Thursday, December 30, 2010

Do what makes you happy!


“Do what makes you happy, be who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, and love as long as you live.”           


I am ready to be happy, I am ready to smile, I am ready to laugh as much as I breathe and of course, I am ready to love as long as I live.  Yes, 2011…I am ready for you.  I am ready to put 2010 away and not look back.  I am ready.  Yes, 2011…I am ready and welcoming you with open arms!!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Moments of gratitude!

Snowy Day 009_thumb Today was a day that was full of gratitude for me. I really don’t want to bore you with the many details of the events that happened in my extremely busy day so, I decided to highlight a few things!!

1.  I am grateful for quiet moments this morning where I read my scriptures.  For some reason, I knew that I needed to feel that extra peace today.

2.  I am grateful for the prompting to visit a sweet friend (Gerb) in the hospital. Acting on this particular prompting, I had a couple of amazing experiences full of so much gratitude.  Let me share…I walked past the newborn nursery.  I looked through the window as I passed and four nurses turned and stared at me. I thought to myself…did I do something wrong? Nope!  As I rounded the corner to Gerb’s room, I hear, “Michelle!”  I turned to see who was calling my name.  It was a leader that I had when I was a little girl.  She has always been dear to my heart.  I spent a lot of time at her home when I was little.  I babysat her sweet children.  As we stood and talked, I shared with her how important she was to me.  Memories just flowed through my brain and into my heart.  I remember her teaching me when I had questions that I did not understand.  I remember feeling comforted when I was sad.  I remember feeling so welcome in her home. I knew that she loved me. 

When I became our ward’s young women president, I took the opportunity to write down what type of leader that I wanted to be like.  She had so many Christ-like qualities that I wanted to develop.  I will always be grateful for her in my life.  I hope and pray that I never was rude or mean to her. As I shared with her the impact that she had in my life, tears started flowing from both of our eyes.  I know she knows how important she is.  I felt it.

3.  Then, I entered Gerb’s room.  I love this friend.  She is incredibly important to me.  She has gone through so much in the past few days...a new baby and surgery on a broken & dislocated foot. But amongst the great amount of pain she is in, she still was her amazing self.  I am grateful for her friendship.  As I held her beautiful baby, I was overcome with the amazing love that our Heavenly Father has for each one of us.  While Gerb was with the physical therapists, I had the privilege of holding her sweet new arrival.  As I was holding him, I was looking at his adorable little face.  Then something struck my heart, this little guy had just left the presence of our Heavenly Father—what an amazing peaceful experience.  I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes.  I just kept staring at this little guy.  He was just in his heavenly home surrounded by loved ones and now he is here for everyone else to love. 

I am sorry that Gerb had to have physical therapy but I am glad that I had a few moments with her precious little one! 

4.  My mom told me that she had read or heard that naps are important to have.  So, I am grateful for the quick nap at my parent’s home.  Their home is so peaceful and warm.  I curled up in a quilt and fell fast to sleep. Oh, what a refreshing few minutes.  It was much needed and I am indeed grateful for it.

5.  I am grateful for the amazing youth in our stake.  I am so grateful for each one of them especially, my sweet young women.  Tonight, we had our Stake Youth Celebration and there was so much energy running through the stake center.  It was awesome!    Pres. Bell spoke, we watched a message from the Prophet, ate pizza, played games, danced, danced and danced some more.  Of course, there was plenty of laughter and giggling going on throughout the entire building.  It was so much fun.  I love being around the youth.  I hope that they don’t think that I am too crazy.  They just bring so much fun and excitement into my life.  I love it!!  I love my calling and I am so grateful for it. 

6.  When the festivities were over, we had several youth stay and help clean up.  It was awesome.  The building was cleaned in no time at all.  As they were leaving, I asked my young women if they would text me to let me know that they arrived home safely.  The roads were icy and I worried about them traveling.  Those that I asked to text me, did.  All were safe at home. YAHOO!!

I had been home a few minutes and was getting ready for bed when I received a text from a young woman in our stake.  She wanted to make sure that I had arrived home safely.  OF course, this brought tears to my eyes.  I am grateful for that sweet text.  She worried about me as much as I worried about her getting home.

Aw….what a great day!  I am grateful for so many things in my life. 


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I love quotes!

3D_Snow_Dance-29769 If you know me, you know that I absolutely love quotes.  When I read this one this morning, I knew that it was a keeper!  We truly need to love ourselves for who we are and what we are.  Oh, I just love this quote! Thanks Mr. Runner’s World for sharing it with me today.  I needed the reminder!!!

Love yourself, for who and what you are; protect your dream and develop your talent to the fullest extent.
Joan Benoit Samuelson



Monday, December 27, 2010

I love this quote!

 spring-flowers-1 I was looking through some files and found this quote….

“Sometimes we build up walls, not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.”

I am not sure who it is by but I love it.  Isn’t it true…at least, I know that it is true for me.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

It is too quiet…this feels strange!

Down-blanket-full It has been a very quiet day.  I am not used to these types of Sundays.  I am usually going from here to there, answering phone calls, visiting people, attending meetings--it hasn’t been this quiet for a very long time.  It feels strange.  I am not sure that I really like it.  It is too quiet.

After church, I curled up in my blankets and watched Christmas movies.  The phone did not ring nor did anyone knock at the door.  What a strange day!  I did receive a couple of texts---which was nice.  This day has been too quiet.  Way too quiet!  I should be really grateful but…I am not really.  It is just too quiet! 

I might just go for a ride in my car…it is too quiet in my home. Way too quiet. This day is so strange!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

christmas-tree-lights1I hope that you have had  a wonderful holiday season.  Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Twas the Night before Christmas


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Merry Christmas Eve!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Story…A Slice of Life

photolibrary_rf_photo_of_orange_wedge_and_juice A Slice of Life

Jean heaved another world-weary sigh. Tucking a strand of shiny black hair behind her ear, she frowned at the teetering tower of Christmas cards waiting to be signed. What was the point? How could she sign only one name? A "couple" required two people, and she was just one.

The legal separation from Don had left her feeling vacant and incomplete. Maybe she would skip the cards this year. And the holiday decorating. Truthfully, even a tree felt like more than she could manage. She had canceled out of the caroling party and the church nativity pageant. Christmas was to be shared, and she had no one to share it with.

The doorbell's insistent ring startled her. Padding to the door in her thick socks, Jean cracked it open against the frigid December night. She peered into the empty darkness of the porch. Instead of a friendly face -- something she could use about now -- she found only a jaunty green gift bag perched on the railing. From whom? she wondered. And why?

Under the bright kitchen light, she pulled out handfuls of shredded gold tinsel, feeling for a gift. Instead, her fingers plucked an envelope from the bottom. Tucked inside was a typed letter. It was a...story?

The little boy was new to the Denmark orphanage, and Christmas was drawing near, Jean read. Already caught up in the tale, she settled into a kitchen chair.

From the other children, he heard tales of a wondrous tree that would appear in the hall on Christmas Eve and of the scores of candles that would light its branches. He heard stories of the mysterious benefactor who made it possible each year.
The little boy's eyes opened wide at the mere thought of all that splendor. The only Christmas tree he had ever seen was through the fogged windows of other people's homes. There was even more, the children insisted. More? Oh, yes! Instead of the orphanage's regular fare of gruel, they would be served fragrant stew and crusty, hot bread that special night.

Last, and best of all, the little boy learned, each of them would receive a holiday treat. He would join the line of children to get his very own....

Jean turned the page. Instead of a continuation, she was startled to read: "Everyone needs to celebrate Christmas, wouldn't you agree? Watch for Part II." She refolded the paper while a faint smile teased the corner of her mouth.

The next day was so busy that Jean forgot all about the story. That evening, she rushed home from work. If she hurried, she'd probably have enough time to decorate the mantle. She pulled out the box of garland, only to drop it when the doorbell rang. Opening the door, she found herself looking at a red gift bag. She reached for it eagerly and pulled out the piece of paper. get his very own orange, Jean read. An orange? That's a treat? she thought incredulously.

An orange! Of his very own? Yes, the others assured him. There would be one apiece. The boy closed his eyes against the wonder of it all. A tree. Candles. A filling meal. And an orange of his very own.

He knew the smell, tangy sweet, but only the smell. He had sniffed oranges at the merchant's stall in the marketplace. Once he had even dared to rub a single finger over the brilliant, pocked skin. He fancied for days that his hand still smelled of orange. But to taste one, to eat one? Heaven.

The story ended abruptly, but Jean didn't mind. She knew more would follow.

The next evening, Jean waited anxiously for the sound of the doorbell. She wasn't disappointed. This time, though, the embossed gold bag was heavier than the others had been. She tore into the envelope resting on top of the tissue paper.
Christmas Eve was all the children had been promised. The piney scent of fir competed with the aroma of lamb stew and homey yeast bread. Scores of candles diffused the room with golden halos. The boy watched in amazement as each child in turn eagerly claimed an orange and politely said "thank you."

The line moved quickly, and he found himself in front of the towering tree and the equally imposing headmaster.

"Too bad, young man, too bad. But the count was in before you arrived. It seems there are no more oranges. Next year. Yes, next year you will receive an orange."

Brokenhearted, the orphan raced up the stairs empty-handed to bury both his face and his tears beneath his pillow.
Wait! This wasn't how she wanted the story to go. Jean felt the boy's pain, his aloneness.

The boy felt a gentle tap on his back. He tried to still his sobs. The tap became more insistent until, at last, he pulled his head from under the pillow.

He smelled it before he saw it. A cloth napkin rested on the mattress. Tucked inside was a peeled orange, tangy sweet. It was made of segments saved from the others. A slice donated from each child. Together they added up to make one whole, complete fruit.

An orange of his very own.

Jean swiped at the tears trickling down her cheeks. From the bottom of the gift bag she pulled out an orange -- a foil-covered chocolate orange--already separated into segments. And for the first time in weeks, she smiled. Really smiled.

She set about making copies of the story, wrapping individual slices of the chocolate orange. There was Mrs. Potter across the street, spending her first Christmas alone in 58 years. There was Melanie down the block, facing her second round of radiation. Her running partner, Jan, single-parenting a difficult teen. Lonely Mr. Bradford losing his eyesight, and Sue, sole care-giver to an aging mother....

A piece from her might help make one whole.

-- By Carol McAdoo Rehme


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dear Santa…

 Dear Santa, santa-claus-pics-0101

I love this time of year. In fact, it is my favorite time.  I love everything about it.  I love to shop and give the people I love gifts.  I love to see the smiles that are brought into people’s hearts.  But, this Christmas season has been difficult for me.  I have tried hard to be the best person I can be.  All I want for Christmas are the things that are in my heart.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Christmas Story…An Adventure with Grandma!

This is one of my favorite stories (yes, I have a lot of favorites).  Each year, my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, niece and I have the privilege of providing a family with a Christmas. I love the wonderful feeling that I experience in each step of the process--whether it is finding the family, finding out what they need (and want), shopping, shopping, and more shopping, wrapping the presents, or delivering them--each step is amazingly rewarding.  So, each time, I read this story--it reminds me of each little family that has blessed our lives.  They definitely have made an incredible impact on each one of us.  So, please enjoy the story...   


I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her world-famous cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus!" she snorted. “Ridiculous!
Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let's go." Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous, cinnamon bun.

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. 'Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's. I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten dollar bill, wondering what to buy and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in! Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out or recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough, and he didn't have a coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that. "Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes," I replied shyly. "It's .... for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) and write, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it -- Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa's helpers. Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going." I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open.

Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the tag tucked inside: $19.95.


Monday, December 20, 2010

A Christmas Story…Simple White Envelope

 white-envelope I have said it many times…I love Christmas stories.  A few years back, a sweet friend of mine, Clarissa, sent me a Christmas story.  Of course, I loved it.  Of course, it makes me all teary-eyed.  I wanted to share it with you today….I needed to be reminded of that “simple white envelope” today.


It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas--oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it -- the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma --the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat,he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, 'I wish just one of them could have won,' he said. 'They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.' Mike loved kids -- all kids -- and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition--one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

 2170121299_7e41014e9c Bright and early this morning, (ok…it was still really dark and rainy) we drove to Salt Lake City to attend A Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir mini-concert.  When we finally arrived…the free-way was closed and the detour was closed due to a horrific accident…so much time on the road…I was so sleepy.  (Hmm….maybe I should figure out how to sleep at night.) The atmosphere was so warm and peaceful sitting in the conference center.  I was trying so hard to stay awake.  I did not want to miss anything at all.  I knew if I closed my eyes…sleep would set in.  So, I started listening to the three ladies that were sitting next to me.  They were on facebook critiquing everyone’s status and pictures….so, I guess, that did help me stay awake.  People can be so cruel.  I wonder if these ladies knew that others were listening…they would have had to, wouldn’t they?

Finally, the concert started.  It was amazing.  I am grateful that we were given an early Christmas present.  The Tabernacle Choir was amazing.  David Archuleta was incredible.  The Salt Lake City Dancers were superb.  The orchestra was perfect.  Everything about the concert was fantastic. I am really glad that I was able to go.  I think that I really needed it.  In fact, I know that I needed it.  The feelings that I felt this morning was a tender mercy from our Heavenly Father.  I know it.  I just do.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Favorite things Friday (moved to Saturday)….popcorn

One of my most favorite things is….



One of my most favorite things is popcorn. I love popcorn for a snack. I love trying out new recipes and sharing it with others. As I looking through the many recipes that I have yet to organize, I came upon one that I have never tried. It is called White Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn.  I decided that today was the day that I was going to attempt to create this delicious treat. It was so easy and so yummy.  You should try it…you might just like it.

White Chocolate Candy Cane Popcorn

1 cup popcorn kernels, popped

1 lb. Almond Bark

1-6 ounces box candy canes, crushed

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Place popcorn in a very large mixing bowl. Pour crushed candy canes over the top of the popcorn. Melt the almond bark according to the package.

Once the almond bark is melted, add the peppermint extract.  Mix well.  It will seize a little bit (mixture will get a little lumpy---no worries, it is okay).

Pour over the popcorn & candy cane mixture.  Pour the popcorn out onto a piece of waxed paper, parchment or foil.  Spread it out into an even layer and leave it alone. 

Melt the chocolate chips and drizzle over the popcorn.  Leave it until the almond bark and chocolate has hardened. 

When chocolate is hardened, use your hands to break up popcorn into chunks.  Toss in a bowl and eat!!  So delicious!!!

Happy Holidays!



Friday, December 17, 2010

This saddens my heart!


I received a phone call early this morning from my brother telling me that the Provo Tabernacle was on fire.  My heart sunk!  I turned on the TV to watch the Breaking News.  It makes me so sad.  I cannot even believe it.  I started thinking about those pioneers that sacrificed so much to build us such a beautiful building.  I believe it took them approximately 15 years to build it.   15 years of sacrifice to build us such an amazing building and only a few hours to completely destroy it  This just makes my heart sad.

I love this building.  I love attending meetings in this building.  I love everything about this building.  It is such a peaceful place.  Oh, my heart is saddened.  I have lots of awesome memories that were built attending events in this beautiful building.  I just cannot believe it. 


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Folded Napkin---A Trucker’s Story

fancysilverwarepouch I love stories that warm my heart and that give me warm goose bumps.  After reading them, I always want to try harder and be the best person that I can be.  Anyway, Gabby received an email with this story in it and she knew how much I love these kind of stories…so she sent it to me to read.  I probably shouldn’t read these stories at work—I get all teary eyed.  (Ha Ha…that isn’t too difficult for me lately!)  Thanks Gabby for sharing it with me.  So…I decided to share it who whomever visits my blog today.

The Folded Napkin--A Trucker’s Story

If this doesn't light your fire .... your wood is wet!

I try not to be biased, but I had my doubts about hiring Stevie. His placement counselor assured me that he would be a good, reliable busboy.

But I had never had a mentally handicapped employee and wasn't sure I wanted one. I wasn't sure how my customers would react to Stevie.

He was short, a little dumpy with the smooth facial features and thick-tongued speech of Downs Syndrome. I wasn't worried about most of my trucker customers because truckers don't generally care who buses tables as long as the meatloaf platter is good and the pies are homemade.

The four-wheeler drivers were the ones who concerned me; the mouthy college kids traveling to school; the yuppie snobs who secretly polish their silverware with their napkins for fear of catching some dreaded "truck stop germ" the pairs of white-shirted business men on expense accounts who think every truck stop waitress wants to be flirted with. I knew those people would be uncomfortable around Stevie so I closely watched him for the first few weeks.

I shouldn't have worried. After the first week, Stevie had my staff wrapped around his stubby little finger, and within a month my truck regulars had adopted him as their official truck stop mascot.

After that, I really didn't care what the rest of the customers thought of him. He was like a 21-year-old kid in blue jeans and Nikes, eager to laugh and eager to please, but fierce in his attention to his duties. Every salt and pepper shaker was exactly in its place, not a bread crumb or coffee spill was visible when Stevie got done with the table. Our only problem was persuading him to wait to clean a table until after the customers were finished. He would hover in the background, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, scanning the dining room until a table was empty. Then he would scurry to the empty table and carefully bus dishes and glasses onto his cart and meticulously wipe the table up with a practiced flourish of his rag. If he thought a customer was watching, his brow would pucker with added concentration. He took pride in doing his job exactly right, and you had to love how hard he tried to please each and every person he met.
Over time, we learned that he lived with his mother, a widow who was disabled after repeated surgeries for cancer. They lived on their Social Security benefits in public housing two miles from the truck stop. Their social worker, who stopped to check on him every so often, admitted they had fallen between the cracks. Money was tight, and what I paid him was probably the difference between them being able to live together and Stevie being sent to a group home. That's why the restaurant was a gloomy place that morning last August, the first morning in three years that Stevie missed work.
He was at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester getting a new valve or something put in his heart. His social worker said that people with Downs Syndrome often have heart problems at an early age so this wasn't unexpected, and there was a good chance he would come through the surgery in good shape and be back at work in a few months.

A ripple of excitement ran through the staff later that morning when word came that he was out of surgery, in recovery, and doing fine.

Frannie, the head waitress, let out a war hoop and did a little dance in the aisle when she heard the good news.

Marvin Ringers, one of our regular trucker customers, stared at the sight of this 50-year-old grandmother of four doing a victory shimmy beside his table
Frannie blushed, smoothed her apron and shot Marvin a withering look.
He grinned. "OK, Frannie, what was that all about?" he asked.
"We just got word that Stevie is out of surgery and going to be okay."
"I was wondering where he was. I had a new joke to tell him. What was the surgery about?"

Frannie quickly told Marvin and the other two drivers sitting at his booth about Stevie's surgery, then sighed: " Yeah, I'm glad he is going to be OK," she said. "But I don't know how he and his Mom are going to handle all the bills. From what I hear, they're barely getting by as it is." Marvin nodded thoughtfully, and Frannie hurried off to wait on the rest of her tables. Since I hadn't had time to round up a busboy to replace Stevie and really didn't want to replace him, the girls were busing their own tables that day until we decided what to do.

After the morning rush, Frannie walked into my office. She had a couple of paper napkins in her hand and a funny look on her face.

"What's up?" I asked.
"I didn't get that table where Marvin and his friends were sitting cleared off after they left, and Pete and Tony were sitting there when I got back to clean it off," she said. "This was folded and tucked under a coffee cup"

She handed the napkin to me, and three $20 bills fell onto my desk when I opened it. On the outside, in big, bold letters, was printed "Something For Stevie."
"Pete asked me what that was all about," she said, "so I told him about Stevie and his Mom and everything, and Pete looked at Tony and Tony looked at Pete, and they ended up giving me this." She handed me another paper napkin that had "Something For Stevie" scrawled on its outside.. Two $50 bills were tucked within its folds. Frannie looked at me with wet, shiny eyes, shook her head and said simply: "truckers."

That was three months ago. Today is Thanksgiving, the first day Stevie is supposed to be back to work.

His placement worker said he's been counting the days until the doctor said he could work, and it didn't matter at all that it was a holiday. He called 10 times in the past week, making sure we knew he was coming, fearful that we had forgotten him or that his job was in jeopardy. I arranged to have his mother bring him to work. I then met them in the parking lot and invited them both to celebrate his day back.

Stevie was thinner and paler, but couldn't stop grinning as he pushed through the doors and headed for the back room where his apron and busing cart were waiting.
"Hold up there, Stevie, not so fast," I said. I took him and his mother by their arms. "Work can wait for a minute. To celebrate your coming back, breakfast for you and your mother is on me!" I led them toward a large corner booth at the rear of the room.

I could feel and hear the rest of the staff following behind as we marched through the dining room. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw booth after booth of grinning truckers empty and join the procession. We stopped in front of the big table. Its surface was covered with coffee cups, saucers and dinner plates, all sitting slightly crooked on dozens of folded paper napkins. "First thing you have to do, Stevie, is clean up this mess," I said. I tried to sound stern.

Stevie looked at me, and then at his mother, then pulled out one of the napkins. It had "Something for Stevie" printed on the outside. As he picked it up, two $10 bills fell onto the table.

Stevie stared at the money, then at all the napkins peeking from beneath the tableware, each with his name printed or scrawled on it. I turned to his mother. "There's more than $10,000 in cash and checks on that table, all from truckers and trucking companies that heard about your problems. "Happy Thanksgiving."

Well, it got real noisy about that time, with everybody hollering and shouting, and there were a few tears, as well.

But you know what's funny? While everybody else was busy shaking hands and hugging each other, Stevie, with a big smile on his face, was busy clearing all the cups and dishes from the table.

Best worker I ever hired.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

random thoughts for today

snowy-roadIt is really cold today.  For some reason, it is cold inside and out!  I love snow but I really am not a fan of the cold weather.  I just want to curl up in my quilts and do nothing! Nothing at all!!

Anyway, I don’t have much of a blog entry today.  So, I started thinking…and decided to share some non-important thoughts that are swimming around in my brain.  

  • I woke up in a cold house today…write note to check furnace when I get home from work.
  • I am grateful that I have a garage to park in…I saw a lot people scraping the snow and ice off their vehicles today.
  • I wished I would have brought a coat with me today.  I sometimes forget to grab one when I go from my house through the garage to my car.
  • I am grateful for the heater in my car today.  I was toasty warm on the way to work. I really did not want to go out into the cold.
  • I am grateful that I have my own parking place…it makes one less choice I have to make each morning.
  • I just realized that Christmas is next week.  Did you hear me?  It is next week.  I haven’t even purchased one present.
  • I don’t grow tired of Christmas music.  I could probably listen to it all year long.  It is the same with Christmas movies.  Oh, I love them so!!  But, it is a treat each year when they start playing on the radio and tv.
  • I want to go home from work, curl up in my quilts & finish the book that I am reading. I want to know what happens.
  • No matter how many times you write your Christmas present giving list…it doesn’t get smaller if you don’t purchase anything.
  • Hot chocolate sounds delicious right now.  That is an odd thought because I am not really a fan of Hot Chocolate.
  • Using a red pen on orange paper is not at all attractive.  It really clashes. I better write with a blue pen today.
  • I just tasted delicious homemade Kettle Corn that my boss brought in for us today.  I am excited for her homemade toffee next week.
  • I love receiving text messages.  They make me smile.  It makes me think that people think of me and want to talk with me.
  • How come people don’t say “thank you”?  They just expect you to know that they are thankful for the gift or note that you gave them.
  • Why do people send emails or notes that are not very nice?  How would they feel if they received an email or a note that was not nice?  Would they feel sad? Or is it the type of person that they truly are?
  • I doodle a lot.  You should see the paper that is on my desk right now.  I am one crazy doodler.
  • Gabby just gave me some goldfish to eat.  Not the real live ones…silly!  Oh, I do love goldfish crackers. 
  • I want to take a nap.  I am really tired.  I wish that I would start sleeping again at night.  That is a fabulous thought!

I am sure that I have thrilled your reading expectation for today.  NOT!  Anyway, I hope that you have a delightful snowy day!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a good sorry mood

lds_scriptures Last night…ok…maybe early this morning…2:00 am would be probably morning…right?! I was studying my scriptures and came upon Jacob 4:18:

Behold, my beloved brethren, I will unfold this mystery unto you; if I do not, by any means, get shaken from my firmness in the Spirit, and stumble because of my over anxiety for you.

For some reason, the word “anxiety” struck me.  I looked up the word  and found the definition to be very interesting.  It means “a relatively permanent state of worry and nervousness occurring in a variety of mental disorders.”  As I pondered over this particular scripture and word, I wondered why I have been in the mood that I have been in lately.  I have so many thoughts swimming around in my head and so many things that are creating a not so enjoyable mood in the life of Michelle Lynn Gren.

Anyway, I went back to studying my scriptures, writing down thoughts, looking up quotes  and came upon something that gave me some sort of relief.    It was a quote by Pres. Boyd K. Packer.  He stated,

“In this school environment, you are not immune from pressures which relate to schoolwork—tensions and problems—and the long list of attendant emotionally-oriented difficulties and disorders---insecurity, worry, stress, confusion, dependency, suspicion, withdrawal, fear…If you happen to hit a good sorry mood once in a while, relax and enjoy it---it is a good sign that you are normal.  It is all right to worry about things now and again, I suppose, but when you get worried about being worried, that is when you are getting off track.” ~Boyd K. Packer

I loved the part where he said, “…If you happen to hit a good sorry mood once in a while, relax and enjoy it---it is a good sign that you are normal.”  YES, I am glad that I am NORMAL.  I might be in a good sorry mood, but I know that I am normal and not suffering from mental disorders.   



Monday, December 13, 2010

a tree decorated perfectly

IMG_4861 I love Christmas lights.  I love to drive along the streets and look at the Christmas lights in yards and on houses of those that I pass. I love bright colored lights but my most favorite ones are the houses and yards decked out with white lights.  I love it! 

Before I leave work each night (it is usually dark-very dark), I look out the window by my desk and look at the tree that is all lit up with white lights.  It is amazingly beautiful.  The white lights are strung so perfectly from the trunk throughout the the many branches.  It sits close to the road so all can partake of its incredible beauty. 

Secretly, I know that the school across the tree decorated this tree especially for me.  I know they wanted something bright for me to look at as I walk to my car.  Ok…I can pretend…we all can pretend that they decorated it just for me.  Thank you Provo College for making me smile!

I love Christmas lights!


**picture courtesy from Gabby’s iPhone**

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a great ratio


Today I was in a melancholy mood. 

All I wanted to do today was cry, receive a hug, and  have a large diet coke with crushed ice. 

I cried a lot. 

I received quite a few hugs. Attending a youth fireside with the most amazing young women in the world…I received a zillion hugs. 

I did not get a large diet coke with crushed ice.  But, there is still hope for tomorrow. 

Two out of three things is a great ratio!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rolo Pretzels

If you love pretzels and chocolate, you need to try these delicious little treats.  They are so easy and so yummy!


Rolo Pretzels

48 Rolos

96 mini waffle pretzels

Preheat oven to warm.  Line cookie sheet with wax paper.  Place 48 unbroken mini waffle pretzels on cookie sheet. Unwrap ROLOS and place on top of each waffle pretzel. Slide cookie sheet into the oven for approximately 6 minutes.  ROLOS will look shiny but will still hold their shape.  Take cookie sheet out of oven.  Place another unbroken mini waffle pretzel on top of each ROLO and press down.  Place cookie sheet in freezer for 10 minutes or if you do not want to place in freezer, let them set for 1/2 hour.  Once the ROLO pretzel is set, slide off cookie sheet and eat!  DELICIOUSNESS!!!


Friday, December 10, 2010

Favorite things Friday…Jamba Juice

One of my most favorite things is….


Jamba Juice!

One of my most favorite things is a smoothie from Jamba Juice.  I love their smoothies.  Deliciousness! My most favorite one is Razmatazz.  It consists of mixed berry juice, orange sherbet, frozen strawberries, bananas and ice.  Wait…hold the bananas and add raspberries. YUM!!  Deliciousness!!  I love this cold treat!!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Krispie Kreme Adventure


I was in charge of treats for our monthly Stake & Ward Camp meeting. I did not have time nor  energy to really create something delicious that I would be proud to take to a meeting.  For some reason the thought of doughnuts popped into my mind.  I am not a donut connoisseur.  In fact, they are my least favorite treat.  But, I know that others love them.  So…I decided that would be the treat for the night.

So…off to Krispie Kremes, I drove.  When I arrived inside the building there were several people in front of me  including several elementary age children.  Apparently, if you do well in school, you present your report card to the clerk and she gives you  a half a dozen glazed donuts.  It was fun to watch as the little elementary school children excitedly stood in line to hand their awesome report card to the clerk.  When the clerk handed them their box of glazed donuts, they were beaming with excitement.  It was fun to witness such wonderful smiles on their faces.  Smiles and giggles coming from little children are things that I definitely love!!

Finally, it was my turn. I ordered six dozen glazed donuts.  The clerk asked if I would like to wait for the a fresh batch.  Of course, I would.  While fresh glazed donuts were being made, she helped the other half of Utah County elementary school children get their “less than fresh” glazed donuts.  About 20 minutes later, the glazed donuts were made and it was time to box up my order. 

The friendly clerk asked me why I was purchasing six dozen donuts. I explained to her that it was for a young women meeting.  She proceeded to tell me that at their last young meeting, they served beans and rolls.  In my head I was thinking that I wanted to have my leaders enjoy a treat.  I am sure that beans and rolls are good but…not my idea of a treat. 

After ringing up the total of my purchase, she decided to give me six dozen donut holes.  I sure hope that my young women leaders are hungry tonight.  HA HA!! 

Hope you are having a festive night!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

3:02 am!

ist2_1323146-alarm-clock-5-to-12 I am curled up amongst my quilts…sleeping and dreaming.  Then all of a sudden, my eyes open.  I look at my clock.  It reads 3:02.  3:02?!  I think to myself…are you serious?  What is going on?  It can’t be that time. 

I turn over, grab my pillows, pull my covers closer to me and close my eyes.  Aw…to sleep again.  After what seems like an eternity, I look at the clock again…3:09.  Serious?!  3:09!  Why can’t I sleep?  I am tired.  I am exhausted.  I can’t stop yawning!  Why am I awake? 

So, again…I curl up with my blankets and pillow, close my eyes and try to go back to dreamland.  NOPE!!  Apparently, that is not in the plan.  After it seems like an eternity (AGAIN), I open my eyes…3:42!  Not much sleeping tonight!

I decide to  get up.  Now the question is… what should I do?  What do normal people do at 3:42 am?  Sleep!!  UGH!! I want to be a normal person!

I just checked my email…not much to read.  I checked facebook…nothing too exciting.  I turned on the TV.  Hallmark is playing Off Season.  I really don’t care for that movie,  It is dark outside.  I can hear a few cars on the freeway.  My neighbor just left (hopefully, he is going to work and not having an emergency of some sort).  My house is quiet.  Too quiet.  I have tried reading…hoping that would put me to sleep.  Nope! 

Hmm…not much going on except me YAWNING every few minutes.  Oh my goodness….it is going to be an extremely long day. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Cards

religious-christmas-cards I arrived home after work today and setting on the counter was an envelope addressed to me.  The envelope was silver and shiny.  Excitement was radiating from my body because I knew what it could be.  It was my very first Christmas card of the season.  I LOVE receiving Christmas cards from friends and family.  Every time I receive one, I get these awesome warm fuzzies.   I LOVE reading Christmas newsletters and looking at the photos of cheerful families. I love being included on Christmas card lists.  It makes me feel loved.  I do LOVE this time of year!!


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Gren Village


(This picture doesn’t even do it justice.)

If you know me very well, you know that I LOVE Christmas.  I love everything about Christmas.  I love shopping for the perfect presents.  I love wrapping presents.  I love decorating for Christmas. I love Christmas baking.  I love to go look at the lights.  I love spending time with family and friends.  I love Christmas time!

One of my favorite places to go is my parents home during the Christmas season (ok…I love going there any other time of the year). Mom decorates each room in the home with a Christmas tree and a theme.  It is awesome.  She spends hours and hours decorating.  I love it. It such incredible place to go.  The spirit of Christmas is definitely present!

One thing that I am in charge of is putting together my mom’s Christmas village.  I have named it “The Gren Village”.  Unique. Huh?  My mom has hand-painted every house, market, church, school and the buildings go on and on.  It is awesome.  I love taking out each piece from their designated storage box and creating a village.  It is so cool when everything comes together…snow, lights, buildings, people, trees.  I love creating the village each year.  Aw…I love Christmas time!!!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Visiting Teaching

poinsettia I love visiting with people. I love to listen to them talk.  I love to hear the sound of their voice.  I love to try and figure out what they are thinking.  I love to hear of their experiences from wonderful ones to the challenging ones.  I love to listen to them talk about the many details of their lives.  I just enjoy being around people.  I REALLY do!

Then…why is it so difficult to have the excitement to do my visiting teaching.  I really struggle with that calling.  I struggle with making the phone call, walking (or driving) to their home, knocking on their door and stepping into their homes.  I am not sure what it is but I REALLY struggle with it. I love who I visit teach…that is definitely not the problem.

I visit three wonderful ladies in my ward.  They have had so many wonderful and challenging experiences in their lives.  I love to listen to their stories.  I feel of their incredible spirits.  They are amazing sisters in the gospel.

Today, I went and visited each one of them by myself.  My visiting teaching companion is in Florida on vacation.  I knew with the festivities of this month, I would really be pushing it to get them visited if I waited until later in the month.  So, with a poinsettia and a Christmas card in hand, I visited each one of them.   I came away from each visit renewed with the wonderful blessing of service.  I am REALLY grateful that they are apart of my life and I know that I receive such wonderful blessings through visiting teaching…but it is a HUGE struggle.  Why?  I just do not understand.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Aw…she just melts my heart!

1204101508-01Today I got to spend time with my little buddy.  She melts my heart every time I see her.   She is just a ray of sunshine.  Oh my goodness, I love her so much. 

Today went shopping…only to a couple of stores.   We both were not feeling too well so we came back to warmth of my home.  We read books and watched Christmas movies.  Aw…this little girl melts my heart. 

She is the sweetest little girl in the whole world.  I love it when we are walking and she reaches up and takes a hold of my hand.  Or when I ask her who her best friend is and replies, “MaHelle!”  Aw…she just melts my heart.  I love her so much.  She means the whole world to me!! 


Friday, December 3, 2010

Favorite things Friday…I love Straight No Chaser

One of my most favorite things is….

Straight No Chaser!

I love these guys.  They make me smile!!  I could listen to them over and over!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Problem solved!

3-milkhsakes-low-res2 Ok…Gabby and I are great friends…you already know that because she is in a lot of my blogs.  One thing that I love about Gabby is that we like similar things and that includes ICE CREAM.  I love my friends that share the same delicious desires when it comes to that frozen incredible treat. 

(Side note:  I do love all my friends—not just the ones that love ice cream).

Today’s dilemma….Have you ever been craving ice cream and then when you arrive at the ice cream place, you realize that are two flavors that you REALLY want.  But, it would seem so awkward to order two orders just for yourself.  Oh my goodness…that would be so much ice cream.  Well, that is solved if you have Gabby as a friend.  She orders one and I order the other.  Then, we grab an extra cup and split our delicious ice cream.  VOILA!!  Problem solved.   Two flavors of ice cream for the price of one.  Plus, an awesome friend to eat it with…could life be any better?!

Hope you get a delicious frozen treat soon!  If you  need a friend to share it with…give me a call! HA HA


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Should it be awkward?

Smiley-face I was having a random conversation with my friend Gabby today.  We were talking about how we love to send things in the mail and how we like to drop things off to people randomly.  We are so much a like with this area of our brains.  We love how it makes us feel inside.  We love that (we hope) it brings smiles to people’s faces. We decided ask a few people that we came in contact…how it makes them feel when they receive an act of kindness.  It was interesting.  At first, it seemed that it was such an awkward topic.  Should it be awkward?  Don’t the scriptures testify to us that when we “are in the service of [our] fellow beings [we] are only in  the service of [our]  God”?  So, why should it be awkward?

See, I love receiving notes in the mail.  I love receiving random gifts left on my doorstep.  I love it when people stop by my house to drop off a plate of cookies or whatever they have created.  I love it when people stop by to just visit me.  I love all of these types of things.  Since I love receiving these types of things, I LOVE to perform this service for others!  I love sending out letters, treats and things that make people smile. I love dropping things off on doorsteps.  I love to share things with others that I have created.  Even if it may be awkward, I truly believe that it brings a smile to their faces and hearts and secretly…it fills my hearts with so much happiness!  Aw…I LOVE IT!  LOVE IT!  LOVE IT!

Wouldn’t it be great if all day long we thought of others and how we could make them smile?  Aw…that would be the coolest day ever!! Thanks for listening to me ramble tonight!!