Thursday, February 26, 2015

Happy Wife, Happy Life

That's what my husband likes to say, "Happy Wife, Happy Life".

Today we celebrate our 30-something wedding anniversary.  There have certainly been times when we have struggled and no doubt annoyed each other.  I know when we work hard at making the other person happy and comfortable and think less of ourselves and our own wants, we get along wonderfully.  Funny how that works?

I have been learning a lot this semester about covenant marriages.  That is the kind of marriage that I have.  Bruce C. Hafen said this about covenant marriages:

"Three summers ago, I watched a new bride and groom, Tracy and Tom, emerge from a sacred temple.  They laughed and held hands as family and friends gathered to take pictures.  I saw happiness and promise in their faces as they greeted their reception guests, who celebrated publicly the creation of a new family.  I wondered that night how long it would be until these two faced the opposition that tests every marriage.  Only then would they discover whether their marriage was based on a contract or a covenant.

Another bride sighed blissfully on her wedding day, "Mom, I'm at the end of all my troubles!"  "Yes," replied her mother, "but at which end?"  When troubles come, the parties to a contractual marriage seek happiness by walking away.  They marry to obtain benefits and will stay only as long as they're receiving what they bargained for.  But when troubles come to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through.  They marry to give and to grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God.  Contract companions each give 50%.  Covenant companions each give 100%.

Marriage is by nature a covenant, not just a private contract one may cancel at will.  Jesus taught about contractual attitudes when he described the "hireling", who performs his conditional promise of care only when he receives something in return.  When the hireling "seeth the wolf coming", he "leaveth the sheep and fleeth... because he... careth not for the sheep."  By contrast, the Savior said, "I am the good shepherd, ... and I lay down my life for the sheep."  Many people today marry as hirelings.  And when the wolf comes, they flee.  This idea is wrong.  It curses the earth, turning parent's hearts away from their children and from each other."

This class is really causing me to think a lot more about my marriage.  I know that I am blessed to have a better-than-many marriage, but there are things I can do with greater love and effort to help us have an extraordinary marriage.

Happy Anniversary Sweetie.  I love you.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Random and Happy Things

1.  I went exploring with a new friend this afternoon and stumbled upon Papa Murphy’s at the WTC Mall, woo hoo!  A little bit of home in the middle of Abu Dhabi and I don’t have to cook tonight!


2.  We also found a tiny craft shop called Craft Corner today, that is next to the WTC Mall.  And here I thought Abu Dhabi was pretty bleak as far as craft supplies, but this little store had some cute scrapbooking paper, embellishments and a small selection of acrylic paint.  I found a nice jar of copper colored paint which I was missing and needed.  Score!  I have a little more time on my hands here than I did back home and my creative juices are flowing – it’s just hard to find projects and the materials to do the projects.  I’m excited because somebody gave me a beautiful plant stand that they didn’t want and I’m going to zhuzh-it-up with some paint.  I feel really good when I get to be creative.  I think this video explains really well why we as women feel so good about being creative.

3.  I saved the best random and happy thing for last.

This cute couple is getting married in the San Diego Temple on September 5, 2015.  They just got engaged this past weekend.  I am getting a new daughter-in-law and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

We have been studying this week about eternal marriage in my Family Foundations class at BYU-Idaho.  Elder Richard G. Scott said the following:  One of the most beautiful, comforting doctrines of the Lord—one that brings immense peace, happiness, and unbounded joy—is that principle called eternal marriage.  This doctrine means that a man and woman who love each other deeply, who have grown together through the trials, joys, sorrows, and happiness of a shared lifetime, can live beyond the veil together forever with their family who earn that blessing. That is not just an immensely satisfying dream; it is a reality. Any husband and wife who have shared the joys of marriage here on earth would want that blessing. But only those who meet the requirements established by the Lord will receive that supernal gift. I bear witness that all those things that have and will bring me the greatest happiness in life have roots in the temple ordinances. Decide now to receive the ordinances of the temple at the appropriate time. Don’t let anything overcome that resolve.”

I am so grateful for my son and future daughter-in-law that have made good choices throughout their young lives that will allow them to make covenants with the Lord that will enable their marriage to last into the eternities.

I am happy.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Round Round Get Around, I Get Around...

This week I got my Emirates Resident ID card (basically like a Green Card in the States), so now I can figure out how to go and apply for my driver's license.  I say "go and figure out how" because everything is a process here.  But now at least it's legal for me to try.  That being said, Abu Dhabi has some pretty insane driving.  Pretty scary actually.  I've seen right turns from the left lanes and left turns from the right lanes multiple times.

We are a one-car family right now, and Hubby drives into the city to go to work everyday.  Up until today, if we didn't drive together, I've been using one of these to get around, which is the taxi service.

Taxis are plentiful, easy to get and not very expensive, at least not in comparison to taxis in Las Vegas!  Call 600-535353 once, talk to customer service, and then you're in their system.  Everything will be computerized from that point and you can book without actually talking to anybody.  The farthest I've taken one is about 20 miles away and it's about $14 taxi ride (50 dirham with tip, which is just rounding up - 47 dh, round up to 50).  That would be quadruple that in Las Vegas.  I call them and they are almost always down by the curb by the time I leave the apartment and take the elevator downstairs.  So far every taxi I've ridden in has been very clean except for one... not sure what that story was.  Some of them have monitors with games, infomercials, travel info, etc on the headrest in front of the back seat.  These guys drive around all day long, so I think they are prepared for any curveball (i.e. bad driver) that gets thrown at them, so I feel relatively safe.  Most of the drivers speak broken English, and know where it is I am asking to go, but just to be safe, I always print out a copy of Google Maps to show them just in case.

Today I tried something different - I took the bus for the first time.
The bus stop is about a 5 minute walk from our apartment... we are on the edge of the island, so we are a terminus... which is great when you're leaving because the bus is pretty empty and you can pick your seat.  Typically in Abu Dhabi, women sit in the front of the bus, and men sit in the back.  They don't sit together.  However, as the bus gets more and more crowded, there are a lot of people standing, and the men get pushed towards the front and women towards the back.  The best thing about he bus is that it is only 2 dh!  about $0.55 to go all over the city!  I will confess though that today when I waited to go back home, my bus was packed like sardines, so I opted for a taxi instead.  Sorry, but I'm not that thrilled about being up close and personal like that.  At least I save a little money going one way on the bus - it wasn't bad, and the stops are all on a digital screen back and forth between English and Arabic, so it was very clear where we were during the journey.

If you would have told me 9 months ago that I'd be jumping in and out of buses and taxis in Abu Dhabi, I wouldn't have believed it.  I was doing all right in Las Vegas - I was finally starting to get used to living there after 11 years in Minnesota.  This is such a crazy huge change for us... kind of scary, kind of overwhelming.  It reminds me of a talk by President Thomas S. Monson called "Finding Joy in the Journey".  In that talk he mentions that change is inevitable, to live in and enjoy the moment, to be grateful and to follow Jesus Christ.  We are going through a big change now, and I can stress about it and wish things were the way they used to be, or I can learn about and appreciate this new place that I am in now.

Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey,
and share our love with friends and family.
One day each of us will run out of tomorrows...
Brothers and sisters, my sincere prayer is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives,
that we may realize what is most important,
that we may express our gratitude always and thus find joy in the journey.
Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sugar Sugar, Honey Honey

The past couple of weeks in Family Foundations class we have been tasked with setting a health goal.  My goals were give up sugar for two weeks and walk 9 days within the two week period.  The walking I will accomplish.  However I've already blown the sugar goal.

You see, I live in Abu Dhabi.

Satan's Sweet Shoppe.

A short elevator downstairs brings me to Spinney's which is our mini/mart grocery store in our complex.  Not so mini however, that they don't have a full slate of British/Dutch/German chocolate bars, European cookies (or biscuits as they like to say here).  And that's just the pre-packaged stuff... they have freshly baked donuts and cakes, etc. in their small bakery section.  If that doesn't suit me, I can walk next door to Costa Coffee, which is the UAE version of Starbucks and there are shelves of muffins and tarts to go with the yummy hot cocoa.  Luckily I'm a little too cheap to indulge there.

Then there's the local grocery store/French super-Walmart store called Carrefour.  Carrefour has a little of everything, and since it's French... they don't just have a bakery, they have a PATISSERIE... yep, just saying the word Patisserie starts off my salivary glands.  It is surprisingly inexpensive.  You can get a whole tray of Arabic baklava for about 5 dirhams which is $1.35.  And if you want something a little more common than a French pastry, at the front of the grocery store is a Cinnabon and a Baskin Robbins.  Remember, this is just the grocery store.

Now let's move on to the malls.  And malls are everywhere in Abu Dhabi.  Malls have cheesecake kiosks.  Yes, kiosks... in addition to bakeries, and ice cream shoppes and gelato shoppes and donut stores and Belgian Waffle shoppes and the list goes on.  Candylicious is a big candy store chain here where they even make their own candy sticks and canes in all different flavors.  The candy-making lady was nice enough to pose for a picture.
All I'm saying is that Abu Dhabi is not exactly the easiest place in the world to conquer a sweet tooth.

And I really do want to conquer it.  Because I don't feel very good.  My joints ache (inflammation from sugar), if I eat too much I'm tired and it's hard to concentrate (carbo coma from sugar), and it makes me feel depressed!  So it should be easy to quit, given those reasons!  However, I still struggle.

I came across this quote today from Ezra Taft Benson:  "The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see D&C 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4), and that we should use moderation in all good things. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression... Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion, and a change of pace is necessary, and even its anticipation can lift the spirit."

Maybe instead of giving up sugar for two weeks, I just need to take it one day at a time... I've done it before so I know I'm capable of it.

I know Heavenly Father created me to be vibrant and healthy, and that Satan wants me droopy and sluggish feeling.  I'm not as effective in being an active participant in the work of the Lord when I don't feel my best, and I know that Satan is acutely aware of that fact.  So I will give it a go again, and again and again if I need to.  The Lord doesn't want or expect me to give up trying.

Philippians 4:13 is my go-to scripture... I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.