Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Inspirations February 28, 2010

There is a scene in the movie Finding Faith in Christ that continually makes me pause. It is one of many depictions created of the life of Christ found in the New Testament.

Picture a man - aged, trembling, and covered in horrific sores. Those around this man, even a few of the apostles, scamper away in an effort to keep a good distance from the infection. They are frightened by the disease, and certainly we can understand why. Perhaps even this man understands, though it may pain him more than we know.

The Savior stops, turns, and sees the man crumple to his knees a fair distance back. Unlike everyone else in the area, He steps forward. A flicker of hope enters the man's eyes. How long, I wonder ever time I see this scene, has it been since someone approached him rather then run away?

All he wants is to be healed. Perhaps there is a family he yearns to see, yet has stayed away from for fear of infecting them. The desire for this healing is evident, even from a distance. Still he does not approach the Savior, but waits for Christ to come to him.

The Lord reaches out to place his hands on this precious child of God. For a moment the man is hidden from our view, but when we see him again the sores are gone. In wonder he feels his face, his hands, and tears fill his eyes. Oh what joy, what rapture fills his countenance! He is so overcome it is almost impossible to utter a sincere "thank you."

Throughout this movie we are given glimpses into the life, service, and ministry of our Savior. Many times we hear Him speak the words, "Be of good cheer," in quiet, loving tones. Time after time we see him offering words of comfort and love, of teaching and forgiveness. Most touching to me are the moments we witness those large, gentle hands in the act of healing...not just physical ailments, but those of the heart and soul as well. For those who would believe, this was a gift no mortal man could offer.

Near the end of the movie we see Thomas, the apostle, unable to comprehend the words of his friends. His Lord, his Master, resurrected? Impossible! It must be a trick. He struggles to believe...until before his own eyes the Savior appears: whole, beautiful, alive. Christ invites Thomas to feels the scars in His hands. More than this, Christ invites Thomas to feel the resurrected body of the Son of God. He is no illusion, no trick of the mind. There is substance to Him.

He is real.

Thomas then knew the Savior had returned triumphant, and Christ blesses him for believing in what he saw and felt. Ever the teacher, He invites us all to look a step further, perhaps knowing these words would one day ring out to those of us who would never have the chance to see Him with imperfect eyes nor touch Him with our mortal hands.

In John 20:29 we read: "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

I have not seen the Savior with my eyes. I have not touched Him with my hands, nor have I heard Him teach with my ears. This has not stopped me from believing, from exercising my faith, and from testifying of what the Spirit has witnessed to be true:



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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Go Eagles!!!

It's true during my own high school years Skyline wasn't exactly my favorite. Okay so they were one of our bigger rivals. Over the years I've overcome my prejudice, and can now say I hope the Skyline Eagles girls basketball team takes state!!!

I'm a bit biased, of course, as our niece is on the team. In fact, I'm so biased now I found an awesome article in the Deseret News featuring an awful lot of our beloved Katie. So go take a read!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Teddy's Bear

We all love them, those cute, cuddly Teddy Bears. Well, at least those in our family do. I even have a few precious ones gifted to me by my sweatheart.

M had to do a report on a president this week, and we chose Theodore Roosevelt. Why? It's because of him we have "Teddy Bears." Okay, okay, so stuffed bears have been around for bazillions of years, but the name Teddy really did come from our 26th president.

President Roosevelt loved to hunt. On one hunting trip (bear hunting, that is) in Mississippi his group hadn't been able to find one bear. There were several other groups participating, and it had all become a bit of a competition. When most of the other hunting parties had managed to "bag" a bear, Teddy's group became a bit desperate.

They eventually found an old bear, and began to chase it until the bear finally tired. I won't go into what they did to this poor animal, but they ended up tying it to a willow tree before calling to the president to come in for the kill. Roosevelt took a long look at this creature, defeated, hurt, and frightened, and refused to kill it. He felt it to be most unsportsmanlike. He did realize, however, the only humane thing to do was to end it's life so it wouldn't continue to be in such pain. The animal was mercifully shot, and the story of Teddy and the bear began to spread far and wide.

A political cartoonist by the name of Clifford Berryman heard the story and immediately put together a drawing of Teddy refusing to shoot the bear. As the drawings continued the bear became smaller and cuddlier until it resembled a baby bear. One toymaker, Morris Mitchem, saw the cartoons and created a little bear. He then contacted the president to ask him for permission to use his nickname, Teddy, in connection with the bear. He sent the first one to the president.

Believe it or not, they were such a success and became such a craze ladies were seen to be carrying them everywhere. Awesome, don't you think???

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Evils of Scales

I had a fight with my scale on Sunday. It was trying to claim I had gained two pounds over the week before. I begged to differ. This rudeness was further compounded by learning my husband had lost a pound. Hmph.

Weight loss is such a roller-coaster ride. It may put you on cloud nine when you lose more than just a pound, or throw you body and soul into the depths of despair when you gain just one ounce. I suppose this is why I've never paid too much attention to my weight before. Even for a "larger" woman I've always been pretty healthy. Both my cholesterol and blood pressure are low, and if allowed to go at my own pace I can walk for miles. My heart is quite healthy. It's just my weight I have so many issues with.

The knowledge that muscle weighs more than fat has been my long time friend. Typically in the Spring when I begin a new exercise routine I tend to gain much weight in the beginning due to the impressive inclination of my body to create massive muscles. I have been accused more than once of having awesome Popeye calves. The joking truth, "I was built for work" has passed over my lips more than once.

This inclination toward building muscle has frequently kept me from charting my weight on a scale. In fact, our little household hasn't had a scale in it for many years. The need to change this arrangement came when hubby and I agreed to do a Biggest Loser challenge. Knowing we both have a love for food, we've not done too much changing there. For the most part there has simply been an increase in the amount of vegetables in our diets, as well as some portion control. No, most of our efforts have been put into exercise.

We've been rather bad at it lately. While having our daughter old enough to watch her siblings helps an awful lot, there is still the problem of finding time! Between helping three kids with homework, getting dinner made, getting hubby off to do bishop duties, having daughter in Young Women's, and Mr. B in karate, there are some weeks we're lucky to get out more than once for a jaunty walk around the neighborhood. Of course being here at home I'm able to find some time to do little things in the way of exercise, but folding horrendous amounts of laundry can only get your heart rate up so high.

So today I'm still mad at my scale. I won't talk to it until next week, and I'll see if it's ready to repent of it's evil ways and make me feel a smidge better about myself by claiming I lost those two horrific pounds. It better...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Inspirations February 14, 2010

Hello all! And might I add a hearty Happy Valentine's Day!

One of the most beautiful, loving, and complete acts of unselfish love was provided to us by our Savior. Many of you may have heard a story passed round through e-mails about a seminary teacher who wanted to bring home a better meaning of the Atonement. It had to do with donuts and push-ups. Sound familiar to anyone?

As I was singing with the nursery kids during Primary today, one of the counselors did a similar sharing time with the kids. I'll be changing the names of the boy in question, but I really wanted to share with you today's activity and how beautiful it was.

In Lisa's own words:

"I started out by asking the kids if they were familiar with the 3rd Article of Faith. They recited it to me and I wrote it on the board, emphasizing the word ATONEMENT. I then asked them if they knew what that meant. Only a few responded with some basic answers but not getting to the heart of what I wanted them to understand. So I then asked if I could have a volunteer.

Requirements: must have been baptized, be very strong, well liked, etc. I ended up choosing Jonathan. I asked the kids and him if they would all like a cookie. They're really yummy and I baked them just for each one of them. Of course, all were ready and willing to get one and eat it. I said that the only way they could have one was if Jonathan would be willing to do 10 jumping jacks for each person to be able to have a cookie. He said sure, and started.

We continued around the room. About 1/2 way through you could tell he was tiring, but didn't want to show it. I asked how he was doing at different points. At half way when I asked, Michael and Brian [two of his classmates] asked if they could do it instead. I said, no. He is doing this for each of you. He is the only one who can make it possible for you to have a cookie.

Jonathan continued and about 3/4 done he said he was getting a little tired - he looked more tired than he was letting on, I think. At this point the kids also started saying THANK YOU to him for the cookie realizing all that he was doing to be able to allow them a cookie. I had him do the jumping jacks for each person in the room, including teachers, the pianist, and [the visiting bishopric member].

When he was done he was definitely tired and ready to sit down. Once he was done, I asked everything if what Jonathan did was similar to something Christ did for us. THE ATONEMENT! We discussed how Christ chose to sacrifice for us when he went to Gethsemane to pray for each of us and when he bled from every pore on his body...all those little dots we have on our body. When we sweat, that's where it comes from. Imagine your sweat being blood. This is what Christ did for us. He was bleeding, feeling the pain of all our sins so we could repent and live with Heavenly Father again. Christ was the ONLY person who could do this for us. He provided the wonderfully sweet and delicious way to return to our Father again.

We discussed the story of Alma the Younger and how he was able to use the atonement in his life and how it must have felt for him to be free of all the sins once he repented. He was able to do this because Christ atoned for us. We need to remember all that Christ does for us and remember the paths that are available to us to repent and return to Him again.


My thanks to Lisa for providing me with this today. She is, without a doubt, a remarkable woman! Thank you for the message, for the love, and for your friendship.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fun With Big Sister

I never had a sister. I wanted one desperately but my parents gave me a younger brother instead. He's okay, I like him. I might even say I love him, but that might get embarrassing...for him.

My husband and I were nice enough to give our oldest, a girl, a younger sister. Into this sibling M has had a place to put into effect all her "mothering" instincts I was never able to do with my younger brother. And believe me I had those instincts as well!

One example of my frustrated efforts: my brothers were playing around one day and - as often happened - my younger bro got hurt. He was about eight at the time (I think) and still small enough to fit on my lap. So I sat him down, put my arms around him, and tried to get him to tuck his head into my shoulder. You know, as a child would it's mother. To my consternation instead of appreciating this tender moment he lifted up his head, gave me a disdainful look and asked, "What are you doing?"

I let him go.

Of course these days I've got all sorts of kids to hug and squeeze and kiss boo boo's better, and it really is fun for me to see my oldest trying to mother her siblings. There was a recent shift in the relationship between my daughters, one my husband made certain I documented with pictures, and I am so glad I did.

We typically have spaghetti on Sundays, and M enjoys the chance to cook it, under supervision of course. A few weeks ago M took the opportunity to teach her little sister something about the art of cooking spaghetti.

Here they are after the noodles have been cooked. A is helping M pat the sauce into the pan to warm up.

And now they're mixing in the sauce together. Yum.

Here's A showing us her "I'm so happy someone let me help" face.

Too cute, right? A loved it when we all thanked her for helping to make dinner :)
One of the biggest experiences I had with "sisters" was the year I spent at college with some of my school friends. One of our most favorite things to do was play with one another's hair. The other night I asked M to get me her brush so I could play with hers. Here's a little sampling.

Isn't her hair color gorgeous?!?! She keeps talking about wanting to dye it one day. I desperately hope she doesn't, and learns to appreciate just how beautiful it is.
Here's another braid I used to do to myself when I was a little older than her.

She really has fantastic hair for braiding. I just wish we had more time in the mornings to do things with her hair. Oh well. I supposed making sure she's not in her jammies at school is a bit more important.
One last "do." This time I had some fun making her look EXTRA pretty :)

Marvelous, isn't it? You can see it makes her VERY HAPPY!

Though I may not have had all the sisters I wanted as a kid, I'm more than blessed with sisters now. All my sisters-in-law have loved me and blessed me more than I could ever have hoped. The sisters in my various wards over the years have filled that lonely place in my heart more often than I could have imagined. As I grow older, I found my most favorite and beloved sister has become my own mother. How lucky can a girl get?!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

M's First Sewing Project: The Blanket Envelope

Years ago (and when I say "years" I mean at LEAST a decade) my oldest baby was given a beautiful yellow blanket sewn by her GrandmaW. We all found the color ironic as it was GrW's least favorite. Over time this blanket has seen the best and worst of my daughter, and has been loved to the point of being able to see through it in some places. M has been increasingly worried about the deterioration rate of this most beloved blanket, especially as it's one of the only things she has left to help her remember GrandmaW. As you can see in the picture below, she has reason to be.

A few years ago we took the blanket to GrandmaR to see if she could help with the edging. You can see in this next picture just how threadbare it was looking. GrR found a pretty yellow fabric much like the original, and for a while we were safe.

Lately M has been more than worried about this precious blanket. She's even taken to hiding it under her stuffed animals just so she won't touch it in a manner which might cause even more damage. That's when GrandmaR came up with a brilliant idea, and hence comes the fantastic results of today's post: the blanket envelope :)

As M has also wanted to learn how to sew (a talent that so OBVIOUSLY skipped a generation, and thence should never be taught by certain individuals), we finally managed to find a day where she and GrandmaR could get together. After picking out some pretty fabric and buttons, they went back to GrR's house for M's first sewing lesson.

The first thing GrR did was trace some lines on a paper, then M "sewed" over them with the machine. My mom basically said M's lines were straighter than the ones she drew, lol.

And here's the finished product!!! I am so in love with the fabric M chose, especially because the purple is a complimentary color to the yellow (something M had no thought of...she just really likes purple right now, ha!).

Here's a closer view with one of the buttons. While Gr.R did the button holes, M sewed the buttons on.

And here's a view of some of the fantastic lines! Didn't she do a beautiful job?

And last, but certainly not least, here is M's precious blanket from her GrandmaW encased in an envelope she made with GrandmaR. A treasure indeed!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Inspirations February 7, 2010

This has been, over the past year or so, a familiar refrain of mine: I've been feeling a bit off track. Fortunately for me, with age comes a smidge of retrospection, and I am better able to understand where it is I've gone off track.

During the last several months I've been dipping my hand into a few different creative outlets. I've been crocheting, beading jewelry, making bookmarks and scrunchies, etc. It's all in the hopes of being able to make a bit of money to help out around the house. The funny thing is, whenever I try to focus my energies on something to try and make some extra money, I end up getting a bit lost along the way.

Elder L. Tom Perry talked of what it can mean to find ourselves even one small degree off our charted course. "While traveling, I have had the opportunity of visiting with many airline pilots, and I am always amazed, as I look into the cockpit, at how many switches, lights, displays, and controls are necessary to fly the plane. I entered into a discussion with one pilot regarding what could happen if he deviated from his flight plan. I proposed deviating just one degree from the charted course. His reply astonished me.

"He said that for every one-degree variance from the plan, you would miss your charted destination by one mile for every 60 miles you were flying. This means that in a flight from Salt Lake [City] to Denver, you would land in downtown Denver rather than at the airport. On a flight from Salt Lake to Chicago, you would miss the airport and land in Lake Michigan. Going from Salt Lake to New York, you would miss Kennedy Airport and land in the Hudson River. Going to London, you wouldn't even make England - you would land somewhere in France.

"A deviation from a flight plan of several degrees would take you totally off course. The pilot explained to me that, obviously, the faster the error is discovered, the easier it is to return to the flight plan. If the correction is delayed for a long time, it is very difficult to find the way back because of flight traffic, poor weather conditions, decreased visibility, and other limiting factors. The charted course would be so far away that it might be almost impossible to reach the intended destination. My visit with the pilot gave me no comfort, but it did cause me to think of how a flight plan parallels the direction we chart for our life's experience" (L. Tom Perry, "Learning to Serve," Ensign, Aug 1996).

Totally off course. Can you imagine what it might feel like, to be totally off course? Perhaps for many of you it's not a matter of imagining at all. Instead it could be a state of being, a feeling you are experiencing right at this moment. Are you, like me, feeling off course?

Too often these days I hear friends and family commenting on how sad they are, how depressed they feel, and how things are not turning out the way they'd expected. Too often their harsh experiences leave them doubting whether or not God is truly by their side, if He honestly loves them, and how He can allow such things to happen.

We are living in a time of desperation for many. Several of us have never known such insecurity: will I still have a job tomorrow? What will happen to my children? What if I can't make the next rent payment? Is there anyone out there who could take me in? While fighting the anxieties of life we can't help feeling lost, frightened, and uncertain. Does God really exist in a world where anything bad can happen?

The answer is simple: yes. Problems arise when we allow these trials to put us even a little off course. We may not even realize what's happening until we find ourselves trying to land in Kennedy Airport and wind up in France.

Ponder upon your own struggles. What are your "poor weather conditions?" What factors are decreasing your visibility? What is keeping you off course?

About a year and a half ago I received a very direct answer to a special prayer I'd offered. During that time I felt very off course. I couldn't seem to find a focus, something to throw myself into - and I am one who needs something to consume my attention. The answers were a little unexpected, but filled me with excitement. The first was to start up this blog in an effort to strengthen my writing, to help my voice be heard. It was meant to be a place where I could share not only the silly day-to-day happenings in the life of a Mormon mother, but to be a starting off point for me to share the inspirations my Heavenly Father and Brother place in my mind and heart. I truly believe it has been a step towards recognizing Their influence in my life.

The second answer was to focus on my children. They needed me as never before. I needed to spend less effort trying to find an hour or to for myself, and more in giving love, guidance, and attention to the four precious spirits entrusted by Heavenly Father into my care.

Seeing as how those answers came to me a year and a half ago it might not be too surprising I'd forgotten my directive, my charted course. Around that same time I felt inspired to take a class on starting a Scripture Journal, in which I'd write down any sort of questions or insights that came to me as I studied scripture or sat in a class. One of my first entries contained the answer to this important prayer of mine.

I honestly believe God knew I'd come to this point. He certainly knows me well enough. I'd gotten a few degrees off course. My writing has suffered terribly the last several months, and less of my time has been spent with my darling children. I too have been concerned, like so many, about how we'll make it from paycheck to paycheck. We've never had a lot, and most of our "fancy stuff" has been gifted to us by loving family members. So when the chance to try and make some extra money right before Christmas came, I rushed right in...and my family suffered.

So I'm righting my course. Of course I still want to play with beading and crocheting and making jewelry, but it can no longer be my main focus. Perhaps a better thing would be to say I won't be doing it with the focus of monetary gain. I am learning a lesson of where my talents need to be given, and it's not so we can live a bit more comfortably. Perhaps one day it will be so, but now is simply not the time.

With this decision has come peace I haven't known for a while. I can't begin to express to you how much the weight has lifted from my shoulders as I think about doing things to benefit my children. It's as though the fog has lifted, I can see my destination once more, and I am back on course.

Turning away from those things that bring us off course may not be so easy. I listened to the testimony of a young man today who told us of the offers he was getting from football scouts, the money being promised, the fame being enticingly waved in front of his face. When he went to his bishop to tell him all about it, he did not expect the rection he received. His bishop asked, "What would you think about serving the Lord?" He promised to think about it. As he pondered on the bishop's question, he began to realize how the thought of fame and wealth had taken him off course from the true happiness the gospel and serving the Lord could provide.

I want to close this with the words of another man who bore his testimony today. In it he said, "We all have hardships. I know I do. Life isn't easy, in fact several things are going really badly right now. But I'm happy. I'm so the gospel." If you, like me, have been feeling a bit lost, it's time to take stock of where your focus is. Where does the Lord want you to chart your course? I can promise you, if the desire to get back on His course prompts you to make the proper changes, you will find that even on the roughest days, you too can be happy.