Monday, December 30, 2013

GREATEST HITS OF 2013

I can't believe another year has flown by.

I know it is cliche, but time really does go by too fast.

I heard an elderly couple in the grocery store talking about how time seems to move even faster now that they are older and it just scared me. If time is going to start moving even faster than it does now, I am seriously going to have to start slowing down my life... or I will miss everything! 

For Asher's birthday I was printing off pictures of him for his photo album and it just about made me cry. He has grown up so much, even in just the last six months, and except for having to buy him a new stash of shirts... I hardly even noticed it. 

My baby really isn't much of a baby any more. 

Then... I was hanging up our wedding pictures in the hallway and realized that Jon and I look young. It had never occurred to me that I have aged. I still feel like the same 21-year-old whose happy, excited eyes beam out at me from those photos. But, I'm not really. My hair is different, my hips are wider, my face more lined, and my heart and soul have expanded bigger than I ever imagined they could. I have learned and grown so much since then, but it has happened almost without me even noticing it. 

It makes me sad, and yet happy at the same time. 

Sad because I can't get back what has passed, and happy because I have so much more to look forward to. 

I guess it is a good trade off. 

Anyway, sentimental new year thoughts aside.... 

It has become a fun New Year's tradition for me to share with you my most  popular posts of the year. So... without further ado. Here are the TOP FIVE winners for 2013! 

Dun.. dun... dun..





"...After I went through this I saw that if my children internalized the basic concept of those nine attributes, that many of the other virtues and skills I wanted them to learn would come naturally or easier. In fact, it dawned on me that these nine qualities were THE MOST IMPORTANT things I could teach my children.

 If they never learned to read but had Christ-like charity for others, or if they couldn't add or subtract but could obey God, the prophet and the Holy Ghost, or if they didn't know where Cambodia was but had unshakeable faith in Christ... they would have learned what really matters. 

Don't get me wrong, I still plan on teaching my children how to read and add and subtract but I have realized that focusing on teaching them how to become like Christ is the-single-most- important job I have as their mother. And whether I home school, public school, or do something in between that responsibility doesn't change. 

So for our pre-school this year I have devoted one month to each of those nine Christ-like attributes. I separated "Honesty" and "Respect/Reverence" from their umbrella categories and gave them their own month because I felt like my kids need extra help in those areas.  As I get them done I will post them and make a list at the end of this post. " Read the rest






"...It almost made me cry to think that here, in front of the whole world and in front of our almighty God, this sister was praying the prayer of my heart.

But I don't think it is just the prayer of my heart. I think it is the prayer of hundreds of thousands of LDS women around the world. As I have listened to women I have felt that many of us are hungry-- ravenously hungry-- for more understanding about who we are and what our mission is on the earth. It isn't that we are dissatisfied with our faith, it isn't that we feel unequal or left out, and it isn't that we want to be ordained to the priesthood. We are just ready for MORE.

More light. More understanding. More truth.  

I think this hunger is what is driving things like the Ordain Women movement and other religious feminist movements. They clamor for the priesthood thinking that it will fill the hungry void, but it won't.

Priesthood is something that is given to priests. A priest is a man. We are not priests.

We are priestesses, and what we really want is priestesshood." Read the Rest






"...It completely changes our perspective on Eve if, instead of thinking of her being tricked into eating the fruit, we see her undergo an intense multilevel experience before choosing to partake. It is important to remember that Satan had used the symbol of the serpent, a symbol of Christ, to try to deceive her into thinking he had power and authority. He also didn't lie to her outright, he just told her half-truths.
"And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die (Lie) For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Truth)" (Genesis 3:4-5)
Yet even his disguise and half disguised lies were not enough to deceive Eve into blindly eating the fruit. What Satan's efforts did do however was  to beguile her. He made her question, made her doubt, and sent her on a soul searching journey. 

What was her purpose in the garden?

 How were she and Adam to fulfill God's command to multiply and replenish the earth?

What was God's plan for her? 

Was there any other way it could be accomplished? 

These may have been questions she struggled with in the garden and one can only imagine that her choices must have weighed heavily on her heart. 

Eventually Eve chose to eat of the fruit, but not because she was deceived.
"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it waspleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat,  and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat." (Genesis 3:6)
Eve ate because she saw." Read the rest





"There was a time in my life when I had a lot of anger about issues relating to women. I wasn't angry at a specific person or organization per se, but angry at a world that treated women as objects, raped them, enslaved them, prevented them from being born, paid them less money, and undervalued their contributions. Like the Savior cleansing the temple I felt my anger was justified; I was seeing injustice and I was getting motivated about it. Yet the more I went down that path the more I saw that anger was a drug and an illusion. Being angry about wrongs didn't really change anything.

 Most of all I could feel that my "righteous indignation" was killing a beautiful part of my soul.

I found that I was becoming more judgmental of other people, that I was more easily provoked to anger and impatience by things people said or did, and that I was slowly loosing my faith in the goodness of other people's hearts. Most of all I wasn't as happy. One day it dawned on me that if I went much further down the anger path, I would never be able to come back up again. 

It worries me to see people embracing, even unknowingly, an attitude of anger as it relates to feminist issues, or any issue for that matter. Not just because of what it does to their souls, but because actions motivated by anger-- in any form-- will never really change anything.

Let me explain...." Read the rest




"...In D&C 123 Joseph Smith urged the Saints to make statements as to the abuse and sufferings they went through. He wrote:  
"It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression... Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand; Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy." (D&C 123: 7, 9-10)
I was curious to know what it was that these wives and children went through that was enough to make "hell itself shudder", and so I did a little research. I was able to find the affidavits of several of the early church leaders, including Hyrum Smith, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and Sidney Rigdon,  who testified to a court of law about what they and the Saints went through.


Reading their accounts, given in their owns words, was powerful and overwhelming. I realized as I read their testimonies that the violence the saints went through was not just the "suffering or hardship" that we often talk about. They were facing genocide-like violence. The soldiers had been commanded to drive the Mormons out of Missouri or destroy them. They had full license to use any sort of horrible means they could devise, which they did.

As I read these accounts I saw men and women literally fleeing for their lives. If they were caught they faced violence that was comparable to any of our modern day genocides--- think Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Kosovo --- and you get a better idea of what they were facing.  And just like in any genocide, rape was one of the primary weapons.

I feel like it is important to share these early LDS women's stories.  It makes my heart ache to think about all they went through for the gospel.... and that we don't even know their names. Granted, they probably didn't want their names to be shared given the nature of their experience, but I think they need to be remembered. 


Warning: Some of these accounts are hard to read and so if you are sensitive to things like this you might want to skip the rest.... Read the rest

Thank you so much for reading this year. I appreciate all the emails, comments, phone calls, visits, and prayers that I have received this year from my readers. Thank you so much. I can't tell you what it means to me to know that the Lord is able to use something that I write to touch your hearts. 

I'd love to hear from you what your favorite post was this year! 

Happy New Year! 

Oh, and don't forget to make your New Year's Miracles. I wrote four last year and TWO (kind of three) of them happened this year!

Miracles really do happen. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Behold the Condescension of God!




“And the angel said unto me again: Look and behold the condescension of God!” 1 Nephi 11:26

My oldest son was born not long before Christmas. His birth was beautiful and has forever changed my feelings about Christmas. As I stared into his sweet, pure face that first Christmas day my heart was overflowing with gratitude to think that Jesus Christ, the creator of heaven and earth, the great “I Am”, came to earth as a humble baby. The salvation of our souls and the fate of the world depended upon him, and yet he had enough trust in the goodness of the world– in the goodness of a woman — to come down to earth….helpless, poor, and humble.

I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

Why?

Why would God come to earth as a baby? Why would he come to an unknown girl and her young husband? Why would he be born into poverty and anonymity when it was within his power to come with glory, might, and majesty? When all he had to do was speak and the earth was created.

Why then come as a baby?

I'm over at The Gift of Giving Life today, click here to read the rest (and see the beautiful video). 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A "Mary" Sort of Christmas


Christmas time leaves me feeling a bit frazzled.

I always seem to leave Christmas shopping and gifts until the last minute and end up stressing about them way more than is necessary. A few days ago it dawned on me that Christmas is not far away and that I hadn't bought or made any gifts yet. I panicked and started running around to stores and ordering things from Amazon like a wild woman. The last few days I have been so caught up in the ensuing adrenaline rush of getting packages in the mail (really, that is almost down right addictive) and making picture perfect Christmas plans, that I feel like the holiday season is slipping through my fingers.

Last night I realized that I haven't, not even once in the whole two weeks we've had our Christmas tree up, slowed down enough to just sit in the dark and stare at it's beautiful lights. I haven't sung one spontaneous Christmas carol (though Asher and I did have a great dance party to "Go Tell it on the Mountain") and I haven't, for more than a moment, thought about the miracle of Christ's birth.

In all honesty I feel a bit like Martha in the New Testament who, wanting to make things perfect for Christ, was "cumbered about much serving" and begged Jesus for more help. In response Jesus, oh so kindly, reminded her that she was using her strength for things that weren't important. While on the other hand her sister Mary, who was spending her time sitting at the Savior's feet, was choosing "that good part." (Luke 10:39-42)


I've made a promise to myself that this year I am going to choose "that good
 part" when it comes to Christmas celebrations. I still very much enjoy the gift giving and family holiday traditions, they are important to me, but I am not going to let those things start"cumbering me". 

I have promised myself that this year I will spend less time thinking of what gift to give those I love and instead be more present with them (no pun intended... really).

A promise that I will spend more time on my knees and in my scriptures than I do shopping or ordering things online.

A promise that I will take time every day to slow down and be still; to sing Christmas hymns in the dark to my babies, snuggle on the couch with my husband, and admire the Christmas tree lights.

A promise to drink a cup of hot apple cider very slowly and watch the squirrels run around my yard, to brave the cold and play in the snow, to not let the bell ringer at the grocery store's  bucket go empty, and to visit those who might be lonely or sad.

Most importantly, a promise to make time to ponder about-- and express my gratitude for-- the immeasurably divine gift of a Savior.

I am setting aside the MARTHA Stewart sort of Christmas and am aiming for a MARY sort of Christmas this year.

How about you?

What do you do to keep Christmas focused on Christ? 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Five Things For Friday, Poor Neglected Blog Edition





-1-

Okay, so I know it is not even close to Friday anymore (and I have 6 things today) but I really wanted to write this all weekend and I never got the chance. I am feeling sad that this blog has been neglected the last few weeks. I have so many things that I want to write and just not enough time to write them. It is frustrating. I really need to get a better time management strategy figured out. It would help if I could just get myself to wake up early in the morning, but that hasn't been happening. I think I need a good alarm clock, one that won't wake up babies when it goes off. Maybe one that would shake my bed or just poke me in the eye until I got up.

That would be nice.

 It is really no fun to get up early to get things done, only to have three little ones wake up at the same time. Then not only can you not get anything done, but then the littles all woke up at 5:30 AM and by 3:00 PM that means disaster and destruction. I haven't been able to convince myself yet that it is worth it. If I could be guaranteed at least one uninterrupted hour I would jump at it... but without that guarantee my bed is much too comfy.
 
-2-

One of the main reasons I've been absent is because about a month ago I got a new calling that I am a tad bit overwhelmed by-- teaching ONLINE Seminary.

Seminary is the LDS education program for teenagers and often it is done as early morning classes or in a release-time class during school hours. Just recently the church started offering online classes for students whose circumstances (distance, health, etc..) make it hard for them to do early morning classes. Our stake is pretty big (it would take you three hours to drive from one end to other) and so there are quite a few students for whom this program works perfect.

Four days a week the kids work through online lessons that come from CES (which are SO well done) and then have writing assignments and class discussions. On those days I do the lessons with the kids, "grade" the writing assignments, and participate in the class discussions. Then one night a week I hold an online seminary class where they all log-in with their webcams and we have a "face to face" class. It is really a lot of fun, even though it is strange to teach a seminary class over the computer. The first time we did it I was so lost, but now that I've done it a few times it is getting easier. The web conference program the church has is really interactive and so there are lots of fun things that we can do. I am sure that it will just get better and better as we go along. Though I am still wondering how I bring the spirit to an online class?

So really, seminary has been eating up most of my computer time the last few weeks! But I am hoping that now that I have things better figured out I will be able to balance things better. I know that there aren't very many ONLINE seminary teachers out there (yet) but any suggestions from experienced seminary teachers would be appreciated!

-3-

I discovered Instagram a few months  ago and am in love. I am not a great photographer and so it is pure magic to see it take my bad camera photos and turn them into something beautiful... or at least interesting. I have been posting lots of pictures and it has been a fantastic way to stay in touch with family and people I love. Right now my account is private (meaning only people I allow can see my posts) and I have been debating the pros and cons of having a public Instagram account. On one had I'd love to connect with more people and share the fun and beautiful moments of my life. Yet on the other hand I am a bit creeped out at how easy (it seems) for people to find and use your pictures. I know that anyone who wants to can see (and technically swipe) the pictures I post on my blog, but somehow it doesn't seems as invasive as someone following my Instagram account. It just seems too easy for weirdos to find me through Instagram and I don't really know if I want people I don't know viewing every picture I post of my kids. Still it seems like most people I know on Instagram have their account public, so I am  torn. Any thoughts, opinions, horror stories, that might help me make up my mind?

-4-


Jon and I watched the BYUtv production of Silent Night awhile ago and it is fantastic. It tells the true story of the man who wrote the hymn Silent Night. His name was Joseph Mohr and was a Catholic priest who went against his superior to put together a choir from the people he met at the tavern. I guess it was a big deal that he wanted them to sing in church in German and not Latin, and so it made quite the stir. The story behind how his hymn came to be is just so sweet and it is really a remarkable story.  I was very touched by it, not to mention that the history is fascinating! It has made singing Silent Night even more special for me and turned my thoughts towards the Savior. I think you can watch it for free online until the end of December. It is very much worth your time and is a great one to share with friends and family!

-5-
 
 
Rose has been going through a cute phase right now. She is still my little firecracker but she has these moments that just melt my heart. For example, the way she talks is just so sweet. About every other sentence is sprinkled with character and her latest phrases are "whatcha' think" and "somethin", as in "Watcha' think could I have that cookie, or somethin."

You really have to hear her say it, to do it justice.

She also asked me the other day if we could go to the "Good Whale". After a few minutes of her repeating it I finally figured out that she meant the Goodwill (the second hand store). I had a good laugh about that one, but didn't tell her the mistake. It is just so cute I don't want her to stop calling it that!

-6-

I also had a sweet experience with Rose in church last week. We hadn't been in Sacrament Meeting for more than five minutes before she was begging me to let her go get another drink and go the bathroom again. I told her no, and then she screamed and threw her toy cell phone (which she wasn't suppose to have) across the chapel.

It nearly took out the old ladies on the back row.

I grabbed her by the arm and dragged her out of the chapel screaming all the way to coat rack. I made her put on her coat (only after chasing her down the hall after she tried to escape), marched her out into the parking lot and put her in the car. By this time she was crying and screaming as loud as she could that she wanted to go back, but I told her we were going to sit in the car until she calmed down. We sat there for about 10 minutes (in the cold) before she was sane again. As we were walking back I told her that I was sad that we had to go out because we probably missed the sacrament and that we wouldn't get to have the power that comes with taking it. We'd have to wait a whole week.

When we got back the sacrament had already started and so we sat on the couch in the foyer to wait until it was over. I sat down and Rose, now perfectly calm, looked at me with big eyes full of tears and said, "Oh, Mom I really wish we could take the sacrament." I was just about to tell her that we could next week when right then a deacon stepped into the foyer with the bread. Rose's face just lit up like a star. She took a piece of bread and smiled at me as if to say, " My wish just came true, God heard me! " We ate the bread and then Rose snuggled up against me on the couch and I put my arm around her. We sat there in perfect silence while they blessed the water. After the prayer I looked down and saw that Rose was wiping her eyes.

"Are you crying?" I asked.

"No," she said as she wiped another tear.

"Are you feeling the Holy Ghost?," I asked her.

She looked up at me with the sweetest smile and said, "When he said the sacrament prayer I felt really good inside." 

I pulled that little girl in tighter and whispered into her ear that that was what the Holy Ghost felt like. And when they finally brought us the water the two of us drank it with reverence. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was more grateful-- and more excited-- to take the sacrament than I was then. I knew that God was aware of my little girl and that he had sent his Holy Spirit to teach her-- and me-- that He was there. I hope that I will have many more moments of sharing the feeling of the Holy Ghost with my daughter, but there was nothing more sweet than this first time.

Those are the moments that make motherhood worth doing.