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.

Monday, October 27, 2008

10 Things that Make Me Happy!

I GOT TAGGED! Is it unbelievably sad that it makes me so happy? In any case, here I go.

10 things that make me happy:

1. Gotta be the gospel. Don't know what I'd do without it!

2. My family. I'd be utterly bored without them.

3. Books. I adore books, and the knowledge that can be gleaned from them.

4. Music. I'm passionate about music, whether singing it (badly), playing it (badly), or listening to it (not so badly).

5. Chocolate (I mean, really people).

6. Blogging! Isn't that apparent enough from the sheer amount of posts I force on you unwitting souls? Which leads us to...

7. Writing!!!

8. Teaching/Speaking in church. I adore teaching my young women, and speaking brings me almost as much joy!

9. Friends...though they keep leaving me. I promise I'm showering! Not sure what the deal is.

10. New projects! I'm notorious for dipping my hands in some new sort of activity here and there.

Now I get to tag three people. But now I'm worried I'll leave someone out who might have wanted to be included...hmmm. What to do? I say consider yourselves all tagged, but especially Melanie (only because it's been soooooo long since you last posted and I'm waiting...........), Cynthia (because you need to keep posting on your blog whether you think anyone's reading it or not! I enjoy your posts too much for you to quit now), and Brent (because you've also been veeeeery lax about posting anything new, and I've noticed lots going on for you on Facebook. Time to tell us all about it!).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Inspirations Oct. 26, 2008

My husband and I had the opportunity to speak in Sacrament Meeting today. My husband hates it, but I've always gotten a bit of a high out the experience. There's something inside me that deeply resonates with the joy a simple message of the gospel can bring.

I've been having quite a week, and did not think I could do the topic assigned to me the justice it deserved. For too long I've lacked faith in myself. For too long I've been trying to smother my light so I wouldn't have to shine. My Heavenly Father has blessed me with so many gifts, but I've felt so uninspired when it comes to using them.

A friend, whose insights I have come to soundly respect, and I have been discussing some of my fears and frustrations, in particular my wish to continue creating but lacking inspiration and desire to do so. He said I sounded like a pen with no ink. In that instant I could see myself scratching against a piece of paper in the hopes of dragging out any last bit of ink, but there hasn't been anything there. He told me I needed a refill, and this weekend I have received a beautiful answer to all my prayers in the form of the talk I gave today. I would like to share this talk with you, and I invite you to send it on to anyone you feel could benefit from the message I was given. This is deeply personal, and will probably bring up some difficult feelings for those who were also involved, but I know this message needs to be passed along.

You should know when I mention the Bishop in the first sentence, it's my hubby :)

The Bishop and I have been talking a lot about the subject upon which I have been asked to speak to you today. These last several months have not been easy on our ward, and we’ve been praying for a message that will help strengthen and uplift those who are even now in the midst of suffering.

We all have trials, unique to each individual, some of which the Lord asks us to endure knowing full well they will never be more than we can carry and will bring with them lessons that cannot be learned in any other way. Other trials we bring upon ourselves or are thrust upon us due to the choices of others. When this happens the Lord is there to sustain and uplift us if we will but turn to Him. He will
grant unto us additional might to endure, in the hopes we will never turn that
way again.

No matter which way these trials come upon us, the Lord is there. Too often we forget, thinking we know better, and despair because we feel abandoned, hurt, or punished. To any of you who have felt something remotely close to this I share a message of hope.

In the April 2005 General Conference Elder David A. Bednar spoke of a truth Dave and I have been reminded of recently, and many of you have heard us speak of: The Tender Mercies of the Lord.

“The tender mercies of the Lord are real and they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of His tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them.”

As I thought back to some of the toughest times of my life, one in particular stuck out in my mind. Most of you were here the year our first son was born and then died barely an hour later. I know this experience was a tragedy, yet when I look back on it my heart fills with gratitude. It was one of the hardest, yet greatest times of my life.

I firmly believe that when we actively look for and willingly recognize the tender mercies of the Lord, our deepest sorrows can be turned to our greatest joys. When we recognize the hand of the Lord, especially in our harshest trials, we can see ourselves being gently led toward higher truths.

With your indulgence, I’d like to share some of my experience during that time, as well as some of the things I’ve learned because of it.

I went into labor in the early morning hours of the baby’s due date. M____ was sent over to Grandma W____’s house around nine or ten when we determined to head into the hospital. I remember hoping they wouldn’t tell me it was indigestion and send me back home. Fortunately they didn’t.

In no time at all I was appropriately dressed in one of those becoming hospital gowns, all the right sensors in place, watching the little heartbeat of our son on the monitor to my left. I was a little distressed as my regular doctor would be in meetings all morning long, but his partner would be available when the time came.

As my labor progressed the nurses began to worry. With each contraction the heartbeat of my baby would dip. This had happened as well with M____ so I didn’t think too much of it. There were other concerns as well, but in my agony and excitement I didn’t pay them much heed. The hours went by in this manner, my parents and older brother in attendance, all our attitudes happy and anxious.

Things went slowly enough for my regular doctor to finish his last meeting and he was able to attend me. I eventually felt it was time for the baby to come, my family exited, and I began to push. It didn’t take too long before this tiny, scrawny baby was placed on my chest. Two things jumped out to me at once.

First was the color of our child. All babies don’t exactly come out looking pretty. Our
son was too gray, too dark. The second thing was when he tried to cry. I can still hear his fervent attempts to take in a breath, to make a noise, and all that came out was this tiny squeak. As I tried to take all this in the nurse whipped the oxygen mask off my face and placed it over his, but his skin wasn’t pinking up. She grabbed him, towel and all, told my husband to follow, and left the room.

I was left alone to wonder and wait for word that all was well, though a part of me knew this was not so. The nurses and my doctor were busy all around me, but I was hardly aware of their presence. I went through many silent prayers, hoping against hope all would be well. Into my mind a quiet voice broke through.

“Everything will be okay,” it said.

I heaved a sigh of relief. “Everything will be okay,” I thought. “My son will be fine. We’ll get to take him home. M____ will get to see her baby brother. Everything will be fine.”

“No,” came the voice again. So gentle. So quiet. Yet so firm. “No. But everything will be okay.”

My doctor went to check on what was going on, and my mother came in to sit with me. Neither of us said a word, but thanked those who kept us in the loop. At last I was told I needed to come with the doctor to visit my son, that it just didn’t look good.

During this time my husband watched with an aching father’s heart all that the paramedics did to try and help our son live. What he witnessed I cannot imagine, but I am grateful that since his own father couldn’t stand there with him, that my own father and older brother were able to be there in his stead.

It wasn’t long before my mother and I joined them. Dr. Jung, the physician taking care of my baby, knelt by my wheelchair and told me the little guy wasn’t going to make it. I nodded, knowing this already, but not able to stop my heart from breaking. They took the wires off his body and the tube from his throat, wrapped him in a
blanket, and placed him in my arms.

At that moment my husband, my father, and my older brother laid their hands on this little baby’s head, gave him a name and sealed him to our family. For several seconds after not a sound was heard in that room besides gentle weeping.

How, might you ask, can such an experience be termed as great, uplifting, life affirming, and testimony building? How, might you ask, can I look back at this tragic event and say I have come out the better for it?

I testify to you now that throughout this entire experience, and even before and after it happened, I was blessed by the tender mercies of my Lord.

A particular woman who lived in the ward at the time felt strongly inspired to befriend me a few weeks before my due date. She herself had had a traumatic experience with the birth of her first child, and talked to me in depth about it. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this was the first of many blessings. Allow me to share with you more.

I hadn’t had a desire to buy a lot of clothes nor really set up his room as I had for M____. I didn’t feel the need to prepare for this new child.

I was given my own doctor to be there. It could have been a stranger who delivered my baby. Instead I had the comfort of a man I was familiar with, who had become in many ways a friend.

I had most of my family there to support me.

I heard a voice. It wasn’t a figment of my imagination. Into my mind came a voice so clear I could not deny the truth of what it told me.

At the time our baby was taken away, four paramedics had flown in from Primary Children’s Medical Center on a delivery, and had decided to wait around for a bit. I have never believed this happened by chance. Just as I never believed the leading neonatologist in the state of Utah happened to be attending there at the hospital.

I was blessed by those who came to visit. The friend I had made during the previous
weeks heard what had happened, was inspired to get me a gift, and presented me
with a beautiful picture that sits in our living room to this day. She has remained a true sister to me ever since. Bishop H____ and his wife came to see us. He and my sweet husband bestowed a very special blessing upon me at that time from my Heavenly Father. We were given insight into this special spirit that had been bestowed upon our family, as well as knowledge that there were more spirits waiting to come here to earth and join us.

I healed quickly. There was so much pain in my heart, but my body did not suffer. In mere days I was feeling almost back to normal.

Brother N___ was there to help my husband arrange the funeral for our son. Words cannot possibly express our gratitude for this gentle giant, whose job at the funeral home helps to guide and bless those who are grieving.

So many came to the funeral, even many we didn’t expect. One of the nurses from the hospital came, so touched was she by all that had happened.

My mother recorded and then typed up every word spoken during the funeral. We have read them over and over again, and have found increased comfort even after all these years.

We had a beautiful little girl upon whom we could shower love upon, a little girl who at the time gave us comfort and returned our love tenfold.

Another nurse from the hospital called us every once in a while to check up on us, so touched was she by the entire experience.

Gifts of money, many of them anonymous, were given to help pay off many of our bills and to help buy the headstone for our little guy.

Extraordinarily enough, I could go on. We were blessed. Yet in my heart there are two things in particular that stand out.

The first, that my husband and I were blessed to be members of a church where true knowledge of the Plan of Salvation is known. I cannot begin to tell you what it means to me, what inspiration and motivation I attain, every time I think that so long as I strive to do all that is right in the sight of the Lord, this little boy will forever be a member of my family. I cannot being to explain what feelings of intense joy and hope I am given when I think that one day I will be able to hold him in my arms again, and raise him in a time of peace. The blessings and hope the Atonement brings to me are
immeasurable. What an extraordinary mercy the Lord has given me with this simple, yet grand knowledge.

The second tender mercy I have come to recognize in the eight years since our baby's passing, is knowing I can be of service to others who have dealt with the loss of a child. Though I cannot know exactly what each individual parent goes through after enduring such a horrific loss, I can say with truth that I understand at least a little of what they’re feeling, and that there’s hope. Hope for healing. Hope for continued life. Hope for continued love. Hope for things we may not even understand at this time.

So now I ask you to look inward. Take a good hard look at the difficulties you are asked to bear in your lives. Whether you’ve been around for five years, fifteen years, fifty years or more, look at the things you are asked to bear in your lives. But do not dwell on the hard parts. Instead, look for the tender mercies. They may be small, but even small things are made great in the hands of the Lord. Don’t discount even the small things.

Elder Bednar tells us: “The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

These blessings are there for all who choose to look for them, yet too often we’re focused too much on trial itself, or don’t believe such blessings are for us. We discount them as coincidences, nothing more. Believe me as I say God is waiting for the
chance to pour out his mercy upon us, if we will only look toward Him. He loves
us more than we can ever comprehend in our limited mortal existence. Even if we
mess up a little, or a lot, He is standing by with open arms ready for us to come to Him.

As Elder Bednar stated: “We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

I bear you my testimony that trials will come to us all. Some of these trials will be big, seemingly more than we can bear. Other trials will feel easier to overcome. Through it all, we must actively look for the tender mercies of the Lord. We have a loving Heavenly Father, and a remarkable brother in the Lord, both of whom know our greatest lessons are learned through our greatest trials. I also bear testimony that when we actively look for the Lord's tender mercies, we will find blessings untold! We will discover they have been showerd upon us, and we will find the strength to continue on, even when the laws of this world say it's time to give up.

The tender mercies of the Lord are all around you, but you must be the one to search them out. This message I leave with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Playing with Pooches

My older brother and his wife came to visit for a week. Well, my sil had to work, but at least they were in town! They brought with them their two little pooches.

Friday night we got together with them, Grandma and Grandpa R, and my younger brother, his wife and two kids for a fun dinner and some birthday cake. Yummm. Afterward my hubbs and I took the kids back to see the doggies, as it has been a few years since we last bonded. Here are a few pics.

Okay so maybe the dogs are quite as little as I'd led you to believe :)
The next picture is of Triton checking M out. We'd just been out to a barbeque restaurant for dinner. I think we all smelled a little too enticing.

J was more than a little intimidated by these giant doggies! Though you can't exactly see her face (her hand "magically" got in the way every time), A was terrified of the dogs. She hated it when they tried to come check her out!

B and Sammi had a good time playing tug-of-war. A few times B even managed to pull Sammi a few inches. I think we have a budding wrestler in our midst!M and J gave it a go as well, but neither were quite as up to the task.All in all they had a great time, and the adults had loads of laughs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween Decorations!

The very first day the kids were off-track (first day of UEA) we got out the long-awaited Halloween decorations. The pictures really don't do it justice, though on the camera the spider webs do have a sort of glowy aura about them, lol.

In any case, enjoy!

This one is of the who front of the house. You can tell the "glowiness" of the white spiderweb in this one.

Here's our green spiderweb. Though you can't tell, there are little orange plastic spiders on it. Normally I would put one of those plastic-garbage-sack-pumpkin-man things you stuff with leave and such, but I couldn't find one this year, so it feel rather bare to me.

This is my newest little wooden decoration. I put it underneath the green spiderweb.
This little guy covers our screen door.
This rather significant spider is protecting one of our pumpkins :)
Here's our newest edition. We've titled this scene: Death By Pumpkin

Here's a different view. We tried to make him look like he was crawling out of the dirt.

That's about it. We have some decals on the front window, but I can't ever get a good angle to show you. There are two more personalized decorations that are fun for the kids that I'll try to post after we've done them. They super easy and the kids love 'em.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is It Wrong I Like to Check My Own Blog Every Day?

It's not like I'm looking to see if I posted something new during the middle of the night. If that happened, I'd probably be checking myself in for some serious mental issues.

I just love to see the new Astronomy Picture of the Day. Space intrigues me, and often the pictures are positively breathtaking.

As I began exploring stuff I can put on my site I found some other fun things, like useless information and the Woot deal of the day (though I hear they're going to start up a new deal as soon as the old one sells out). I thought the fortune cookie one would be awesome, but I've received the same fortune three days in a row now. And no, each day hasn't been my best ever.

I think the Yoda quote of the day is awesome, but I can't get it to move so we can see the whole thing. Of course I'm still going to keep it. I mean, it's Yoda. 'Nuff said.

So even if the rest of the world doesn't think much about coming to visit me here in "Laurie-land" I'm okay with it. I'm have a good time coming to visit it myself :)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fantastic Television

With the recent purchase of a new television, we've discovered a new station coming up from southern Utah, RTN. What's so glorious about this station? What has made it nestle so soundly within our hearts?

It plays some of our favorite "classic" shows. Shows from our childhood. Shows that even my children are 'getting into.'

The most fervently watched for us all?

The Hulk!!! My boys have been quite fascinated with the Hulk ever since little previews began to play during commercial times a year or two back when the first movie remake happened. They've never seen the movies. They have no idea of the premise behind the Hulk. They just think he's green and coooooooool.

Of course now they've seen the show a few times over they still think he's green and he's cooooool, but now they're getting a better idea of the man behind the hulking mask (pun utterly intended), David.

In any case I absolutely love the fact that my kids can now enjoy some of the shows I loved as a kid: The Hulk, Knight Rider, Malcolm P.I., etc. There are a few others I'd like to see come on, but I'll be content with what we've got.

For a while ION showed Scarecrow and Mrs. King. Wow did I love that show. In fact, I distinctly remember one Halloween night there was an episode, the conclusion of a cliffhanger from the week before, and I was seriously torn between watching and trick-or-treating. For those who know my love of vegging in front of the t.v. and a handful of candy, you must realize what a conflict this created in my young heart, lol.

The crazy thing about reliving these shows is to see how far we've come in so few years when it comes to displays between relationships and violence. These shows are extremely tame by today's standards, yet they pushed the limit in those days. I wonder (and cringe at the thought) of what television will be like in years to come.

In any case, I'm having a wonderful time reliving a bit more of my youthful days :)

It's a day later but I just remembered another one. The Greatest American Hero!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Inspirations Oct. 19, 2008

We came home early from church today, as one of my boys had a veeeeery upset tummy. I was grateful he at least waited until after I was able to give the lesson in Young Women today, and before the spirit of the lesson dissipates too much from my heart, I wanted to get on and post.

Some lessons immediately bring in the Holy Spirit, fly off my tongue like water off a feather, and have the girls popping out answers left and right.

This was not one of those lessons. This is not to say the message presented nor the principles being taught were not of the utmost importance. It is only to say they are not the easiest to present, teach, and gain a testimony of.

Consecration and sacrifice. We know the term sacrifice well, though the true meaning behind it is sometimes lost. To sacrifice means to give up something we consider deeply important. It can be done with the hope of receiving something better, or it can be done for the mere sake of following the principle.

Consecration is a little harder to pin down. The definition is straightforward enough: to make sacred; to devote or dedicate. Our job is to tie consecration into sacrifice.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

"Sacrifice and consecration are inseparably intertwined. The law of
consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and our
property to the cause of the Church; such are to be available to the extent they
are needed to further the Lord's interests on earth.

"The law of sacrifice is that we are willing to sacrifice all tha twe have
for the truth's sake - our characterand reputation; our honor and applause; our
good name among men; our houses, lands, and families: all things, even our very
lives if need be" (Bruce R. McConkie, "Obedience,
Consecration, and Sacrifice
," Ensign, May 1975).

Let's start with sacrifice. This law was instituted from the time of Adam (Moses 5:6-8). Adam was directed to make an animal sacrifice upon an altar, though at first he was not told why. It was asked of him at first to help him show obedience. It was the angel in the referenced verses that told Adam it was to be done in similitude of the sacrifice of the Savior.

It was only after Adam showed the necessary obedience that the reason behind the sacrifice was given. How many times are we asked to sacrifice something we dearly long to keep, sometimes without knowing the reasons behind it all? At times these sacrifices are easily given, in particular to those we love. Other times these sacrifices are grudgingly passed along.

There is another step we must take in order for the sacrifice to be, not just complete, but worthy.

"Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and
thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore" (Moses

When we acknowledge that the things of this world as well as all our talents are only given to us to be stewards over, to be given here and there as the Lord sees fit, to give all we can and do so in the name of the Lord will our sacrifices be considered worthy in His eyes.

This is not an easy thing to do. Let's repeat it: this is not an easy thing to do. Yet it is a principle that cannot be fully learned without first putting it into practice. Like faith, like tithing, like the Word of Wisdom, we cannot gain a testimony about sacrifice and consecration without experimenting upon it, putting it to the test.

Before I end, I want to change direction for a moment and discuss some things we need to sacrifice that can't necessarily be seen. In order to illustrate this point I want to talk for a moment about my parents.

When I was about 15 my dad was diagnosed with cancer, lymphoma. I truly know it is only by the grace of God alone that he is still with us today, as this is one of the deadliest and fastest growing forms. During the months and months of chemo and radiation therapy I watched him suffer silently. His health was, obviously, horrible. He had severe bouts of nausea and insomnia. Most of what he suffered I may never know, but he never uttered a complaining word in front of his children. Perhaps in the quiet hours, when he was desperately ill, he questioned why. It does not really matter to me now.

During this time I also watched my mother. She took on the load of parent, breadwinner, caretaker, housekeeper, and numerous other heavy loads. I had always known my mother to be a strong woman, but her vigilance during this time left a lasting impression on my heart.

My mother sacrificed a lot: her own health, her time, her energy, her talents, her very being to take care of my father and us kids. She and my father also sacrificed something a little more difficult to see: bitterness, self-pity, anger, and countless other dabilitating and consuming emotions that could have brought them far away from the Spirit of the Lord.

We are no longer asked to sacrifice the firstborn of our flocks upon an altar in similitude of the Savior. Instead we are asked to sacrifice that which the Lord Himself did: a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:19-20). We must be willing to submit ourselves to everything our Father asks of us, even if we don't understand why. The Savior was able to live this celestial law, and we must be willing to do the same if we hope to attain the celestial kingdom.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Morning After

I tend to get gloomy come nighttime, especially these last few months. Is it due to my recent bout of depression? Probably. Could it have something to do with the kids being in bed and finally being able to hear myself think and the only things my brain has enough power left to think about are the awful, unjust, overwhelming things of this world?

Dunno :) Maybe.

All I do know is I can work myself into quite a state of anxiety and sadness at the end of the day, no matter how swimmingly the previous 16 hours went. I think it has something to do with my over-active imagination. My Heavenly Father blessed me with quite a whopper. I often think if people could understand all that went on in my head, they'd probably turn tail and run, lol.

Of course you get a fairly good idea of what goes on in my head through this blog. So for those of you who are sticking it out with me (and can look me in the eye without screaming or laughing), fervent thanks.

I think a lot about my children (it's easier to wish for good things for them when they're not in my face telling me how huuuuuungry they are all the time, even after they just had dinner!). I think about current social and political issues (which makes me laugh as I spent most of my life up through my 20's avidly avoiding anything remotely political). I think about friends from years ago and those current. I think about my husband, and the enormous load he carries on his shoulders. I think about our church and at times feel overwhelmed in wondering how on earth the members can all be helped. I think about what the future might hold for my kids as they get older, and cringe at the wicknedness in this world that doesn't seem to be letting up, only growing worse. I think about the young women I teach, and mourn for those who are unable to make choices that will make their lives better. I think about the young men in our ward and the outright temptations being constantly shoved in their faces. I think about my role in this life, and how I'm struggling to feel as though I'm an important part of anything, even though deep in my heart I know I'm doing what needs to be done at this time.

Do you see what I mean?

Fortunately there's a great remedy for all this doom and gloom. Something I believe Heavenly Father blessed us with knowing there would be those like me who couldn't resist delving into the deeper end of the self-pity pool: the morning after.

I awoke this morning, after being up rather late last night, with a happy household. I cleaned the bathroom. The first of four loads of laundry made it into the washer. My boys are currently pretending to clean their room every time I come to check on them, so far without any argument. My oldest put away a good majority of her laundry before a migraine attacked, and my youngest is entertaining me with occasional "high five" request. I've updated the checkbook, had a beautiful and much needed e-mail from my sil Ellen (who is often inspired to give me these little e-mails), and look forward to having my husband home in just over an hour as UEA doesn't require him to be at the school today.

How grateful I am for the morning after.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Being Sick and Mom Do Not Mix

The stomach flu made a run through our house over the past week. My hubby's the only one who didn't get it (knock on wood), but has been sick with a cold regardless.

I'm the last one to be attacked. It was by far not fun. Fevers I can handle, colds are bearable, but the stomach flu is beyond horrible for me...and anyone else I would imagine. Being Mom and getting sick basically means the entire household stops in it's tracks. At least, it has before now.

Yesterday I was on the mend, but food still sounded revolting. Making lunch for the youngest two felt more like torture. I was pleasantly surprised after I put A to bed for a nap, because B basically told me to go take a nap

:O I know! Me too. He promised me if I could just pop him a mini bag of popcorn and turn on some PBS shows he'd be fine.

And he was. I woke up about two hours later to the sounds of all the kids laughing in the living room. My oldest ones had walked home, retrieved the baby from bed, and were all enjoying a little snack together. While I felt a little more rested, I still wasn't doing very well.

B got me some soda from the fridge to sip on, J put in a movie he thought I'd enjoy (and I totally did), and M took charge of dinner. Sure it was just Ramen noodles, but she made a special bowl of just broth for me


Okay so I still ended up washing the dishes, but I cannot complain. My kiddies took some seriously wonderful care of me yesterday, and I consider myself an incredibly blessed mama.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Inspirations Oct. 12, 2008

There is one particular Sacrament Meeting that I look forward to every year. It is the ultimate in teaching basic truths, bearing of the simplest and sweetest testimonies, showing the power music holds in bringing forth the Holy Spirit, and in bringing it all together with a little laughter.

It was our Primary Sacrament Meeting today.

My friend Errin told me listening to the sweet voices sing sacred and worshipful songs was much like listening to the Primary Choir in the recent General Conference.

Of course, as many a parent will say, a few particular faces shined even more than the others in my eyes. My oldest three, well, I can’t even begin to say how pleased I was with them. Of course J spent more time examining the congregation than singing, but when he got up and read his part all on his own…it was beautiful.

Children inspire me. The spirits coming into this world these days are strong, determined, and fiercely devoted. If taught correct principles, if raised in loving homes, there is nothing they can’t accomplish when it comes to helping further the work of the Lord.

Yet as these young children grow into adolescence, they are bombarded with temptations the likes of which those of us who were teens not so long ago cannot imagine. Some of the problems my Young Women have come to me and/or their other leaders with make my stomach churn. As they are less likely to come to Mom and Dad with these awful problems, we can only pray those they choose to discuss these issues with hold the same values.

So what do we do when the philosophies and temptations of this world bombard us to the point we can’t remember which way is north? Easy. Go back to the basics.

Look to the Primary lessons and songs. These are the things huge testimonies are based on. They give us the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ in terms just about anyone can understand. There are times I think our kids are able to comprehend and live the tenets of the gospel better than many adults can.

In any case, this was a wonderful Sunday, and I am honored to have such remarkable children in my home.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Interfaith Fast on Oct. 12

Hello all. I hope you pass along this message, even if you don't plan to do it yourself.

This Sunday, October 12th, there is going to be an interfaith fast regarding California Proposition 8. Click on the link to read loads about it.

To put it simply, this proposes that marriage be defined as law as strictly between a man and a woman, thus banning gay and lesbian marriage. I know this can be a difficult issue for so many out there, but the time calls for a stand.

Regardless of whether or not someone chooses to live this lifestyle, we need to remember where God stands in all of this, and reflect it. Too often now we bend our wills to those few who reject God's laws. We're so afraid of hurting someone's feelings because of their own choices that our own value system is run into the ground.

You can also read the LDS Church's stance on this proposition in the article California and Same-Sex Marriage.

Studies have shown that California tends to be the trend setting state. If something takes hold there, it isn't long before we see the actions reflected throughout the U.S. The gov. of California has already signed a bill banning the terms "husband and wife" and "Mom and Dad" from schools, unless there is also included terms for gay and lesbian couples/parents. It was all done in the name of discrimination, but a traditional lifestyle is now the one being discriminated against.

This Sunday we have an opportunity to turn to the one being who can do something about this mess being forced on us. Perhaps we're only delaying the inevitable. It's hard to say. But I'd rather delay it for as long as possible so long as I have a voice, and a prayer, in the matter.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Religion, Agendas, and Television

It's becoming a disturbing trend, portraying the extremes of religion on television. One would think, as I do, that religion is under subtle and pervasive attack.

A few years ago I was forwarded an e-mail regarding a particular television show, where characters depicting Mormons were shown to be positively crazy, and the religion itself was sadly misrepresented. I didn't see it myself, but got a fairly good idea of what occurred in the show from a description. It saddened me to read what the writers thought would be okay to say.

In the last few weeks I've seen shows based around Jews, Libertarians, Catholics, Mormons (again), Episcopalians, Baptists, etc. None of them were shown the respect they deserve. I watched two of my favorite shows just last night, both of which had stories revolving around organized religions. Again these churches were being portrayed as intolerant and filled with a bunch of nuts. If someone believed in God, he/she is shown as misguided, illogical, and just plain silly in the head. If they objected to something they were shown as intolerant, small-minded, and fanatical.

I understand extremes make for good television, but a lot of people out there take what they see as an accurate representation.

Tangent: I distinctly recall the day I read the words, "Gossip Girl has finally lived up to it's hype." In other words, no matter what their ads claimed no one was really watching it. Unfortunately there are now teens and pre-teens who honestly believe the youthful elite of society sleep around with no consequences. Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, too many of our teens are growing up believing what they're seeing.

Though I do hold responsible the writers who portray religions as organizations filled with a bunch of loons, and recognize there are some out there with agendas they want to press on us, I also know the real force behind it all.

Surely it is Satan's agenda to make religion seem silly, illogical, and unreasonable. Who wouldn't love to have the world think belief in God is the opposite of sanity? Even the lines spoken by a believer comes off sounding trite, childish, and rediculous.

Though we can't do much about what's being placed on our television screens, we can take responsibility in our homes to explain to our children what's real and what's not. My kids aren't old enough to watch any of the shows I've spoken of, but we're coming closer to the day when I can't send them all to their rooms to read at 7:00. They will be watching these shows sooner than I want.

I'm coming to recognize the need to study up on those religions I may not understand so that I can correct those things misrepresented on television.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gardener Extraordinaire

That's right. I am the best gardener in the world! The mere touch of my hand can produce the heartiest of blooms. A slight breath can cause any plant to perk up. Just a look and we end up with tomatoes galore!

Would you like to behold the bounties of this year's harvest? I won't post a picture of the tomatoes, as it would put any other gardener to shame. I will, however, show you my glorious carrots. Knowing how remarkable I am with growing things, I tried my hand at them for the first time this year. I know you will all be amazed, awed and envious of what a summer of neglect and irregular watering has produced!!!

I'd say the biggest carrot measured a good inch-and-a-half, lol. We should have enough to make a substantial Chef's Salad :)

Now, if any of you real gardener's out there could help me understand just where I went wrong, I'd love all advice available.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday Inspirations Oct. 5, 2008

General Conference is a weekend that occurs twice during the year (April and October) wherein our world-wide Church leaders take the opportunity to counsel and advise the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church) on necessary issues. Those of you who have received my monthly family updates know what a bitter-sweet time General Conference brings to me.

Bitter because my husband's job in working for the Church requires his presence most of the weekend. He is up at 1:00 am Saturday, works until about 4:30, makes his way home, takes a quick bath, and then proceeds to the evening Priesthood Meeting.

Once home from this meeting he heads directly to bed, because Sunday he has to awake at the same time to do the same thing. Although on Sunday he gets to come home about 2:00 pm.

Though his spirits are always high, it's the week after that seems to take it's real toll. He is exhausted, but not allowed to recover. Twice a year I watch him, and as each conference passes, I can see how hard it is on him. It becomes harder to bounce back with every year.

At the same time I am being spiritually fed throughout the weekend. The sweetness and balm to my harrowed soul renews faith, hope, and a desire to be a better human being. My children watch as I spend almost two whole days silently weeping, not in sorrow, but in joy. I have never listened to a session of conference without taking away a message seemingly set aside just for me.

There have been many such messages this time around, but one has settled particularly upon my heart: to pray a prayer of thanksgiving. Have you ever tried this? I know I haven't. Elder David A. Bednar and our beloved prophet, Thomas S. Monson, spoke on the need of expressing gratitude to the Lord for all that we have, even those things that do not immediately bring thanks to mind.

Today I wish you offer a prayer of thanks, for I have so much to be thankful for.

I am grateful for a loving husband, who is dedicated in his work, who loves and adores his family, who is a worthy priesthood holder, and who puts his heart and soul into serving the Lord.

I am grateful for parents who raised me in a loving and peaceful home, who show me what it means to endure well, who have become wonderful friends as well as Mother and Father, and who have set a marvelous example of what I desire to become.

I am grateful for the two brothers I was blessed to grow up with, who we always dedicated in attending Church meetings, who set a marvelous example for me in going on missions, and who I love more than they can possibly know.

I am grateful for the women who married these two brothers of mine, for the peace and love they have brought to our world, for the strong and patient women they are, for their dedication to family, work and Church. I have learned much from them.

I am grateful for my husband's parents, for the warmth with which they welcomed me into their family, for the extraordinary home they have created over the years, for the love and laughter they have brought to my life.

I am grateful for the remarkable siblings of my husband. They have shown me how a close relationship between family members is not only possible, but a thing to be worked at to enjoy. They are such a support and blessing to me.

I am grateful for the women who married all those Walker boys. If only they could know how much they make my heart sing, how much I look forward to talking with them, and how much they inspire me to break out of my shy-mold.

I am grateful for friends. So many have come and gone in my life, yet they have all touched my life for good. They are the models I have used to create all that is good in my heart. Even if hundreds of miles and many years have separated us, I still rejoice in the people they are and pray for their happiness. I ache when they ache, and sing when they sing.

I am grateful for my children. They are a remarkable example to me, and some of the brightest lights in my life. I cherish every kiss, every hug, every cuddle, and feel to the depths of my soul their every heartache. They forgive me when I am less than perfect, and show one another much love. I can only pray this relationship will remain so close as they years pass. I am in awe that my Heavenly Father blessed me with such remarkable angels.

I am grateful for my trials. With every one I learn more and more of their purpose in my life. I appreciate the knowledge and growth I gain with every hardship. I embrace the opportunity to learn something new, and hold tight to the faith I have earned.

I am grateful for my testimony, for the strength with which it flows through me. I am grateful for the chance to share it with those around me, even if it's only in little ways.

I am grateful for the Holy Ghost, for what he has blessed me with: my testimony, comfort when I was heart broken, revelation into my life or that of my children, inspiration in my dealings with others. Without this special spirit, I would have none of these.

I am grateful for my elder brother, Jesus Christ, who I am striving to get to know better. I can't even begin to say how much He is in my thoughts these days, for which I am blessed. He is my truest example, my rock in stormy weather, my companion on good days. I owe more to Him than I can ever repay, and yet I want to work hard to deserve all that He has willingly given me.

Most of all, I am grateful for my Heavenly Father. He and I have many conversations in my head and my heart. He is my constant companion, the essence of whom I see in the men in my life, the one whose shoudler I frequently lay my head upon when it becomes too heavy to hold up on my own. That He loves me I have no doubt, and never will. He has taught me so much, and through His influence I hope to continue learning forever. I want to live my life in such a way that I will one day be able to feel His embrace and hear the words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

I am grateful for so much more, but ask that as you read these words, you will take a moment to let those in your life know the blessings they have been in your life.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Think to Yourself, "Benny and Joon"

If this doesn't make your day...then I'll have to work harder next time. Try not to scroll down to the pictures until you've read the following:

The rockin' dentist we go to has a drawing (I don't know how often) for their kids' Zero Cavity Club. I received a phone call Wednesday saying J's name had been picked. I was so excited - it's not often things like this happen to him.

We headed over to the dentist after school where they brought out this big tub full of some cool toys: puzzles, Polly Pocket (I tried to convince him that's the one he wanted, lol), a Buzz the Lightyear on a motorcycle (B started crying when he realized he didn't get to pick a prize). I didn't realize how much I would enjoy what J picked out until we got home and opened it up.

All I can say is, enjoy! And the last pic is my absolute favorite.

He's been wearing it while doing almost everything: eating, reading, he even had me try pouring some water down the snorkel to see if he could take a drink. He could!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Ghost Investigators

One of the things I love about October is my favorite morning radio station gets involved with some local ghost investigators. I've always been fascinated by things considered "other worldly," going so far as to write a research paper on it for an english class in high school.

The Chunga Show brings these investigators on, where they answer callers' questions and bring sound clips. I have to tell you, the sound clips (even the nice ones) give me chills. For example, they were visiting a place where one guy had to walk down some steep, cement stairs. His camera and audio recorder were going when he fell down the stairs. As we hear the sounds of him falling, a woman's voice comes in saying, "Are you okay?" There was no one there with him.

Obviously, that's one of the nice ones.

They invite the radio hosts to come investigating with them close to Halloween, and then come on the show a week or so later to once again share audio clips. I love listening to the stories, though some have had me fairly scared.

My kids frequently hear, "there are no such things as ghosts," and I firmly believe that. What we haven't gone into (and no way will I while they're so young) is what I do believe. I believe the veil between this world and the Spirit World is very thin. Sometimes it's so thin we're able to glimpse what some spirits are enduring as they wait for the Resurrection. These spirits are benign. They can't move things around or put our lives in danger.

Barbara, the female "religious" half of the ghost investigators, has said she feels nothing but compassion for these lost souls, even those who, when going back through the tapes they've compiled, were mean or harsh. She's never felt frightened by a spirit (which makes her a great person to do this research). In fact, she says the more compassion one shows to these spirits, the more likely they are to try to communicate. Rarely, though, do they hear or witness anything in person. It's always as they go back through everything they've recorded that they discover all the "activity" going on around them.

Barbara shared with us today that she has felt more than once that there are evil 'entities,' as she put them. She describes them as those who never had a body, who only want to do harm. They will frequently pose as children (freaks me out!). Barbara highly warns against doing anything that will invite these entities in, like Ouiji Boards (never tried it myself). As she says, "Just because you're done with them and put the board away, it doesn't mean they're done with you." She has witnessed firsthand the harm these entities can do.

Are you all thinking I'm a complete nutter? I just think there's so much more going on than we can possibly know, and lately it seems the veil between this world and the next seems to be growing thinner. More and more friends and family have confided in me lately about experiences they have had, or are having.

A sign of the times?

These morning show hosts have invited their listeners to write an essay hoping to win a chance to come investigating with them. Am I tempted? Maybe a little. Mostly I think I'd run screaming from wherever they went.

Now I pose my question. Without going into details (unless you really want to), do any of you believe in ghosts? ;)