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!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Tale of Tangles

If my camera were charged up I would take a picture of all the cords that are attached to my desktop computer, there are about 18...EIGHTEEN! It was a chore untangling them, and THEN I had to remember where they all went when I moved the computer downstairs! Thank goodness I had my 12 year old daughter (the tweenager) helping me or I would have never figured it all out! As it is, we ended up with about five cords left over that we weren't sure where they went...but the computer is running fine, so go figure. Contrast that to my laptop that has one cord running to it.

We're almost done moving. All the rooms are switched and just need some fine tuning. I'm still about a week away, but then life will be sweet, because I will reunited with my best friend!

I'm almost done with my next Isaiah post, hopefully it will be the next one up.

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Moving right along...

I haven’t posted anything for awhile because I’ve been moving. No, not to a new house, that won’t happen for a long time, we haven’t begun building yet…still waiting…and waiting…actually I don’t let myself dream about my new house anymore, it’s just counterproductive, I get depressed and then don’t accomplish anything.

Why do they make master bedrooms so big nowdays? The master bedroom in this house is the size of two and a half of the other bedrooms in this house. I could have used an extra bedroom.
I have six kids, three boys and three girls. Yes, like the Brady Bunch, only we are not like the Brady Bunch. For one thing, I lack Alice. I need an Alice. The other difference is, they are all ours, together. Nice big Mormon family. My mom had nine and her mom had nine. They both had six boys and three girls, all in the same order except the first two. I could not do nine. Somedays I cannot do six. But here they all are so somehow I must.

The order of my family is: girl, boy, girl, girl, boy, boy. It’s been a challenge on how to cohabitate with this brood, the bedroom arrangements have changed over the years as we’ve moved and moved and as boys and girls got too big to be roommates. This house has five bedrooms, so when we moved here we started out with the older two having their own rooms, and the two middle girls sharing, and the two little boys sharing. The master bedroom became the master bedroom, the office and the sewing room. That worked for awhile, until the older/middle girl turned 11 going on 16 and decided that she didn’t want to share with the younger/middle girl and consequently made all our lives miserable for a while. What do you do? Anyone else have a tweenager? So we moved the boys into the master bedroom…with us… remember how big it is. I had a chaise lounge in there and we threw a mattress on the floor and made them their own little corner. Then the tweenager had her own room and life became peaceful again, sort of… the master bedroom was now, the master bedroom, the office, the sewing room and the two little boys’ room. Let’s just say that I know how Ma and Pa Ingalls felt in their little one room cabin!

Anyone sew? If so, or if you do any other crafty thing, like scrapbooking you know what kind of a mess that generates. How about an office, you know how messy they can become too, all that paper etc. not to mention, the computer was in my room, so people came and went as they pleased, and there was no door to my bathroom, so if I happened to be undressing for the shower and someone needed to use the computer (which was all the time 24/7…ok 16/7), anyway, you get the picture. CAN I HAVE SOME PRIVACY HERE PEOPLE?!?!?!!!!!

My husband grew up in a family of four. Mom, Dad, big brother, span of five years, husband. He’s had a hard time adjusting. His home was always spotless. His mother taught school, no one was home to mess up the house. I teach school, only I do it at home, so my kids are always here, so my house is always spotless, because they are such good cleaners…. hahahahahahahahahahahaha…(sorry, insanity moment there).

Anyhoo, he would get upset with the master bedroom…the whole house actually, but we’ll just concentrate on this area. He would tell me it needed to be cleaned up. He was looking at it as our bedroom… “You need to clean the bedroom.” I would translate it into, “You need to clean the office, sewing room, bedroom, bedroom and bathroom.” (remember, there was no door between the bedroom and bathroom). I could not keep up with it. Something had to give. I longed for my own little room, my own little haven. I hit upon a hairbrained idea. I would move. (I thought about Hawaii, somewhere far away, and warm and tropical….....ok back to reality.) I decided that the three girls could all move into the master bedroom, husband and I would take the back bedroom by the other upstairs bathroom, the little boys would get their own room and older son would get the other bedroom (he already had his own, but I wanted the one he was in, so he would have to move) and the downstairs would become the office/sewing room. Geat plan, just a few glitches. One: convince husband. Two: convince older daughter and tweenager. Three: Convince husband. Four: convince tweenager.

I started on husband first, just planting the idea into his head. Then I brought it up to the older daughter. She wanted a laptop in exchange. I agreed. I was desperate. (Actually, I wouldn’t have agreed had she been any younger, but she would be needing one as she will be starting online college classes next semester, so it was convenient to agree!) I waited awhile before I brought it up to the tweenager. I waited until she was in a really good mood. My shameless ploy worked. She said, and I quote, “I’d do it in a heartbeat!” ( I will remind her of it when she starts complaining later!) Was this really her talking? Yes, it was. She was excited at the prospect of inhabiting the master bedroom! Go figure. Actually the master bedroom has two ginormous walk-in closets. She would get one and older daughter would get one. Youngest has an armoire and doesn’t really care about her own space yet. She was just happy to be sharing with her older sisters. She’s my cheerful little sunshiny girl (who does whine a bit much, but is still easy to please). In the meantime I kept bringing it up to the husband, promising all sorts of things if he would agree. Finally, after two months, I got the go ahead.

So, that’s what has been happening this last week, the upstairs has been in an upheaval. So has the downstairs as all the unwanted from upstairs has been piled up downstairs. But, I have my own room! The last three mornings I have read my scriptures in my room uninterrupted! Life is sweet! My room is…my room, and it is clean! Actually there’s no room for anything except the bed, it takes up three/fourths of the room! But I love it. And by the end of the week I should have an office/sewing room. I will have a place for all the school stuff that is strewn around the downstairs. And, I can sew! I haven’t sewn forever. It was just too much trouble and stress to worry about cleaning it up after each session. Any sewer knows that you can’t really put a project away in the middle of it. I have a couple of quilts waiting to be finished and three or four waiting to be made.

So life is looking up. There is sunshine in my soul today!

Back to the moving, got to get finished so I can get sewing! Just wanted to let you know why I haven’t posted lately.

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The sands of the sea...


My last post was a pathetic attempt at some Isaiah type imagery. What does a picture of two cute boys buried in the sand have to do with laundry? At face value it might seem to be that because they are buried in the sand their clothes will need to be washed, or you might consider how little boys tend to generate lots of laundry, and then you are getting closer. But there's a little more to this seemingly random word and picture. That is how Isaiah is, at face value his disconnected and ambigious words confuse and you have to probe a little deeper to understand the message.

I decided to write a little verse about my picture and I hope you enjoy it!

And the people did throw forth their fine twined linens, and their purple mantles and cloths of scarlet and gold and many other cloths did they throw forth which were soiled and full of filth, and they did stretch forth as it were like the sands of the sea and they piled up in heaps as great mountains and the people were buried. And one did rise above the rest and did cause the waters to whirl to and fro and the air to blow forth as a furnace, hot and scourging, and the fine twined linens and the purple mantles and cloths of scarlet and gold were cleansed and purified, yet still did they pile up as great mountains until the one began to disperse them among the people, each to his own kind. And the waters abated and the air did cease to blow for a time and the one came to rest which rest was glorious.

Or in other words, I was up to my neck in laundry!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Life Today

Here's a bit of imagery for you about how my day is going.
I'll give you a word and let you figure out the meaning...


Thursday, September 13, 2007

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen:
not only because I see it,
but because by it I see everything else

This is my sunrise. I claim it. It happened on a beautiful, quiet morning in the waters off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I was fishing with my husband of 17 years 363 days. Isn't it beautiful?

One of my favorite quotes is the one above, by C.S. Lewis. These past few weeks of reading Isaiah have opened my eyes and helped me to see more than I even imagined. I had a major decision to make this week and my answers came through my study of Isaiah. I'll be sharing some more musings soon, meanwhile...

Have a beautiful day!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Musings from Isaiah - Chapter One

In ancient times because the written word was scarce, anything of importance either had to be written in stone, or passed along orally, which usually meant memorizing long passages of poetry or prose. Passages written in poetry were easier to remember, however it wasn’t rhyming poetry as we know it. It employed the use of parallelism and imagery. Parallelism is fascinating, but hard to pick out. I will be concentrating more on imagery during this study. Imagery helps us to visualize things and aids in memory retention. It also helps us to see beyond the face value; it broadens our focus and deepens our perspective. I think it is one of Isaiah’s most powerful tools. He puts before us an image or analogy that has meaning on many different levels and leaves it to us to draw out the application.

Isaiah starts right off in chapter one, laying an image before us. In Isaiah 1:5-6 he compares the house of Israel to a body: “Why should you be stricken anymore? Ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”

Here we have a body—a person—stricken from head to toe, “no soundness in it”; he’s rendered pretty much immobile. The whole head is sick. The head is kind of the control room for the rest of our body. I had a migraine once. It was the only one I have ever had (knocking on wood). I had to be in a dark room without any sound or movement whatsoever. It was the most miserable I have ever been. I couldn’t make any kind of rational decision, let alone even think. I had to have my husband come home from work, because I couldn’t care for my children. I just wanted to die and be let out of this misery! It didn’t matter that the rest of my body was ok, the headache did me in.

Moving along, Isaiah tells us that the heart is faint, it is diseased. I’ve never had a heart attack, but I hear they are very painful. I have had heart ache though. Great anguish, deep within me that I could find no relief from, it literally made me feel sick all over. It affected all my decisions and caused much distress in my life.

On top of it all, there are sores all over this body— putrifying sores that are in need of attention. Gross. I’ve had several ingrown toenails. They are disgusting to look at and painful to the touch. If I stubbed my toe or someone stepped on them the pain was almost unbearable. I had to have a couple of them cut out by a doctor. Even after they healed over, I would cringe and curl up my toes when someone would step too close to them.

So this person is in bad shape. Why? What brought him to that point?

If you go back to verse 2 it says, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” This person was brought up and taught correctly, but rebelled. Why do children who are brought up in the light of the gospel rebel? It makes me think of when the Lord came to this continent and for two centuries following his visit the people were righteous. Then a new generation of children fell away. Why?

At the time I studied this chapter my mind had been caught up in thinking about the political scene in our country. The evangelical vote is a big deal these days and I had just read an article depicting how several candidates have hired political strategists specifically to help them attract the Christian voters. “Vain oblations...calling of assemblies” (vs. 13) were the phrases that popped out in this chapter. Rather than these politicians being true to what they believe, they want to know what rhetoric to use to “appeal” to the voters. The footnotes in verse 13 lead us to Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men”.

I can’t pretend to understand the political world so this is not meant to be a political post, you’ll have to refer to someone else for that, but I think the words of Isaiah can make us aware of what to watch out for in the world today. Who are we following, who are we allowing to be our leaders? Who do we trust? Are we voting for politicians who are priniciple based, speaking truth, or ones who are “appealing” to us, telling us what we want to hear, whether it is true or not? What path are we going to be led down and what will be our state at the end of that path? Could it be that the Nephites began following after a different leader, trusting in the arm of the flesh?

We're not finished with chapter one yet, so be sure to check back in later for more musings.

Happy pondering!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What's the point?

In May of this year I had the opportunity to visit a friend who lives near Chicago and while there we visited the Art Institute of Chicage where this picture is exhibited. It's called A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by Georges-Pierre Seurat. I’ve seen it in books, but nothing prepared me for seeing it in it’s original at the museum. I had never paid attention to the dimensions, so when I walked in the room and saw it how big it was I was in awe! It’s apporximately 6’8” x 10’10”; the people are almost lifesize!
I love this picture, not necessarily for the scene, but because of the way it is painted. It’s a Post Impressionist painting employing a fascinating method called pointillism which is a contrast of miniature dots: tiny, precise brush strokes of different colors close to one another that form a single hue in the viewers eye when viewed at a distance. It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but in real life it is fascinating and beautiful. It took Seurat two years to complete it. He spent a lot of time at the park drawing outlines and perfecting shapes before employing a single brushstroke, but the time and effort produced a beautiful masterpiece.

I’ve been working on my first Isaiah post, but it is taking me a little longer than I thought it would. I am not an expert on Isaiah! I’m not versed in the historical. The way I am studying Isaiah right now is just by reading and writing my impressions. I find myself writing so much, but in looking back, only a little of it makes sense. It’s like I have to write to clear away the cobwebs that are making it hard to see what I am supposed to be learning. I find a scripture here and there that leads me to ask a question, and I may or may not get an answer, so my notes have been mostly random thoughts jotted down on paper with no rhyme or reason to them. It's much like Isaiah himself, he seems very disconnected because unlike the Book of Mormon prophets, he doesn’t write a chronological history, he jumps around through time and it’s really hard to decipher. Trying to put those thoughts into something coherent enough to post is challenging!

As of this writing I am on chapter 10, but I want to begin my Isaiah posts with chapter one, so I am going back and trying to shape those thoughts into something coherent. It is hard work and time consuming, yet I am fascinated by what I am learning. I am beginning to see the outline and each chapter yeilds a few brushstrokes on the landscape. Looked at up closely it doesn’t seem to make much sense, and I am probably way off base on some things, but as I review my thoughts from the previous chapters along with the knowledge acquired from the later chapters, I am finding many connections and the picture is beginning to form. Oh, believe me, it is only a small corner, but nevertheless it is starting to take shape. My problem is getting it all on paper! I am learning so many things, and a dozen blogs have been written in my head, but when I get to the computer they seem to dissapte into thin air! But I will press forward and I will have a post for you soon. And when I do post, if it seem convoluted as you read, remember that right now I am just shaping the outline and putting in a few dots, but eventually, hopefully, it will become a beautiful picture.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I remembered...

Who I met...

William Devane.

If you will remember, he was Greg Sumner on Knots Landing.