Monday, April 21, 2008

The Great Sunflower Project

This looks fun! I signed us up earlier today.

Great Sunflower Project

Sunday, April 20, 2008

...and a House

I just happened upon a quote by C.S. Lewis from "Mere Christianity" that I would like to add on to my bush post. I've read it before, and it is a perfect conlusion for that.

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house than the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace."

'Nuff said.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Power of Positive Speaking

I have been having some issues with one, okay two, of my children (not that the others won't bring new things up, but they usually take turns) and I was skimming through one of my parenting books looking for some inspiration. I came upon a chapter on positive reinforcement, and decided that was an area I could probably really work on. I praise my children, but there plenty of days when it's one thing after another and I wouldn't notice anything positive if it jumped out of my Cheerios. Nevermind, that would not be positive either.

I focused on one child especially for about a week, praising like crazy. We had a really good week! I felt wonderful all week, noticing positives everywhere. Our home felt wonderful. But the next week, not so good. Rather than getting positive results, I was getting shot negatives left and right in return. I got discouraged, sooooo discouraged.

Strangely enough, all these other sources on positive reinforcement started jumping out at me, like hello, you can do this!

This is something I saved recently. It's got some lists of positives we should use more and negatives we should use less.

I came across this article about a family that wanted to combat the negatives in their home and one way that they did it.

Jeffrey R. Holland addressed this topic so well during his talk on speaking with the Tongue of Angels.

"We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are 'enough.'"

My biggest worry is sounding insincere or fake. I was happy to read the "I've done it and you can too" thoughts from Nicholeen. Maybe I'll try actually keep track to see how I'm really doing.

All these "you can do it!" pats on the back were just what I needed. Jumping back on track!

I'm Just a Bush

I've decided that I really can't become who I need to become until I let go of the reigns, stop trying to run things, and go along for the ride, wherever it seems to take me.

I've been asked to be on a Wood Badge staff again (leadership training through the Boy Scouts of America) with the awesome Snake River Council out of Twin Falls, Idaho. I'm excited for another opportunity to join all the great people on staff, training scout leaders in advanced leadership techniques so they can take those skills home to use in their own unit, family, and career. This will be my third time on staff, and it is an amazing experience every year.

Still, last year when I came home I told myself I didn't need to do it again for the time being. Now is my time to focus on my family rather than all these other things they pull me away, even if it isn't very often. I was perfectly happy with that until I got the phone call a couple weeks ago, asking me to fill a position that someone else had to drop out of. I really really wanted to do it, but I still had the feeling that it isn't my time for things like that. Jamie and my dad were asked to go as well, but both their work schedules won't allow it right now, so I figured that was an easy out too. Long story short, after some prayer, fasting, and a temple visit, I know I need to go.

Still, it hasn't been easily to reconcile what I know I need to do with what I had been telling myself I need to do. I talked to a friend a couple days after committing to be on the staff and told her I don't get it - I keep doing all this leadership training, yet opportunities to use it are not very often.

While stewing over it later that day, I remembered this little story from Hugh B. Brown.

"President Brown remembered a lovely currant bush in his yard that he had carefully trimmed to be attractive and to produce the best fruit.

"One day, noticing that it had started to branch out again, he reached for the pruning shears. As he approached the currant bush, he imagined it to say, “Oh, please don’t cut me back. I’m just getting started, and I want to be big like the shade trees.”

"He imagined his response to be: “No, my little bush. I am the gardener here. I have planted you to be a source of fruit and an adornment in this part of my garden, and I am going to prune you back to size.”

"Many years later, as a colonel in the Canadian forces during World War I, Hugh Brown hoped for an illustrious military career. The next promotion to general should have been his, but when the vacancy occurred, his superiors told him, “We are promoting someone else.”

"He retired to his quarters, crushed with disappointment, and knelt in prayer, asking fervently: “Heavenly Father, why couldn’t my prayers have been answered? Haven’t I lived up to my covenants? Haven’t I done everything I was supposed to do? Why? Why?”

"And then he seemed to hear a voice, an echo from the past, saying, “I am the gardener here. You were not intended for what you sought to be.” Humbled, Hugh Brown then prayed for patience to endure the pruning and to grow as the Lord would have him grow."

(I took that from an article by Robert E. Wells here, but to read it in Elder Brown's own words, you can find it here. Brian K. Evans also mentions it in a talk from Women's Conference 2007 called "We Do Not Take Counsel From Our Fears." I KNOW I also read it in the Ensign last summer, but I can't find it.)

Julie of mental tesserae wrote beautifully on the same topic in a guest post for just an orange:

"Michelangelo talked about God as the 'divine hammer' –one who sculpts us into who we are and polishes away our imperfections until he has managed to release the soul within each block of stone. Saint Augustine wrote about the patterns in his own life (after the fact, of course, because it’s always easier to see them in retrospect) as signs of God’s hand in the writing of his story. In Rabbi Harold Kushner’s books, he uses the metaphor of a tapestry: God is weaving his masterpiece in each of us. We only see the messy underside—the broken threads, the knots and confusing imagery. From above, the divine work that is our lives takes shape with full purpose and beauty."

Jane Clayson Johnson adds another thought. She was speaking on giving her time to her children, but I think it applies any time we go the direction God sends us. "Rather than losing my identity..., the irony is, I actually feels as though I have further identified my true self."

Strange that I've had all these quotes jumping out at me lately. Makes me wonder what's up. If I had more time to think about it I would probably get really worried. I guess if I can't be in control of things, who better to trust my life with than those who know me better than myself.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Decluttering Benefits

My decluttering efforts have slowed down during the past month (Jamie hasn't been out of town so I guess I haven't had to keep myself busy after the kids go to bed). I wrote about some side benefits before, but I was surprised by yet another benefit I just realized the other day.

I sent an e-mail to my bracelet mailing list two days ago that started with, " has really taken off in 2008! I don't know why suddenly I'm getting so much more business there, that I've decided to slow down listing on eBay and focus more on the website." I've been entirely surprised by the website business I've been getting this year. Usually January is TERRIBLE and I stress all month about sales because I'm trying to restock beads and other bracelet makings I've run out of from Christmas with not much coming in to do that, but this January was so busy I hardly had a break from the big Christmas rush. And it still really hasn't slowed down much. I haven't done any extra advertising to explain the extra business. It has just come.

A short while later after sending my e-mail I was catching up on a few blogs and came across a recent Lazy Organizer post that linked to this post from last year.

I guess it really is true, what goes around comes around.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Our book club is reading "I am a Mother" by Jane Clayson Johnson this month. Nothing against Jane, but I hadn't read it before now because I worry that books like that are more fluff and back patting than anything. I already enjoy being a mother, so I really don't need anything like that.

The doctrine in this book has been exciting and wonderful. One favorite quote so far (there are many) is from Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?"

I wonder about the greatness and leadership and love placed in the hearts of some, and the prejudices and hatred placed in the hearts of others, guiding both to act according to the things they had been taught. Was it because of a mother?

The hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rocks the world.
--G.S. Weaver

I was going to share some disturbing quotes in the news I've read recently about how gender isn't important, but I'm not. Still, it is another testimony to me of prophets that the Proclamation on the Family was given to prepare us for things to come and that it has been taught so much since, that it declares that gender is important, and that mothers and fathers have their own divinely designated roles and responsibilites to fulfill.

Maybe I'll write more on this another day. It's already been sitting on my screen for 3 days waiting to add more, but the children keep calling, and I (usually) love to answer.

Friday, April 4, 2008

April is National Poetry Month

I learned about poetry month from Farm School a few days ago, so I'm keeping my eyes open for poetry to share with the kids. Yesterday during our morning devotional I read the kids this poem that I found in one of our library books.

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

--William Carlos Williams

They had me read it three or four times, they thought it was so funny. The simplicity tickled them, and they enjoyed the wording, especially "and so cold."

We also read Oliphaunt (at the bottom of that link) by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

The Farm School post lists a bunch of poetry sites and talks about the poem "Keep A Poem in Your Pocket." Periwinkles and Pines has a cute poetry post on clouds, including a few other poetry links.