The Absentee Blessing

My nonmember next-door neighbor and her husband were busy making preparations for the birth of their third child, going to Lamaze classes, and enjoying the attention of neighbors and friends who shared their excitement.

The day arrived and, in spite of the couple’s detailed planning, the baby was born in their home, assisted only by the husband (who, later, visibly proud of their accomplishment, said, “It was nothing.”).

So that the family wouldn’t have to worry about meals after their momentous day, I prepared a special dinner and filled a basket with some fruit from our backyard and some surprises I knew the couple’s two young children would enjoy. Late that afternoon, dinner and basket in hand, I knocked on their door.

After a few minutes of visiting with the parents and their new baby girl, I laid the food out on the table and wished them all a restful night.

I then went home to prepare dinner for my family and soon became immersed in my own responsibilities. But I felt incomplete and uneasy, as if something hadn’t been finished. Searching for a clue, I reflected on how warm and good I had felt about the service I had performed earlier. Suddenly, I knew what was missing. I went to my room, knelt by my bed, and asked Heavenly Father to bless the food I had prepared for my neighbors—to help them enjoy it and help them feel of his Spirit as they partook of the joyful givings of my heart.

That day I learned that the joy of giving can be much greater if we give with a prayer on our lips that the receiver will be able to enjoy the gift and feel of the love with which it is offered and the spirit in which it is given.Leslee Grigoruk, Yorba Linda, California

Blinded by Pride

Grandma turned on the oven to let it warm, then turned it off. She opened the oven door, placed a pan of warm water on it, and arranged tiny clothes, a small blanket, and a towel nearby. Everything was ready for my baby sister’s first bath.

Mother brought my sister into the cozy kitchen, paused, looked at Grandma, and said, “Mama, I’ve forgotten how to bathe a tiny baby. Could you please do it for me?” Smiling, Grandma took my sister, tenderly bathed her, and wrapped her snugly in the oven-warmed clothes and blanket.

At the time, I thought my mother was being silly. I knew she never forgot anything.

Twenty years later, when I delivered my first child, Mother came to stay with me. To prepare for the event, I had taken child-care and parenting classes. And when it was time for my son’s first bath, Mother stood by, letting me do everything perfectly.

A few months later, finding myself not quite as perfect, I was trying to remember what Mother would have done if she had been there. Then I remembered what had happened that day with Grandma. Mother had known how to bathe a baby, but she had also known of Grandma’s special love for babies. She had been thinking of Grandma, not of herself, when she had asked her to bathe my sister.

I was ashamed that my pride in my own efficiency had blinded me to what could have been a very special moment. From that day on, I was determined never to allow efficiency and expediency to overshadow another’s need to serve.Loa A. Merrill, Cottonwood, Arizona

We Can’t All Be Brown

During the last few years we have added to our two blond, blue-eyed children six others. Three have come from Costa Rica. Two others are Indian Placement children, and the last is a baby we adopted in Mexico. We have worked hard trying to help our adopted and foster children love the beautiful brown skin the Lord gave them.

One night in the bathtub, Trenton, age four, asked if I could wash him white. I was sure all my efforts had been in vain until a short time later.

It was one of my low days. I was sitting in the front room looking out the window at the kittens playing on the lawn, and crying. Trenton climbed onto the chair and looked closely into my face. He asked, “Mom, are you mad at me?”

“No,” I answered.

“Are you mad at Elisha?”

I shook my head.

“Then who are you mad at?”

I told him I just didn’t like myself very much today.

He looked at me with his big brown eyes and said, “But you have to love you. Jesus made you that way. He couldn’t make everyone brown. White is nice, too!”

I learned a wonderful lesson from my son that day. God loves each of us the way we are, and he has hopes and dreams for us, just as we do for ourselves. After all, he couldn’t make everyone brown.Ronnell Jones, Monroe, Utah