Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Do You Know These Ladies?

I find that most of us struggle sometimes with feelings of inadequacy. Some struggle more than others, and sometimes our experiences get in the way. Maybe you know someone struggling with more than their share of pain. Maybe you could help. Maybe you could reach out to someone and help them feel valued.

Consider the following stories. The names are made up. The experiences...well, you decide.

Sharon: She was widowed much to early, young and alone with a house to maintain. The neighbors stepped up to help. Mostly men. Some mowed her lawn and did simple repairs. She sometimes invited them in for a sandwich or a glass of lemonade. Tongues began to wag. Wives felt threatened. Rumors seeped through the neighborhood. Unkind words were spoken. None of it was true. She was more alone than ever. The pain never went away.

Kate: She is lonely. She sits alone in church. She volunteers for stuff, but no one wants her help. She goes walking every day. Alone. She's never invited to their activities, but she stays busy. Why don't they like her? Is there something wrong with her? She has given up on making friends. She feels useless, unwanted.

Ivie: She doesn't know why she is different. She doesn't dress like them. She doesn't act like them. Of course the money is part of it, but it's more than that. She would be different even if she had money. Their experiences are different. Their tastes are different. She feels like she is from another planet. They are nice to her, but it feels fake. Why is it so hard to fit in?

Margaret: She feels like they are judging her. She isn't perfect, but she is trying. Doesn't that count for something. They don't know what she has been through. She feels inadequate. She compares herself with the others and she knows that she doesn't measure up. The others are all so talented, and so beautiful. They cook, and clean, and polish. Their families adore them. She's just not good enough.

It's not always easy to fit in, and we can be so hard on each other, without even meaning to. If only we could peel away the earthy layers and see as God sees. If only we could see what's in the heart.

Let's see each other as we are, daughters of light. Let's choose kindness. Let's include everyone.

Look for the one who sits alone, who doesn't fit in, who acts different. Reach out. Make a difference.

Linda Garner

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Courage with Softness

"Women are like teabags; you never know how strong they are until they're put in hot water." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Don't you love that? I do. Eleanor Roosevelt had the right idea. Women are strong. Women are resilient. Our hearts may break, but when things are tough, we are tougher.

We are not tough in the same way that men are. We are tough on the inside, with tender hearts. It's an interesting mix. We are courage, with softness. We stand up for truth and for those who need us. We don't give up.

We can be there in a flash with a casserole, a flashlight, or a listening ear. We can dry each other's tears and we can strengthen each other's backs. We can inspire, hold, touch, hug, and scold. We do our best work heart to heart. We feel things deeply and we care deeply.

In crisis, we are calm and resourceful. We draw on inner strength from spiritual connections. We store food, soap, bandaids, water, and faith.

We can fix a lot of things. We use duct tape, gorilla glue, twisty wire, bandaids, and prayer. We kiss things better, and we put things back together again. When the damage is too much for us, we hold on, we love, and we trust.

We are healers. We can't do everything, but we know who can.

We use our hands to do His work, and we want our hearts to be like His.

Linda Garner

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just the Way You Are

Sorry, I haven't posted lately.

I was...busy... Every happen to you? I thought so.

I want to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day and thank you for spending your time with me. We do have fun, don't we. I love women. They are awesome. I love celebrating their gifts.

You are amazing and beautiful, inside and out. I love celebrating you. Today, take time to love yourself, remember that you are loved, and know that I like you, just the way you are.

Just the Way You Are

I like your eyes. I like your nose.
I like your elbows and your toes.

I like the way you laugh and shout.
I like your insides and your out.

I like the happy way you walk.
I like to listen when you talk.

I like the way you think and feel.
I like the part of you that’s real.

I like you when you’re on the go,
And even when you’re movin’ slow.l

I like to see you jump and run.
I like you ‘cause you’re so much fun.

I like to watch you sing and dance.
I join you when I get the chance.

I like the spunky clothes you wear.
I like the way you wear your hair.

I like the sparkle in your smile.
I like your attitude, your style.

I like you when you’re happy,
and even when you’re sad.

I like you when you’re snappy,
and even when you’re mad.

You’re gentle, brave, and helpful, too.
You’re funny, cheerful, honest, true.

You’re talented and very smart.
You have a kind and loving heart.

And even on the worst of days
When nothing goes quite right,

I like you in the best of ways.
I like you day or night.

And though you’re always changing,
You don’t have to change for me.

I like you just the way you are.
Be who you want to be.

Happy Valentine's Day
Linda Garner


Today I am celebrating the release of my first e-picture book, A Valentine Disaster. Click on the button on my sidebar to order your copy. You don't need a kindle to read it. Click here to get a free kindle app for your computer. If you like it, you can leave a review here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How Did You get in My Mirror, Mom?

It was no secret. I looked like my mother. I heard it all the time. I had even been stopped on the street by people I didn’t recognize. “You must be Ruth Heiner’s daughter,” someone would say.

I assured them I was, and they would often respond by sharing a memory with me. My mother was a lovely person, beautiful and vivacious. I took it as a complement, but at sixteen I didn’t see the resemblance.

That was a long time ago.

Shortly after Mother died, she showed up in my mirror one day. It was a little scary. I thought she was gone, after all. And my mirror, of all places? Shouldn’t some things be sacred?

Though I couldn’t see the resemblance at sixteen, I could see it clearly at fifty- two, and it was no longer flattering. It was okay to look like my mom when she was a teenager, but I didn’t want to like her when she was…well,...old.

What are you doing in my mirror, Mom? How did you get there? I asked the older woman on the other side of the glass.

“You look like me,” she said. “You always have.”

Where did those wrinkles come from, and what about the gray hair?

“Well you do have seven children,” she said with a wink.

I guess I never recovered.

“Did you want to?” she asked with a smile.

No, of course not, I said as I reached for the hair dye.

Did I always have three chins?

“No, dear, but who’s counting?”

She giggled. I glared. What’s so funny? I wondered.

It’s great to see you, Mom, I lied. If I sassed her, would she come after me?

The truth is, I’d love to sit down and visit with Mom. I’d ask her about her new home. “How is Dad,” I’d say. “Do you see your sister much?” I’d want to know if she has made up with her siblings and if Grandpa still swears.

I’d ask her if she plays the organ, and grows bleeding hearts. I’d wonder what kind of quilt frames they use in heaven. I’d ask about our old dog Nikki and the horse she once named Hope.

I’d tell her about her grandkids. The same seven kids that turned my hair gray. They turned out great, I’d say. They are raising fine children and growing wrinkles of their own.

She would smile knowingly, because she’s been keeping track.

That’s only the beginning. I’d ask her about time in heaven. I’ve heard it’s different there, and what does heavenly music sound like? Has she bumped into any of my heroes? Handel? Bach? Joseph Smith? Heber J. Grant? Emma?

We’d have a lot of catching up to do, and if she had advice for me, I’d listen this time for sure. Maybe I’d take notes. Yeah, I’d love to see my mom, I really would. Just not in my mirror.

I have nothing against old people. They’re great. I love those silver haired angels, and who cares if they can’t remember much. You can always be their new best friend, and tomorrow you can do it again. Maybe someday I’ll take up Chinese checkers, or wheel chair racing, but for now…

I don’t want to look old. I don’t want to act old. I feel young inside. Even when my bones ache, and my blood sugar spikes, and I get winded pulling my pantyhose up, inside I’m still sixteen.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Linda Garner

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The World Needs You

In the season of giving, rejoice in the gifts that you bring to the world. You make the world a better place. Your gifts can change the world. You make a difference.

Don't worry that you can't do everything. Do the best you can, and that is enough. Be yourself. You are enough.

As you scatter kindness and love, be kind to yourself. The world needs you.

Linda Garner

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What About Charity?

When I speak to women about loving themselves, some are confused and uncomfortable. Is it okay to love myself? they sometimes ask. I encourage them to be kind to themselves and to understand their worth. I ask them to notice things they are doing well. If I feel good about my accomplishments isn’t that pride? If I do something nice for myself isn’t that being selfish?

Many women struggle with feelings of self-worth. Women in abusive relationships struggle in personal and painful ways. It is difficult for them to find themselves amid the abuse. They struggle to understand the doctrines of charity, forgiveness, and unconditional love.

Some who are in abusive relationships feel that having unconditional love means putting up with the abuse. They wonder if the abuse is their fault. Because they want to be Christlike they will stay in a harmful relationship to show they have charity. They may put on a cheerful face and minimize the abuse. They forgive the abuser and allow the abuse to continue, because they think that is what forgiveness means.

To any who struggle with self-worth or boundaries in a hurtful relationship, I tenderly offer some clarification.

Perhaps you are confusing unconditional love with unconditional acceptance. In other words we are told that our Heavenly Father cannot show the least degree of acceptance for sin, yet he always loves the sinner.

If you had two children and one was a bully, would you love the bully less than your picked on child? Would you love him unconditionally, even when he beat up the other child? That is charity. Out of that charity, would you allow him to continue to abuse your other child? Would you counsel the child with the broken nose, two cracked ribs, and a broken spirit to lie down and take it so that he could show unconditional love for his brother?

Forgiveness is essential. Loving the sinner is a commandment. Accepting the sin is foolish. Allowing the sinner to repeat unacceptable behavior out of charity is misguided.

If someone raped or murdered your daughter, your sister, your best friend, you might try to feel love for this person. You might have to dig deep to find this love, but you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.

You might ask Jesus to help you find forgiveness in your heart. Forgiveness is hard, but you will try. You might pray for charity, or unconditional love, but you do not want the rapist, the murderer, to go free and be allowed to repeat his crime. You might be able to find forgiveness, charity, unconditional love, but you want this man locked away from society where he can never hurt anyone again. Forgiving does not remove the consequence for unacceptable behavior. Having charity does not remove the consequence either.

Some years ago I was invited to address a small group of pastors about sexual abuse. It was a powerful experience. One pastor told of a man who had abused a child many years ago and his family still did not trust them with their children. He felt sorrow for this man, and pain, but forgiveness does not equal trust. Charity does not equal trust. Trust must be earned.

Suppose a man robbed a bank, then paid his debt to society. Suppose he served a prison term and then repaid the debt. The bank forgives. The law forgives. Society forgives. If it is your bank, will you then rehire him?

If we must have charity for the abuser, we must also have charity for the abused. If your child was being abused you would take your child out of the situation if it were possible. You would rescue the child no matter the cost, wouldn’t you? Or would you instead counsel your child to submit to the abuse in the name of charity?

Perhaps we should have said to our neighbors in Iraq, “We encourage you to show charity for these insane creatures who are murdering, raping, and pillaging you. Don’t try to defend yourselves, and don’t ask for help. This is for your own good. This is a time for selflessness.”

I do not believe that allowing others to abuse you is charity. The commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves opens at least two other questions. 1. Who is my neighbor? 2. Am I supposed to love myself?

In truth, the commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves is also a commandment to love ourselves. How could it be otherwise? We can only love another to the degree that we love ourselves.

When we carefully consider this commandment, there are other questions. Can I show charity for myself? Is it possible? Will I do it? Will I feel guilty if I do? Is it selfish to give up being a doormat? Does being a doormat make me more celestial? Does allowing myself to be abused make me more loving, more Christlike, more charitable? Is submitting to abuse helping me to learn unconditional love? Is it making me a better person?

I do not believe that charity is synonymous with selflessness. Selfless service is beautiful thing, but selflessness implies a loss of identity, a loss of value. Jesus gave selfless service, but he never lost his value or his identity. Selfless service cannot come from an empty heart, any more than money can come from an empty purse, or food can come from an empty shelf.

To the woman taken in sin the Lord showed love and charity. He did not rebuke her, he frankly forgave her. He also counseled her to go and sin no more. Is it possible that mistreating herself was part of the sin? Is it possible that allowing someone to mistreat a child of God is a sinful act?

For some these are difficult concepts, and you may not agree with the words that I have written. I believe that they are true. You matter to Heavenly Father. He cherishes you. Ask him to tell you how he feels about you. Ask him if there is a thread of truth in my words. Ask him if it is okay to love yourself.

Linda Garner

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Good China

I got it out today and washed and rearranged it. I’ll serve my guests on it tonight. It’s pretty and festive. My mother picked it out for me almost 40 years ago. Even though I love it, it’s seldom used.

Most of our dinner parties involve a small army of close relatives. Most of them are on the short side, and aren't very good with china. Sometimes we use the everyday dishes, which are sturdy mostly-matching Correlle. I say sturdy, but I used to say unbreakable. In our family test kitchen we have found it possible to break almost every variety of supposedly unbreakable material.

Truthfully, we don’t really have enough mostly-matching Correlle to serve our small army. We generally use paper goods for even our fanciest family get-togethers. It suits us. We seldom run out of dishes and we have less cleanup. More time to enjoy each other. Less frayed nerves and less exhaustion. We’re not that fancy anyway.

Mother made sure I had beautiful china and a lovely place to store it in. Mom loved parties and she loved fancy things. I appreciate her thoughtfulness. I admire fancy things, but I don’t really crave them like Mom did. In some ways I’m like my mom, but we were cut from different cloth.

Do I own eight sets of matching silverware? I need matching silverware, not really silver of course, to go with the good china. Wait, it's salad at my house. I only need forks. Do I have matching forks for eight? Rummaging in silverware drawer. Six, seven, eight, nine...more than enough. I love abundance.

It will be fun to be fancy tonight with the girls at our annual progressive dinner party. I enjoyed washing the good china and rearranging it in my lovely china closet, as I remembered Mom. Eating on beautiful dishes doesn’t make me worth more. Of that I’m sure.

It’s okay to be different, and it’s okay that I miss my fancy mom.

Linda Garner