Saturday, December 29, 2007

Curtains and Scary Movies

I've been busy today. I'm putting up curtains...finally. My mother-in-law gave me money for Christmas so yesterday, while I was at the department store, after talking to my friend (see previous post) I took a gander over to the curtain aisle and found 4 sets of matching drapes for my living room. I was at Ross Dress for Less and four matching sets is quite a struggle to find! It took some digging, but my do they have good deals on curtains, so it was worth it. I brought them home along with some curtain rods and today I proceeded to hang them. Then I wasn't sure if I liked them so I went back and bought a few different styles and have had a good ol' time changing them around and trying to decide which look best.

I've lived in this rental for almost three years now without curtains because I thought we'd only be here a year and didn't want to spend the money or put in the effort. But seeing how the good Lord has not seen fit to sell our property so that we can build our "dream" home, I know I'll at least be here for another year, probably more, and dang it if I'm gonna sit around staring curtainless windows for another year. I'm movin' in...finally.

The kitchen will be next and is compliments of my best friend from high school. She sent me a JoAnn's gift card (fabric store, she knows me too well!) for Christmas. I'm going to buy my favorite fabric, Norfolk Rose by Waverly, for that room. There are already curtain rods up in there thanks to the previous renters, but I'm going to put up cafe curtains, so I'll need to purchase those. My birthday comes up in February, so I'll get a new dose of money from my mother-in-law then and will proceed to the family room. Hopefull by the end of March I'll have the whole house done.

I'm sitting in my living room right now with my beautiful curtains in view. They still have wrinkles in them, I didn't want to iron them until I knew which ones I was keeping, but nevertheless, they sure do warm up a room.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda done this three years ago...


PS. Don't go see "I Am Legend" if you are a big scarety cat like me. My fingers were numb by the time I left the theater last night because I was pushing them against my ears so hard trying to drown out the sound. I would have gotten up and walked out, but that would have meant I would have to open my eyes and might see some hideous mutant "dark seeker" jumping out from some dark hole and I don't think the other theater goers would have appreciated me falling all over them as I scrambled my way out to the aisle. I took 5 Lindt dark chocolate truffles with me to savor during the show, but I couldn't eat them because that would mean I would have had to take my fingers out of my ears and move my jacket from in front of my face to get to the pocket they were in...

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Temperature of the Heart

When my kids are quarreling and I tell them they need to make up and forgive each other, they say "how can I forgive someone I am still mad at?" How indeed? It is a hard thing to do and I wasn't sure exactly what to tell them. Then I read this quote and it was an epiphany for me.

"Forgiveness is not an emotion...Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart." Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom was a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. She wrote two books, one is called The Hiding Place where she tells the story of how her family helped hide Jews in their home during World War II. Consequently they were caught and sent to concentration camps where her father and sister both died. Her other book, Tramp for the Lord, details her life after her release. She began to go all over the world sharing her experiences and preaching the Word of God. She went without purse or scrip, following the promptings of where to go next and trusting that she would find people who would feed and house her and assist her in her work.

One experience she writes about is when she came face to face with a former guard who asked for her forgiveness. It happened just after she gave a sermon on how we are to forgive our enemies. The guard had heard the sermon and came up to her afterward and told how after the war he had become a Christain and how he knew that God had forgiven him for the cruel things he did as a Nazi guard, and he was asking for her forgivness as well. Then he stuck out his hand.

She froze.

She remembered him as being one of the most cruel of all the guards, and her thoughts raced back to seeing her sister suffer and die as a result of the cruel treatment. She said the act of raising her hand to meet his was the most difficult thing she had ever had to do, but she knew that she had to do it. She prayed silently, "help me...I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling." She lifted her hand and grasped the guard's hand. Then a most amazing thing happened. She said a current started in her shoulder, raced down her arm and sprang into their grasped hands; then she felt a healing warmth flood her entire being.

What an amazing story. I'm so grateful that I have never had to endure such hardship. But I can understand to a small extent how hard it is to forgive someone; how hard it is to make my heart feel that forgiveness. What I glean from her experience is that it is not up to me to supply the feeling of forgivness. I am to "lift my hand" and the Lord will take care of the rest.

Beautiful.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas...wait, can I say that?

I received an email from one of those watchdog groups today that I found to be somewhat entertaining and disturbing at the same time. It made me laugh, but not in a joyful way, rather it was a laugh of incredulity.

The email was about the silly controversy regarding Mike Huckabee and his TV ad where he wishes people a Merry Christmas. In the background is a bookshelf, which, because of the light, takes on the shape of a cross. Also displayed on the bookshelf are three ornaments, which critics deem to be representative of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. He is accused of sending an overt religious appeal to voters.

Oh please. So what if he was? He says the cross in the background was not intentional, but even if it was, so what? He was sending a religious message to voters; he was wishing them a Merry Christmas…which is a religious holiday… about Christ. He was interviewed on the Today Show by Meredith Vieira and I like how he defends himself, saying that some will probably think that through his blinking he was sending a Morse code message about religion.

But then it made me think of something Isaiah said:

“This is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30: 9-11)

I think this is a prophecy that has come to pass.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Meme Christmas

While catching up on my blogs I found this Christmas meme that Suzanne did on her blog a few days ago. I liked it...



Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags are easier of course, but there’s something very exciting about opening a wrapped package!
Do you have a Nativity scene? I have several. I try to collect a new one every year, even if it’s just a little one. I have two favorites that I put out every year, others I rotate.

Do you like eggnog? I love eggnog! I drink gallons of it at Christmas time.

Favorite Christmas movie? It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story (we’re getting a Red Rider BB Gun for our 8 year old this year…hope he doesn’t shoot his eye out!)

Mail or e-mail Christmas cards? Well, last year I ordered these cute photo cards, put stamps on the envelopes, addressed most of them. Then I was too lazy to hand write my return address so I kept meaning to buy some stickers that I could put through the computer, but kept forgetting…anyway, I might mail them out this year…or not. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

Easiest person to buy for? Myself…oh, but you meant someone else? Then normally I would say my 6 year old because he doesn’t require much to make him happy. Except this year, I’m not so sure. When my visiting teacher asked what he thought he was getting for Christmas he told her he thought it would be a Wii, or perhaps a Nintendo DS. Huh? I was behind him madly shaking my head NOOOO!

Real tree or artificial? Most definitely real. This is our tree this year, they always look smaller out in nature. It usually takes several hours to find just the right tree. We drive to a place where there are several tree farms about 1 hour from here and usually end up going to all 50 some odd farms, before ending back up at the first one we started with. My husband has to have the perfect tree—not perfectly trimmed mind you, some people don’t like our trees, they are a bit on the wild side with branches poking out everywhere, but they have to have a certain fullness to them. We left him one year to fend for himself after several fruitless hours.

Angel or star on the tree top?
Ok, more on the tree…my husband always likes to pick out a tree that’s four feet taller than what would fit in our house, so then he has to figure out where to chop off footage, from the top or the bottom? He doesn't like losing the branches on the bottom so he tends to chop off the top, unless I’m out there supervising, then I can usually save the top of the tree from getting a buzz. If I’m not (like this year) then the top gets chopped and when it's finally in the living room it looks like it’s growing through the ceiling, so there’s no room for a star, angel or even a bow!

Have you ever recycled a Christmas gift? Yes. But it was food, and I had had too many treats and needed a gift to take to some party I was going to. That’s ok isn’t it?

Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, Hallelujah Chorus.

Do you travel at Christmas or stay home? We stay home because if we left my mother in law would be all alone and we couldn’t do that to her, and besides, all my family lives too far away, except my little brother Big Mac and his wife who usually come but can’t this year because they just had a baby!

White lights or colored on the tree? White.
Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Pumpkin desserts, cinnamon rolls, Lindt chocolate truffles, eggnog, my mom’s Poppyseed Cake which I haven’t had in years, ham, homemade shortbread cookies.

Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? “On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen. On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen. To the top of the roof, to the top of the wall, now dash away, dash away, dash away all. And “Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer...”

When do you put up the tree? We usually get it either the weekend of Thanksgiving or the following, depending on how early Thanksgiving is.

What is your favorite place to go at Christmas? I love looking at Christmas lights.

Open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning. We usually open our stockings, have breakfast then open the presents.

What do you love most about Christmas? I love the smells, the cozy feeling of my home with the Christmas lights and soft music playing; shopping for my kids and being excited about what they are getting; the colors (red and green are my favorite colors); and reading “The Littlest Angel” on Christmas eve, a tradition my mother started when I was a child.

P.S. Can someone tell me what Meme stands for? I'm writing this tiny, because I feel dumb that I don't know, yet here I am doing one!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sing Unto the Lord

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw waters out of the well of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)


A few years ago I did a small study of the properties of water. I learned that water in nature is actually ‘alive’. As a river or stream winds its way to the ocean, the water swirls and meanders from one side of the bank to the other. This meandering is actually a constant circular (vortex) motion that causes the molecules to cluster together keeping them tight and ordered. When water becomes stagnant or is forced to flow in a straight line it loses its vitality and the molecules become loose, thus allowing impurities to penetrate easily. When ‘living water’ is frozen it forms beautiful crystals but when it is ‘dead’, dirty or otherwise corrupted the crystals will either not form or they are mutated. The cells in our body have the same properties as living water, so it is easily absorbed into our system, cleansing our bodies and giving us vitality and energy. Impure water, on the other hand, can cause all kinds of disease and it actually ages us faster. (Maybe that’s why anciently people lived so long?)

At the time I studied this chapter we were going through a major transition in our home. I wrote about it here. Normally, under such stressful circumstances, my chest becomes all tight and constricted and I start to shut down. It’s kind of like walking through a quagmire. My steps become slower and slower as I sink deeper and deeper and soon I find myself on the couch or bed staring into space, unable to pull myself out and move forward. This time, however, none of that happened. I had energy and to spare. I wondered at it and came to recognize that I was being carried through it all. Why? What was I doing differently?

Well at that time I had been studying my scriptures consistently for about 2-3 months. It is what gave me the energy and vitality to keep moving and the ability to rise above the situation and set my sights on the finish line. I was drawing out of the well daily, receiving t he ‘living water’ that was so essential to my progress.

As I have studied Isaiah thus far I have been given many truths; beautiful principles and precepts that have lifted and sustained me. Sometimes the meaning has been hard to find, but as I persevered I have been able to find connections that have opened my eyes. Sometimes it’s the actual reading that gives me strength through just being obedient, and the Lord is blessing me with peace in my heart. But lately I have also had the words of scriptures that I read that day, or just recently, put into my mind at a time of great trial. It whispers to me that the Lord, my salvation, is near and giving me the living water I need to trust him and keep on going. This chapter is like a little breath of fresh air after all the work, a little burst of gratitude in the form of a song/psalm of praise.

I was going down wrong paths and the Lord chastised me several times, but now he comforts me with truth and light from the scriptures. He has lifted fear out of my heart and left me with peace. Yes, I want to “sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things…great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.” (Isaiah 12:5-6)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

O Christmas Tree


I started this quilt about 4 1/2 years ago with the idea that it would be finished in time for Christmas...ha ha ha, ha, ha, (or rather ho, ho, ho!). Christmas came that year and it was not done. Another Christmas passed by ...and then another ...and another. Each year I progressed a little, but I despaired at ever finishing it!

Finally this year the wait is over. It is finished and hanging in a prominent place in my living room where it is sure to get lots of oooohhh's and aaahhhh's.

I sit and stare at it daily, relishing it with my eyes and remembering the hours of quiet stitching as tree by tree it came to fruition. (If you click on the picture it will blow it up and you can see it in greater detail.)

I might keep it up all year.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Lord is My Light

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)

The Lord is my light; then why should I fear?
By day and by night his presence is near.
He is my salvation from sorrow and sin;
This blessed assurance the spirit doth bring.
(“The Lord is My Light”, hymn #89)

As I have read through Isaiah I have been amazed at all the phrases that are taken from the scriptures and used as the theme for a hymn.

I love the hymns. One can’t help but feel beauty flow over you when a hymn is being sung, or prelude music is quietly playing in the background. Nothing brings the spirit in more abundance beautiful music, and especially hymns. At church the other day, while singing a hymn, I felt that I was receiving revelation. I can’t describe what it was, only that I was being given a great gift through the song.

My favorite memories of singing hymns have been from the two temple dedications I was privileged to attend. When they sang “The Spirit of God” my heart was on fire. I couldn’t even sing because I was crying so hard. The emotion and feeling I received just filled my heart and soul and overflowed. It was the most joyous occasion.

A few weeks ago at church they did the musical sacrament meeting where the talks were given about the importance of music in worship and several musical numbers were performed. One speaker talked about the importance of music, but then the remainder of his talk consisted of quoting hymns. It was one of the most inspirational talks I have heard. I used to be really good at teaching my children they hymns and for a couple of years we would pick a hymn and study it. We would read it through first discussing the meaning. Then we would look up the scriptures that go along with it. We would talk about the principles found in the hymn and corresponding scriptures, and we also learn to conduct it. I don’t know why we stopped, but after the musical sacrament meeting I felt inspired to make the learning of hymns a priority again.

Verse 2 says “I will trust, and not be afraid.” What causes someone to trust another? The footnote for “trust” lead to Psalm 36:7 “How excellent is they lovingkindess, O God!”

Mosiah 4:6 lists several virtues: goodness, matchless power, wisdom, patience, longsuffering, the atonement.

Helaman 12:1 says the Lord blesses and prospers those who put their trust in him.

Following the Lord is not blind faith; it is believing in him because of the virtues he possesses. The more virtue and integrity a person possesses, the more trust is bestowed.

Before I began my scripture study (being consistent that is) I was not very happy. My children fought a lot and I was constantly criticizing them and myself. I knew that I needed to change, but lacked the will to do so. We have been told over and over that if we study our scriptures daily, we will be blessed with peace. As I began to be more consistent in my study I began to see a difference. Oh—my home is not perfect, not by a long shot, I have three teenagers for heaven’s sake! But the feeling in my home is different. Disputes blow over more quickly and grudges don’t last near as long. I’m still very critical of myself, but am trying to be less so. Life is a process and things take time, but the blessings I have received have given me the ability to trust that the Lord will give me strength to overcome.

Speaking of strength, how does the Lord impart it to us? The footnote for “strength” references Power of Priesthood in the Topical Guide. I take the priesthood for granted and completely under use it. How many times have I needed strength and not asked for a blessing? In the JST-Genesis 14:25-40 there is a long description of Melchezedik and a description of the priesthood which was named for him. It says “that everyone being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command…”

Wow. That’s power.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

The Lord is my light; He is my joy and my song.
By day and by night He leads, he leads me along.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Salvation

And it that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou was angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upoon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.


Chapter 12 is one of the shortest of Isaiah's writings, but also one of the most hopeful and uplifting. It generated a lot of thoughts for me, which I will be posting about shortly...

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Prince of Peace

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
( Isaiah 9:6)


This is probably one of the most recognizable verses in the scriptures; thanks to George Frederic Handel it is sung the world round during the Christmas season. While the words come from scriptures, the music itself is surely inspired from on high. In fact Handel himself tell us where the music came from. Just after he finished writing the Hallelujah Chorus his servant swung open the door, The startled composer, tears streaming down his face, turns to his servant and cries out, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself.”" (Quote taken from Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers.)

Chapter 9 of Isaiah yielded a very powerful experience for me and so ranks as one of my favorites. It’s also a perfect one to contemplate as we head into the season where our thoughts and activities are centered on the birth of our Savior.

After reading the above verse I looked up in the dictionary (Webster 1828) all the words associated with the names of our Savior. Here’s what I came up with:

Wonderful: adapted to excite wonder or admiration; exciting surprise; strange; astonishing.

Counsellor: Any person who gives advice; but properly one who is authorized by natural relationship, or by birth, office or profession, to advise another in regard to his future conduct and measures.

The Mighty God:

Mighty: very strong, valiant, bold, very powerful; having great command. Very great; vast. Very forcible; efficacious (productive of effects; having power adequate to the purpose intended; powerful). Very great or eminent in intellect or acquirements. Great; wonderful; performed with great power. Important; momentous.

The Everlasting Father:

Everlasting:
eternity; eternal duration; lasting or enduring forever; existing or continuing without end; perpetual.

Father: He who begets a child. The appellation of an old man, and a term of respect. One who feeds and supports, or exercises paternal care over another. God is called the father of the fatherless. He who creates, invents, makes or composes anything; the author, former or contriver; a founder, director or instructor.

The Prince of Peace:

Prince:
a sovereign; the chief and independent ruler of a nation or state; the son of a king or emperor, or the issue of a royal family; the chief of any body of men.

Peace: a state of quiet or tranquility;

  • Freedom from war
  • Freedom from internal commotion or civil war.
  • Freedom from private quarrels, suits or disturbances.
  • Freedom from agitation or disturbance by the passions (fear, terror, anger, anxiety); quietness of mind; tranquility; calmness; quiet of conscience.
  • Heavenly rest; the happiness of heaven.
  • Harmony; concord; a state of reconciliation between parties at variance.
  • Public tranquility; that quiet order and security which is guaranteed by the laws.
  • Used in commanding silence or quiet.


What’s in a name, truly? Do not these definitions open your mind as to the personality, character and eminence of our Savior? Each definition is worthy of more contemplation, but that would make for a really long post, so I will focus on the last name, The Prince of Peace.

When I first read the definition for “peace”, just the act of writing down the words brought a sense of peace to my heart. This last year having been a turbulent one for me, I had often prayed for peace, but after reading these definitions, I realized that I need to be more specific in my prayers as to what kind of peace my heart needed. A couple of days after having done this chapter I had the opportunity of application to my life. I had been feeling very frustrated at my husband for something and also, my husband, my son and I had been at variance with one another. After a round of words I found myself in my closet in tears. As I knelt there asking for peace I reflected on the definitions I had learned and I contemplated what kind of peace I was seeking. I prayed for freedom from the internal commotion I felt because of the discord with my husband; I wanted it taken from my heart. I prayed for freedom from the private quarrel and disturbance that was between the three of us. I asked for harmony and a state of reconciliation so that we would not be at variance with each other and that tranquility would be restored to our home. Just the act of praying in such a specific way brought about a sense of peace, and then as I went about my day I began to see the Lord answering my prayer. At one time I spoke to my son with sharpness and as I did so a thought popped into my mind, “Is this how to establish peace?” It made me stop quickly and change my tone of voice and my attitude toward him and the situation. Later that evening my husband asked my son to go see a movie with him, thus helping to restore goodwill between the two of them. As for the internal commotion I felt toward my husband, I decided to try a different approach to this frustrating situation, one that I was not particularly comfortable with but one that I knew would make him happier. As the day progressed I noticed the internal commotion in my heart becoming less and less and by the end of the day I didn’t feel it at all.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

The Lord’s gospel is the “gospel of peace” which the Lord sent by angels to the world. (D&C 27:16) His gospel has everything required to bring about peace in this world, peace that begins within each one of us as we truly seek it. He is the Prince of Peace, and we can find that peace as we look to the “author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrew 12:2).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

In which all my sappiness comes out…

I’ve been lacking lately in motivation to write on my blog. I think I have lost my focus. Actually when I started my blog I wasn’t sure what my focus was, only that I felt compelled to start one so that I could have some sort of communication with my family who live in other areas of the U.S, far away from me. I wasn’t sure what to really write about and consequently I can’t say that my first posts were the most illustrious of posts, nor any since then except a couple that came from I don’t know where, because I’m certainly not a writer. I am, however, very philosophical by nature. I’m a dreamy truth-seeker who loves nothing better than to have an in-depth discussion about the meaning of life, but I tend to get somewhat sappy and sentimental, which when I’m having a face to face, heart to heart, isn’t so bad. But when I try to write about it, it just comes out all wrong. Most of my posts take forever to write because I have to revise them or even completely rewrite them after reviewing them the next day when my mood has changed enough to see the sappiness that I didn’t see the day before.

(In fact I almost got scared away from blogging altogether when I ventured out into the blogosphere and saw the many talented writers out there. I’d be better off at a quilting guild than the company I am endeavoring to keep here in blogland.) (And when I read what writers say about others grammatical errors, I cringe to even comment on their blog because I’m too embarrassed for them to come to my spot for fear they will be turned off by my poor use of the apostrophe and other punctuational (not a word, I know) errors.)

Well, I’m not sure where this post is going, except that I seem to have lost my focus again…which brings me back to the beginning…what was I going to tell you about?…oh yes…actually I did finally find something to focus on, and that is my Isaiah studies. I realized that blogging about the insights I have gained through my studies would perfect for my philosophical dreamy side. But in case you hadn’t noticed, I kind of stalled after chapter 2. Not that my studies have stalled, I am actually on chapter 30! It’s just the posting has stalled. I actually have 3 posts written for chapter 2, all from different angles, but none quite right! Meanwhile, I’ve been dying to tell you some of the things I’ve learned from other chapters, but have felt like I needed to stick to a chronological order and consequently, nothing has been posted!

So I’ve been rethinking things a bit. No, I’m not going to give up on writing about Isaiah, I’ve grown too fond of him to quit. But I think that I won’t try to go in chronological order anymore. Well, I say, if Isaiah can skip all over the place, so can I! I mean, for heaven’s sake he changes centuries in the middle of a verse! So I’m packin’ up and movin’ on…to another chapter that is. Hmmm, now to decide where to start.

I’ll get back to you!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Days Are Just Packed...


Really, that's just an excuse for not posting the last few days. My plan was to post how I have seen the hand of the Lord in my family's life each day until Thanksgiving. I almost made it...posting that is. Well, six out of ten days isn't too bad! At any rate, just because I didn't post doesn't mean that I didn't recognize the Lord's hand in our lives. In fact the process of writing and thinking about it caused me to look for it each day and by so doing I was able to see just how often His hand was there. The sad thing is that because I didn't write the events down, they are lost forever in the recessess of my mind. I have a bad habit of pushing memories away, good and bad. It stems from the dysfunction of my growing up years, but that's another story. For this post I will attempt to probe my mind so that I can give a small accounting of the last few days.

Sunday was Stake Conference. At the beginning we sustain all the church officers from the General Authorities to the stake offices. As I was raising my hand I felt a deep gratitude for the leaders of our church and the ability to give them my sustaining vote.

On Monday I took my daughter for her orientation and counseling session at the junior college. She is a junior in high school and will be taking a couple of classes there next semester for college credit. The counselor we met with told her that she was very impressed with her Language Arts score as it was very unusual for students her age to obtain that. Since she has felt that she is behind in so many things, this was a real boost to her and she came away feeling very happy. I also came away with gratitude for the Lord in guiding us down this path as it has proven to be the best thing for her.

Tuesday night I had a very strange dream, nightmare actually. I have learned from the past that this is one very effective way the Lord has of communicating with me, and that if I read my scriptures immediately following a particularly strange dream that I will be given insight for myself or my family. In this case the dream was about one of my children. I didn't understand the dream nor what I was being told when I read my scriptures but on Wednesday I felt prompted to ask this child a question. When I did so this child told me that s/he had been wanting some help but didn't know how to ask me. After our conversation I completely understood why I had the dream and what the scriptures meant and also how I was to proceed to help this child. While I don't relish having these dreams, I am grateful to the core of my being that the Lord loves my children so much that he will do whatever need be to get these messages across to me.

Today is Thanksgiving. My husband got up early to make our traditional Thanksgiving breakfast of bacon, sausage, fried eggs, toast, fresh squeezed orange juice, and cinnamon twists. The cinnamon twists are tradition going back at least 20 years. My MIL found this lady who made these delectable delights for the holidays and started ordering them. We have been ordering from her ever since and I think she only does it for a few valued customers now, we being among the lucky ones!

While I am thankful for our breakfast tradition, I am more thankful for the man who keeps it going. I know that the Lord's hand was the guiding force in my life in leading me to my husband. We are one of those couples who complement each other well. My weaknesses are his strengths and his weaknesses are my strengths. Now that isn't always pleasant as we get do tend to get irritated and impatient with each other at times, but we both recognize this and we work hard and trying to help each other.

He is one of the hardest workers I have ever met (with the exception of his father). He goes to work somewhere between 4:30 and 6:00 AM and comes home around 5:30 PM. He runs a business with a partner that he started from the ground and now has upwards of 30-40 employees. After dealing with the stress and frustration of work, he comes home and helps to get the house in order (that should have been in order before he got there--my weakness!) He loves to cook and is always making some savory steak sauce or delectable culinary delight. He's a great dad, husband, worthy priesthood holder and provider of our family. I just have to look around the house and see all the comforts we have and I know that it is because of his hard work and love for us that we have all that we do.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and may you recognize the hand of the Lord in your lives this Holiday season.


Count your many blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Afternoon To Remember...


That's the name of the tea room my MIL took my daughters and I to today, and it was a very memorable day. We had Apricot Cinnamon herbal tea and scones, little sandwiches, and cookies and cakes. We talked and laughed and enjoyed ourselves immensly. The only thing missing were our Victorian dresses. We loved it so much that we decided that we need to have a tea every week!

Three beautiful daughters...three beautiful blessings.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Still counting...


Today my daughter took her college assessments and was very nervous about them. I said a little prayer for her and was reminded that "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost...shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance." She did very well on them, much better than she thought she would.

And that's all I can think of today.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Want to Live!

I have seen the hand of God reaching out to touch me, my children and our family today.

As I was considering what to post for today my thoughts turned to my scriptures. Over the past four months I have studied my scriptures more consistently than I ever have in my entire life. As a result I have been blessed with more answers, or rather I have been able to recognize more answers given to me than ever before. They come now almost on a daily basis, usually through my scriptures, but also through other writings and as thoughts or impressions. My testimony of the power of the scriptures has grown immensely because of this. President Boyd K. Packer touched on this theme in his Conference address when he speaks of an occurrence with President Marion G. Romney, “He told those mission presidents that he did not know any more surely then as a member of the First Presidency that God the Father lives; that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father; and that the fullness of the gospel had been restored than he did as a missionary boy 50 years before in Australia. He said that his testimony had changed in that it was much easier to get an answer from the Lord. The Lord’s presence was nearer and he knew the Lord much better than he had 50 years before.”

Like President Romney, I’ve always known the gospel was true; however I never believed before that I could get answers without a lot of hard prayer and concentration. I never felt like I was worthy enough to receive answers and help. I still had a testimony, but it’s only been through my recent studies that I am learning how the Lord speaks to me and that I am feeling his presence near me.

President Packer wrote a book of short essays, Memorable Stories with a Message that I have been reading to my children. On more than one occasion it has been the medium for some of my answers. Just yesterday we read a story about a man who was known as a “perennial student”. He had been granted an inheritance that was to last as long as he was engaged in collegiate studies. After graduation it was to go to charity. The man remained a student until the day he died. He probably had every degree offered at the university and had taken nearly every course. However President Packer said that “he could not be described as educated. He fit the description of those spoken of in the scripture who are ‘ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.’ (2 Timothy 3:7)” He learned but he didn't truly live.

At first I didn’t think of this story as an answer, but last night I was given a thought that I have been ruminating on ever since. Over the last few months I have been very blessed with insight and understanding in the trial that I have been going through. I have been given many thoughts and impressions on how to proceed through this time in my life. I have loved all these answers and have written them down in various locations of my writings as they have come. But my thought last night in reference to this story was that I have been a “perennial student”. I have taken the knowledge and thanked the Lord for his goodness in answering my various pleas, but I have not done a lot about it. I’m one of those planner type of people who loves forms and spends inordinate amounts of time creating schedules, charts and other various and sundry items, but then never following completely through.

In Isaiah 27 & 28 there are references to flowers: Israel shall blossom and bud; Ephraim’s glorious beauty is a fading flower. Israel blossoms because of the living water. Ephraim fades as a result of lack of living water. Living water are the words of Christ, and as we study and ponder the scriptures we receive nourishment and strength. But “living” water also denotes action; it is “living” our day based on the guidance given to us through the Holy Spirit. It is taking what we are given and following through with faith.

So the way I have seen the Lords hand in my life today is by him giving me an understanding of where I need to go from here and what I need to do with the knowledge he has given me.

Often times I have felt like an observer of my life. Watching it from above or afar, but never fully living it. I’m kind of tired of that. In the words of George Bailey,

“Help me, Clarence, please. Please! I want to live again!”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

More Blessed to Give than to Receive

I have seen the hand of God reaching out to touch me, my children and our family today.

My mother-in-law is still being gracious in lending me her car while mine is STILL in the shop. In her CD player she has all Christmas CD’s, so today, while running my errands I flipped on the music and the car was filled with beautiful carols. The second song to play was the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel. When I was in the 7th grade I took Concert Choir. My teacher was fabulous. Most of my understanding of music theory came from her. For Christmas we learned the Hallelujah Chorus and performed it for our school concert (imagine that being done today…). It was one of the most profound musical experiences of my life. I still remember every note all these years later, so when the song came on, I turned up the volume and sang along at the top of my lungs with my mediocre-choir-voice! When the song finished I started it over and sang along again. When I got near the end to the passage where the refrain “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” is repeated several times, I suddenly found that I couldn’t sing…and I had a hard time seeing the road too. I whispered the words in a choked voice until the song was over. It’s hard to put into words, but what I felt was the hand of the Lord in my life, accepting my mediocre-choir-voice tribute and blessing me with a testimony of my Savior.

Tonight my daughter told me that for Mutual on Wednesday they will be going to a homeless shelter to serve dinner. She commented that when you give service, you feel so good, that you actually feel like you are doing it for yourself. What a blessing to learn something so profound at an early age.

Tonight was also Enrichment Night. I have a hard time going because ever since I moved into this ward I have been in Primary, so even though we have been here nearly 2 ½ year I still don’t know anybody. I ventured out anyway since they were serving dinner and dessert and found a table with a fellow Primary worker. A few other people moseyed over to our table and soon we had a great discussion going about the difficulties of raising children, and how each child is different and unique, and how they each require a different approach when disciplining and loving them. All the ladies at the table were in different stages of motherhood, but the overall theme we all agreed on was that we need to love more and criticize less. I came away with a resolve to be more loving and patient. We also got to do some humanitarian work and you know what? My daughter is right; service does more for the giver than the receiver.

Count your many blessings; every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Today's Blessings...


Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?

Yesterday I did not read my scriptures and it was not a happy day. Today I started my day out by reading them and felt a sense of well being within my core that supported me throughout my day. I also noticed that there was more harmony within our family today.

Tonight my oldest daughter's Young Women president expressed to me how impressed she was with my daughter on a recent assignment that she had been given. She said my daughter had been very well prepared and had studied very hard for a particular activity. I was able to tell my daughter that she had been complimented and was able to see her sense of self-worth raise a notch.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful mother-in-law who gives unselfishly of her time and means to do what she can to help us. Our car needed to be taken in for repair a few days ago, and she cancelled an appointment so that she could follow me over to the shop and then let me use her car for the day. That was last week. She did the same thing today.

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Name them one by one...

Wow, has it been that long since I posted? I had been doing so well, 17 posts in one month--my all time high. Woohoo for me!

My brain went all bloggy though and it was starting to get annoying! Everything I did was a potential post and I just had to take a break for awhile to detox. Besides I've been on a rollercoaster ride and if I had posted everything I thought of you would have gone on it with me and I'm not sure you would have liked it! I know I didn't. I'm still on it and it's starting to make me feel sick! I'm in a low spot right now which is bad and good, there's only one way to go, but how long the low spot will last is anyone's guess! I'm hoping for an upward climb soon and then to find a nice level place for awhile!

When life gets this way I forget that I have any blessings and I tend not to look for them as my mind is all pessimistic in it's outlook. I'm reminded of President Eyering's conference talk where he encouraged us to write down experiences each day based on this question, "Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?" He says that as he would cast his mind over the day, he would see evidence of what God had done for certain members of his family that he had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. He says as it happened he realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show him what He had done.

After I heard this talk, I decided that I was going to start this habit. Since I've never been good at keeping a journal this was going to be a challenge for me. I decided that the best way to approach it is to find a really pretty journal just for this purpose. So I set off in search of just the right one. Well, I'm pretty picky so it was a hard thing to find. I wanted one with pretty vintage roses on it, something that I would enjoy seeing on my bedside table. I guess vintage roses aren't in since I still haven't found it, so consequently I still haven't written anything and it's been over a month since I heard that talk!

Pathetic.

I'm turning over a new leaf.

Here's my beautiful vintage rose...
...and today I'm going to start writing about my blessings. And I'm going to post them here every day until Thanksgiving. Maybe by that time I will have found my beautiful book, and if not, I'll pick up the next best one and make do. No more procrastinating for me...

As I sit here trying to think of where I have seen God's hand in my life today, my eye is drawn toward the piano. And the blessing I am thankful for is the gift of music, and the finding of a wonderful piano teacher who has inspired my girls and me with a desire to practice. Some people might get tired of hearing "The First Noel" or "When the Saints Go Marching In" or "Fur Elise" played 30-40 times in one day, but to me it's a heavenly concert because it's the sound of my girls well on their way to becoming accomplished pianists.

1 down, 10 to go!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Did It!

I made it all the way through Halloween without eating one piece of candy! Everytime I'd hear a knock at the door and I'd have to carry the bowl over I was tempted to just take just one, but I knew that if I gave in to one, then I'd give in everytime the doorbell rang!

So my husband took the little one around the neighborhood tonight and they came back with their pillowcases half full. Time to bargain. "I'll give you five bucks and you can keep 10 pieces of candy, but if you choose to keep all the candy it has to be gone by Sunday," says I. Last year it worked, but this year, no go. The 8 year old...he's good. He haggled his way to a better deal. The going price? $10 bucks and 15 pieces of candy, with two bite sized bars counting as one.

Seems silly to pay them to go out trick-or-treating, but the payoff is mine in the long run. They get to dress up and have fun. They get money that they can use for Christmas presents. The doctor and dentist bills would add up to far more than the $$$ I had to fork out right now, and best of all, the candy is out of the house. I pack it up and send it to work next day with my husband for all his employees.

Happy ending to a Spooky Day!

Monday, October 29, 2007

It's All Up From Here

I had 4 nightmares last night. I'd wake up from one and fall back asleep right into another one.

This morning I stepped on the scale and it was up 4 pounds from yesterday. Could it be one pound for each nightmare? Or it could possibly have been the donuts from the ward party, or perhaps the cheesecake from yesterday that my chef husband made for me just because he loved me. Or more probably that monthly thingie that started yesterday.

This morning for breakfast I had a piece of toasted homemade bread, spread with butter and apricot jam, a glass of orange juice, and a small glass of eggnog. So I announced to my two older girls that I had had my grain, fruit and protien, after which my middle daughter chimes in "and your fat!" She was, of course, referring to the contents of the eggnog, but the look on her face was priceless when she realized what it sounded like! We laughed ourselves silly for a good 4 minutes!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Attack of the Donuts

It's that time of the year when the treats start to roll in and if I'm not careful I will acquire a few rolls myself!

I've gotten pretty good about passing up the candy, it's the homemade treats that do me in. Not store-bought-homemade. I don't know about other areas of the country, but here people are so busy that instead of bringing homemade items to ward events, they usually run by the store and pick up some cookies from the bakery section so as to appear homemade. But you can always tell that they aren't (That is my husband's pet peeve. This is a man who has his own cookbook and whose favorite store is William Sonoma!).

So when I prepared myself mentally for the ward Halloween party tonight I figured it wouldn't be too hard to keep away from the treat table... that is, until I walked into the gym and saw this cute little grandma making donuts...yes, homemade donuts... right there in the gym! She had a whole little set up with a big bowl of dough and a rolling pin, and a cute little donut cutter. She had a pan of oil right there and she'd fry them up, dunk them in glaze and pass them out to the eager crowd that was continually around her table. That's what saved me; the fact that I had to keep getting back in line if I wanted another one and that the line was always pretty long.

Talk about not playing fair, they go from not ever having homemade treats to making them right there--fresh and piping hot!

Well I didn't do too bad considering. I got away with only eating three...or was it four...

Too Many Hats

I'm still here. Just been playing wife, mom, chauffer, teacher, librarian, hairstylist, cook, butler, therapist, etc...

What's been keeping you busy?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

You Can Come Back

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” Isaiah 2:2-3.

A couple of years ago a temple was built near us, a mere 35 minute drive across town. Previous to this we had to travel a whopping 2 hours to the nearest temple! I remember growing up in Oklahoma and my parents being excited that a temple was being built in Dallas, which was about 6 hours away. Before that the closest temple was in Salt Lake City. I just read an Ensign article of a family who had to save and then give all they had to go to the temple; they traveled several days and didn’t even know how they were going to return home.

Before the temple was dedicated I was able to take my children through it. My husband wasn’t able to be there which was disappointing because when we went into the sealing room I was overcome with the sight of my children and I standing there looking in the mirrors. We missed having him there because a piece of our family was missing, yet, never before had the reality of the sealing ordinance been so strongly made manifest to me. I can still see in my mind’s eye the sight of my children mirrored for eternity. It was breathtaking.

When our temple was finished I didn’t take immediate advantage of it. I’m ashamed of that; I just allowed the cares of the world to take up my time and kept neglecting to call and make the appointment. But when I finally did go, my excitement could hardly be contained. This temple was my temple, built for my use in my town! The emotions I felt as I went through the endowment were overwhelming. I have never had a temple experience quite like it. I especially needed it because that period of my life was such a trying time for me(it still is). The demands of motherhood and homeschooling were about to do me in (they still are). I just wanted to run away from my family and pretend they didn’t exist (I still do)! Motherhood is hard no matter what age your children are, and I was trying to be the sole educator on top of that. I remember finally getting into the Celestial room and I just sat there feeling the peace and drinking in the beauty that surrounded me. I prayed and pondered on some of my situations at home. I thought about the peace I felt there in the temple with the adversary and all the worldly frustrations locked outside. I told Heavenly Father that I just wanted to stay there forever. I didn’t want to go home. I sat there for awhile basking in the peace and serenity of my surroundings, and then the thought came to me, “You need to go home to your children now, but you can come back.”

My life is so busy right now with homeschool, church calling, homemaker, wife, chauffer, etc. etc. etc. I have so many demands that are either put upon me or that I put upon myself. I am also a person that has a hard time focusing on more than one or two things at a time. After awhile I find myself ‘fragmented’ so to speak. Lists are floating about in my head and on my counters. My brain has a hard time processing all the “to do’s” and after awhile my progress slows.

A few weeks ago my dad came to visit. My dad is a computer scientist and since I am pretty much illiterate when it comes to maintaining my computer I am always happy when he comes. He cleans it up, arranges files and puts it through a “defrag”. Now, being technologically limited, I can’t explain very well what a “defrag” is. It was simplified for me in this way: in the inner workings of the computer, files get moved around and this creates a lot of space in between each file. After awhile this inhibits the processes of the computer so that it begins to slow down. A defrag lines up the files and eliminates the spaces so that the computer then runs much more efficiently. (Clear as mud and probably not completely accurate, but for our purpose here we’ll go with it.)

People are like computers. They need to be maintained on a regular basis. Going to church every Sunday is like organizing the files we can see in our documents. It’s best to arrange, delete and make changes regularly in order to keep our desktop clean and in good working order. But we have callings to do and children to keep still. We are not always able to sit and nurture our souls. The temple is different. There we are free from distraction. Going to the temple is like the big defrag. It cleans up and organizes us on the inside, it puts our life back into perspective and it pulls the scattered fragments of our soul together.

“You can come back.” Never were sweeter words whispered to my soul.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mystery of the Missing Template

Solved!

So what happened is when Matie Kay discovered that she was essentially redistributing the Shabby Princess papers, she must have erased the place where she had uploaded all the pages thus making the url invalid, thus erasing the pages from my template.

But...I still have the template and I know how to fill in the pages, so I have been experimenting...redecorating actually and you all know how much I love to decorate! This is by no means what I am leaving it as; I was just experimenting with some paper I had saved, plugging it in to see where it would end up (I can't read HTML that well). So it will be Under Construction for awhile until I find the perfect paper, but for now I am out of time!

This and other things have kept me from posting and commenting lately. I have been reading all my favorite blogs and laughing and crying, just haven't had time to comment on most of them. I do have a couple of posts almost ready, hopefully I can find some time to get them finished this week.

Meanwhile, have a great day!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hey, what's up with the empty background?!?!

I came here to do a little posting and found that my background has disappeared! And if I want to put that one back on all my little widget thingies on the side will disappear, and I don't want to have to redo them all...it's a pain being technoligically illilterate.

Well this is just a sampling of how my day is going so far. I actually had something else to post today, but it will just have to wait until tonight. I'm taking my ball and going home...oh yea I am home. And dinner needs to be fixed and the house straightened up and kids picked up and...

I liked my template... I'm bummed!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Up and Down

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” ~Bilbo Baggins to Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm feeling uplifted today


Upon bestowing this award to me PJ said thus, "I am so glad to be able to read her blog, but I am most fortunate to know her. She is my husbands older sister (NOT OLD:), she is the heart of his side of the family. She leads by example, she loves genuinely. I love her voice and the way she talks, it is uniquely Mindy. If you know her, I bet you agree. So, I give the You Lift me Up award to my Mindyluwho!"

Thank you PJ and I just have to say that if I am the heart of the family, PJ is the funny bone! She cracks us up with her hilarious stories and quirky ways. She makes the mundane interesting and keeps us all laughing. She's a treasure and I think I'll keep her!

When I saw this award I knew exactly who to give it to. If you haven't read Calamity Jane, you must. She lifts me up...out of bed, off the couch, from the table! She blogs about her experience of losing 70 pounds and how she used the gospel and prayer to get her there. What I love about her is that although she predominately shares her motivation for losing weight, the principles she shares can be applied to all of life and the choices we make in our quest to become better people all around. I find myself thinking of her blogs in a lot of situations I find myself in throughout the day. So Calamity Jane, I give the You Lift Me Up award to you.

"Ouch!"

(Day two at the gym.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No More Dross

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.” (Mosiah 13:12-13)

The Lord is jealous and with good reason. Our very breath each day is a gift. He created us and gave us everything we have and all he asks is that we love him and obey him. But insert the Natural Man with all his worldy inclinations and graven images...decorating magazines, sewing machines, computers, books, food (strictly speaking of myself here, feel free to insert your own dieties). We forget the Lord way too easily and on a daily basis. Fortunately he is a loving and merciful God. He recognizes that we will fall short. "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still” (Isaiah 9:12), meaning that he will not deter the consequences, but will stretch forth his hand and wait for us to take hold so that he can guide us back to the path or pull us out of the deep pit we have dug. Sometimes, however, our focus is so blurred or the pit is too deep that we don’t see his stretched out hand, so he uses other means of recalling us to our sense of duty.

“And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away they dross, and take away all thy tin” (Isaiah 1:25). The reference to turn is ‘return, or repeatedly chastise’.

Chastise: To correct by punishing; to punish; to inflict pain by stripes, or in other manner, for the purpose of punishing an offender and recalling him to his duty. To correct; to purify by expunging faults.

Sometimes it is painful to be recalled back to our duties. It’s embarrassing and humiliating. I was humiliated when I read that article on the second commandment. I hadn’t realized how engrossed I was until it was so blatantly pointed out to me. Being chastised is not pleasant. But the Lord doesn’t do it to be unkind. He is expunging our faults and trying to perfect and purify us.

In my first Isaiah post I spoke of having ingrown toenails. On one of them I had to cut off the side of the nail, all the way down to the root (sorry for those with queasy stomachs!). It grossed me out to do and it really hurt! But taking out the offending part of the toenail that was digging into the flesh and making the wound fester was the only thing that would give it a chance to heal. It still didn’t heal of its own accord after that, I had to keep applying alcohol and every time I did so, it stung. It was a very unpleasant experience to say the least. But within a couple of weeks the infection was gone. It still didn’t look so pretty, but over time it has healed and now you can’t even tell I had one. A couple of years later I got another ingrown toenail. This time at the first sign of it I began applying alcohol right away. It never got to the point of my previous one; this time it was gone within a few days.

I still love to decorate my house. I still get carried away. I still need to apply the alcohol now and then. Decorating my house wasn’t a sin. The sin came in the form of putting that before my other duties. I have received my share of chastisement, but with chastisement comes change and healing. I welcome it because it does two things. First, every time it happens a little bit of dross is purged out of me and I am a better person for it and second, I feel the intense love of my Savior as I am “encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” (2 Nephi 1:15).



Well, I hope you have enjoyed our Isaiah study so far. As you can see I didn’t try to decipher every verse, my intent is to immerse myself in the beauty of Isaiah’s language looking for little gems that I can apply to my life. My knowledge isn’t perfect, but with each chapter I study, my soul and mind are expanding and I am finding the sweetness in his words. Alma expresses it best:

and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand… And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.”

Happy pondering!

Duhh

I finally figured out why it's called a Qwerty keyboard..."qwerty"...go on, type it...

Monday, October 08, 2007

This and That

Happy Columbus Day!

I guess most of the public world doesn't celebrate this day, but my son's private school does. I know this because I drove him over there today (40 minute round trip) only to discover that it was closed.

Which is a good thing because he had a 2000 word report due today that we stayed up working on last night until past midnight and of which he only had 864 words. Guess what he is working on right now?

In other news, I have been working on an experiment this month. I can't tell you what it is until November 1st. But here's a clue.

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians!

Did you know that there are only 77 days 13 hours 34 minutes left until Christmas?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

More Scribbles...

Morning Session

President Eyering. Oh President Eyering, I LOVE to hear him speak! It seems that every talk I have ever heard him give was written especially for me, and today was no exception. He spoke of an experience when he was told, “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself, write them down.” He says when he received that inspiration he began that night to record with this question in mind, “Have I seen the hand of God in our lives today?” And he never missed a day. He said that when we begin to write these experiences we see the hand of God so clearly that we come to love him and in time we come to know him. I’ve never been good at journaling, but lately I have been doing a lot of writing; recording inspirations and answers to prayer. In answer to his question: “Did God send a message that was just for me?” Yes, and President Eyering gave it to me.

Quentin L. Cook. What is required in any calling is to be comfortable in bearing witness of the divinity of the Savior. We must live by faith and not by fear. I live by fear a lot…it’s hard to live by faith, but he says if we will live a principle, we will gain a testimony of that principle, and as we follow counsel our faith increases and our fears decrease.

Claudio R. M. Costa made me want to be sure I live for today. The past doesn’t come back and the future might not come. We can lay down our lives for our family by giving of our time. Small acts such as a hug and “I Love You” are small steps that we can do today.

Wow, Julie B. Beck gave an awesome talk on what mothers need to be doing. I cringed a bit in some places because boy do I need some work! In essence: When mothers know who they are and who God is, they will have great powers over the forces of darkness. Children are our greatest jewels. There is eternal influence and power in motherhood. Am I pointing my children toward the temple? Home is where women have the most power and influence. Make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Be selective about outside influences. I want to be known as a “Mother Who Knew”.

Christoffel Goden Jr., by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.

When David A. Bednar was newly called and I heard him speak for the first time, I was given a powerful witness that he was appointed by the Lord. He said that both clean hands and a pure heart are required by the Lord. To have clean hands is to have a remission of sins. To have a pure heart is to walk spotless before God. “Sporadic spurts of intense spiritual activity” will not get us where we need to go, rather it’s small steps of continual progression.

Wow, can you imagine giving over 200 talks in General Conference? That doesn’t include the countless other meetings President Hinkley has spoken in. I remember when he gave this talk the first time. It made me think of Elder Packer’s talk on Saturday where what we testify of doesn’t change. This talk was just as powerful to me this time as it was the first time. If we accept the truth of the first vision and subsequent restoration, then this is the most important work we can be involved in.

Afternoon Session

Robert D. Hales told us that personal revelation is the way we know for ourselves the truths of our existence (doesn't that sound beautiful?). Prayer provides the firm foundation for personal revelation. Then we need to study it out in our mind. However revelation comes with the Lords timetable, so we need to move forward in faith seeking to do the Lords will and trusting that he will direct us.

Richard G. Scott won second favorite talk because he quoted from my favorite passages of scripture, Moses 7(President Eyering was first). I love how he extrapolated on the creations of God from the atom to the outer reaches of space. “All things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.” Whenever I am feeling down I read Moses 7 and know that out of all Gods creations, which are infinite, he still knows me.

Daniel K. Judd quoted from D&C 50 which made him my third favorite speaker because those scriptures were given to me as a direct answer to prayer once. “Unto what are ye ordained?” We are to teach by the spirit of truth. We need to focus on the fundamental doctrines and take great care to nourish those we teach and those we lead.

Octaviano Tenorio, wow, when he spoke of his baby dying I was shocked, I didn’t expect the story to end that way. And he still passed out chocolates! Would I be able to do that? The principle behind is of course that he knew he would see his daughter again, what a blessing to know that. I remember when my mom died I was very sad, but I was also filled with joy for her. I remember feeling a closeness to the Savior that I hadn’t ever experienced before because she was with him. I could almost feel his arms around me as I imagined they were around her.

Claudio D. Zivic says we are more than ordinary people. I like that, I am extraordinary! And, the Lord is responsible for all that is good in our lives.

Do you know that you know that you know? Douglas L. Callister wants to know if you know that you know? It’s necessary for us to find out for ourselves that the gospel is true. There only has to be one witness, but it must be yourself. There are proxies for ordinances, but not for the acquisition of a testimony. It is a grand thing to know, and to know that you know and that the light has not been borrowed from another. I know, and if I were chopped up into little inch size pieces each piece would cry out, “I know that I know that I know Mormonism is true!”

The only General Authority I have met is Dallin H. Oaks. I even shook his hand! My son went through the line twice! He spoke at a stake conference once and was hilarious. It's fun to see them with their hair down now and then...oh yea, he has no hair! But he even joked about that so I'm ok. He says that just because something is good is not sufficient reason for doing it. Good, Better, Best. Think Martha and Mary. Lots of times I am a Martha. I want to be a Mary. I guess that I don’t have to fix dinner anymore, because what my children really want for dinner is me…

And last, we got to hear a last little remark from President Hinkley…he’s 97! When our temple was dedicated he came out for the occasion. I had never been in the presence of a prophet until then. When he walked into the room I could visibly feel a change. I KNEW that he was a prophet of God. The youth all started cheering and almost screaming, (in a reverent sort of way) and I thought, “here’s this little old man who, by the worlds standards, is nothing special, yet he’s being cheered by all these youth with the same adoration they might for a rock star”. It gives me chills just writing about it. I love him.

Well that concludes my scribbles of Conference. Have a great week!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Were you there?

Here are my scribbles from Conference today. I didn’t take notes on every talk, just ones that had meaning for me. As I wrote them here I added a few of my own thoughts as well.

Morning Session:

Boyd K. Packer spoke about how his testimony is the same abiding testimony now as it was years ago, before he became a General Authority. Nothing has really changed except for the fact that it is easier to hear answers from the Lord. When he said that I realized how true it is. What I testify of is the reality of my Savior and Redeemer, and that he died that I might live, the belief that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fullness to the earth. Ten, twenty, thirty years from now I will testify of those same principles. It’s my faith in those principles that deepens. Over the last few months I have received many answers to prayers. Most of those answers come through the scriptures, but some have come through other people or even through circumstances and events that have transpired in my life. I find that the more I study and immerse myself in the Word, the more receptive I am to the whisperings of the Spirit.

Mary N. Cook spoke on patterns of righteousness. It is hard sometimes to break out of old habits and patterns, but we need to break the incorrect traditions and install new ones. What patterns do I need to change that will help my children to grow in truth and righteousness?

I loved Spencer J. Condie’s talk about Rachel. “And God remembered Rachel.” Sometimes I get so impatient that things aren’t happening how I want them to. We were supposed to be in our new house on our property last year, but we won’t even be building for another year. For awhile I couldn’t understand what was taking so long, but as I look back over the last couple of years I can see the Lord’s hand in our lives. My children needed to be in this ward, and I needed to learn some lessons before we moved. As God remembered Rachel, so will he remember us.

I love to listen to Dieter F. Uchtdorf speak. I just like his accent! He also gives a great message. Enduring to the end is not passively hanging in there, it’s an active participation in our covenants; a process filling every minute of our day. Our membership in this church is a reason to rejoice. The Lord knows our circumstances and challenges. The message of the gospel lifts us above the despair and darkness of our lives.

Thomas S. Monson always has such great poems and stories. I was too engrossed in his story to write anything except, "The Lord hears our prayers and our cries for help". Very nicely illustrated by his story today.

Afternoon Session:

M. Russell Ballard’s talk is a must read over to get it all, but the basics were how to explain to people, not of our faith, what we believe in a simple format: Facts, Faith, Families, Fruits of the Restored Gospel. After I reread his talk, I’m making a little card to carry around.

Joseph B. Wirthlin. What can I say? I love this man. Here’s what I wrote: “Love is found in the simple acts of kindness we do for one another……………watching him struggle to stand and speak, but not give up is a profoundly moving experience.” I don’t even really remember much of what he talked about after he started to shake. And I can’t really even express what I felt except that as I witnessed his great love for the Lord as he struggled through his talk, doing what his Savior asked of him through great personal trial, my heart filled up and spilled down my cheeks. He could have asked for a chair, he could have stopped and said he couldn’t go on and no one would have thought any less of him. But he struggled valiantly on, testifying of his Savior and Redeemer. His example alone made me desire to press on through whatever I am called to do.

Bruce D. Porter asked “What is a broken heart? And why is it considered a sacrifice?” I listened, but didn’t write anything down, except this quote, “When we yield our hearts to the Lord, the attractions of the world lose their luster.” That quote could fit very well into my last post.

Eric W. Kopischke made me want to go and read “Preach My Gospel”. I liked his idea of using it for FHE and having the teenagers teach from it as a missionary would.

Michael J. Teh: Am I My Brother’s Keeper? He said that to some degree we all depend on each other to make it back to our Heavenly Home. I was inspired to: Give More, Serve More, Spend Less.

I put a star by Keith K. Hilbigs because I wanted to definitely reread his talk right away. “Quench Not the Spirit”. Whatever level of spirituality we are at there is always a higher level we can obtain. Time is an asset we must use to increase our level. The more I read and study Isaiah, the more I learn, but the more I see that I don’t know! We draw nearer to the Savior as we keep his commandments with exactness. My thoughts are: there are some commandments that are easy to keep with exactness. Tithing is one. Others require more effort and a continual need to focus on our Savior so that we don’t veer off the path…another thought that fits into my last post!

I loved Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk on the Godhead. He very logically expounded the facts and fiction of the Nicene Creed versus biblical based doctrine.

And last, Russell M. Nelson…alas, all I have written down is “Scriptural Witnesses”. Guess I’ll need to reread his as well. What can I say, it was the last talk…

Have a nice Sabbath!

Of Terebinth Trees

I posted this last week, but found a couple of errors so I pulled it and reworked it. However I am only publishing half of the original. I decided to keep the posts shorter so they are more easily digestible. I think with Isaiah you have to be brief!

In the previous Isaiah post I mused on what it meant to reason with the Lord. The Lord loves us and he wants to give us every opportunity to come back to him. “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39). But what happens when we don’t? And furthermore, what are the reasons that caused us to veer off the path in the first place? They are many and varied, but I think they all contain one common element.

“For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens ye have chosen.” (Isaiah 1:29) The footnote for oaks refers to the terebinth trees and gardens used in idol worship.

Several years ago we built a new house. It was the first one we had owned, we had lived in rentals up until that time. I was so excited to be able to decorate that I spent an inordinate amount of time, money and energy on that pursuit. I bought all kinds of magazines and spent hours perusing them, dreaming about what my house was going to look like. One day as I sat down to read I pulled out a stack of Ensigns that I had been neglecting for some time. One cover caught my eye as I was glancing through, but I passed over it. I leafed through the stack, rearranged the pile and then randomly selected one. It was the one I had passed over. On the cover was a picture of Moses with the Ten Commandments and the article depicted was entitled, “The Second Commandment Today—Refusing to Worship Graven Images.” At that point I began to connect the dots; I was being told something. As I read the article, I was filled with a deep sense of shame for there were some points made in the article that seem to be specifically put there for me to read. I recognized that I had been putting the Decorating God before my Savior. Decorating my house was my garden of worship and I had been neglecting my other duties of wife and mother.

Both the first and second commandments instruct us to put God first. I can’t think of any sin that doesn’t begin by disobeying those commandments. The aforementioned article states that worshipping modern images results in confusion, corruption and a divided heart. When I was so immersed in my decorating I was confused about my priorities. My children were neglected, dinner wasn’t ready on time (if ever) and my relationship with my husband suffered. Because God was not first in my life, my focus was askew and it was easy for Satan to lead me down the wrong path.

This experience happened several years ago, but as I write this I can think back on this last week and see too many times that I allowed a little graven image to distract me. It is a never ending battle. In fact I should be in bed right now rather than writing this post! But there is hope. The Lord is always there to guide us back to the strait and narrow. Sometimes it’s just a nudge (toward the bed), but other times it’s not always a pleasant experience…

But you'll have to wait for another post to get the scintillating details.

Happy Pondering!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh Happy Day!


I got an award! My very first. And I’m going to do what my mother always said to do when people compliment you…

“Say Thank You”

Thank you Joey! She was the first person outside of my family to comment on my blog, and hers was the first blog outside of my family that I commented on, so I think it’s cool that she’s the first person to give me an award.

“Smile”

:) :) :) :) :)


and


“Shut up”!


Ok, that’s the hard one. I just have to say that I’m honored to know that I make someone smile. Joey makes me smile because she writes about her day to day life with her children which I love reading about. I don’t blog about my day to day because I’ve never been able to remember at the end of the day what I did. She inspires me to be a better mom.


The creator of the award had this to say -

"The thing that I love most about blogging is that I learn so much about a person just by reading their blog. I have met MANY wonderful people with wonderful stories to tell, and I am grateful every day for each person that I have the pleasure of crossing paths in life with. I wanted to create something special for the people who have inspired me through their blogging; the stories they tell, and the lives they lead with grace and dignity. I visit their blogs for inspiration and encouragement...Please grab your badge and wear it (with a smile) proudly, and pass it on because you inspire and encourage me---thank you!"


So now to pass it on…I’m the kind of person who feels really bad if I don’t include everyone (that’s why my Tweenager had NINTEEN 12 year old girls over for her last birthday…), but I’m going to restrain myself and limit this to one person.


The award goes to…


Betsy –my sister whom I admire because she is a mom to three and is working full time to put her husband through school. She doesn’t get to blog very much because she is so busy, but I love it when she does as she makes me laugh and think about life a little more out of the box, which is out of my comfort zone! So here you go Betsy Bo Betsy…Love you!


(By the way, her name is Elizabeth, so you will want to refer to her as that, but she will always be Betsy to me.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Detailed Post

It’s interesting how the Lord works in our lives. Yesterday I was feeling good; I was happy and life was looking up. I think my last post reflected some of my confidence in myself. Today…not so good. I had a bad morning, and after a couple of things happened to sour my mood I went to my room, got on my knees and proceeded to tell Heavenly Father all the things I was done doing, and he’d have to figure out a different plan for my life, because I was done with this one.

Then while I was in the shower I thought of writing a post detailing all the sordid details and making other people feel sorry for me and spreading my misery.

Then I had to take my son to school and on the way we had a decent conversation and my spirit lifted a little.

Then I came home and checked on my blog and there were two comments that made me happy.

Then I read this post and this post and this post and a few more and I contemplated some things, learned something new, and laughed my head off.

It makes me think of how the Lord knows what you need.

I’m in the Primary presidency in my ward and one of my duties is to conduct every couple of months and give a small message about the theme of the month. Usually I say a little prayer and then some experience or scripture comes to mind that I can speak about and all goes well. A couple of weeks ago I was getting ready for church and realized I hadn’t given thought to a message. I panicked just a wee bit, then said a prayer and waited for something to materialize in my brain. Nothing. I prayed again. Nothing. My panick heightened. Then a thought popped in, “check to see if it’s the bishopric’s week for the message.” I did. It was.

The next week I was getting ready for church and realized I hadn’t given thought to a message. I prayed. The message came.

The Lord doesn’t waste our time.

A few years ago I was taking my kids to see a play and needed to get money from an ATM. My bank had two locations, so I decided to go to the closer one, as it was more on the way. A thought kept popping into my mind that I should choose the other one, but I ignored it and went to the one on the way. It was closed for maintenance, so I had to go to another bank across the street and pay $1.50 to get my money.

The Lord doesn’t waste our money.

Once I was taking a walk and feeling very down. In my mind I started speaking to God and you know what? He answered. We had a little conversation right there. I knew he was speaking to me because I cry when I feel his presence and I had tears streaming down my cheeks. He told me to look at the leaves that I was passing by and to notice all the detail. He told me that he created those leaves down to the tiniest detail. Likewise he was in my life down to the tiniest detail.

I’m feeling better now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Come Now, Let Us Reason

Seminary…doesn’t the word just make you tired? Can you recall those early mornings, dragging yourself out of a nice warm bed, knowing that all your non Mormon classmates were still snoozing…no fair! My daughter calls it Cemetary. She feels dead in the mornings, but still manages to get up and make herself presentable and get there on time. I’m proud of her. I wasn’t so disciplined myself, however, I did manage to get in three years and one of them was the Old Testament. I’m sure we plowed through Isaiah, but I don’t remember much, except one scripture, which is actually one of my favorites, Isaiah 1:18

Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

I like it because it makes the Lord seem so personal to me. It’s like he’s inviting me to have a cozy chat with him and he wants to tell me what he can do to help me. He’s telling me that no matter how far gone I am, he can help me. Remember our sick friend from the last Isaiah post? Now he was pretty far gone, but there's still hope for him. This scripture also has a lot of symbolism regarding red and white, crimson and wool which is very fascinating, but I’ll have to save that for another post. For this post I’m looking from another angle.

This verse and others like it have popped up in my life a lot these days. I have been going through a trial of sorts for the last two years, and I have been trying to figure out how to best get through it. I have tried a variety of ways, but most of the time I have been hitting my head against the wall. A few months ago I had a really strange dream and I woke up wondering what it meant. I have had a lot of weird dreams in the last couple of years and I have found that if I immediately read my scriptures that I will be given some answers. So at 4:00 am, I rolled out of bed, picked up my scriptures and randomly opened them. I ended up in the last three verses of D&C 49: 26-28,

“Behold, I say unto you, go forth as I have commanded you; repent of all your sins; ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Behold I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst, and you shall not be confounded. Behold, I am Jesus Christ and I come quickly.”

I wasn’t sure how this connected to my dream and was unclear of what I was being told; obviously I needed to repent of some sins, but which ones? I felt I had so many…and what was I supposed to ask for? I was confused, so I knelt and prayed and the thought came to me, “keep reading”. So I got back up and continued in D&C 50. The first few verses had some phrases that popped out at me and started to give me an inkling of understanding, but overall I was still confused. I cried out in my mind, "I don’t understand!", and then the very next words I read were in verse 10,

“…let us reason together, that ye may understand; Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand."

I love it when that happens, when the Lord gives a quick answer to let you know he’s there. It’s startling, but beautiful. I went on to read the whole section and I’d like to say that I came to a complete understanding of what the Lord meant and what I was to understand, but I didn’t. I found some more phrases that were clues to me, I knew I was being told something, but really, I was rather disappointed. I expected that I would find the meaning to my dream in that section, but I still came away confused. Over the next few days I kept turning to that section and reading and rereading to try and glean more understanding, but came away with little more than I was given that day. So then why did he say he would reason with me and I would understand, yet I still not understand?

What does it mean to reason? I looked up the word ‘reason’ in the Noah Webster 1828 dictionary. I use the dictionary a lot when I study because understanding the full meaning of a word will often bring added dimension. I like the 1828 dictionary because in that day Christian principles were the basis of society, so some of the definitions reflect that standard.

Reason (noun): A faculty of the mind by which it distinguishes truth from falsehood, good from evil, and which enables the possessor to deduce inferences from facts or propositions.

So reasoning is distinguishing truth from falsehood, and good from evil, but how do we know what is truth and what is not? Is the world round or is it flat? Is the earth the center of the universe, or is the sun? Centuries ago this was questionable. Well, Abraham knew, but nobody else did for a very long time; that knowledge came as men studied, observed and questioned. Then as truths were learned and principle was laid upon principle, it became common knowledge that the world was round and the earth revolved around the sun.

In order to reason we need to know what is good and what is evil. Some of that is inborn as we are all given the Light of Christ that we may discern good from evil. We are also taught, from the moment we are able to think, about choices and consequences and how to choose the right, and what happens when we don’t. As we grow older and become accountable for our sins, we learn about repentance and as we make mistakes and apply the principles of repentance we become stronger and more knowledgable about what choices bring happiness and which bring despair. D&C 50:40 says, “Ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of truth.” We grow line upon line, precept upon precept. Our powers of reasoning sharpen with each principle we come to understand.

Over the last couple of months I have immersed myself in Isaiah. I have studied my scriptures nearly every day, sometimes only for a few mintues, but more often for an hour or more. At first I didn’t enjoy it so much. Isaiah is so hard to understand and some days I felt I was getting nothing. I began really concentrating on the imagery, letting the words form pictures in my mind and then writing down all the things that came to me. My thoughts were scattered and random, but every so often something would make sense and a truth would begin to unfold. I began to see connections and my writings became more focused. Line upon line, precept upon precept I began to "grow in the knowledge of truth”.

I spoke of going through a trial over the last couple of years and recently I made a major decision that I thought would help me to pass through this trial. I had tried to make this decision before, about six months ago, only at that time it was a rash decision. I sort of prayed about it (more like I told the Lord what I was going to do) and through my scriptures I was told no, I could not go through with it. I cried and threw a fit but I didn’t do it. However, over the last couple of months my perspective has begun to change. I was able to see the situation in a different light. Through my scripture study understanding was given to me. I reasoned with the Lord about why I thought it was ok to make this decision this time. I prayed many heartfelt prayers and I fasted. I went to the temple and this time I was told yes, I could go through with it.

What made the difference?

D&C 50:21-25 says, "Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."

Through my consistency in scripture study I have grown in truth and light and my powers of reasoning have been sharpened. I was given more knowledge about this particular trial, and I can see now that had I followed through on the decision the first time, the consequenses would have been disastorous. I know that because the first couple of days were really hard. I questioned if it were right, even though it had been confirmed to me in the temple. I'm still working through the trial, but with the light being given to me I will be able to endure and even find some joy in the process. The other day I started to go back through D&C 50 and this time I have been able to understand more of what the Lord is trying to tell me. He truly was reasoning with me, I just didn't have enough knowledge to understand what he wanted me to know yet.

The world really is round! And I am beginning to see the roundness of my world. As I move Christ toward the center of my life, my world is becoming brighter and brighter, and I am more able to see the beauty and joy within.

“I believe in [Christ] as I believe the sun has risen, not because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

Have a great day!