Sunday, October 31, 2010

Overheard in my house tonight

Michael (to me as we're looking through my Facebook feed):
It appears that your friends didn't dress that slutty for Halloween. ... 
 THIS, y'all, is why I love my husband.

I couldn't pay for better entertainment. ^_^

And then he shared chocolate milk with me.

Excellent. ^_^

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blearing awake ... to blog

So, where did we leave off, really?

Tuesday? Yes, Tuesday afternoon is where I need to pick back up. *sigh*
Jenny and I went for a walk around the park while Bruise and Bucket played.
And that was cut short due to two factors (Jenny's young'un was getting cranky ... and Bucket HIT A LITTLE BOY IN THE HEAD. *headdesk*) ... I put her in timeout as soon as the other moms around told me, while Jenny and I did a last lap, and then it was MANDATORY NAPTIME after she SCREAMED and CRIED and WHINED  for me to carry her all the way home.  *martyr look to the heavens* ... Not that she TOOK that d*** nap. And Heaven knows she NEEDED it...

And I needed to drive some folks out to the church in the next town  for Roadshow practice. I'm glad that I had another adult in the car, since I always get lost trying to find the church building in that town. (I don't go out east that way a whole lot. Especially since I can't afford chiropractic care. But my chiropractor out there is GREAT! ... Of course, I know a really good new one in the next town to the west, too. Not that I've ben able to afford to see him, but I've known him for years. ^_^)
SO, as I was saying, I started dinner ... and it ended up burning the crap out of itself after I left and Michael was talking to Miss Bucket-girl about why she hit the boy at the park (Because she did't want him to go down the slide and he did it anyway. NOT A GOOD REASON.)

Then, of course came storytime that I missed.
I teased Michael about it:
"So, Hon, I bet you read the title 'Bluebeard' and thought, 'Hey! A PIRATE story!'"

"Yes, pretty much," he admitted. "I mean, I REMEMBERED that he wasn't a really nice guy ... but I didn't remember the story much. And then it just kept getting worse and worse ... and I kept waiting for a moral. And there wasn't one. So I just finished with, 'That's kind of a HALLOWEEN story!'"

"Well, at least the kids didn't have nightmares. ... Still, honey!"

"Hey, it was right there in between Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella!! I didn't think it'd be that bad!"

*I think for a sec* "Ohhhhh .... it's a Perrault retelling, huh?" *laughs* "... I'll bet you're impressed I figured that out without thinking ."

And, yes, readers he was.
Of course, I do have to admit to being very well-acquainted with fairy tales, especially with this volume of fairy tales. I bought a set of Collier's The Junior Classics at a used bookstore years ago. Because my mom has a set. and I love it so. I grew up reading it. Primarily Volume One: Fairy Tales and Fables. They're sorted by country, just for your information.

Yes, I am a bit of a fairytale geek. Especially Grimm's Fairy Tales.
No wonder I'm sooooooo remarkably well-adapted. (/ sarcasm)

After storytime Wednesday, we did the usual -- McDonald's and I volunteered. Bucket behaved herself at the park while Mom watched her and Bruise.

Then I came home and we ran errands. We picked up stuff with the wonderful coupons that I had from Bath and Body Works (Bruise especially loves the Peppermint Twist fragrance). I picked up yarn to make my hat for Halloween (I started yesterday! I'm maybe 1/7 done. Phew!!), we went to Costco (where Bucket kept asking us to buy her a toy. No. She already got spoiled by the library ladies.) and then home to make dinner before Michael had to leave for his meeting.

So, Bucket got a little purse that was left and never claimed from the library's lost and found. And she wanted it to be JUST. LIKE. A. BIG. GIRL'S. ... So we put her Barbie compact (mirror and comb) in it. And a Hello Kitty lip gloss. And a little nail file. And a travel-sized tube of lotion. And one of Michael's old insurance cards. Mom gave her a Pocket-Bac from Bath and Body Works, too ... As we got gas at Costco, she piped up from the backseat, "I need a phone for my purse!!"
As Mom and giggled, I told her that she could use her Cinderella cell phone that is in her box at home.
(She's FOUR. She doesn't need a cell phone. Not a real one.)

(And, seriously, it's ADORABLE how much Bruise LOVES the B&BW Twisted Peppermint scent. He kept bringing up candles and testers of that scent to smell. How cute is he?? And he's being REALLY sparing with his Pocket-Bac. As opposed to Miss Bucket, who used hers up in 24 hours. ^_^)

Thursday, the kiddos had their doctor's appointment. Dr. R told me that they're VERY HEALTHY KIDS. (Phew!) And the kiddos did warm up to Dr. R (they haven't seen him for almost two years. Oops!) finally.
He is a really great guy. I'm glad he's the kids' pediatrician. ^_^

Then the kids had FIVE SHOTS EACH. (I opted to get their flu shot done and out of the way at the same time. I'm such a sadist.)
Bruise was brave ... he barely whimpered for the first two. The last three? He was crying and needed a snuggle. Poor dude.
Bucket? Started crying before the first needle touched her. I really can't help but laugh. But I did try to help them both, holding their hands and talking them through breathing through the pain.
And my mom was there to help and to supply Tootsie pops. And I nabbed stickers for them on the way out.

I was supposed to have a Stake Young Women's meeting last night. So I got dinner ready (something that couldn't burn. This time) and got dressed. Then I checked the online calendar, since I hadn't received an email about the meeting ... and it obviously got cancelled. YAAAAAAY!!!!
(I hate going to meetings. I am selfish with my time. I'll admit it. I'd rather be at home, putting my kiddos to bed.)
Of course, since the kiddos refused to nap earlier, they both conked out before we finished our chapter of Harry Potter.

And, that's really about it for now ...

Oh, and I "fixed" a friend's computer. Her web browser wouldn't load YouTube videos or run Pandora ... I was suddenly inspired and updated Java and Adobe Shockwave Flash ... EUREKA!! Yes, I don't often feel inspired, so I HAD to share. ^_^ Now, if you know of some good freeware DVD decoder, so she can watch dvds on her computer, that'd be AWESOME. (Windows Media Player isn't doing it. Bollocks, huh?)

Crazy Dream Chronicles - Crocodile Creek

Nothing in this dream made sense, really.

I was at my mom's place. And I was younger.
And there was this HUGE jar-within-a-jar, with the outer jar FULL of dead fruit flies. (Gross, huh??)
And so I filled them with water in the hall bathtub to soak, so I could pour them out and wash them.

And, as the jars soaked, some things started swimming around in there ... baby crocodiles. And they GREW SO FAST! After maybe an hour, I checked the jars and there were these, one at a time, four-foot-long (including their leathery tails) crocodiles. I took them, one at a time, down to the creek, since I couldn't figure out what else to do with them to throw them in.

At first, I somehow had Diana-cat in one hand (probably so the crocodile wouldn't bite her) and a crocodile in the other, and I threw Diana in the creek. (Don't worry. At best, the creek's only been up to my thighs when I was 12. At least by my folks' place. I mean, there are some deeper places, but not by my house.) She swam out, soaking, and THEN I threw the crocodile into the creek to swim away.
And then I had to fetch another to throw out.

And the crocodiles were coming faster and being more aggressive. I'd have to grab them and close their toothy mouths before running them out.

Yeah, I don't know what it means.

Then, in the other dream I recall, I was browsing through books donated to the library, for the Friends of the Library sales. There were TONS of Church History books. And I wanted them. But they were up on a shelf SO high in a room I wasn't supposed to be in anyways. It was gothicly frustrating.

I have issues.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Those children of mine ...

Bruise wanted us to buy him a Darth Maul Lego set, since we were headed to Target on Monday.

Michael: Bruise, I don't think they have any there.
Bruise: Well, then, yoo'll just hafta wook HARDER.

This morning, since I wasn't here to put the kids to bed last night ... I had noticed one of the volumes of fairy tales on a table.

Me: So, kiddos, which story did Daddy read to you last night?
Bucket: One about a man with a blue mustache. And he kills people. Wives that he marries.And puts them on his wall.

It tickles me that that's how she summarizes Bluebeard.

But the kids didn't have any nightmares, so that's all fine.

Blue mustache ... I'd understand blue WHISKERS ... Mustache. Ha.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The aftermath ... and more catch-up

Let's see ... so I last blogged ... a week ago. Oops.

What have I been doing? ...

Oh, that's right. I had books that were coming due, so I've been reading. I finished "Need" (supernatural - weres and pixies) and "Graceling" (fantasy). Wednesday was hanging with Mom and volunteering.

I MEANT to go running by myself (doing laps around the park while the kiddos played) Tuesday. However, I had a rare blast of motivation, so I grabbed the silverware basket out of the dishwasher and stepped toward the drawer to unload it.
Earlier that morning, Miss Bucket had spilled her yogurt and hadn't done a good job of cleaning it up. So, I stepped in the puddle of peach yogurt and slid/tripped/flew, spilling the silverware and landing on my ankle. CRAP!

I took some Tylenol and wrapped it and babied it for the rest of the day. (I did take off the wrap for volunteering Wednesday, since it needed to be used so I could run Saturday.) And, yes, I did yell at Miss B. I gave both the kids a stern talking-to about how EXACTLY their actions (or lack of actions) affect others.
(Since Bruise exclaimed, "WOW! That SCARE me WOTS!", I don't think they're about to repeat this scenario again anytime soon. Thank goodness.)

Thursday was the usual ... going to storytime and running with Jenny.
I was so tired out after everything that I TOTALLY FORGOT (as did Michael) about the Relief Society activity that evening. Michael had volunteered to babysit any young'uns that showed up. Good thing none did. We were pretty sheepish. Oh well.

Friday, after Michael got home, we went to the pumpkin patch and did the tractor ride. The kids picked out their pumpkins, played on hay bales, and went through a corn maze. And I turned in a library book that was overdue (I HATE having books overdue. At least, since I'm a volunteer, there's no fine. But still!!)

Saturday, I woke up, got my shower and pulled on some work-out clothes, since the day of reckoning had arrived! Michael and the kids came to cheer me on/take pictures. Jenny and I met up, got our numbers (we were sequential -- guess it was by alphabetical order -- at least of all the people who pre-registered), got our bags of swag and our new T-shirts, and enjoyed some free smoothies.

We were the last of the runners to finish. Mostly because I needed to walk most of the time. My stamina SUCKS. But Jenny made sure that we finished. ^_^ And, even sticking by my side, she came in third of our age/gender group! She totally got a ribbon!
I won a gift certificate in one of the door prize drawings, so that was cool, too.
Regardless, we're 5 minutes faster than when we started running just over a month ago!

And, oh, I was SO. SORE. We went home and Michael ran me a hot Epsom Salt-laced bath. Then I was pretty much out of commission for the rest of the day. I still gimp around a bit.

Sunday was pretty normal ... except I forgot to grab the bag of distractions for the kids for Sacrament Meeting. So I borrowed crayons, scratch paper, and a couple issues of The Friend (the Church's magazine for children) and we managed well enough.

Yesterday, Michael came home early so I could go to my doctor's appointment (A responsible citizen gets her pap smear. :P ... And, really, I hadn't had my lady-appointment since the kids were born. Oops!) by myself. I did have to have him run my birth certificate over (Hey, I don't have health insurance. We prefer to be able to buy groceries without putting them on the credit card, thanks.) to the clinic. But things went well enough.
I managed to pee in a cup without getting it all over my hand. That's a total improvement!
My ovaries feel very healthy. Always a plus!
The doctor and the nurses were all VERY nice.

At one point, I had to go into the lab and have my finger pricked (to see if I was anemic). One of the signs in the lab stated all sorts of things that were NOT permitted in the lab:

  • eating
  • drinking
  • applying cosmetics
  • mouth pipetting
So, since I am NOTHING if not full of maturiosity, I said, "Gosh, I was really looking forward to mouth-pipetting just now. I guess I'll just have to wait until I get home. Darn!"
And the nurses snickered.
And then I had to ask what, EXACTLY, mouth pipetting really is ... and they didn't really tell me. They just told me that it was really old-fashioned. And I nodded and smiled like I understood.
(Michael told me about it later.)

And I drove over afterwards, first to the post office and then to to Great-Grandpa's and Great-Grandma's (Michael's grandfolks), where Michael and the kids were, to visit.
Then we drove out cars back to the house and went grocery shopping.

We also bought a scale, since Michael and I are participating in a "Get Healthy" challenge. And it requires a weekly weigh-in. I'm not thrilled with how much I weigh ... at least I still weigh less than Michael. I mean, that's something. (DANG IT! I DEMAND TO FEEL DAINTY! That's why I always like boys that are taller and weigh more than I do! ^_^)

We also bought Diana-cat a new potty-box. The last one was over a decade old and was starting to break (crack). She's using the new one. YAY!!! And it's kinda pretty, too.

I finally broke down and turned on the heater yesterday morning. To 65F, since it was COLD. Now I feel pretty good. Not ready to break out my swimsuit and go tanning or whatever, but it's pretty good. ^_^

I think that's most of everything.

Well, here's a crazy dream chronicle from earlier this week: In part of my dream, I was a teacher assistant for a few teachers (you know, I made copies and such). And one of the teachers was Neil Gaiman. ^___^ And then, Brittney (from Glee. The cheerleader.) called me a slut. And I wasn't doing ANYTHING with any of the teachers. It was weird.

Oh, and so far this morning, I've done a load of laundry and I have half of the dishes done. Go me!!! (No to vacuum and put away a basket of the kids' clothes. I'm pretty awesome, huh? :P)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another catching up post ...

Okay, it's approaching the middle of October and I haven't blogged anything about the family and what we've been doing.


Because I KNOW that you've been SITTING ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEATS, W.A.I.T.I.N.G. for me to tell you what we've been doing.

Yeah. Right. :P

Okay, so I last blogged, for real, about my life-life (not just my thoughts or about the General Conference talks) September 30. That's CRAZY.

How are you LIVING without my reports of day-to-day minutiae?? Yes, I'm kidding. I'm sure that you're all living very well.

Still, here's a report, anyways.

October 1 - Friday - After Michael got home (and had a nap), we headed up to the Zoo and then across the parking lot to meet my Mandarin (one of my friends from my hometown. She and her family have since moved up for work) at the Children's Museum. The first Friday of the month is free admission from 5-8 PM.
(Also, the zoo is practically deserted 3:30 - close on Friday. That was rather nice. I don't always like crowds of strangers. If you couldn't tell from how I whine about it in previous posts. ... We didn't go through the whole zoo, but we did get to places that we hadn't made it to (or spent a whole lot of time at) the last weekend.)
The Children's Museum wasn't too terribly packed. I mean, yes, there were quite a few people ... but it was fun. Especially since Michael, wonderful man that he is, watched the kids so Mandarin and I could catch up and chat.

I did ask her why she had said that she felt that all churches were full of hate.
And, as much as I don't like confrontation, I did it pretty point-blank (at least for me).
And she told me that it really stemmed down to the ward that she was in at the time that her grandfather died.
She was dealing with that (and don't I understand dealing with the death of a grandparent. It's not easy.), people found out that she was living with her (now-husband) boyfriend. Then, shortly after, they found out she was pregnant.
And they told her that she wasn't making good choices. And, pretty much, they stopped talking to her.
(I did ask about our home ward ... she assured me that, no, nobody from the home ward ever shunned her or made her feel bad. *phew!*)

And ... well, I know that the Church is true. I just wish that every member could (and would) be as true as the Church is.
Mandarin did readily admit that, while right now, she is hurting from how she was treated ... but that she will probably come back. When she's ready. But that time isn't right now.
And I told her (and I mean it), that she needs to take the time and heal first. But that I was glad to know the reasons behind it. (I knew one reason from our home ward ... and I was glad that it wasn't JUST one person saying uncaring things. Though, honestly, I'm bummed that it happened at ALL, you know?)

But, it was a great visit. I've missed my Mandarin. She's really awesome ... and I miss being back in Seminary, in the morning before we all caught our rides to the high schools, sitting with her and my Terra ... Yes, we listened and learned a lot. But we also passed LOTS of notes. Good times.

Saturday and Sunday were General Conference. Michael also took Bruise with him to get the work truck fixed (serpentine belt replaced) and the oil changed while Bucket and I went to the mall.
At the mall, we got our free travel-sized "Secret Wonderland" lotions, browsed at Claire's Accessories, and popped into Old Navy. I went through the clearance racks and got a pair of pajama pants and a sleep-shirt. Then, in line, I saw a box of Wall-E board books. I didn't know if they were really on discount or not, but I nabbed them anyways. Turns out, instead of being $9.99, they were on clearance. And I paid $2.49 for them. Yay!! Cheap books are AWESOME.
Before conference started in the morning, I cleaned out some bathroom cupboards.
Oh, and Michael helped a family move in the morning, too. The joys of service, right?

Monday, October 4 - My dad and (oh, heck. They've been together for almost 12 years. I'm calling her) my stepmother came up to visit for the day. She and I had Dad watch the kids by himself (for the first time) while she and I got materials to recover the dining room chairs. After two hours' work, my chairs look SO MUCH BETTER. (Instead of having STAINED cream-colored tapestry, they're now covered with brown vinyl. And it looks really swell.)

I don't really recall what I did Tuesday. No real idea. Besides watching Glee. It was okay. Not my favorite episode. Michael summed it up when he declared, "Hollywood shouldn't do religion." Another Gleek that I was talking to said that it was her least favorite episode (and I agree. It could have been much more awful ... but it wasn't up to Glee's usual standard) and that it was rather clumsy and lackluster (true, true).
Hopefully tonight's episode is much better.

Wednesday ... Mom came up, I had gotten mostly caught up on the dishes. We went to storytime, McDonald's (or "The Donald's" as my kiddos call it. And I snicker every time.), and I volunteered at the library. Another of the volunteers complimented my new haircolor ... and told me that it's inspired her to try going darker, too. She got new glasses (which she modeled for me. They're CUTE) with dark frames and she doesn't like how silvery they make her hair look. ... I'm excited to see the new color.

After I got back from the library, MY BRI-BRI CAME OVER!!!! It's been too long since I had seen her.
And so she and I got to say goodbye to my mom before SHE had to go back home ... and then we chatted and shared YouTube videos with each other. (What would we do without YouTube??? :P).

Thursday, I took the kiddos to storytime, then to WinCo for some groceries (cat litter, honey Greek yogurt [YUM!], and raspberry-cream cheese-filled croissants [because Bucket said that she had never tried them ... and she wanted to. Not gonna argue! I'll take ANY reason to buy some croissants! ^_^), then over to Staples to buy paper for the Young Women's supply closet [for the monthly calendar/newsletter and for invitations for next month's activity] and to the mall to exchange Bucket's Hello Kitty gloves for a pair without a HUGE hole in one finger. (They ripped just TWO DAYS after we bought the first pair. The second pair is holding up well. Phew!!).
Then I threw some food at the kids (not literally, y'all. Come on.) and we got ready for running with my Jenny. Jenny and I didn't get to run for long, her youngest obvs didn't like being in the stroller today. But, hey, we did SOMETHING.

Friday ... what did we do? Michael came home ... I know that much. And .... Hm.  Obviously, I don't recall much. I blogged. That's about it, I guess. Oh! That's right! Michael came home for a bit and then went to help one of the men from Elder's Quorum to try to fix his truck (that broke down on the way to work). They couldn't fix it, so Michael gave him a ride to work ... and then woke up EARLY Saturday to help him tow it home.
I picked up the kids' room before I read them Harry Potter ... Only had time for one chapter. Oh well. If they want more, they'll keep their room picked up. ... Mommy hates stepping on Legos.

Saturday: Michael, like I mentioned, was up early to help tow a truck. Then he went out to the EQ (Elder's Quorum) activity -- shooting. But it was cancelled due to rain, so he was home shortly. In time to get ready for a meeting (to listen to a General Authority from the church speak in Eugene). Then he came back, tired enough that he had a headache ... and slept it off for a few hours.
I just played around on the computer and was generally in a funk.
We put the kids to bed, no Harry Potter, since Michael went out to give someone a blessing. Instead, I read them a Czech fairytale from a treasury that I have. They seemed to like it.
Then he came home. And went back out to get us Jack-in-the-Box for dinner. Good man.

Sunday ... I was in more of a funk, if possible. The morning was okay.
Got up, got a shower, got the kids dressed and ready, got to church, got everything put in the YW storage closet. Had a good conversation with my fellow Gleek (see above) (and learned about an hour later that I'm her visiting teacher again. How funny!), went to Sunday School. Had a good time with the Young Women.
Got home, made macaroni and cheese. Michael came home and had to head out to do his Home Teaching ... and the kiddos WOULD. NOT. NAP. And they trashed their room and the living room playing. *sigh*
It ended with a cold shower for them, holding back tears for me.
I didn't go in with them when Michael got them ready for bed. I didn't pray with them or read to them. I was really quite upset.

Yesterday - We got up. The kids weren't supposed to get out of their room until they had cleaned up.
Well, after they'd been watching a show while I got up, I saw their room was still totally messy.
So we played "Beat the Clock." I gave them ten minutes to clean up or get a time out. They did a good job on their room. So they got another five minutes to make their beds. Then another ten minutes to clean the front rooms. And they succeeded.
Then I cleaned off the (filthy) table and vacuumed. And I cleaned off the kitchen table/counter/whatever. And that was about as productive as I got.
We got ready later and went to a playdate. It was a gorgeous day. And the kid had fun.
Until Bruise and their friend didn't want to play with Bucket. (It was really Bruise. Their friend was excited to play with them at all.) So Bucket pouted and cried.
Then Bruise and their friend bonked heads on the slide. (Bruise was sliding down. B was climbing up. Oops.) We'd been at the park for a while, so S (B's mom and a fun gal to chat with. I enjoyed myself, at least. YAY for adult interaction!!!!!) and I decided that we should probably take our kids home to nap.

And, JOY OF JOYS, the munchkin brigade DID take a nap. After an hour of fighting it ... but they took it!
And I blogged. And I was in a decent mood by the time Michael got home. Thank goodness!!!
(And people commented on my blog. Like FOUR in the space of two hours!!!! I was amazed. Especially as one was a commenter that I'd never met before. Made me feel kinda famous.  ... And I do feel flattered by my friends' compliments. *preens*)

So, yeah. I need to run today, since I haven't since Thursday. Or, at least I need to do a work-out video.
It seems that I feel best when I blog (it's an outlet) and exercise. Crazy, huh? And, hey, if I pray and read my scriptures, I'll be doing EXCELLENTLY.

And I still need to finish the dishes. And fold a metric crapload of laundry. And clean the kitchen.
But since the kids have opted to skip storytime this morning, I think I'll be doing fine on time. Since I don't have any obligations today (since Jenny's not available to run today).

And ZOMGosh!!! Saturday's my 5K!!!! I can't believe it's already here!!!

Also, I wish there were some closer blood drives at the end of next month. I want to get my second gallon earned. ^_^

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weighing on my soul

I'm still mulling over some things.

I was saddened that a friend of mine, who has since fallen away a bit from The Church, posted that she had signed an open letter to Elder Packer in regards to his conference address.

Yes, there have been a rash of suicides by teenagers who have faced terrible prejudice when these young men and women have come out as being attracted to members of their own gender.

My heart goes out to them, to their families and friends. I do not support suicide ... and I understand how it can feel hopeless at times ... but, even when ... ESPECIALLY WHEN ... it is hard, THAT is the time to hold on.

I have a testimony that Elder Packer is an inspired leader. Yes, he did say that homosexual activities are "impure and unnatural." Yes, those words are strong. But ... take a minute ... here is the quote:
We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”13
Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.
He never said that these individuals are impure or unnatural ... just that the actions that they are tempted with are. (Just like some heterosexual people are tempted to cheat. Some are tempted by finding children sexually alluring. These are both examples of immoral actions.)

If you ever read through the Church's pamphlet about Same Sex Attraction, you would know that we do not judge people as impure or unnatural based on their sexual desires. We KNOW that every person, EVERY PERSON (Yes, I'm yelling that. Or at least really, really emphasizing it.) is precious to our Heavenly Father. He loves ALL his children.

We cannot condone sinful action. We cannot excuse it.
If a man or woman in the church has an affair -- he or she is not allowed to hold a calling. Nor would s/he be worthy to attend the temple. AND, if s/he is unrepentant, yes, that individual would be subject to church discipline.

The same would go for an individual involved in fornication. Or sexual abuse.

I, personally, know a few individuals who are not attracted to the opposite gender. They are still lovely people. They are my friends. I LIKE them. I don't have to like or approve of every decision they make. Just like I know that not everyone will approve of every choice that I have made. (Sadly enough, one of my aunts is still bitter that I chose to be married in the temple. She wanted to attend. She is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In fact, the only family member that I had at the temple, in the sealing room, when I got married was my mother. I also had a good number of members of my ward family. ^_^ ... But my aunt was hurt that I didn't have a ceremony that she could attend to see me get married. She was at our ring exchange, which we did to accommodate most of my family ... but ... yeah.)

I do not condone demanding that all people approve of same-sex marriage.
I, myself, am all for a legally-recognized civil union. I wholeheartedly approve of these couples being granted legal rights.

In fact, I believe that when these couples enter into a union, it should be recognized nationally ... it's not fair to only recognize it in one state. That makes it especially difficult if a couple should decide to divorce. THAT, I think, is most problematic.
On the one hand, yes, I would hope that these couples show that relationships can go the distance ... BUT, if one couple moves from the state in which their union is recognized, they have to move BACK to be granted a severance of that union.  It'd be like demanding that if you got your driver's license in Oregon ... then moved to New York, you'd have to MOVE BACK to Oregon just to renew your license. It doesn't make sense.

Now, I do support Prop 8 because it helps to separate church and state. Governments shouldn't be allowed to dictate how churches are to be run. And vice versa. That's my take on it. Because, once a government is allowed to run a church ... well, I'm not saying that all churches are perfectly ran here on earth ....
But, really ... you see how "well" the government runs ITSELF ... do we really want those officials in charge of everyone's spiritual sectors? *quirked brow*

Now, I do admit that I am not the most well-versed in political matters. You don't have to agree with how I vote. That's the joy of living in this country, isn't it? ^_^

But, I do have a testimony that the leaders of The Church are inspired by God. They are here for us, to lead us. We are all free to choose whether or not to follow their counsel. We all have our free agency.
In fact, President Monson has told us that we DON'T have to agree on the issue of same-sex marriage. He has told us that we are free to vote how we wish. And I love him for that.

I suppose that I am just sad that not everyone loves our leaders like I do. I'm sad that there are people out there that feel that life is so hopeless, that they feel so unloved and worthless, that they feel the best choice is to take their own life. Because that's REALLY SAD. (And that's an understatement.)

I'm sad that we live in a world where people don't realize how precious we all are.
I mean, if you KNEW that (1) you were a child of God and that (2) every person you met IS a child of God ... well, wouldn't everyone treat each other with more love, more respect, more compassion?
Regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, religious affiliation (or lack thereof), body size/type, haircolor, etc.?

I just feel like I can never stress it enough.
You are special.

Maybe this is the reason that I get all choked up when I watch videos like Free Hugs and things like that. Because those are people who are out there LIVING and DOING what is so needed.
They are offering love. They are being friendly. They are CARING.

I should do more things like that.
Right now, I just try and be a good friend. I try to be helpful and courteous. I try not to make snap judgments. I do my best to love people regardless of their choices, to think the better of people.

I falter. I fail. Often. I'm not perfect.
But I have potential. Wonderful potential.
And someday I'm going to reach that potential.

And I believe in you. Whoever you might be.
You are wonderful. You are special. You are unique.
You are loved.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Random Question

... Okay, less than random if you're me. And if you were following my Facebook activity today.

One of my friends (who's quite clever and hilarious) had posted a video about how the Patriot Guard Riders deal with the Westboro Baptist Church.
I think it's pretty brilliant.

It's not my favorite. That would be how San Franciscans handled the matter when the WBC came to protest a production of Fiddler on the Roof.

In the comments about the video that my friend, K, posted, one of his friends remarked that the WBC was a bunch of Christian nutbags.


This was my response:
Not to sound pedantic, but wouldn't referring to this group (the WBC) as Christian infer that they follow and practice the teachings of Christ? Like, say, "turn the other cheek," "love one another," "do not judge," "do unto others as ye would have them do unto you," etc?

Because, honestly, I cannot consider these people Christians when their behavior is as demonstrated, considering the whole "by their fruits ye shall know them."
In my opinion, preaching hate and intolerance goes against Christ's teachings.

Put another way, (from "Shindig" in Firefly, in regards to another character)
Sir Warwick Harrow: I know him, and I think he's a psychotic lowlife.
Mal: And I think calling him that is an insult to the psychotic lowlife community.

That might just be me. *shrugs*

Truly, I'm just waiting for the day when the IRS rescinds the WBC's tax-exempt status. *cue evil laughter* (Yes, I need to be more charitable. I know.)

And K mentioned:
Stimulating thoughts, all! I believe Gandhi summed it up well with regard to these hate groups wrapping themselves in a "Christian" mantle when he observed how "much of what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount."

And the other guy said:
Allanna anyone who calls themselves a Christian is one no matter how far they fall short of Christ's teachings. Joseph Kony and Desmond Tutu are equally Christian. Being a member of one or another religion tells you nothing about how moral an individual of this or that faith is.

And ... well ... is that really correct? I mean ... is just calling oneself a Christian all it takes to be a Christian?

I mean, to be a Christian, doesn't one have to take upon themselves the name of Christ? To actually learn and follow His teachings? Or is it really enough to just wake up and say, "I'm a Christian," and then go out and do whatever one wants?

My first reaction is that if I decide to call my cat a duck, she's still not going to start swimming and quacking.

Am I being very uncharitable in this?


Maybe it's because of all that Latter-Day Saints have to deal with ... because we're Mormons, people from other religions/denominations tell us that we're not Christians.

However, according to Wikipedia, a Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, that the broad definition is anyone who sincerely believes him/herself to be a Christian.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says that one only has to profess a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

... So, I suppose I'm really asking if one honestly and truly believes that he or she believes that he or she is a Christian, wouldn't they ... you know ... try to follow and live His teachings?

I'm not asking about anything except what teachings are written in the New Testament. You know, things like:

  • Don't judge others (Matther 7:1-2)
  • The Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have others do to you." (Matthew 7:12)
  • Be an example to others (Matthew 5:14-16)
  • Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:36-40)
  • Forgive others and God will forgive you (Matthew 6:14-15)
  • Love your enemies (Matthew 5:43-45)
I'm not saying that people who don't practice these commandments (or any others) PERFECTLY aren't really Christians.
All I'm asking is ... well, if you really believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, that He is the one who makes salvation possible; that He is the way, the truth, and the light ... wouldn't you want to try to follow what he's asked?

Last I checked, He never said anything about HATING people.
Even the saying of "hate the sin, love the sinner" was never preached by Jesus Christ. (I had to look it up. It actually was in the teachings of St. Augustine, in The City of God.)

(Although, I like to think of it more like "Do not condone the sin. Love the person who has made/is making undesirable choices regardless ... because s/he is a precious soul. And it's not your place to judge whether or not s/he is a good person. Because, face it, darling, you're not perfect. Nor do you know everything.")

So ... yeah. That's what I think about that.

Churches are there to facilitate salvation, to support their members and to lead others to what is good ... right?

I know that I am probably being judgmental and narrow-minded ... but I cannot see how picketing with signs that read about how "God Hates [Soldiers/Other Religions/Other Sexualities/YOU]" is at all helpful in spreading Christianity or love.
It just seems like spreading hate ... and hate isn't a godly virtue. It's not any kind of a virtue.

Of course, I could be bitter that Fred Phelps (leader of the WBC) is of the stance that Gordon B. Hinckley (our prophet before Thomas S. Monson) is destined for hellfire because he wasn't harsher towards gay people.
(To that I say, the Lord loves them just as much. He may not approve of their choices -- just like He doesn't approve of fornication or adultery between heterosexual people, but He STILL. LOVES. THEM.)

(And I know that He loves the members of the Westboro Baptist Church, too.)

(And, really, I am sure that they are probably, individually, lovely people with very different ideas of how the world/religion should be run. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. And, even if they prove themselves to be quite repugnant, I will love them, individually, anyway. Because, heaven knows, they NEED some love.) 

Anyone want to share their opinions?
(Make sure to keep it kind. This is a safe place. Differences of opinion are expected. Because that's how we are. We're not all alike. And this is why I'm asking your opinions.  ... You can tell me that I'm WRONG, WRONG, WRONG ... and I'll do my best to not cry. :P ... But be nice to any other commentors. I mean it. ^_^)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice - Wrap Up

 So, yes ... as you can tell, I did enjoy General Conference.
Being able to HEAR it really helped.

And following the #twitterstake was great, too. It made me glad, very glad to have such technology available.

Things that I took away from the meeting:

  • We are loved.
  • The Atonement was given to us because we will make mistakes.
  • Regardless of what the world thinks or says, we need to do what is right.
  • Listen to the prophet and our leaders. They are called of God. They are inspired to lead us.
  • We are blessed to be able to receive individual revelation. We are not restricted to ONLY following our leaders blindly. The only mediator between Heavenly Father and ourselves is the Savior.
  • We need to develop our own strong testimonies.
  • We need to be examples to our children.
  • This is a good time to be alive. Things aren't as dire as they might seem. There is still lots of good in the world.
  • Members of other faiths are doing a wonderful job of living lives of testimony and service
    (I LOVED hearing this, since I have many friends who are not Latter-Day Saints. And I think it'd be wonderful for them to know that they are being thanked, publicly, by our leaders).
And, YES, I did print myself off a copy of Ezra Taft Benson's talk about the 14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.
I did order myself a copy of "God Loveth His Children" about the church's official stance on same-sex attraction and homosexuality. I need to be well-versed when people accuse me, personally, of hating those who are not heterosexual. I need to be able to defend my church when people not of my faith try to tell me what my church teaches.
(Not to be totally catty ... but I know that it could sound that way ... Who do you think really understands a religion? A person who has been a member for most of his/her life? Or someone who is not? ... I've been to a Catholic Mass and a funeral by a Catholic priest. That doesn't make me an expert. I've read a book by a woman who became a nun ... and has since left that calling. I'm still not an expert. ... Why should I believe someone who's trying to tell me that I'm wrong, that I [and the church] are homophobic bigots out to destroy democracy ... especially when he or she is trying to TELL me what I believe? ... I really just have never understood that.)

(Now, if they wanted to give me a standardized test about my knowledge of religious history ... that'd be one thing. But you really can only tell someone what you believe. Just sayin'.)

So, yes, I'm left with the impression that I need to READ MY SCRIPTURES.
I need to TEACH MY CHILDREN and help them to recognize the Spirit's influence to they can gain a TESTIMONY for themselves.

I need to work on being better about eating dinner together as a family, at having family home evening.

I need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. (Time for another bout of the Gratitude Challenge?) And I need to be sure to express my gratitude to others.

I need to really, really develop a habit of daily scripture study.
(I've gotten better about getting out and exercising more ... here's my next step!)

I need to be more involved politically. I need to read the voters' pamphlet more. I need to make myself aware of the candidates and their stances. I need to pray for guidance in voting for who would best affect and lead our town, county, state and nation.

I need to stay optimistic and not to get bogged down by all the evil that is in the world. The world is still full of  wonderful people doing wonderful things. 

I need to repent more often and be more humble and teachable.

I need to work to create a haven of our home. I want it to be a place where our family and friends have refuge from all the influences of what is not desirable for us.

These are good goals. Now I just need to put them into practice. ^_^

That's what's going to take the effort. Wish me luck!!

Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice - Part 3

Sunday Afternoon Session ---

L. Tom Perry
  • Media can destroy our vision of what is right and wrong.
  • From the book of Daniel
    1. Keep your body clean
    2. Gain wisdom
    3. Trust in the Lord
    4. Resist temptation. Be strong
  • Stories in the scriptures never grow old. They teach you to have faith, courage, love, confidence, and trust in the Lord.
  • The Aaronic priesthood gives one the right to act as God's agent, to hold the keys of the ministering of angels.
  • "The Lord is bound by solemn covenant to help you as long as you let Him."
    He is bound by solemn covenant to bless us.
  • Parents -- teach your children the doctrines of the Holy Priesthood from an early age
    - What do they need to know to live worthy of the Pristhood?
    - What do they need to know to understand what power they will hold and the responsibilities involved?
  • Build your lives on a foundation of truth and righteousness.
David A. Bednar - 
  • All differences between us and other religions can be contained in the principles of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands.
    Baptism by immersion is the introductory ordinance. It must be followed by baptism with the Spirit (the gift of the Holy Ghost) to be complete.
  • How to have the Holy Ghost with you each day
    1. Sincerely desire and seek for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
    2. Appropriately invite him into our lives.
    3. Obey the commandments.
  • Regularly pray for what you most desire.
  • We should invite him into our lives with the same gentleness that he shows us.
    - We cannot compel, coerce, or command the Holy Ghost
  • Keep the commandments. Pray. Read the scriptures. Seek virtue. Worship.
  • Strengthening relationships with out families and friends invites the Spirit of God into our lives.
  • Casualness about covenants and commitments will cause the Spirit to withdraw from us.
  • Life is a spiritual quest. Not a checklist.
    Seek to obey the commandments with exactness.
    Be humble and faithful and the Lord will lead you aright.
Larry R. Lawrence - 
  • What the world needs now is courageous parenting.
    Do not be afraid to take a stand, to boldly teach your children truth.
  • Parenting is not a popularity contest. Do not be intimidated by them.
  • Love your children enough to admonish them.
  • The adversary is preying upon youth.
    Listen to that warning voice.
    Be united in parenting; If your spouse doesn't feel good about something, respect their feelings.
  • When you take the easy way out, you may be enabling destructive behavior.
  • When morality is involved, we have both the right and the obligation to raise a warning voice.
    Speak up before Satan makes an impact.
  • Say yes to family prayer, family scripture study, FHE, dinner together, and one-on-one interviews with your children.
  • Always be prayerful when protecting our youth.
  • Be cautious of the dangers -- avoid sleepovers and pairing off early when dating.
Per G. Malm - (He's Swedish. Great accent. I know, I know. Not totally spiritual. But I LOVE hearing accents at conference!!!)
  • Using the analogy of a hollow tree, he talked about our spiritual growth and the healing power of the Atonement.
  • We can become steadfast and immovable.
  • If we turn away from truth and light, we will feel hollow and try to fill our souls with things of no eternal value.
  • Faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings gives us hope.
  • A bad conscience is a blessing in that we are immediately reminded is it time to repent.
    To follow evil influences can never result in a feeling of peace.
  • When we are humble, we will be anxious to act promptly.
  • Beware of things that will destroy from the inside out, whether big or small.
Jairo Mazzagardi - 
  • Sin is intentional disobedience to God's commandments
    It makes God sad.
    Its results are suffering and sorrow.
  • We must be alert because small choices make great consequences
    "What may appear to be of little importance will make us slip, little by little.
  • Do not allow sin to grow around us.
  • The fruit of carnal pleasure is bitterness and sadness.
    The fruit of obedience and sacrifice is everlasting joy.
  • Our parameters must be: "I will do this because it is right," not "because it will make me happy."
  • God gave us the Atonement because He knew we would make mistakes.
  • Stay strong. Make good choices. Repent. We love you.
Mervyn B. Arnold:
  • Each week, as we partake of the Sacrament, we covenant ... that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ.
  • In 600 years, how will OUR names be remembered?
  • We are free to choose. But we are not free to choose the consequences of our decisions.
  • The commandments are PROTECTIVE, not restrictive.
    The commandments and our parents' rules are a protection for our physical and spiritual protection.
  • The Atonement is given because Heavenly Father knew we would make mistakes.
    He loves us and wants us to return.
  • "Would you think it? Would you say it? Would you do it if [the Savior] were there? Because He is."
M. Russell Ballard:
  • Lucifer knows our hungers and weaknesses. He tempts us with counterfeit bait.
    He will not let us go. He will attempt to make us as miserable as he is.
  • Satan uses addiction to steal away our agency.
  • Addiction = giving up your agency
  • Use self-discipline/self-mastery
  • Addictions can be drugs (including abuse of prescription drugs) or any kind of destructive behavior
    Stay away from any kind of substance that may ensnare you
    Just one drink can be the difference between addiction and sobriety
    Follow your prescriptions. Do not abuse them.
    Descructive habits can include gambling, pornography, texting, gaming.
    Social media is not a substitute for social interaction.
  • Addiction is a disease of the brain and of the spirit.
  • PRAYER will help break addiction.
  • All addiction is a futile attempt to fill an empty void with something of little or no value.
    Fill the void with something else.
  • Our goal is to be like the Savior.
  • Is is possible to overcome addiction and to gain spiritual freedom.
    It begins with prayer, but it doesn't stop there.
  • The Lord can and WILL free the addicted.
Thomas S. Monson: (Closing remarks)
  • Please take the time to reread the conference talks
  • God loves us and seeks our success.

Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice - Part 2

Okay, here's a General Conference continuation ...

Sunday Morning Session:

President Henry B. Eyring-
(Can I just pause to say how much I adore him? I know it's been, like, FIVE YEARS, but it was AMAZING to be in his presence at our Stake Conference. Bri and I got to sit next to each other, in the choir. He thanked the choir. And he is so, so darling and wonderful ... I just can't describe it. When Stake Conference was ending, I totally understood how Christ's followers felt when He was on the earth ... the whole, "Oh, don't go. Please? Can't you stay? For, like, forever????"-type feeling. ... And, oh, it does explain a lot why I'm still so bummed that President Hinckley passed away. And Neal A. Maxwell. ... And a lot of other leaders. I know. I'm kinda selfish. But I MISS them! And I don't like having to MISS people! ... Okay, back to Elder Eyring's talk)

  • Messages of encouragement are sent to you based on your needs.
  • God sends messages through authorized servants. 
  • He wants our trust. Lack of trust in God brings sorrow.
  • Following the prophet's counsel brings blessings. (Divine coincidences = tender mercies)
  • Trust in the Lord blesses communities as well as families. Trust in the Lord can bless nations.
  • He can and does place people in positions of influence.
  • Listen for God's word and you will find it -- in every song, sermon, and prayer in this conference.
Boyd K. Packer -
(He's in poor enough health that he's still delivering his talks from a chair. I was so worried that he'd die between conference sessions. So it was a huge relief to not only SEE him there but to have him talk. Phew!!!)
This is the talk that is the mot controversial, according to the Salt Lake Tribune's article.
  • Prophets have always been shown what we need in times of turmoil. (e.g., The Family Proclamation)
  • It is intended that we be happy, for men are that they might have joy.
  • Our agency is more powerful than the Adversary and his voice. Our vote is the deciding vote between Christ and Lucifer.
  • There is something very liberating when an individual chooses to follow God.
  • Power is not incidental to the Plan of Salvation. It is the KEY.
  • Satan has no ability to produce life. He wants all families separated and as miserable as himself.
  • The priesthood can break/erase/repel/repair a habit and an addiction.
  • Wickedness never was (and never can be) happiness.
  • A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. 
  • There are physical and moral laws.
    Moral laws cannot be changed by ballot or by battle.
  • If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties needs perish.
  • The church makes no apologies for its stance in regards to same-sex marriage.
  • Repentance is like detergent.
  • Forgiveness means FORGIVENESS. For yourself and others.
    Don't look back
    Delete from the mind any unworthy thought.
Yes, we are a peculiar people. And, as much as I love some individuals who suffer same-sex attraction, I cannot condone their behavior. But I love them. And I KNOW that they are loved by Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Their souls are PRECIOUS. ... And I ordered a copy of The Church's handbook about the Church's stance on same-sex attraction, "God Loveth His Children."
We do not, as many have accused, "hate gay people." We love them. God loves them. I testify that this is true. We love all people. We may not and can not love every choice that any person might make. But every soul is a precious child of God with infinite value. I know that this is true.

Jay E. Jensen
Upon hearing that he would be speaking, I told Michael, "*gasp!!* I know his name!! It's from Eric D. Snider's 'General Authorities Song!!!!'" ... Yes, I am just that special. :P ... Of course, the two versions of the "General Authorities Song" are why WHENEVER I hear L. Tom Perry being announced, I immediately think that he's really tall. (He's 6'3" ... so it's totally true.)
  • Develop your OWN testimony. Know for yourself.
  • The gift of the Holy Ghost is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon all men.
    It is not restricted to prophets and apostles. It is available to everyone old enough to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • The Holy Ghost testifies the truth of all things and leads one to do good. The Holy Ghost provides comfort.
  • The 4 cornerstones of The Church (Gordon. B. Hinckley):
    1. Jesus Christ
    2. The Atonement
    3. The Restoration
    4. The Scriptures
  • The things of the Spirit are sacred and difficult to express.
Mary N. Cook - First Counselor of the Young Women's General Presidency
  • Be examples to our children
    "We should not permit ourselves to do anything we don't want our children to do." - Brigham Young
  • Be examples of the believers in FAITH:
    Family and personal prayer daily
    Daily family and personal scripture study
  • If we have one hand on the Iron Rod (the word of God/the Gospel) and one hand in the world, our children will suffer.
  • Be an example of the believers in PURITY
    Read the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet often. Live the standards taught within.
    Keep your covenants.
Dallin H. Oaks:
  • We renew our covenants by partaking of the Sacrament.
  • We have 2 lines of communication with God
    1. Personal (prayer/inspiration)
    2. Priesthood (from our leadership)
    They work in tandem
  • Do not underestimate the importance of personal communication with God.
  • We cannot rely on personal revelation from God if we do not follow our leaders.
    Disobedience interferes with our personal line of communication with God.
  • The priesthood line of communication has the intermediaries of the Savior and one's personal leaders.
  • All people have direct personal access to God.
  • The personal line does not function independent of the Priesthood line.
  • Those who reject organized religion reject the Master who created a church at the meridian of time.
  • We should not be dependent upon one mortal mediator between us and our Savior.
  • Obedience is required.
  • Try and help yourself first: Ponder and pray individually first.
  • The children of God must have both lines to achieve their eternal destiny.
President Thomas S. Monson - Our Prophet! ^_^
  • The blessings of service
  • Luke 17:11-19 - The story of the ten lepers
  • "When you walk with gratitude, ... you walk with the Spirit." - Gordon B. Hinckley
    Full quote:  When you walk with gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives - August 1999 Visiting Teaching Message, "With a Grateful Heart"
  • When gratitude is given, miracles can happen (or be noticed)
  • Gratitude is a divine principle.
  • Pause and contemplate your blessings.
  • Gratitude is the parent of all other virtues.
  • "While there is much that is wrong in the world, there are so many things that are right!"
    (I LOVE how optimistic President Monson makes me feel!)
  • "This is a wonderful time to be on the earth!"
  • "There are marriages that make it; parents who love their children and sacrifice for them!"
  • Things that money cannot buy and those things that cultivate a deep sense of gratitude (especially loved ones, family, good health, etc); These thing and people are often what we take for granted.
  • "Human beings have an almost infinite capacity for ingratitude." - Aldous Huxley
  • Refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought.
  • Take advantage of ALL opportunities to express gratitude. This will minimize feelings of regret
    To feel gratitude and not express it is like wrapping a gift and never giving it.
  • "Humility does not come from thinking less of yourself, but thinking less about yourself." - Dieter F. Uchdorf
  • Giving thanks "unlocks the doors of heaven an helps us feel God's love. The Savior gave thanks for what they had and a miracle followed." (referring to the miracle of the loaves and the fishes)
  • Love overpowers jealousy and light overpowers darkness out of our lives.
    Pride destroys our gratitude and sets selfishness in its place.
  • To live with gratitude in our heart is to touch heaven.
  • The Saviour's live is a legacy of love.
    With all we have to be grateful for, let us never forget to declare out gratitude for our Savior, Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to die.
This one is getting really long. And I have PAGES of notes from the afternoon session, so I'm going to break this one up. Stay tuned!!!

Come, Listen to a Prophet's Voice - Part 1

For my friends of other faiths, this post is going to be full of church-speak. Just so you're aware.

General Conference was this last weekend. I've never gone to Utah to the Conference Center (or, back in the day, to the Tabernacle, where Conference used to be held). I've always watched it either at home, at the church building, or listened to it over the internet.

Lately, I've also started following the #ldsconf stream over at Twitter. Yay for technology! When there were some issues with the audio or with my internet lagging, I checked the twitstream and was able to figure out what I was missing. Most excellent.

Also, I was tickled at how much Brother Henneke (@ihenpecked) commented. And how funny and eloquent he is ... since I know him in real life. His wife was one of my classmates in the Ed Program at college. They are good folks. I like them both very much.

If you don't know what General Conference is, here's the deal: Twice a year, we gather to listen to talks delivered by our prophet, his counselors, and selected apostles and leaders of the church. It's pretty awesome ... none of the speakers are issued a topic to speak on. They all have to rely on personal revelation and write and deliver a talk for all the members of the church. So it's interesting to note what themes appear.

This year, Michael bought me speakers for my computer, so I could hear the talks over the kids. So, Saturday and Sunday, you found me during the morning and afternoon sessions, sitting at my desk, speakers up, wielding a pen and a spiral-bound notebook ... watching the video feed of conference on half of my computer screen, while checking the twitterstream in the other browser window on the other half of my screen.
(Note to self: In April, set up TWO monitors. Because that'll be even cooler. Big speakers, TWO MONITORS ... I'm an evil genius of spirituality!!!!! Mwahahahaaaaaaa!!!! ... )
(Um, yeah. I'm aware that that barely makes sense at all. ... But it DOES give me a use for my old computer's monitor. So ... Yeah.)

OKAY. Now to leave off blathering about computers and all ... to the main stuff.


We missed all of President Thomas S. Monson (our prophet)'s opening remarks. There were some issues with the audio. So I relied soley on just WATCHING. HIS. MOUTH. (and I really can't lipread well at all) and on checking out the twitterstream.
Still ... FIVE new temples! Yay!!! Two here in the states (Indianapolis and Hartford, CT) and three abroad (Philippines; Lisbon, Portugal, and Tijuana. --> I cannot spell two of those at all without spell-check.)
And he also reiterated that every worthy young man should be prepared to (and should) serve a mission.

Jeffery R. Holland - Oh, my. I love this man. He's always so nice. And he's funny. And I just love him.

  • "You are loved of God individually."
  • He publicly thanked his parents, the leaders and teachers in the church, the parents, the helpers, friends of other faiths, the youth ... It was so sweet and sincere.
Rosemary M. Wixon - General President of the Primary
  • No child needs to walk alone in the Gospel.
  • Children don't need perfect parents -- just honest and sincere ones.
  • Teach by example. Teach the power of prayer and of the scriptures.
Cladio R. M. Costa - 
  • The importance of living prophets in the latter days
  • President Ezra Taft Benson's 14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet
David M. McConkie - General Sunday School - First Counselor
  • The "How" of learning
  • What matters most is the ATTITUDE of the TEACHER, the spirit with which he teaches.
  • A teacher's attitude is caught not taught.
  • Study the scriptures daily, separate from lesson preparation, to develop a love of the scriptures.
  • We cannot teach what we do not love. We cannot love that which we do not know.
  • Pray for inspiration to reach EACH individual student.
  • Do not postpone promptings of the Spirit.
  • Sometimes the answer is to read the scriptures and study the lesson manual.
Elder Todd D. Christofferson - 
  • Life offers 2 precious gifts: Time and the freedom of choice
  • A consecrated life is a life full of work, full of service.
  • Wholesome recreation is the friend and steadying companion of work
  • Life will be long enough for each spirit. All bodies will be resurrected.
  • We all have a duty to God in caring for and protecting our mortal bodies.
  • Immodesty is defiling to the body, just like drugs and immoral behavior.
  • It it naive to think that we are not accountable to God.
President Dieter F. Uchdorf - Second Counselor to President Monson-
  • Too often, we feel that the more rushed our pace -- regardless of the turbulence or obstacles -- the better off we are.
  • "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Leonardo da Vinci
  • Find meaning in life -- Don't just be busy.
  • Be diligent in doing the things that matter most in bringing us to the Savior.
  • Focus on (1) our relationship with God, (2) our families, (3) out fellowmen, (4) our own selves.
  • Love can be spelled T-I-M-E.
  • Strength comes from relying on what matters most.

Elder Robert D. Hales - 
  • Agency - the ability to act for ourselves and to not just be acted upon.
  • Satan's plan would deny us our agency
  • It's interesting that the world proclaims freedom from religion while allowing themselves to be captives of sin and addiction.
  • We must continue to choose to follow the Savior. Eternity is at stake!
  • Returning to the Lord (repentance) isn't easy. But it IS worth it!
  • By our righteous choices, we liberate our children from darkness, giving them the ability to walk in the light.
  • Are we practicing "selective obedience" due to our fear of the world? Or are we following the prophet with exactness?
Quentin L. Cook - 
  • We need to preserve light, to protect our friends and family from moral denigration.
  • Increase family religious observation: Family Home Evening, daily family scripture study and prayer.
  • Light and truth WILL be preserved in our time.
  • The majority of people try to be good and honorable
  • Religion is critically important to democracy (When people feel accountable for their actions, they make better citizens. Religion teaches that we are accountable to God.)
  • All views -- religious AND secular -- need to be heard in the public square. Our views don't have to be automatically accepted, but they need to be heard.
Richard C. Edgely  - 
  • Satan is ever so real, ever so active.
  • Challenges are opportunities to become acquainted with God in a more private and personal manner.
  • Choose faith -- a choice of peace and protection -- over doubt, fear, the unknown, and pessimism.
  • Faith moves mountains of sin, despair, and pain.
Kevin R. Duncan - 
  • "This is the place" -- talking of the Saints'/the Mormon Pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley
    Not all the Saints believed this.
  • "He will temper the elements for the good of the Saints." -- Brigham Young
    (Every prophecy made by Brigham Young came to pass.)
  • The only sure and secure road is trusting and obeying the words of the prophets.
  • Our very salvation hangs on following the prophet
  • Ezra Taft Benson's 14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet [Notice a recurring theme??]
Elder Gerrit W. Gong - 
  • "Make your first honeymoon last 50 years. Then begin your second honeymoon."
  • The power is not in us to save ourselves. We must rely on the Savior.
  • Sometimes, through no fault of our own, things will go wrong.
  • We can trust in our Heavenly Father for complete redemption.
  • As we reach out to others, we bless generations.
  • Nothing can separate us from God's love.
Neil L. Anderson - 
  • The Lord has not left us alone in our journey toward Him.
  • Don't be easily offended or ashamed. Be careful. Don't be deceived.
  • No one is immune from the influences of the world.
  • The road of discipleship is not for the faint of heart. (Be brave)
  • We don't want life to be a brief flirtation with spirituality.
  • If you are offended or ashamed, that warns of dangers ahead.
  • If we are not watchful, our injured spirit will leave behind the warm, healing light of the Savior.
  • Learn from rebuke and reform -- Put some issues on a shelf to be understood at a later time.
  • "If ye love me, keep my commandments."
Elder Richard G. Scott - 
  • When faith is properly understood, it can transform an individual's life to a symphony of joy and happiness.
  • Exercising faith allows for a greater capacity to exercise more faith.
  • "We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become."
  • Character is woven from the threads of principle, doctrine, and obedience. It is not developed in times of trial; that is when it is expected to be used.
  • Strong character comes from consistent choices. Integrity is the bedrock of character.
  • Every time you walk to the boundary of your faith, you will be led to find a solution you may not have seen otherwise.
  • Eternal salvation comes from many correct choices. Correct decisions are not difficult to make.
  • "You get what you pay for" -- applies just as much to spiritual things.
  • Character is the manifestation of what you are becoming. Righteous character will endure for eternity.
  • 4 principles for developing righteous character: (1) Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. (2) Repentence. (3) Obedience. (4) Selfless service.
  • You are making better progress than you realize
  • Satan cannot destroy character. Only we are able to destroy our own character.
YES, I DID take lots of notes. You should see what I have for my next post ... which consists of Sunday's two sessions.

Michael says that Priesthood session (Saturday evening's session -- geared toward the menfolk, aged 12+) was just as good as the morning and afternoon sessions.
(I still need to finish reading/watching the General Relief Society Broadcast [geared for the women 16+, since the Laurel class of the Young Women are invited to attend] ... and the Young Women's General Broadcast [for girls 12+ and their leaders] ... since, you know, the Lord loves us enough to give us TWO special meetings. ^_^)

I am grateful that we have a living prophet who receives revelation for us. I am grateful that we are blessed by a God who loves us all individually and values all people, regardless of skin color, nationality, gender, sexuality, religion, age, or any other differing factor.

... And, YES, I did print out a copy of President Benson's "14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet."
I can take a hint. (If the link doesn't work, it's in the June 1981 Liahona magazine.)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Perfection ...

There are times when I read something and I just sit and think to myself, "GOSH. How powerful. How eloquent. ... I wish that I'd written that."

Here's a link to one of those articles:

And ... I really do agree with that.

I am NOT perfect.
  • I yell at my kids when I get frustrated.
  • I get snippity with my husband.
  • I don't read my scriptures everyday ... let alone STUDY them.
  • Sometimes, I forget to pray by myself.
  • I'm not in the habit of praying over meals all the time.
  • My house is NEVER going to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens or any of those magazines featuring BEAUTIFUL, CLEAN houses.
  • I can be very sarcastic.
  • I can be over-sensitive ... and then I overanalyze other's remarks.
  • I worry. Far. Too. Much.
  • I use curse words.
  • I'm materialistic and shallow and vain.
  • I can be manipulative.
  • I'm lazy.
  • I'm never going to be supermodel slim.
  • Some people think that because I'm LDS that I'm automatically a self-righteous, homophobic polygamist and an affront to God. Or that I'm narrow-minded and ill-educated. Or that I'm just brainwashed and treated as a second-class citizen in my own home and church. ... These are not true. But some people are CONVINCED that this is how it is. And there's no way to convince them that anything else could be the truth.
I have many more imperfections, don't worry. I'm completely aware that I am flawed.

And still, with all those things ... I'm still able to be happy.
Maybe because I'm honest about my imperfections.
Maybe because I KNOW that I am a daughter of Heavenly Father, that He loves me -- even when I'm not perfect, that my nature is divine and that I am of individual worth. And that NOTHING that anybody ever says or does will change that.

So what if I'm .... more cuddly than svelte? Who really cares?
I have opportunities everyday to improve upon my habits (or habits-to-be) of scripture study and prayer, to develop patience with others and myself, to love others with more charity.

I have unlimited potential ... if I allow myself to realize it. Yes, I will not be THE. BEST. EVER. at everything ... Heck, I may not ever be the BEST. EVER. at ANYTHING ... but I can try. 
Because any effort is a GOOD effort.

One thing that I do seem to be good at is loving people ... I'm not ALWAYS great at it ... but I usually can appreciate others.

One thing that touched me recently was that, out of the blue, one of the girls I was friends with in high school wrote me a message on Facebook. About how she really appreciated that I never judged her. That my mom and I were such good Christian folk that it gave her faith in Christ (since there had been others who had told her off for her behavior as part of their "Christian duty"). She wanted me to know that she was turning her life around ... and that she was a much happier person. And she wanted to thank me.

I mean, really, just THINKING about this gets me all teary-eyed. I don't really take any credit as doing anything out of the ordinary. This girl is my friend. I genuinely liked (and still do, of course, like) her. I love her sense of humor and her candid nature. Being around her made me happy. 

I really can't imagine who would have reprimanded her for her behavior. Yes, she and I had different lifestyles, I suppose. We didn't spend much time outside of school together. But I was always thrilled to be able to talk and joke with her at school. (In fact, to be completely honest, I always felt SO. FLATTERED. that she'd allow me to be part of her circle while we were in classes. She was more popular than I was. And I was touched by her kindness in allowing awkward, dorky ME to hang around.)

True, there are times that I've been MUCH. LESS. KIND than what I should have been. I became the ONE. FRIEND. of a girl at school. And I needed space. I wrote her a note saying that I felt stifled. And I shared it with my friends ... mostly to check and see if I was being too harsh. And they all signed it. ... And I gave it to her anyways.
One girl at school (who wasn't very friendly to the one girl) called me out as a b**** over that.
No, I wasn't proud.
In fact, I really wish that I had a do-over on that one.
And, truly, I consider it a HUGE kindness on the one girl's part that she has allowed me to be her friend on Facebook. 

Life is a growing experience. And to demand perfection of anyone who's just learning something is not reasonable. ... When you're learning to play piano, your teacher doesn't sit you down and demand that you play sonatas flawlessly from memory on the first day. When you're learning a sport, they teach you the fundamentals before expecting Olympian-level performance.

I strongly believe that life is the same way.

We all are going to make mistakes. It's a learning experience.
Our duty is to LEARN from our mistakes and the experiences of others. To learn to make better choices and to deal with the consequences ... especially of choices that we shouldn't have made (or other's choices that were forced upon us).

We are free to choose our responses to the situations with which we are faced. 
We are free to choose if we will respond with love and joy and a willingness to learn and grow ... or with hate, despair, and irresponsibility.

I do worry about the choices that my children will have to make as they grow. And that's why it's my job, as their mother, to help them learn how to choose wisely for themselves. And to know that they are loved, regardless of what happens ... that Michael and I will love them and do our best to help them (or to find someone who can) solve their problems. And to rely on their Heavenly Father's love and guidance to help them through this learning experience.

Let's be kinder to each other. And to ourselves.
Perfection can be exhausting.

Counting ...

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