Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Claudia and 525,600 minutes

My day was SPECTACULAR....Debbie and I met up at the Temple for a little ~TLC~....My goal for the day...Clarity, Inspiration and Service...I reflected back to my Sunday school lesson this past Sunday, the lesson was overcoming Adversity. Websters Dictionary defines Adversity as a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty.

At one point I asked those in my class if anyone had experienced adversity during the past week...a few hands went up, most heads dropped, the silence was deafening. Those who had the courage to share...talked of fighting cancer, the surgery of a 6 year old grandson, employment that was lost, families on the brink of financial collapse. Every family feeling some overwhelming challenge...

For me the Temple is the best place to seek understanding and clarity. A place where I feel close to the spirit..prayers are offered, prayers are answered. I leave feeling inspired and renewed.

I have a dear friend in my ward, her name is Claudia. We hug and laugh every time we see each other only to say...We really need to make the time to GET TOGETHER then we let days, weeks and months slip by without rescheduling. She is absolutely an angel. Her smile is contagious, her heart always open, her hands always busy helping another..she is a legendary woman having the qualities of a hero, a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities... she is brave, strong and in the fight of her life.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in early July. Her cancer is aggressive and uninvited..I have thought of her often since hearing the news...I knew she was having surgery Monday..and decided it was time for our play date. I hate that feeling of....I wish I would have done...talk to sooner, called before now, written a letter...apologized....if only.... I went right from the Temple to Banner Desert to spend time with my friend, she was thrilled to see me.

She is a beautiful woman with the most amazing hair...her hair is her trademark..always in a very cosmopolitan bob...always perfect..Her hair is the envy of all. We embraced...we laughed...we cried....she was generous to share her story, feelings, emotions, dreams, fears, concerns and her afternoon with me. I was so humbled sitting there listening....I choked back tears while looking away for a quick second...I found myself trying to catch my breath....Claudia and I were discussing REAL LIFE and Death issues...her cancer became all to personal to me. We would be talking...about the little things...when a gust of emotion would blow in and suck the oxygen out of the room...Claudia would apologize for tearing up...I just held her while she cried, feeling helpless..Her day had been long, a day of additional testing...poking, prodding, emotionally she was spent.

She talked about her ~BUCKET LIST~...the summer projects she really wanted to start and finish...she talked about her sweet husband..and how worried she is about him...she talked about her time in Utah with all of her kids.. she talked about her sweet little elementary school kids, she is worried about not being there on the first day of school, she is worried about losing her hair...she wasn't going to tell her children...the she told me ..."I need their prayers!". What Claudia has is an extraordinary husband...Randy is her best friend, he is right there with her, her children and extended family, her ward family and numerous friends who will fast, pray and watch miracles unfold.

We talked about how sudden life can change. I took a rare moment to spend on myself a couple weeks ago...just to get reacquainted with myself...and reflect on my feelings about life, how I spend my time, what is mission critical, what is NOT...learning to incorporate love, gratitude,service, forgiveness in everyday living.

I am adding a post I wrote for The Bella Life...Enjoy...and take a minute to inventory your ~To Do List~...focus on Mission Critical....let go of...doesn't matter...

525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?

I took a personal liberty this afternoon; I decided I was going to spend the afternoon with myself. This chance meeting presented itself after weeks of relentless work and longer hours. I needed to decompress, regroup and recharged my overloaded and dead batteries. I felt the need to nourish my spirit and breathe.

I have always had a love affair with the sun. I love to sit outside and feel the warm rays penetrate my entire body. For me the sun has been a constant companion; encouraging my healing, helping me pause and take notice of the life going on around me - which creates the center of my universe.

Armed with my Ray Bans, i-pod, beach towel and bottle of water, I set out for the pool to find myself. No sooner had I slipped into the water…my i-pod on shuffle, I heard Donny Osmond start to sing….”Season’s of Love” from Rent.

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes - how do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love.
Seasons of love.

I found myself reflecting on 525,600 minutes…sounds like a lot…Yet every year those minutes become more precious and fleeting. I wonder how many of those precious minutes I spent worrying about a situations that never came to pass, finances, my kids, my parents, my work…Time is marching by daily…never stopping to wait for me.

As the words to the song continued to play…I found myself smiling… I asked myself how you, Carla, measure a year. Here is my version of …”Season’s of Life”… In daylights, in sunsets, in laughter, in tears, in friendships, in touches, in hugs, in kisses, in kindness, in prayers, in gratitude, in service, in teaching, in learning…Every minute of every day can be filled with non essentials, like worry, fear, loneliness, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed.

As women we center our universe around our children, spouses, and employers; providing constant care and nurturing everyone except ourselves. By the end of the day, week, month and year there is no more energy to expend on ourselves. We are exhausted, frustrated, angry, resentful and weighed down..

Ladies…this is no way to live the measure of your creation. There is no shame in nurturing yourself. You cannot fully love another until you fall in love with yourself. Start today by taking the time you need to understand who you are, what you need and how you plan to embrace and make use of your 525,600 minutes…


Live with intensity and purpose.

God Listens.....

I read this short story Monday...and LOVED IT! If you are single and wondering IF GOD does LiStEn...have the FAITH to read this true story...

God Listens

"God, if you ever want a man in my life, you will have to put him there. In fact, he will have to be standing at my front door wearing a T-shirt that says you sent him." Those words, spoken from bitterness and disappointment for the crushed relationships in my life, stated exactly how I felt about men, as a single mother.

Years passed, and my busy life centered around church, my four sons and my job. My parents lived out of state, so our church became our family.

Slowly, I turned all my joys, heartaches and triumphs over to God.

During those healing years, my youngest son established a friendship with a man who assisted our youth music minister. Dean was a quiet, somber man, but one who lived a life modeled after our Lord. He urged youth to find their identity through God's unfailing love. I admired Dean's patience, understanding and giving ways. More so, I appreciated his friendship with my sons.

At first, I felt suspicious of him spending time and effort on them, and I researched his background to ensure my sons' safety and well-being. He received glowing reports for his integrity and devotion to God. I decided he had been sent to fill the void in my sons' lives and to be the role model they so desperately needed.

Over the next year and a half, Dean spent more and more time with them. He took the youngest to CancĂșn during Christmas break and took two of them to Branson, Missouri, shortly afterwards. He purchased one of the boys a car so he could take a part-time job. Dean showed him how to pay for gas and insurance and still have spending money. He listened to my sons' escapades and problems, and he never judged or condemned their behavior. He and I were great friends. I felt no threat, because Dean was twelve years younger than I.

One summer day, the doorbell rang. Dean stood in the doorway wearing a T-shirt with the logo "God Listens." At that moment I remembered the words I had uttered years before. I felt the color rise to my cheeks, and my stomach knotted. Dean handed me five additional shirts with the same "God Listens" logo printed on the front.

"I got these at the Christian bookstore, and there's one for each of you," he said.

All I could think was, "Oh no, Lord, not Dean. He's not the right one. He's too young, and he's - well, he's my friend." Naturally, I said nothing, but thereafter the "God Listens" logo haunted me. I attempted to rationalize the entire incident, and I asked God to handle the matter for me. He did.

Two months later, Dean proposed. The boys were excited, and I realized how happy our lives had become since he first began a relationship with us. Still, I felt nervous and fearful of being hurt again.

Dean and I talked a great deal about a Christian marriage and the value of open communication. We made a budget, attended premarital classes, prayed together and talked about our future.

Neither of us had family nearby, so my sons and a few close friends were all we wanted to attend the ceremony. We scheduled the wedding for ten o'clock on a November morning. Shortly before 9:30, the boys and I drove to the church where one of Dean's friends waited outside to video the whole thing. I'm not very comfortable in front of a camera, but I tried to relax and act normal―whatever that is.

Once inside, I stared amazed at the number of friends who had come to share in our vows. My best friend, my sons and I stood in an empty office while a photographer snapped various poses of us. Of course, the video rolled on.

Promptly at ten, the pastor stepped in and announced it was time for the wedding. We walked down the hallway to find even more friends waiting.

But Dean did not stand among them.

The pastor reached inside his suit pocket and produced a folded piece of paper. "Dean could not be with us this morning, but he did leave a letter for DiAnn."

A hush fell over the room, and I teetered between hysterics and sheer bewilderment. Why couldn't the pastor have pulled me aside to break the news? My heart pounded furiously as I stood there in total humiliation and disappointment. Too stunned to even utter a protest, I watched in horror while the pastor unfolded the letter. Suddenly, the thought of fainting held merit. If only I could stop him - but it was too late.

With heartfelt words, Dean began his letter explaining how he had gradually fallen in love with each member of my family. He stated how his friendship with me had grown from admiration to a deep love. His first love was Jesus, and he knew I shared the same feelings. Together we would establish a loving, Christian marriage and realize the blessings of our Lord. His love and commitment extended to my sons as well.

The letter concluded that he waited for us at a secret destination. There, he awaited me at the altar.

The pastor tucked the letter back inside his suit coat and escorted me to a church bus. I didn't know what to say for fear the lump in my throat would explode into a pool of tears. Where could Dean be?

We boarded a church bus, with the video still filming my every emotion, while I searched futilely for a possible wedding location. Each time I thought I knew where Dean intended to meet me, the bus drove right on by. We continued driving, and my mind raced with the possibilities. Then the bus turned into a lovely subdivision. There stood my husband-to-be in front of a beautiful and spacious new home. In the front yard, a sign leaned against a huge pine tree. It read: The Mills Residence, established November 24, 1993.

Inside, in the dining room, I found a wedding cake and food for all our friends. Candles and baskets of pink flowers surrounded a kneeling bench in front of a marble fireplace. Dean stood there, arms outstretched. A black grand piano filled the room with the music of love.

Dean's T-shirt had been right―God does listen!

I know God not only listens....he is cheering us on everyday...closer to the true desires of our hearts!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Renewal and Thanks.

Ethan returned home Sunday evening from a week vacationing around Southern California with the Kurtz Family. Going to California, Disneyland, Sea World and the beach was just what Ethan needed. What Ethan got, was a week to evaluate the importance of family, communication and his life goals. What he experienced was a week with a family he loves, adores and treasures. Each member of the Kurtz family holds a special place in Ethan's ever expanding heart. Each day brought new experiences and memories Ethan will hold dear. The evening brought down time, time to really get to know one another through life histories, laughter, and tears. What Ethan learned was friends are more alike than different, age is only a number, friendships are the reward for taking chances with those we don't know.

Ethan and I hit a little rough patch prior to his leaving. After having a week away both of us had a chance to revisit the situation, words that were spoken and the feelings of frustration we both harbored. I found myself really taking inventory of my relationship with Ethan. I found I really missed his companionship, his great sense of humor, our late night conversations on life, love, relationships, the daily news, friends, spiritual topics, my daily hugs and kisses, the daily text messages and updates on face book. I paused long enough to feel his absence and renew my commitment to breathe, enjoy the ride, live in the moment and let the non essentials go.. Its so easy to get caught up in heated and frustrated moments. Easier to loose my temper, easiest to speak words that are angry, words that encourage silence, distance and hurt.

As we sat on the couch...Ethan shared his experiences with Marty, Stephanie, Jennifer, Haley, Kayla and Zach. Many times there were no words to express his love and appreciation for the Kurtz Family, only tears. He mentioned one late night conversation with Stephanie in particular, (I met Marty and Stephanie when Stephanie's mother passed away). As the conversation turned towards the night before Ethan left...Stephanie assured Ethan that relationships between parents and children are difficult and strained at times, but in the same breath she told Ethan about regrets....regrets of childish selfish behavior towards her mom at times. What she wouldn't give to go back to those hard times and make them right...and how desperately she missed her mother. In a precious teaching moment she helped my son understand another perspective. The dangers of taking those we love for granted and more important life is to short, unpredictable and fragile to spend time being resentful.. As Ethan spoke the tears continued free falling, he expressed his love and appreciation for me, my example and my courage. I have tried unsuccessfully to express my thoughts and feelings here tonight....What I can express is....I wouldn't trade my days of raising my kids for ANYTHING. I have been present and accounted for through out their lives, I have prayed with my kids, kissed hurts, wiped tears away, bought prom dresses, wedding dresses, rented tuxedos, fixed breakfast after Homecoming dances, taught them how to drive the car, provided a loving home that smells like cloves and cinnamon...taught them to love each other, to serve others, to believe in miracles, to exercise kindness.......the greatest blessing in my life raising my children. Then Ethan expressed his desire to be a fabulous future husband and father it again brought tears to my eyes..

As I share this experience with you...my heart if full....actually overflowing... I give thanks for everything, everyone and every moment I have had raising my children. There have been many difficult moments, more exhilarating moments...but I have stayed the course. I have grown into Motherhood...and learned to love the ride.

Marty and Stephanie...even I am at a loss to express my love and profound gratitude for your righteous influence, the sacred trust which has been created, the unconditional love and constant encouragement you show Ethan. You may never know the seeds you have planted...and the bountiful harvest that is to come....Ethan's perspective has been renewed and opened to the realm of possibilities..

Love you..


Monday, July 6, 2009

How Great is the Worth of One Soul?

The passing of Michael Jackson continues to be news worthy in every mode of communication possible. Twitter, Internet, Face Book, My Space, TV, Radio, I-Tunes and daily conversations at home, work, with friends, at lunch..where ever....Michael Jackson's influence spans over 30 years, his trademark white sequined glove, white socks and million dollar smile can be seen and heard everywhere. His death as affected each of us...

Michael Jackson is one person who decided early in life to discover and develop his God given talents to entertain and create music. His lyrics proclaim love, charity, change and a world of hope, his music timeless. Feel good, foot tapping, finger snapping melodies that you can't stop til you've had enough...for most of us...there is never enough ~Thriller~, Billy Jean~, Man in the Mirror~Beat It~, Rock with you,~ and on and on.... He was one person who made a huge difference in all of our lives. He lived big...his death tragic....his memory will be timeless.

My name is Carla Mannes, although I will never entertain millions with music and dance, my influence will be carried down through generations of family and time which is priceless. I am a single mother of (4) two boys, two girls....I am one person who has made a conscious choice to discover and develop my God given gifts and talents. My relationship with my Savior has also experienced ups, downs, periods of closeness and periods of separation. Yet he walks along side of me daily to cheer me on...lift me when my spirits are blue, comfort me when I feel overwhelmed, forgotten and lost, he loves me perfectly. He knows me intimately...he has created my strengths, hand picked my weaknesses and understands how great the worth of my soul. He has blessed me with the ability to provide financially, spiritually, emotionally for my children. He has blessed with an enormous book of remembrance...treasured teaching moments, one on one time with each of my children, many late night conversations, first dates, first dances, first loves....lots of hugs, loves, tears, laughter, joy...every emotion possible to feel and experience. I have succeeded....with my children.....and I have accomplished this largely on my own....

My influence is felt today in my 4 absolutely amazing children. As the years passed I have grown to treasure and cherish my experiences as a single mom. After years of questioning myself, wondering if I really did measure up, was I strong enough to survive, feeling much judgement from many....I am confident it saying.... Christopher Robin was right...

You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. - Christopher Robin to Pooh

Not only have I survived...I have flourished...I took a truck load of lemons and made gallons of lemonade...I have laughed much, cried more and have learned to embrace life, and love who I am...I am courageous, I am strong and I am super smart.... I look at each of my children who are loving, kind, compassionate, driven, intelligent, witty, clever, intentional, self made, honest and dedicated to making their world a better place. My influence in their lives runs deep and is far reaching. I am first a mom, second a spiritual leader in my home, a friend, a confidant, a cheerleader, a tutor, a nurse, a short order cook, a decorator, chauffeur, event planner a mother who loves each of her children unconditionally, is open to learning new things, forgiving, kind, compassionate, driven and intentional.

As I have pondered (D&C 18:10, 15–16). "The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. …

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

“And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”

Our Father in Heaven gets...how great each of us are...individually and collectively....He has sent each of us down here with a specific mission and time frame. Each of us is famous in our own right...each of us is creating a life story, posterity and history that we will ultimately leave behind to those who carry on our names. Our influence and examples are timeless and eternal. Each of us is responsible to write our own chapter....revise what isn't working....re-write and try to perfect our characters and more importantly our souls. It is impossible to assist anyone along our path who is in need of help, if we can't make the time to improve ourselves.

I believe we are all braver than we think, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think individually and collectively.

I express my profound gratitude for understanding my role and place in my Father's kingdom. My wish....for each of us to take the time to be a lot kinder, more patient, more giving, more understanding, more loving...bring more of our brothers and sisters to understand their role in this eternal quest....individually and collectively...there is strength in the number 1.....


Friday, July 3, 2009

My Thought List...

I have always had a love and passion for ~Great Thoughts~. I find myself frequenting a couple web sites that are filled with inspiring, exhilarating, stimulating and encouraging thoughts, quotes and sayings.

Most of the contributors are or were ordinary people with extraordinary vision, determination and chutzpah. The one common denominator in those who think and live positively is they live by faith...not fear....They are willing to pay the price of failure to experience the thrill of winning, succeeding and crossing the finish line. Ordinary human beings who in the twinkling of an eye transform fear into courage and muster the strength complete the task required. Persistence prevails when all else fails.

I am fortunate, my nature is tenacious and persistent. I have spent the last 5 years working diligently on become reacquainted with myself. Marriage, children, career and divorce have a way of changing one's perception. I have come to accept that no one is responsible for my happiness or fulfillment...only me. Which has turned out to be one of my greatest blessings...not always easy or comfortable but no one can walk in my shoes but me. Learning to accept and love myself has been key in my healing,. One of highlights from my road less traveled has been developing a love of reading material that is high energy, spiritual and inspiring on a daily basis. I have come to understand this is ~Soul Food~ for me. I will share just a few of my favorite thoughts....Read with care....be open to gratitude, change and personal inspiration. My hope is you too will seek out of the best thoughts daily for a little inspiration. My dad has always told me ~Rome wasn't built in a day...and it didn't burn over night....~ translated...means....change is a one step at a time process, you can't possibly do it all right now, nor would you really want to. Get to know who you are, how you feel and what inspires you.

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest” - Mark Twain

You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. - Christopher Robin to Pooh

“This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves. Thomas A. Edison

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions. Albert Einstein

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2

You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Thomas Edison

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be - Abraham Lincoln

Some have the bucket list....I will continue to grow My ~Thought List~....I would love to hear your thoughts....