Monday, April 30, 2012

The Book is Born!

My baby is here!


She was born a few days ago and is now ready to come to your house!

The pre-sales have all been shipped and should be in your hands around May 8th.

If you haven't ordered a copy yet you can buy one here NOW. If you order it soon it should get here in time for Mother's Day-- which would be the PERFECT gift. Tell your husbands ;)

If you don't have the money to buy a copy now go to your library and beg them to order a copy. Though trust me this is a book that you will want to have your own copy of.

But then again I am biased. Just a little. 

If you want to read excerpts from the book, to tide you over till you get the real thing, go here.

Oh, I love birth days!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 39th Edition

-1-

For the last few months Jon and I have been teasing each other about whose "baby" was going to be "born" first-- his thesis or my book. It looks like mine made its emergence (in print) first!

Felice got the very first copy of our book 'The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth" in her hands on Wednesday night.


She sent us all a picture of her holding it and a video.

I nearly cried when I saw it.

I just can't believe it is really real. In many ways the process of writing this book has been so similar to a real birth-- we've gestated (almost two years), been in active labor (editing, and boy that hurt!), and for the last few months have been trying our hardest to push this baby out. A few weeks ago we decided we were crowing, last week we could feel the baby's head, and now the shoulders out and she has an APGAR score-- I'm giving her a 10!

Nerdy I know, but what else do you expect from girls who have been writing a birth book for three years?

I have put so much of my heart and soul into creating this book that I am both thrilled and terrified for it to come out-- sort of like birth, right? Mostly I am thrilled and can't wait to hold this little baby in my arms. I am pretty sure I might just snuggle with it on the couch for a day.

If you have ordered a copy of my baby you should be getting it really soon!

She is beautiful, so beautiful.


-2-

Rose has been saying the cutest things lately. Her vocabulary is really expanding and sometimes what she says is just too cute.

Just three examples:

A few days ago she got a blister on her foot from wearing her church shoes without socks all day (she wouldn't wear any other shoes because they weren't princess shoes). That night, after I put a Bandaid on it, she kept asking me if I would kiss "her bliss". So I did. How could I refuse that?

The other cute thing she has been saying is calling Ritz crackers "bubble crackies". I never buy Ritz crackers but I caved in and got a box a few weeks ago. Last week they were on sale and I bought two extra boxes, just because I love to hear her ask me for "the bubble crackies".

Yesterday I went to help her get dressed and I picked out a cute pair of pink pants and tried to put them on her. She emphatically told me that she wasn't going to wear those pants and so I picked another pair of cute blue pants. When I tried to put them on her she refused and LOUDLY told me, "Mom, Princesses don't wear pants." So there you have it... right from the princess herself.


-3-

Our house selling adventure is going well, though I can't wait for it to be over. It appears like the contract with our house is going to go through and that we should be closing around the middle or end of May. The frustrating thing now is trying to figure out where we should move to. The problem is that we really don't want to leave where we are now, we love it. Yet we know that we aren't suppose to stay here, and that was an answer that neither one of us were happy with. While I have faith that God will guide us where we need to be, it is still really stressing me out. I just keep praying that God will lead us to 1) where we can be of service in His kingdom and 2) where we will be able to get what our family needs to thrive. I know that He will guide us, but I am finding that stepping out into the darkness never gets any easier--- no matter how many times you do it.

-4-

Two of my favorite professors (and my little sister's favorite professor) in the world just published an incredible book. 
 

When I worked at the Women's Research Institute at BYU Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill and Valerie Hudson were just getting the WomenStats Database under way in full swing. The database documents of women's rights and women's social, political and family situations in every country in the world. With the data base they were hoping that they would be able to show that the economic and political stability and growth of a country was directly related to how well women were treated and valued, which is exactly what they found. The implications of their findings is enormous and I can't wait to see what else comes out of this, hopefully towards creating a better world for women and one in which the perpetuation of life (and those who create it) is more highly valued.

This is another baby I can't wait to snuggle up with on the couch, even if it isn't mine :)

Oh, and don't be scared away by the title, it is referring to "sex" as in "gender" :) 

-5-

Have you seen the Kid History videos yet? We watched all of them a few nights ago as a family and all of us were busting a gut laughing. It is such a cute idea. I would love to be able to capture my kids telling a story and do something similar, maybe for a present for grandparents?

This one is my favorite.



Have a great weekend!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Blood or Milk?



Friday and Saturday I performed with the modern dance group I dance with. Everything went really well and it was so much fun to be on stage with my little boy. He did great. One of the pieces that the adult company performed (we are all mothers) was  entitled "Milk" . It was  a beautiful statement about motherhood-- the generational learning, the ups, the downs, the sacrifices, the chaos, the joy,  and the choices that have to be made. It may just be one of my all time favorite dances I've ever danced in. It really spoke to my heart, in so many ways.

I asked the choreographer if, when we get the video back, I can share it here and she said yes. So hopefully sometime in the next few weeks I will figure out how to post the video. Yet in the meantime I just wanted to share the poem that inspired the piece, and to which one of our dancers danced a solo to at the end (and just in case you are wondering, you CAN dance to a poem :). It is called "Blood and Milk" and is by Sharlee Mullins Glenn and was published in the Fall 2005 issue of Segullah.

***

Blood and Milk

by Sharlee Mullins Glenn

I dreamed of Oxford . . .
(spires, a thousand spires, endless lectures, musty halls
a solitary self in a Bodleian expanse
A good life my dear Wormwood. An orderly life.)

then awakened to laundry
and things to be wiped
countertops, noses, bottoms)

How did this happen? And when, exactly?

Time flows, it flows, it flows
and there are choices to be made:

left or right?
paper or plastic?
blood or milk?

There's freedom in the bleeding;
bondage in the milk—do not be deceived.

Ah, but it's an empty freedom; a holy bondage,
A sweet and holy bondage.

Five times I chose the chains, those tender chains,
(though once will bind you just as well!)
and checked the crimson flow.
Suckled while dreaming of Trinity Term
but awakened, always awakened, to the laundry
and to that small and cherished captor at my breast.

***

Isn't that beautiful? I've heard it at least five dozen times in the last few months and every time I hear it it gives me something new to think about.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Five Things for Friday, Big Head Edition

This might be the most heather-centric Five Things for Friday ever written. This week has been CRAZY wild and I feel like I've been in the public (aka, anyone else besides my husband and kids) eye non-stop this week. Jon told me I am in danger of getting a big head and so I thought that since my head is already swelling I might as well just get it all out now!

-1-

I was interviewed for the Mormon Women Project and they posted my interview "Celebrating the Unseen Woman" on Wednesday! It was a lot of fun to be interviewed but also a little strange. The whole time I was talking I kept wondering if anything I was sharing would be of interest to anyone. It was so fun to see the whole interview put together and to get people's feedback and realize that what I said actually made a little bit of sense! Also, I am excited because it saves me a lot of work because I've decided that for my "About Me" page (which has been SO HARD for me to write) I am just going to link to this interview. Poof! Done. Yippee!.

-2-

If you happen to live in Northern Utah and like dance you are personally invited to come see me (and Asher) dance with the Valley Dance Ensemble tonight and tomorrow night at 7PM at the Ellen Eccles Theater.


I am in two of the pieces (I'll be the one wearing the pink apron;) and Asher is dancing in the big children's piece (he is the Venus flytrap). It will be pretty fantastic and has a wide range of dance styles. If you come on Saturday there will be a reception afterwards and I'd love to meet you. You can get more details or order tickets here.

-3-

Jon defended his thesis on Tuesday and he did such a good job. I was so proud of him I nearly burst. He has worked so hard the last few years and school isn't his favorite pastime (unlike me) and he really had to endure to the end.

The most handsome thesis defender in the world... in my opinion at least :)

Also Jon told me to mention that if any of you are interested in learning more about duckweed (way more than you ever really wanted to know) that he has a blog. He found that it was easier for him to write his thesis if he posted pictures about his research and then wrote about it in a blog format before he formalized it. So, all his research (with pictures) is here in case any of you are super nerdy and are interested!

-4-

Tuesday evening, after Jon defended his thesis, we participated in a youth activity for the teenagers in our ward. The Young Women's president organized a program for the youth to help inspire them to read the Book of Mormon. She asked about a dozen of the men in our ward to dress up like prophets and prominent characters from the Book of Mormon and share that person's history, message, and testimony with the youth. She asked Jon and I to be Joseph and Emma Smith (since we have the costumes I made from the re-enactment).

I found the brown wig last year at a Halloween shop and since it was cheap I figured it would be handy to have in case I ever got to dress up like Emma again. I think it turned out good, though I've decided that I will definitely never dye my hair dark. I don't have the right complexion for it at all!


The program was incredible and the spirit was so strong. I think it will be a night our youth won't forget. One of these days I will have to share what I had Emma say, it went over really well. I was sad though that I was the only woman included in the program. They didn't include any of the women from the Book of Mormon. It made me realize how really important it is that I keep writing this blog. These women need to be talked about and shared, especially with our youth.

None of you would ever leave out the the women, right?

-5-

Angela shared this photo she put together and pinned on Pinterest, inspired by the post I wrote about how our family limits Internet and media time.

I was really impressed with how cute she made it look. It pretty much looks just like the group of Popsicle sticks I have sitting in mason jars on my fridge! Though I really like her additions and the idea of a blue "bonus ticket". I am going to make a few of those to stick in my jars and hand out as rewards. I figure that saying " Please sweetheart would you... and I'll give you a bonus ticket" might go over better than " Stop it! You better listen to me right now or else you'll loose a ticket and you'll sit in your room until dinner!" Not like I've ever said that or anything.... at least not today :)

Okay, and now I'll go find a pin and try to let a little air out of my big head! Or maybe I just need to remember this advice from Elder Uchtdorf:
"When I was called as a General Authority, I was blessed to be tutored by many of the senior Brethren in the Church. One day I had the opportunity to drive President LinkJames E. Faust to a stake conference. During the hours we spent in the car, President Faust took the time to teach me some important principles about my assignment. He explained also how gracious the members of the Church are, especially to General Authorities. He said, “They will treat you very kindly. They will say nice things about you.” He laughed a little and then said, “Dieter, be thankful for this. But don’t you ever inhale it.”
I am grateful and trying not to inhale ;) Have a great weekend and come see me dance if you can!

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Woman with an Issue of Blood

Christ and the Woman with the Issue of Blood by Paolo Veronese

Matthew 8:20-22; Mark 5: 25-34; Luke 8: 43-48

Background:

As Jesus traveled around throughout the country teaching and working miracles He was approached by “a certain ruler”
of the synagogue named Jarius. Jarius knelt before Jesus and begged, “My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.” (Mark 5:23) Jesus went with Jarius right away but “much people followed him, and thronged him.” (Mark 5:24) As He made his way through the crowd a woman with an issue of blood touched His robe. 


Facts About Her:

  • She was “diseased with an issue of blood twelve years” (Matt. 9:20)
  • She had “suffered many things of many physicians” and had spent “ all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” (Mark 5: 26);
  • She had heard of Jesus and when she saw He was near she joined in the throng of people following Him as He made His way to Jarius’ house. She said within herself,“ If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.” ( Matt. 9: 21);
  • She came behind Him and touched the hem of His garment ( Matt 9:20). As soon as she touched Him “the fountain of her blood was dried up” and she “felt in her body that she was healed of that plague” ( Mark 5: 29);
  • As soon as she touched Him Christ "immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him” (Mark 5:30) stopped and asked “Who touched me?” Everyone around Him denied it and Peter asked him “ Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee and sayest thou, Who touched me?” (Luke 8: 45).
  • When the woman saw that she was unable to hide from the Lord she “came trembling and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.” (Luke 8: 47)
  • Christ looked on her and told her, “Daughter be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
Speculations About Her:

  • Under the Mosaic law a woman with an issue of blood (referring to menstrual or postpartum bleeding) was considered unclean and was “put apart” for 7 days. During this time anything she lay on or sat on was considered “unclean” meaning that if anyone touched one of those things he would have to wash his clothes and bathe in water to become clean again. Also during this time if any man was sexually intimate with her he was also unclean for 7 days and must adhere to the same sort of “setting apart” as a woman (and actually the guidelines for a man who has an issue of blood, or who was unclean were more strict than for women, see Leviticus 15:1-30).
  • The Mosaic Law also specified that if a woman had an issue of blood that lasted longer then 7 days that all the days of her issue were considered unclean and she must be treated as such (Leviticus 15: 25). This means that this woman had probably been unclean for 12 years and that she had to live “put apart” from others for all that time. If she had been married her husband probably would have divorced her as she would have been unable to care for her children or for others without making them all unclean. Her unclean status would also have meant that she was probably unable to attend the temple or other worship services.
  • I did a quick Google search for information about “prolonged menstruation” and I discovered that today this woman probably would have been diagnoses with menorrhagia, which is abnormally heavy and long menstruation that causes enough cramping and blood loss that it makes normal daily activities impossible. The scriptures are right in calling it a “hemorrhage” because the amount of blood lost is significant—enough to fill a maxi pad at least every hour for several weeks (not to mention 12 years!). According to the Mayo Clinic common causes of menorrhagia are:
  • Uterine fibroids, non-cancerous growths of the uterus wall
  • Endometrial hyperplasia, a thickened endometrium
  • A bleeding disorder, like von Willebrand disease
  • Problems with clotting
  • Thyroid functioning
  • Glandular issues
  • Infection
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Uterine polyps
  • Cancer
In the scriptures it say that the woman spent all of her living upon physicians who could not help her. Today physicians are usually able to treat or control menorrhagia with hormone pills but in severe cases hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) and endometrial ablation or resection (which permanently destroys the entire lining of the uterus) are used to treat it. It is incredible that Jesus was able to heal this woman with only His touch.

My Thoughts:

I have been thinking about this woman a lot over the last several months. Her story has always intrigued me, but after the little miracle that happened after Abraham's birth this story means something much more to me. As I’ve related before, after Abraham was born I had some complications with my placenta detaching. We were about to head to the hospital to have a somewhat serious procedure done when my midwife asked if Jon would give me a Priesthood blessing. I remember as he laid his hands on my head feeling at peace about things, but also feeling a little doubtful that a priesthood blessing would be able to fix everything. So it was an incredible feeling to feel my body, not even a minute after Jon finished his blessing, give a strong contraction. I felt all the membranes release and felt an amazing flow of placenta come out of me. It was truly a miracle and as soon as it happened I started to cry, not out of pain or relief, but out of gratitude and amazement. I knew that God had just performed a miracle for me and my heart was overwhelmed. I hadn’t thought I had enough faith to have something so miraculous happen to me, but as I’ve pondered on this experience the last several months I’ve come to see that God doesn’t require us to have unshakable, unwavering, moving mountains kind of faith in order to work miracles in our lives. Sometimes, just like the woman with the issue of blood all we need to do is have enough faith to just barely touch the hem of Christ’s garment. If we can do that, then He can use His miraculous power on our behalf.

I can only imagine that after twelve years of constant blood loss that this woman must have suffered from anemia and it probably took most of the physical strength she had to even make it to Christ. I can just imagine her, exhausted and suffocated by the crowd, desperate to make it to Christ. When she knew she couldn’t go any further she fell to her knees saying within herself,“ If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole" ( Matt. 9: 21) and reaching out her hand just as He passed by. That was all it took. She didn’t have to speak to Him, she didn’t have to tell Him what it was she needed, she just had to have enough faith to reach out to Him.

What happens next is my favorite part of the story. As soon as she realized she was healed she tried to hide back into the crowd. She was probably afraid because she had just touched Jesus and made Him ritually unclean, as well as just about everyone else in the crowd. Once they knew she had touched them they would all have to go wash and change their clothes. Yet, she knew that she had been healed and she knew that Jesus knew it. When she saw that she could not hide from the Lord she "came trembling" , fell at Christ's feet, and bore testimony to the crowd of the miracle that had happened to her.

Several years ago our Ward choir sang a song called “Come Touch the Robe” which tells the story of the woman with the issue of blood and invites everyone to come unto Christ-- to touch His robe and be healed physically and spiritually.



It is a beautiful song and I have been thinking about it a lot the last few months. I asked our choir director if we could sing it again this year and after some pondering she said she felt like the Lord wanted me to sing the solo, the part of the woman with the issue of blood. I am not a strong singer. I’ve sung two solos in my life and both times I thought I might die of fright before they were over. Yet I knew, just like the choir director knew, that I needed to sing this song. I had been healed by the Savior and, like the woman with the issue of blood, I knew that I needed to bear testimony of the great miracle that Christ had performed for me.

I sang the song last week in church and even though no one in the audience except for my husband, the choir director, and some of my knew the experience I had and why I was singing the song, it was really beautiful for me to share my testimony. Like the woman with the issue of blood I know that Christ can fix what seems unfixable. His power and mercy know no bounds and all we have to do to access it is have faith to reach out and touch the hem-- just the hem-- of His robe.

Questions to Think About:

  • Why do you think that this woman’s story is included in three of the Gospels? What is it about her story that made Matthew, Luke and Mark think it was important enough to share?
  • We know that God and Christ are in perfect accordance with The Law. This means that they are perfectly obedient to both spiritual and physical laws. This means that even miracles must obey the physical and spiritual laws of the earth in order to occur, and so it intrigues me how Christ healed people (of seemingly incurable thing like blindness) by only touching them. What physical process that we don’t understand did Christ use to heal her body completely through only a touch-- and not even the touch of His hand, merely His clothing?
  • What possible significance do you see in the fact that the daughter of Jarius, whom Christ raised from the dead was 12 yeas-old (around the age when girls start menstruation) and that this woman who was healed by Jesus had been suffering with her “ issue of blood” for 12 years? Coincidence?
  • How can you relate to this woman? When have you “touched” Christ?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 38th Edition

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Can I show you what I found at the DI yesterday?



Aren't they beautiful?

If you know what these are you can officially label yourself as a nerd:)

They are Montessori cylinders, part of the pre-school curriculum for the Montessori educational method. I nearly had a heart attack (literally) when I saw them on the shelf. These cylinders have been on my wish list for awhile but they are fairly expensive and so I didn't think there was a chance of me getting them any time soon. Especially not this brand! Nienhuis is like the Mercedes Benz of Montessori materials.

See, they still even have the official stickers!

True, these ones have seen better days and are missing a few pieces but Jon is excited at the challenge of trying to make replacement parts-- and to have a good excuse to spend time in our neighbors wood shop. I am just so excited to have them. So beautiful.

I am sort of having a love affair with Montessori. Maria Montessori has had a soft place in my heart ever since college and I was studying peace education. I've always loved her ideas (which really revolutionized the way we view childhood) and recently I have been making a real effort to implement Montessori practices and philosophies into my home. While it is definitely a learning process, it has made such a big difference. I would love to have my kids go to a Montessori school, but they are very expensive. I don't ever envision us having the funds to pay for three (or more) kids to go and so I have been trying to get the basic Montessori materials together so I can teach them at home, at least for pre-school. It has been so much fun. I find that I think about "doing school" all the time and that it really has (as Jon put it) "turned my heart" towards my children.

Who knows where this adventure will lead... but in the mean time I am going to have to start prowling the D.I. for more awesome finds! This could be dangerous.

-2-

Congrats to Savannah from who won the giveaway of "Christ's Gifts to Women." If you didn't win a book (which is everyone but Savannah :) you should still try to get your hands on a copy. It really is great.

-3-

I just have to share this picture that Asher drew on Sunday. We were talking about Easter and the crucifixion and he wanted to draw a picture of it. First he drew the cross, then drew Jesus on it, and then he started to draw a ship. I stopped him and told him that Jesus wasn't crucified on a ship, but he emphatically told me that, "Yes mom, crosses are on ships." He then proceeded to draw the Romans with swords and whips and the 12 apostles flying around the ship with rocket boots on (obviously I missed that part of the story).


He has drawn several more Easter pictures and every time he has drawn the cross on a ship. It really confused me until yesterday when we were drawing a pirate ship he said to me, "Mom, don't forget to draw the cross." I realized then that he thought Christ had been nailed to a mast-- like on a pirate ship! They really do look very similar, so I can see why he was confused. It was really quite cute.

-4-

My husband is defending his thesis next week!

Woo hoo, woo hoo, woo hoo!

I can not express how excited I am to finally have him finish this. It has been a crazy year for him trying to get his research done and his results organized. I am really proud of him... and so proud of all of us for surviving. He is graduating with his Master's in Environmental Engineering and his thesis is all about using an aquatic plant called "duckweed" to remove pharmaceuticals from waste water. Apparently some of the drugs that are commonly prescribed and used, like Tylenol, Prozac, and birth control, are excreted by into waste water (or simply flushed down the toilet) and eventually end up in the rivers which is causing mutations in fish (like giving them both male and female organs).

Duckweed covered lagoon

He has been researching this for about four years and it is funny how normal discussions about sewers, waste water, sanitation, sewage lagoons, pharmaceuticals, and duckweed have become at our house... though I do draw the line at talking about things like "biosolids" and "composting toilets" at the dinner table. That is just a bit more than I can stomach while I am eating!

-5-

And just in case you need a reason to smile. Here is a little boy with some great ones.





Have a great weekend!

If you want to link to your own "Five Things for Friday" post you can use the tool below to add your link. 1) Please link to the URL of your blog post and not your main blog and 2) Please include a link back here.



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Womb to Tomb


This Easter thoughts about "the womb" and "the tomb" have been on my mind. I have been thinking a lot about the lesson I learned after Abraham's birth. In his birth story I wrote:
I got in the shower to clean up. As I rubbed soap over my belly I couldn't help but think how strange it was that just earlier that morning, in the same shower, I'd rubbed soap over a full, pregnant belly. Now it was empty. I thought to myself, "Wow, where did it all go!" and the then the phrase "He is not here" pierced my heart and I found myself remembering another part from our "The Gift of Giving Life" book. In her essay "Birth in Remembrance of Him" Robyn Allgood writes,
"The Atonement was not complete until after Christ voluntarily suffered and then demonstrated His power over the grave by rising from the dead. As the women approach His tomb, they said to each other:

Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre they saw a young man . . . and he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here; behold the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:3-6)


The empty tomb symbolizes the power of Christ and new life through the Atonement. It symbolizes joy and wonder and even possesses mysterious significance. In like manner, the mother’s empty womb symbolizes the power of creation made possible through our Heavenly Father. It is a sacred event as is the Atonement and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It symbolizes physical life offered to a spiritual being. It offers joy, wonder and mysterious significance. Mysterious because it is easy to ask, “How is this done?” The only answer can be through God, through His infinite wisdom and power."
Just like Jesus left his tomb empty when he rose again, so did my little boy leave my womb empty when he was born. The symbolism between birth and the atonement is so incredible and as I pondered on that phrase "He is not here" I realized what a miraculous thing I had just been a part of. I'd just given one of God's precious sons his mortal body. A body that, because of Christ's resurrection, would live eternally and had the potential to become a God. The full magnitude of that knowledge has overwhelmed me and I over the last several days I've found myself looking in awe at my deflated belly.
Since Abe's birth I have been pondering a lot about the similarities between birth (the womb) and resurrection (the tomb) and the more I learn the more awe I feel at the beauty of God's plan. Several nights ago I was reading my scriptures and I read this scripture in Job 1:21
"... Naked came I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither."
For some reason that scripture struck me. I stopped and pondered about it and my mind was directed towards the story of Christ's resurrection. I went back and re-read the story and discovered a fact that I had never noticed before.
"Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie. And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in place by itself." (John 20: 6-7, emphasis added)
I had never noticed it before but when Christ was resurrected He took nothing with Him, not even His clothes. The women who came to anoint His body found the empty clothes lying in the tomb, bearing testimony to the truth of what Job said, "... Naked came I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither." Just like we came into this world with absolutely nothing except our bodies, we will leave this world with absolutely nothing except our bodies.

Both the womb and the tomb are places of transformation and those who enter emerge as new beings. The womb is a place where bones, sinews, muscles, organs and nerves are all organized and ordered. One enters the womb as only a few cells and miraculously emerges nine months later as a mortal being with millions of cells. In a similar manner the tomb (death) is also a place of transformation. One enters it with a mortal body that will corrupt and decay, yet because of Christ, one day that body will be organized and ordered again and will emerge as an immortal being.

The image of resurrection being a literal birth is very powerful for me, because even with all our medical advances we know very little about how human life is created or the process that governs labor and birth. Whenever I witness a birth, as a doula or at the emergence of my own children, I find myself in awe of the incredible miracle life is. How can a living, breathing person be created out of only the materials housed within a woman's body? It makes me cry, like Robyn mentioned in her essay, "Lord, how is it done?"

It is truly miraculous and if I hadn't seen women do it-- over and over a thousand times a day all over the world-- I wouldn't have believe that such a miracle was even possible. I feel that same way about the resurrection. The whole process is so mysterious to me. How is there any way that a human being who has been dead for thousands of years, whose bones have turned to dust, be reconstructed and reunited with their spirit? It seems impossible and makes me question doubtfully, "Lord how is it done?"

Yet Christ, with His empty tomb and left behind clothes, is a testament that just like miracle of mortal birth is possible, the miracle of resurrection is also possible. In fact, the processes aren't all that different-- they both require a sacrifice of blood, water and spirit.

The most incredible thing is that both birth and resurrection are free gifts; one given us to us by our mortal mothers and one given to us by Jesus Christ. They are gifts that no matter how hard we try we will never be able to repay.

How very grateful I am for both of those gifts.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Five Things for Friday, 37th Edition

-1-

A few nights ago my husband and I snuggled up on the couch and spent a good hour watching the new Bible videos that the LDS Church has released. There are about 6 or 7 beautiful videos depicting Christ's last week on earth and they are really good. If you need something to get you in the Easter mood these will do it.


Click on the picture to link to the movie

The one that had me in tears was the one that portrays Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. I think it is my favorite portrayal of Christ ever, because He seems so human. I think that often I get so caught up in Christ's divinity that I forget His humanity. I forget that even though He was perfect-- He was a man-- and that He had a body that felt pain, joy, strength and weakness. Remembering His humanity makes the significance of what He endured and overcame so much more powerful for me. It reminds me that even though I am imperfect and human that I really do have the potential to become like Him.

I also really like the actor who plays Christ, he does an incredible job. Wouldn't that be a tough role to play? Wow, I can't even imagine trying to fill those shoes.


-2-

I have a favor to ask. Do any of you have any good suggestions for computer software to help me with my budgeting? I have been using an excel spreadsheet and it has worked fine for a few years, but lately I've been wishing I had something that was a little bit easier to use and would keep track of things better for me. My ideal program would be one that I could connect to my bank account and have it automatically record my expenses and deduct them from categories. For example, I want something where all I'd have to do is check the "gas category" to see how much I'd spent on gas that month and how much I money I have left to spend for the month, without having to enter all the expenditures in myself. I don't even know if that is possible, but I am hoping that someone out there might know of one or have a budgeting program they really love. Suggestions?

-3-


I feel indebted to Jocelyn from "We Talk of Christ" for all her wonderful ideas about creating Christ centered Easter traditions. Since Jon and I have been married I've always tried to have a special Easter dinner where we eat fish and honeycomb (like Christ did after He was resurrected) but that has really been our only Easter tradition. Thanks to Jocelyn I have a few new Christ centered activities that I am going to try out this year. We made resurrection rolls last year and that was really fun, so we are going to add those to our fish and honeycomb dinner this year. I also loved this idea about the 12 days of Easter and am going to have the Easter Bunny (wink, wink) hide 12 special eggs (with symbols of Christ in them) into the kids Easter egg hunt. Then, hopefully, once the hunt is over we can talk with the kids about the symbols they found and what they mean. I am excited to try it out and maybe if it goes well then it might become a tradition.

Do you have any special Easter traditions?

-4-

Our house selling adventure is coming along nicely. It looks like our buyers are hanging in there and that the deal should (cross my fingers) go through in the next few weeks. In view of this, Jon and I have been hunting for a new place to live and it has been sort of stressful. I forgot how much I hate house shopping. It always sounds like so much fun, but in reality it never turns out to be as good as it sounds. It seems like every time I get my heart set on a house we find out that it is already "under contract" with someone else, that it has some major problem with it, or it just turns out not to be as great as it looked in the pictures. I am hoping and praying that we find the right house and that things work out. I would prefer not being homeless for a few months! I just have to trust that the Lord knows where we are suppose to be and will lead us there.

-5-

For any of you who may have missed it make sure you go read my review of the new book "Christ's Gifts to Women" and enter the drawing to get your own free copy. It is a book you won't want to miss out on.

I also just have to add how touched I have been reading your comments and hearing about all the incredible miracles that God has performed in your lives. Writing this blog is such an interesting experience because it has brought such a diversity of people into my life. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed when I begin to think about all the challenges my readers are facing-- some of you have health challenges, marriage problems, sick and dying children, problems with extended family members, financial problems, extreme trials of faith, and so much more. So often, after hearing about your stories, I find myself pouring out my heart to God for one of my readers who I don't even know. Thank you for sharing your hearts with me and I just want you that I love you. I may not even know you but I know that God loves you... and that is a good enough reason for me.

Okay, don't worry I'm done with the mushy stuff :)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a beautiful, rejuvenating Easter. He is risen! That is worth celebrating your little heart out about.

If you want to link to your own "Five Things for Friday" post you can use the tool below to add your link. 1) Please link to the URL of your blog post and not your main blog and 2) Please include a link back here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Christ's Gifts to Women {Giveaway!}

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Angela Eschler and Heather B. Moore and asked to review their new book "Christ's Gifts to Women."


When I got the book the first thing I noticed was how beautiful it is. The cover is wonderful but the inside is even better. It is just full of beautiful pictures of Christ's interactions with women. The design actually reminded me a lot of the "Daughters in My Kingdom" book, which I think is appropriate because this book documents Christ's interactions with the earliest Relief Society sisters, those of the New Testament.



The book's message is
"At times, we as faithful Latter-day Saint women struggle to understand exactly who Christ is in our lives. We fail to comprehend the gifts He offers us as we strive to overcome the challenges we face. But Christ’s great message to us is that He has overcome this world—He has given us great gifts that empower and help us realize we are not alone."
There are five chapters and each one tells the story of a woman who received a gift from Christ while He was on the earth.

Chapter 1: The Gift of Mercy-- the woman taken in adultery

Chapter 2: The Gift of Experience-- Mary and Martha at Lazarus' death

Chapter 3: The Gift of Wholeness-- the woman with the issue of blood

Chapter 4: The Gift of Nurturing-- Elizabeth

Chapter 5: The Gift of Seeing-- Mary Magdalene

The book isn't very long but I was so touched by the powerful message that the authors have to share. I've done a lot of studying about all the women in this book, but they brought up ideas that I had never thought about. I found myself, about every other page, turning to my husband and saying "ooh, listen to this, ooh, listen to this." Eventually he told me to stop it and just let him read the book himself, which (because it isn't very long) I think he is actually going to do!

Really, I loved all the chapters but there are two thoughts from the book that have stuck with me. The first was this thought from Chapter 1: The Gift of Mercy:
" As with our forgiven sister in ancient times, we can joyfully accept the gift He died to give us, knowing that even as the crowd of accusers seems to grow thick about us, He--the supreme Judge-- asks us, "Woman, where are... thine accusers?" (John 8:10). For in our daily efforts towards perfection, there is none authorized to stand there but Him. In judgement, we stand before the One who came "not... to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:17)."
As I read that (and even as I typed it writing this post) I felt the spirit so strong. It really is beautiful that Christ is truly our ONLY judge. We don't have to worry about what the crowd thinks of us, or even be afraid of their stones, because Christ is the only one we have to answer to and He more merciful than we can ever imagine.

The other thought that I loved from the book was in Chapter 2: The Gift of Experience:
" The greater gift that Christ offers Mary and Martha is the gift of experience: to endure a trial until they come to know who He is and how His power can impact and dispel every moment of their fear or suffering. He offers the same today. As with all His gifts, the endowment of experience brings peace-- and yet, "not as the world giveth" (John 14:27). for its bestowal does not require that our particular trials be taken away."
That was a powerful thought for me, and the authors helped me look at the story of Lazarus in a whole new way. I am so grateful for their insights because I won't be able to read these women's stories again without thinking about the added depth they provided.

This book makes a wonderful addition to my library and is one that I am going to get a few more copies of to give away as gifts. I can think of about a dozen women in my life who would drink all the beautiful truths this book contains. It would make an incredible Easter gift!

Thank you Angela and Heather for letting me review it.

Angela also offered to give away one FREE copy of the book to one of my readers! She said that she would autograph the book and write a personalized message to whomever the winner wanted (and it is okay if you want it for yourself:)

If you would like to enter the drawing please:
  1. Leave a comment telling me of a time when you have been the recipient of a miracle and how that impacted your life;
  2. Share this post on Facebook or Twitter;
  3. Blog about this post on your own blog.
Please leave me a comment telling me which ones you did (they can all be in the same comment).

The giveaway will end April 10th at Midnight!

Best of luck! I can't wait to read your comments :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Tribute to Sister Julie B. Beck

I so enjoyed General Conference this weekend, though to be 100% honest I really only heard about 2/3rds of it. Jon and I are looking forward to some date nights this week when we can re-watch the talks we missed because of tantrums, poopy blow-outs, and other miscellaneous adventures! And even though life is crazy right now I just couldn't let this opportunity pass to publicly express my gratitude for Sister Julie B. Beck and her incredible service as the Relief Society general president.

You knew this was coming didn't you?

It is so strange but I knew several weeks ago that Sister Beck was getting released. We are getting so close to having our book done (it goes to the printer in a few days-- if it hasn't gone already) and I was thinking about how I'd like to take her a copy and say thank you for the guidance she gave us. As I was pondering about this I felt the spirit whisper to me that she was getting released. So when they were doing the releasings on Saturday afternoon and they panned over to where she was sitting I wanted to cry and scream "NO" (I actually think I did do that one)... but I wasn't surprised. I am grateful that the spirit prepared me for this because it may have been a lot harder for me if he hadn't.

I've made no secret of the fact that I have a great love and appreciation for Julie Beck. She has been the General Relief Society President for most of the time that I have been in Relief Society and I feel so much gratitude for her incredible leadership. She is an amazing woman, truly a modern day prophetess, and one of my greatest role models. In the post I wrote when I had the chance to meet with her I said that it would be fair to re-write the scripture about Captain Moroni and say,
" Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all [WOMEN] had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto [SISTER BECK] behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men."

Really, she has been (and still is) my hero.

I feel that under her guidance that the "bar has been raised" for the Relief Society and that she has given LDS women a greater vision of our place and responsibility in God's work. I know that she has helped me better understand what it means to be a woman and what work God has for me to do on this earth. I can't even begin to count the many times that something she has said has been like a band-aid to my soul, answering hard questions that I have struggled with for years. I have the feeling that she sees and understands so much more than she can possibly share with us and I long to know what she knows and see what she sees.

That is a life journey I am looking forward to.

Thank you Sister Beck for a life full of Christ-like service and charity. Thank you for accepting the call to serve your God, even though I am sure it has been hard for you.

You have taught me to ask the hard questions and have faith that I will get answers.

I have asked. And I have received.

You will never know the impact you have had in my life. The only way I can think to repay you is to continue serving the God I know you love and the women around the world whom I know that both of you love.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Always,

Your sister in Christ

Heather