Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Inspirations December 27, 2009

It's hard to believe this will be my last Sunday Inspiration post for 2009. To all those who have supported and loved me through reading these little insights of mine, words cannot begin to express my love and appreciation.

Yesterday morning I awoke with a talk coming to mind. You have no idea how relieved I was this happened, as my husband was to speak in church today and I'd yet to figure out how to put all the info he wanted into just one talk. I put in my earplugs to drown out most noisy distractions, came out into the living room, sat down at the amazingly empty computer desk, and less than an hour later I could not believe what the Lord had directed me to put together. Most of the talk is taken from the words of our Church leaders, but I am grateful to my Lord for helping me figure out how to best put everything together.

To my surprise this morning I felt a great need to open my scriptures. After flipping through a few pages I came upon Revelation 3:19-21.

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne."

We are taught through the footnotes that to 'chasten' is akin to being instructed and admonished. Thus, when the Lord chastens us, he is trying to teach us the right way. But we must be the ones to open the door to the Lord and let him in. Let this settle in the back of your mind as you read the talk my husband gave today.

It's been difficult trying to figure out what to speak to your about this day. As we end one year and prepare to begin another, I tried to think about what message Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior would have me give you. For many of us here it's been a challenging year. We've been given trials and temptations as never before. For others of us the strength of our faith has been tested to the breaking point. This has truly been a year of being put through a refiners fire.

Yet this was not what I felt inspired to speak to you about today. Two messages came repeatedly to my mind - messages that the Lord feels our ward needs to hear, to learn, and to put into practice. I feel the best way to teach is through the words of our Church leaders so most of my talk will be taken from them. Please listen carefully to the messages I was asked to share with you today, for we may be in strong need of them for the new year.

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: "I wish today to speak of forgiveness. I think it may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed. There is so much of meanness and abuse, of intolerance and hatred. There is so great a need for repentance and forgiveness. It is the great principle emphasized in all of scripture, both ancient and modern."

President Hinckley tells of the Pharisees who brought a woman before Christ who had been taken in adultery, hoping they might entrap Him. "But Jesus stopped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

"And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

In our day the Lord has said in revelation: "Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you is it required to forgive all men" (D&C 64:9-10).

The Lord has offered a marvelous promise. Said He, "He who has repented of his sings, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more" (D&C 58:42).

"There are so many in our day who are unwilling to forgive and forget. Children cry and wives weep because fathers and husbands continue to bring up little shortcomings that are really of no importance. And there also are many women who would make a mountain out of every little offending molehill of word or deed."

President Hinckley once clipped a column from the Deseret Morning News, written by Jay Evensen.

"How would you feel toward a teenager who decided to toss a 20-pound frozen turkey from a speeding car headlong into the windshield of the car you were driving? How would you feel after enduring six hours of surgery using metal plates and other hardware to piece your face together, and after, learning you still face years of therapy before returning to normal - and that you ought to feel lucky you didn't die or suffer permanent brain damage?

"And how would you feel after learning that your assailant and his buddies had the turkey in the first place because they had stolen a credit card and gone on a senseless shopping spree, just for kicks? ...

"The New York Times quoted the district attorney as saying this is the sort of crime for which victims feel no punishment is harsh enough. 'Death doesn't even satisfy them,' he said.

"Which is what makes what really happened so unusual. The victim, Victoria Ruvolo, a 44-year old former manager of a collections agency, was more interested in salvaging the life of her 19-year old assailant, Ryan Cushing, than in exacting any sort of revenge. She pestered the prosecutors for information about him, his life, how he was raised, etc. Then she insisted on offering him a plea deal. Cushing could serve six months in the county jail and be on probation for 5 years if he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault.

"Had he been convicted of first-degree assault - the charge most fitting for the crime - he could have served 25 years in prison, finally thrown back into society as a middle-aged man with no skills or prospects.

"But this is only half the story. The rest of it, what happened the day this all played out in court, is the truly remarkable part.

"According to an account in the New York Post, Cushing carefully and tentatively made his way to where Ruvolo sat in the courtroom and tearfully whispered an apology. 'I'm so sorry for what I did to you.'

"Ruvolo then stood, and the victim and her assailant embraced, weeping. She stroked his head and patted his back as he sobbed, and witnesses, including a Times reporter, heard her say, 'It's OK. I just want you to make your life the best it can be.' According to accounts, hardened prosecutors, and even reporters, were choking back tears" ("Forgiveness Has Power to Change Future," Deseret Morning News, Aug. 21, 2005, p. AA3).

"What a great story that is, greater because it actually happened, and that it happened in tough old New York. Who can feel anything but admiration for this woman who forgave the young man who might have taken her life?"

President James E. Faust tells us: "Forgiveness is not always instantaneous. When innocent children have been molested or killed, most of us do not think first about forgiveness. Our natural response is anger. We may even feel justified in wanting to 'get even' with anyone who inflicts injury on us or our family.

"Dr. Sidney Simon, a recognized authority on values realization, has provided an excellent definition of forgiveness as is applies to human relationships: "Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves."

President Faust continues to counsel us by saying: "Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.

"Some hold grudges for a lifetime, unaware that courageously forgiving those who have wronged us is wholesome and therapeutic.

"Forgiveness comes more readily when we have faith in God and trust in His word. Such faith 'enables people to withstand the worst of humanity. It also enables people to look beyond themselves. More importantly, it enables them to forgive.'

"All of us suffer some injuries from experiences that seem to have no rhyme or reason. We cannot understand them or explain them. We may never know why some things happen in this life. The reason for some of our suffering is known only to the Lord. But because it happens, it must be endured. President Howard W. Hunter said that 'God knows what we do not know and sees what we do not see.'

"President Brigham Young offered this profound insight that at least some of our suffering has a purpose when he said: 'Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord. ...Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation.'

"If we can find forgiveness in our hearts," President Faust continues, "for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being. Some recent studies show that people who are taught to forgive become 'less angry, more hopeful, less depressed, less anxious and less stressed,' which leads to greater physical well-being. Another of these studies concludes 'that forgiveness ... is a liberating gift [that] people can give to themselves.'"

But what happens when we are the ones needing forgiveness? None of us here are perfect. Regardless of how hard we work to stay on the straight and narrow path, each of us will slip along the way. Sometimes it'll be a slight stumble from which we can quickly recover, while other times we'll be thrown to the ground, taking out others around us, finding ourselves with spiritual scrapes, bruises, and perhaps a few broken bones both on ourselves as well as those we've hurt. We will need to ask for forgiveness of those around us, it is true. But first and foremost we need to seek help to heal ourselves.

Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Seventy gives us a most beautiful thought on how we can begin this road.

"I have though of the Lord's invitation to come unto Him and to spiritually be wrapped in His arms. He said, 'Behold, [my arms] of mercy [are] extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.'

"The scriptures speak of His arms being open, extended, stretched out, and encircling. They are described as mighty and holy, arms of mercy, arms of safety, arms of love, 'lengthened out all the day long.'

"We have each felt to some extent these spiritual arms around us. We have felt His forgiveness, His love and comfort. The Lord has said, 'I am he [who] comforteth you.'

"The Lord's desire that we come unto Him and be wrapped in His arms is often an invitation to repent. 'Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.'

"When we sin, we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back toward God.

"The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and 're-turn' toward God. It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments. Being disciples of Christ, we rejoice in the blessing of repenting and the joy of being forgiven. They become part of us, shaping the way we think and feel."

Elder Anderson then relates: "Years ago, I was asked to meet with a man who, long before our visit, had had a period of riotous living. As a result of his bad choices, he lost his membership in the Church. He had long since returned to the Church and was faithfully keeping the commandments, but his previous actions haunted him. Meeting with him, I felt his shame and his deep remorse at having set his covenants aside. Following our interview, I placed my hands upon his head to give him a priesthood blessing. Before speaking a word, I felt an overpowering sense of the Savior's love and forgiveness for him. Following the blessing, we embraced and the man wept openly.

"I am amazed at the Savior's encircling arms of mercy and love for the repentant, no matter how selfish the forsaken sin. I testify that the Savior is able and eager to forgive our sins. Except for me the sins of those few who choose perdition after having known a fullness, there is no sin that cannot be forgiven. What a marvelous privilege for each of us to turn away from our sins and to come unto Christ. Divine forgiveness is one of the sweetest fruits of the gospel, removing guilt and pain from our hearts and replacing them with joy and peace of conscience. Jesus declares, 'Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?'

"For most, repentance ism ore a journey than a one-time event. It is not easy. To change is difficult. It requires running into the wind, swimming upstream. Jesus said, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.' Repentance is turning away from some things, such as dishonesty, pride, anger, and impure thoughts, and turning toward other things, such as kindness, unselfishness, patience, and spirituality. It is 're-turning' toward God.

"How do we decide where our repentance should be focused? The best approach is to humbly petition the Lord: 'Father, what wouldst Thou have me do?' The answers come. We feel the changes we need to make. The Lord tells us in our mind and in our heart.

"We then are allowed to choose: will we repent, or will we pull the shades down over our open window into heaven?

"Alma warned, 'Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point.' When we 'pull the shades down,' we stop believing that spiritual voice inviting us to change. We pray but we listen less. Our prayers lack that faith that leads to repentance.

"At this very moment, someone is saying, 'you don't understand. You can't feel what I have felt. It is too difficult to change.'

"You are correct; I don't fully understand. But there is One who does. He knows. He has felt your pain. He has declared, 'I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.' The Savior is there, reaching out to each of us, begging us: 'Come unto me.' We can repent.

"Realizing where we need to change, we sorrow for the sadness we have caused. This leads to sincere and heartfelt confession to the Lord and, when needed, to others. When possible, we restore what we have wrongly harmed or taken.

"Repentance becomes part of our daily lives. Our weekly taking of the sacrament is so important - to come meekly, humbly before the Lord, acknowledging our dependence upon Him, asking Him to forgive and to renew us, and promising to always remember Him.

"Sometimes in our repentance, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree-covered mountain, at times we don't see our progress until we get closer to the top and look back from the high ridges. Don't be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting.

"Sometimes we wonder why we remember our sins long after we have forsaken them. Why does the sadness for our mistakes at times continue following our repentance?

"You might remember a tender story told by President James E. Faust. 'As a small boy on the farm ... , I remember my grandmother ... cooking our delicious meals on a hot wood stove. When the wood box next to the stove became empty, Grandmother would silently pick up the box, go out to refill it from the pile of cedar wood outside, and bring the heavily laden box back into the house.'

"President Faust's voice then filled with emotion as he continued: 'I was so insensitive ... I sat there and let my beloved grandmother refill the kitchen wood box. I feel ashamed of myself and have regretted my [sin of] omission for all of my life. I hope someday to ask for her forgiveness.'

"More than 65 years had passed. If President Faust still remembered and regretted not helping his grandmother after all those years, should we be surprised with some of the things we still remember and regret?

"The scriptures do not say that we will forget our forsaken sins in mortality. Rather, they declare that the Lord will forget.

"The forsaking of sins implies never returning. Forsaking requires time. To help us, the Lord at times allows the residue of our mistakes to rest in our memory. It is a vital part of our mortal learning.

"As we honestly confess our sins, restore what we can to the offended, and forsake our sins by keeping the commandments, we are in the process of receiving forgiveness. With time, we will feel the anguish of our sorrow subside, taking 'away the guilt from our hearts' and bringing 'peace of conscience.'

"For those who are truly repentant but seem unable to feel relief: continue keeping the commandments. I promise you, relief will come in the timetable of the Lord. Healing also requires time. If you are concerned, counsel with your bishop. A bishop has the power of discernment. He will help you.

"The scriptures warn us, 'Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.' But, in this life, it is never too late to repent.

"Once I was asked to meet an older couple returning to the Church. They had been taught the gospel by their parents. After their marriage, they left the Church. Now, 50 years later, they were returning. I remember the husband coming into the office pulling an oxygen tank. They expressed regret at not having remained faithful. I told them of our happiness because of their return, assuring them of the Lord's welcoming arms to those who repent. The elderly man responded, 'We know this. But our sadness is that our children and grandchildren do not have the blessings of the gospel. We are back, but we are back alone.'

"They were not back alone. Repentance not only changes us, but it also blesses our families and those we love. With out righteous repentance, in the timetable of the Lord, the lengthened-out arms of the Savior will not only encircle us but will also extend into the lives of our children and posterity. Repentance always means that there is greater happiness ahead."

Don't let the chance to repent pass you by. Even the little things, when not dealt with, can build up and up until they press like a great weight on the soul. Seek to forgive others, even if they are not seeking that forgiveness.

If you seek to be happy, re-turn to the Lord. I can promise you His arms are open, eager for you to come unto Him. And in His arms there will be peace, rest, and happiness.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Beautiful Video to Get You Into the Christmas Spirit

Before I get to the video, I want to publicly apologize to Carol for not putting up a Sunday Inspiration this week ♥♥♥ She always misses it when I get too busy or sick, and I appreciate so much knowing someone out there loves what I have to write.

Over the course of this last year a very talented young filmmaker by the name of Matt Black has been doing a project with the handicapped members of his work in making different spoofs of favorite movies. For his last project this year, he was inspired to do a take on the Nativity Story. Please trust me when I tell you this is beyond worth watching.

While you may chuckle when it first starts out, it would not be a stretch to say you could find yourself fighting back tears near the end. Another co-worker and friend of mine, LizAdams, wrote the script. I hope as we draw nearer to Christmas day, you'll watch and rewatch this beautiful video. Watch it yourself, share it with family and friends. I believe it will touch the hearts of every person who experiences it.

Oh Holy Night - the Nativity

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Without a doubt one of my most favorite toy involves anything with wires, buttons, and batteries. Actually, I don't even need batteries. I just love gadgets!

Like today, hubby and I decided after taping up the exposed wires on the computer speakers a few times over and STILL not being able to get the right one to work, it was time to get new speakers. Walmart had some for only twelve dollars, so we "splurged," lol.

These twelve dollar speakers are AWESOME! (This should go a long way to telling you a- how often we don't get ourselves anything new and b- how excited I get over the littlest of things). First of all, they plug in an outlet so there will be NO MORE BUYING OF BATTERIES!!! How fantastic is that! And then, are you ready for the greatness of what I'm about to tell you? The earphones jack work, which means no more listening to whatever the kids are listening to while trying to watch television. That is so awesome it HAD to be in italics.

So instead of shredding zucchini, or putting away the yarn I bought so hubby can't see I spent more than I'd kinda sorta said I'd spend, or making the scarf my mother requested, I'm listening to Taylor Swift on the headphones and playing on Facebook. Oh yeah, baby.

Silly, you might say? Perhaps, but it's still good times for me. I'm a little obsessive about gadgets. Get a new digital watch? Hand it over so I can set it. Got a new television? Get me the instructions and get out of my way! Is that a new power drill? Whaddya want me to build?

Most of the time others are happy to do so, except when it comes to two certain people: my daddy and my son, B. For his birthday this month I got my dad a marshmallow shooter. He wouldn't even let me help get it out of the tangle of wires meant to put off would be thieves. Hmph. For rude, right?

Okay not really, but it took all sorts of control not to rip that thing out of his hands, lol. B is much the same way. He'd rather try to do it himself, and seems to think I'm a little abrupt when I promptly take his new toys and figure out how to do them for him! Some people's children, right?! B takes far too much after me for my own good, lol.

Can't wait for Christmas to come, though. Who knows what sort of gadgets Santa will bring my family this year (giggle).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Inspirations December 13, 2009

"OW!" one boy shouted just before Primary started. I promptly sh'd him. "It wasn't me, it was him," he said while pointing to his friend in the next chair. "But," says boy #2, "he did it first!"

Ah ha, I thought. A teaching opportunity ready-made! "Guess what," says I. "In everything you have a choice. And here you can choose to let it go so no one else gets hurt, or to react and hurt back."

He thought about it for a moment before responding, "I'd rather react and get him back."

I chuckled and said, "Yes, but when you react most often you get in trouble too, and more people get hurt."

Little did I realize this would become the theme of the day. Our ward is struggling with a heavy load, all surrounding a small group of people who are reacting to a troublesome situation, rather than acting in a way we've been taught by the Savior. Gossip and rumors are running rampant through a group of people who have, up to now, been a very loving entity. And my poor, sweet, gentle husband - as the spiritual leader to both parties - is in the thick of it.

Due to a childish need to react to the situation, both parties have said and done things that have only served to make the situation even worse, neither wanting to admit fault and both thinking the other to be guilty. Not only are they looking to find other members who will believe them all innocent, but they're wanting their bishop to take sides as well. Things are so bad one of the parties involved went home today in tears.

Amid all this I was experiencing my own problem with a friend and ward member. It's true she has quite a potty mouth, but lately I seem to be surrounded by people with potty mouths. On Facebook - one of my favorite places to go and enjoy some relaxing time online - several people have gotten worse when it comes to swearing and crudeness. It may not seem like a big deal to others, but I am incredibly affected by the words others say. After hearing a group of schoolgirls go at it for several minutes, I found myself unable to pull out of the dark feeling that had come upon me for days.

So imagine how hard it was for me to be affronted by some less than sweet words on Facebook first thing in the morning, and by a family member no less. There was no way to put it nicely, but I couldn't take another nasty word, so I asked my friends and family to please watch their language.

My friend took this far too personally, believing I had not so subtly singled her out. I felt so bad and was ready to apologize when I saw a post she'd put up, using my own words to make fun of me, and inadvertently inviting certain of her friends to make fun as well. I was devastated. A various array of nasty responses came to my mind throughout the day, but I didn't have the heart to say anything to her - a good thing, as it turns out. The very next night was our ward Christmas party. We spent the evening ignoring each other, which ripped my heart out. Hers as well, though neither of us had the time nor courage to do anything about it then.

And then comes today. By the time I walked into our main meeting too many bad things had happened due to not hashing out problems and coming to the truth. People were getting hurt - people who didn't have anything to do with the original problem - and all because individuals were reacting, going with their gut instinct to hurt back, rather than face the situation head on.

So when I saw my friend, I went up to her and gave her a big hug, telling her how sorry I was because I knew I had hurt her feelings. I let her know she wasn't the only one, and that if I'd had a problem with just her I would have come to just her. We took a few moments to re conciliate, but by the time I left both of us felt so much better! All because I chose how to act in the situation, rather than react to the hurt.

My friends, there is too much hate in this world for us to hang on to the awful things others inflict on us. You'd better believe when the time comes these individuals will have to tell their Lord and Savior why they chose to do what they did. But you know what? So will we! Christ led a life of consistently turning the other cheek. He even blessed those who intended him harm (healing the ear of the soldier who was to take him away). Can we honestly stand before Him and feel justified in saying, "But this is what he/she did!"

When we react to situations, other people get hurt, and we don't leave feeling better. When we think about how to act - all the while keeping our Savior in mind - the hurt can stop with us, and we can live with a clear conscience.

I dedicate this post to my father, whose words many years ago has stuck with me and been witnessed today: it's how we act, not react, in a situation who tells who we really are.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm Gonna Wash That Scrooge Right Outta My Hair!

My friend Erin tried to be kind and subtle about it, but there was no other way to simplify her hints. In her own special way, she was telling me I'm being a Scrooge!

I'm woman enough to admit...she's right. I've been an absolute Scrooge these last several weeks. I blame everything else, of course, as any Scrooge should. After all, I've been sick since the beginning of October. Things surrounding certain members of our ward have brought out the saddies in me. And by-gummit - I REFUSE to listen to Christmas songs when I haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet!!!

Once Thanksgiving passed, however, I was still in grumpus mood. There was no tinsel in my town. No twinkle in my lights. No jingle in my bells. Not even deck to my halls (whatever that means).

I couldn't stand the thought of stringing up one strand of mini-lights. Those who have ever passed by our house the day after Thanksgiving might know how unusual this is. I typically start plotting and planning what color will wrap around which post a good week before I'm even ready to start. One year I even had the lights up before Thanksgiving so we wouldn't have to worry about putting them up the day after. Not this year.

I've Scrooged my way through the first few weeks of Christmas-time. I wanted to pull out of it. But when we've got sick kids, sick mom, and sick hubby...nothing could get me to do more than was basically necessary. Like laundry. Loads, and loads, and even more loads of laundry.

Until yesterday.

I made my friend Erin a promise to at least put up a wreath. "Do it for the kids," she said. I don't think the kids cared, to be honest, and it took me a few days of coaxing, but the wreath was finally up on the screen door. Then it just looked sad...outside...all alone. One solitary decoration in a vast yard of empty canvas. It really needed some love.

Well, thought I, you did pick up two new strands of lights. Why not just put those up? It wouldn't seem so sad and lonely then. So up they went. In the process I happened to find two other strands of multi-colored lights. Seemed a waste not to put those two suckers up. After all, they were just sitting around, all ready to be used. Why not?

As I wound the strands around a few more posts my hubby came home. "Want me to go under the house and get the rest of the lights?" "Oh no," says I. "Don't worry about it. I just wanted to put these up." Not good enough, apparently, as he promptly went through the gigantic hassle of moving the dryer to uncover the entrance to the crawlspace where we spent a good ten minutes dragging up boxes of Christmas decorations. It would seem hubby likes to see the Christmas lights up as well. Know what? It turns out I was SO EXCITED to start putting them up!

Not only did I get more lights put up, as well as our outside nativity (which A seems to think is her personal life-sized play set), but lights and decorations have made their way into the house as well.

I still have a ways to go, but the Scrooge in me is finally starting to disappear.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Inspirations December 6, 2009

The kids and I ended up coming home early from church today as my oldest has ended up with yet another sickness. Well, it could be the same sickness revisited. At first I thought, "Great. I'll get my post done early today." But no. Snow had to be shoveled and my sick girl needed some attention, which I happily provided.

Typically by the time the kids go to bed at night my brain is so tired I'm lucky to put more than a few sentences together. Tonight, however, the thoughts I've had running through my head since yesterday are still hanging around. I've got to figure this means the message that struck me so hard yesterday is something someone out there needs to hear.

I was asked to speak at a baptism yesterday. As part of my talk a scripture came to mind.

"Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:36-39).

The phrase, "love thy neighbor as thyself" stuck out at me in a way it never had before. Not the part where we need to love our neighbor, but the idea of loving ourselves. It sounds like an easy enough thing to do, right? Think about it. Maybe it's not as easy as it sounds.

Those of us who have been born to righteous and loving parents have been gifted with positive messages from the time we are little. We are told how precious we are, and praised for big accomplishments like learning to tie our shoes, singing the ABC's, or saying our first word. Yet the moment we go out into the world messages teaching us to hate everything about ourselves come flying at us without caring what effects may be incurred.

We're too tall or too short. Too fat, or too skinny. Too smart, or too dumb. Overqualified, or don't have enough experience. We dress too nice, we don't dress nice enough. We're too light, or too dark. In essence, nothing we are is good enough, and we will never fit in.

Of course we realize it's all a part of Satan's plan, but have you ever stopped to think about why? It sure hit me hard yesterday as I was reading through that scripture. People, it's a commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. In other words, the love we share for those around us can only be as great as the love we have for ourselves!

That means mistakes and all! That's right, I mean all. I am by no means anywhere near perfect, but you know what? I love the person I've become. I love my silly sense of humor and subtle flair for the dramatic. I love my overactive imagination and the way I can use it to make up odd stories for my kids. I love my intense chocolate cravings and even that I sometimes stay up too late at night because I can't get enough of the newest Facebook game.

Okay so maybe I don't love it when I let my temper get the better of me, but I've decided it's part of what makes me who I am, and love that it sure takes a lot to make me upset enough to lose it. I don't necessarily love all my fat rolls, but do love that I can appreciate it when I've found something that looks really good on me.

There are so many things to hate about ourselves, but that's the world - and by 'the world' I mean Satan - talking at us. For every bad thing we can't stand, there are a billion wonderful and extraordinary things about us we forget to love. And if we can't love ourselves, how can we love those around us? How can we help them to see the wonderful and extraordinary talents and gifts they posses?

Yet I think the biggest contradiction is in saying we love God, but we hate what He's created. We are His creations. We are His beloved children. Regardless of what certain people have been taught, He does not make mistakes. His creations are just as He knows they need to be. It's up to us to figure out what purpose our supposed imperfections hold.

This week's challenge? Every time you say or think something about yourself that is uncomplimentary, you have to - and I do mean HAVE TO - come up with five things you love about yourself. Go can do it!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking a Moment to Brag

It's the end of the first trimester at school. There was no doubt in my mind our youngest of the school-age bunch had done beautifully. Sure enough, straight A's down the line and the best behavior around! He's such a studly little thing.

A few surprises hit us with J. Okay, so his C- in handwriting wasn't a shocker. Reading his scribbles requires a rosetta stone...on a good day. It was, however, a shock to be told of the results of last year's CRT scores on math. He tested TWO LEVELS above his grade! Can you imagine how puffed up my feathers were with that news?!?!?! I knew he was smart in math, though. As I've been helping him with homework lately I've watched as he does most of the calculations in his head. Oh, and by "help him with homework" I basically mean keep his attention focused on the work and not what Dominique (or whoever) did during recess that was SO FUNNY! Concentrate young man! He's also doing great in reading and has almost hit the level they hope the kids will reach at the end of the year.

What a little braniac encompassed in a tiny ball of overwhelming energy.

Last, but certainly not least, is our big girl M. No suprise to see an A in English/writing and science. What DID surprise us was the change in her grade in math. My eldest has not had the funnest times with would not be a stretch to call them mortal enemies. It's one of those situations where if you don't stay on top of things you get a little behind. And then a little more behind. And then a lot more. We didn't realize how bad things were with her and math until about two years ago, and we've been playing catch up ever since. Getting her above a failing grade seemed like an impossible goal at times...UNTIL NOW! My daughter pulled off a C- in math, and could have gotten an even better grade if she'd gotten all her assignments in on time. OH what a good feeling :) I think she's in as much shock as we are. Needless to say, she got to watch an extra episode of Ghost Whisperer as a reward.

Oh what a proud parent am I :D

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Feeling Better + Giant Messes = Taking Action!!!

Our house has been VERY cluttered lately. And I'm not talking about the sight of someone's living room that has one magazine out of place and perhaps a cushion not plumped up. Oh no. I mean a veritable volcanic explosion of stuff; layers of dust so thick I could knit a sweater; so many papers I didn't know where to put I could have rebuilt a tree; piles of books stacked so well I could have put a sheet over the top and called it another shelf. Oh yeah, we were living in a land of blah.

Over the last two months I simply haven't felt well. Little to no energy, constant coughing, losing my voice every other week, among other things. My delightfully darling hubby can only do so much to help me out. I mean, he can't be the one to constantly work all day long only to come home and see the dishes still aren't done and a wife with no desire to make dinner. And then there are the kids who need help with homework and eventually forced into the tub to clean themselves. Crazy kids. Add to that all the hectic goings on of his being a bishop and you can just imagine how hard this has been on him.

I didn't realize how much this was affecting me until I finally began to get better this last week. Suddenly all those things that had been bugging me I at last had the energy to fix!

Laundry piled up a billion times over is almost caught up (I say almost because, seriously people, is it ever really caught up?). The computer desk - normally a scene of complete and utter chaos, just had two small trash bags of needless garbage purged from it's system. A giant box of Primary music paraphernalia that's been making a weekly trek between my washing machine and the kitchen table so I can do a load of clothes here and there has at last been tackled!!!

And baby does it make me feel GOOD!!! Of course, there's still oodles and oodles to do, but at least there's been a beginning. Let's hope it lasts just a little longer...