Hey Mom, I Caught a Troll

March 31, 2010

Once upon a time there was a school teacher with a 33 year old special needs son who functioned well enough that he was able to stay at home safely without supervision while his mother was away at work. And, his mother was able to go to work having peace of mind because she knew that her son would phone her in the event of an emergency. Time passed and all went well until early one morning the mother received a call at work:

“Mom, I’ve caught a troll. You’ve gotta come home!” exclaimed her son excitedly.

“Honey, you know I can’t leave work,” his mother calmly replied. “And, remember, you’re only supposed to call me if there is an emergency.”

The second time her son called that day to tell her he caught a troll and she needed to come home, she sternly reminded him that she could not come home unless there was a real emergency. By the fifth call, she definitely was not amused.

When she got home from work that afternoon, her son rushed to the car door as she opened it. “Mom, come see my troll!” He grabbed her hand and hurriedly led her upstairs to his bedroom. There she saw a chair propped firmly against his closet door to keep it shut.

“Be careful mom,” he warned as he removed the chair from the door. “You gotta see him but he really wants to get away!” When he opened the door, there sat a real live midget.

The poor fellow was a Jehovah’s Witness who had been out proselyting that morning. When the midget knocked on the door and the son opened the door and saw him, the boy picked him up and carried him upstairs to his bedroom and shut him up in his closet…where he had spent the last five hours.

Photo-chopped Glamour

February 28, 2009

By Janet Walgren

On rare occasions, I feel glamorous for a second. I don’t expect much more than that. After all, I’m 62. Well after thousands of seconds of primping and prepping, today the magic second arrived.

“Quick, Heather, get the camera! I can stand in the bathtub and you can stand on the washing machine. If I look up, I won’t have a double chin and you can get a glamor shot of me with the cultured marble background!”

Obediently, she got the camera and mounted her station atop the washer. Click! Click, click, click! “The battery just died!” she informed me.

“Did you get some good shots?” I inquired.

“With the cameras and the technology we have today, any shot can be a good shot!” she responded.

Isn’t technology amazing?

Teaching our children

February 8, 2009

Have you ever considered how we socialize our children? How do children learn values? What kind of influence are you having your children? Here is a father’s short story. It’s worth hearing.


Christmas Sweater

December 20, 2008

By Janet Walgren
christmas-sweaterFor Christmas, my sister, Cheryl, gave me the book Christmas Sweater by author Glenn Beck. I just finished reading it. I rarely read a book from cover to cover in one sitting; this book was an exception. 

This masterfully written book draws one into a surprising emotional roller coaster ride that causes you to examine your inner life, core values, thoughts and feelings at the most basic level while all the time being thoroughly entertained. I don’t think it is possible to read the book and not come away a better person for the reading. 

I highly recommend the book. It would make an excellent Christmas gift for yourself or anyone on your gift list. Thank you Cheryl for knowing that. I really love this present and I love you.

A Prophetic Voice for Our Day

November 22, 2008

By Janet Walgren
While reading Anne Bradshaw’s blog, Not Entirely British, I came across this YouTube clip of a speech given by Elder Neal A. Maxwell at Brigham Young University on October 10, 1978. What he said has proven to be a very accurate prophetic warning about the state of our nation today (some 30 years after the fact). This is just one of thousands of reasons that I believe in modern day living prophets.

My Dad

June 17, 2008

By Janet Walgren

My DadLast Sunday was Father’s Day. My dad is 86 years old. He loves flowers and has a large yard full of them. So, in preparation for the holiday, I went to a nursery to purchase a gift certificate for my Dad. I found a huge nursery unlike any I have ever seen. I was mesmerized by the beautiful flowers that went on and on for acres and I was grateful that I had my camera in my purse.

After over an hour, I walked out of the nursery with 187 photographs of every imaginable type of flower and a gift card for my dad. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to give my dad his gift so I headed over to his house to give him the gift card and show him the pictures of all the pretty flowers.

My dad looked at the photos then asked me to take pictures of his flowers too. I followed him around his yard as he pointed out flowers for me to photograph. Click, click, click… Then he posed for a photo on his lawn tractor. The end result is a precious photo album of dad surrounded by all his lovely flowers. I know that I don’t have very many years left with my dad, so my album will be a family treasure for my family and all of his descendants and their posterity. What a wonderful gift I received for remembering Father’s Day and my dear father.

Dads are often busy and get very little credit or thanks for all they do. They are gone a lot as they work to provide for their families. It is our mothers who get to spend the money and the time with their families. And, they often get most of the credit for all that our dads provide. Today, I would like to thank my father for all that he does in hopes that it will stir something within each of you as you honor your own fathers on Father’s Day and every day of the year.

I am thankful that my father honored my mother. My father and mother never fought; perhaps they should have a time or two but they never did. I have always known that my father loved my mother and I appreciate that. It helped me feel loved and secure.

My father was a good provider. We were never hungry, homeless or lacking the necessities of life. I’m sure that wasn’t easy for a father of ten children. Dad was an electrical engineer for AT&T but never finished his degree. He enrolled in night school several times, but there was always another baby or child who needed something when his tuition was due. Dad never complained.

My father is careful in his hygiene, dress and appearance. He was, and still is, always well groomed. If dad was working in the yard or on a car, he would always take the time to clean up before dinner. It was Dad’s way of showing his family how important we were. He afforded us the same courtesy he showed to guests, business associates and strangers.

It was my father who gave me my love for learning. I remember going to classes with him at the University of Utah when I was little. I remember the physics lab, the flight simulator, the math classes and the planetarium. I remember coming home from the U and fencing with dad in the driveway after his PE class. Those were the good old days when I was 4 and 5.

Then, there were the fun times with the Boy Scouts. My dad was a scout master and I got to go on their hikes. Sometimes I rode piggy back on the scout’s shoulders but they never complained. On occasion, our family got to camping with the scouts. Now I love to camp and my children’s favorite childhood memories involve long camping trips.

I learned to swim in Yellow Stone Lake on a family camp out. When our family went camping, we would have fishing contests. I always caught the biggest fish and I never realized that my fish was already cleaned and ready for the frying pan.

It was my dad who taught me about God and provided my moral compass. He was a missionary for my church and I got to travel with him when he was assigned to talk to congregations in small towns with exotic names like Hiawatha where we would hold church in the Odd Fellow’s Hall after cleaning up the beer cans from the night before.

As I grew, and our family grew, my parents were blessed with over 100 direct descendants. They were also blessed with the gift of hospitality.

The record attendance for a Thanksgiving dinner was 87. No reservation was ever required at my parent’s dinner table. It was not at all uncommon for children, grandchildren and their children to show up hungry (and unannounced) right before dinner.

Over and over again, I watched a repeat performance as my parents performed the miracle of the loves and the fishes. On one such occasion, we were serving pork chops for dinner. As each person showed up, we kept cutting the dinner portions in half. By the time Dad arrived, he got a pork chop bone for dinner. Instead of complaining, he said it was delicious…just like his family.

Often family would show up for a surprise weekend visit (impromptu family reunion). When we ran out of space to sleep people in the bedrooms and living room, we put the overflow on the porch and in tents in the yard. Everyone was always welcome and my parents were always excited to see them.

At 86, my dad can still out ride any of his grandsons on a bicycle. A month ago he ran a 5K and he keeps a membership to Gold’s Gym so he won’t lose muscle mass in the winter. He still helps my brothers take out trees and concrete from broken driveways and he maintains the yards of several of the neighborhood widows in his spare time.

I took my dad on a weekend trip to Monticello, UT and Mesa Verde, CO for Father’s Day. Dad was jogging up the trails while I huffed and puffed my way down to the cliff dwellings and back up. He was a good sport as he patiently waited for me to catch up. We had a marvelous time.

My father keeps the family anchored. He lets us know that we are deliciously interesting and exciting even though we are very diverse. I love that about him.

When I was raising my family, my children didn’t have a dad that they could lean on, learn from and depend on. Fortunately, there were many good men who stepped up to the plate as surrogate fathers for my children. They were marvelous men who set awesome examples for my family. Principle among them was Robert Wolf. He was a grandfatherly type of man whose service to my children was unparalleled.

To Dad, Bob Wolf and all the others who have provided fatherly love and support for my family, I would like to thank you for all you have done for me and my family. I wish all dads out there a very happy Father’s Day every day of the year.

Memories, Attitude & Happiness

June 3, 2008

By Janet Walgren 

I think that every mother knows how to count to ten. In fact I heard a frustrated neighbor counting uno, dos, tres… just the other day. And, when I went to the Asian grocery store last week there was a mother counting ichi, ni, san… Some things seem to be universal when a child is misbehaving. One of those things is, mothers count to ten. Ah, the memories, the stories about ten. Tales about ten continue for generations and shape the course of history.


Being the second oldest of ten children, I have done my share of reminiscing with my siblings and I have noticed something very interesting. Everyone tells stories about the number ten differently. I’m not talking about the details of an incident; they are pretty much the same. I’m talking about attitude, the spirit in which the stories are remembered and told. I’ve noticed that attitude makes an amazing difference in the life of the subject of the story, and more interestingly, the teller of the story.


There is an excellent example of what I’m talking about in the book, Love is a Verbby Mary Ellen Edmunds. Mary shared a bedroom with her sister Charlotte. Mary and Charlotte were very different personalities which is not all that uncommon among siblings. Charlotte was a compliant child and Mary was the adventurous one. At bed time, when the sisters didn’t settle in and go to sleep right away, it was not at all uncommon for Mary’s mother to count to ten. And, Mary’s mother instinctively knew whose fault it was so she would march in the bedroom, go straight to Mary Ellen’s bed and give her a spanking.


On one particular night, Mary was trying to talk Charlotte into to jumping out the second story bedroom window.  She had a theory that if you bend your knees on impact, it would absorb the shock and your legs wouldn’t break. Charlotte was reluctant and refused to try the experiment. As the conversation progressed, Mary’s mother started to count, one, two, three… When she got to ten Mary knew she had to act fast, what to do… Then she had a brilliant idea.


“Charlotte lets see if we can trick mommy! Lets trade beds and see if she notices.” They exchanged beds in the nick of time. Her mother entered the bedroom, marched over to Mary’s bed and gave Charlotte a sound spanking. Then she marched out of the room saying that she didn’t want to hear another peep and told them to go to sleep.


As Charlotte lay sobbing, Mary exclaimed jubilantly, “Charlotte we did it, we tricked mommy!” Both girls were pleased and excited that they had tricked their mommy.


Imagine yourself as Charlotte. What would you say as you reminisced about that incident? What emotion would you attach to the memory? How would you paint your sibling? Would you be kind, charitable? When you told the story, would it be funny? Or, would you be the victim of a bad sibling who made your life miserable?


Happy adults find the fun and the funny in their memories. They are great story tellers and everybody love to listen to them. They discover the lessons in life and paint their associates in charitable ways as they impart their wisdom and sage advice.  People love to be around these happy folks. They make life pleasant. They even make work pleasant- even when the task seems as unpleasant as testing a theory by jumping out a second story window to see if bending your knees on impact will keep your legs from breaking.


I think almost everybody has been a Charlotte who got the undeserved spanking at sometime in their life. And, most people have found it necessary to be a Mary who needed to find a quick solution to an unpleasant problem on occasion. Regardless of the situations that you have faced, or that you are currently facing, your approach, your attitude will make all the difference. And, only you can choose what that attitude will be.


What makes the difference in people’s attitudes? I believe that it is love. As you go about your life, remember Love is a Verb.

Happy Mother’s Day

May 11, 2008

By Janet Walgren

When my great-grandmother Walgren died, she left a letter for her children and her posterity that would come after her. When I became an adult, my grandmother gave me a copy of the letter; she had it made into a little booklet and tucked it into a quilt she made for me by hand. The book is one of my little treasures.

The letter addresses each of my great-grandmother’s children individually telling them how much she loved them and expressing her concerns and aspirations for their futures. She then told them her thoughts and beliefs on the subjects of family, finances, politics and faith. She apologized for her shortcomings and ended with these lines:

Think of me as the dawn into the dimness, yours still, you mine.

Remember the best of our past moments and forget the rest.

So to where I wait come gently on.

Your Mother

I love these lines. They let me know that I have a great-grandma up in heaven watching over me and waiting for me. I know that no matter what else is going on in my life, I am loved, that she cares.

Each child is different. They are unique individuals. I think that is why children don’t come with instruction manuals. I also think that is why mothers come in all shapes and sizes with unique personalities and perspectives. According to worldly standards, some mothers and children are better than others because of role models, education, and other opportunities. But does God really care if a child is a star athlete, cheerleader, musician or student with great test scores? Perhaps he looks deeper and searches the heart. I think he cares about goodness and love.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for mothers holding babies to their breast as bombs and bullets fly around them and I grieve for the mother who has lost her child.

I am saddened by young women who are waiting for a husband, or a baby and it pains me to know that many will wait a life time without the joy of family or motherhood.

I believe that most mothers do their very best according to the knowledge and resources that they have at their disposal and I say, “Good for you!”

To all the mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day. May God bless you all.

Happy Easter

March 22, 2008

By Janet Walgren
I remember when my oldest daughter, Jamie gave her first talk in church. It was on Easter. She was little and more than a little bit shy. She struggled to learn her talk and was so nervous that she was afraid that she wouldn’t remember the words. She couldn’t read yet so I drew pictures on note cards to help her remember, then I taught her the talk by singing a chant as I flipped through the cards. It was almost 30 years ago but I can still remember the talk.

Some people think that Easter is a  bunch of colored eggs,
But Easter is when Jesus died and rose in just three days.
Because Jesus died and rose again, we can live with him,
If we are true and faithful, till the very end.

I was afraid that Jamie was going to sing instead of speak when she gave her talk. I guess that wouldn’t have been so bad anyway. I love to sing in church. My favorite hymn is “I Stand All Amazed.” It reminds me of the sacrifice that Jesus made so that I could be resurrected and forgiven of my sins:

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me,
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified
That for me a sinner he suffered, he bled and died.

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine,
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own to redeem, and to justify.

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt,
Such mercy such love, and devotion can I forget?
No, no I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me!
Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me.

I hope that in all your celebrating today, that you will look beyond the colored eggs, fancy new clothing, bunnies… and remember the real reason for the holiday. I hope that we will think about our savior’s sacrifice and show our appreciation by repenting of our sins.

 Happy Easter! Thank you Jesus!

Organize Yourself

February 24, 2008

By Janet Walgren
In the cannon of scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints there is a book called The Doctrine and Covenants, commonly referred to as the D&C. It is a book explaining the history and government of the church. The book also gives guidelines on how to live in order to maximize your successes in various aspects of life. In one section, it gives a sequence to use in establishing a home and family:

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God:  D&C 88: 118-119

 Lately I have watched the lives of several acquaintances, neighbors and friends unfold and I have come to recognize that a multitude of problems could have been prevented if the individuals had followed not only the counsel above, but also the sequence.

An unlearned, undisciplined or disorganized person be it a spouse, leader, friend or what ever is a very hard act to follow.

The Transition Child

February 10, 2008

By Janet Walgren
In a lecture at BYU, historian author, David McCullough stated:

One of the hardest, and I think the most important, realities of history to convey to students or readers of books or viewers of television documentaries is that nothing ever had to happen the way it happened. Any great past event could have gone off in any number of different directions for any number of different reasons….Very often we are taught history as if it were predetermined, and if that way of teaching begins early enough and is sustained through our education, we begin to think that it had to have happened as it did. We think that there had to have been a Revolutionary War, that there had to have been a Declaration of Independence, that there had to have been a Constitution, but never was that so. In history, chance [divine providence] plays a part again and again. Character counts over and over. Personality is often the determining factor in why things turn out the way they do.

 BYU Magazine, Winter 2006.

I fully agree and some what disagree with his thesis. History didn’t have to happen that way. I absolutely believe that. One of the greatest gifts that God gave to each of his children is agency. Agency allows for choice; we are free to choose our destiny and consequently the destiny of nations. History is a matter of choice. However, choice is bigger than this world, and history began before we arrived at this stop on our eternal journey. History is eternal in nature and God, being the omniscient being that he is, perfectly understood the nature of each of his children before he sent them on their journey to mortality. God understood how we would use our agency and so, before the world began; he prepared contingency plans to correct the course of individuals, families and nations.

It is a common belief that when God wants something to happen, a baby is born. I call these special babies “Transition Children.” There are many famous transition people that the world commonly accepts to have been foreordained to alter the course of history. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Joseph are just a few that are mentioned in the Bible. Then there were the wonderful men and women of the reformation whose blood paved the way for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gandhi altered the history of India, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence altered the course of The United States of America. All were brave transition people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude and service.

Why is it that a concept that is so commonly accepted when applied to religion or to history is not very well accepted when applied to individuals or the family? Why is it that learned men of science, psychologists, and doctors of psychiatry tell us that labeling is bad and yet every word that proceeds out of their mouths label individuals, project behaviors, and predict outcomes that stifle the productive righteous use of agency in the people they purport to help?

Think about the messages that you have heard; “Children in broken homes”… go ahead; you can finish the sentence – “are much more likely to become drug addicts, alcoholics, immoral and predestine to divorce than children in a ‘normal’ family.” In other words, divorce produces defective goods. I am not so sure that I agree with that thesis. I believe that the behaviors that caused the divorce cause the damage. I believe that the negative behaviors that are attributed to divorce would still manifest if the marriage had remained in tact and the causal behaviors that contributed to the divorce remained unchecked.

Frequently women allow their children to be abused because of their own dependency needs. These women claim to be co-victims of the abuser. I say nay. You are not co-victims with your children; you are co-abusers with your husbands! Your family is broken and if you can’t check the abusive behavior in your marriage, then you need to fix your broken family by getting a divorce. 

Ultimately, healing from abuse in the Lord’s way involves leaving behind false and destructive family beliefs, traditions, loyalties, or even ties when they serve to disregard the sanctity of life… when one has the power mentally and physically to protect one’s self or other vulnerable people (children, elderly, handicapped), one has the right and the responsibility to do so, even if it means the disruption of family relationships.

Strengthening Our Families, pg 273. 

I once heard of a young woman who asked her counselor why some little girls come into families that love and treasure them while other little girls come into families where they are terribly abused. This inspired counselor told her that she had come into a family that had destroyed the human spirit and the virtue of man for generations. He told her that she had volunteered to come to that family as a transition child and that from her would spring a nation, a posterity of righteous individuals who would honor God and love and nurture their children. She had volunteered to endure abuse to change the course of history.

Why it is so hard for children of divorce to accept that “that nothing ever had to happen the way it happened?” Why is the good behavior of children in single parent families labeled an anomaly, deviant and overcompensating? Who are the teachers that teach us that history is predetermined?  “If that way of teaching begins early enough and is sustained through our education, we begin to think that it had to have happened as it did.” We know that, In history, chance [divine providence] plays a part again and again. Character counts over and over. Personality is often the determining factor in why things turn out the way they do. BYU Magazine, Winter 2006. Why not apply the transition child theory to individuals and families as well?

Embracing Change

January 11, 2008

By Janet Walgren
The Blue Man Group has a fun music video about our planet Earth. It goes like this:

Your attention please. Thank you for choosing Earth as your planetary vehicle. We hope you enjoy the many wonderful features of this planet as you’re hurdled through the cosmos. Please note; however, that in the event of continued inaction in the face of global warming your seat cushion can be used as a flotation device. Also, please take a moment to locate this planet’s emergency exits. As you can see, there are none.

The words remind us that change and a need for action are an essential part of living life. From the very moment that we are conceived to the moment we die, change is happening within us and all around us. Indeed, without change, there is no life. Whether it is the breaths we take that feed oxygen to our bodies while removing wasteful gases, or the atmospheric changes resulting from a volcanic eruption, whether it is the clear spring water cleansing and nourishing all that surrounds it, or a sulfuric hot spring full of thermophilic bacteria with all its diverse usefulness, all elements combine to make the changes that are essential to sustain life on planet Earth.  

Being that change is essential to life, why is it human nature to resist change? I know that it isn’t human nature to resist all change. Who in their right mind would resist breathing? Why? Because we understand the necessity of the function to sustain life. But, did you know that volcanoes are also essential to sustain life? They are! Who would resist a clear stream of pure water? Why? Again we understand the necessity of pure water to sustain life. Did you know that sulfuric hot spring full of thermophilic bacteria are also essential to sustain life? My point here is that it is only human nature to resist those changes that are not understood or are unknown. Once known and understood, our resistance, for the most part, changes to acceptance of that which is for our benefit. 

What is true about change in sustaining life is also true about change sustaining our livelihoods, and again, it must be acknowledged that it is human nature to resist unknown changes. Obviously, we don’t resist a promotion, an increase in business, or a raise. But, when change is all around us and we are comfortable with the status quo, we resist changes involving the unknown that take us out of our comfort zones. Rarely is it possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel when change is essential to our livelihoods, that is why it is called the unknown. So it becomes human nature to sit and wait for the light to come out of the tunnel and all too often the light is a freight train that catches us completely unawares and mows us down. What is it about our natures that causes this phenomena? There is a fun little book, Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson that explores this question.

In the book, there are four characters living in a maze.  Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry. Sniff sniffs out change early and Scurry takes action immediately. The other two characters are little people named Hem and Haw. Hem fears change and denies it. Haw eventually learns to adapt to change when he learns that changing leads to something better. All are enjoying the abundant life at Cheese Station C and welcome the status quo. Then, one morning, things change. They wake up to find there is no more cheese. As the story progresses, you will come to recognize that there is a little Sniff and Scurry, Hem and Haw in all of us. And, you will learn the lesson, “It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.”

Isn’t that powerful? Are you in a cheeseless situation? What would it take to get you out searching the maze? Is more courage what you need? Perhaps you need more confidence, information, education or training. Is an evaluation of your inner resources in order?

A friend of mine developed this form to help people facilitate successful changes in their lives. I share it with his permission. First write your own personal Mission Statement then set some goals and fill out a project sheet for each category:


What is your why?

GOALS to accomplish by the end of 2008

1. (health)
2. (Spiritual)
3. (Emotional)
4. (Financial)

Project Sheet (fill out one for each category) Health, Spiritual, Emotional and Financial

Mission Statement: 

Step 1:  Goal Statement
Step 2:  Why?
Step 3:  Analyze Current Position
Step 4:  Identify Risks Real and Imaginary
Step 5:  Identify Obstacles
Step 6:  Identify Investments and Sacrifices in Time and Money
Step 7:  Identify Additional Knowledge you will Need
Step 8:  Identify People you will Need to Help You
Step  9:  Plan of Accomplishing Mission
15 days
30 days
45 days
60 days
75 days
90 days
Step 10:  Deadline
Step  11:  What will my Reward be 

Remember, “It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.” I hope that you will learn to understand and embrace change, that you will “Move with the cheese and enjoy it” as you work to reach your goals,.

The Twin Gifts of Memory and Imagination

January 3, 2008

By Janet Walgren 
Another year has come and gone with all its promise and potential fading into the memories of the past. They are warm and happy memories for the most part. Today is my birthday and I am pleased to announce that I made it to 61! Today a new year greets me. It is full of promise and potential to create dreams to fill my imagination. That is the magic of life; memories are for the past and imagination is for the future. This past year I have gained a new found understanding and appreciation for these twin gifts of memory and imagination.

Not too long ago, Ben wrote about memories. He used phrases like:

“Getting distracted by wistful and nostalgic memories of…”
“I was skimming through… when memories of… started washing through me.”
“With delight I recalled the feel of…”
“It’s the excitement of…”

Then he concluded:

But then I had to wonder, was it really like that? When I was actually in… did I feel that way? I don’t think I did. Sure, there were brief moments of exhilaration scattered here and there, but for the most part… it just felt normal. Not at all the magical experience I’d expected… I think that’s generally how things go. I’m not saying that joy lives solely in the past, or that disillusionment is the order of the day. But the passage of time gives memory a texture and a flavor that simply wasn’t there when the events themselves happened. Nostalgia sugarcoats the past with a bittersweet icing.

My memories have taken on a rose-colored tint. Now, not all memories are nostalgic, of course, but it’s surprising how many are. I look back with fond affection… I’m sure that the feelings I’m ladling out weren’t actually there when I was living it, so they’re not historically accurate, but they are nice. ~Ben Crowder

Two days ago was the beginning of a new year. Today starts the beginning of a new year for me. I love new beginnings, each day a blank slate full of promise waiting for us to fill as we allow our imaginations to soar to new heights.

I love the fact that everyone is endowed with the gift of imagination. Our imagination allows us to be vulnerable while we experience situations vicariously then invent the version of the person that we want to become before we act on our thoughts. We know that vicarious and imagined experiences can have a very real emotional and physical effect on us. Therefore, our imagination will, in part, determine our successes or our failures. I am beginning to understand that our imagination is a far more pertinent and useful tool than I had ever suspected. Could it be that our imaginations are vital to our becoming perfected? It is our imagination that allows us to hope, to dream, to become and to strive to reach our goals. Imagination provides us with the ability to be enlightened, empathetic and charitable. It is food for our feelings.

As I have thought about memories and imagination, I find myself filled with wonder. Could it be that these wonderful twin gifts that God has endowed us with are the gifts that were used by Jesus Christ to accomplish the atonement? We know that through some inexplicable process he experienced all of our pain and suffered for our sins.

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit… and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink… Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. ~Doctrine & Covenants 19: 16-19.

Could it be that Christ’s Godly attributes of a perfect memory and a perfect imagination were integral parts of the atonement? Could it be that our own memories and imaginations are vital to our becoming perfected? We know that we are going to be judged for our thoughts which include our memories and the things that we imagine. Therefore, our thoughts, our memories, our imaginations will in part determine our eternal reward or punishment.

Before this year, I had never thought about memory and imagination this way and I have a new found sense of gratitude for these wonderful twin gifts. I am starting to understand that they are two of the tender mercies of the Lord. 

In this new year I pray that your memories of years gone by may be sugarcoated enough to heal any broken hearts and your imagination will be strong enough to provide a compass for an exciting future that will lead you safely home to God.

I wish each of you the very best in 2008. Happy New Year!

Year End Review/Life In Review

January 1, 2008

By Janet Walgren

Year End Review~
2007 was an excellent year. One of the best that I have had in a very long time. I was able to accomplish several of my goals and see my youngest daughter do the same.  

Financially – my daughter and I were able to greet the new year debt free with the exception of student loans. We were both able to greet the new year with a very nice amount of savings in our individual bank accounts. We both have good jobs that we like and all of our possessions are paid for.

Physically – we are in better health than we were a year ago. For several years now I have needed an operation to restore the sight in my left eye. I now have the funds and the medical insurance to provide for the operation. My doctor appointment to start the process is on the 4th so I am very excited. We have started a new exercise regime and altered our diet and lifestyle so we are excited for the prospects that this new year will bring.

Spiritually – we are happy with our lives and feel very content. There are seasons in life and 2007 was a season of harvest, a season of wonderful blessings. God was very good to us last year. We know that God loves, blesses and chastens all of his children. We know that all seasons have an end. As we enter this new year we are grateful for the past seasons of our lives and look forward with faith to what ever God sees fit to bestow on our heads for our profit and learning.

Life In Review ~
Tonight my daughter and I went on a ride to view the Christmas lights for the last time this season. As we were driving we were talking about our lives and our accomplishments. My daughter graduated from college this year. She got the job that she really wanted. She loves her job and the company that she works for. My job has been going very well and recently I have been given new opportunities that will be fun and challenging.

I have six wonderful children and eleven awesome grandchildren that I am totally in love with. I am pleased with my family and the progress that they are making in developing their potential. We love and respect each other. We are friends.

As we were driving and talking, we passed the J. Ruben Clark Law School on BYU’s campus. (I wanted to go to law school when I was in college but my health and my eyesight prevented further education at the time I graduated.) Next, we passed the Provo, Utah temple. As we drove past the law school and then the temple, I had an interesting thought come to mind. Although I am happy and satisfied with my life, I wondered how my life was measuring up compared to my potential. Would God be satisfied with my life? I wondered, will I be satisfied with my life when God shows me what my true potential was, or will I be disappointed? I vowed to do better in 2008.

How is your life stacking up?

The Christmas Angel

December 24, 2007

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories. It was taken out of Bess’s journal by her great-granddaughter, Tamra K. Stitt. Many years ago Tamra gave me permission to share this story as she felt that it belonged to a greater audience than her family. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have.

~Janet Walgren

Christmas Angel

In the early 1900’s my great grandfather homesteaded what is called Burns Creek, Idaho which is located about fifteen miles above Heise Hot Springs. My Great Grandfather was a rough, tough old trapper who built the first road along the Snake River to Tablerock and then on to Burns Creek by hand. He had lived in the wilds all his life. He trapped for a living and sent his furs to a fur trader who arranged to send his daughter out to Idaho for Carl to marry. My great grandmother was seventeen years old when they were married. She kept a detailed journal of her experiences in her new home. She hated Burns Creek, Idaho. She wrote how isolated and alone she felt. She wrote the following story in her journal.

Bess was now twenty-four years old and pregnant with her fourth child. She had asked Carl if he would take some of his furs to the valley and trade them for supplies and the things she had asked for on her Christmas list. She was embarrassed at how much she was asking for. Her list consisted of peppermint, chocolate and a little piece of yard goods to make her only little girl a new dress. Carl agreed to make the trip to the valley and also to bring her home a Christmas tree. He left her in fine shape. He had chopped lots of wood and all she had to do for the three days he would be gone was go to the barn and milk the old cow.

She wrote that the first day he was gone that she and the children made cookies for Christmas and a thick pudding. They made paper chains for the tree their father would bring back to them. The second day a tremendous blizzard hit the mountin. It snowed and the wind howled for the next two days. When the storm finally subsided, she wrote how she tried to get out of the cabin to milk the bellering old cow, but that an ice drift had formed over the front of the cabin. She had to take an ax and chop through the ice to get outside. She could see how deep the snow was, so she tied a rope around her waste and one to the door stop and started out through the drifts towards the barn. She could see that the snow was much too deep and the ice too slick, so “being with child” she didn’t dare go any farther than a few yards. She turned around and went back to the cabin. She felt bad for the cow and said a silent prayer that Carl would hurry home this Christmas Eve Day.

 The day came and the day went. It grew late into the night of Christmas Eve. Bess wrote that of all Carl’s bad habits… promptness was his very best trait. She knew in her heart that something dreadful must have happened or he would have returned home by now. The children grew cranky and could not understand why their father and their tree had not arrived. She wrote she was just about to put them to bed when a knock at the door sent her heart flying. She knew it must be Carl. Her oldest little boy flung the door open…and Bess wrote her heart sunk. For there on the other side of the cabin door stood the stragliest old trapper she had ever seen. But to three little children on Christmas Eve, an old man with a white beard, a pack on his back and a tree in his hand was certainly welcome. The started to shout, “It’s Santa… It’s Santa.”

 The trapper must have sensed the fear in Bess, for he looked her directly in the eye and said “Bess, Don’t be afraid. Carl is at Tablerock in Spaulding’s trapper’s cabin with a lame horse. He couldn’t make it any farther tonight and I was out on snowshoes checking my traps and agreed that as long as I was coming this way, I would bring you this pack and this tree and he would be along in the morning.” Bess invited him in and fed him hot stew. He put the tree up and helped the children hang their ornaments. Bess judged him to be a good man. As he could recite the story of the nativity by heart. She put the children to bed. The old trapper brought wood in and milked the cow. She asked him if he would like to spend the night in the barn. He said that would be good. He told her he didn’t have any family and he had very much enjoyed spending this Christmas Eve with her children. She thanked him fo his trouble an invited him to join them in the morning for Christmas breakfast. He seemed very happy.

 The trapper retired to the barn and this was the first time Bess had been able to look inside Carl’s pack. Her heart soared. In the pack were: peppermint, chocolate and a beautiful piece of yard goods. Her Christmas would be perfect. She put the pack under the tree with the hand-carved horses and sleighs for the boys and the dollhouse for her little girl that Carl had so carefully carved himself. She then went to bed herself, feeling content knowing Carl was safe and her Christmas was perfect.

 The morning came and Bess was caught up in the children’s excitement. It was late into the morning when she realized the old trapper had not joined them for Christmas breakfast. By this time her little boy was shouting that he could see his father coming over the hill. They all met him at the door. The children were so excited to tell their father they had their “very own Santa Claus locked in the barn!” Carl looked perplexed and sent the children into the house. He looked at Bess and asked her who was in the barn. She quickly explained that it was just the old trapper he had sent with the tree and pack. That she had let him spend the night in the barn to repay him for his kindness.

Carl looked so puzzled and then he explained. He had never made it to the valley. He had made it as far as Tablerock when the storm hit. He went to the trappers cabin to wait the storm out. When he was tying his horse by the river, he saw an old trapper fall through the mush ice. It took three of them to get him pulled out from under the ice. When they took him into the cabin, they knew would never make it. So they wrapped him in a blanket and laid him by the fire. The storm had subsided some and they decided to go ahead and try to make it to the valley. The three saddled their horses and started back down the road. Carl said he had only only went a few hundred yards, when a strange feeling came over him. He could not just go leave that old man to die alone at Christmas.

He sent the “two young bucks” onto the valley and he returned to the trappers cabin and to the old man. He told Bess he just kept the fire going and the old man would drift in and out of consciousness. Carl said he told the old trapper about his wife and family and how disappointed they would be that he never made it to the valley to pick up the perppermint, chocolate and little piece of yard goods for Christmas. He told him how much he loved his family and how he looked forward to just being back home with them. But for right now they were alone and without a Christmas tree on Christmas eve. The old man died in Carl’s arms.

Bess started to cry. The pages in her journal are tear stained as she wrote how she knew that she would find no trapper in the barn. There were no snowshoe tracks in the snow. She told Carl that she thought she had had the greatest blessing on earth… She had been allowed to entertain and  angel on Christmas Eve because Carl had shown such unconditional love of Christ through caring for a dying old trapper on Christmas Eve. There was no trapper in the barn… but, she told Carl she had proof he had been there… for in the cabin underneath the Christmas tree was the pack with peppermint, chocolate and a little piece of yard goods.

 She wrapped up the yard goods in white paper and left them to me with a letter telling me never to use the fabric, for it was from heaven. She told this story countless times to our family and it has become part of our Christmas tradition.

 My Great Grandmother died when I was six years old… on Christmas day!

~ Tamra K. Stitt



We all have so many differences in common

December 15, 2007

By Janet Walgren
Upon returning home after a visit to her friend’s house, my daughter Helen was ecstatic. She loved cats and Sabrina’s cats were the best. Helen was trying to tell me about the cats and just how wonderful they were, but for an eight year old, the joy and wonderment of it all was just too overwhelming. When words failed to relate her feelings she simply clasp her hands together as she gleefully exclaimed, “Oh mom, they have so many differences in common!”

Profound truths come from the mouths of children and I will never forget that moment when my daughter uttered that profound truth. We all have so many differences in common.

I love my job. I am the Student Success Manager for the Enlightened Wealth Institute. I get paid to listen to people and collect their business success stories on a company website.  Occasionally I have the privilege of collecting them in person. Last week was such an occasion when I traveled to Los Angeles to interview students who were attending an entrepreneurial workshop. The students were high achievers in the world of business and delightful to associate with. I enjoyed my time with them and was a little sad when the week was over.

On my flight home, I was assigned a window seat (my favorite) and was just settling in when a young man, 23 years of age came and sat beside me. I am sixty years old and pretty conservative. The young man had multiple piercings on his face and ears and was covered with tattoos. He smelled of cigarette smoke and looked thin and frail. Most people my age would have been inclined to fain sleep or stare out of the window, but not me. I introduced myself and had a delightful conversation for the duration of the flight.

It turned out that he was returning from a three year adventure teaching English in China. I love all things Asian and delighted in my captive tutor as I inquired about a number of topics pertaining to China. I was feeling a little sad as our plane landed in Salt Lake City, but then he asked if he could use my cell phone to call his momma. I gladly dialed the number and handed him the phone. Then, I heard squeals of delight as he announced his surprise return to his mother. She was ecstatic and he could hardly contain his emotions. It brought so much joy to me as I remembered so many like occasions in my own life’s journey. It was such a fitting end to a wonderful trip and I revelled in the warmth of the truth that we all have so many differences in common. Love is the best part of our human condition.

America’s path to captivity

December 12, 2007

By Janet Walgren
I received an email a couple weeks ago about an exchange student from a third world country who asked his college professor, “Do you know how to catch a wild boar?”

Now that is a question that conjures up all sorts of interesting images in ones mind. First, you have a large hairy animal with hoofs and tusks… the student went on to answer his own question…

“It’s really very simple. All you have to do is find where the boars are and put out some food. Once the boars are used to eating the food instead of foraging, you simply put up one side of a fence near the food. After the boars are used to the fence they will go back to eating the food. Next, you put up another side of the fence and repeat the process until you have built a coral with a gate. Then, all you have to do is close the gate and you will have captured an entire herd of wild boar simply by closing the gate.”

 Imagine that a herd of wild boar could be captured by simply closing a gate while they were enjoying a free lunch. Is that what you imagined? Think about the next generation that is born in captivity. They wouldn’t even know how to forage. And, the next generation wouldn’t even know that there was food on the other side of the fence.

Isn’t that what has happened to Americans today? Our ancestors who built America were farmers and entrepreneurs. They worked hard for a living as did their children. It was a family venture to survive. The next generation worked for the entrepreneurs. It involved less hard work and personal risk than entrepreneuring. Their children grew up to work for large corporations and retired with gold watches.

Today with outsourcing, downsizing, big box retailers and fast food giants providing the jobs there is little left for the worker to feast on in the corals of mega-business. Americans are working less than 40 hours a week for $6.00 to $8.00 dollars per hour and feel lucky to have their jobs. Others are being shot at in Iraq because they they had no other job options and couldn’t afford an education. They didn’t know how to find food in the coral much less on the other side of the fence. Few Americans know how to forage and the numbers who do are dwindling. We are loosing our ability to survive.

We are a nation that is deeply in debt and fast loosing our freedom. We have sold ourselves into slavery because of our debt, our greed, our laziness and our poverty of mind and spirit. All that is left to gain our captivity is to shut the gate of the coral. If this doesn’t scare you, it ought to.

Hallelujah! A Beautiful Mind

December 1, 2007

By Janet Walgren
The scriptures tell us that children are an heritage from the Lord. They are one of the greatest gifts God bestows on us during our journey through mortality. I believe that they are second only to the gift of the atonement and life itself. My youngest daughter has proved to be a wonderful gift. She has a loving heart and a beautiful mind. 

Recently I went through a very stressful situation. I had no control over it and had no choice but to endure it. The day after it was over, I awoke with the song Hallelujah, sung by the English group, Blake, playing in my mind. I had never really paid attention to the words before, so I asked my daughter, Heather, what the words to the song were. The song is one of her recent favorites, and I know that when she plays a song over and over, she has a movie going on in her head with her own beautiful interpretation of it. When she told me her thoughts, I asked her to write them down for me. Below are the words to the song and her interpretation:


Well, I’ve heard there was a secret chord,
That David played, and it pleased the Lord,
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well, it goes like this, the fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, and the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah.


Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

Baby, I’ve been here before.
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I knew you.
But I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch,
Our love is not a victory march,
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.


Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

There was a time you let me know,
What’s really going on below,
But now you never show it to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you,
The holy dove was moving too.
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah.


Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Maybe there’s a God above,
But all I ever learned from love,
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you.
And it’s not a cry you can hear at night,
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light,
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.


Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Heather’s interpretation:

To me, this song is a series of conversations with different people who gained broken hearts throughout their life’s journey. It starts with King David playing his harp to Saul, a man broken and troubled because of his own choices, yet the simple strains of David’s songs soothed his heart. Later in his life, David would also suffer a broken heart due to his decisions.

The next conversation is from the perspective of someone who, like David and Saul, carried the weight of their broken soul, but was lucky enough to have a friend there to help him find the way back. Unfortunately, the friend has lost their way, in turn and needs help. The voice of experience comes to the rescue of his friend, reminding him of his potential; telling him the path towards healing is not an easy jaunt through the park; it’s cold. It requires a broken heart and contrite spirit, but the healing that takes place is like a quiet Hallelujah; a song the sooths the heart.

A mother has closed herself off from God. Life has worn her out and she wonders why she bothers and is anything worth caring about. God reminds her that she used to let Him know what she thought and felt, but she has shut him out and has lost her direction and purpose. In response, God reminds her of the birth of her child. The life that was growing in her was a gift from God. Every breath she took was the breath of life for her child. Every breath was part of a gentle song. The memory brings back the song; a calm and gentle Hallelujah that restores her peace of mind.

A soldier returns from war. After seeing countless atrocities committed, the senseless, meaningless waste of it all causes him to forget the beauty life can contain. His life is dominated by the violence he witnessed, and he asks himself how a loving God could let it happen. But like the others in this story, the soldier is reminded that he important moments in life are not the things that break you, or make you cry at night. These moments are not made up of congregations shouting Hallelujah at a Sunday meeting; the most important moments in anyone’s life are the moments when you face God with a broken heart, asking him to heal it; The still moment when you go from cold, lonely, and dark and let Him heal you with his love; when you let go of the weight of sin, tragedy, depression, or whatever the ailment might be and realize that God can mend you soul.

With each healing comes a gentle Hallelujah that represents a minor fall followed by a major lift in life. The process of healing represented by Hallelujah pleases the Lord regardless of the harp player. But as more and more people experience the healing Hallelujah the quiet and broken strains of Hallelujah come to form a joyous chord, an army of individuals who found their way back, armed with the quiet assurance that the Lord knows and loves each of us.

I hope that as you read this you will remember the atonement and say your own private hallelujah.

Searching for Cinderella

November 22, 2007

By Janet Walgren
My daughter took me to see the movie Enchanted last night. It was a funny spoof on all the Disney flicks with a princess that is rescued by a handsome prince. I laughed myself silly. But you know, the princess and handsome prince flicks are pretty silly. Take Cinderella for instance. The prince finds a perfect size six glass slipper and runs around the countryside willing to marry any girl with the right size foot. That’s pretty silly, don’t you think? Well it did get me thinking…

I wonder why a guy would run around with a glass slipper if he didn’t like to dance? There are a lot of guys who don’t like balls. Then, a size six Reebok wouldn’t do, even if it fit, if a guy doesn’t like sports or Cinderella doesn’t like to play ball. Perhaps prince charming would do better with a size six penny loafer, or a walking shoe, or a cowgirl boot.

Perhaps we should change the saying, “If the shoe fits, wear it!” to “If the right kind of shoe fits, wear it!” Anyway, I highly recommend the movie if you want some funny light hearted entertainment, but watch out… it may get you thinking.

Men Bashing

November 18, 2007

By Janet Walgren
It is interesting how often we open our mouths and say things without ever knowing the scope or the consequences of our words. How do they play on others’ minds? Do we offend ignorantly albeit without guile? Are we even cognizant of the extended meanings of our words?

Today in our women’s meeting at church we were talking about the women’s role in the family and society. The teacher started telling us that women are different. They can multi-task whereas a man can only think about one thing at a time. Men are the providers and the women are nurturers. Then, one woman got up and talked about how terrible her life is now because, when she was ten, her father’s health declined and her mother and father had to do a role reversal. She said things like, “My mother left us to go to work… Because my mother left us, I have big holes that need filled. I don’t know how to do… Men can’t fill the role of nurturer.”

I wonder if she ever stopped to appreciate the fact that her mother rescued her family. It probably wasn’t her mother’s first choice to go to work, or her mother’s fault that her father was incapacitated. It probably wasn’t her dad’s ideal choice either. Did she appreciate the fact that if it were true that her dad couldn’t work to support his family, it was also true that her dad’s health would have prevented him from properly taking care of the family. Good grief – he was probably pretty sick. Surely he wasn’t/isn’t the prime benchmark for evaluating all men.

I certainly admire a woman who steps up to the plate when necessary. Being a double parent is not the ideal. It is a tough job…I know from experience. However, I would hate to think that all men are single minded. That would mean that God could only take care of one of us at a time. And, if men can’t nurture, I wonder why an omniscient God picked Jesus Christ to atone for our sins? The scriptures teach us that the Lord is our shepherd, that we are His. Perhaps at times men and women nurture differently but I think that we are more alike than we are different.

I think that one way we are different is in respect. If someone started women bashing in the men’s church meeting, I don’t think that it would last for a second. I think that women need to repent. We need to respect ourselves and each other. And, we need to appreciate the scope and majesty of manhood and give men the respect that they deserve.