Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sariah's Breaking Point: Diffusing Anger in a Relationship, Guest Post by Kenzie

 Detail from "Lehi’s Exodus Into the Wilderness"  By Tandy Iverson

I was always a little bit bothered by the story in 1 Nephi 5, where Nephi relates the story of his mother complaining against his father. I mean, surely the woman who raised Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph and was married to the prophet Lehi was an amazing and spiritual woman in her own right? Instead it seems like one of the few stories totally dedicated to her was spent showing one of her weakest moments. Why would Nephi choose to include this story when he's going back later and writing the plates? Was this story in there to show how women should just be subservient to their husbands and not question any decision; even when her husband sends all her sons on a death trip back through the dangerous desert to get plates from an angry and violent man?

I think that there's a much deeper meaning and lesson in this story.

I think Nephi felt prompted to show us a woman at her breaking point. She's been dealing with everything the best she can, and now this is her breaking point. For as Nephi said, "She truly mourned for us." She sincerely thought her sons were dead. I think this story shows us how to deal with conflict in a marriage. The way both Lehi and Sariah handle this situation is so important.

First, if Sariah is saying things to Lehi like, "You are such a visionary man, Lehi! You've taken me from my home, you've lead me into the desert, you've made me leave all of our physical possessions, and now you've killed my sons! This is all your fault Lehi!" Most of us would default to our knee jerk reaction: we'd meet fire with fire. Lehi could have jumped right to it and said, "Well you're not doing so hot yourself Sariah! I mean look at this tent! It's always sandy! Look at what we're eating! I mean most days you don't even cook the stuff! You just slap it down raw!" Or more likely in my mind, "I am the prophet! How dare you talk to the prophet like that! How dare you talk to the patriarch of this family like that!"

Instead he says, "I know that I am a visionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision I should not have known the goodness of God, but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren. But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness. And after this manner did my father, Lehi, comfort my mother, Sariah, concerning us . . ."

I feel like this whole story is in the Book of Mormon to show us how to deal with similar situations. I know all of us will have something similar happen in our own relationships, and I think Lehi exhibits three characteristics of good communication we should follow. You've heard the saying, "Act, don't react." Well REacting would be that knee-jerk reaction, and ACTing follows this acronym.

A: Agree with them: Lehi started by saying, "You're right. I am a visionary man." Christ also taught this principle in Matthew 5:25, "Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him . . ."Agreeing with the arguer doesn't mean that we believe what they're saying is 100% correct, but it's a very good communication principle. Have you ever watched the body language of someone who's full of frustration? They almost look like they're all puffed up and full of air. When you agree with what they're saying right off the bat, they deflate. They weren't expecting that and their frustration dissolves into slight confusion. You'll get the chance to talk then. Being able to say "You're right. I can be selfish some times", "You're right, sometimes I really struggle with pride" shows a great deal of humility and a very Christ-like attitude. When we really want any relationship to succeed, we have to make  humility a key characteristic. A relationship won't succeed when pride creeps in.

C: Comfort them: Lehi understood the underlying need Sariah had. He looked past her angry words and saw that she was hurting. She was hurting because she loved so much. Surely her ability to love was one of the things that Lehi was drawn to when he married her. She's mourning for her lost sons, and Lehi recognized that and doesn't let her tone of voice change his reaction. He said, "I know why you're hurting. You're afraid and I recognize that." In our daily communication, we really need to figure out the underlying needs. My religion teacher gave me an acronym for some basic underlying needs he's seen in all his years of counseling. It is CRUCIAL:

  • C - Competency: We all have the need to feel competent at something. At different times in our lives it may change, but we always have something we need to feel good at. Even little children pick up on this when they say, "Mommy, so-and-so is good at this, and so-and-so is good at this. I'm not good at anything!" In relationships, we should keep tabs on what things other people have a need to feel competent at, and we should never ever pick on those areas. 
  • R - Reconciliation with God: I'm learning this principle for myself first hand. This is the strongest and most basic need of all. If our relationship with God is not harmonious, we tend to be needy in different areas of our life. One person may feel like everyone else isn't meeting their needs, but in reality nothing can change unless that person is first close to God. There's nothing everyone else can do until that person makes that step.
  • U - Understanding: One of the biggest blocks to communication is everyone's desire to be understood. We don't want to share some things specifically because we fear others will misunderstand. Everybody needs someone that can validate and accept their opinions even if they don't agree with all of them.
  • C - Closeness: Everyone needs someone to share their joys, successes, failures, and accomplishments with. Even people who aren't married feel this need. My idea is that's how social networking got started. People needed to find other people that could applaud their success.
  • I - Independence: Opposite to the previous one, everybody needs privacy, space, individual interests, hobbies, and friends. Sometimes if we get too close it can be like porcupines and we may bounce away quickly. There's a balancing act between closeness and independence because we all have to feel like our own person still. 
  • A - Appreciation: Everyone needs to know that their efforts are recognized. We may not expect some reward in return for the service we give, but we still need to know that people recognize that we're doing something. Once a councilor asked the Bishop if they should send thank you notes to the relief societies who contributed a lot to a huge activity, and the Bishop responded with, "We don't thank people in this church." How wrong that is! Everybody needs to be thanked, even if they are doing it for service. Expecting recognition is not evil nor does it diminish the service. It is a basic need.
  • L - Love: This may seem self-explanatory but there's a part here you may not have thought of. Everyone has the desire to feel lovable! Lovable means feeling attractive and feeling desirable. We all need to feel like a person other people would like to hang out with. Even people who break norms and feel like outsiders still need to feel like there are certain people in the world who would like to hang out with them. 
So we need to pay attention when people around us seem angry, frustrated, or upset. Usually what comes out of their mouth is not the real problem. Usually, it's something related to one of the above underlying needs.

T: Testify and Teach:  Lehi ends with his testimony and uses his testimony to comfort Sariah, since comfort was what she needed. The account of this story concludes with this,
"And when we had returned to the tent of my father, behold their joy was full, and my mother was comforted. And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak." 
These two verses are why I say Sariah is an amazing role model. It isn't until this very point that she gains a witness for herself that the Lord gave her husband the revelation. Until this point, she's been acting completely in faith! Isn't that amazing?!? She didn't have a personal witness, but was willing to leave her home, travel to some unknown place, give up everything she'd worked hard for, take her children into the dangerous desert, and allow them to travel back on a death mission! She was acting completely by faith up until this point!

Holy smokes, what a great woman!

Now after her personal witness she sounds exactly like Nephi! When we use our testimony in arguments, we allow the spirit to come in and make up the difference. After everything we can do, the spirit is what will change the other person's heart and help fill their underlying need.

There's more to Sariah's story, but I feel like Nephi put this little part in for a couple reasons. One, to show us that even the wife of the prophet hit a point where faith wasn't enough. Two, to show us how to diffuse the angry conversations that will occur in our lives. Three, to show us what amazing faith his mother had. And fourth, to show us how Sariah gained her own testimony of this huge venture.

 
Kenzie is a recently married Shakespeare enthusiast who loves acting, playing the piano, and singing music. She loves raspberries, chocolate, and a good Agatha Christie. She is almost ready to graduate as a Biological Science Teacher and accordingly loves plants, flowers, and science. Recently Kenzie has taken to musing about all things LDS women related on her blog, Divine Nature of Women, and is trying to find her place in her Heavenly Father's plan. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Giveaway for 2013 LDS Holistic Living Conference Ticket!

Rebecca Price, one of the organizers of the LDS Holistic Living Conference, contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in giving away a FREE ticket to this year's conference. If you haven't been to this conference you really should. There is something for everyone, even if you don't consider yourself to be "alternative", "crunchy", "hippie", "strange".... you take your pick. I have loved going the last few years and have learned so many interesting ideas. I have appreciated the diverse collection of speakers they collect each year and have loved having a place to talk openly about health and LDS beliefs.

I am sad that I won't be able to go this year (too far away) because it is sounds like they have an amazing line up of speakers and classes this time. Here is the teaser that Rebecca sent me about the conference. Make sure you read to the end for the discount code and a chance to win a free ticket!


It's that time of year again!  The LDS Holistic Living Conference and Expo  is right around the corner.  In the past, it's been just a one day event on a Saturday, but this year we are having an awesome keynote speaker, Camille Fronk Olson, the Friday night before.  She is the author of many written works, but her book Mary, Martha, and Me:  Seeking the One Thing that is Needful is so inspirational.

It's going to be held Friday and Saturday, June 21-22.


The Friday keynote will be at Noah's in Lindon, UT from 5:00-7:00 and the Saturday Conference is at Paradigm High School in South Jordan and runs all day starting at 8:30.  The free and open to the public vendor area looks like a wealth of knowledge in and of itself!

The Saturday speakers and classes are incredible! 

One highlight is Randall Edward who will be speaking on Holistic Living and Spiritual Gifts--a Practical Guide. His class will explore the idea of understanding the correlation between health and medical choices and the gifts of the spirit.

And Cliff and Judy Dunston are speaking on The Praise Principle--the class description says that, "The Praise Principle is the light that we get to participate in to align ourselves with the Lord.  Then when we commit to Praising the Lord then He can work His Miracles in our life.  It is practicing Faith in the Lord with full trust and the results are amazing."

And Neal Bosshardt, owner and founder of Redmond Clay will be doing a clay class that is hands on in making preparations to treat spider bites, burns and infections.  Also classes on the art of muscle testing (the energetic responses to what we say, do, think, and feel, a great diagnostic tool), and the power of chakras!  And that's just a small handful of the classes offered.  There is really something for everyone.

You can register at the door, but you will save a bundle by registering online and by June 1 for $11 per class!  Not only that,.....

1. Women in the Scriptures readers get 15% off by using coupon code: 2013PP15 at checkout.  Go here to register. 

2.  If you would like to enter the giveaway for the FREE ticket to Saturday's conference by:

  •  Visiting the website and telling me which class you are the most interested in. 
  •  And/or leaving me your best suggestions for healthy treats for kids (I sure need some right now!) 

The Giveaway will close on June 3rd at Midnight.

Best wishes! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Breastfeeding Women in the Scriptures: Part 2

Here is part two of my Breastfeeding Women in the Scriptures series. Read Part 1 here if you missed it.
 
Hannah

"For This Child I Prayed" by Elspeth Young
"But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, I will not go up until the child be weaned, and then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever.

And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the Lord establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him.

And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young." 1 Samuel 1:22-24

I love this little glimpse we get into Hannah's breastfeeding experience. I can only imagine how much she must have wrestled with herself, trying to decide if she should keep the covenant she had made to the Lord. Giving her child to the Lord must have seemed like a much easier thing to do when the child was just a hope, but much harder once she had the actual infant in her arms. It appears that she finally decided, or worked it out with the Lord, that she would take the child to the temple only after he was weaned. This may have been for practical reasons (the priests wouldn't have been able to breastfeed him) but I think it is also indicative of how important breastfeeding and that close initial bond with a mother is to the Lord. Still, I can't think of any woman who probably was more sad to wean her child than Hannah.

It is also impressive that Elkanah, her husband,  was was supportive of her choices. We don't get any indication that Elkanah tried to dissuade Hannah from keeping her vow to the Lord, in fact he actually reminded her of her promise. He seemed to understand that Hannah had made a covenant and he was willing to help her fulfill it, which must not have been easy for him either.  Not only was he supportive of her covenant but he was also supportive of her choice to breastfeed Samuel until he was ready to be taken to the temple. Today research shows that a having a supportive partner is one of the most significant factors in determining if, and how long babies, are breastfed for. Elkanah was an equal partner to Hannah in all her choices, and I think their relationship is one that can be held up as a good example of righteous interactions between a husband and wife.


Naomi 
 
"So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son.
And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. 
And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.
And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it." Ruth 4:16
It is interesting that the word that is translated as "nurse" in Ruth 4:16 is the Hebrew word "'aman" which means,  " to support, uphold and nourish". This word is never used in the scriptures to refer to the literal act of breastfeeding or suckling a child.  Instead "aman" is most often translated as the word "believe" and is used to indicate when a person or a people allow themselves to be nourished by the word of God.

For example in Exodus 4:1 it says:
And Moses answered and said , But, behold, they will not believe ("aman") me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say , The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. "

and 2 Kings 17:14 
Notwithstanding they would not hear , but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe ("aman") in the LORD their God. 
The word "aman" can also be used to refer to a foster father or a foster mother who nourishes a child. For example in Isaiah 49:23 it says:
And kings shall be thy nursing ("aman")  fathers, and their queens thy nursing ("yanaq") mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. 

The phrase that is translated and "nursing fathers" is the Hebrew word "aman". While the phrase "nursing mothers" is the Hebrew word "yanaq" which means "to suckle or to suck."

It is significant to me that the Hebrew uses different words, with similar meanings, to differentiate between the type of role that a "nursing father" and a "nursing mother" will have to the gathered tribes of Israel. Both the words can rightly be translated as "nursing" but in the case of a "nursing mother" it indicates that her body-- specifically her breasts-- will literally be involved in nourishing and supporting the fledgling nations. Men, who obviously don't have breasts that can produce milk, are able to do something similar through their responsibilities to teach and guide God's children back to him. A "nursing father" is someone who suckles and nourishes a child of God spiritually and prepares them to return to the presence of God. Yet too often, like Moses laments, the children do not "aman"-- they won't believe, they won't suckle-- but instead harden their hearts to the milk of the gospel of Christ.

So it is very interesting that Naomi is described as being an "aman" to Obed.  She was an old woman, and had not recently given birth to a child of her own, and would not have been able to physically breastfeed her grandson. Yet the scriptures indicate that Naomi did something equally important-- she spiritually breastfeed her grandson. She was able to "aman" or "sustain" him by taking him to her bosom and loving, teaching, and guiding him towards Christ. 

When I think of my own children's grandmothers I see women who have chosen to take my children to their bosoms and nourish them, not only with love but with time, teaching, wisdom and kindness. In many ways they have "nursed" my children just as much as I have... filling them the milk of the gospel. I think that the use of this word "aman" to describe Naomi's relationship with Obed is a beautiful reminder that not all women (or men for that matter) will have the opportunity to "yanaq" or "suckle" a child, but ALL women (and men)  have the opportunity to "aman" or "nourish" a child.

This type of spiritual nourishment is just as vitally important as their mother's milk.

Joash's Nurse


"But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain. And he was with her hid in the house of the Lord six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land." 2 Kings 11:2-3

As I wrote about in Deborah and Rebekah's breastfeeding story the word "nurse" is used in the Bible to describe a "wet nurse". I have written before about the incredible courage and compassion  Jehosheba displayed by working to save the baby Joash from being killed by his grandmother Athaliah. Yet I had never thought about the woman (who is only named as his "nurse") as being instilled with the same courage and compassion as Jehosheba.  It is likely that this nurse was a slave woman, and so she may have just been obeying Jehosheba's orders, but she would have fully understood the risk she was taking in saving Joash's life. She was a woman who demonstrated great bravery and showed a true "mother heart" in risking her own life to save the life of a child that was not her own.

It is also significant to remember that Joash had to be hidden inside the temple for six years, until he was old enough to be presented before the people and his wicked grandmother kicked out of power. This means that his nurse also would also have had to go into hiding in the temple for several years while she was breastfeeding (and presumably caring for) Joash.

The sacrifices this unnamed woman made have attracted very, very little attention over the course of history, but without her the line of David (the lineage the Savior was born through) would have been lost forever. Like millions of women who came before her, and  who have come after, her acts of bravery and sacrifice have gone unnoticed... but they changed the course of history.

Gomer


"Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son." Hosea 1:8
 The story of Gomer is a complicated, yet beautiful, story and if you aren't familiar with it I'd highly recommend reading this.

All we get about Gomer's breastfeeding experiences is this one little line that states that after she had weaned her daughter, Lo-ruhamah,  she bore another son. We don't know how old Lo-ruhmah was when Gomer weaned her or how far apart her two children were spaced, but the verse seems to indicate that she was relying on breastfeeding as a way of spacing her children. 

The type of breastfeeding that women practiced in ancient times (often called "ecological breastfeeding" today) is often much different than the type of breastfeeding that women in industrialized nations practice today. Anciently (and still in many nations around the world) women nursed their babies not only for nourishment but also for comfort. They didn't feed their babies according to a schedule, they slept with them at night, didn't encourage them to sleep through the night until they were weaned, and were not separated from their babies for long periods of time. They also didn't ever have to restrict breastfeeding because it was culturally unacceptable to; breastfeeding (even with your breast showing) was always acceptable.... in all sorts of company. Being able to feed their babies like this often led to extended periods of infertility, naturally spacing children about two to two and half years apart.
 
I know that breastfeeding isn't a reliable form of birth control for some women, but personally (nearly) exclusive breastfeeding has been a great way for me to space my children. My cycle doesn't come back until my babies start on solid foods and start to sleep longer at night (usually around a year). I have tried to nurse them as long as they wanted (Asher nursed for 11 months, Rose nursed for 15 months, and Abe nursed for 13 months)  and so far my body has tended to naturally space children about two or two and half years apart, which is okay with Jon and I (we have also used a the Creighton method of natural family planning as well).

 Reading this line about Gomer, "when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son" always makes me smile because I can totally relate to her!  We get so few of the intimate details of women's lives in the Bible and so I love it that we get this little glimpse into Gomer and Hosea's "birth control" approach :)

If you are interested in reading more about ecological breastfeeding these links are interesting reads: 

http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/fertility/

http://www.catholicity.com/commentary/wicker/08593.html

http://www.lalecheleague.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvdec98jan99p128.html




Mary the Mother of Jesus

Mary and Jesus by Andrea Solario

"And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Luke 11:27-28
We don't have any specific references to Mary breastfeeding Jesus, but it would be very unusual if she hadn't. This verse in Luke 11:27-28, even though it doesn't name Mary specifically, seems to indicate that the same woman who bore Christ also nursed him. I think we are pretty safe to assume that this verse is referring to Mary as the owner of both the womb and the paps that gave life to Jesus Christ.

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of this verse gives important clarity to this verse. In the KJV of the bible the verse reads like so:

"And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Luke 11:27-28

But in the JST translation of the bible the verse reads:
And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company, lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb which bare thee, and the paps which thou has sucked. And he said, Yea, and blessed are all they who hear the word of God, and keep it. JST Luke 11:27-28 (This particular JST isn't found in the footnotes of the LDS scriptures, you have to go read the full translation)
Do you see the difference?

The JST removes the word "rather" and simply states that "Yea" the womb that bare him and the paps that suckled him are blessed. It is just one word, but it makes a big difference in the way we understand what Jesus is saying. The "rather" in the KJV makes it sound like Jesus is saying "Yes, they are blessed BUT those who hear the word of God and keep it are more blessed." It is significant to me that Joseph Smith was instructed to remove the "rather" in this verse making it clear that Mary's womb and her breasts were blessed and that Jesus recognized that, with no qualifications.

It is also interesting that JST included the word "and"  because instead of separating the blessedness of the womb and the paps from those who hear the word of God with the word "rather", the word "and" joins them together. It changes the meaning of verse and shows us that Christ was making a comparison between those who are physically born and nursed by a woman and those who hear the word of God and keep it.  

It is no coincidence that often Christ used breastfeeding and birth metaphors to describe the work He had to do among the children of men. Women's bodies have been designed by God to be symbols of Christ and His atonement, and the physical nursing and nurturing they do mirrors beautifully the spiritual nursing and nurturing that Christ offers to all those who will come to him and receive "milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1). Mary gave physical birth and physically nursed Christ, and now Christ was  offering to spiritually birth and spiritually nurse all those who were willing to accept His atonement and become His sons and daughters.

 It is sweet to me that Christ, publicly and unabashedly, acknowledged His mother and her sacrifices in this powerful way.

By the way, I LOVE this picture (above) of Mary nursing Jesus. If I ever have the opportunity to remodel a mother's lounge at church I want to hang this painting on the wall. What I love the most is the way in which the artist so perfectly captured the position that a woman uses when she breastfeeds. Everything from the way her hand cups and supports her breast, the cradle hold she is using to hold Jesus, the eye contact between mother and child, and even the pillow under baby Jesus to make breastfeeding easier (how many of us have ever used a boppy pillow for the exact same purpose!) It gives an intimate portrait of Mary that I love, and you can tell the artist really knew what a breastfeeding woman looks like. It just illustrates beautifully the phrase from Luke Luke 11:27 "Blessed is the womb which bare thee, and the paps which thou has sucked."

Come to think of it, I should just ask if I can get a copy of this and put it on the wall in the mother's lounge at church!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five Things for Friday, 56th Edition

-1-

I had a really sweet Mother's Day. I have never seen two kids as excited about Mother's Day as Asher and Rose were. You would have thought it was Christmas the way they went on the night before saying, "Oh, Mom tomorrow is Mother's Day! Aren't you so excited. So so so so so excited!" It was contagious and I think it was definitely my most looked forward to Mother's Day.

The best part was that they made me breakfast in bed. When they woke up they herded their dad downstairs and made me the best breakfast (just a reminder to self: if you want a great breakfast in bed go grocery shopping the night before Mother's Day and buy all your favorite foods). I got to sleep in-- with no kids jumping on me-- for an extra hour. It was the best part of the day

A very fuzzy picture of a very sweet moment.
They also were excited to give me my present (wrapped in a cereal box). It was an electric toothbrush and they thought it was the coolest thing ever. I try not to think about it, but I am sure that they have all tested it out by now.

The next best part of the day was hearing my kids sing in Sacrament meeting. Rose smiled at me the whole time and it was really cute.

Then the next best part of the day was that later that evening when we were walking along the fence by our field we discovered several big patches of wild asparagus.



I was so excited because I have always wanted to find wild asparagus. It just seems too good to be true that food, real food, could just be growing right under your nose and all you have to do is go pick it. It makes me feel all hunter-gathery-pioneer-woman-like.

We picked a big bag full and ate if for dinner that night. It was so, so yummy. The best part is that it our neighbor said that if we pick it every few days we should probably get five or six more meals out of it before it gets too warm.

Over all, it was a really great day.


-2-


I am still trying to adjust to the different weather here in Iowa. When we first got here someone told us  "If you don't like the weather in Iowa, wait an hour and it will change." I thought they were joking, but no. The weather here is really variable. For example, two weekends ago this is what my backyard looked like


A blizzard for two days (really) dumping five inches of snow in MAY.

Crazy.

But even crazier is that a week and a half later the temperature was 97 degrees! I almost couldn't believe it when I looked at the temperature. How wild to go from freezing to boiling in little over a week.   

Luckily I think the weather has leveled out and is going to stay around  70 or 80 for the next few weeks, but with Iowa I guess you never know.

It has also surprised me how fast rain and thunderstorms can roll in. One moment it is nice and sunny and then wham... rain. And not just a little bit of rain. R-A-I-N. The other night Jon and I were laying bed watching the sky light up with lighting every few seconds. It was incredible. I have never seen rain like that before. It made me realize that I certainly don't live in a desert anymore! 

-3-

The best part of living here has been to watch my kids spend so much time playing and exploring outside. They are enthralled by everything and it so much fun to see them discover and learn. Asher has been really interested in all the creatures that roam around and has been trying to figure out ways to catch them. The other night he spent some time putting together a rabbit trap. He dangled a carrot and the end of a stick and had it all planned out that when the rabbit ate it the stick would fall and trap him.



It didn't work, but it was sure fun to see him using his creativity to put it all together.

Rose also found a toad last night and I don't know who was more excited about it, me or the kids. I had never caught a frog or a toad before and it was so neat. We decided that we will keep it for a few days so that we can watch it and learn about it, and then we will let it go in the ditch.


 

So far we have had a lot of fun learning about toads (and the difference between toads and frogs) and catching bugs for it to eat. Rose has named it "Toady baby".



I think later today we are going to draw pictures of it and write some of the facts we have learned about toads down in our nature journals. I have been planning on studying animals this next year with the kids for home school and so I guess this is our first "official" animal lesson! It also gave me hope that this home school thing is actually going to work when yesterday, as we were putting the frog in its new home,  Asher gave me an earful about how the toads skin is bumpy and brown because it needs to be camouflaged to blend in with its environment.  I didn't even know he knew about that. It just reminded me that curious kids really learn so much more than we "teach" them!

-4-

So thanks for letting me vent out my frustration and fears yesterday. I think writing is good therapy for me. After writing my post yesterday I felt so much better. I am blaming my breakdown on pregnancy hormones. It seems like my ability to cope with things lately has been about a third of what it normally is. We really are doing just fine (in case I made anyone overly worried) and I know that all the things I am stressed about will find a way to fix themselves.

For example, remember how I was stressed because our lawn mower broke? Well, last night Jon went and picked this up for dirt cheap.



I guess the man who was selling at been trying to get rid of it for a long time and couldn't figure out why no one was buying it because it was so cheap. Jon said that maybe it was just waiting for us. 

Granted it doesn't run, but hopefully that will be remedied soon.

It was just a reminder to me that God really does provide, and that he is fully aware of what we need... often times even before we are.

I just love it that Rose is reading her book in this picture!


-5-

Any suggestions for surviving varicose veins during pregnancy? I had a few varicose veins with Rose but nothing big. With Abe I started to get them pretty bad, but then they went away half way through my pregnancy. Usually varicose veins just get worse the further along you get and so the only explanation I have for why they got better is that I was seeing the chiropractor almost once a week because my hips were so bad. This time around though my hips feel great (yippee!) but I have varicose veins much worse... and I don't think they are going to go away this time.  Luckily though I only have them on my right leg, which is strange but I am not complaining! 

I bought two pairs of sturdy support support nylons, one that is designed for pregnant bellies and one that is footless so I can wear sandals. So far they have been helping, but it is starting to get pretty hot and I don't know how I am going to stand to wear them all summer. My only other coping technique has been to take hot baths with Epsom salts in it. But even hot baths aren't going to be appealing for much longer. I know varicose veins are fairly common during pregnancy and so I would love to hear how other women (especially those who were pregnant in the summer) have coped with them.

I am sure they will go away after I have the baby, but until then I would love any tips for making them not so annoying.

Oh, and I had Asher take a picture of me this morning (which is why it is crooked) so that I could show my family my baby belly. I went to the midwife this week and I am about 23 weeks along, though I am measuring at about 24 weeks. I feel really huge already, but maybe that is just because I have forgotten how much bigger I am going to get!

A blurry kid-taken picture, sorry, it is the best I could get!
Overall, I am feeling really good and I am getting excited for this baby. Abe has started giving my belly kisses and pats. So I think maybe this baby is starting to become much more "real" for all of us!

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Any Problem that Can be Fixed with Money

I had a good long bawl this morning.

Once I let myself go it surprised me how much emotion I had stored up inside those tiny tear ducts.

After buying a house, a new car (out of necessity), and moving half way across the country in the last few months we can see the bottom of the barrel.

On top of that we have to figure out how to pay for a baby in few months (they aren't cheap!), our lawn mower just broke, our laptop died and our other computer isn't working great, our truck needs new tires (badly), we need to have the air vents in our house cleaned (I am worried about mold), Asher has cavities the size of Wisconsin that need to be filled, and this morning the kids dropped my phone and cracked the screen.

I know that there are many of you who could top me with money woes and so I won't pretend to have it rough.

But the stress of all those little things has been weighing on my heart, much more than I realized.

I am feeling a bit like the Widow of Zarephath who, when faced with a nearly empty barrel of flour was asked to make a cake for the prophet Elijah to eat. Throwing out all good economic sense she took a leap of faith and fed the prophet the last of what she had, probably fully expecting that now she and her son would soon die of starvation.

But she didn't.

Miraculously, when she looked back in the barrel there was enough flour and oil for her to feed her son. And not only that but for the rest of the famine her oil and her flour never failed her and she always had enough. Probably not enough to feast on or to live like she did before, but enough to meet her needs.

It isn't the first time Jon and I have been through a "famine" period in our lives, and I know from experience that if we keep paying our tithing and fast offerings and have faith in the Lord that our needs will be met, and eventually-- sometimes miraculously-- our barrel will fill back up.

It is a process I have seen happen before, but it is never an easy one to go through.

This morning I had to remind myself to let go. To remember that money is just money and that in the wise words of my dad:



Money really isn't worth crying over, not when I have so many other blessings filling up my life.

Though sometimes it does feel really good. 

I just need to keep having faith that sometimes the barrel will be full and sometimes it will be empty, but God will always make sure there is enough.

Maybe not enough for couches that match... but always enough :) 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Things for Friday, 55th Edition

-1-

Right before we moved into our house my Mother-in-law said that someone asked her how long she thought it would take us to get chickens.  The answer...

Not very long.

A house just doesn't quite seem like a home without them.


And we are so excited for fresh eggs again.

There really is nothing better.

We got eight little chicks, the breeds of which I am not quite sure. I had the stomach flu (not fun when you are pregnant) the day Jon took the kids to get them and he let them each pick out two for their very own. Asher chose the small black and yellow ones and named them "Jake" and "Fluff Ball." I will love it if Jake turns out to be a hen!  Rose chose the big yellow ones and at first named them something like "Tooloola" and "Ulalia" but she kept forgetting their names and so now they are "Lilly" and "Sunlight". The four red ones didn't get names, because Jon said if we have to eat them he doesn't want to name them.



Don't you love our fancy brooder box? We realized that we must have given away all our chicken equipment in our last move and so we had to improvise. So far a cardboard box, a peanut bottle with a hole in it and an egg carton have been doing just fine!

-2-

We had a bit of a tragedy on Tuesday. We were transferring the chicks to a new cardboard box (because the other one got wet) and decided to let them run around in the yard for a few minutes. Asher wasn't paying attention to where he was stepping (and was a bit hyper) and accidentally stepped on one of the red chicks. I ran and scooped it up, thinking that it had just broken its wing, but quickly realized it was dying. I held it while it died, which wasn't very long.

Looking back, I think I could have handled the situation better. I was a little shocked that Asher had just (accidentally) killed our chicken, but even more upset that he didn't seem too bothered by it. He was actually trying to laugh it off, telling me that it would be okay. I realize now that it was his way of coping with the situation, but at the time it really annoyed me. Later I realized that it was the first time either of my children had seen something die. Asher had no idea how to process the experience and so his initial response was to laugh. Yet after we helped him dig a hole and bury it he couldn't stop talking about what had happened. I could tell that he felt bad for what had happened and was concerned about what was going to happen to the chicken. We had lots of conversations about death and the resurrection and in the end it really turned into an amazing teaching opportunity.

Decorating the chicken's grave with rocks and pictures

But one big question has gone unanswered. Asher has been asking me over and over again if the chicken will get resurrected and I have no idea what to tell him. Part of me just wants to tell him yes to make the whole situation easier to swallow, but I don't know for sure and I don't want to teach him wrong.

So far I haven't come across anything in the scriptures that indicates that the resurrection will include animals, but that doesn't mean it won't. Anyone have any insights or ideas on that one?

Asher and Rose's chicken epithets, "Chickem, love you."

-3-

When we moved we decided not to take our couch or our loveseat. There were nice but I was ready for a change. So, last Saturday we went shopping for a new couch and ended up at a used furniture store. We found a really great overstuffed chair (that is PERFECT for reading in) and a nice couch that has a hide-a-bed in it, (so that we will have a place for guest to stay when they come visit).

They have been great, the only strange part is that they are both floral print fabric.

Different floral prints, mind you.

It didn't seem too strange when they were dozens of feet apart in the store but once we got them both home I realized that, counting the piano bench,  we actually had three different floral prints in the same room.




I am sure that this breaks ALL the rules of interior design and  could probably land me a place on one of those "can you believe this room" reality TV shows...  but oh, well.  They work and are comfortable. Besides I've decided that their subtle craziness sort of fits the theme of my life lately. 
 

-4-

I have a hint for making a pregnancy fly by.

Move across the country.

I am about 20 weeks pregnant already and I feel like I have hardly even given this baby any thought.

Well, that isn't true. She kicks me often enough that it is hard to forget about her and it is hard to ignore my growing belly. Now that we are getting more settled I can actually start making plans for this little one!

I have been feeling really self conscious about being pregnant this time around. I find myself wearing my big coat every chance I get so that people can't tell. It makes me feel like did in 8th grade, afraid that someone might actually see what my blossoming body looked like under all that coat. But the truth is that I can't wear a coat for the next three months. Okay,  technically I could, but then I am  sure that a wool coat in August would make people wonder what was wrong with me, even more than toting around four kids under the age of six would.

 I think I just need to own up to the fact that I AM going to be that woman in the store who people will look at and smile (or frown) and say, "Wow, she's got her hands full." I shouldn't let what other people think (or don't think) bother me, but I guess it do. It is probably because I have judged way too many other people in my life and so I know people do it!

And sometimes I just think I need to take a dose of my own medicine. I keep trying to remind myself of what I wrote here and remember that 1) felt the same way last time and I only had three kids then, 2) people probably aren't judging me, even if I think they are, 3) I really want this baby, and 4) it is okay to be different from other people, especially when you know you are on the right path for what the Lord wants you to do.

Now to just find a way to make that medicine easier to digest.


-5-

And Happy Mother's Day this Sunday!

And just a reminder.

Mother's Day is a day to celebrate YOUR mother, and the incredible gift of life she gave you. So whether you are a mother yourself or not enjoy the day and take the time to reflect on the blessing of your own birth and the influence your mother (or mothers) has had in your life. And if you can snuggle her close!




 

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, May 7, 2013

Breastfeeding Women in the Scriptures: Part 1

Several years ago I did a series on women's birth stories from the scriptures. It was really a wonderful experience to go through those women's stories and piece together their experiences. For some time I have been thinking it would be fun to do a series on the stories of women's breastfeeding experiences in the scriptures. I considered doing individual posts on each of these women but decided I would probably be most helpful to have them all together in two separate posts. I have chosen to only write about the stories of women breastfeeding, not the literary or prophetic verses that use breastfeeding images (of which there are many). If you would like to read some beautiful thoughts on the symbolism of breastfeeding I would highly recommend this.

I have tried to write about most of the women I know about whose breastfeeding experiences we have in the scriptures, but if I have forgotten any please let me know!

Sarah

"Sarah with Issac" by April Craig
"And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him age. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same a son in his old day that Isaac was weaned." Genesis 21:6-8 

We often talk about the miracle it was that Sarah, a 90-year-old woman, was able to give birth to a baby. Yet, if the truth be told, that was only part of the miracle. How incredible it was that a 90-year-old woman was able to breastfeed her baby as well. It was just one of God's tender mercies to Sarah. Not only did he bless her body to open and give birth to a child but he also made it so that she could have the experience of breastfeeding as well, something she had probably yearned for for a long, long time.

It is also interesting to note that the tradition of holding a celebration when a child was weaned was very common in ancient cultures and is still practiced (in various forms) in several cultures around the world. Anciently, women typically breastfed their children until the age of three or four. Infant and child mortality was high due to disease and infection, but after the age of five a child's likelihood of dying greatly diminished,  and so weaning parties would have been held as a way to celebrate a child's safe passage through babyhood. It was also a time to acknowledge that the child was making a significant life transition and to express gratitude to the mother and to God for the miracle of breastfeeding. 

I really love the idea of holding a weaning party. It has surprised me, every time one of my children stops nursing, how much I miss it. It is a time of incredible bonding and love between a mother and child and it is amazing to watch your body create food for another human being. I think it is beautiful that ancient cultures had a way to celebrate that. I know that several of my friends and have held their own weaning parties (here and here) when their children weaned and I think it is such an interesting idea. Maybe sometime in the future I will remember to do that! 


Deborah and Rebekah

And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse and Abraham’s servant, and his men. Genesis 24:59

But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Beth-el under an oak: and the name of it was called Allon-bachut. Geneis: 35: 8

When the word "nurse" is used in the scriptures it is usually referring to a woman who breastfed a child other than her own. In today's lingo we would call them a "wet nurse". Often times a nurse was employed to breastfeed a baby whose mother had died or who was too ill to sustain them. In the ancient world there was no such thing as formula and so a child's only hope at a healthy life was if another woman took the baby to her breast and fed it, often for several years.

Apparently something must have happened that necessitated a wet nurse for the baby Rebekah.  We know that Rebekah's mother was living at the time Rebekah was married and so we can only speculate on why Deborah was chosen to nurse her. Was her mother ill sometime after her birth? Was her mother unwilling or unable to breastfeed? Also, who was Deborah? Was she a servant or another member of the family? Did Deborah have her own baby that she nursed alongside Rebekah? Or had Deborah lost her own child and so had an extra supply of milk?

No matter what the circumstances it is evident that Debroah and Rebekah shared a unique bond. Not only does Debroah go with Rebekah when she is married into Issac's house but the book of Genesis specifically mentions her death and gives the place of her burial. Normally death announcements in the Bible are reserved for the great patriarchs and their wives.  She must have been a great influence in Rebekah's life and a great women to be so remembered. It also goes to show how highly valued the role of a wet nurse was in the ancient world.  

I had an experience that gave me a little taste of this. I was in the hospital for several days when Asher was just a few months old. I was taking strong medications and so I couldn't breastfeed him. I had to "pump and dump" all my breastmilk in order to keep my supply strong. During this time my sweet sister-in-law, knowing how important breastfeeding was to me, took Asher to her own breast and fed him along with her six-month-old daughter. I didn't know about it at the time (I was groggy with drugs) but when I found out afterward I felt such immense gratitude to her. She laughed and said it had been a little weird, but that she was glad she could help us. That experience gave me a little glimpse into the gratitude that women would have felt for the wet nurses who sustained their children. It would have been an experience that brought women (and babies) together in a very unique way.

Jochebed

"Moses in His Mother's Arms" by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905)
Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. Exodus 2:7-9

Jochebed was the mother of Moses. After hiding her son for three months from the Egyptians, who were ordered to kill all male Hebrew babies, she chose to hide her son in an ark and place him where he would be found by the daughter of the Pharaoh. When the princess saw the baby, and easily identifed him as a Hebrew baby (he would have been circumcised), she sought  out a nurse to feed the him. In the apocryphal book of Jasher it says that after finding baby Moses Pharaoh's daughter tried to find a nurse for him among all the Egyptian women but that he would not suck from any of them (Jasher 68:19-20). Perhaps by three months he already a nipple preference and could tell that none of those women were his mother! At any rate,  Moses' sister approached Pharoah's daughter and asked if she could try to get a nurse for him from among the Hebrew women. Pharoah's daughter told her to go and, of course, Miriam came back with Jochebed. It stands to reason that Pharoah's daughter would have know (or highly suspected) that Jochebed was Moses' mother. Who else would Miriam go get from among the Hebrews for a baby who wouldn't nurse for anyone else?  Yet Pharaoh's daughter also knows that Jocebed can not keep her baby and that in order to live Moses will need both of them to be a mother to him.

It is just beautiful to me that God cared enough about the bond that Jochebed had with her son that he would find a way for her to continue breastfeeding him. Not to mention get paid for it as well! Double bonus.


Sariah and the Women in the Wilderness  


And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meant in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings. 1 Nephi 17:2

...And Jacob and Joseph also, being young, having need of much nourishment, were grieved because of the afflictions of their mother; and also my wife with her tears and prayers, and also my children, did not soften the hearts of my brethren that they would loose me. 1 Nephi 18:19

The fact that Nephi specifically takes the time (remember he is engraving on gold plates here) to mention that "our women did give plenty of such for their children" show that not only did Nephi understand and appreciate the blessing of breastfeeding, but it indicates that there may have been a time in their travels when these women did not have enough milk to feed their babies. Nephi states that their women, " suffered all things, save it were death" which probably included the death of children, starvation, and being unable to feed their children. It is heart breaking to think that they may have lost babies because they were too weak or malnourished to produce milk for them. Yet, considering that possibility also lends more weight to why Nephi would take the time to comment that their women did give plenty of suck for their children.

Also in 1 Nephi 18:7 Nephi records that his mother, Sariah, gave birth to two sons named Jacob and Joseph while they were traveling in the wilderness. Even if we give Sariah wide margins, say have her married at the age of 16 (normal would have been 14) and Laman and Lemuel not getting married to the daughters of Ishmael until they were around 20 (normal would have been 17),  it still only makes her about 37 or 38 at the time she leaves Jerusalem with her husband. So, even though by today's standards Sariah would have been "advanced maternal age", she still would have been in her childbearing years. 

Nephi also states that his family wandered in the wilderness for eight years before the embarked on the ship for the promised land. This means that Jacob and Joseph would have been under the age of seven and it is likely that one-- if not both-- of them were still breastfeeding at the time of the trip on the ship. It is possible that when Nephi speaks of the "nourishment"  Jacob and Joseph were lacking he was thinking of the actual sustenance that they got from breastfeeding. Also, if Jacob and Joseph were older, he may have meant "nourishment" as in the emotional nourishment that a mother provides her children with as well. Breastfeeding, especially in the toddler years, isn't just about food but is mostly about security and love. That may have been just what Jacob and Joseph were lacking for while their mother was afflicted because of the wickedness of her older children.


Coming up in part 2... Hannah, Naomi, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Joash's Nurse and Gomer!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

An Angel in the Hallway

 

Several nights ago I decided to make bread before bed.

I quickly threw together a batch of bread, confident that I knew the recipe off the top of my head,  and stuck it in the bread maker. I turned the machine onto its longest setting and went upstairs to get ready for bed, intending for the bread to cook while I was alseep. Jon came up shortly after and we watched a movie together. After the movie was over we sat in bed and chatted for awhile. Then I heard a strange noise downstairs. It sounded like someone was rustling the blinds.

"Did you hear that?" I asked Jon.

He quieted down and we listened, but couldn't hear anything. 

"I just thought I heard something downstairs." 

"Must have been the bread machine."

"Yeah, must have been."

Jon went into the bathroom to brush his teeth. I was laying in bed with our door open and I heard the hall floor squeak. I sat up thinking that it was Jon coming back into the room, but when I looked there was no one there. I listened and could hear that Jon was still in the bathroom. "Strange," I thought to myself. The floor had squeaked just like it does when someone was walking on it, but there was no one there.

Not long after Jon came back in and with a strange look on his face asked, "Was that you in the hall?"

"No, I have been laying right here the whole time. But you heard that too?"

"Yeah, someone walked down the hall."

"I heard it, but I figured it must have been you in the bathroom." 

We both got the chills.

Not only had we heard something in the hall but we could both feel that there was most certainly someone else in our house.

Me, being the brave soul that I am climbed further under the covers and sent Jon to investigate. He turned on the hall light and slowly started down the stairs, even calling out a tentative, "Hello? Who is there?" 

As he progressed down the stairs a thousand horrible possibilities flooded through my head.

"We haven't gotten the locks changed yet, what if someone has a key." 

"What if they are a crazy uncle who is angry we bought the house."

"What if Jon gets shot?" 

"Where would I hide?"

"How would I keep the kids quiet?"

"Maybe we could climb out the window on to the porch...." 

You know... nice, comforting, sane thoughts.

Then I heard, "Wow. Oh wow. Man. Wow" coming from down stairs and I was out of bed and down the stairs like a rocket.

"Jon, what happened? Are you okay? What is it. Did you find them?"

"Yeah, Heather. Everything is okay but look at this." 

He pointed to the bread machine, which had "walked" itself underneath the cupboard, and was pouring out a pillar of smoke. He opened it up and we saw that my hastily thrown together bread had risen too much and that the dough had overflowed in great quantities onto the heating element.  Jon quickly pulled it out and doused the thing with water and then looked at me seriously, "This thing probably would have caught fire, it still has almost an hour and half left on the bake time. And being right underneath these cupboards it probably would have lit them right up. I wonder why the smoke alarm didn't go off." 

"I know" I said. "I checked them today and replaced the batteries but I couldn't get them to work. I was going to ask you to look at them when you got home... but I forgot."

We watched the smoldering bread machine for awhile, feeling slight terror at our near escape,  and then Jon said, "You know... there was someone in the hall.  I felt them as I came down the stairs. I think we just had a visit from a guardian angel."

The truth of those words rushed over us and brought us to our knees in gratitude.

There have been several times in my life when I have felt the presence of guardian angels. Yet, every time I see their influence in my life it humbles me to my core.

Who are they? What type of power and influence are they allowed to have? Can they rustle blinds and squeak old floors if needed? And how many other small, seemingly insginficant, promptings and occurances in my life are really whisperings from a divine being?

I really don't know.

All I do know is that I am so grateful for the angel who walked our hall that night.

I love you

whoever you are.