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.


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...