Archive for January, 2010


I was very interested to read the Church’s statement on what members could do to help mitigate the tragedy in Haiti. 

“Money is not the only need in Haiti. People are frightened, bewildered, and wholly uncertain about their future. In addition to what people can do in helping with food, water and shelter, there needs to be a calming influence over that troubled nation. We invite our people everywhere to supplicate God for a spirit of calm and peace among the people as urgent aid and reconstruction efforts continue” ( 22 January)

The only balm for disaster in our lives is the Spirit.  I think of those patient, stunned children lying in the road in Haiti, too ill and dehydrated even to move.  I know they are traumatized, but I also know that they are not forgotten.  The Light of Christ is within them, and should they die from this horrendous event, they will be clasped in the arms of their Savior and know more love than they ever thought possible.

How can we apply this to our own, equally fragile lives?  Should we fear?  Should we be anxious?  The answer comes in the above scripture from the Lord to Oliver Cowdery.
Fear, doubt, sin, and pride .are the greatest stumbling blocks to faith.  So, as part of following the standard advice, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear,” we need to concentrate not only on disaster preparedness, but most importantly on spiritual preparedness. 

It is past time that we set our spiritual houses in order.  For many years, I was beset by fear and anxiety that totally crippled me, and prevented me from gaining the faith I needed to be healed from a long illness. I had repented and continued to repent from every sin I could think of, and my illness had humbled me to the dust, but I held on to my fears.  I could not give them up.   However. the more I came to understand the atonement, the more I realized that to “look to me in all things” meant that we had to develop trust.  We aren’t looking to Him in all things if we are concentrating on our checkbooks, our children’s faults, the news of the world.  Looking to him in all things means literally that.  It is a form of consecration. Consecration of our hearts, souls, and minds, so that we are conditioned to pray each day about all our fears, worries, and concerns and lay them all on the altar, summoning the faith in the atonement to know that “I can do all things through Jesus Christ which strengthened me.”  If we truly take this as our watchword, we will have the faith necessary to feel the peace of the Spirit, and will be enabled through the grace of the atonement of our Elder Brother to endure what must be endured, and to do what must be done.

I learned this lesson in a very dramatic fashion.  As soon as I finally understood the reality of grace to help me trust my Savior in all things, I put my whole life’s worth of worries and fears on the altar.   I felt them physically leave my body.  My chest was no longer constricted.  My breaths were no longer shallow.  And then, within the week, the new medication that dramatically healed me was found and administered to me by my doctor.

A habit of a lifetime of worry cannot be easily overcome, so I spend many hours in the Celestial Room, trying to be very quiet in my heart and soul so that I can identify new worries and give them to the Lord.  At the same time, I often receive instruction.  But, always I leave with the warmth of the Spirit comforting me, validating in my mind and heart that no matter how things appear to me, the Lord of the Universe is in control.  I leave my doubt and fear at the doors of the temple, and strengthened beyond my own capacity, go out into the world and do what is requisite for the mission and responsibilities the Lord has given me.


It’s Gotta Be a Guy Thing

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff    in Personal News

Everyone, I’m in serious trouble here.  Does anyone know of a twelve-step program for Gadgetaholics?  My husband’s obsession is searching the Internet for new and interesting gadgets, which he promptly purchases.  Since I have been laid up with my last two hip surgeries, I can understand the Roomba (robot vacuum).  However, why does he need THREE flashlights of varying sizes attached to plug-in rechargers by his bed?  He only has two hands.

And what is with this new thing that will turn off all the lights in the house one by one (it has to have a code or something) from his bed?  For Christmas, I asked him if he had any particular requests.  He responded that I should check his wish list on Amazon.  There was something called a Dremel.  Because he had been so generous to me, I ordered it, having no idea what it was.  On Christmas morning I asked him, and he said it was “something that would get into little tiny places.”  Whatever that means.

When Jack came for Christmas, David bought this ridiculous blue thing that you hold up and aim at someone.  When you activate it, it sends an “air bomb” that will ruffle the target’s hair.  I mean, I ask you!

The other night was the absolute limit.  We were sitting in bed talking (about the need for all those flashlights) when suddenly a police siren went off in our bedroom.  We were both quite startled, as you can imagine.  I looked closely at the flashlights, thinking that was the logical place for some reason.  He checked the alarms.  Nada.  Finally, the source of the racket was discovered to be his I-Phone, which was warning him of a speed trap way down in the valley next to the freeway.  We live on the bench above Provo.  I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard.  I mean, really!  It was eleven p.m. and I think it would have served him right if it had awakened him!

Does anyone have a cure?

POSTCRIPT:  In the very few hours since I have posted this, my son arrived with a black bag.  “Here’s your computer, Dad.”  As I processed this during dinner, I realized that all three of our computers were present and accounted for.  After dinner, I said in dulcet tones, “Is this a new computer?”  His brown eyes were innocent as he said, “It’s used.”  He has just bought a new gadget: a Mac Computer.  I am so excited.  I have always wanted a Mac.  I can hardly wait to use it.


I’m Not Slavic, So Why in the World Do I Act Like It?

   Posted by: GG Vandagriff    in Spiritual Musings


All my life I’ve been a drama queen.  While this comes in handy in my profession, it is a distinct disadvantage in real life.  I ache over Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Rachmanifnoff.  They speak a musical language that goes straight to my soul.  To me, Anna Karenina is the greatest of all books, because Tolstoy understands the human condition better than any other author I have read.  The number of disastrous romances I had as a young adult defies counting.  Truly.  There were that many, including a death and a schizophrenic fiance.

As most of my readers know,I am bi-polar.  So were my Slavic greats.  Genetically we speak to one another in a language that is the most intelligible there is for us.  Such a would-be Slav am I that I got both my graduate and undergraduate degrees in Slavic history, politics, and economics.

My finest work as a novelist is about the fall of a great Slavic Empire, and is full of tragedy, angst, and neverending love.

Most of you probably do not know that I just went through a semi-emergency hip replacement—my second in six months.  Because of my delicate mental state, these major surgeries are a great trial.  Having overcome my twenty-five year bout with depression only three and a half years ago, you would think that I would remember what it was like.  But, no, the black beast always falls on me, taking me by complete surprise.  It is entirely chemical and only happens after I have blissfully lived in a manic state for close to two weeks.  Then the crash comes.  I can’t begin to describe how horrible it is to revisit this country where I lived for so many years. 

I know there is a God, because as I gained a true testimony of the atonement, I held on until hope came in the form of life-changing medication. 

However, once having lived in that black place, those emotions are never erased.  And that is why every taste I have is informed by Slavic melancholy.  I haven’t known much mania, but that unnatural state is one of high vigilance, seemingly clear vision, and non-stop creativity.  Before my late crash, I wrote for hours every day, starting directly after surgery, and including one complete night.  I plotted a very complex novel, peopled by extraordinary characters and happenings I never would have dreamt in my normal state.   So, it’s a tradeoff.

And that is why I’m Slavic.  I guess my final word on the subject should be thank heavens that:

1.) I live in the day of mood-stabilizers, and

2.) I married a stolid Swede.

Thank you,, Lord.