Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday - Follow the Prophet

"Oh, will you have plains to cross? Yes, but in a different way,  Will you come through as we did?  I will give you a key.  No matter what comes to try your faith, stand by the President of the Church.  God will never allow a fallen prophet to lead His Church.  All will be well with you if you remember."

-Elizabeth Laird
member of the Willie Handcart Company

30 Days Hath November

30 days hath November
for me to thankfully remember,
to count 30 ways that I’ve been blessed
by the One who knows me best.

1. The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without Him I am nothing and with Him, nothing is impossible.

2. My membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A blessing to me that is worth more than anything in this world.

3. My sweet, wonderful husband. Because once upon a time I really thought marriage was the beginning of an end. But, because of his love and kindness to me, he has proved that theory wrong over and over and over again. (I love you!)

4. My children. They have allowed me to live life in High-Def, Surround Sound 3-D!

5. My Mom and My Dad. My mom for instructing me how to accompany for musical numbers, teaching me how to cook from scratch and instilling in me the love of chocolate. My dad for teaching me the importance of hard work, encouraging me to reach my goals and inviting me in my youth to love – with all my heart – the word of God.

6. My siblings. For loving me even after all the stuff I dished out to them many years ago.

7. The gift of the Holy Ghost. The Record of Heaven.  The Comforter.  The Truth of All Things.  That which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things.  That which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.

8. Acetaminophen. Without it I would be one BIG headache during the entire nine months of pregnancy . . . (and then some)!

9. Sleep. For because the Lord knows that sleep is the best thing for me to start off a new day!

10. “My” Young Women’s President and the first “real” returned sister missionary I knew. Her testimony of the gospel motivated me to serve a full-time mission.

11. Priesthood blessings. For direction, for guidance, for peace.

12. My very bestest friend in high school. Sweet, happy cherished memories!

13. Seminary. Where the truth that had always been taught to me began to sprout and grow and live.

14. My Granny. She taught me how to sew, how to enjoy a fresh cup of peppermint tea with a liverwurst sandwich . . . and instilled a fear of drinking Coke (do you know what it does to clogged drains??).

15. Serving as a young Primary teacher in a Laotion Branch. It was the beginning of my understanding of the great love God has for all of His children.

16. Sacred, holy places. The temple. Quiet, wooded mountains. And feeling a baby move in my belly.

17. Indoor plumbing. Of all the modern inventions, I would put running water and a flushing toilet as the one for which I am the most grateful.

18. Corrective lenses. For because if we lived in the time of Jesus I would be a blind beggar. So would my husband. Four of our children. And the dog. (But the dog would probably fare better).

19. The invention of the printing press. Where would my life be without good books?

20. Stake Presidents. I will always cherish the recommend interviews with one during the time my husband served as a Bishop; and the memory of another blessing the Sacrament.

21. A 15 passenger van. 15!!! How else could I drive all my children to and from and all the way back again?

22. Cilantro. In my book one of the tastiest Mexican-food garnishes out there.

23. Newly fallen snow. Because there’s no better way to see what repentance and forgiveness look like.

24. A visiting teacher who turned out to be one of my dearest, most cherished friends.

25. My sewing machine. My creative outlet and a calming pastime. (Thanks Granny)

26. Ice Cream. Particularly the homemade kind . . . and Cold Stone!

27. Fire. I happen to enjoy being warm when it is cold. And a REAL fire (with wood) is the most yummy heat I know.

28. Bread. The kind we ate fresh – everyday – in Spain. Ahhh!

29. My mission companion during the holidays while I was far away from home.

30. Baby #9 . . . And it’s is a girl!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Family Home Evening - The ServANTS

I have reluctantly decided that my children need to take turns teaching Family Home Evening lessons.  Not because I don't think they can't do a great job (because they do), but because I LOVE teaching the gospel to my children.

But . . . I also realize that our children need the opportunity to teach . . . so they can learn.

So tonight it was time for our eight year-old son to take his turn.  He was given the direction to give a lesson on serving and/or giving.  He looked through a wonderful box of lesson ideas given to our family a few months ago from a dear friend and found the perfect one for tonight!
Our lesson was about a wonderful family of Ants.  A mom and dad ant and sibling ants: Persist-ANT, Observ-ANT, Dilig-ANT, Obedi-ANT and last, but not least, Serv-ANT.

Each ant had their strengths.  And together, their strengths helped one another.  But our lesson focused on Serv-ANT, for "Serv-ANT said that it wasn't what he got in life that made him happy, but what he was able to give."

Which brought us to our annual FHE activity of making out our Christmas Lists.   Before doing so, we were able to discuss the Joy of Giving and the Joy of Receiving.  For we muct have both.

We also discussed the difference between wants and needs.  Reminding our children - our older ones, at least - that it is okay to have a Christmas Wish List, but none of us is entitled ro receive what we want just because.

I think our older children understood, for they made a Christmas wish list under WANTS and another under NEEDS.  Our younger ones, well, they just when on and on and on . . .  :)

And as we ended our Family Home Evening tonight, chatting over chocolate cake and ice cream, it was wonderful to hear the excitement of Christmas coming . . . of dreaming and wishing as well as recognizing that Christmas about the Joy of Giving and Serving.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

By Candlelight

Our ward choir is practicing for the Sacrament Christmas program the week of Christmas. And it never fails that when we go through a choral number together for the first time, I find myself on the emotional side of things as I contemplate the lyrics coupled with the melody and the accompaniment.

Today we began learning a new song entitled By Candlelight (music and lyrics by Ruth Elaine Schram). A beautiful Christmas song that puts emphasis on the holy, still night, illuminated by the light of candles.

While going through the music, I found myself wondering about this particular phrase:

Animals share their humble abode with Him willingly
But they seem to be asking “Why has He come,
And who is He? Is He royalty?”

And as I mulled it over in my finite mind, it occurred to me that of all the places where the Savior could have been born (not to mentioned where He should have been born), He was born in the only place where everyone – and everything present – could testify of His name.



And the animals.

I believe they knew who He was.

I believe they knew He was their Creator.

And though they could not speak to testify of Him, I believe that their testimony of Him was in their willingness to “share their humble abode with Him.”

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Houses of the Lord

So today, while driving through the valley my four year son blurts out, "MOM! I can see two Temples."

"Yes!" I respond.  "Do you know whose house the temple is?"

He looked at me blankly.

"I know!" shouted my five year daughter from the back of the van.  "The Temple is Jesus' house."

"That's right!" I said.

After a moment or two of silence as the two of them gazed at the temples before them, I heard her whisper to her brother, "Man, Jesus is so lucky to have so many houses in the world!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday - Music in Hell

"Brigham Young said: 'There is no music in hell (Journal of Discourses, 9:244).' However, some loud sounds are currently masquerading as music - which would seem to help qualify hell as hell."

Neal A. Maxwell
from Moving in His Majesty and Power

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rear View Mirror

The other day while parking, I looked out the rearview mirror and to my absolute horror I saw that I was backing up into and UP a tree!!

However, (before you CLICK HERE to read about bad driving), I realized that I was just driving up a sloped parking lot!

The view that I had of what was behind me was all messed up because my center of attention was all wrong.

So in the end I did park safely! (No pun intended).

I simply adjusted the rearview mirror.

Which got me to thinking about how I look at what has happened in my life.

All the things that are SO yesterday.

SO last year.

SO high school.

Is my “rearview” of what has occurred in my life lined up correctly, or is it skewed (ever so slightly or so considerably) that I don’t quite see the whole picture – the real picture?

Driving is a great metaphor of life.

For example, I get in a car to drive forward – not backward.

95% of my time in the car is in DRIVE, not reverse.

And the windshield, compared to that rearview mirror placed front and center, is my entire view.  (At least it should be)

The rearview mirror is positioned in its exact place for safety.

For precaution.

And for reminders, when necessary.

It was never put there for me to stare into or focus on while I drive forward.

No, that would be a bad, bad idea.

Not only for me but for everyone else on the road!!

Yet, there have been times in my life when I have insisted that going forward means not to let go of the past.

When 95% of my efforts have been in looking in REVERSE, and wondering WHY I couldn’t go forward.

With the rearview mirror being the center of my attention and the vast windshield being completely ignored.

And those times have been bad.

Bad for me and very bad for everyone else around.

And so the other day, after being so extremely grateful that I didn’t really backup into and UP a tree, I decided that I better start adjusting my rearview mirror correctly.

And that requires me to rely upon the enabling and redeeming power of the Atonement.

Oh, there is a lot I need to learn!!

And there is a LOT He wants to teach me!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family Scriptures

So I was feeling a little sorry for myself this week.

Maybe A LOT sorry.

I was Pathetic.  Yes, with a capital P!

Got myself all riled up over things I can’t control.

Made a list of This and That and Those and These.

And then, for family scriptures, it was decided (by the Spirit, mind you) to read a 1989 Conference Talk by then, Bishop Henry B. Eyring.

I thought FOR SURE the message was for the children.

After all, aren’t they always wanting what others have and they don’t?

So here is what we read together  (CLICK HERE to read Bishop Eyring's entire talk):

You and I would like to know how to control our wants and increase our gratitude and generosity. We are going to need that change. Someday, in our families and as a people, we will live as one, seeking each other’s good.

You know from studying Church history that we have tried to live as one in a variety of settings. A story from one of those tries, in Orderville, Utah, gives us a clue as to why it is so hard.

Orderville was founded in 1870 and 1871 by people who wanted to live the united order; in 1875, they began the order. They built housing units in a square, with a common dining hall. They built a storehouse, shoe shop, bakery, blacksmith shop, tannery, schoolhouse, sheep shed, and woolen factory. They grew and made nearly everything they needed, from soap to trousers. They had carpenters, midwives, teachers, artists, and musicians. They produced enough surplus that they could sell it in neighboring towns for cash: with that they built up a capital fund to buy more land and equipment.

The population rose to seven hundred people. One hundred and fifty of them gave Orderville a special advantage: they had come to Orderville from the mission on the Muddy River, where they had nearly starved. When those who had been called to the Muddy were released, they were in near destitution. Twenty-four of those families went to Long Valley, founded Orderville, and pledged all they had to the Lord. They didn’t have much, but their poverty may have been their greatest contribution. Their having almost nothing provided a basis for future comparison that might have guaranteed gratitude: any food or clothing or housing that came to them in Orderville would be treasure compared to their privation on the Muddy mission.

But time passed, the railroad came, and a mining boom put cash in the hands of people in the neighboring towns. They could buy imported clothes, and they did. The people in Orderville were living better than they had in years, but the memory of poverty on the Muddy had faded. They now focused on what was in the next town. And so they felt old-fashioned and deprived.

One ingenious boy acted on the discontent he felt when he was denied a new pair of pants from the Orderville factory because his were not worn out yet. He secretly gathered the docked lambs’ tails from the spring crop. He sheared the wool from them and stored it in sacks. Then, when he was sent with a load of wool to sell in Nephi, he took his sacks along and exchanged them for a pair of store pants. He created a sensation when he wore the new-style pants to the next dance.

The president of the order asked him what he had done. The boy gave an honest answer. So they called him into a meeting and told him to bring the pants. They commended him for his initiative, pointed out that the pants really belonged to the order, and took them. But they told him this: the pants would be taken apart, used as a pattern, and henceforth Orderville pants would have the new store-bought style. And he would get the first pair.

That did not quite end the pants rebellion. Orders for new pants soon swamped the tailoring department. When the orders were denied because pants weren’t yet worn out, boys began slipping into the shed where the grinding wheel was housed. Soon, pants began to wear out quickly. The elders gave in, sent a load of wool out to trade for cloth, and the new-style pants were produced for everyone.

You know that isn’t a happy ending. There were many challenges Orderville faced in the ten years they lived the order there. One of them they never really conquered. It was the problem of not remembering. That is a problem we must solve, too.

Just as they forgot poverty on the Muddy, we so easily forget that we came into life with nothing. Whatever we get soon seems our natural right, not a gift. And we forget the giver. Then our gaze shifts from what we have been given to what we don’t have yet. . .

You could have an experience with the gift of the Holy Ghost today. You could begin a private prayer with thanks. You could start to count your blessings, and then pause for a moment. If you exercise faith, and with the gift of the Holy Ghost, you will find that memories of other blessings will flood into your mind. If you begin to express gratitude for each of them, your prayer may take a little longer than usual. Remembrance will come. And so will gratitude.

And when Family Scriptures was over, I realized how I had been the one forgetting.

How I was the one who needed to remember.

Oh how grateful I am to my Giver. . . and for family scriptures!

Service to the Family

These last two weeks of intermittent blogging have been temporarily overtaken (and lovingly sponsored) by “Service to the Family.”

I say that with a complete recognition that there are things – and perhaps many things at that – that can easily be dropped and/or superseded because of family.

For me, blogging is one of the things I can – and must drop – when it comes to putting family f.i.r.s.t.

Blogging for me is (thankfully) NOT an obsession. It is more a hobby.

But on my priority list, hobbies always come after doing the things that are more/most important.

Which reminded me of what the Lord taught me some years ago:

We had recently moved into a new ward.

But this new ward was more than just a new ward for us!

It was a new ward for everyone involved!

We moved into a brand new subdivision! And on a weekly basis new ward members were moving in!

This new ward meant reaching out to a new move-ins when being “four-weeks old” in the ward meant we were numbered as one of the “old-timers.”

It meant exerting super-extra energy to meet people, make friends and establish relationships.

It also came when I was a B.I.G. six months pregnant with twins, our oldest being 16 months old.

I was gradually beginning to see some of my limitations, and quite frankly, they intimidated me.

Because I am a “Go and Do” kind of woman . . . and all of a sudden all these physical and mental restrictions were inhibiting the “Go” in me.

But it was then, in those moments of personal weakness that the Lord found fit to teach me about “Service to the Family.”

It was during Relief Society when an inspired instructor verbalized what the Spirit needed me to hear, to learn, to live: “There will be times when you will be unable to render service to others. Sometimes the only “outward” service you may be able to perform will be within the walls of your own home. And that will be sufficient enough for the Lord.”

I remember being filled with emotion, wondering how could my service in my home to my family be enough?

Oh silly, naïve me.

Little did I know then, that in a few short 13 months from then, my husband would be called as the Bishop of a brand new ward.

But by then, and subsequently through my husband’s Church calling, the Spirit would remind me of that one moment in Relief Society.

It was not only okay – but imperative – to serve first my family, even if that meant letting go of my hobbies, my agenda - sometimes momentarily and sometimes permanently.

I confess, it hasn’t always been easy.

And I haven’t always had a happy attitude about it.

But the Lord, who does loves me, still continues to teach me about my “Service to the Family.”

Thus the past two weeks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sarah and Hagar

Last night for Relief Society Meeting several sisters shared stories from the women of the Old Testament.

I was assigned to report on Sarah and Hagar.

Before I began my studies, I knew more about Sarah.

Earlier this year I posted THIS about Sarah.

       I knew that she married Abraham.

       That her name changed from Sarai to Sarah.

       When Sarah was unable to conceive she gave her handmaid, Hagar, to Abraham.

       Sarah was 90 when an angel of the Lord told her she would have a child, and, well, she laughed. (Um, wouldn’t you . . . okay, cry maybe??)

       With Abraham, Sarah begat Isaac, their only begotten son who would serve as a type and a shadow of the eternal and atoning sacrifice of the Father’s Only Begotten Son.

But what I learned about Hagar allowed my faith to deepen for our loving Heavenly Father who loves all His daughters – each of them, individually.

Hagar was an Egyptian servant, given as a dowry to Sarah.

Perhaps when she was given to Abraham, Sarah was hopeful that she (Sarah) would conceive a child before her.

However, after Hagar conceived, Sarah became very angry with her and vented to Abraham about her feelings. After all, Sara was the wife of the covenant!

Abraham (the good husband that he was), instructed Sarah to do with Hagar as she pleased. Whereupon Sarah sends Hagar away.

But here is one of the most important elements of this story – The Lord is aware of Hagar! He loves her! And in His love He sends an angel her way to teach her, to bless her and also to humble her.

The angel tells Hagar that she will have a son. His name would be Ishmael and that he would have 12 princes and would make a great nation. Furthermore, the angel instructs Hagar to return and “submit” herself to Sarah.

How difficult that must have been! But Hagar obeys.

By and by, Sarah is also blessed, because the Lord loves her, too! She has a son named Isaac who becomes the grandfather to the 12 tribes of Israel. And because of this Sarah now has ample reason to cast Hagar out forever.

The morning that Hagar and her young son Ishmael depart, the scriptures say that Abraham awoke early to give to them bread and a bottle of water. What a sweet and tender gesture by Abraham.

Hagar and Ishmael walk for a long while and find themselves hungry and thirsty. Hagar, not thinking of herself, prays that they can find just enough water for her son – so was willing to die.

But lo, and behold, an angel of the Lord appears again to Hagar and tells her everything is okay. The Lord is aware of her. Think of that! He is aware of HER when she is NOT the wife of the covenant!

And Hagar’s eyes are opened to see water and Ishmael does grow to raise 12 nations.

So from the loins of Abraham springs two great nations. Nations that are in conflict even today.

And I believe that even amidst that conflict, the Lord loves each of us individually and divinely.  I know He will come to our aid whether we are in or out of the "covenant!"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tidbit Tuesday - Promptings of the Spirit

"I have come to understand that the value of following the prompting of the Spirit does not lie in knowing what happened to someone or in having a nice story to tell, but rather in knowing you have done what the Lord wanted you to do.

"In one sense it doesn't really matter how things turn out with someone else.  What matters is what we did.  Were we obedient to our charge?  Did we follow the promptings we were given?

"The Lord gives the increase.  We have the privilege of being instruments in His hand to bring about His purposes.  The results or the increase are up to Him.  We should never seek an outward sign of verification of our standing before Him, but rather seek the internal assurance that we have done what He wanted us to do."

-John H. Groberg
The Fire of Faith p. 148
(italics added)