Here’s a gold star for my friend Suzanne for posting these amazing fall photographs. I saw this particular post when I was in a not that great mood and it reminded me that this world is still an awesomely beautiful place. Thanks for brightening our lives, Suzanne.
We have a relative named Joy who’s just about the happiest and most positive person I know. I realize there’s a good possibility this sweet lady would have turned out that way even if she’d been named Agnes or Gladys, but I can’t help but believe her name has had a little something to do with her disposition. Seriously, with a name like that there’d always be that little voice inside saying, “Don’t even think about being grouchy, for gosh sakes. Your name is JOY!” The poor lady is getting old now and has health problems, but whenever she starts to get even close to complaining, you can almost hear the little click as she quickly switches to a positive topic. It makes me want to say, “Just pretend your name is something else temporarily. Go ahead and let it out. You’re almost ninety. Give yourself a break! ”
In a previous blog I told about a man who had an even harder first name to live up to: Amazing. The story has a positive outcome, but his entire life this guy teased about his name. Then there’s the name Angel. My grandson has a little friend with this name. Right now he seems to be okay with it, but I’m guessing that could change soon. And do I dare say it? There are quite a few people of Mexican heritage whose well-meaning parents named them Jesus. Now that’s pressure.
If I were to choose one of those old-fashioned “virtue” names for myself I would pretty quickly skip over Grace and Prudence, but I could go for Hope. In fact, Hope seems like it would be the ideal name. Not only would there not be all that much pressure associated with it, but who doesn’t want to feel more hopeful? I know I do. Soooooo, I’m not sure what the rules are about just popping in a middle name, but maybe I’ll check into it.
“If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do? . . .” I can’t remember all the words to the closing hymn of this morning’s conference, but as these words were sung I recognized that as I listen to conference it’s almost as if the Savior really is standing beside me. As I listen to the inspired words, I feel my soul perk up and my heart say, yes, you can do better. You can love God more. You can live on a higher level of integrity. I hear the inner voice say, you, Anya Bateman, can be more kind, more empathetic, more giving. You can be more valiant and use your time more wisely. You can seek more diligently to know God’ s will for you. You can be more committed. You can be more like Christ. More importantly, listening to these words makes me want to do these things and be closer to God. A thank you to these leaders and most of all our prophet who prepared these wonderful words for our benefit. Because they listened to the spirit in preparing these talks, we, so many of us, feel the spirit in hearing them.
Years ago my Sunday School teacher would bring a box of stars and would put one on our foreheads if we we were wonderful which of course, we were. There was no better feeling than walking out of the classroom with a star on my forehead.
As I go through the days that make up my life, I’ve noticed there are so many people who deserve stars. I’m not sure I’ll ever actually carry around a box of stars or stop by anyone’s house with a star, but I was thinking that what I could easily do is give virtual stars to those who are extra “good” or do something to make this world a better place, or just do that extra little something they don’t need to do. In fact, I could have given three people stars today.
1. The extremely patient checker at Whole Foods who helped me out when I decided I didn’t want five pumpkins after all because the pumpkins I picked were not 39 cents a pound like the regular pumpkins, but 3.99 a pound. She remained pleasant even though it got complicated when she had to reweigh the pumpkins etc. She definitely deserved a star.
2. Carolyn at The Quilted Bear who did such a good job hostessing “Ghouls Night Out” and being in charge of all the games and the Halloween fun.
3. My friend Suzanne who just sent me the most amazing picture she took of fall colors.
Thanks to all these STAR-QUALITY people for contributing to this day and helping make it a good one.
Here’s a little book that fits right in with the topic of my last post—talents. It’s called SPOON by Amy Krouse Rosenthal with Scott Magoon as the illustrator.
Spoon is feeling a little blue because he’s sure his friends have it a lot better than he does. Knife gets to cut and spread. Fork gets to go everywhere even to barbecues and probably never goes stir-crazy. The Chopsticks are exotic and cool. What spoon doesn’t know is that his friends are looking at him and thinking he’s the one with the great life. Knife wishes people could be silly around him like they can be around Spoon, and not always so careful. Spoon just seems to have more fun! Fork is jealous because spoon gets to measure stuff. And even Chopsticks are jealous that spoon gets to do things on his own.
Spoon’s mother finally convinces Spoon that he really is one lucky utensil.
Clever and cute book! Let me know if you’d like a copy.
Here are some comments I’ve heard from fellow ward members, friends, neighbors and relatives concerning the talents and gifts of others. Don’t worry, I’ve changed your names. 1. Sally: “You should see my sister-in-law’s amazing scrapbooks. They’re gorgeous. She’s so artistic, it’s sickening.” 2. Lizzie: “We have neighbors who have such a perfect yard that I refuse to drive past their house anymore. It’s too depressing.” 3. Pat: “We won’t be sitting behind or anywhere near the Parker family in church again. While our kids are putting on a three ring circus performance, their kids sit in a perfect line along the bench, all their cute little accessories intact, memorizing scriptures.” 4. Jan: “I’m going to be asking for a different visiting teacher. Mine told me that in all the years she’s done laundry, she’s never lost a single sock. I can’t relate to someone like that.” 5. Sadie: “Whenever I go to a talent show and hear all the beautiful voices and see all the talents, I come away wondering what on earth I’ve been doing with my time, and what’s wrong with me.”
Now some of the above comments, it’s true, were said in jest—sort of. And yes, I seem to be picking on women rather than men, maybe because I talk to them most, or maybe, (shall we say it?) because they’re more sensitive about these kinds of things. But now let me tell you about these ladies who made the comments: 1. Sally is super fun to talk to, and she’s a magician with our little children and grandchildren. 2. Lizzie is patient and giving beyond belief. She’s not only raising her own half dozen, but takes in foster children. 3. Pat is a totally creative thinker and we can always go to her for ideas. Her children take after her. This is one creative family! 4. Jan is hilarious. She could seriously be a stand up comic. We all call her when we need a lift. 5. Maybe Sadie doesn’t have a talent she can perform on the stage, but we’d all kill for her ability to lead and organize. Plus, get this: She not only knows about a zillion good quotes and scriptures, but then she can actually tell you where they are.
You get my point. All these ladies who are intimidated by the talents of others are sickeningly talented themselves. In fact, we’re all talented without exception—just in different ways from one another. It’s true! Yup, here’s where I get preachy. The scriptures tell us, “To some is given one and to some another, that all might be profited thereby.” I’d now like to apologize to those of you (and you know who you are) who brought by gorgeous produce and huge squash at the end of the summer when our puny plants . . . well, never mind. I’m sorry I just gave you that sick smile, but I’d just been out back and . . .Never mind! I hereby give a big and sincere THANK YOU for feeding and nurturing us this summer. And I give a big THANK YOU to all of you who share your talents and enrich and nurture me and the rest of us in so many ways. You are not sickening! And I really mean that—sort of.