Friday, November 11, 2011

No Wound is too Small

Today, I’ve been thinking about a sweet member of my family who has been aching deeply for the passed months- years. This week, she signed divorce papers. Although she knows it is the right thing to do, she still feels the loss – loss of her dreams and expectations. Her eternal family is now broken apart as well as her heart.

She doesn’t know when the pain will depart, but I know that through Jesus and his atonement, it will. As she picks up the pieces of her life and offers them to Christ, he will help her carry the burden until she sees the sunshine again. It’s only him who can make her whole again. It’s only Christ who can consecrate her pain and suffering, and that of her children, to their good and eternal benefit.

Grief isn’t easily shed. It takes time and grace to heal. And it takes suffering. That’s the part we would rather not experience, but if we turn to the Savior, our suffering can make us more like him.

I know that he waits with a compassionate heart for each of us to bring our pain to him. No wound is too small for the healing power of Jesus Christ. And one day, our pain will turn to joy and understanding.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fight it with Fitness

One of my readers has submitted this information to aid those battling cancer. I hope you find it helpful.

Thanks, David, for your article. Now, I’ve gotta go work out! Grin.

Using Fitness to Combat Cancer Treatment Symptoms

While it's true that vigorous exercise alone will not prevent or cure cancer, there are several reasons to stay as fit as possible both during your cancer treatment and for the rest of your life. Regular exercise not only helps ease the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, it also helps stop the wasting of lean muscle mass needed to perform everyday activities. Here's what you need to know about staying fit while fighting cancer.

Exercise Can Benefit Everyone

It doesn't matter if you have mesothelioma, prostate cancer, or leukemia, exercise has been proven time and time again to combat fatigue, increase immunity, and both maintain and build lean muscle mass that is crucial to remaining as independent as possible. Exercise also increases cardiovascular health, which is crucial for withstanding grueling treatments.

You Will Notice a Difference

Many patients with cancer complain of severe exhaustion, a loss of appetite, and a feeling of depression or despondency. All of these symptoms can be treated with the natural endorphins that are released with exercise. Cancer patients who walk briskly on a regular basis or visit the gym are less likely to experience nausea. Fit women who were living with or in remission from breast cancer were found to have more regular hormones when compared to unfit women with larger body fat stores.

Talk to Your Doctor about Getting Fit

Although over half of cancer patients report that their oncologist never discussed an exercise program with them, 84% of respondents said they would have liked to talk about it. While there are so many benefits to an exercise program before, during, and after chemotherapy, radiation, or other treatments to fight your cancer, you can't reap those benefits if you don't have a plan. Your doctor will be able to make suggestions as to what is an appropriate level of exercise. As with any exercise program, it's important you discuss any negative side effects with your doctor.

Keeping fit during your cancer treatments and for the rest of your life afterward will not cure cancer, but the positive effects are well documented. Staying fit will allow you to keep your stamina to do everyday task, help increase your appetite, and give you relief from fatigue. Talk to you oncologist about a suitable exercise plan. It's never too late to start on a journey to a healthier you.

By: David Haas

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Comfort fromj the Spirit

I read this quote yesterday from the new book, Daughters of my Kingdom. It's beautiful.

Sister Snow: Her inspired instruction helped Relief Society sisters face the trials of their day. She taught that if they would continually seek guidance and comfort from the Holy Ghost, they could enjoy peace even in the midst of adversity. She said that the Holy Ghost “satisfies and fills up every longing of the human heart, and fills up every vacuum. When I am filled with that Spirit,” she continued, “my soul is satisfied, and I can say in good earnest, that the trifling things of the day do not seem to stand in my way at all. But just let me lose my hold of that spirit and power of the Gospel, and partake of the spirit of the world, in the slightest degree, As Relief Society sisters pray individually and with their families, they can receive inspiration to guide them.
and trouble comes; there is something wrong. I am tried, and what will comfort me? You can- not impart comfort to me that will satisfy the immortal mind, but that which comes from the Fountain above. And is it not our privilege to so live that we can have this constantly flowing into our souls?” 1

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Christ is there

I recently received an email from a “Hard Times and Holy Places” reader which touched my heart. I’m glad that my new friend as found some encouragement during her very difficult trials. With her permission, I share portions of her message with you:

“October through January I was back and forth from Utah to Arizona helping care for my oldest daughter. We found out last October she had stage 4 gall bladder cancer and it was metastasized and systemic, so we knew we had only a few months left with her. She passed away on January 22, 2011. Two weeks before her passing, I was still in Arizona caring for my daughter when I got a call from my sister saying our mom (who was 94 years old) had suddenly taken a turn for the worse and they had to call hospice. She was in congestive heart failure and they only gave us a month at the most left with her. I came home from Arizona to say my good-byes to her and help care for her for a week, and then I was going to fly back down to be with my sweet daughter again. While I was home my son-in-law called to tell me my precious daughter had passed on. I was heartbroken because I never got to go back down and be with her again. Then 19 hours after that news my mom passed away.
On top of all of that, while I was home caring for my mom, my second daughter had to have gall bladder surgery, she had complications from an instrument breaking while they were doing the procedure and they had to open her up to go find the piece. Her heart rate and blood pressure bottomed out in the recovery room and we almost lost her.
Next sequence of events was that my fourth daughter had complications due to the stress from her heart problems, and so I was worried I was going to loose her, or at least end up at the hospital with her on top of everything else, and my third daughter had a divorce finalized and she left the church (after a Temple marriage).
I became very angry at God, and kept asking him why this all had to be happening to me. I do not have a companion. I have been a single mom for the past 25 years, so did not have anyone but my children to help me through these times; and I did not want to burden them because they were suffering also. I could not turn to my siblings and burden them because they were suffering also. I could not even turn to my mom for comfort, so I felt alone and helpless.
July was the 6 month mark of all of these happenings. I fell apart again, and I had not been back to church in four months because I let people in the church and their actions, or lack of actions get to me. I could not face people and their comments of "at least you have the gospel and know they are in a better place" or "just remember the Lord knows your strength and will not give you more than you can handle."

So chapters 8 & 9 were especially comforting to me. Your words about people making you feel horrible by what people thought was encouragement by saying Heavenly Father wouldn't give you more than you could handle made me cry. I loved your thoughts about the Atonement of Christ and that it is NOT true that we won't be given more than we can handle, and that is why Christ suffered for us; because he knew we could not handle it alone. I had felt like you that people were just pushing a knife deeper and deeper and causing me more pain and making it harder, and turning me away from them. And I said to myself, I really can not handle all of this. You gave me a new holy place in adding to the sentence that I can not handle it alone without letting Christ and his Atonement help me. You gave me a way to remember how to not be alone and helpless, because I can do it with Christ. I must now remember to not let the people of the church get to me, and to go back to church and ignore comments from people, because Christ is with me and he loves me, and is always there to help me when nobody else is.”

My prayers and heart go out to this sweet woman and to those who suffer so tremendously. I know that Christ loves each of us individually and infinitely. We never have to feel alone or without help.
I know he lives.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hot Dog Diggity

Necessity might be the mother of invention, but hunger is definitely the son. What do hotdogs and toasters have in common? Well, isn’t it obvious?
Recently, I entered my kitchen and found my eight-your-old son making lunch for himself.
“Watch this, Mom.” He said as he catapulted a hotdog out of the toaster. “It’s so cool!”
Our toaster oven has a defrost setting, so my son thought it could do the job on a frozen dog. Wow! If he positioned his bun just right, he might be able to stick the landing.
Because hotdogs are his recent meal of choice, my little Chef Boyardee found an alternative cooking style to the toaster. Instead of the boring old use of a pan to cook the mystery sausage on the stove, he placed it directly on the burner so that it would have the grill lines on it. I guess it tastes better that way. Well, it sure cuts down on dishes. Maybe the fire fighters like hotdogs too. There will be plenty when they come to extinguish the flames shooting forth from the burner.
No, my son isn’t always left unattended. In fact, I am the one who is normally filling the eating requests, but I thought these new and creative ways to cook a dog were worth sharing. It’s a new spin on an old favorite. So, try something new today. Perhaps, you should avoid the hotdog catapult and the burner dog; however, I’m sure you might break up the monotony of old tasks by adding a bit of imagination.
Now, what can we do with ground beef? Hmm.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Exciting news!

I'm excited to announce that my new book, "Facing The Son", is coming out on August 1. Here's the introduction. I hope it sparks an interest.

Facing the Son
Facing the Son
Kris Belcher

The light of dawn signaled the morning of the Sabbath, but the glow of the sun meant nothing to him. From his seat at the side of the dusty road, the beggar felt the sun’s heat warm his back and just a hint of breeze touching his upturned face. For many years, he had sat in darkness, each day coming to this same spot of ground. Here he begged from the many passersby for his subsistence. His eyes saw nothing, but his ears followed the sounds of movement near him—sounds of animals and their masters, mothers calling after their children, and the shuffling of feet as people walked by.
He listened as a group of men approached. They stopped and spoke together about his blindness. He marveled at the words of one whom the others called Jesus, when they asked, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”
In anticipation, the blind man leaned forward to catch the reply.
“Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:2–3).
He couldn’t believe it. Never before had the blind man heard someone teach such a thing, but the words rang true in his heart. He had not deserved this physical problem; he knew it. He had always known it. Yet now this man preached what he had felt from birth.
This Jesus, who called himself “the light of the world” (John 9:5), spoke kindly to the beggar as he stooped before him. The beggar heard the stranger spit in the dirt, and then he felt warm, wet clay cover his blind eyes. He drew back, not understanding but somehow not fearing this new stranger. He heard a crowd begin to gather as Jesus helped him to his feet and quietly gave him instructions to “go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:7).
The beggar, now urged forward by some new feeling inside, was assisted to the pool. A glimmer of hope pricked his heart, but still, he was uncertain what would happen as he entered the water.
The blind man did as he was commanded and washed off the clay. Instantly, the light of the sun met his eyes and filled his mind. Never before had he ever imagined such brightness. Familiar objects and people appeared foreign with their vivid colors and strange dimensions, yet these new sights brought him unbelievable joy. Tears of amazement and gratitude spilled down his cheeks. It was a miracle. His eyes had been opened.
I have always loved reading the New Testament story of how Christ healed the blind man. I have imagined what that day would have been like, what the man may have been feeling, and the compassion that must have shown on the face of Jesus. Having struggled with very limited eyesight throughout my life and finally gone completely blind in 2003, I have longed to receive such a healing.
As a college student at Brigham Young University, when I still possessed some vision in one eye, I was present in a religion class where we were told that the prophet, President Ezra Taft Benson, was in the building next door. After class, if we waited outside, in an hour, we might catch a glimpse of him. When class ended, I was amazed to see that no one besides me had remained to see the prophet.
I sat in the sun—just waiting. It occurred to me that if I was the only one around when President Benson exited the building, perhaps I could not only see him but speak with him as well. I had read and heard of many modern-day miracles that had been done by the hands of apostles and prophets in our day. Was it possible that I could receive a miracle and, through the power of the priesthood held by this prophet, be healed? Would President Benson take time to give me a blessing? Would Father in Heaven cause my sight to be improved or even fully restored?
Now, perhaps this sounds a bit Pollyannaish, or even foolish, but I knew that God worked through His prophets and that such a healing, according to the will of the Lord and my faith, was absolutely possible.
Finally, when the doors to the building were opened, students seemed to come out of nowhere, clustering to see the prophet. I was pushed to the rear of the crowd, and I watched President Benson shake the hands of those in the front row. My heart was saddened as I saw my chance to speak with the prophet, and possibly be healed by him, pass me by.
However, as I joined the group in celebrating President Benson’s birthday by singing to him, the Spirit comforted me and taught me an unforgettable lesson.
It was not the will of the Father that I should be healed of my sight impairment. Understanding entered my mind, as it so often had before, through the words of a scripture. I thought and felt the power of Christ’s teaching to his disciples on that day when he healed the blind man so long ago, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3).
Instead of receiving complete healing, it was my mission to keep my sight impairment. I learned through the Spirit that as I struggled with my disability, others would see the help given me by the hand of the Lord, and this would help them seek Christ in their own lives. This was not the answer I had hoped for and wanted, but I gathered my courage and received strength to move forward.
Since that time, the passage in John 9 has given me purpose amidst my struggles. Yet that is not all. As I have studied this chapter in more depth, I have come to realize that the healing of the beggar was not the primary focus of the passage. The man who was blind served as a living lesson for a deeper truth—the need to overcome spiritual blindness in order to truly see what is important.
After the beggar was healed, he was taken before the Pharisees and questioned. Because Christ had healed this man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees charged him with breaking the law of Moses and condemned him of being of the devil. They totally missed the miracle and the power of the miracle worker. The Pharisees were blind to all but their own interpretation of the law. They could see with their physical eyes, yet they were blind—blind to what mattered most: Jesus Christ.
It seems so easy for me to diagnose the vision problem of the Pharisees. Why couldn’t they, why didn’t they recognize or focus on the Savior? Why did they see only the law and not the giver of it? Yet, I wonder how many times I do the same thing. How often do I allow other things, even personal feelings, to take my focus away from spiritual matters and ultimately from my Savior? Spiritually speaking, what is my visual acuity? Do I suffer from a spiritual blindness similar to that of the Pharisees?
How can you and I improve our spiritual vision so that we can grow closer to the Savior?
I believe the sun can shed some light on this for us. After I lost my eyesight, I went through light withdrawals. I missed the sunlight in the clear blue sky, the sunrise over the mountains, and the beautiful colors of a sunset. Now, when I go outside, the only way I know if the sun is shining is if I feel it on my skin. I love to feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on my face. There is a comfort in that feeling.
The sun can also provide valuable direction. I learned this in my mobility and orientation class that I attended after I first went blind. The goal of the course was for me to navigate safely and independently using a white cane.
In one lesson, I was taught that I can determine what direction I am facing by using the sun. Here’s how it works. If it were morning, and I felt the sun’s warmth on my right-hand side, then I would know I was facing north. Similarly, if I felt the warmth on my back, I would know I was facing west. This information can be vitally important to my navigation and safety.
Spiritually, we can also receive comfort and direction from the Son. If we can feel the warmth of the Son—the Spirit—then we know we are facing the right direction. However, if we aren’t feeling that warmth, we can be certain that we need a course correction. This information is vital to our eternal progression.
As we face the Son, and seek His light, you and I can gain access to real power. We can have a greater ability to “see” solutions to difficult problems, receive hope when life appears hopeless, obtain the enabling power of grace to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks, receive forgiveness from sin, and gain strength to endure trials faithfully. We can do this incrementally each day as we seek and apply true principles to aid us in real, day-to-day experiences.
Let’s look at how an increased ability to see spiritually can affect us in a typical day’s experience. Each day, I interact with my children, and often my patience is tried. When I grow irritated at their whining, complaining, or arguing, and I let that irritation fester, then I am not facing the Son. I am allowing the light of the Spirit to be eclipsed. However, if I have an automatic plan to engage when I begin feeling such irritation, then I can more easily think, feel, and act with love from the unobstructed light source: Jesus Christ. This will help me handle the situation with more patience, in a Christlike manner and without contention—at least on my end. I will see more clearly because the darkness that comes from holding onto negative feelings is replaced by spiritual light and strength.
I invite you to try examining your own visual acuity—not your physical sight, for that is of lesser importance, but your spiritual ability to see. How is this done? I have found that spiritual vision may be easier to identify if I compare it to the different stages of physical vision I have gone through in my life.
At the age of seven months, I was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma—multiple tumors on the retinas of both eyes. This cancer was treated with radiation therapy, and my life and some vision were saved.
For the first eight or nine years of my life, I had limited vision in both eyes, but my retinas were very scarred, leaving me with blind spots in my field of vision. However, until I ran into something, I didn’t notice the blind spots. My mind adapted so that I just looked around them automatically.
When I lost the sight in my left eye, due to a cataract and calcification of my pupil, I depended solely on the vision that remained in my right eye. It was difficult to rely on less light than I had been used to, and I didn’t like the feeling of darkness. Then, when my left optic nerve died, it grew even darker, if possible, and it was like part of me was lost to a blank void. My world grew smaller and smaller.
With these changes came the need to make adjustments to help me utilize my remaining vision. For example, I turned my head to the left so that I could see what was in front of me and not just what was on my right-hand side.
I developed a cataract on the lens of my right eye when I was in high school, and surgery was required to improve my sight. My lens was removed and an artificial lens was put in its place. Consequently, everything appeared brighter. The cloudy lens had dimmed my vision, but I hadn’t noticed because the change had occurred so gradually. With the new lens, colors seemed brighter and more vibrant. I literally felt as though I had more light in my life.
Then, when I was thirty-two years old, the remaining vision in my right eye began to fade and I was diagnosed with more cancer. This time, the tumors were behind my right eye and had been caused by the radiation I had received as an infant. Despite many surgeries and even more faith and prayers, I lost my sight when it became necessary to remove my right eye in order to remove the cancer. I then was completely blind—left in absolute darkness. I was devastated.
At different times throughout our mortal lives, we may, depending on our faithfulness, experience differing degrees of spiritual vision. Clear vision requires that there be no obstruction to light. However, we are constantly bombarded by temptation and sin, which, if chosen or embraced, will obstruct our view.
I wonder if you and I get so used to these light-blockers that we begin to look around them, until that becomes so automatic that we don’t even notice them. Or perhaps we make small bad choices that don’t appear to change our vision but that, if not corrected, dim our sight. If we stray further and further from the Light—Jesus Christ—we can feel spiritually as I did physically when I lost all vision: left in darkness and despair. The light we previously enjoyed may seem lost forever.
If we honestly identify and properly treat those things that blind us spiritually, our focus on Christ will sharpen, and our vision will become clearer. Through the help of the Spirit and the power of the Atonement, we can improve our ability to see spiritually in this life and to make it through the difficulties and darkness of mortality.
As you and I seek light together, I know that the Spirit will lead you to actions appropriate to your own situation and spiritual acuity. I know that as we work to improve our spiritual sight, praying for the help and direction of heaven, darkness will retreat and we will move closer to the Light. For Christ is the only cure, remedy and healer of our spiritual vision. He has promised, “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them” (Isaiah 42:16, 19).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Lessons from peas?

I just went out to the garden and picked some peas, a few beans, and some Swiss chard. I’m always amazed that when I plant seeds, something edible grows out of the ground.
I brought my small bounty into the house and shelled a few peas to taste. They were delicious!
“Wow!” I thought, “I grew these all by myself!”. But, then I wised up. I grew them myself? I knew that wasn’t true at all. I merely planted the seeds and provided the water. I don’t have any power to cause those seeds to produce anything. This Earth, acting as it was directed by Christ when created, did the real work. The miracle of the plan of Heavenly Father is manifested even in the little things- like the peas I ate. That is the amazing thing. Father directed and Christ created this planet for the family of Adam and made it so that seeds would produce after their own kind.
Isn’t it funny how little peas can teach so much? I mean, how many times do we think, “Look what I did?”, or” I did that myself!”? Our efforts are important for sure, but the real power, strength and ability comes from the Father. He lends us breath, and he helps us give all we can. And why does he do this? Love. He does and provides so much because he loves each of his children.
Anyway, just a little something to muse upon the next time you eat peas.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Woman of Great Faith

Each week, I read the letter of a missionary from our ward that he sends to his parents, and his letter today has provoked pondering
He talked about being a faithful missionary as opposed to being a missionary of great faith. It’s great to be a faithful, or obedient missionary, but the miracles come to the missionaries of great faith.
For myself, for the most part, I think it is pretty natural to be a faithful woman, but how much better my life would be if I were more of a woman of great faith- miracles would come. So, I’m pondering the things I can do/be to become a woman of greater faith.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Summer is the time for reunions. Family members you didn’t know you had gather for food and fun, and when it’s over, the best reunion is with your mattress. It’s a lot of work to reune. So, why do we do it? Many people may answer, “Guilt!” But, deep down there is a stronger motive. It’s love, belonging and family ties which draw us to gather together and endure hours of heat.
This past weekend, my husband’s family had a 3 day reunion, and family members from across the nation came. It was great to see the camaraderie and love that was shared between people of different backgrounds and life experiences. Oh, the heat was trying, but worth it. My sons built friendship with cousins, and my husband was able to see uncles and aunts, and reunite with cousins he hadn’t seen in years. I think this was all pleasing to Heavenly Father. Why? Because this life is a time to build strong ties between family members. Sure, those ties may not be comfortable at all times, but our efforts are seen by heaven.
I really am grateful to be surrounded by and associate with good people. I’ll remind myself of this the next weekend I am sweating at a park somewhere, sitting in the dark and talking to near strangers in hopes of strengthening family bonds.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Ready- Egg- Fire!

From my room, I could hear loud, random popping noises. I thought perhaps my darling children were destroying yet another part of the home or yard, so I bellowed for them. No guilty parties came forth, or even responded. I was on the phone with my sister, and explained the strange noises while I went to investigate. As I entered the kitchen, the pops grew louder, and then I knew. All I could do was scream and laugh.
“What’s wrong?” she yelled into the phone. “Are you alright?”
I had forgotten that I had put eggs on to boil, and all the water was gone from the pan. A dozen eggs were exploding. I grabbed the pan and rushed it to the sink to put under cold water. Just then, I was shot! An errant egg missile had hit and ricocheted off of me. Crazy! My kitchen had turned into a hard boiled war zone!
Luckily, I was not hurt, and a fire was avoided. Except for the terrible smell and a partially singed pan, no harm done. Consequently, however, I made a different recipe. as I worked, I kept finding bits of egg and shell in strange places throughout the kitchen.
Ah! Hit the deck! We’re having eggs for dinner!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Warn out and wondering

Do you ever have those days when you wonder what your purpose is? I have had a few of those lately. I think they come more when I am not feeling well. There seems, some days, to never be enough time to do all I want to get done. Then, sometimes, when my body isn’t able to do much of anything, I give up a little on myself. Does that make sense?

The past few days, my body hasn’t been cooperating, and I have wondered where my energy has gone. Then, I review my past several weeks and realize all the times I have spoken at different events- girls camps, youth conferences, relief societies. Hmm. It’s no wonder my body is on strike. Still, since you rarely see the influence you have on others, I hope I have done some good in the world.

I just received an email from a woman who was at one of my Time Out talks. She just read my book and emailed to thank me for sharing my story and helping her through some painful times. It’s those kind words that help me see that my little efforts are helping some one- even if it’s just one someone. So, I’ll rest a bit, and then my body will kick back into gear. I’ll be up and at’em again soon.

Thanks for being part of my self talk this morning. Grin.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Free At Last!

Yesterday was liberation day from the cone of shame. Nadine is free!
We went for our first walk with Nadine doing her job as guide, and she did very well. It sure is nice to be moving again. She was so anxious to be out the door once her guide harness was on. Now, you can all get up off your knees and eat once more. The two weeks of fasting and praying have come to an end! Grin.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Check out this program

Recently, I have been listening to some fabulous podcasts, and wanted to share the source. It is a program on the Mormon Channel called “Conversations”. I’ve learned great truths from the apostles who are interviewed, and I marvel how they teach truth while answering the questions of the interviewer.

Yesterday, I listened to an interview of Elder and Sister Bednar, and had to start taking notes as they spoke. Elder Bednar has such a grasp on the doctrine of Christ and boldly shares it. I love how he teaches that as we act in accordance to true principles, we will receive power from the Holy Ghost. Now, this is nothing new, but as he teaches it, I feel the Spirit teach me how to apply it.

Another podcast that is absolutely amazing is that of Gary serran. He shares his experience about a car crash, losing his wife and children, and how the atonement of Christ has helped him through this and more. His attitude is incredible.

I really appreciate this program and hope it might be helpful to you. Let me know which episodes mean the most to you. Oh, check out how the apostles all speak so lovingly about their wives. So cool!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Cone of Shame? What will the other dogs say?

Poor pooch still has a cone head. The vet says he thinks she’s been finding a way to lick the surgery site even with the cone. She is probably bending it or something, but the wound isn’t healing. So, another week of bucket headness. I also get to play my skills at being Florence Nightingale. I have to treat the wound and wrap it twice a day. Hopefully, she’ll heal.

In other news, yesterday I had a liberating moment that I wanted to share. We’ve had a bunk bed that has needed to be taken apart and my husband hasn’t had time to do it. So, I decided I would. I got a wrench and went to work. I felt like quite the handyman. Eat your heart out Bob the Builder. Watch out for the blind lady with the wrench!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Poor Little Bucket Head Dog

It may have looked like a crime scene from CSI, but the blood all over my house had a perfectly reasonable explanation. You see, dear Nadine and I were playing with one of her toys, and, like she loves to do, she took it and ran outside. Soon, I heard a terrible screech like she was in pain. Nadine then came to find me in the living room and she was whimpering and holding up her paw. When I touched it, I found her paw was dripping blood.
“She’s bleeding, Mommy!” my eight-year-old son freaked out.
It was then that Lucy, my pug, thought I was in need of rescue, and chased Nadine away from me. After shutting Lucy in another room, I again tried to examine the wound, but couldn’t tell where all the blood was coming from. Benji cried and thought Nadine was going to die and I held him and reassured him that Nadine would be alright. While holding my son, I wrapped the paw in a cloth and applied pressure.
After calling several neighbors to come and be my eyes, I finally got a hold of Emily- always great in an emergency. She could see a deep cut between the pads of Nadine’s paw. She and my son also combed the lawn to see what Nadine may have stepped on. Their best guess was a tent stake sticking out of the grass.
“Kris, you have big pock-a-dots of blood all through your house.” She informed me.
Well, the blood on the carpet would have to wait. Off we went to the vet, and Nadine ended up needing to go under anesthesia in order to get stitches. It was so hard to leave her there.
The rest of the day was spent scrubbing the house. There was even blood on the walls and on the kitchen and laundry room floors. I’m so glad Lucy decided to chase Nadine through the house! Thank heavens that a friend came over with some carpet cleaning equipment and extracted the blood from the carpet.
Several hours later, we picked up my injured guide doggie, and brought her home with her paw all bandaged. She was attired with a lovely plastic cone around her head. It was pretty pathetic, my poor bucket head dog. She would need to wear the bucket to make sure she couldn’t reach her paw and lick or bite the stitches.
She was in a lot of pain the first night and it was so sad to see her suffer. Each day she is getting better, and I can tell she is tired of being in the cone of shame.
She and I have had a rough week. I’ve been her guide dog around the house, because she runs into things with her bucket. It’s even hard for her to come up stairs due to her catching the edge of the cone on each step. She tries to be playful, but I can tell she’s not been herself.
Tomorrow I take her back to the vet, and I sure hope everything has healed fine. It’s time to free her from her bucket, and get back to real life. I also hope that she picks up the guiding again quickly. We’ve got things to do and places to go. Cute little Nadine has been a trouper!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Alive and Kicking

Alright, it’s been a month since I returned with Nadine to real life, and I’ve had some people worried that I might have been led astray by the darling pooch. Rest assured that I am not in a ditch some where in the hinterlands. Nadine and I are getting used to this guide dog thing, but it sure is a lot of work.
My family loves her, and my pug Lucy is still debating. There are times she gets in a dither, thinking Nadine is acting up. But, for the most part, the transition is pretty smooth.
I’ve gone on one Time Out For Women trip to Fresno, and Nadine did great. Of course, the audience of 1800 women thought Nadine was going to walk me off the front of the stage. There was a collective gasp, and women started yelling, “To the left! Go to the left!” Wow, that was fun. She would’ve done fine and gotten me down the stairs, but the producer and John Bytheway (How do you like the name dropping?) ran up and helped me down the stairs. It’s always an adventure. The thousands of women wanted to pet her, so that will be a problem. I’m having a friend make a sign for me to put on her harness, so those who are literate, will avoid the temptation. Grin.
Church has been quite the adventure also. Nadine sleeps for most of it, so she fits in nicely. The children all get excited and run up to her saying, “Goggie!” The Young Men aren’t much better. I had one lady totally disgusted that I had my dog at church, but she’ll get over it.
Isn’t it interesting where life takes us? Whether or not we have a Nadine, we certainly get to deal with things that we never wanted to deal with. But, I am grateful for the good that has come out of my challenges. At least I get a few funny stories and laughs out of it all. And just to clear the air of any confusion, Nadine doesn’t know sign language. Grin.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Official Guide Dog Team

March 26
Well, it’s official. Nadine and I are now graduates of Guide Dogs for the Blind. We had our graduation ceremony today and it was a great experience.
First, I met with Kyra and Richard who were Nadine’s puppy raisers. They flew in from Colorado for the occasion. WE got to know one another, and they were able to spend time with Nadine. She was sooooo excited to see them. I thought she’d blow up.
During graduation, they have the student come up on stage from the right and the puppy raisers bring the dogs in from the left. They hand over the leash at that time to the student, and both have a minutes to share their feelings with the audience. Our group balled all the way through the ceremony. Of course, I didn’t weep, but I did get choked up when I thanked my instructor Michelle and my group.
Afterwards, Kyra and Richard took me out for desert for my birthday. I had a huge chocolate shake. Nadine was very good under the table. It was my first time alone with her as my dog.
Later, I went to dinner with my fantastic friend and was able to meet her husband and daughters. We were friends since pre-school, but lost track of each other for years. It was so great to spend time with her, and made my birthday special.
Nadine has hit the sack, and I’m all packed up to leave at 5:30 am. It’s going to be an adventure to travel for the first time with a guide dog. Please buckle your seat belts and return all seat backs and tray tables to their forward and locked positions.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rest and Rap Up

March 25
Well, I’m still 39, but the hours are dwindling away. My cute group members brought me a bouquet of flowers and had the staff all sign a birthday card for me. Tonight, we are watching a movie and having snacks.
Today was pretty low stress. First, we went to a park to work on our handling of dog distractions. The problem was that it was raining and there were no dogs. So, we walked around a park in the rain and then got on the bus again. Wahoo! Such a great learning experience. Well, I did try a head collar on Nadine. It’s one you would use to have really good control of the dog’s head- like with dog distractions. It goes in a figure eight around the muzzle and head of the dog. I was all prepared to use it, but the only living animals around were geese. They didn’t bother Nadine much, but it was practice.
One funny thing happened in the park. I was nearing the end of the park path, and sang out loudly, “I can hear you!” to one of the class instructors approaching me; however, it wasn’t one of the instructors. It was just another poor soul out walking in the rain. She laughed, and kept on walking. Oops!
After the rainy park, we went to another mall to do some work. It was pretty uneventful. Nadine does love working inside, though. She books it and I constantly have to try to slow her down.
The rest of the day was spent going over our graduation for tomorrow, and talking through transitioning our dog team to our homes. It should be an adventure.
Oh, the kitchen staff made me a yummy chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Everyone has been very nice here. I can’t believe it’s over tomorrow. The things that can happen over 14 days…

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is it time for a nap yet

March 24
I was totally discouraged this morning after my final route in Portland. It was a solo route without input from the trainer who was still behind watching, but not directing or correcting. I made a few mistakes, but thought I had done alright. However, after going over the route with my trainer, she said some things about some of my choices on the streets which hurt quite a lot. To tell the truth, I just wanted to go home and have a nap. She did say that she knew I had given 200% during our class these past 2 weeks, but was still concerned about some things. I didn’t know what I had left to offer since I really have been throwing my whole self into this learning.
After Portland, we drove to the airport to go through security as practice. We learned how to get through with our dogs. I think Nadine used to work for TSA because she seemed to know exactly where to go and weaved in and out of the crowds of people. She was definitely excited to be there.
Then, I came back and had an hour nap to recover- body and mind. That helped a ton. After dinner, we went on another night route which was optional. I really didn’t want to do it after my morning discouragement, but sucked it up and went anyway. I prayed to Heavenly Father to help me work well with Nadine and to have good instincts. I consecrated my fear, anxiety, and disappointment in myself to Father, and asked him to bless me with more strength than I had. That is exactly what he did. I was calm, and made Nadine go slowly so I felt as little stress as possible. Nadine took her turn having an off route, but I handled all the curves she threw at me.
My trainer said that I definitely had to work for that route, but that I had done a phenomenal job. Now, that was more like it! Isn’t it great how merciful Father is, even about a dog route in the dark? I am so grateful that he cares for me and helps me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Other Side of Portland

March 22
Boy, do I have one tired pooch. We’ve worked another full day of unknown situations. This morning, we worked on traffic encounters. This is watching how Nadine reacts to cars stopping in front of her, backing out of driveways, making it around parked cars, etc. Nadine guided me on the sidewalk around several blocks and an instructor let me know when the class supervisor was coming in a car and from what angle. Nadine did perfectly. She kept me safe and showed that she knew just what to do.
Unfortunately, she got nervous in the afternoon on our route in an area without sidewalks. She would stop at every parked car and didn’t want to go around them. She was keeping me safe by keeping her distance. The instructors said that the dogs would be effected after their traffic encounters that morning. It was my job to be a good leader and keep up my confidence and encouragement so she could work through it. Unless I move to NYC, we won’t have that many traffic encounters in one route again. She did great in the sidewalk less area despite shying away from the parked cars. I learned the techniques necessary to get around safely without a sidewalk, which will help in my area on some busy streets.
We also were tested on dog encounters. As Nadine and I made our way on a route, my supervisor stood off to our left with his big dog. Nadine didn’t give him the time of day. She just cruised on by just like she was supposed to. My trainer was so proud.
We went to see the vet today, and got information on keeping them healthy as well as their health history. Nadine had pneumonia as a pup and a few other problems, but is completely healthy now. There is a dog run here with lots of grass that we can take the dogs to and let them run. Labs have this particular run that they call scooting. It’s where they tuck in their bum and race around like crazy. She loves to run in there, and it’s so good for her to work out her anxiety and to relax and just be a dog. We played tug of war with a rubber tug ring, and she’d pull it away and race around the dog run. Then, when I called for it, she’d bring it back and I’d give her food. She did great at this game until it was time to go and she would not bring it back. So, we had to leave it there and someone else brought it to me. She was a stinker, but had a blast. I hope our backyard grass can handle her racing.
Finally, I had a 40 minute massage by a therapist who comes in to work on the staff and students. It was heavenly! Of course, she barely got started when my time was up, but it did help a lot.
Now, I’ve put sleepy Nadine in her kennel and I’m headed for an early night’s sleep. Another day filled with learning and some fun too.

March 23
I just came in from our last dog relieving session of the night in the pouring down rain. Poor pooches. Who wants to do their private business in the rain? Furthermore, who wants to stand in the rain and encourage their poor poochie to do their business in the rain?
Today was spent working 2 routes in Portland. The first was to find the building my friend’s husband works in so that I could return the purse she left at my dorm Sunday. Nadine was gun shy on this route. She usually nails every curb, but today was hesitant about going up and down curbs. I’m sure it was left over trauma from yesterday’s traffic exercise. So, I really worked on keeping her confidence up. My class supervisor coached me on that route, and helped me with keeping a straight line on sidewalks. There is a certain position to maintain which allows the dog to drive forward, and I wasn’t consistent with that position. To tell you the truth, I am afraid sometimes if there is a lot going on along the sidewalk. I don’t want to bang into things, so I hang back. But, don’t worry. That has been corrected.
The afternoon route was a doubles route. That means that I and another girl –one that I don’t normally work with- traveled on the same route with only one instructor. Nadine did much better on the curbs, but tried to keep up with the other dog team instead of listen to me. So, that took work too.
We worked to a famous doughnut shop here in Portland that happens to be in a more run down part of town. We went past some strip clubs and had a dog encounter with a homeless woman’s rat terrier. Nadine wanted to eat her, I think- the dog, I mean. There were lots of street musicians and some pan handlers, but no one seems to need money from the blind ladies. Hmm. I guess there are some perks.
We met with the graduate services lady today, and learned all about the support we receive when we go back home. We had periodic home visits and such to ensure both student and dog are safe and working well together. GDB really does so much to make sure we have a successful experience.
It was nice to have a few hours off this evening. The nurse took me and another student to the store, and I bought a back pack. It’s not that I want to be like Dora; Nadine just gets a bit testy when my purse falls off my shoulder and hits her. So, I’ve now made the switch to a pack for a while. There seems to be so much to juggle all the time while working the dog. Hopefully, this will help.
Gotta go switch my laundry. Thanks again for all your comments and support. It sure helps. I’m on the countdown to graduation and home coming.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What's With All This Traffic

March 22
Boy, do I have one tired pooch. We’ve worked another full day of unknown situations. This morning, we worked on traffic encounters. This is watching how Nadine reacts to cars stopping in front of her, backing out of driveways, making it around parked cars, etc. Nadine guided me on the sidewalk around several blocks and an instructor let me know when the class supervisor was coming in a car and from what angle. Nadine did perfectly. She kept me safe and showed that she knew just what to do.
Unfortunately, she got nervous in the afternoon on our route in an area without sidewalks. She would stop at every parked car and didn’t want to go around them. She was keeping me safe by keeping her distance. The instructors said that the dogs would be effected after their traffic encounters that morning. It was my job to be a good leader and keep up my confidence and encouragement so she could work through it. Unless I move to NYC, we won’t have that many traffic encounters in one route again. She did great in the sidewalk less area despite shying away from the parked cars. I learned the techniques necessary to get around safely without a sidewalk, which will help in my area on some busy streets.
We also were tested on dog encounters. As Nadine and I made our way on a route, my supervisor stood off to our left with his big dog. Nadine didn’t give him the time of day. She just cruised on by just like she was supposed to. My trainer was so proud.
We went to see the vet today, and got information on keeping them healthy as well as their health history. Nadine had pneumonia as a pup and a few other problems, but is completely healthy now. There is a dog run here with lots of grass that we can take the dogs to and let them run. Labs have this particular run that they call scooting. It’s where they tuck in their bum and race around like crazy. She loves to run in there, and it’s so good for her to work out her anxiety and to relax and just be a dog. We played tug of war with a rubber tug ring, and she’d pull it away and race around the dog run. Then, when I called for it, she’d bring it back and I’d give her food. She did great at this game until it was time to go and she would not bring it back. So, we had to leave it there and someone else brought it to me. She was a stinker, but had a blast. I hope our backyard grass can handle her racing.
Finally, I had a 40 minute massage by a therapist who comes in to work on the staff and students. It was heavenly! Of course, she barely got started when my time was up, but it did help a lot.
Now, I’ve put sleepy Nadine in her kennel and I’m headed for an early night’s sleep. Another day filled with learning and some fun too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

March 21
Well, let’s see. Today’s 3 routes were filled with working Nadine on, through, in, and around escalators, elevators, trains, buses, vans, cats, food courts with tons of people, crowded street corners with a pan handling guy in a wheel chair who solicited everyone but the girl with the dog, and walking unknown streets in the dark. But, it’s all in a days work.
The night route went fine, but I had to slow dearest Nadine down. She was so excited to work at night. My trainer wasn’t working tonight, so I was accompanied and coached by the class supervisor who I had a bit of trouble with the other night. You’ll be please, as I was, to know that he was totally kind, encouraging, and helpful. He did almost knock a bicycler off the sidewalk coming straight for me, and I can’t repeat the expressions he used because this is a family show. I enjoyed our time together and he gave me some good dog handling tips, although he did eat my piece of chocolate cream pie at dinner.
We also worked on airplane travel. They have a few rows of plane seats set up, and I learned how to get Nadine to lie down on the floor between my feet with her bum under the seat in front of me. She was a bit hesitant at first, but then began to enjoy herself. What a funny dog.
So, all in all, even though it was so hard to get up this morning, it was a successful day in dogland. Nadine is working very hard for me and keeping me safe. Thanks for all your prayers, blog comments and emails. It’s nice to know there is still a world out there where people care for me. This group here is great, but it’s helpful to receive your encouragement. I can’t believe I have only had Nadine one week, and have learned so much.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A much needed break

March 20

It’s been a great day of rest today. I busted out of this joint! This afternoon and evening I spent with a room mate from BYU and her darling family. The time flew by so quickly, unfortunately. But, I guess that’s what happens when you sit around talking and laughing together.
Because I have not graduated yet, I was not allowed to take Nadine along on my outing, and she remained in the dorm with a staff member. When I returned, Nadine went absolutely nutso. She definitely missed me. I’m sure she needed rest today just as I did.
Tomorrow, it’s back to the streets of Portland. Then, we have a night route to go on. You may be asking, “Why a night route? Aren’t you blind? Doesn’t everything look black anyway?” Well, I am blind, but Nadine isn’t. I need to know how she works at night when things look different. Also, things sound different- fewer people in some areas, changes in the amount of traffic, etc. So, that is a test for me as well.
I’m sure there’ll be stories to share coming soon. I have a dog with half of her body on my lap now, so I’ll have to pay some attention to Nadine. Man, she’s a lot to hold, but she’s dang cute.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Good Day

March 19
Hallelujah! Today was a much better day. Thank you all for your comments of encouragement. Your words have really helped me. This has certainly been an up and down experience –in so many ways.
I am so grateful for my fantastic trainer. She is so patient with me, doesn’t speak rudely, and teaches me so much. I had a very successful trip to Portland. First, we went to the mall again and worked on escalators. Nadine just loves to ride those dang things. We both did very well and our entrances and exits were smoother than yesterday.
Then, I learned how to board the MAX, which is the light rail system here. We road down to the Portland Zoo via a tunnel 260 feet under ground. It goes through a hill and quite fast. We got off the train at an underground stop, and learned how to be safe near the tracks. We worked elevators and some pretty crazy stairs and then boarded another train back to town.
Leaving Portland, my trainer took me and another girl in our training group) who shall remain nameless due to confidentiality) to a Pet smart in Gresham. Our goal was to see how our dogs reacted in an environment where there were other dogs and lots of distractions. We walked in front of the store outside so Nadine could get used to things- watching dogs go in and out. She was distracted and not following commands, so my trainer worked with me on my tone. She said, “Make her see God.” In other words, I was speaking too nicely to her and not intensely enough. Let’s just say that Nadine is now receiving revelation. She worked great through the store and followed commands great. When she lunged for other dogs, I put her in a Time Out. It’s not a new program –Time Out for Dogs- by Deseret Book. It’s a technique to halt all activity and let her know I mean business. I hold her collar firmly and stop all motion by bringing her close to my leg and holding for 7 seconds. I don’t say anything or make any other movements. It worked well and we had no dog fights in Pet smart. WE both had a very successful experience.
So, onward and upward. Or, forward and sit. I’ve almost made it through a whole week. Wahoo! Tomorrow I get to rest!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Did you know

March 18

Did you know…?
*Dogs can get ear infections, so it’s important to clean their ears. True story. Of course, you don’t go digging inside with a Q-tip, but there is a way. Let me know if you’re desiring further training.

*Dogs’ nails can get caught in escalators, and this, as you can imagine, can cause serious problems for our K-9 friends. I got to put little booties on Nadine’s hind paws today while we road escalators. I’m sure the dogs look ridiculous, but better that than loose toes. I was very nervous to do this lesson, but Nadine- having learned the escalator before- loved it. She was so proud of herself and looked all around while on the dang thing. The mall we went to has 2 towers connected by a tunnel, and five stories are connected in each tower by many escalators. So, we’d get off one and immediately onto another one. Holy cow! Who knew my dog could wear shoes and ride dangerous machinery while guiding me?

*It’s a challenge to brush a dog’s teeth!!!!

*I’m tired of being corrected, and worn out. Today I had a slight break down after one of the class supervisors- not my normal instructor- corrected me in an unkind tone. I had had it. I was wet, tired, blind, tired, wet and trying to get my dog to the relieving area before she …. So, we had a nice chat, and I tried to ask him to help me know what to do instead of yelling at me what not to do. Naturally, as is the case in my family, I couldn’t talk to him without being chocked up. He couldn’t understand why I was worn out and done with corrections for the day. Oh well, He’s a he in a class filled with shes. Don’t worry. I’m now fine. Nadine did worry about me for a while, but after brushing teeth, I think she forgot all about it.

*It’s still raining and I feel like I’m back in high school with a bad perm.

*The food’s great here!

*I get to go back to Portland again tomorrow and have more learning experiences. Woopie!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

That's gunna leave a mark

March 17
What has six legs, shin splints and whip-lash? Right. It’s me and my guide Nadine. I’m the one with shin splints because I do so much walking with this dog that thinks she’s running the Kentucky Darby.
Part of our work is to rework the mistakes she makes when she doesn’t clear obstacles and I hit them. So, most of the time, Nadine does great, but there were a few bonks today. As we went up one street corner, my dearest Nadine walked me straight into a street pole. I smashed into it and did a nice rebound. Later, I wondered why my neck was so sore and stiff, and then I remembered my collision. I’ve been icing both my shins and neck today. It’s a pretty rough world out there.
After we did two routes in Portland, we went to Gresham to a Fred Meyer to practice moving turns. Who knew Freddy was still alive and here in Portland. I guess Smith’s hasn’t found him yet.
Anyway, again Nadine thought she should race through the isles while I tried to slow her down. It’s not very good to go fast indoors and weave through shopper traffic. I did pass my test; however, and now I can use the harness indoors instead of just heeling her.
It’s strange sometimes as I’m in my room. I forget there is a dog in here and then freak out when I hear breathing in the corner. It is a bit different than Lucy’s constant snorting and snoring. Nadine is very quiet until she sleeps and then breathes out loud. Aren’t you glad you know that bit of trivia?
Tomorrow, I think the plan is to work in the mall in Portland and practice escalators. Wahoo! I’m gunna try to be brave.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Let's Play

March 16
Hurray! Nadine pooped, and I scooped! I know it is very exciting and you wish you could do that my Braille, but you’ll get over it.
I spent another exhausting day working the streets of Portland. Well, you know what I mean. Hmm. Anyway, Nadine guided me on over a one mile route in the morning, and then we did it again in the afternoon. The weather was much better, but still sporting that afro. I’m trying to call her something like Dini, but it’s hard just to remember Nadine when I’m giving commands. She worked very hard to manoover around obstacles on the sidewalks, and I didn’t even get hurt today. I’m not in bed yet, so there is plenty of time still.
We have dinner, and then more lectures. Tonight we’re talking about play, and getting some toys for the dogs. That should be great for all of us who probably couldn’t handle much more info tonight.
At the center in Portland, they have some big bean bags to relax on, and Nadine heads straight for them when it’s time for break. We may need a love sack or bean bag if anyone has connections. She loves to cuddle on the bag. Actually, I laid down on it and she pstood on my stomach with her front paws. I thought this dog might be different from Lucy- thinking I am her furniture. But, I guess not. No, really, I don’t let her sit on me. I might get a collapsed lung or something.
Nadine is getting a bit punchy. During class tonight, she was trying to be sneaky and do the army crawl over to another dog. She really wants to play tonight. It’s a good thing she just got a huge bone to chew instead of my hand.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wet dog

March 15
Rain, rain, and more rain was the description of today in Portland. My flat ironed hair turned into an afro by lunchtime. We drove from campus to Portland- about 30 minutes away. Don’t worry, I didn’t drive. I held onto Nadine’s harness through the driver’s window, and she did most of the work. I work one-on-one with an instructor on routes through the city blocks. Portland is set up on a grid like Salt Lake, so it’s a familiar layout. Did Brigham come here for dog training, do you think? We worked on street crossings, and navigating around obstacles- people included. Before taking Nadine out, my instructor held onto the front of a harness while I held the back as if working with the dog. I give commands and gestures just like I would with Nadine. I’m sure we look pretty funny to those around us, but, heck, I can’t see them.
At one point, a woman walked near me, and in a worried voice, said, “Oh, no! You lost your dog!” No, I did not say, “Oh, no, you lost your mind!” Grin. I’m pretty sure she was kidding around. I hope so anyway.
We did go on some routes with Nadine in the harness, so don’t be alarmed that she felt left out. There is a center that GDB has down town, and she stayed there in a crate while I worked without her. Then, she came and was a great guide for me across Portland’s streets.
We learned to groom the dogs today. I brushed Nadine’s teeth for the first time. It was actually harder than it might sound. She just wanted to lick the poultry flavored tooth paste off the brush. It did resemble a bit of WWF action. Maybe I’ll try that kind of paste with the boys. They might not try to lie their way through the task, and since it tastes like chicken, it might count for a meal.
My brother asked a very important question that others may wonder about also, “Who does the poop scoop?” Great question! For the past few days, the instructor that goes out with us for relieving (for the dog) has scooped. But, starting tomorrow, I’ll be scooping up after dearest Nadine. I’m sure I’ll have some fun, if not messy, stories to share tomorrow night.
Nadine and I are developing more trust and working better together. We’ve worked hard, and it seems like I’ve had her more than a day and a half. She loves to play as well.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New Friend

March 14
Wow! What a long day of work! My brain and feet are very tired, but I feel good.
This morning, we met as a group and learned obedience and guide work commands. When I am only holding the leash, the commands I give are called obedience commands, but when I am holding onto the harness, it is guide work. Usually, the dog is wearing both, but if I want her to guide me, I have to be holding the harness handle. Get it?
Then, we found out the name, gender and breed of dog we would receive, and after lunch, I met my new buddy. She is a black Lab named Nadine. Now, I was thinking I’d get a dog with some cute fluffy name, and when I learned her name was Nadine, I have to admit I was disappointed. I mean, really? Nadine?
However, when the instructor brought her to me, she was so happy and greeted me with excitement. I mean the dog, not the instructor. She is adorable. We spent the next 8 hours getting to know each other, and doing both obedience and guide work. Nadine tested the limits to see what I’d let her get away with, and I had to really work on my corrections. That means not allowing her to be in charge. There are certain ways of communicating with the dog through appropriate corrections with the leash.
Guide dogs walk on the left side and the handling is most often done with the left hand. I’m finding that my left arm is very weak, and my muscles are sore. I’m sure I’ll be so buff when I get home.
I have five other classmates- all women. We get along great and have a lot of fun together. Three of the ladies are retraining. This means they have had guide dogs in the past, and are getting another one. The other three of us are just a bit clueless and very brave.
Tomorrow, we’re up early, and off to work all day down town Portland. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Let the Adventure Begin

Today, I begin my training at the Oregon campus of Guide Dogs for the Blind. So far, I’ve met my fellow classmates, had orientation, a facility tour, eaten 2 yummy meals, and received my supplies for the dog I will receive tomorrow. This is a two week training program, and then I will return to Utah with my guide.

It’s interesting that I feel very at peace here- like it’s where I should be right now. I’ve been very nervous about this direction change in my life- mostly just because it’s change and unknown. But, being here, I’m getting a little excited. It poured rain today, and I am not looking forward to training on the rainy streets of Portland, but here goes the adventure! Stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement of my new furry friend.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Look Up

Recently, I was out with a friend, and we saw an elderly man who made us sad. Well, she did the seeing part, but described him to me. He stood straight, yet his neck was bent so that it was nearly parallel to the ground. The only way he could look was down. He was accompanied by some one else who served as the navigator.
We wondered what had happened to this man so that all he could see was his feet. Was his condition a result of accident, disease, age, or habit? I didn’t even realize at the time that he could see more than me. I just felt sad for all he was missing around and above him.
I got to thinking that many of us may figuratively be like this man. How often does our gaze focus down instead of up to Christ? How often are we stuck in the sorrow and stress of the here and now, and not look forward or what is eternally more important? What would happen in our lives if we practiced looking up? How many more people could we help? How much more revelation and direction could we receive? How much happier would we be?
Alma teaches his son Helaman to, “look to God and live” (Alma 37:47). This can be a pattern for us. We can look up and see things with a heavenly reference. Our way of living can have a vertical focus instead of horizontal where we look to others as an indication of our progress.
My invitation to us all is to notice the direction of our focus, and try to look up and forward to Christ and to the good things around us. Let me know what you find.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


While preparing my Sunday School lesson this week, I’ve studied some of the miracles preformed by Christ while on the Earth. I found some thing neat in the Bible Dictionary that I hadn’t thought of before. One of the reasons for miracles is to teach the “law of love”. Jesus lived his life by this law, and the miracles written of were a natural result of his presence as the Messiah.
Although, I was not there when he healed, blessed, and forgave, I have seen many miracles in my life. I have received healing- not always the kind I’ve prayed for, but still healing. What miracles have you seen in your life? At first, you might not think you’ve seen any, but take time to search your life. Ask in prayer for the ability to see the miracles you have been the recipient of.
I love these words from Bishop Richard C. Edgley First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric:
“When the disciples asked Jesus why they could not cast a devil out as they had just witnessed the Savior do, Jesus answered, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove” (Matthew 17:20). I have never witnessed the removal of an actual mountain. But because of faith, I have seen a mountain of doubt and despair removed and replaced with hope and optimism. Because of faith, I have personally witnessed a mountain of sin replaced with repentance and forgiveness. And because of faith, I have personally witnessed a mountain of pain replaced with peace, hope, and gratitude. Yes, I have seen mountains removed.”

* Two questions to ponder this week: 1. How do/can I live the law of love? 2. What results does my presence have on others?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Love of God

When we feel alone, when we feel unloved or unlovable, we can turn to these words of an apostle of Christ:

“God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. God’s love is so great that He loves even the proud, the selfish, the arrogant, and the wicked.
What this means is that, regardless of our current state, there is hope for us. No matter our distress, no matter our sorrow, no matter our mistakes, our infinitely compassionate Heavenly Father desires that we draw near to Him so that He can draw near to us…

• “I testify that God is in His heaven. He lives. He knows and loves you. He is mindful of you. He hears your prayers and knows the desires of your heart. He is filled with infinite love for you” (“The Love of GOD, DIETER F. UCHTDORF, OCTOBER 2009 GENERAL CONFERENCE).

I’m so glad that Father loves me- no matter how flawed or broken I am.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Kitchen Sink

I just had a visit from a friend who has been going through some very difficult times in her life. She told me of an experience she had this morning and then gave me a gift. She had been praying for peace and to feel settled about a huge, possibly devastating issue, and then listened to my CD about turning hard times into holy places.
“My kitchen sink is now a holy place for me.” She said.
The Spirit had touched her as she did dishes at the sink, and she connected that to being a holy place. She presented me with a baton, which represented something from my CD.
It was so sweet, and I was thrilled that she had received the peace she desperately needed. It made my heart happy to hear the calm peace and assurance in her voice. Of course, my friend’s troubles are not over and the current issue is far from corrected, but she has the Spirit to help her go forward. I am so grateful for a loving Father who will help us through the seemingly impossible trials in our lives.