. I didn't ever want to put her down.
In my lifetime, I have never jumped out of an airplane with a flimsy parachute strapped to my back; I've never para-sailed or scuba dived or driven a race car at maddening speeds; nor have I found myself up on the silver screen playing the part of a lifetime (although I've lived many parts in my head a million times, whenever I've watched a good movie); I haven't traveled the world and seen all those exotic places I dream about; and I've never sung a live duet with Barbra Streisand (though I really, really wanted to when I was a younger me).
No, the two most exciting things I have ever done in my life were to first be a wife, and second a mother. My greatest joys have come through those two titles. And, as I get older, the title of Grandmother, and even Great-grandmother are music to my ears. I would have it no other way.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Just as our forefather's debated over and over again on what should be included in The Constitution, (and in some cases what should not be included), the gentlemen (and women) in Washington today are debating on what should be removed.
There were differences in opinion then and there are differences in opinion now. But, as stated by James Madison in 1788 in his Federalist Papers, "...(these papers) are intended for those who possess a sincere passion for the happiness of their country, as well as for those capable of discerning the best way to promote this happiness." And this "pursuit of happiness" was (and should still be today) the base from which The Constitution was finally formed, voted on and ratified. The happiness of the people was and still is what drives freedom.
As I see it, the third party involved in forming The Constitution was the Lord, and those men present at its formation were men of faith. That element is missing in today's discussions. Our leaders (?) in Washington have chosen not to invite the Lord to their discussion. Hence, there is chaos at the top and it is trickling down to the citizens of this blessed country. And the happiness of her citizens is at stake.
In my eyes, and it should be in the eyes of every God-fearing American, it is up to us--the American citizens--to begin to repair the chasm that divides us, from the bottom up; then, we must replace the darkness that enshrouds Washington, our once great Capitol, with light and let God back into our discussions. How are we to accomplish this? Only God knows.
I'm not a young woman anymore--I wish I was, but I will not stand by and watch my beloved Country and The Constitution that blesses it, be burned to ashes before my eyes. As long as I am able, I will fight to the end to defend these God given freedoms. Our forefathers shall not have died in vein. God's army will rise up and defend every liberty that our forefathers so valiently fought to preserve.