Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Inspirations November 29, 2009

I apologize for not posting last weekend. The day turned out to be busier than usual, and by the time I was able to sit down at the computer late that night, ugh was all I felt. Too much had to be done and I was simply spent by the end of the day.

Knowing today would also be pretty busy, I sat down last night with the intention of posting something just so I could claim to have done it, when a still, small voice whispered to me, "Not yet." It's been a while since I've heard the voice tell me to wait when it comes to my posting. Perhaps this is why I listened.

This morning I received a beautiful e-mail from a very dear friend of mine. It was greatly needed during a time when I've been feeling bombarded by harsh words, bad news, and overwhelming expectations. One particular couple in our ward (local congregation) has been giving us and other members quite a bit of trouble. They have not treated us with kindness, and have been more likely to accept and spread false things pertaining to my husband rather than come and talk to him themselves. There is a part of me that can understand why, yet the part that hurt both my husband and I the most is this couple - whom we have done so much for during difficult times - believed the false statements, instead of thinking to themselves, "Well, that doesn't sound like the Walkers. Maybe we should go talk to them."

And they haven't approached either one of us...until desperation caused the wife to finally ask to see my husband as her bishop. I went along to the church, as he is required to have the presence of another person with him when he sees any woman, and sat in the foyer to crochet and think. I thought back to the words my husband spoke to me when we were in the midst of all this crud. "Honey," he said, "the only reason I can sleep at night is because I have a clear conscience. I know I've done the right thing, and I have to hold tight to it." Truer words could not have been spoken by this common judge of Israel. He had done everything the way the Holy Spirit had guided him to do.

But what about me? I have a difficult time letting go of the hurt others cause my family, especially when the attitude of the offenders is blantantly unrepentant. Yet I knew this sister was suffering in ways I could never imagine enduring myself. So I focused on what she must be feeling. When she came out of my husband's office, face red and tear-stained, I immediately took her into my arms and held her while she cried and tried to compose herself. This sister clung to me like I was a lifeline to love, even if it only lasted for a minute or so.

As I related all this to my friend, who had sensed my discouragement these last few weeks, he wrote me words that opened my eyes and my heart as to my purpose as a Mormon bishop's wife.

"The hug you gave the wife was perhaps, for you, a spontaneous act of love and compassion. But to her it was, I think, much more. At her lowest ebb, here was not just a loving and understanding bishop giving his all for the welfare of her and her husband, but right outside his office was his wife, taking her in her arms and showing her the love of not just a woman, but the love that emanates from Jesus Christ. At that precise moment Laurie, you became proxy for Jesus Christ. The woman got more than a hug. She got the blessings of the Holy Spirit. A spiritual lift which will sustain her. I do not think, little sis, that you fully understand your potential as the wife of a bishop."

Standing as a proxy for Christ, in the simple form of a hug. I had not thought of it that way even for a moment, and suddenly my entire outlook on the experience changed. One of the main purposes in my life as the wife of a bishop came into focus. To love the members, with open abandon, forgiving even when it feels impossible, as my Savior has done for me. I certainly won't fool myself into thinking this change in perspective will come easily and without challenge, but it will come.

And so I ask you to think about where you are in your life right now. Have you seen a change in your own perspective regarding a purpose you hold in a calling, or job, or a new friend or co-worker? Would you be willing to share it with us?

We are all born with a massive amount of potential, gifts and talents God has blessed us with, to be used in furthing His work and His plan. Part of that plan involves loving those around us, as we are all brothers and sisters in spirit. I do pray you know of my love for you out there, and deeply thank you all for the love you have shown me ♥

Friday, November 27, 2009

Face Your Fears!

For my birthday this year I asked to get my ears pierced. I've worn earrings for many years until I had a few babies who thought the pretty sparklies hanging from Mom's ears were toys to be pulled at will. By the time I thought of wearing earrings again the little holes had closed right up.

Many (many) years later I still have all those earrings in the hopes I might find myself able to wear them once again. They sit in a drawer, all sad and lonely, dreaming of being oohed and awed over. Too bad their sparkles are hidden under a layer of dust. Yeah, it's been that long.

My oldest has been flip-flopping around the idea of getting her own ears pierced for about two years now, loving the idea of having sparklies hanging from her own lobes. There's just one problem standing between her and this ultimate dream: the fear of actually shooting little rods through her ears. Silly girl, where does she come up with crazy ideas like this?

Instead of admitting her fear, M comes up with loads of other excuses. She can't find a pair she really likes; or she doesn't think she's ready to take care of earrings; the earrings might get lost; or her ears might become infected. I can understand each and every one of her reasons, but one in particular seems to pop up repeatedly. Fear.

Of course I'm not heartless and can understand that sort of fear. My concern stems around M allowing this fear to stop her from doing something she'd really like to try. Now I promise I'm not looking to force her into that chair and hold her down, blatantly ignoring the screaming of my firstborn until her ears are pierced. I simply want her to learn to face her fears, for one simple reason: I did not.

Growing up I was riddled with fears. So many fears. Add to this the annoying trait of being painfully shy, and I spent far to many years living with regrets. I regret not trying for more solos in choir due to the fear I'd be horrible and promptly rejected. I regret not trying out for Madrigals, the special singing group in our high school, as I was afraid of the time commitment as well as some of the other people who were accepted (you know, the mean popular girls). I regret not dating more due to the fear of doing or saying something stupid. Oh my, there are too many regrets to mention here.

So when I see my daughter not doing something she really wants to do because she's afraid, it plucks the strings of regret living inside me. Therefore, as a part of my birthday present, I asked all of my children to be present and watching as my ears were pierced. Hee, hee, hee.

To be honest it didn't hurt all that much. My hubby had to hold M in place and keep her hands off her eyes, silly girl, but I didn't even flinch. The next thing the kids knew I was done. Ears shot through with metal bullets disguised as sparklies. And you know what? M is thinking about getting them pierced again. Who knows, maybe she another three or four years.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Good Sales Tactic, or an Unintentional Cruel Joke?

This really MUST be my week to rant and rave! The other day my little one and I were in the car running a few errands when I noticed something tucked into my windshield wiper. My heart started to beat a little faster when I saw a $100 bill! I could hardly believe it. Who had put it there?

I began to chant "Please don't blow away" as I watched it flutter while driving down the street. This money could go so far in helping pay a few things off, or buy some clothes for the kids at the Deseret Industries, or - or - whatever!!!!

A few seconds of wild imaginings later and I began to notice something a bit off about this "gift." If an actual bill had been folded in half, and then in half again, it would not be as wide as the one happily perched on my windshield.

CRUD! That was my immediate thought. Sure enough, the "100 dollar bill" opened up just once. The only thing it would give me was the question, "Isn't this the best sales tactic?" followed by a pitch. Grrr.

I didn't think it was great at all, especially considering how bad off so many of us are financially. It felt more like a mean joke. I don't even know what it advertized as the moment realization hit I tossed the thing.

So there's my answer. If you want me to read your notice, don't taunt me with something before taking it away.

Stepping off my soapbox now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Warning: If You're Anything Like Me, Avoid "Dead Sea Cosmetics"

Before I go into what will stand out as one of the most frustrating experiences of my life, I need to explain a little something about myself. I am beyond non-confrontational. If there's a way to come to a peaceful end I will do everything in my power to make it happen. If you're mean or pushy with me, I will yell and scream at you in my head, but smile at you and apologize for my supposed injustices. Now, on with the story.

We have several birthdays coming up during the next six weeks, two being my dad and my daddy-in-law. Knowing there were some fun things on sale over at Valley Fair Mall, I headed on over with my littlest in the hopes of finding some awesome presents. And I did, hoorah! By the time I was done my littlest was ssssoooooo hhhuuuunnnngryyyy!!!!! So we headed down towards the food court in the hopes of finding an ice cream cone or other such treat to satisfy her growly tummy.

I was stopped just south of the customer service desk by a good-looking young man offering a sample of something. I'm not a huge fan of free samples as they tend to make me obligated to stay and hear what they have to say and odds are buy something. Therefore I declined with every intention of moving on, when the man said, "May I see your hands?"

Well that request stopped me in my tracks (my first mistake). I showed him my hands and he cooed over my nails, taking one of my hands and out of thin air (or a pocket in his apron) produced a buffer. He began to run this across my nail while talking to me about being from Israel and was I married and oh, I was? Too bad. Happily married? Darn. (Uh, yeah, 'cause I'm sure the sight of a chunky redhead with bad skin and a baby in tow was just too much for him to resist.) Of course, in order to see the effect of his buffing just right I needed to follow him over to his kiosk so we could see better. Was my nail buffed to a marvelous shine? Of course! Would I like to buy one of their kits so I might do this at home? Oh no - I really don't have the money, I say as I start backing away. At this point I realize he's still got a hold of my hand.

"Wait, wait," he says in his thick Israeli accent. At this point he begins to rub his fingers lightly over my face, analyzing it. "You have a beautiful skin, but you have the acne and a little bit of rosacea." So my skin is beautifully full of problems, I thought. When he asked his partner-in-crime, uh, I mean co-worker to put something on it I tried backing away again, as my skin is super-sensitive and I don't put anything on it I don't trust.

Telling him this he says, "Give me your arm." I didn't want to but he frankly still had a hold of my hand and simply turned it over so the underside of my arm faced up. At this point his cohort began rubbing some sort of gel on my skin. As the younger guy continued the master of manipulation held the little jar of his magical face gel really quite high up in the air - something he did more than once. I don't get why.

As he's telling me the virtues of this amazing cosmetic the other guy is now rubbing the gel into my skin. Can you say creepy? 'Cause that's what I was thinking. They cleaned the gel off my arm, applied a lotion, and told me to look at the difference between my two arms. Was there a difference? Oh yeah, but at this point I knew that if the tiny bottle was supposed to last me an entire year we were talking huge money.

Sure enough, that one bottle was two hundred dollars. Oh - you read that right! When you included the lotion it upped the price to three hundred dollars. Uh, no way mister!

And thus the haggling began. I tried to tell him over and over I couldn't afford it, my husband would never agree to it, I didn't like spending that sort of money on something I could live without especially when we were talking about birthdays and Christmas to buy for!

I should have just walked away - I know this now - but it's not in my nature to rudely walk away from someone. I was trying my hardest to give them a way out of the situation. "May I give you my card?" he asked. "Sure," I said, relieved we could leave it at that. I realized something was off when he pulled out a receipt book and seemed to write in it. What sort of "card" was this supposed to be?

"Wait," he says, as though inspiration had struck his brain. "What if I..." and the haggling went on. He offered deal after deal, conversing with his partner in English when it was convenient ("But we'll lose this much money if you do that"). I was analyzing their sale tactics even as they were being practiced on me.

It got to the point my littlest was pulling on my arm, begging to be taken for a treat. The haggling was going on and on until they finally came to a deal I could say yes to and not feel bad about until I'd taken at least five steps away from the kiosk. $102 later I held in my hand a bag of things I didn't want.

If only it could have stopped there. I stewed over this the rest of the afternoon. By the time my hubby got home I was pretty frustrated with how I'd been handled. The two of us went back to the mall to try and fix the situation. ONLY THEN did we see there were no returns. Oh no, this hadn't been pointed out to me. Sure it was on their kiosk - over the cash register in rather small letters surrounded by other things. Sure he'd written it on my receipt - but he never told me about it beforehand. So we couldn't return the stuff.

Do you know what the guy said (the co-worker) when we complained? "No one forced her to buy anything." I wanted to yell at the man! "I've never felt so pressured to buy something in my life!" I said, my emotions starting to get the better of me.

My husband and I headed over to the customer service desk to lodge a complaint. Of course it was there I lost it and burst into tears. The woman called over mall security where I signed a witness report, going into all sorts of detail about what happened. As I wrote everything out I began to see even more of their intimidation and manipulation tactics, and I just got angry. By the time we were driving home I was almost hyperventilating when I thought of the way the man kept a hold of me, towered over me, and touched me without permission. MAN it took a while to deal with all those emotions that night.

Today I'm feeling better about things. Just a few minutes ago I received a message from one of the mall managers, who is working to get a refund for me. I'd like to give the products back, as I am honestly not looking to cheat the company out of anything.

The security guy told me something I want to share with anyone on the off-chance you find yourselves accosted by someone like this: if they touch you without your permission, back away and in a loud voice say, "NO!" If they come after you again you have the right to push them away and immediately go to find customer service or security.

My biggest advice (especially as I've learned they're like this in many malls), do everything you can to avoid Dead Sea Cosmetics!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Inspirations November 15, 2009

I love it when a post comes ready-made.

Back near the end of 2007 I received a call from Church Magazines (those printed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) saying they wanted to publish one of the articles they'd purchased from me some time ago. It would be printed in the New Era, a magazine geared towards teens within our church.

I was beyond delighted, and subsequently crushed when only a month before it was to be published the beloved president of our worldwide church passed away. He had been such an inspiration to me over many years' time, and the article was forgotten in heartache and change.

After a very bad week, and feeling as though nothing could possibly lift my mood, my Heavenly Father gave me a sweet, sweet blessing: my article on modesty was published in the November New Era (link will be provided later).

I'm a big proponent of modesty, as I have seen how the way we dress can affect the personna we portray. In other words, we act the way we dress. If our clothing is full of holes, wrinkles and has an overall appearance of shabbiness, our attitudes will easily turn to laziness, uncouth behaviors, and can come off as simply not caring.

If our clothes look as though they've come off the most expensive rack, our jewelry comes off gaudy and overdone, and we put more care into what's on our outside than our inside, this will seep into our behavior as well. How many times have we been warned through scripture how the love of fine silks and gold been involved in the downfall of entire nations?

One thing we have to worry about the most, in particular with our pre-teens and youth, is the issue of modesty. This was brought foremost to my mind - and that of other youth leaders I was working with - a few years ago when we began to have a problem with certain teen girls dressing in ways that were simply not appropriate.

At that same time there was a special get-together put on for teens on how to check one's clothes for modesty, and how to help fix those clothes that were not so modest. The couple who were asked to speak were both LDS, though the husband - a fashion designer - had been converted. With his conversion came a desire to make modest and stylish clothes.

After this talk the president of our young women began taking many of them "shopping" for modesty. She would have them pick out a few outfits, would have them stand in front of the provided mirrors and played a game of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." You'll hear more about this in the article.

It opened the eyes of a lot of our young teens, not to mention the leaders as well. I was so inspired by the influence this one little act had on many of our girls, and have strived to teach my children the same principles.

If we want to have the Holy Spirit close to us, we need to follow the guidelines the Father has set up for us, and this includes dressing modestly.

So follow me over to read what playing one simple game can do help us remember to dress in a way that will please our Heavenly Father.

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Thursday, November 12, 2009

For Sale! For Sale!

I'm selling a few kids. They're pretty cool, fairly clean, and will happily spend all their time on the computer so you can finally accomplish that goal of staying away from it during the daytime hours.

Okay, so maybe they're not for sale. I have become rather attached to them over the years. So if you're in the market for kids, I'm afraid you're out of luck! However, if you're looking for little Christmas ideas, I might have something pretty for you.

The truth is I made a lot of stuff for the boutiques this year, and may have (MAY have) spent a bit of money on them. So I'm putting everything on sale, and basically giving it away at the price it cost to make them. If you see something you like (or think you might like as I was NOT in good picture taking mode today), let me know and I'll work with you.

Please note - these prices are certainly subject to bargaining, though I'm selling them for much lower than the original prices.

Let's start with necklaces. The first is the "Inspire" necklace. 20 inches long on a gold chain. I'm saying $7 for this one.

Next is the longest necklace in my extremely small collection. 36 inches, fairly simple, on a gold chain. I'd like to get $10 for this, but am willing to go A BIT lower.

Next we have a necklace and earring set. The necklace is 23 1/2 inches on a gold chain. The earrings are pictured below. Because it's a set, I'd like $10. $7 for the necklace and $3 for the earrings.

This is a necklace M made. It has a magnetic clasp on the back, with black and blue/silvery beads. We're selling this one for $3 - and the money goes to M.

This next necklace is done with braided hemp cord - a peachy color better displayed in the second picture. I need to do some work on the pendant portion, but that's an easy fix. I forgot to measure this one, sorry. I'm only asking for $5 on this necklace.

Let's move on to hair accesories. I blatantly stole this idea for ribbon scrunchies, and I love it. LOVE IT!!! I glue to ribbons to make sure they don't come undone, and placed a bit of fray check on the ends so they don't...well...fray. I'm selling these at 2 for $3.

They can be done in all sorts of fun colors, which I have tons of ribbon, but don't want to use it unless I can sell it.

I also have these super cute crocheted scrunchies. They come in small and large sizes. I even made them in BYU and UTAH colors just for fun. I'm selling them both - big and small - for $2 a piece.

And now it's time for bracelets :)
All of these bracelets are done with memory wire, which is fantastic because it means easy on/off (because there are no clasps), and will always stay in their original shape. The larger bracelets, shown in the next several pictures, are 2 1/2 inches across, and are really more for preteens/teens, rather than adults. These bracelets I'm putting up for $4.

Some of these I've tried to get a picture of down below, so if you see repeats, that's why.

Here I have two (toward the left) that are doubled, while the one on the right is a single band.

Here's an example of one of the little bracelets I have. Got a pretty good close up pic with this one. These are 2 inches across, and made for little girls. Like toddler age and maybe a bit older. The great thing about these bracelets is the girls honestly can't break them. It's fantastic! I'm selling these for just fifty cents a piece (I only have one pictured).My surprise hit this year has been the bookmarks, or "Book Belts", as a friend so aptly named them. I've pictured them many times on my creativity blog (you can find the link on the right, and then you can click on the bookmarks tab to see more). These are so fantastic because they wrap around the book. So no matter where you take the book, or who gets their grubby paws on it (yes, I'm thinking of those wonderfully helpful children), you'll find it really hard to lose your place with these. I've been selling them for anywhere from $3.50 for the smaller ribbons to $4.50 for the biggest. I'm going to sell them all for $3.50. Trust me when I tell you I'm losing money by doing so, but I don't care. I'm willing to do it if it means I can get them out of the house, lol.

And last, but certainly not least because I LOVE them, are my scarves. Here are some of my crocheted scarves. They measure to appr 90 inches, perfect for wrapping around the neck at least once, still leaving it nice and long. Trust me when I tell you these are far more gorgeous in person than what you see in these pictures. These I'll let go for $10 a piece.

These are my knitted boa scarves. They also measure about 90 inches, but are far more appropriate for girls rather than adults. These are the last three I have on hand: dark blue, a yellow/orange/red/purple combination, and a very light brown. These I'll sell for $5 a piece.

These three are also knitted, but not so boa-like. The first two have an incredible striped effect, which looks as though I did it on purpose, but was simply the way the yarn worked. The third - which can hardly be seen - is a very light blue. Not as long as the others, and might be considered for a girl. These are going for $5.

Those are all my "completed" items. In anticipation of things that never worked out, I have a bunch of extras I'd be willing to put together or sell to you for the price I paid. I'm happy to work these pendants and things into a necklace with cord or braided hemp, or plain hemp, of which I have a few colors. Or I have some silver/gold chains I could use instead.
There are some super cute Christmas/Winter pendants I'd had big hopes for, but will have to either sell off through this or save for next year. Just take a look and if something catches your eye let me know!

Whew - long enough post for you??? As you can see there's loads of things to choose from. If you see something you really want but I won't see you for a while (or you live out of state), feel free to let me know and I'll happily save it for you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

It's hard to think about, those young men and women across the ocean, living in conditions far removed from our own comfortable homes. My life is filled with many veteran's, on both sides of my family. I truly honor and respect those who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy, and find them truly remarkable when they willingly fight to provide these same rights and privileges in behalf of other countries.

On this day, take a few minutes out to remember the veteran's in your own family or circle of friends. Visit gravesites if possible. Find some way to honor their memories. If they are still alive, give them a sincere offer of gratitude.

It's the least we can do.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Inspirations November 8, 2009

This morning as I was preparing some fun things to do with the kids in singing time today, I felt distinctly that I needed to tell them about the scriptures related to the songs we sing.

In both the LDS Hymnbook and the Children's Songbook, at the end of every song there is a scripture verse - sometimes more than one - connecting the music to the Word of God. A hymn is one of the most fantastic ways to bring the Spirit of the Lord in to our meetings, a room, or just into our hearts. It easily drives away any bad or frightening feelings, as it has been called a form of prayer.

"For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads" Doctrine & Covenants 25:12.

Sacred songs and the Word of God go hand in hand. They teach us to do right, they invite the Holy Spirit, they praise our Lord and Savior, and help us to bear our testimony. There is something so beautiful about hearing my children come home from church still singing songs they learned that day.

This month children in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormons) all the world over have been learning about how families can serve one another. A short, sweet, and fun song our own ward (local congregation) has learned is called Quickly I'll Obey. For those of you who are able, click on the title and take some time to listen to the music. The words teach children the principle (and commandment) of obeying their parents.

"When my mother calls me, quickly I'll obey.

I want to do just what is best, each and every day.

When my father calls me, quickly I'll obey.

I want to do just what is best, each and every day.

My Heavenly Father loves me, blesses me each day,

I want to do just what is best, each and every day."

Words by Thelma J. Harrison, 1906-1991

There are two scriptures listed with this song. The first can be found in Colossians 3:20 - "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord."

The second can be found in the book of Alma 37:35 - "O, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in thy youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God."

As the children and I went through this song and the related scriptures, we learned it's important to obey our righteous mothers and fathers because it helps prepare us to obey Heavenly Father's commandments as well. So easily taught, so easily learned, and done in a way that will stick with the children.

It's my hope to take each of our new songs and read through the scriptures listed with them, so as to help tie the two together in such a way that the children will keep the tradition going.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween 2009!

Ah, another Halloween gone. I've decided getting ready for Halloween is WAY more fun than the actual experience. There's something magical about putting up super spooky decorations and getting the kids all ready for the big day. Perhaps it's that unsatiable kid lurking inside me who likes to come out and play every now and again.

So, here we are with the final decorations up. We added some more garland and "Beware" tape. Then we stuffed two colorful "Jack-o-Lantern" bags with leaves, and another garland to the tree on the right.

Our one lone tree out near the street needed some spooking up as well. I love the green spider webs.

And here we are on Halloween day!

Miss A looks stunning as a little angel.

But check out those smashing tights!
Here we have B as a Clone Trooper (as opposed to a Storm Trooper, which he made sure to point out). He had a mask that goes with it, but I wasn't thinking straight and didn't think to have him put it on for the picture.
Next we have J as a vampire. His was my most favorite to "make up". He loved the point we did with his hair and the blood down his chin. Veeeeeery scary, right?
And here's Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. M had a lot of braids to make her hair look wavy. I worked for hours crocheting a scarf you can barely see in the picture and which barely lasted a half hour before she wanted to take it off! Still, get a load of those eyes. Aren't they fantastic!

And here is the awesomest couple in the WHOLE WORLD!!! My hubby was so sweet to let me dress him up! We darkened his eyes and cheeks, and I found this hilarious goatee that my hubby honestly LOVED! Okay so it didn't last the whole night, but that was due to lame adhesive. You can't really see them, but he's also wearing fake tattoo sleeves on his arms.

He faked out more than a few ward members at the party that night.

I couldn't decide if I was a frazzled witch, or Mrs. Weasley. So I called myself a frazzled Mrs. Weasley.

I didn't get any pictures at the trunk-or-treat due to being the parent handing out the candy, but afterward there was a dinner and carnival. Here's J doing his best at eating a donut off a string. The kids would start off with no hands. If it went too long they could use a pinky finger to help.
I helped out with the cake walk. Here's M as she walks in a VERY slow circle. Doesn't she look just thrilled?

So there you go! We had a blast, but boy was I done when we at last tucked all the kiddies in bed that night. Here's to another year of the kids trying to decide what they want to be ♥