Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When I Was the Stranger . . .

As I listened to THIS talk this afternoon, I thought about these words of the Savior,

"I was a stranger, and ye took me in." 

For the first time I realized that there have been times in my life when I have been the stranger.

When I was hungry to know if going on a mission was really the right thing to do (I had my mission call and everything!), a well-respected man walked into my workplace, began a conversation with me, and left me with these words, "I wish my wife had served a mission for the sole purpose of the unique, self-tailored experiences she would have received." I knew it was the right thing for me to do.

When I was thirsty for spiritual water, a sweet sister in our ward who had eight children of her own, watched my five under five once a week so I could attend an Institute class.

When I felt naked and exposed to a pain I could hardly bear, a sister from the ward reached out and invited me to join in a neighborhood "playdate" group. While she didn't know how much I hated playdates, her friendship was healing balm to my deeply troubled soul.

I became sick with complications right after delivering my ninth child. While in emergency surgery, dear friends and precious family members prayed and exercised faith. I woke up in ICU surrounded by my concerned husband, my caring sister, and a cherished friend who had lost her husband a year prior and had yet to step into another hospital since his passing. I am still overcome with feelings of humble gratitude for the powerful love of wonderful people in my life.

When our family was made a prisoner to the housing crash in 2008, my visiting teaching companion became our landlord, blessing our family with experiences and deep friendships that set us free in so many ways.

Yes, I have been a stranger, and I was taken in.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Some Thoughts on Premortal, Mortal and Eternal Identity and Purpose

Tad R. Callister taught this past General Conference, “In the life to come, I do not know if titles such as bishop or Relief Society president will survive, but I do know that the titles of husband and wife, father and mother, will continue and be revered, worlds without end.”

Interestingly, none of us know the titles our Heavenly Father held before He became known simply as “Father” to us. But would it matter? Would His pre-Father titles make any difference on how we would receive Him?

 * * *

For those who walked with Jesus during His mortal life, they knew not of Him, either.

Neal A. Maxwell said, “Though crucified briefly between two thieves, Jesus now sits eternally on the right hand of God! He is the Lord of the constructed universe, yet He was known merely as ‘the carpenter’s son.’

“He fashioned worlds without number, providing us with astrophysical awe when we view even ‘the least of these.’  Yet, to aid just one blind man—with clay formed from spittle, ‘He from thick films [purged] the visual ray, / And on the sightless eyeball [poured] the day.’” (Alexander Pope, in Frederic W. Farrar, The Life of Christ, New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1893, p. 394; see John 9:6.)

* * *

I'm learning that my true identity - who I really am - is forming and developing as I learn my relationship with my Eternal Father. And as I strive to be more like Him and His Son, I realize how fleeting titles are!

Once, I was a senior class president (which still catches up with me every ten years :) I've held the title of "Social Planner," software instructor, help desk supervisor, administrative assistant; Primary teacher; and Young Women's President.

Right now, I'm a full-time student, third grade “copy” mom, and Gospel Doctrine Teacher.

But all these titles mean nothing if I cannot learn about my divine nature as a daughter of my Heavenly Father and my eternal role as a wife and a mother.

And perhaps, one day, when I have been completely refined, wholly understanding my relationship with my Eternal Father, I will see why being called, “Mother” beats every other title given by man!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ah, the Smart Phone!

Today three of my high school boys had a basketball conditioning practice dealio after school. I still had some errands to do, so I took the remainder of my tribe to Costco for gasoline AND to score on the free samples.

Just as I was at the checkout (cashing out our week's savings on necessities of chocolate chips, brownie mix and almonds), my phone started ringing. I didn't recognize the number that called (twice!) so I sent it to voice mail with a text message . . .

Here's the entire text conversation:

Me: I can't talk now, but I can text :)

Me: I can't talk now, but I can text :)

Texter: Who is this?

Me: Didn't you call me?

Texter: Nope

Me: Did you call for an inspection? Leave a VM?

I schedule home inspections for my husband and had noticed a voice mail had been left after the call was made.  I checked my recent calls. I hadn't called the number - the number had called me!  I was dumbfounded!

Texter: Sons

Ah, that's when I realized that my boys were texting me from someone else's phone to let me know they were finished with their practice. And then this expressive text came  -

Texter: I think your sins might have called you

Wow! Major smartphone typo, and yet a lesson in disguise. I responded

Me: You are right . . .My sins are always calling me to repentance :) thx!

Texter: Yeah, . . . they just finished conditioning. Your welcome :) (sic)

I don't think my sons' friend even knew the lesson his smart phone taught me

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Widow's Mites

For me, the story of the widow’s mites contrasts starkly against the story of Ananias and Sapphirra. Each tells a story of giving an offering to the Lord. Each, in turn, tell of its consequences.

The widow, under the glare of wealthy Pharisees, cast into the treasury the only worldly wealth she possessed. It was a small offering. It was her whole offering. The widow gave everything she had the Lord. On that day, she walked away from the temple as a witness that God rewards those who render to Him all that they have and are.

Meanwhile, Ananais and Sapphira received payment for something they had sold. No one knew how much they chose to held back. They easily could have held back as little as two mites. Nonetheless, when they laid their offering at Peter’s feet, he immediately recognized a whole offering had not been made. Holding back, even the smallest part, not only kept Ananais and Sapphira from standing as a witness of God, it kept them from ever. standing. again.

I find it interesting that we aren’t told the age of the widow. We aren’t told if the widow had children or grandchildren. But over the years, for me, the age of the widow has decreased from an aged, slumped over ninety year old to a mother in her late thirties with small children to feed. A widow young enough to be persuaded to keep at least one of the two mites . . . for her children’s sake.

Her willingness to give “all her living,” not only did God witness that her heart was all His, she testified to her children in Whom to look in order to live.

I’d like to think this widow’s specific act blessed her and her posterity one hundredfold beyond measure. Her one recorded act has certainly has blessed me!

The widow's mites has taught me that my giving must come from a giver’s heart. And that my giver’s heart must be filled with gratitude for God.

Some years ago, my husband and I were literally down to our last $59 dollars. My husband was self-employed. We were expecting child number eight. We had a house payment and a van payment and everything else that comes with home ownership and raising children. While I didn’t know it then, we had a choice to be like the widow or Ananias and Sapphira.

I learned that in circumstances so dim, it’s not easy to be like the widow. We live in a world that sympathizes with those who hold back a part. It would have been easier to justify giving part or half or none. But we choose to offer all. Even when our offering was so insignificantly small. 

What I felt during those struggling years, as we gave in our want, was a joy beyond anything I can describe – a sweet, sacred joy that has surpassed any giving I have done when I have had in abundance.

I hope to someday stand before the poor widow who gave her two mites and thank her for her act of faith which has blessed my living beyond measure.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Becoming as a Little Child

It is late.

So late that it's early. . .

I can hear three of my teenage boys laughing and talking in the kitchen as they make (and eat) pudding after midnight. (I know!! It's the last Friday before school begins again.) Which means, my three year old will be up at the crack of dawn. No rest for the wicked.

This morning for family scriptures we read and discussed THIS part in the New Testament.

Disciple's Question: Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Jesus' Answer: Be converted and become as little children.

This is a two-part answer! Which brings me to a very important question. How do conversion and becoming as a little child work together?

David A. Bedar says it beautifully: "The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement. True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ.

"Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence. Any honest seeker of truth can become converted by experiencing the mighty change of heart and being spiritually born of God. As we honor the ordinances and covenants of salvation and exaltation, 'press forward with a steadfastness in Christ', and endure in faith to the end, we become new creatures in Christ. Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony."

As I consider the wonder that comes about through true conversion, the desirable characteristics of a little child naturally follow: submissiveness, meekness, humility, patience, love, and a willingness to obey the Father.

But, I will be honest. I am far (far, away on Judea's Plains) from true conversion, because I have major difficulty being submissive, meek, humble, patient and/or loving most of the time! Believe me when I say that I am more child-ish than child-like. And it doesn't feel so good, because, in my willing desire to obey the Father, He let's me know. (Boy, does He ever)!

I am learning that becoming is a process. I cannot become converted or become like a little child without Him.

Line upon line.

Lesson upon lesson.

Failure upon failure.

"Be of good cheer," He encourages, "I will lead you along."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Walking on the Sea

Following the Savior’s miraculous feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two fishes, He compels His disciples to go into their ship as He personally sees to it that the multitude disperses.

These two simple acts help me better understand Jesus’s love.

Concerned for the weariness of His disciples, He sends His “children” bed, and continuing His outpouring of compassion - healing and feeding the multitude - Jesus personally sends them home.

Finally, with a night of solitude ahead, Jesus goes up into a mountain to pray.

However, the night wasn’t calm and peaceful for those He had sent to bed. For most of the night, the sea tossed and turned. And the disciples struggled “at their oars,” as the winds were contrary to everything they could offer.

For hours the disciples toiled. Not exactly the night of solitude as the Savior had on the mountain.
And sometime around 3:00 – 6:00 in the morning, during the “fourth watch,” the fatigued disciples see Something walking on the roiling waves.Walking. Not stumbling. Not struggling. Not faltering. But, walking on the water.

Needless to say, the disciples were terrified.

Was it a ghost? A spirit? Or maybe, because of the long night, they were all hallucinating together!

And then they heard His voice.

Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

To which Peter answered, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.”

I want to stop right there for just a moment. I find it significant that at that moment – after four or six or nine hours of being tossed by the sea - Peter does not say, “Lord, if it be Thou, stop the storm!” Instead, Peter asks to walk on the untamed water with Him.

And with one word, Peter’s desire is granted.

And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

Up until this week, I have always thought Peter to be the only person to have ever walked on water.

But I don’t think that is so true anymore.

For just a few, unwavering moments, Peter no longer cared how fierce the storm was. No longer did he care how tired and scared he had been. No, for a few moments, Peter knew, with certainty, that if he would fix His eye on the Savior, he would be filled with whatever he needed to walk on water.

I am learning that this is true. An eye single to His glory fills us with light when there is darkness. An eye single to His glory fills us with faith when there is doubt. An eye single to His glory fills us with understanding when there is confusion.

Along that same time, I think it's equally important to remember that the story of Peter also illustrates to those who “Come” and those who walk, they will inevitably begin sink. I think it’s part of the law of gravity and certainly the law of being natural creatures.

Truth is, I sink more than I have felt the desire to walk on water. But the beautiful part of this story is that immediately, after Peter cried out, Jesus stretched forth His hand to catch him.

I know He does the same for me.

Afraid, I ask.

He beckons, I walk.

I fall, He stretches.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thoughts about the Beatitudes

Blessedness: a well-spring of real joy, flowing from the inside out 
Fortunate: lucky, lucky, lucky me.

Which got me thinking, if the Sermon on the Mount read something more like this: 

Fortunate are the Poor in Spirit or Fortunate are the Peacemakers or Fortunate are They who are Persecuted . . . I have a pretty good feeling I wouldn't feel very fortunate at all.

I would just be terribly, terribly unlucky.

* * * 

The Beatitudes and My Baptismal Covenant

I'm discovering that the Beatitudes are not just a well-known list of blessings promised by the Savior. They are also a powerful reminder of my baptismal covenants.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

For all my life I have thought “the kingdom of heaven” is the place where I hope to go one day. You know, back to heaven, after I die.

And then, this week, I realized that the definition of the, "kingdom of heaven” is the code word for “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” And the purpose of the Church is to prepare its members to live forever in the celestial kingdom or kingdom of heaven. Even the scriptures sometimes call the Church the "kingdom of heaven," meaning that the Church is the kingdom of heaven on earth.

And today, I understand more clearly why we are commanded to meet to together oft. Because when I come to ready to partake the sacrament with a poor spirit, coupled with a broken heart, I can be, for a short moment each week, a part of the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

The scriptures are replete with examples of those who mourned. In fact, current events are headlined with the mourning of the sick, the sad, the dying, the lost. And I am learning that the dawning of each new day brings mourning.

The word mourn comes from an Old English word murnan, meaning ""to mourn, bemoan, long after." But even older than Old English, it comes from the PIE root *(s)mer - "to remember." 

Mourning, then, is not only a way to grieve, it is a way to remember. Perhaps a powerful way to remember our covenants. Because mourning is something we covenanted to do when we were baptized. We covenanted to be willing to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

Thirteen years ago, the day before Mother's Day, the 2 year old son of a dear friend of mine was killed in a tractor accident. The next day she had the lesson in Relief Society. And much to the surprise of all of us, she showed up and gave her lesson.

I remember she had us all stand in a circle, holding hands. I don't remember what she said, but I remember how I felt as we wept and mourned together. And because of that one Mother's Day Mourning, there is not a Mother's Day that goes by that I don't remember my dear friend, her son and God's great plan of happiness.

There is comfort knowing that families can be together forever.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I’m going to be honest, I don't have a pure heart. As much as I try,  most of the time it is filled with its share of impurities.

I am learning that I cannot purify my heart all by myself. A pure heart requires receiving God’s pure love. And understanding how to receive His pure love into my impure heart began the day I was baptized.

First of all, God’s love is not envious, puffed up, or easily provoked. His love thinks no evil and rejoices not in iniquity.

In addition, God's love suffers long. It is kind. It rejoices in truth. It bears and hopes and endures all things.

And most importantly, God's love never fails.

Not ever.

Once we are baptized, the gate back to the kingdom of heaven (the actual place we can go when we die) is opened. And on that path, we are to "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men" (2 Nephi 31:20).

Which brings me back to why I need to be poor in Spirit, why I need to mourn with those who mourn, and why I must pray to be filled with His love - those actions are part of the covenant I have made.

And His blessing comes when He bestowed His pure love on me - purifying me - even as He is pure, so that when He shall appear, I could be like Him and see Him like He is . . .

and sit down with Him forever, in the kingdom of heaven (Moroni 7:48).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Principles of Prayer found in John 2:1-11

For me, Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine, is a lesson about prayer.

Principle #1 - Prayer is how we communicate with God.
John 2:2 – “Jesus was called . . . to the marriage”

In learning how and why I pray, I have come to recognize Who I need to call when I communicate with Deity. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we understand that it is a commandment to pray to the Father in the name of Christ (3 Nephi 18:19). I am learning that the more my relationship with my Heavenly Father deepens, the more comfortable I am in calling on Him in times of joy as well as in times of sorrow. I know that He knows me and awaits to answer my prayers.

Principle #2 – Prayer is how we petition the Father for our righteous desires.
John 2:3 – “they wanted wine”

I'll admit that there have been times that I have felt guilty for wanting something that was good and right. Or I have had real problems, too big for me to comprehend, and yet, compared to my neighbor or family member, seems so petty in comparison. How can I ask God, who has given me so much anyway, for anything more? Do I have a right? Do my righteous petitions make me sound like I am entitled to those blessings? 

Boyd K. Packer teaches,
“On occasions I’ve had to counsel people for whom the Lord would probably quite willingly approve the thing they intend and want to do. It’s strange that they would come and almost feel guilty about doing something because they want to, even when it’s righteous. The Lord is very generous with the freedom He gives us. The more we learn to follow the right, the more we are spiritually self-reliant, the more our freedom and our independence are affirmed” (Teach Ye Diligently, p. 246).

On the other hand, the absence of petitioning our righteous desires makes us out to be unwise and foolish stewards. We must ask, we must desire to be able to receive.

Neal A. Maxwell writes, 
“Desire denotes a real longing or craving. Hence righteous desires are much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings. . . .Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. . . Righteous desires need to be relentless, . . . Therefore, true Christian soldiers are more than weekend warriors. . .The absence of any keen desire—merely being lukewarm—causes a terrible flattening (see Rev. 3:15). . . Brothers and sisters, a loving God will work with us, but the initiating particle of desire which ignites the spark of resolve must be our own” (Ensign, November 1996, 21).

Principle #3 - God will require us to do something in order for Him to answer our prayer
John 2:4 - "Woman, what have I do with (for) thee?"

Our Father is the perfect parent. He gives to us according to our needs, wants and desires. This same question Jesus asked of his mother, (The title "woman:" being much more respectful that we would think of today), He also asked of the three Nephites (3 Nephi 28:4), the brother of Jared (Ether 2:23), and the blind man on the road to Jericho (Luke 18:41). I believe it is a question our Father asks each of us. "What is your solution? What are you willing to do to receive My help? What have you done or what will you do to "prove me now herewith" to open unto you the windows of heaven?" (Malachi 3:10).

Principle #4 – Receiving personal revelation is how God speaks to us
John 2:5,7 – “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it . . . and they filled the [the waterpots] up to the brim”

Julie B. Beck said, “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” In other words, when the Lord speaks, listen - and then go and do!

During family scriptures a few weeks ago, I asked my children, “How does the Lord speak to you?” I received nine blank stares. So we sat in silence for a few moments, pondering how the Lord speaks to us. I am learning that recognizing how He speaks (uncomfortable feelings, peace, joy, pure knowledge, etc), requires an obligation on my part. And in fulfilling the obligation He has asked – whether I understand the end result or not – is the way I witness to God that He can trust me do what He asks.

David O. McKay summed it up beautifully, “I want to tell you one thing: When the Lord tells you what to do, you’ve got to have the courage to do it or you had better not ask Him again.”

Principle #5 – God answers prayers
John 2:9 – “the water . . . was made wine”

No, I have not yet seen water turn to wine, but I have seen sorrow transform to joy. I have seen heavy burdens made light. I have seen people I love with all my heart leave their sins behind to come to know Him.  And all this, because I know God answers prayers.

Principle #6 – After prayers of faith, miracles come
John 2:11 – “This beginning of miracles did Jesus . . . and His disciples believed on Him”

I love what President Monson has said, "Does He still hear? Does He continue to answer?” To which I promptly reply: 'There is no expiration date on the Lord’s injunction to pray. As we remember Him, He will remember us.' Most of the time there are no flags waving nor bands playing when prayer is answered. His miracles frequently are performed in a quiet and natural manner."

My testimony is that miracles do happen! For me, the beginning of being able to see miracles happened the day I was born. Since then, I have not ceased to be amazed at how the hand of God works in my life and in the life of my family. 

What the Cleansing of the Temple Has to do with Me

I've been thinking about how the Savior's cleansing of the temple (found in John 2:13-16), has to do with me. I've decided, first and foremost, it is a warning to all parents: "Don't Have Pets!"

But I digress, aside the animals at the temple, I think the Savior was more concerned about what was happening with the animals at the temple. They were being sold for money, for lucre, making the House of the Lord look more like the Great and Spacious Building.

As members of the Church, we are taught that the temple is "a place the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on earth." It is a place for retreat, for reflection, for revelation.

But this story of cleansing the temple has more meaningful insight when I am reminded that "only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness." It causes me to question, "Is our little family temple a place where there is holiness to the Lord or are we making it a cozy Babylon Bungalow? Do we allow to be sold out by the things of the world, or are we carefully and diligently laying up treasure in heaven that will last for eternity?

I am reminded that one temple cleanse wasn't enough for the Jews. Just two years later, the Savior had to cleanse it again because the same things were happening. Because Satan never sleeps and life continues to move on, my temple/home will always be in need to cleansing. But I am promised that if I "Organize [myself and]; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order," . . .I can attain "a house of God" (D&C 88:119).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Am a Pencil

When I walked into church that Sunday it was all I could do to conceal my delight! My well-used, well-loved mechanical pencil was sporting a new eraser, thanks to my husband who had found one while rummaging through his night stand the evening before. I had needed a new eraser for months, but I opted to erase the hard way by painstakingly prying the eraser from one side with my pinkie fingernail, lifting it up ever so carefully until it was higher than the case that held it captive, and then, taking caution as to not apply too much pressure that could cause tearing, erasing the graphite from the thin pages of my scriptures. Truth was, I had put off buying a new eraser. Buying a refill was the last thing on my mind when I went to the store. Plus, inexpensive, mechanical pencils really ought to be replaced, not just given a new eraser. But, I was not yet ready to give up my pencil, even semi-sans eraser. After all, this was my scripture pencil. The notes within the margins of my scriptures were from this pencil. The highlights and underlines were from this pencil. And on the night I needed to know, more than any other time in my life, that God knew me and knew what I was going through, this pencil marked my answer in a verse found in Alma 36.

I had not always marked my scriptures this way. For years, I had marked by code. Red for Atonement. Orange for Missionary Work. Blue for Repentance. Yellow for Light. My Church Coloring Book, my husband called it. I was too far into the rainbow when I came to the conclusion there were so many gospel topics and not enough colors. Eventually, I terminated marking by code, but kept marking with colors. Oh, how I loved those colors! It wasn't until my mother gifted me a new set of scriptures for my 38th birthday – the first set embossed with my married name – that I decided it would be a good time to use my husband’s scripture marking system, which only employed a mechanical pencil.

Sometime between the Bishop’s welcome from the pulpit and the opening song, my seven year old son began pestering me about wanting to draw. My children know our rules. No pencils until after the Sacrament is over. He wasn't happy. A missionary was speaking that day. There were a lot of people in the congregation. That meant his drawing time would be shortened tremendously if he waited until after the Sacrament was over. He persisted. I prevailed.

Immediately following the Sacrament, I quietly handed my son my mechanical pencil. He had been as patient as a seven year old, but as cunning as a teenager. Instead of using the ward bulletin he had discreetly guarded as his medium to doodle, he slyly pulled out from his scriptures two pieces of carefully folded, blank, white sheets of paper, and confidently placed them on his green hymn book. This boy of mine was an artistic delight. He would construct a fort during Sacrament Meeting if he had scissors and tape to go along with his pencil and paper. He smiled as he looked up at me, clicked my pencil several times and began to draw.

Every now and again, I glanced over to see what my seven year old artist was drawing. This was one of his more intricate pictures. There were shadowed mountains and leafy trees. A trickle of a river ran its course down hilly terrain. And there was a sun. A sun with very thick rays. I was happy that he was happy. I was even happier that he was no longer pestering me about wanting to draw.

It was near the end of the closing hymn when I peered to my left to see what had become of son's picture. Apparently, from the white piece of paper in front of him, he had tucked the first illustration away and was starting on his second. Who will be the lucky recipient of his Sacrament Meeting art work, I thought. Next to drawing itself, my son loved giving his drawings away. As I looked upon his blank sheet of paper for just a moment longer, I realized he wasn't using a new piece of paper at all. No, my son’s mountain/tree/sun with thick rays picture had been meticulously erased. The closing prayer was just about to begin as I grabbed my pencil. MY NEW ERASER! His paper was white and my eraser was no longer new. In fact, it was almost as small as it was when I replaced it the night before!

My eyes began to protrude with obvious displeasure. My heart began to race. My body temperature surged with intense provocation. I waited impatiently for the “Amen,” with full intent to reprove my son with sharpness - knowing full well that I was not being moved upon by the Holy Ghost  - when a feeling, so tender and soft came into my mind and caught me so off guard that it cut into my heart.

“Um, isn't that what an eraser is for? Isn't that why I came to earth?  I came to die for you. I died for you so that you could become as clean as that paper. It is I who makes you clean. My Atonement is your Eraser .”

Immediately, all the pencils we had in our home flashed before my eyes. I saw every single one of them, and quickly realized that most had no erasers left on them. It’s the eraser part that goes first. And usually, when I find pencils without erasers at my house, I throw them away. What good are pencils without erasers, anyway? On that Sunday I learned it’s the other way around. Without Jesus Christ, I would have been thrown out a long, long time ago.

I am a pencil and Christ, He is my Eraser .

Monday, July 7, 2014

Make A Trek Satchel With 2 Bandanas!

We are heading off for a Pioneer Trek and these are great for carrying journals, water bottles, scriptures, treats, etc.

Step 1: You need one 22"x22" (approx.) bandana and a 4"x22" strip from an extra bandana.

Step 2: Fold the 22"x22" bandana in half and cut 2" from the fold (will make a 4"x22" piece when unfolded). This piece will serve as part of the handle.

Step 3: Leave one section full. Cut the other section in three. From each end, cut 4", leaving the middle section to be about 15"x9." The two 4"x9" pieces will be used to lengthen the strap.

Step 4: Take the 15"x9" piece, press ends under and finish the seam on both sides. This piece will be the outside pocket.

Step 5: Fold outside pocket in half both width-wise and length-wise and press. This will serve as your guide to sewing your seams

Step 6: Take the 9"x22" piece, folding and pressing in half width-wise. This piece will serve as your bag.

Step 7: Align the center lines of the main bag and outer pocket. Pin. Sew along vertical center line. Sew along one side horizontal line. This will divide one side of the outer pocket into two pockets.

This side has two pockets . . .

This side has one pocket . . .

Step 8: Zig-zag or serge ends together.

Step 9: Take the two 4"x9" and 4"x22" straps and fold and press in half, lengthwise.

Step 10: Tucking the unfinished edges into the finished edges, sew together. Be sure your folds are lined up.

Step 11: Zig-zag or serge both edges.

Step 12: Pin strap to bag. One edge of one strap on either side of bag. Be sure not to twist. 

Step 13: Sew strap securely to bag.

Step 14: Ta-Dah!

If the bag is too long, you can easily tie a knot on shoulder to shorten its length.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mary Cried

She hurried to the tomb
saw the stone had rolled away.
Looking on in the inside,
her Master did not lay.
Falling to the ground.
Tears drop from her eyes.
Torn with deep despair,
Mary cried.

Lost and all alone,
she looked up from the ground.
Presence of the Gardner,
but still no solace found.
"Woman," said the Voice.
"Look on Me. Here am I."
And when she saw the Master,
Mary cried.

At times I feel like Mary.
Frightened at an empty tomb.
Lonely, tired, doubting
of life's untimely gloom.
His call is soft, yet piercing.
"Look on Me.  Here am I."
He is risen.  He is calling.
And I cry.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

This is what happened to me on this Good Friday:

1. I sold a dresser for $40 to two middle-eastern looking and sounding men who made no comment when my eight year old son bid them farewell by saying, "And I hope you both have a Good Friday today!"

2. My nine year old daughter shared this Isaiah scripture with us during family scriptures . .  "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all..." and then asked, but what does sheep have to do with the Savior? It made for a sweet discussion.

3. Ordering nine sundaes with nine different toppings while going through the drive through takes a piece of paper and a pencil and a whole lot of repeating.

6. As I read THIS today, I learned that even through the Savior's darkest moments, all glory went to His Father.  Which made me ask myself if I am doing the same.

5. My 12 year old son learned the hard way that removing his seatbelt while going through the drive through can lead to both a sore head and a cracked windshield when mom needs to brake abruptly so as not to hit the car who is oblivious to the traffic exiting the drive thru.

4. I'm learning that Good Friday is good because Sunday will come.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Thoughts on Opposition and Contention

Opposition: actions or opinions that show that you disagree with or disapprove of someone or something

Contention: Strife; struggle; a violent effort to obtain something, or to resist a person, claim or injury; contest; quarrel.

There is an eternal law that there must needs be an opposition in all things.

The devil has cunningly changed enmity for sin, to contention filled with hate and malice.

Which has brought me to ponder, does my opposition change me to a "contentionist," particularly when it comes to issues that involve morality and God's law?  How can I successfully rise above the contention and still passionately oppose those things that are morally wrong?

Perhaps even a better question, can opposition still leave room in my heart to love those who are filled with contention?

As I mused these thoughts aloud to my children, the story of Job came to my mind. And I was reminded that God knows how to perfectly oppose evil without contention.

He knows how to speak against evil without causing war. For the war is created by those who allow contention to overrule their opposition, no matter how soft spoken contention may be.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prime Factorization

The great things about taking a math class is that I'm not only relearning math - I'm actually understanding how it applies into the REAL WORLD!!!

A few weeks ago I relearned what Prime Factorization is: the breaking down of a number into smaller and smaller factors until it cannot be broken down any further.

So, for example, the number 12 can be broken down first as 2*6 and then to 2*2*3.

28 breaks down first to 2*14 then to 2*2*7.

And 156 goes something like this: 2*78 to 2*2*39 and finally down to 2*2*3*13.

When numbers are prime, however, take 17, for example, the only other number than can go into it is the number 1.

What I am discovering is that that Prime Factorization has everything to do with relationships!

For example, a Prime Factorization Relationship is something two persons share when personalities and characteristic start breaking down into smaller and smaller factors. It could be as obvious as liking the same Pinterest sites or having the same athletic pastimes.  These relationship are developed faster, maybe, because it's obvious to each other what those factors are.

Or, a Prime Factorization Relationship can be less obvious and more significant when factors that are alike because of like experiences, such as deep feelings for the same Alma Mater for the same reasons or knowing the same individual who has made a difference in both lives.  Because these factors are not always obvious, these relationships take time to discover and develop.

Then there's a type of Prime Factorization Relationship that transcends time or location.  It is when to persons have been broken down to the same small factor that can only be understood through the furnace of affliction, when the fires have given the experience of losing a child to death or losing a spouse to infidelity; or being recipients of mental illness or carriers of the same disease.

And amazing to me is that with all the factorizations that do and can and will go on; that even in the breaking down to even the smallest and most infinitesimal factors, there stand our One Prime Factor - He who can be factored into every equation - even the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

He suffered every prime factor so none of us would ever have to suffer anything alone.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I'm taking Math this semester.

It's just enough Math to make me remember why Math was not anywhere near the top or middle or lower half of my "Favorite Subjects in School" List!

It's just enough Math to help me understand why my third grader sometimes cries and cried because she can't understand how to do a problem.

It's just enough Math to remind my high school sophomore that it's not okay to make fun when others just can't understand Math in the same pre-Calc way he can.

And it's just enough Math to teach me that it totally STINKS when I get a fourth grade Math problem wrong!!

But totally ROCKS when I get it right!

Boo. Yah.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Going Back to School

25+ years ago I was a matriculated, university student.

I knew exactly what my major would be.

I knew when I was going to graduate.

I knew what I would do for the rest of my life.

Then, at the beginning of my second year, during the first week of classes, I had this feeling that I was supposed to drop all my classes, check out of school and work full time.


What about my planning?  What about my scholarship?  What about my dream of getting a college degree?

I did my best to ignore the feeling and into the second week of classes my brain could not and would not comprehend a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g.  As soon as I entered a classroom, I felt as if I were entering a black hole.

Dark. Foggy. Hollow.

I couldn’t fight it any longer.  I dropped all my classes, checked out of school and moved forward with life.

Last August, my husband came home from Church and told me about a program sponsored by BYU-Idaho that would enable me to attain a college degree.

As he spoke and explained what he had learned that day, a feeling came over me that was just as distinctive and palpable as the feeling I had received 25+ years ago to end my schooling.  However, that feeling filled me with light and clarity and depth.  I was filled with the impression that I was ready to pursue my goal to receive a college degree.

I am starting my second semester with the BYU-Idaho Pathway Program.  It has been the most amazing learning experience I have ever encountered!!

Some days I wonder why I am going to school now when it is the craziest, busiest time of my life.  Five teenagers! Three elementary-aged children! and a two year old!!  And that doesn't even begin to skim the surface . . .

But just how I listened to a still, small voice 25+ years ago to stop going to school, I am listening and following that ever encouraging voice that tells me that right now is the right time to go back to school.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Family Home Evening - The Book of Mormon

My husband and I were inspired to do this lesson from THIS TALK.

Here's what we did:

Everyone was to bring to FHE their study/scripture journal, a writing utensil (if we say pencil, invariably someone asks if they can bring a pen - go figure), and a Book of Mormon.

1. Teach one Another: We read the title page of the Book of Mormon each to ourselves.  Then we shared with each other ONE phrase that popped out to us.

2. Personal Insight: I chose six paragraphs from THIS TALK which I thought could serve as a spring board for personal insight.  The instruction was to a) read the paragraph b) think about this question: "According to this paragraph, why would it be important for me to read and study the Book of Mormon?" and c) write down your thoughts in your study journal. (We did this in groups of two to help the younger children; this was the bulk of the lesson that took the most time).

3. Teach One Another: Each person shared one reason it was important for them to read and study the Book of Mormon.

4. We presented our Family Scripture Study Plan for 2014:  Each day we have an assignment to read in the Book of Mormon and write our thoughts and questions in our study journals.  We are to come prepared for Family Scripture the next day having read and ready to share the things we have written.

I have a feeling I will learn a lot from my family this year!

The Book that is Changing My Life

There is a book that has captured the attention of many members of our faith.

I have been invited by several people to read it.  "It has changed my life!"  "If you read it, you will never be the same!"  "This book will make you understand your purpose and prepare you for the Second Coming."  "It is the most amazing book you will ever read!"

Interestingly, it is not a book that has been written by a prophet.

The book is not scripture.

In fact, to my knowledge, the person who wrote the book is not the person who experienced the events first hand.

Though my feelings have been relatively neutral about the book, I have not yet read it.

However, there is a book out there that I am currently reading that is changing my life.  It is a book that, as I read from it's pages, never leaves me the same.  This same book helps me more deeply know my purpose and I prepare to one day kneel at the Savior's feet.  It is, without question, the most. amazing. book. I have ever read.

That book of which I speak is The Book of Mormon - another testament of Jesus Christ.

Concerning this record the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”

As far as I'm concerned, that's enough to capture my attention for the rest of my life!