Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Have You Been There?

I would feel like a fraud if I said I wrote this poem.

Just over a week ago I woke up with some of these words in my head.  It started with the repeated refrain, "Have you been there in that place?" and the general feeling of how we can lift others by the things we say.  The more I thought about it more words came, and as I wrote them down, more.

While I slowly woke up a few days later, I realized they were running through my mind again, only this time with music.  While I thought about it, more little snippets came.

This may not be the finished product, as I'm pretty sure there is one more bit that needs to get in there, but this is what I quickly polished this morning when I remembered that I had planned on sharing it in our homeschool group today because it fit so well with the topic.  To prepare for class today we had read the talk "Before I Build a Wall" by Loren C. Dunn (April 1991 general conference) and studied Al Fox, then took that study further in our own personal way.

Have You Been There?

We have a gift
We have a choice
Our simple words
One little voice
How we use that
Shows our heart.
Have you been there
In that place?

Those little words
Can bring a smile,
Can cause a tear
Or lift a trial.
Such simple words,
Moment in time,
Will heal a heart.
What is your choice? 
All need our love,
Crave heaven's light.
Have you been there
In that place?

Come, be my friend.
I like your smile!
Can we just talk
A little while?
I need your help.
Have all you need.
Here, hold my hand.
Such little seeds!
These words of love
Can overpower
The dark around us
Every hour.
Have you been there
In that place?

Words spoken true
Can bring a smile,
Can make one hurt,
Can lift a trial.
One simple phrase,
So little time.
What little "place"
Will you create?
Help them see
The Savior's face.
Have you been there
In that place?
Will you take them
To that place?


Sunday, March 2, 2014

"Filled with..."

In Moses 8:28 & 30 it mentions that at Noah's time before the flood, the earth was "filled with violence."  What a sad thing to look around and see that the earth now is much the same.

I brought up the idea of being "filled with" during family home evening a few weeks ago after Erin led us in talking about Joseph of Egypt.  We made a chart comparing what Joseph was "filled with" vs. his brothers.  Joseph's list had things like love, patience, forgiveness, and faith, and the brothers' list had revenge, anger, and violence.  At one point Melanie mentioned that towards the end of Joseph's story the brothers were filled with repentence.  I really liked that.

In our ward we've had some unexpected happenings recently.  A few weeks ago our neighbors had a fire in their home, and yesterday a different family had their washer flood 2 1/2 rooms in their home.  Ward members reacted quickly, and lots of help was both offered and given in both cases.  On a more personal level, after Isaac was born we got the standard 2 meals set up by the Relief Society, but then over about the next 6 weeks we received a call almost every week from someone saying they were bringing dinner.  What a blessing to closely associate with so many people that are filled with love and service!  In true "pay it forward" fashion, it makes me want to give random service more myself.

A search from this last conference mentions being "filled with the spirit," "filled with faith and hope,"  "filled with people who desire . . . to keep the commandments," "filled with potential and grace," "filled with this love," "filled with gratitude," "filled with love for the Savior and the loving father who sent him," "filled with the rich blessings of priesthood power," and "filled with love and courtesy and the spirit of The Lord."  Wow! The conference before that adds in filled with light, compassion, peace, joy, hope, miracles, courtesy, harmony, emotion, and (ha!) food.  What a great list!  

Besides making me want to be filled with all those things, it makes me think of Matthew 7:16-18, 20, which talks about knowing people by their fruits.  What wonderful fruit this gospel brings!  Gives a deeper meaning to "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteouness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6).

Flashes of Intelligence

I just noticed that over the past four months I've got a lot of draft posts and very few completed and published posts.  I feel like all I've got right now are flashes of intelligence.  I can't keep a thought long enough to write it down since it seems I'm always in the middle of something.  What I do get jotted, there's not much time to carry them further.  But for a bit I enjoy pondering the flash.  If it does make it to a beginning blog post, my arms and hands are busy with baby (which they most definitely enjoy and should be) so sitting where I can focus and type very long doesn't happen often.

A few examples...

The Golden Rule is "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."  Do you know there is also a Silver Rule?  "Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you." Isn't the difference interesting?  Very simplified, "Treat people nice" vs. "Don't be mean."  Would you rather live Golden or Silver?

What I learn from babies - this list could go on and on if I would write them down the moment it comes.  I hope most are written in my heart somewhere.  The biggest overriding lesson is to enjoy.  Enjoy every sweet little moment.  While I've done that this time around I've noticed a lot of determination in this guy.  Maybe it's been there with all of them and I wasn't paying enough attention, or just don't remember.  It's so interesting watching him learn.  Working and working to control those little arms and hands, trying to get them to go where he wants them to.  The past week he's been very interested in looking around.

Fear stinks.  Every time I realize I'm fearing something, I run 2 Timothy 1:7 through my mind to start thinking how I can instead react with power, love, and a sound mind.  Just found this talk by President Hinckley that looks like a great one to study on that.

Here's to more flashes.  Hopefully they'll get more intelligent.  :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dragon Meat

My sister introduced us to a great way of making roast that our family LOVES.  The blog she got it from calls it Mississippi Roast, but my sister renamed it Dragon Meat and we're sticking with that.

I've made the mistake of believing I could go to a blog for a recipe forever before, and then suddenly the blog was private and there was no way I could track down the recipe until I remembered that it was a friend that told me about it in the first place and she had printed it.  So I'm reposting Dragon Meat here as a backup to their blog and to my printed copy.  AND so anyone that happens to check this out can try this amazing recipe too.

So Good.


DRAGON MEAT

Put your roast (or two - you'll want leftovers, just adjust ingredients accordingly) in the crock pot.

Sprinkle one packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix over the roast.

Sprinkle one packet of Au
Jus gravy mix over the roast (apparently brown gravy mix works too, but I haven't tried that).

Place a whole stick of butter on top of the roast.

Put 5ish peperoncini peppers on top of the roast.  (If you don't know, these peppers are pretty mild and come in a jar.  The last time we did this we didn't have any, so we used yellow hot chili peppers.  A touch more spicy and a touch more yum.)

Don't add water.

Cook for 8 hours or so.



(In posting this, I realized the recipe originated at Laurie's Life, then was posted with pictures at a Perfectly Lovely Ordinary Day.  Now they both have credit for the awesomeness.)

* The picture, and the story behind the picture, came from here.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Too Short

If you ask to hold my baby and notice a flash of wildness in my eyes and notice my mother arms clutch a little tighter, don't take it personally.

I'm in a soaking-in-the-sweetness moment.  

Call it apronstringitis that struck really early.  The 3-6 month clothes are waiting in the wings.  I'm pushing those away, but it's a battle soon lost.  Tomorrow he'll be bigger.  He's growing.

These feelings also strike at night when I've been up taking care of him and the bed calls.  It will be one of those wee morning hours.  He'll be fed and asleep.  We could get back to bed, but his babyness has a firm grip on my heart strings.  It's quiet, no one else is vying for their turn, and I can enjoy the moment.

Or two or three.

I love it.

Eventually the voice of reason starts talking, whispering things about extreme tiredness and the list of to-do's for the next day.  Since I'm already sleep deprived, the voice eventually wins, but not without a battle.  At least I've had my moment. 

Not that I don't also love watching others enjoy him, especially my husband and other children.  But this baby time is so short, as I've seen with my six others.

Then again, the three's and seven's and nine's and twelve's and fifteen's and sixteen's are short too, and I need to enjoy and appreciate those as well.

Don't mind me.  There's a piece of heaven in my arms.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Feet, Hills, and Rods

I learned a great lesson that I continue to learn from often in the book 10 Great Souls I Want to Meet in Heaven.  S. Michael Wilcox mentions that like a compass used to draw a perfect circle from a fixed center point, we should all have a spiritual compass as well with what he refers to as a "fixed foot" and a "searching foot."  As "there can be no true or complete circle without a center" (2), it is necessary to find our center and keep it planted strong, reinforcing it with consistent checks of our most reliable sources of truth.  Then, we can search out more truth using our "searching foot," comparing those to our "fixed foot" and the truth we've established there.  Without a firmly fixed foot, it would be easy to be dragged us away from our center in our search, giving us an imperfect circle or no circle at all.


While out walking one night I had this idea on my mind.  It came to me that we could look at our circle from the side, and from that vantage point it could be more like a hill.  That if we aren't holding on to that center, the further we get away from the center, the easier it would be to eventually "fall away" from the truth that we do have.  (This was the best hill picture I could find, LOL.)


When I was mentioning that idea to my kids a couple days later, one of them pointed out that it's like holding to the iron rod.  That again, if we aren't holding to the word of God, we can easily be pulled away to the mists of darkness and great and spacious buildings.  (So blessed to have smart kids that teach me too!)


Our scripture reading yesterday in Alma 30 brought in that idea yet again.  After a terrible war there began to be "continual peace."  "Yea, and the people did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in observing the ordinances of God" (v. 3).  Apparently they were very good people, but when Korihor comes to visit a couple verses later, he causes all kinds of problems, knocking many people off their center.  "And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms" (v. 18).  I have to wonder if they questioned his words much.  They were doing right and good before he came, but for whatever reason were quick to listen to and quick to believe Korihor's words over what they have been taught and what they had been living.

Yet when Korihor moved on to the people of Ammon, "they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.  And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land.  And he came over into the land of Gideon, and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and found and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land" (v. 20-21).

How terribly sad that the first group was so easily swayed, but how excellent that the second and third groups were so quick to identify the errors and not even tolerate it being in their midst.  Had the first group not been tried much?  Had the second and third realized the blessing and comfort that comes through having that firm foundation?  Something I want to keep thinking about.  But regardless, their center was firmly planted, they recognized untruth when they heard it, and they got rid of it, not wanting his words to become part of their circle.

It's interesting to note that later when Korihor asks for a sign to know there is a God, "Korihor was struck dumb" (v. 50), essentially getting rid of the tool he was using to lead away the people.

Studying great people throughout history and the world has been a wonderful journey, seeing like Wilcox that "our Father in Heaven is a light-giving God and dispenses it as widely as the stars."  And thankfully so!  But Korihor's story is a great reminder to keep my center firmly planted, continually strengthening it with the teachings of Jesus Christ and his prophets and apostles.  In the long run, I think I would rather be accused of having a circle that was too small but deeply founded in truth, than one so far reaching I allowed untruths to sneak in.

(Today's reading in Alma 31 brought similar thoughts, only this time pride was definitely a factor.  Hmm...)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Last Forever

One morning last week I woke up at 4:30 am, wide awake.  When I realized I wasn't going back to sleep anytime soon, I pulled out my phone, glanced at my e-mail quick, then remembered a talk I've been wanting to reread -- Sister Linda Burton's talk on "The Power, Joy, and Love of Covenant Keeping."  


But I really didn't get very far into it before my mind turned specifically to the marriage covenant, and I went searching on my Gospel Library app for a talk on that instead.  I found one called "Eternal Marriage" by F. Burton Howard that I dove into.  It's a good one, and I was reading and highlighting away till almost the end, when I hit what I was woken up at 4:30 am to be taught.

Elder Howard led into it with a story about their silverware, and how over the years his wife carefully cared for it, to the point that he was thinking she was a little over the top over this silverware.  But then he realized,

If you want something to last forever,
you treat it differently.

My eyes stopped there, the Spirit teaching me.  I thought first and the most about my marriage, and eventually about my children.  Words came to mind like a list from the Family Proclamation - love, respect, compassion, forgiveness, trust.

And accompanying that, the desire to be better.

I finally pushed myself to continue in the talk.  "If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.  You shield it and protect it. You never abuse it. You don’t expose it to the elements. You don’t make it common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you lovingly polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by."

Beautiful.

In our homeschool group we've been memorizing Doctrine and Covenants 6:33, and that came to mind.  "Fear not to do good . . . for whatsoever ye sew, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sew good ye shall also reap good for your reward."  That first word, fear, is sadly powerful in the wrong way.  Sad that the desire to do good can so easily be derailed, even within a family.  Laying there in bed I made some immediate commitments to myself with some specific ways to be better.


I'm so incredibly grateful for a Heavenly Father that cares enough about making sure I got this precious message that He sent it when things are quiet, even if it meant missed sleep for me.  I've been so blessed with  a wonderful husband and family.  They are the joy and the greatest work of my life, the things that more than anything I want to last forever.




Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hard vs. ... Yep, Hard

(I need to stop writing out posts and forgetting to reread the next day before publishing.  Just found this one waiting from 6 weeks ago.)

I really am not one to complain, specifically at least, but this pregnancy has in many ways been much harder than any of the others.  At almost 28 weeks, I still have a lot of uphill to go.  I don't like thinking about myself and coddling myself, and it looks like I'm going to need to do that even more.  I've already been wearing support hose on one leg from pretty early on because varicose veins went nuts.  Now, after a 4th glucose tolerance test (we're not even going to talk about that), my doc's office called to say some of my numbers were high and they want me to talk to a dietitian to "help me out."  I'm feeling fine, thanks, no help necessary.  But the appointment is set, and I shall be dutiful and go.  I know I also have plenty to look forward to, like my standard super achy ribs on my right side.

But this too shall pass.

After all, it's this little friend currently giving my lots of kicky hellos I'm doing this all for, right?  (How I wish there was a window to peek in and see what is poking me, because we sure are active tonight.)  Trying, really trying to keep my mind busy elsewhere and keep perspective in mind.

Plus, plenty of people have a way harder time at this than I do.  The only time I've even really felt sick during this entire pregnancy was when I puked my 2nd glucose tolerance test (wait, I wasn't going to talk about that.  But really, regurgitating super sweet syrupy test beverage is not something I would EVER care to repeat, making tests 3--the retake--and 4--12 weeks later--seem like momentous accomplishments).

Yesterday evening, I happened upon this little gem:  "You will come to know that what appears today to be a sacrifice will prove instead to be the greatest investment that you will ever make" (Gordon. B. Hinckley).  Looking at my 6 other children, I have to agree with him.  Not that I don't still have my sacrifices for them, but the gifts they possess are amazing.  Even the drive-our-mom-crazy talent that some of them have in such abundance.  :)

Trying to enjoy the journey.  With all the extra issues this round, I feel like my body is resigning its creation job, probably leaving what's left of my mind to do the creating from now on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Broken

I've been feeling extra broken lately, a cracked pot for sure as my good friend would say.  Good to read this in a talk from Jeffrey Holland called "The Inconvenient Messiah" when he was president at BYU, although this part was actually given by his wife, Patricia.  Just before the quote below she said, "I guess what I've come here to tell you today is that God uses broken things."

"It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. . . . it is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever." ["Broken Things," an excerpt from Vance Havner, The Still Water (Old Tappan, NJ: Flemming H. Revell, 1934). Quoted inGuideposts, October 1981, p. 5]



There's just something about being 7+ months pregnant, hormonal, and tired that shortens patience.  Doesn't help that while getting ready for a new little one, I'm feeling like some of my olders are leaving for the big bad world like yesterday, but I haven't filled my full responsibility for them yet.  So that adds additional stress.  Sigh.


But Sister Holland's message was that "God uses broken things."  In preparation for my lesson last Sunday, I used two stories of broken people that did some beautiful "unbreaking."

-- Elder Christoffersen's mother (story towards the end of this talk) - She was obviously very broken from surgery, to the point that she was on bedrest for almost a year.  How mentally broken would she feel as well?  And then another broken woman is brought to her???  And yet, she is able to still lift another life.  Really, they lifted each other.
-- Susan Easton Black and her visiting teacher - In the story told at the beginning of this talk, there are again two broken people that are able to help and care for one another in a really big way.  Her talk and the story start at about 3:40.

I guess what I'm learning is that when I'm broken, I need to understand the potential for purpose in that.  Does it make me want to work harder?  Serve more?  Rely on the Savior more?


Like President Holland talked about in the talk above, "It seems no worthy accomplishment has ever come easily for me."  [Makes me reevaluate the worthiness of my "accomplishments."]



"As you invest your time—and your convenience—in quiet, unassuming service, you will indeed find that 'he shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up' (Matthew 4:6). It may not come quickly. It probably won’t come quickly, but there is purpose in the time it takes. Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well."

And, "If for a while the harder you try the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived."



Hopefully in the end, this broken pot will have created something beautiful.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Giving It Up, or Expanding It Further?

I wrote this for the front page article of our homeschool group's newsletter.  We have a principle each month that we try build and expand on throughout the month, and in October we'll be talking about liberty (read through the definitions there, it's beautiful).

       I read an article yesterday that infuriated me.  Essentially, it was talking about how psychologists will have new guidelines stating that adolescence continues up to age 25.  The article includes statements like, "The idea that suddenly at 18 you're an adult just doesn't quite ring true.  My experience of young people is that they still need quite a considerable amount of support and help beyond that age."  The article mentions someone else talking about how 25-30 year olds living at home need to "do their own washing . . . [and] take responsibility for cleaning up their bedroom."
       Are you upset yet?  Let's compare that with another statement given a year ago.
       I'm sure all of you remember President Monson's announcement that the missionary age would change to 18 for young men and 19 for young women.  But maybe you don't remember what he said about those that had already served beginning at that age.  "Their mission presidents report that they are obedient, faithful, mature, and serve just as competently as do the older missionaries who serve in the same missions. Their faithfulness, obedience, and maturity have caused us to desire the same option of earlier missionary service for all young men, regardless of the country from which they come."  Did you catch that?  All the great qualities exhibited by those young men made a difference to the rest of the young men in the entire church.  Because of them, even more great young men and young women are going out into the world to share that greatness.
       Back to the first article.  Apparently there are a whole lot of people in the world exhibiting quite the opposite of what those mission presidents were seeing.  It doesn't list any specific qualities in that article, but taking the opposite of what President Monson said, I imagine they were disobedient, unfaithful, immature, and incompetent in the things they are asked to serve in.  It makes me angry to think of those young men and young women changing the world in that way.
       How grateful I am to associate with the kind of youth President Monson was talking about!   Rather that allowing people to limit your liberty because of your behavior and choices, continue to be the kind of youth that not only expands your own freedom—to be, to do, to give, to share, to build—but expands freedom for others as well just by being who you are.

Is it coincidence that these are almost exactly a year apart from each other?  Adam gave the family home evening lesson tonight on the prophet, and had several scriptures that we read and discussed together.  I can't remember them all, but I already had the things above on my mind and the first one we read applied directly to this.  I kind of took over the lesson for a bit with a minor bit of ranting, and my testimony of the prophet.  It was great using this example and others, like the Proclamation on the Family, where we received direction from our prophet that directly apply to things coming in the future.  A wonderful evening of discussion and testimony.  (Wow, it sounds tons better when I write that out and don't have video of the actual craziness the evening was).


Sources:
BBC News Article "Is 25 the new cut-off point for adulthood?" Sept. 23, 2013
"Welcome to Conference," Thomas S. Monson, Oct. 6, 2012



Monday, July 22, 2013

Should I Be Fired?

During the same sacrament meeting referenced here, a speaker told a story he said he hadn't planned on sharing, but he did because I was there and needed to hear it (it was too perfect to not just be for me).

He owns a business and has a few employees that work for him.  Generally things run really smoothly and go really well.  He hired someone a few months back that he really liked, but this guy just wasn't up to par.  He would come to work late, take long lunch breaks, and leave early.  The boss tried to talk to him about it, but it never changed and he eventually had to fire him.  He said it was a really hard thing to do because he did really like him, but he couldn't trust him to do the work he'd been asked to do.

(I know you're getting this already.)

He likened that to our work in the kingdom.  What kind of work do we do?  Are we the kind of person Heavenly Father can trust*?  Do I leave work early or come late?  Do I take long lunch breaks?  Is He going to terminate me, with reason, and hire someone else to do work that I was called to do?

I really am trying to make more efforts on this project.  Part of that is putting my home more in order so I can work on it without feeling like I have a hundred other things pulling at my mind (because try as I might, I can't seem to get my cupboards and closets to clean themselves out), but also putting more time into working on the project, and praying for His help before I go to work on it.

I don't want to be fired.  I don't want to feel like I failed by not following through.  I want to build the kingdom, even in my own small way.


* Which brings me to a quote that I love love love.  "If you then go and do what He would have you do, your power to trust Him will grow, and in time you will be overwhelmed with gratitude to find that He has come to trust you" (Henry B. Eyring).  Isn't that beautiful?

What If the Stories Were the Same?

Another mental kick...

I had come up with the idea for this "project" I think a couple years ago, but felt like it was time to start working on it early last September, the same day I felt like I should volunteer to teach all those men.  Thinking about that day recently, I had the thought, "What if the stories were the same?"

Story 1 (the volunteer one) - I felt like I should do it.  On the way home I e-mailed an "I'll do it message" (I wasn't driving) and upon hearing that those in charge were good with that, I put together a monthly plan in excel for pretty much the entire next year, and had my first meeting a few weeks later.  The second month was a really tough one, but when it was over I wrote in my journal, "I think I can do anything!"

Story 2 - I felt like I should do it.  The feeling wasn't as strong, so I packed the idea away for a while, more as an "I'll get on that as I can."  Nudges would come here and there, and I would write posts like the link above mentioning some of those nudges (and now more posts about even more nudges), and yet the first stage of that project is only just over a fourth done.  I have thoughts in my head of a few particulars that will need to happen in the process, but it's not written down anywhere and I don't have a clear vision just where I'm going with it (part of that I hope will come as inspiration, but maybe that's an excuse too).

Story 1 is very driven, with a specific plan, goals to look towards, and something I really put effort into and worked towards.  It's very easy to see that Story 2 is a plan to fail.

So what if the stories were the same?  What if Story 2 read more like Story 1?  After all, as much as I can, it's up to me to write my own stories.