“1. Be Nice to Dan”

One New Year’s day I was sitting in the kitchen, thinking about all of the areas in my life in which I wanted to improve: family history research, regular exercise, time with my children, home organization—the list was long. As I thought, I felt rather gloomy. Where should I start? I wondered.

I decided to group the list into categories: (1) prayer, scripture study, and journal-keeping; (2) homemaking, laundry, and meal-planning; (3) exercise, diet, and grooming; (4) family activities and time with my children; and (5) books of remembrance, personal histories, and family history research.

Feeling overwhelmed, I asked my husband, Dan, who was standing at the sink, which category he thought was the most important. I then handed the list to him and asked if he would number them in order, starting with the most important.

He didn’t have to look at the list for long before he handed it back, with an impish grin on his face. He had numbered the categories, but he had started with number two. At the bottom of the page he had written, “1. Be nice to Dan.”

We laughed and hugged, and the sun broke out. That number one I could do! I was no longer worried about accomplishing so many things at once. That list became a lifelong reminder, tucked into my book of remembrance, to help me remember his premium priority in my life.Barbara Workman, Centerville, Utah

I Can’t Give Up!

My husband, Alvaro, entered his first marathon while he was in high school in Colombia. Much to his surprise, he won!

After that, he decided to start running more seriously. But he needed a pair of running shoes, and they were expensive. His parents were struggling to support their family of eight, and he hesitated to ask them if they would buy the shoes. However, when they realized how determined he was, they bought them.

Alvaro joined the high school track team and trained daily. But as his first competition approached, the shoes began to wear out. Two weeks before the race, the soles tore away from the uppers. Alvaro didn’t want to ask his parents for another pair of shoes, so he found some thread and sewed them back together.

Alvaro continued to train for the competition in the shoes he had tried to repair. To his dismay, the threads began to tear, and two days before the race the shoes began to fall apart again. He knew it would take something stronger than thread to fix them, so after much thought, he found some wire and stitched the shoes back together.

On the day of the race, Alvaro started off strongly and stayed comfortably with the group of runners as they circled the track. With only a few laps to go, he pulled away from the other runners to take the lead. At that same moment, the wire worked loose from the sole of his shoe and began to dig into his foot. Despite the pain he felt as the wire pierced his skin, he thought to himself, “I can’t give up.”

He didn’t. Running with determination, he crossed the finish line in first place—but with his foot cut and bleeding in several places.

Years later, I derive strength from my husband’s determination. He wakes early, trains in snowstorms, and comes home exhausted after a long run. At times, when my problems seem overwhelming, I think of him crossing the finish line with his foot torn and bleeding.

Today, when Alvaro runs in marathons, I wait eagerly at the finish line, shivering with excitement. I hope to obtain a similar determination in my own life and someday to win a far greater race—the “marathon” of life.Nancy Palacios, Salt Lake City, Utah

[photo] Photo by Craig Moyer

Gone Too Soon

A clean and orderly home has always been important to me. But one day recently, while everyone else was at work or school and everything was in its place, I realized that having the children’s toys picked up and their rooms cleaned troubled me somewhat, though I didn’t understand why.

Then one day when that troubled feeling came again, a small, gentle voice in my heart said, “There are no signs of your children.”

I realized that I longed to see the children playing with dolls or crayons, or practicing music that didn’t quite seem to flow into a recognizable tune. There was no nightgown or hairbrush on the stairs that seemed to say to me, “Hi, Mom. I was just running a little late this morning. I’ll be home later to pick these up.” There was no pile of toy cars and blocks that seemed to say, “I was very involved in designing this space station, and bedtime was here before I knew it. I’ll be home after school to pick it up. Love you.”

When my husband came home that evening, I told him what I had discovered. I said I did not intend to let the house get really messy, but that our children’s belongings here and there were some of the most beautiful sights I knew.

“The children will be gone all too soon,” I told him, “and we’ll miss their treasures on the stairs and the pain of stepping on little cars with bare feet.”

My husband smiled and I knew we both understood and agreed.Sandra Bowlan, Muskogee, Oklahoma

Out My Kitchen Window

I can look out my kitchen window, past the backyard, directly at the freeway. It isn’t a beautiful sight—cars and trucks whiz north and south twenty-four hours a day, bumper-to-bumper during rush hour. Ambulances and police cars whine by at all hours. During the summer the dust thrown up by countless vehicles coats my furniture relentlessly.

Worse yet is the train that passes between my yard and the freeway. Along the weedy tracks, trains burst forth seemingly from nowhere, rattling not only the windows but the entire house.

These aren’t particularly beautiful sights. But if I lift my eyes beyond the railroad tracks, beyond the freeway, I can see the mountains to the east.

Many evenings I have looked out that window and watched a perfectly rounded moon of palest amber steadily rise above the blackened silhouette of the mountains. In the spring I gaze on the multi-shaded greens and stand in awe, after a sudden summer shower, at the beautiful arch of a rainbow that stretches from one end of the valley to the other.

Autumn brings such a profusion of reds and golds that my eyes are dazzled. The colors start gradually on the highest peak, then disperse widely as they drift farther down the slope. Always, pockets of green maintain a hold against the encroaching brilliance—just enough to add a patchwork-quilt look.

Autumn also brings low-lying clouds and mist, which hover above the valley floor, making the mountains look like majestic alps peering down on an enshrouded world. At other times the clouds skim the lofty tops and remind me of paintings of Olympus, home of the gods.

The winter snows transform the mountains to marshmallow creations that are dazzlingly brilliant on sunny days. Dusk in winter is almost too beautiful to describe. As the sun disappears in the west, the last rays of light change the brilliant white peaks to a softly diffused pink, then to a deep rose that gradually fades to the palest hue, and then, almost instantly, to an inky black that outlines the mountains against the deep blue of the star-studded night.

Then the moon begins her cycle again.

I can look out my kitchen window at an unsightly train track or a busy freeway. Or I can lift my gaze upward and drink in the beauty of God’s creations. The choice is mine to make.Shirley Rawlins, Midvale, Utah