Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Rough Last Day of 2008!

We've just put the youngest three to bed, in the hopes the beginning of 2009 will turn out a bit easier than the end of 2008. With that being said, let's rewind a few days and enjoy some good memories :)

Christmas Day arrived (of course) with glee from all the children. Here are a few pictures of them opening presents. We decided to start a new tradition, where the youngest opens a present first, then the next youngest, and so on, so that we could all enjoy the gift opening (and Mom could get in a picture or two).

A, as you can rather tell, was barely awake at the time she was offered the first of her gifts. J, who loves gifts - whether or not they're for him, had to be told to "back off" a few times to allow the others to open their own gifts. Santa provided all with their one special gift, and Daddy and I gladly took credit for all other gifts :) At the bottom you'll see M who requested a picture with her boyfriend.





Later on that day we took a trip up to spend a portion of Christmas at Grandpa & Grandma R's house, with cousins to boot. The moment my niece walked into the living room my camera absolutely had to come out. She looked "utterly fah-bulous dah-ling." We managed to wrangle all the grandkids together for a picture before they were too tired out. We learned that the hard way last year. Grandma always starts us out with the tradition of a tiny cup of rice pudding for everyone. The lucky person with the almond in their pudding gets an extra special prize. I won! It was such a lovely time - always is when we're with my brother's family. There are so many laughs, and it's fun to watch the kids interact. We missed my older brother and his wife terribly, however.




Later in the day we visited my in-laws, who are two of the most adorable creatures on the earth. Over the next few days Daddy, M, J and I tried building an igloo. We had a fantastic beginning, a shaky middle, and had no idea how to put on a top. Two mornings in a row one side fell in, requiring some fancy patchwork, but it was all to no avail. When it fell in a third time we gave it up as a bad job. The next time we try it, I'll have to google "How to Build an Igloo in Nine Easy Steps." The last of the Christmas parties came a few days later with my hubby's side of the family. We always have such a grand time with them.



Unfortunately this is where things started to go wrong. J, looking so happy above, had a rather nasty accident. Someone had unknowingly placed the 'key' into his aunt's treadmill (which no one was allowed to touch, but we're talking boys here). Both my boys got on, B started playing with the knobs, and it started. B got off in time, but J was standing at the end of the treadmill. He fell right off and his cheek got a fairly significant burn from the running belt. We immediately applied aloe vera, then I took him home quick to put on some Neosporin with pain reliever. I know - not a good idea. But at the time we didn't really know what we were dealing with. Here's a picture of it that same night.


I bandaged him up as best I could. It looked really nasty the next day, and hurt like mad when daddy put on some Tea Tree Oil. We kept the bandage off after that, but the next day we decided to call the doctor, even if it would only keep our minds at ease. Looking at the next picture, you might understand why.


My poor little man. The doctor did say it looked pretty good considering, so maybe all the stuff we put on it wasn't such a bad thing. He also said it'll look even worse in about two weeks, but we'll begin to see improvement after that, though it'll take up to six months for the redness to go away. As if all this weren't enough, we took the kids sledding today, and J got the bonk of a lifetime. Things started out really well. We'd accidentally come across a new place to try sledding, and everyone seemed to have a great time the first few runs. Then J went down and began coasting to a stop while another grown man did the same. I watched it happen as though in slow motion. My stomach turned as I heard the gigantic crack as their two heads collided, and I was a good 20 feet away! His head hurt mightily, and it took such a long time for Daddy to convince him to try again, this time going down together.

They started off pretty well, but went straight for a giant snow jump where J went flying off, and Daddy rolled over him. It took another hour, a lot of crying, a trip to a nearby Walmart where we bought some Motrin, and a promise to go home right after before I could get him to try one last time with me. I just wanted him to have one last lovely ride down so it wouldn't seem like such a terrible experience. Luckily it turned out to be a successful venture and we all came home relatively happy.

We managed to end the year on a good note, however. Grandmas and Grandpas came over to eat some great food and watch Wall-E - which we all loved!!! M tried to stay up to midnight with me, but I convinced her to head off to bed about ten minutes ago. So here I am, ready to ring in the new year, and hoping it brings a few less accidents and many more blessings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Inspirations December 28, 2008

I can hardly believe this will be the last post for Sunday Inspirations here in 2008. I can hardly believe I started this blog a mere 6 months ago!

For this last post, and before we hit the new year, I wanted to blog on a word I have come to moan at the moment it is mentioned. I was doubly excited when the young women's president in the ward called to ask me to fill in for the regular teacher today, and asked me to put together a lesson on this very thing. What is this word?

Resolutions.

For too many the idea of New Year's resolutions has become a joke: promises made and broken before the year is half gone. If your biggest resolution this year is to actually keep one of your resolutions, I would suggest changing just one word.

Instead of making resolutions, make goals.

(From here on out I'm putting in my I gave today.)

Goals demand to be written down, step-by-step. Goals will show just how far you’ve come, as well as what needs to happen next to accomplish it. Goals require self-discipline, just as resolutions, but offer hope and guidance when we’ve slipped along the way.

Why is setting goals is so important?

Elder M. Russell Ballard (an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - nicknamed the Mormon Church) spoke about the value of making goals to a group of young, single adults: “…You must cultivate a desire to develop the skill of setting personal worthy and realistic goals…If we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the technique of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our full potential. When one learns to master the principle of setting a goal, he will then be able to make a great difference in the results he attains in this life.”

The Church put out a pamphlet called “10 Ways to Teach Values in the Home.” One of the values mentioned is helping children to set goals. From the moment a child is baptized a member of this Church at eight years old they are encouraged to begin setting goals. It starts with the "Faith in God" program. From there we move on to the “Duty to God” program for the young men and "Personal Progress" for the young women. Even as adults we’re encouraged to set and accomplish goals through the "Pursuit of Excellence" program. Missionaries set daily goals. Even parents and leaders in this Church are encouraged to help their youth set and accomplish goals. Not just any goals, but goals that will challenge you.

Why do you think we are encouraged to begin learning the value of goal setting from such a young age? The earlier someone begins the learning process – for anything – the easier it will be to maintain later in life. Not only this, but once a person knows they can accomplish even the little things, trying to accomplish bigger things doesn’t feel so daunting.

So what’s the first step in setting goals? It might not be quite what you think. The first step is to decide on something to do, but to do so with prayer. One of the greatest and most overlooked aids in setting and accomplishing goals is to make sure the Lord is a part of it. Discuss with Him what your plans are for the future. What are your interests? Is there something in the coming school year you can look forward to and plan toward? Do you feel particularly impressed to learn something new, or replace a bad habit?

Keep in mind you need to set clear, specific, realistic goals. Don’t decide you’re going to run a marathon and then think you’ll be able to do it by summertime. Instead set the goal to get in better shape through running, and go from there.

Next step – Elder Ballard encourages you to write it down! As long as the resolution lives just in your head you will have set yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun. I would encourage you to write it down more than once. In fact, write it down many times and put it in strategic places to help give you daily reminders of what you are trying to accomplish. Keep a copy in your scriptures, in your locker (if at school), on the wall of your room, etc., wherever you might frequently find it.

Think of substitutions you can put in place if it will help you reach your goal. If you’ve set a goal to get rid of a bad habit think of ways to replace the habit. Instead of watching television for a billion hours in a week put that time toward learning something new, like how to play the guitar. If you have a problem with saying bad words, one of your first steps can be thinking of a simple or silly word to replace it. Substitution is a fantastic way of helping you meet those types of goals.

Set mini-goals along the way. These will not only help keep you on course, but will help you see how far you’ve come! They’re easy to accomplish and make the big picture seem much more overwhelming.

For example. Anyone who has been to my house knows the room at the very back belongs to my boys, and that it’s typically in a state of extreme chaos. How can two little boys who excel at making the mess possibly restore order? With mini-goals. Josh is first placed in charge of looking for all the dirty clothes and putting them in their laundry hamper. While he’s doing this Brian is in charge of looking for all their books and placing them back on the bookcase. When Josh is done he might be put in charge of putting pillows and blankets back where they belong, as well as looking for toys under the bed, while Brian starts putting the toys away. Mini-goals.

Sometimes goals we really want to accomplish feels like attempting to jump across the Grand Canyon – impossible. But if we take those big, giant goals, and break it up into smaller goals, the end result doesn’t feel quite so impossible any more.

The great thing about goals is they’re flexible. You might reach a mini-goal far sooner than you’d expected. If that’s the case you can easily move on. On the other hand you might find one of those mini-goals is taking longer than you’d expected. That’s okay too. Allow yourself wiggle room. Have the self-discipline necessary to push past any bumps in the road, and don’t forget to continually pray for guidance, endurance, and support along the way.

So let’s take a moment and plot out a goal someone might set for his/herself in this next year. I mentioned learning to play the guitar. Let’s keep the goal realistic and remember we won’t be playing like a rock star in just one year. Let’s say we’ve made the decision, we’ve prayed about it, and we’ve written the goal down. What’s next on the plan?

LEARN TO PLAY GUITAR:

1. Research how much a new or used guitar would cost. Do you want to play acoustic or electric? Do you have the abilities to teach yourself or do you need a teacher? How much would lessons be? What books might be helpful?

2. Figure out a way to earn the money necessary. Do you have a job, or can you find ways to earn a few dollars here and there? Have you saved up enough money for the necessary books or for lessons? Or do you know someone who could give you lessons for free or in trade?

3. Once you have your guitar, and your books, and if needed your teacher, plan out the necessary practice time – and keep in mind developing a new talent takes a lot of practice.

4. Go at your own pace. Some people pick things up quickly, others need more time. Don’t ever be discouraged by the time it takes to learn something new, or change something in your life. Be patient.

5. Stretch yourself. Don’t become complacent with staying in one place. Say you’ve learned some cool songs, you’ve got the basic chords down, and you’re pretty happy with where you are. That’s when it’s time to push yourself a little harder. You never know how great you could become unless you first try.

Your goals can be spiritually grounded: would you like to learn more about other religions, or more about the history surrounding the Bible and/or Book of Mormon, or more about your Patriarchal Blessing and/or the tribes you belong to. Your goals can be geared away from gospel matters: would you like to learn to draw, to write, to try your hand at photography, attempt to break into the world of computers, or graphic design? The ideas are only as limited as your imagination.

Now don’t forget as you look through all these mini-goals that you have the entire year to accomplish them all – not only this, but you don’t have to accomplish them all this year. Life will happen. Things will come up. Perhaps the money you’d been saving for the guitar suddenly needed to be used to help pay for an emergency. Just remember – that’s okay. Don’t allow yourself to get too discouraged. Discouragement is one of Satan’s greatest tools. If you find yourself bombarded with setbacks, take it to the Lord, trust in Him, and try, try again.

As Elder Ballard tells us: “If your goals are righteous, of God-given perspective, eternal in their nature, then go for them. Pray for the inner strength to have the discipline to do those things that will guarantee through your activity and your life that you will reach your goals. Then, I think, perhaps as important as anything, we have to have faith. We have to have faith in God. We have to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And oh, how desperately we have to have faith in ourselves.”

We start making goals when we are young. We continue setting goals even as we get older. When we prove to ourselves we can accomplish the simpler things, we will gain more and more faith in our abilities to accomplish the big things – like finding the courage and means to go on a mission, to hold out against the world and maintaining our purity, by finding someone who is worthy to be sealed to us in the temple for all eternity.

As you think about setting goals for this new year, take the matter to the Lord. Ask what course He would have to take, and then trust in Him to help you along the way.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cookies for Everyone!

I keep thinking I'll take it easy during the Christmas holidays and not push myself to do too much. Every year I blow it. Really, honestly, truly I had such great intentions, but with my darling hubby as a bishop in his first year I began to worry about inadvertently offending ward members.

Does it seem like a silly thing? Let me invite you to visit the inner workings of my brain for a few minutes.

Say we decide to take a few cookies to Brother and Sister Allan (no such members in our ward, this is all for illustration purposes), because he works as the financial clerk and she works as a counselor with the Young Women. Right across the street we have Brother Watkins (again, fictitional member only) who is a teacher in the Elder's Quorum. Might he feel a little put out if the bishop and his wife didn't make him a little plate of something to show appreciation for his hard work?

Not good enough? Let me try again.

Sister Michaels lives amid a group of active members. Her neighbors to the right and left both hold positions in the ward who work closely with my husband. Hence, they all get cookies. Her neighbor across the street is an old and dear friend of ours - she gets a special plate of cookies. The homes to the right and left of the woman across the street get cookies for really good reasons you'll have to think up all on your own (it's almost ten at night and my thought processes shut down a while ago). How does Sister Michaels feel, being the only one who doesn't get a little plate of cookies from the bishop?

Of course I realize there are those who simply don't care. Maybe they don't like cookies, are diabetic, or don't pay attention to who gets what. I also realize for every person like this there are others who constantly have their eyes glued to the front window to see who's going where and doing what (I know this because, um, I'm one of them). A large part of their identity within the ward hangs on a very precarious ledge of who shows them the appreciation they undoubtedly deserve. To be the only person overlooked in their circle of friends/neighbors would either feel like a deliberate snub, or (perhaps even worse) that they've simply been forgotten and don't really matter.

Can you imagine the depths of chaos that reign in my mind? It's exhausting living in this head of mine.

In order to assuage any possible means of inadvertant guilt I came up with a plan - I made cookies for everyone! Not just cookies, I melted and molded chocolate. I put together chocolate covered caramels and my absolute favorite fudge. I found cute little bags to put it all in and even began plotting the most strategic routes in the neighborhoods in which to deliver my little gifts of love. Then I frantically came back home to figure out how I could possibly have forgotten so many people!

I'm exhausted! I still need to make one more pan of fudge to help restock my dwindling supply. We've run out of the cute baggies and I'm forced to use plates. Why forced? I hate using plastic wrap. It never sticks to paper plates. But beyond that I'm done. No more cookies. No more baking. I can hardly stand to look at the goodies others have brought to us. Tonight I was so tired of it all I almost cried when my darling hubby took over dinner preparations and washed the dishes. He's totally my hero.

Next year? Next year I pile hubby's office high with Hershey Kisses and tell the ward members to have at it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Inspirations December 21, 2008

It's time to be brave, bold.

I had a whole other post going before I realized my message today needs to be no more complicated than those three words: be bold, brave.

As we come to a close in this year my thoughts have turned repeatedly to a man by the name of Moroni. Those who are familiar with the Book of Mormon know of whom I speak. For those who are not familiar, he was the last of the Nephites (those belonging to Christ's Church here in the Americas about 2,000 years ago). Those who had not previously fallen into wickedness had succombed to the evils of the Lamanites (those against the Lord's Church), and willingly denied Jesus Christ as their Savior in order to save their lives.

Moroni spent the last years of his life in hiding, protecting the gold plates entrusted to him not only by his father, but by the Lord. He was hunted, he was alone. Perhaps more alone than many of us can imagine. Yet he is a man to be honored, because rather than deny Jesus Christ, he chose that life.

What would we do for the Lord? Would we, in the face of ultimate evil, be willing to lay down our lives, and perhaps even the lives of our families, all for the sake of remaining true? Of course this is not likely to happen, but we find ourselves being given daily opportunities to stand as a witness of Him.

We may be called upon to bear our testimonies at odd or unusual times. We might be asked to impart of our tiny means to someone who has even less. There may be those who are in need of a friend, and we are the only ones around. We might need to make amends when a trespass has been committed.

It is time to be bold, but bold in what? In allowing the Lord to work through us to do mighty things, even if those mighty things come in little packages. In replacing fear with faith. In recognizing our own weaknesses and mortality, and allowing the Lord to rework our weaknesses into strengths.

It is time to be brave, but how? In never fearing to bear your testimony of what the Lord has done for you, even when those who don't know better may ridicule. In standing up for what is right at a time when everyone else is telling you you're wrong. In following every little seemingly insiginifant inspiration that whispers to your heart, even when it makes no sense.

Never forget to always temper this with love and with thoughts of how the Lord would act in your place.

Now is the time to be bold. Now is the time to be brave. Trust in the Lord, and help make miracles happen.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Time to Catch Up...with Pictures!

You should all know because we have dial-up the process of putting pictures up on my blog takes a veeeeeery looooooong tiiiiiiiime! So appreciate the effort - and by effort I mean all the time I spent sitting here waiting for the pictures to load while I lazily read a book.
This last week was spent celebrating birthdays. M and B both turned a year older as did my daddy. Here are pictures from all three parties.














M decided she wanted a pumpkin cheesecake instead of a regular birthday cake, and invited her brothers to join her in blowing out all those candles!




B chose a Wall-E cake (though he has yet to see the movie) and after paying twenty bucks for it he promptly gave the toys on top to his friend...still not sure how I feel about that. Now let's turn to Grandpa's birthday...



Here are pics of all the grandkids with Grandpa. Holy cow what a bunch.

I just had to include this one. Cousin S was chasing B (and B's new sleeping bag) around the house. Later they had a mega good time wrestling in the hallway. Had us all laughing.

And now, for the final pictures. Tonight was the kids' karate graduation. I was prepared to see all the kids graduate a few degrees in orange belt. So imagine my surprise when all three graduated to purple belt!!!

We're taking a few months off of karate. This tends to be our sick season and I don't want to see anyone struggle with learning everything just because they've been sick. I think we need to concentrate more on school for the next few months. Okay so mostly I just don't want to drive in the yucky snow and cold!

In any case, I think that wraps it up! Hope you enjoyed the pictures, and now I'm going to go finish my book :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

I...Hate...Ham!!!

Saturday night was our church's Christmas Party. I'd signed up to warm up a ham, but when only one other person had signed up as well I ended up with three hams. No problem, right? After all, it's not like I'm cooking them. I'm just warming them up.

The bagged hams were promptly delivered two nights before, and I immediately put them into the refrigerator. Too bad I didn't think to check and see if they were frozen. Too bad I didn't find out until late in the morning they still had the bone in them. Too bad I didn't think I might need a bigger crock pot and giant pan in order to make them all fit and cooked in time. Grrr.

Because my husband is a chef I've been trained to be very persnickety about what temp meat is cooked to. I didn't think a balmy 60 degrees would cut it, even if the meat had been cooked. The time went by irritatingly fast, and the middle of the ham simply wasn't warming up. In fact, an hour before the party they still had a nice layer of ice through the middle three inches.

Now if you like iced ham, I'm certain it would have been quite a treat. Somehow I didn't think this was what our church members had in mind.

What does one do when three giant hams won't defrost in the middle? Thaaaaat's right, I turned to my trusty friend, my dependable kitchen appliance, the microwave. I defrosted. I cooked. I cut out bones. I cried. I wiped ham guts off my fingers. I cooked a little more. Three times I went through the process until finally, finally I was able to say the hams warmed up to a balmy 98 degrees.

Hot for summer temperatures, not so great in a ham. I had succeeded, however, in ridding the hams of their icy inner layers, and it was very simply time to go. I piled all three into a pan, wrapped them tightly in foil, chucked 'em in the car and drove off to the church building where I promptly shoved the pan into my poor husband's arms, found a room where no one might find me, and sobbed for a good twenty minutes.

Now, before you all start to wonder why my darling husband wasn't there to help me out of this seriously disturbing situation, the moment I saw him was the same moment he arrived at the party after having worked all day long. Poor guy. After ensuring the kitchen had everything under control he walked the building trying to find me. By then I'd calmed down enough to enjoy the party, and blamed my flushed face on skin allergies.

But never, never, nevernevernevernevernever again will I sign up to do ham! In fact, it might be a good six months before I can even look at, smell, or think about it again.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Inspirations December 14, 2008

"If I hear, I forget. If I see I remember. If I do, I learn."

This felt like the overwhelming message of today's lessons. We have been placed on this earth to learn, through making choices and enduring well to the end in all things the Father asks. Unlike those who value power, gold, wealth, and glory - none of which can be taken into the hereafter - those who are looking for an eternal reward know that the greatest blessings we can gain in this life have to do with the vast stores of knowledge one can gain in this lifetime.

Gaining this knowledge is a lifelong process. There is always something new to be learned. Even the Lord knows we must be given truth line upon line and precept upon precept. You have to start at the beginning and work your way up. Can you imagine a child being given a book on macro-economics and being expected to understand every concept contained therein? The same is expected when learning of gospel-oriented things.

Joseph Smith, prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this last dispensation, described the process of learning.

"When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave" (History of the Church, 6:306–7; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton; see also appendix, page 562, item 3).

For many of us the process of learning is a joyful experience. We relish in the opportunity to discover new things. For other the process feels more like torture. It's difficult to watch one person grow and expand in areas we struggle with. We may become discouraged, might even choose to give up.

I've always been able to do math problems in my head. Nothing complex. In elementary school my teacher used to give us time addition/subtraction tests. I distinctly recall one student who was to correct my paper raising her hand to catch the teacher's attention. The girl thought I'd cheated, because she couldn't see any signs of work. Just answers. I actually had to show both her and my teacher that I'd simply done them in my head. What came so easily to me could not be (immediately) comprehended by someone who struggled with it a little more.

Because I was able to pick up quickly on those math problems, I was able to continue on with the next level, or rung on the ladder. Though the girl in my class didn't catch on quite as fast, she still continued on and learned just the same things. Over the years I've come to realize the ability and desire to learn things comes with a responsibility: to be there for those who are still climbing behind.

I can't help thinking of the nights I spend trying to help my oldest with her math homework. We see two different things when we look at a paper full of fractions needing to be reduced. She sees a whole lot of time spent on frustrating problems too difficult to grasp. I look at it and see a few problems to be done in ten minutes tops. And that is why I'm there for my daughter. I long ago learned the new and frustrating concept of fractions in the hopes of being there to assist those who are at the bottom of the ladder.

Knowledge is truly a treasure, but it is not enough. To know how to fish, or how to cook, or why the sun rises and where it sets doesn't do anyone any good if it is not acted upon. Think back on the quote given at the beginning of this post. When we hear something, no matter how beautiful or profound, over time it will be forgotten. If we see something with our eyes, one of the most powerful senses we posses, it can be easily recalled. But we don't learn, we don't recognize the truth in all the things we've read about, unless we put the knowledge into action.

The first thing that comes to my mind whenever I ponder on this idea is the Savior. There are many people, men and women alike, who have studied the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have written tomes on His works, His words, and the social structure around the time He lived. I respect them for this effort, and for the knowledge they not only earned but willingly shared with others.

Yet to honestly, truly know the Savior one must take this knowledge a step further. We cannot know Christ unless we have walked in His shoes, lived as He lived, and put the principles He taught into action in these modern days. To love your neighbor need not apply only to the times of Christ. It is a concept applicable to everyone, everywhere, at every time.

If we hear, we forget. If we see, we remember. But only when we act upon the things we've seen, the ideals we've studied, the knowledge we've gained, can we finally learn.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hypocritical Cupcakes

This is perhaps the busiest week birthday-wise in our family, with three to celebrate. Two of those birthdays happen to be two of my own kiddies, and with happy hearts they both took cupcakes to share with their school classes yesterday.

Both of them came out of class positively grouchy. In fact, B said, "You know the green monster on Sesame Street?"

"You mean Oscar the Grouch?"

"Yeah. I think I was really grouchy today."

Hmm.

After a bit of prodding, he finally told me he wasn't too happy with his classmates that day. Apparently he noticed kids who normally don't pay much attention to him were trying to play and talk with him at recess. He said they yelled if they didn't get the ring (decoration on the cupcakes) they wanted, and after a while they were just giving him a headache.

Things didn't seem to go much better for M. She came out of school, the corners of her lips turned downward.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

She handed me the bag which contained the cupcakes...it was empty. There should have been about nine left, and that's if every one of the kids showed up at class that day.

M's supposed friend had grabbed the bag the moment they got out of class and yelled out to the kids, "Who wants another cupcake?" They were gone in moments, and M didn't even get to give a sweet little girl who wasn't in her class a cupcake. She was so upset. Frankly, so was I. A part of me wanted to go find this "friend" and have a good talk with her, then make her pay me for all the cupcakes she essentially stole from us.

As you can see, I was not a happy camper. M is talking about never doing cupcakes on her birthday again, and I'm not sure B will want to as well. Yet, there were lessons to be learned. B now knows there are people out there who will pretend to be your friend when it looks like they can get something from you (he honestly came up with that on his own). M is in the process of learning she needs to stand up for herself with her friends. Sometimes she allows their opinions and actions to overrule what she knows to be right and fair.

Never easy lessons, but both necessary. I suppose we'll just have to wait and see if we still do cupcakes for either one next year.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Michael Phipps - Artist Extraordinaire

My hubby and I were recently talking about all the amazingly talented people we know. One of those people finally seems to be getting a start of the recognition he deserves. Though I may only reach a few people with my humble little blog, I want to help in the effort to get his name (and his beautiful work) out there.

I first met Michael when we both worked as night custodians, and was immediately charmed by his quick wit and sense of humor. If you get the chance to read his blog, The Art of Michael Phipps, you'll see what I mean.

Michael was recently commission to paint a scene from the life of Jesus Christ. It revolves around the moment Christ reveals himself to be the Savior to the woman at the well, and is titled "I That Speaketh Unto Thee Am He." This work was entirely out of his comfort zone (his words), but I'm a firm believer that sometimes we have to be stretched to see what miracles can be made.

While this is one of the biggest works he's done, he's certainly not new to the business. According to his profile Michael has painted "book covers, album artwork, playbill covers, posters and more," many of which can be seen on his official website: The Art and Illustration of Michael Phipps.

Michael recently branched into the world of screen printed T-shirts, all personally designed and made in his own home. He was even featured, with a few others, about this side business in a recent article in Deseret News on the popular website Etsy.com ("Etsy Does It..."), where he sells the T-shirts along with many of his other works of art (Screen Printed T-Shirts and Art by Michael Phipps).

Take a look at the links provided. I promise you won't be disappointed. Please feel free to pass the links on to others you feel might be just as inspired by his incredible talent. If nothing else, drop him a line to let him know what you think. Every artist loves to hear their work is appreciated.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Inspirations December 7, 2008

There was a quote given this morning, by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church). This beloved man passed away last week, leaving within our hearts a very profound loss.

At the passing of his wife, Elder Wirthlin left a message meant specifically for his children. This message was repeated at his own funeral, one which he recorded in a talk given in 2006. The message is so beautiful, so hopeful, and so inspirational in these times of darkness I wanted to let him speak for my inspirations post today.

I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross.

On that terrible Friday the earth shook and grew dark. Frightful storms lashed at the earth. Those evil men who sought His life rejoiced. Now that Jesus was no more, surely those who followed Him would disperse. On that day they stood triumphant.

On that day the veil of the temple was rent in twain.

Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were both overcome with grief and despair. The superb man they had loved and honored hung lifeless upon the cross.

On that Friday the Apostles were devastated. Jesus, their Savior—the man who had walked on water and raised the dead—was Himself at the mercy of wicked men. They watched helplessly as He was overcome by His enemies.

On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled.

It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.

I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest.

But the doom of that day did not endure.

The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.

And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.


Each of us will have our own Fridays—those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces. We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again. We will all have our Fridays.

But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death—Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.

No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come. In this life or the next, Sunday will come.

Perhaps our "Friday" has lasted for seems like too long: a week, several months, years, or even decades. We all have "Fridays" to endure, yet they are necessary. For it is only through enduring those dark and gloomy days that we can appreciate the glorious dawn of "Sunday" in ways never before conceivable.

The Savior was resurrected, of this I testify. Because of this there is always hope that in our most horrific hours, hope is always glow eternal. Sunday will come.

**If you'd like to read Elder Wirthlin's talk in full go to Sunday Will Come.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Setting Christmas Spending Limits

Two days after Thanksgiving my hubbs and I had taken our boys to look around Toys R Us. I know. Not the smartest move, but they wanted special time out with Mom and Dad and it's one of their favorite stores.

One of the first things we noticed was the amount of toys being piled in the carts, and these were not cheap toys. My husband and I looked at one another, both thinking the same thing: money problems abound yet parents are spending like there's no tomorrow.

This morning on my favorite local morning radio show they had a guest on, Dr. Matt Sellers (totally guessing on how to spell his last name). The good doc is a psychiatrist and one of his biggest points was on how not to disappoint your kids this Christmas if it looks as though you honestly need to cut back.

Point 1 - Be honest with your kids. Let them know money's a little tight this year, and that even Santa's had to cut back. Believe it or not, they'll understand. How do I know? Because we did this very thing with our kids about a month ago. We've never been able to give our kids tons, but we had to let them know that because we don't have daddy's second job anymore, beyond Santa's gift they'd be getting just one present from us (and their stockings). I was incredibly relieved, and utterly pleased, when they all said, "It's okay."

Let your children know everyone hits hard times. Everyone! Just because things are tight this year doesn't mean they'll be the same next year.

If things are bad enough you can't afford presents, talk to your kids about how there may be other families who are having very difficult times, or children who are in hospitals and won't even get to be home for Christmas, and then give them the option to be generous. Tell them Santa might appreciate being able to make sure these children/families get presents, because otherwise they might not get anything at all.

Point 2 - Make Christmas about so much more than presents. We frequently hear people complaining that this holiday is too much about the commercialism and not about the true meaning. Perhaps we've muttered the words a time or two ourselves. Now can be the year you put the idea of making Christmas about Christ into action. Now is the time to bring that peaceful spirit into the lives of your family. Look to making new and more meaningful traditions.

Bake cookies or bread and take them to neighbors in need. Go caroling. Look for free concerts. Check out all the houses decorated with lights. One tradition I hope to begin this year will be reading "The Forgotten Carols" with my kids (if you haven't heard of it, look soon for a review on Mel's Book List ;D). Read through the story of the birth of Christ. Try acting the story out. There are so many possibilities.

Point 3 - Be mindful of what you're spending. The good doctor said when we're feeling strapped, down and depressed, too many of us try to deny it and spend, spend, spend. Then come January when all the bills come due we fall into deeper depressions.

I have lived in denial when it comes to money. It's too easy to do. The thing we all have to come to realize is eventually denial is trumped by reality. It is so important to bite the bullet and deal with the harshness when it comes. Times are hard right now. That doesn't mean they won't be better by this time next year, or in two years. If we learn to be honest enough with ourselves, to recognize the need to cut back for now, we will be happier in the long run.

In other words, deal with the fact that spending less now will leave you more after the holidays. Sit down, look over what you have to spend, and stay within those limits! It really is just that easy (No Errin. Not even if it's on mega-sale).

Quick review: be honest with your kids, look to making new traditions to make Christmas more meaningful, and watch what you spend. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Dropped the Ball

Do you ever feel like you utterly let someone down, without realizing you were doing it in the process?

I did that tonight with my kids. Oh, they won't tell you I dropped the ball. They probably have no idea I'd done them wrong. But I did.

Tonight was their first night of karate testing on the orange belt level. I knew they'd be sparring (like boxing...kinda), but I didn't realize their teacher might go further than that with them. So during the last week, a week wherein we had time to spare and nothing planned, I didn't practice their moves, their escapes, nor their kata (a series of moves against imaginary attackers put together that they have to memorize).

Imagine my distress when I look into the room after my oldest has sparred, only to see her being tested on her kata...and she's not doing well. Imagine my further distress when I see the sensei trying to get all the kids to do the one and only escape maneuver they were to learn...and not one of them knows it!!!

Mortification and embarrassment galore.

My poor children. I knew we needed to practice. I'd even intended to practice. But life always seems to get in the way (like M's math homework going for almost 2 hours last night), and I got too lazy.

Needless to say, we will be doing some heavy duty preparing over the next week in anticipation of night 2 of testing!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Creative Side

I've been feeling too uninspired for too long, and began to think that if I had an outlet for my creative pursuits it might give me that extra push. Melanie's invitation to join in a book review blog got some of my creative juices flowing again (you try taking a three-hundred page book and condensing it down to a few paragraphs in such a way as to inspire others to read it and see how creative you feel afterward).

Take a look at the section titled "My Other Blogs" and you'll see one titled "Mel's Book List." You might find something you'd like to read...or be warned against a few. If you'd like to suggest a book to read please feel free to let any of us know.

I also invite you to take a look at my newest project, the blog titled "Laurie's Creative Side." Every few days or weeks I want to start posting something about the things my Heavenly Father inspires me to create. He gave me the desire to bring beautiful things into this world, and a bit of talent to make all the effort worth it. I hope you'll take a gander at what I'm up to, give me some good insights, and feel free to share the things I've created with others.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Worst Thanksgiving Ever

I love Thanksgiving. I adore Thanksgiving. The delicate aromas wafting throughout the house of tender turkey, groovy gravy, marvelous mashed potatoes, and r- uh, r- hmm. I can't think of a word that starts with r to go with the incredible object of my heart's desire - the roll.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm a carbohydrate addict. You can keep your green bean casserole and your yams! Don't try to tempt me with a bite of ham. Relish trays are simply not relished by me. I'll even pass up the pies, just so long as I have the bare essentials.

Now that you know all of this about me, perhaps you might understand why my version of a worst Thanksgiving ever does not include any huge disasters like accidental fires or burnt food. It has nothing to do with inadvertantly dumping the platter of turkey on the floor. No, my idea of a worst Thanksgiving ever includes two simple words: stomach flu.

I don't recall precisely how old I was, but I'd spent most of the day in the bathroom, lamenting the delicate aromas wafting throughout the house. Come that night, I sat on the couch in the living room sipping on broth. BROTH! I ask you. Where is the justice in broth while in the next room over you can see your beloved mashed potatoes being gobbled down by insensitive brothers (sorry guys, but I have to call it as I saw it), and your delicious rolls mopping up pools of gravy.

That should have been my gravy.

At least this is not the case today. In a few hours we'll be joining my hubby's family for a delicious meal (one which I now vow we will never say no to doing the potatoes again!). I look forward to the afternoon...especially so we can hand the youngest off to others in the hopes that by the time she finds her way back to us she'll be too tired to make life for us miserable.

To anyone who reads this, have a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is it Too Little, Too Late?

This thought crossed my mind today as I passed by our local Holiday Oil where people lined up to get gas for only $1.69. I remember thinking gas hasn't been that low since before war was declared on Iraq, and I wonder when they'll start rising again.

Unfortunately it looks as though the massive drop in gas prices is too little, too late. The government has put a frieze on hiring. Too many businesses are going bankrupt and closing down. People are being fired left and right.

I've been wondering over the last several days if these gas prices had dropped earlier in the year, say before summer, if things might have been different. Would just a few months have made a big difference? I suppose it's hard to say.

In any case, I know our family is still feeling the effects, both personally and on a church basis. Too many out there are in dire need of help. Our own children have been told that they will receive only one present (besides the one from "Santa") this Christmas from Mom and Dad. I'm trying to be as honest with them about money matters so they'll appreciate all they have received. I also count my husband's recent promotion an added blessing knowing his place of business has also placed a hiring frieze.

The president elect certainly has a large load placed on his shoulders. There's a lot to try and fix, and the way will not be easy. Let's continue to pray that he will be guided in the best course.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Votes are In!

Okay so after an astounding number of votes on my poll (and by astounding I mean...4), the results are in.

Three out of four people would rather keep the same quality product even if it means paying a higher price!

Of course, it might depend on just how high the price goes ;)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Inspirations November 23, 2008

We had a different Sunday School lesson in church today, one which started talking about Mormon (of the Book of Mormon), and how he was able to maintain a righteous state of living when everyone around him was so very wicked.

Four of our Young Adults joined us today (as their teachers were on a family trip), and they got a bit picked on. Not mean, of course, but having them come in today seemed an added blessing in helping us understand how hard it is to make right choices in the word today.

Any of us who have seen high school/college come and go have had our own trials, tribulations, and brands of wickedness to deal with. Those who are teenagers and young adults now are experiencing wickedness we adults may not be able to comprehend.

Just two or three years ago I had one young woman who came to me repeatedly in the hopes of just having someone to talk to and share ideas with. Many of her friends were experimenting with sex while others had severe gender issues. I distinctly recall as I sat there listening to things she struggled with in regards to her friends, I couldn't help but think what an extraordinarily strong and special girl sat next to me. I was literally in awe.

The young adults that attended our Sunday School meeting today were invited to talk about things they deal with every day. One young man said many of his co-workers do drugs, at the workplace, right in front of him. Another deals with such extreme profanity, even from his boss.

Again I post the question: how to we maintain our righteousness when everything around us is drenched in wickedness?

Go back to the basics. From the time we are young those of us in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church) are taught those things that can lay down a firm foundation: pray daily, read from the Bible and Book of Mormon, attend all church meetings, and do all of this with a sincere and humble heart. If we are able to make these simple things a habit they will remain as a strength in times of trouble.

Set aside time for family. This may seem strange, and for some it may sound like the surest way to torture each other, but making the choice to spend time with your family is always a good thing, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time. I'm frequently telling my children and the youth I teach, friends really do come and go, but your family is with you forever.

To parents I especially say, keep the lines of communication with your children open. If you believe a type of music or movies or television shows need to be kept out of your home tell them why. When they're old enough to be making their own decisions give guidance, not orders. Set up with your children punishments, ones that are proper for the child's age as well as for the infraction. Teach them as early as possible that when they make mistakes, it's okay. You'll support them through the punishment, but they must serve the sentence if a lesson is to be learned.

I would also remind you that the lessons you teach will be remembered. They are not always obeyed, but they are remembered. Yesterday my darling husband took me to see one of my favorite musicals, Into the Woods. One of my favorite lessons in this book can be seen through the eyes of the witch. Near the beginning of the second act she sings words of lament, as she's just lost someone very dear to her. "No matter what you say, children won't listen listen. No matter what you know, children refuse to learn. Guide them along the way, still they won't listen. Children can only grow from something you love to something you lose..."

Of course these words were born out of horrible grief. Each one of us will pass through a time when we feel that no matter what we say, no matter how many lessons we've learned through our own experiences, our children will refuse to listen. By the end of the play, all have gone through their trials, they've learned that what their parents have told them were indeed the right ways to go after all. And at last we hear the witch say, "Careful the things you say, children will listen. Careful the things you do, children will see, and learn. Children may not obey, but children will listen. Children will look to you for which way to turn, to learn what to be.

"Careful before you say, 'listen to me,' Children will listen."

Keep in mind we all make mistakes. We all fall. But like a parent to a toddler who is just learning to walk, we must remember our Heavenly Father is there to pick us up when we fall. Lessons will be learned, and unfortunately too many of us will choose to learn these lessons the hard way.

And when we come to realize the right path to travel, like Mormon we can find ourselves able to hold strong to the basics of Christ's gospel, to keep His Holy Spirit to be with us always, even when no one else around us thinks it's important.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I'm About To Take My Life in My Hands

Okay maybe it's a good thing my closest friends have moved recently, as they might not take too kindly to these next words:

I have no desire to go see the new Twilight movie!

Seriously. Not joking. Fingers are not crossed behind my back. I'm far more excited about my husband taking me to the Hale Center Theater to see Into the Woods (my b-day present) than I would be if I'd received free tickets, had the theater to myself, and got a chance to meet all the stars. That's how much I am not looking to go see the movie.

I can't tell you exactly why. Perhaps because it has to do with such a intense feelings, and to see it portrayed in teens makes me squirm. Maybe it's due to not liking almost any movie based on a book, as they invariably change things too much. It could have to do with the fact I'm not a fan of vampire movies, and struggled with reading this dark side of the books.

It's probably all three reasons with a few other things (like Jacob's character) mixed in as well.

Therefore you will not see me anxiously sitting in the movie theater, giant box of popcorn in one hand, oversized cupful of Diet Coke in the other, waiting for the lights to dim and the half-hour of previews to hurry up and get over with.

(All right. Let me have it. Are any of you ladies out there still talking to me?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What Are You Bringing to Thanksgiving Dinner?

This question was posed on a radio poll this morning. I laughed when one young woman commented, "I bring the relish tray. I always bring the relish tray. I don't think my mom believes I can cook!"

For the last several years my hubby and I have brought the mashed potatoes and gravy. Dear hubby violently objected to doing so this year. Okay maybe not violently objected. He did get a bit wild-eyed at the thought of peeling more potatoes (I think it goes back to his military days).

So we settled on rolls, butter, and a pumkin dessert instead. Think that'll make up for it?

In any case I began wondering two things. First, what are you bringing to Thanksgiving dinner this year? And second, what's your least favorite thing to bring?

Monday, November 17, 2008

My 100th Post

It was a bit surreal, looking at the 99 next to number of posts, and realizing this would not necessarily be a happy celebration. Had I been "on schedule" the 100th post would have been my usual Sunday Inspiration thoughts. I didn't feel up to it, however.

Saturday night we received a visit and a phone call that brought us to a bit of a halt. To our door came one of my Young Women along with a neighbor of hers (our current Primary President). The father of the Young Woman had fallen from their roof. This man is the 1st Counselor in our bishopric. He is a good man. A remarkable man. He never hesitates to give help when needed, and has one of the biggest hearts I've ever known. My husband jumped up and left to go see him.

For the most part our friend is okay, he didn't need to be hospitalized, but he's having a lot of nasty after effects.

A few minutes after my husband got back home the phone rang. My father was hospitalized for pneumonia. We'd just spent the morning with him raking up leaves, and suddenly he's so sick he could barely work his hands. At first we thought he'd be able to come home today, but not yet. Not yet.

Perhaps you can now understand why I haven't felt very inspirational.

My post today is not to entertain. My post today is to ask for you to stop a moment and think of someone who may be in great need today. I encourage you to offer a prayer in behalf of those who may be sick, mourning, or otherwise in distress. We can all use a few more prayers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Halloween Pictures

I figured it was probably about time :)





Here's J as Batman (I'm telling you I couldn't get him to actually face the camera without a hand in the way!).
















Here's our little Elmo



Our lovely Prom Queen. It took a while for M to figure out what she wanted to be. She started out wanting to be scaaaaary, but practically beamed when we decided on this.

B as a "Dark Ninja!" He had a hard time deciding on what type of ninja he'd be: Dangerous Ninja, Midnight Ninja, Dark and Dangerous Ninja...
Just wanted to let you see the back of M's hair. Grandma W worked pretty hard to make this gorgeous concoction. M truly felt like the most beautiful Prom Queen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Problem with Being a Writer

Obviously I love to write. One can see that from the sheer amount of posts I've managed here on just this one blog. I also love to read. It's a passion I've had since I was young. There were nights I'd stay up reading so very late, even though I knew I had school in the morning.

In recent years, since I've become much more serious about the tone of my writing, I've noticed a rather disturbing trend: I pay a lot more attention to the quality of the books I read. Why should this be disturbing?

Have you ever sat at a concert and noticed the singer/instrument was slightly off key? Or have you sat down to play a game where you know someone is cheating?

Maybe this will make it a little clearer. I could liken it to my first doctor's appointment when I found out I was pregnant with M. They called down for someone to come take my blood. I didn't know until too late he was fairly new, and I have really sneaky veins. They don't like to come out and play. I watched as he started on my right arm, dug around a while, couldn't find anything, and went to my left arm. Same thing happened. I distinctly recall thinking to myself as I watched the needle swivel inside my skin, "Well, that can't be good."

He went from there to my right hand. Those are sure painful. He managed to fill about two vials when the vein pooped out (neither of us realized I just needed to move my hand around until things started flowing again). So he tried the other hand. Eventually we had to call someone else up. In one swift poke she had all the necessary vials filled (I was real pretty when I went to work after that fun experience).

There are times when reading a book is like watching needles swivel around in my arm, or hearing someone sing slightly off-key, or knowing the person with whom you are playing a game is cheating: painful, annoying, irritating, and grating. You know that in the hands of someone more professional, the deed could be done beautifully.

A few years ago someone sent my mom a book, one this woman highly recommended. My mom read it and then passed it on to me with a comment like, "You'll have to tell me what you think." She said this in an uncertain voice. I quickly figured out why.

It was so bitingly awful I've blocked the author and name of the book from my mind. I couldn't help thinking, "And a publisher actually allowed this out of their company????"

Fortunately I don't get books that bad too often, yet neither do I find myself with fantastically written books a lot these days either. I can say the mark of a great book for me is one I'm not mentally rewriting at the same time I'm reading it, nor am I skipping over boring passages in an attempt to further the story along (or if I do, I have to go back and read it anyway because it contained pertinent information!).

This is certainly not to say I'm tooting my own horn. I find myself rewriting everything I put down on a constant basis (you have no idea how many times I've gone back over it before posting, lol). The only reason half my posts are still here is because it takes sooooo long for my ISP to let me post in the first place, lol.

I'm reading a book right now by an author who has some great ideas, and a good bit of talent, but seems to think her readers are idiots! She explains everything that comes naturally to mind. She also spends a lot of time describing clothes, rooms, and scenery that bore me to death, while skimping on her character's feelings and how situations impact the character, something I'd like to know more about. I've figured out "whodunnit" and what the "major" clue was within the first few pages. What truly strikes me as sad is these could have easily been taken care of by a competent editor. This book just needed a little tweaking.

Yes, I'm sighing now.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Inspirations November 9, 2008

In October of 1978 Neal A. Maxwell, a late modern day apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormons), gave an address to the students at Brigham Young University (BYU). It was election time back then as well. Though I don’t know what the issues were back then, from his words we can glean there was a moral issue at stake, just as there was now in 2008.

His words were of such import they were printed the next February in the Ensign Magazine (published by the Mormon Church for it’s adult members). I’d like to share them with you today. Though I’ll be putting in a few portions of the first part of his talk, I’ll copy the link to his talk in its’ entirety at the end of my post.

If you are a careful student of the statements of the modern prophets, you will have noticed that with rare exceptions – especially when the First Presidency has spoken out – the concerns expressed have been over moral issues, not issues between political parties. The declarations are about principles, not people; and causes, not candidates.

Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions (1 Kgs. 18:21).

President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1941, p.123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ!

We are now entering a time of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: We will see a maximum, if indirect, effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism which uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of western civilization to shrink from freedom, even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage…

Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. M.J. Sobran…said, “A religious conviction is now a second-class conviction, expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus, and not to get uppity about it” (Human Life Review, Summer 1978, pp. 58-59).

This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortions will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution ofthe family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened (emphasis added).

In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending toward those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values. In its more harsh forms, as is always the case with those whose dogmatism is blinding, the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments. It is always such an easy step from dogmatism to unfair play – especially so when the dogmatists believe themselves to be dealing with primitive people who do not know what is best for them – the secular ‘bureaucrats’ burden, you see.

…There is occurring a discounting of religiously based opinions… If people, however, are not permitted to advocate, to assert, and to bring to bear, in every legitimate way, the opinions and views they hold which grow out of their religious convictions, what manner of men and women would we be?

Our founding fathers did not wish to have a state church established nor to have a particular religion favored by government. They wanted religion to be free to make its own way. But neither did they intend to have irreligion made into a favored state church.

Notice the terrible irony if this trend were to continue. When the secular church goes after its heretics, where are the sanctuaries? To what landfalls and Plymouth Rocks can future pilgrims go?

If we let come into being a secular church which is shorn of traditional and divine values, where shall we go for inspiration in the crises of tomorrow? Can we appeal to the rightness of a specific regulation to sustain us in our hour of need? Will we be able to seek shelter under a First Amendment which by then may have been twisted to favor irreligion? Will we be able to rely for counterforce on value education aided in school systems which are increasingly secularized? And if our governments and schools were to fail us, would we be able to fall back upon and rely upon the institution of the family, when so many secular movements seek to shred it?

It may well be that as our time comes to “suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41), some of the that special stress will grow out of that portion of discipleship which involves citizenship. Remember, as Nephi and Jacob said, we must learn to endure “the crosses of the world” and yet to despise “the shame of it” (2 Nephi 9:18; Jacob 1:8). To go on clinging to the iron rod in spite of the mockery and scorn that flow at us from the multitudes in that great and spacious building seen by Father Lehi, which is the “pride of the world” (1 Nephi 11:36) – is to disregard the shame of the world. Parenthetically, why, really why, do the disbelievers who line that spacious building watch so intently what the believers are doing? (See 1 Nephi 8:33.)

...If the challenge of the secular church becomes very real, let us, as in all other relationships, be principled but pleasant. Let us be perceptive without being pompous. Let us have integrity and not write checks with our tongues which our conduct cannot cash.

Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel.

There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself.

Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, “summer is night” (Matthew 24:32). Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat!


Can you feel the power of these words? Can you see the relevance of something spoken 30 years ago to what has occurred within these last few weeks? I am, of course, speaking on the proposition against gay marriage.

Even within the walls of the Mormon Church has there been dissent. More often than not those members who were against the proposition had close friends or family members who have chosen the homosexual lifestyle. Their hearts have been in a struggle between loving, supporting, and showing tolerance (as we’ve been taught to do by our Church leaders), and following those they have sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators.

There comes a time in many lives when they have to make a decision between the two. They have to look into their hearts, do some serious fasting, praying, and studying in order to decide whether or not they truly have a testimony – not just of the Church, but of God’s will.

Not once in the Old or New Testaments, nor in the Book of Mormon for those who believe it to be another testament of Jesus Christ, has the Lord ever condoned the act of homosexuality. Not once.

But does this mean we shouldn’t be supportive of those who have chosen this lifestyle? Does it mean the activity in passing proposition 8 by the Mormon Church (and many other Churches and organizations) is their way of coming out against an entire people? I don't believe this to be true.

“Hate the sin, not the sinner.” We’ve heard it many times. When I earnestly prayed that the proposition would go through, I wasn’t praying against those who have chosen this lifestyle. I was praying against an act I believe is wrong, even if we all have the right to choose it. I was praying that marriage between a man and a woman, something God has told us again and again is of Him, would be strengthened.

The crazy thing is, I understand where those who are homosexual are coming from. I can see how this would seem hurtful, demeaning, discriminating, and unenlightened. A part of me aches for those who are most affected by this. Yet I cannot deny that I have a firm and abiding testimony that God leads my Church through a prophet, and this prophet has told us this is not what God wants. I believe His hand has touched the hearts of other religious leaders, helping them to understand the same.

Yet those who cry and protest for us to understand and accept them as they are, to give them rights we "straight" couples have, seem to have no tolerance, nor understanding, nor acceptance for our own beliefs. They carry signs and willingly frighten people in their attempts to make us more tolerant – something they cannot seem to do themselves. I can’t begin to tell you how upset I’ve felt when hearing about their acts of intolerance against those they are desperately trying to find acceptance with.

If only they could understand it is not them we are against, it is the sanctity of marriage as described by God that we are for. Had the proposition passed, any church that refused to perform a marriage between two men or two women could have been brought under state law. They could have been sued. Marriage by religious leaders could have been taken away altogether. So much more was at stake than a lifestyle choice.

For those who have stuck around through what (on Word) has turned out to be almost four full pages of writing, I thank you. I hope something in Elder Maxwell’s words, or my own, have touched and/or softened your hearts, has clarified in your mind words you couldn’t put together yourself, or has strengthened that which you already knew. I also hope you know every word of this was written with great and abiding love.

~ Here is the link to Elder Maxwell's talk: A More Determined Discipleship

Friday, November 7, 2008

My First Poll

I've really been thinking about how the quality of some products has really gone down since the economy began to struggle (and I've been forced to do an almost daily load of laundry so the baby will have a pair of pj's that hasn't been leaked in during the night by faulty diapers). The truth is I appreciate good quality, even if it means paying just a little bit more.

Using the above example, I switched to using Luv's a few kids ago. Pamper's is simply too expensive, and Huggies always leaks (no matter how fantastic their 'leak guards' are purported to be!). Luv's was a reasonable price without have a bad quality, which tends to happen when you go with store brand diapers.

With the last batch of diapers I bought, the quality of product went drastically downhill. It's still the same price, but not worth the money! I still use them during the day, but have taken to buying Pampers for baby to wear at nighttime (it'll be a good day when all the kids are potty-trained!), as I know they won't leak everwhere.

Thus came the idea for my very first poll. Would you rather a company raise their prices and keep the same quality, or reduce their quality/quantity to keep the same prices? Or do you not care what the company does, as you'll just go find something to replace it?

I'll keep the poll going until the 21st. Invite friends/family to vote as well. I'm really interested to see what everyone thinks.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Need to Empty My Spleen! (a.k.a Laurie's On One Again)

And no, it has nothing to do with our new (gulp) president.

I haven't even been up a whole 46 minutes and my day's heading down the toilet. Of course I'll have to take the kids to school in a few minutes, but I needed to at least make a start in getting out the baddies!

I was having bad dreams up until the time my alarm rudely told me it was time to get up. Bad dreams seem to be spreading throughout the house these last few days. So even before I delved into the land of the conscious I was being affronted with annoying things. Knowing it would be snowy this morning I informed my beloved children they would need to get a move on when I woke them up. Too bad M didn't listen to me.

Of course the child is only a year or three away from teenagerdom, so I realize she's going to be more difficult to wake up, not to mention the time she spends in picking out an outfit. In any case, she took so long getting up and going the boys were done with breakfast before she made it to the kitchen. This translates into: no time to read scriptures.

So I donned boots and coat and headed outside to scrape out our car and warm it up. In the middle of it all, my boys come out sans coat, hat or gloves, asking to play in the snow. They were promptly informed to head right back in the house to find said objects (I didn't yell loud...the neighbors might hear). They came out a few minutes later to inform me they could find coat, but not gloves or hats (which were brand new as of two days ago!).

We spent a few more minutes cleaning up their room just enough to discover they really were all lost. (Insert heavy sigh here.) Sometimes being mom isn't fun.

One last rant - I hate it when companies skimp on their products so as not to raise prices. There are certain things you simply can't skimp on...like diapers. My youngest has had leaky diapers the last week ever since I bought the "newest" version of diapers. I went with Luv's in the first place because they were cheap without leaking. Now I might have to do back to Pampers. Either that or plan on a daily bath and laundry load.

Grrr.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Refuse to Acknowledge the Media Today

That's right. No radio, no television (aside from kids PBS shows and movies), no newspapers, no nuthin.

My stomach has been tied in knots every time I think about this year's election. I'm insanely grateful the day has finally come and can't wait until it's all over tomorrow!

Our voting precinct happens to be at my children's school, so after dropping them all off I went right in to vote. Got it done early so I won't have to stress about it the rest of the day. The school itself is participating in the voting process. They're giving all the kids a chance to vote for the person they want for president and such. My oldest was excited to have the chance to vote. She kept asking me who I was voting for. I told her, and made certain to let her know why as well. The kids know their votes won't count in the actual election, but I really believe it has lit a fire in some of them.

Politics is never pretty, though. I can't stand the debates and the ads and the fighting that erupts because of differing beliefs. It brings out the best and worst in people (and I'm not just talking about those in the running). There's so much injustice and backbiting, which literally makes my stomach turn.

This is why I've decided to keep myself free from all other influences. I will not check in throughout the day to see whether my guys are winning. I refuse to give the media or other invested businesses/groups/parties/etc a chance to press their opinions on me, or make me feel as though what I believe is old fashioned or too prudish (I recently read Lehi's dream - and the laughing/mocking people in the great and spacious building flashed in my mind this morning). I will not be ashamed for holding my standard high.

In any case, if I don't pick up the phone until after you leave a message, don't be offended. I'm just avoiding political phone calls too :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Inspirations November 2, 2008

I like to think of myself as a happy person. For me joy can be found in making others laugh, feel loved, and find the good in themselves. I like to give to others in the hope they recognize the spirit in which the gift is given. When others do the same for me, I try to let them know how grateful I am for their thoughtfulness. I truly enjoy making the world a little brighter.

With this in mind, I woke up this morning ready to cry. I started crying once I got to Church and my tender husband took one look at my face and said, “Is everything okay?” I promised myself long ago I would always do my best to be honest with him about my feelings, and so I shook my head and fought back the tears. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to talk (the poor guy is still at the ward building wondering what’s up with his wife).

I cried all through Relief Society, then calmed down a bit during Sunday School. The moment I settled down with all the kids in Sacrament Meeting the tears began again. I got myself under control until hubbs bore his testimony, and said some beautiful words about me. The end of the meeting drew near so I once again wiped aside the tears, and after the closing prayer they started up again with one concerned word from a dear sister who noticed I didn’t seem to be doing very well three hours earlier at the beginning of all our meetings.

I suppose, when you spend so much time being happy, a day spent in sadness comes through loud and clear.

About half an hour ago another sister stopped by. I’ve known Sister A____ for twelve years now, was her visiting teacher for about a year, and she has been our Gospel Doctrine teacher for many years now. She is a spiritual giant who is never afraid to acknowledge her faults, and I think she’s about to become my ward mother. She has taken me under wing, so to speak, and given me a huge blessing in the process, by reaffirming a message from my Heavenly Father and my Brother, sent to me through another friend.

I mentioned this message last week before relating my talk. He told me I was like a pen without any ink. I still had many words to write, but hadn’t refilled myself. Sister A_____ compared me today to one of the 10 virgins, though in an unusual way. She said I’m good at sharing my oil, at things spiritual. But my oil is getting thin and I need a refill.

Does this sound like any of you? Are you so willing to give and love and share and bless, but you don’t know how to refill your own pen or lamp?

I keep thinking there’s something I’m supposed to be doing right now, but am missing the mark. I’ve either pushed it aside thinking ‘not now,’ or I wasn’t paying attention and skipped it altogether. My hope over these next few weeks is to put things back in their proper order, and to figure out what I need to be doing.

The second reason for my overly emotional state was also pinned down by Sister A____, but it has a wonderful trigger. My husband and I have been married for twelve years. For most of those twelve years he’s worked two jobs, as well as accomplishing to the best of his abilities whatever calling (job) in the church that’s been asked of him. Translation: not a lot of time together. By the end of the day we’re both tired. I try so hard to pick up whatever slack I can around here when I know he’s exhausted. He tries to pick up whatever slack he can when he notices I’m done in. Our main concerns have always been making sure the other isn’t feeling too overwhelmed.

A huge blessing was given to us this last week. For about a year his bosses have been rearranging things. They came to him and offered the position of Head Chef, with a raise big enough for him to (with faith and confidence) quit his second job! We’ll get daddy home at a decent time of the day. He’ll be there to help with dinner, dishes, homework, and kids. Neither of us can wrap our minds around this concept, as it’s been far too long.

When Sister A_____ heard this, first she offered a prayer of thanks, then she looked hard at me. “You’re like me,” she said. “We’re strong women, good in a crisis, ready and willing to do what needs to be done. It’s when the crisis is over that we finally fall apart.”

You have no idea how light I felt with the truth of those words! I feel like the crisis is over! My husband will be home! My children will get to see their daddy for more than just half-an-hour before bedtime, and he’ll actually have energy! The blessings far outdistance anything we’re being asked to give up. So now I fall apart :). Hopefully when my wonderful spouse gets home from his last meeting I’ll be able to give him a reason to smile.

What would I say is the message behind all of this muddled mess? I don’t believe you have to look too hard.

Heavenly Father loves us. He knows us. He is ever aware of our thoughts and feelings, and will send others to bless us with all we need. I now have a little angel sitting above my head with my new ward mother’s name etched on it, given to me so I might remember how much I am loved. There is so much more for me to think about when I see the little smiling face: I see my Heavenly Father reaching out to me through the words, hugs, and service of one of His beloved children.

I know that when I’m done falling apart, I’ll be ready to pull myself back together, looking for a way to be such a blessing to someone else.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Absolutely Nothing

That's what this post is about: absolutely nothing. So if you'd rather not finish reading a post that's about absolutely nothing, by all means, go up to your favorites link and click on a blog harboring a post that's actually about something.

For those of you who are still reading, you should know I could have made this post about something. For example, I could tell you I bought a little bottle of glitter spray from our local Claire's that ended up full of nothing! Someone had opened and used it all up. There's four bucks I'll never get back. But I won't tell you about that.

I could make this post about how I got my lazy bum off the couch and mowed the leaves off the front lawn, only to have it covered in more leaves before the day was through (insert heavy sigh here). But I won't.

I could make this post about putting together some awesome cornbread as well as my best soup (thank you Cynthia!) for our ward trunk-or-treat/dinner, and that it took up a huuuuuuge chunk of my day. But I won't.

I could write about getting way ahead in my book group's reading of Northanger Abby (Emily, I couldn't believe it when I realized I had never finished this book! I'm loving it!) during the down minutes between slicing carrots and swatting hands away from the cornbread. But, again, I won't.

I should tell you all about our awesome Halloween fun! And I will....later.

So why this incredibly long post where I refuse to tell you about anything? I realized if I got in just one more before hitting November 1st, I'd beat my best number of posts made since I started the blog! As you can see, this really was all about absolutely nothing :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10 Things I Love About My Home

Turnabout's fair play. Cynthia's tagged me now. So let's find out...

10 Things I Love About My Home:

1. Gotta be the people in it! I love a home full of kiddies and the sweetest hubby ever!

2. There's a door to the kitchen. This might seem odd, but when I can't take the home full of kiddies any longer (which usually happens when it's time to make dinner) I've been able to close that door and the kids know to stay out. Well, except A, and she's recently discovered how to open said door.

3. The huge back yard. Okay so it's a blessing and a curse. I'm hoping when I become seriously motivated (ha, ha) and we're all rich (ha, ha, hahahahahaha) we'll be able to take out a lot of the lawn to put in a bigger back porch and some actual gardening areas (as opposed to mixed in with my flowers, lol). Until then we're happy to have such a big place for the kids to run around.

4. My rosebushes. Almost every single one has been a gift, and I treasure each one. I keep saying I can't move unless we're able to take them all with us!

5. How small it is. That may sound weird, and there are times it feels confining, but I think our family is closer because of it.

6. Our big front window opens. It's so nice to have a breeze coming in!

7. There are ceiling fans in all the bedrooms. Makes it reeeeeally nice on warm nights. We owe Dave's mom and dad for those.

8. Many years ago my dad put in vents in the four farthest corners of our house. This allows air to be drawn up into the attic to help the house stay cooler in the summer/warmer in the winter.

9. We no longer have avocado green appliances! Okay so there was only one left when hubbs and I got married, but still. Avocado green. Need I say more?

10. I love that this house feels like a home.