Friday, April 26, 2013

Yes, I've totally missed a day. Yikes!

So, yeah ... I was busybusybusy ... and tired.

The house is still mostly clean and ready. Freyja-cat is kinda drugged out (yay for kitty prozac! Taking the anxiety out of social anxiety) ... but she did eventually come lay by me in bed and get some loves when I woke up in the middle of the night.

I dreamed that the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors were all concurrently alive and had disappeared. And there was only one way to get them back. I had to kiss whoever was going to be on an asphalt pad. And it was Sherlock ... well, it was going to be. There were a couple chalk outlines of him. one was of his shadow all splayed out like when he fell. And ... well, Sherlock is NOT that kind of guy. It'd be like kissing Sheldon Cooper. Just not done.

And then I woke up. So , yeah ... apparently my dreams are now sponsored by the BBC?

I volunteered and came home. Mom and I went out to lunch and to pick up some last-minute supplies for packing. I finished making the kids' autograph books (just made a collage on MS publisher and taped it to the front of a sketch diary ... then covered it with clean shelf liner) this morning. Michael and I ran some errands and are having some quiet time before the kids get home. Bubbles got a bath and is NOT taking a nap. Silly girl.

Okay, so I have scriptures and talks to catch up on:

Mosiah 16-17
  • Chapter 16 - REPENTANCE. And lots about Christ's role in the Atonement.
  • Chapter 17 starts with  Abinadi having finished speaking ... and what does the king do?
    IMMEDIATE declares that Abinadi is to be put to death.
    Dude, Noah ... don't you think you're being a little hasty? How's about you ruminate on the message, do a little soulsearching? ... Apparently not.
    (Bad choice, Noah. Bad choice.)
  • There is ONE priest of all the people there, Alma, who listened to Abinadi's words ...He believed. He even petitioned King Noah and the other priests to let Abinadi go safely.
    but Noah's all, "NO! I KILL HIM!! AND I KILL YOU!!"
    So Alma has to run away to the wilderness.
    He hides and writes all of Abinadi's words
  • Abinadi is thrown into prison for three days. Then the guards bring him out again.
    Noah tells him to recant. Abinadi won't. He (Abinadi, not Noah) tells them that if they slay him, it will be shedding innocent blood ... and that testimony will stand against them at Judgment Day.
    Noah is about to let him go, since that's a strong threat ... but the priests are all, "No, he needs to die."
    And, as Abinadi's put to death (burned alive), he proclaims that Noah will meet the same fate. And there will be punishments for killing a prophet of God. (No, really ... BAD THINGS ARE GONNA HAPPEN.
    And then Abinadi dies.
As John Bytheway wonders, did Abinadi KNOW that Alma listened and believed?
That's a pretty powerful question. 

Okay, the talks that I need to go over ...

First is "The Lord's Way" by Elder Stanley G. Ellis
  • We are not spiritual orphans! We are direct spiritual descendants of a loving Heavenly Father.
  •  "What are the advantages of having parents—of not being an orphan? We can learn from them, benefit from their experience, avoid pitfalls they warn us about, and understand better because of their perspective. We don’t have to be lost, confused, deceived, or less effective. This is especially true in the case of our Heavenly Father, who has taught us and shown us not just a way but the way."
  • God has a plan for us. If we follow his way, we will receive wonderful blessings of guidance and strength.
  • There are guidelines that He has given us ... in helping the poor, we are encouraged to give help when and how we can ... but we must not do for others what they can and should do for themselves (He has also commanded us to be self-sufficent).
    "The Lord has His way, or the way, to love. Those of the world say that what really matters is that two people love each other. Our Father in Heaven teaches that this is important, but He teaches us more: that there is an authorized way and time to express that love."
  • We need to govern ourselves. And to do what we can IN HIS WAY. Because HE knows best. He will help us in our efforts to help ourselves and others.
  • After the resurrection  Christ appeared to His apostles. He taught them ... and He commanded them to go forth and to preach the gospel to all the world. At first, the gospel was only taken to Israel, then (after revelation to Peter), it was given to others.
  • This mandate is still in place.
  • When the Church was restored in 1830, missionaries were sent to preach.
    In 1978, the priesthood was extended to all worthy males.
    These are in preparation for Christ's second coming.
  • The gospel is going to people all over the world. It is not just an American religion. It is a worldwide religion ... many different cultures have accepted the restored Gospel.
  • "How I wish you could join the Saints in the temple in Aba, Nigeria, or Accra, Ghana, where you would sense the commitment of the Saints and come to know the all-African temple presidencies. Or how I wish I could introduce you to the African Area Seventies, who are assembled with us here in the Conference Center today and are attorneys, professors, and business managers, or have you become acquainted with the African stake and ward leaders and their families.
    Across Africa, to join a Sunday School, auxiliary, or priesthood class is a sacred experience, where the Church curriculum is followed and there is great gospel understanding, teaching, and learning by the Spirit.
    The gospel in Africa is going to a happy people, very unencumbered by the trappings that affect the lives of many in the West. They are not concerned about having endless material possessions.
    It has been said of Africans that they have very little of that which matters least and a great deal of that which matters most. They have little interest in enormous homes and the finest cars but great interest in knowing their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and in having eternal families. As a natural result of their faith, the Lord is lifting them in meaningful ways.
    Knowing them as we do, we are not surprised that they would be such an important part of the expansion of the Church of Jesus Christ in the last days. Given that Daniel, the Old Testament prophet, envisioned the kingdom of God in the last days “roll[ing] forth unto the ends of the earth, as [a] stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands [would] roll forth, until it [had] filled the whole earth” (D&C 65:2), it is very fitting that our wonderful African brothers and sisters would be an important part of the fulfillment of that prophecy and that the revelations making it so would follow the Lord’s established patterns."
  • This talk just makes me smile. And get a little misty-eyed. I'm so grateful to know that Heavenly Father loves ALL His children. And that His gospel will be made available to all people (they don't have to all accept it. It's totally their choice. But they will have an opportunity to hear it. Maybe not all will hear it during their mortal life ... but, well, it just makes me happy.
So, I don't know how often I'll be near a computer to blog for the next few days. But (1) please don't break into our house. You'll scare the sitter. And Freyja-cat won't think highly of it either. Nor will our neighbors. and (2) I hope that you are all healthy and happy and won't miss me too much. ;P

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I'm on fyyyah!

But not literally ... because I cannot afford to be suffering from 3rd-degree burns right now.

I spent most of the day either entertaining Bubbles or cleaning the bathroom counters in our bathroom.
(I have a LOT of stuff on the counters. But it's now organized and the counters are clean.)

Mom didn't come up today, since she had to take my stepdad to the doctor's ... Had to change some medicine.

Got fast food for dinner (had birthday coupons for myself and bruise and Bucket to use). The employees were so great. We came in to order to-go, since Michael had a meeting shortly after he would get home from work. On the way in, Bubbles lost BOTH shoes (one outside) and, I had a drink holder AND a baby in my hands for the way out ... so one employee got BOTH of Bubbles' shoes ... and a volunteer there carried the bags of food out to the car. Isn't that so sweet?

But, yeah ... now to get everyone's clothes packed (and my makeup). Then maybe my brain will solidify again ... I wrote an email and instead of referring to an event on a date NEXT week, I wrote it as a date that had already passed. >.< Whoops!!

Okay ... So Mom is coming up tomorrow. I have volunteering, then packing and running out for some supplies (which I might save until Friday. Maybe.) ... But the house is clean(ish). Phew.

And my sinuses are a LOT clearer (even though I spaced taking my allergy medicine ... I'll do that when I go to bed, I think.) ... yay for Priesthood blessings!
(I'm not even going to TELL you how dark and huge what came out of my head after using a neti pot today. SO GROSS. Don't even think about it. Think about unicorns or pansies or the exact timbre and cadence of Alan Rickman's voice!)

So, I should do my reading, yes? (YES.)

Today's section is Mosiah 15:10 -15:31
  • Abinadi is still talking (hey, he knows it's his last chance with these folk).
  • He talks of the role of the Savior, the Atonement, repentance, the resurrection ... there's a lot there.
Yeah, I'm not going to sum up because I. AM. TIRED.

And now to read "Personal Peace: The Reward of Righteousness" by Elder Quentin L. Cook
  • The main idea is the role of Jesus Christ in helping us each obtain peace -- lasting, personal peace.
  • There are events in life that will take away our peace and make us feel vulnerable.
    Compare: The birth of the Savior vs. the slaughter of the innocents ordered by Herod.
  • Agency is central to the plan of happiness/the plan of salvation (what the Gospel is all about/why we NEED a savior)
  • Agency allows wonderful things (love, growth), but also allows terrible things (pain, suffering, ... anything that makes headlines in the news ...). Sometimes the bad things will be caused by things we don't understand (like natural events) or by other people's poor choices.
  • We are not going to have universal peace in this life
  • Good people everywhere have and will always strive for peace. Never give up ... once everyone receives God's truth and message, and acknowledges His power and authority, we will have peace.
  • We can have peace in our lives through our righteousness. It's promised in the atonement. We will have an abiding happiness and spiritual contentment.
  •  "Peace is not just safety or lack of war, violence, conflict, and contention. Peace comes from knowing that the Savior knows who we are and knows that we have faith in Him, love Him, and keep His commandments, even and especially amid life’s devastating trials and tragedies."
  • The source of peace is the Savior, the author and Prince of peace.
  • Th stay close to the Savior, we must humbles ourselves. Pray always. Repent of our since. Be baptized. Be true disciples. Be righteous.
    If we do these things, we will have peace of conscience ... which is essential for being content.
  • We can gain peace through church and through the temple.
  •  "Lift up your hearts in praise to God;
    Let your rejoicings never cease.
    Though tribulations rage abroad,
    Christ says, “In me ye shall have peace.” (Eliza R. Snow
  • So ... basically, if you want peace, start with yourself. And you need Jesus for it. Because, like the church signs/billboards say: "No Jesus = no peace. Know Jesus = know peace."
It really is just that simple ... so, yeah.

Okay, I need to close up and pay attention to Michael.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

Today is a bullet point type of blogging day.
(And not just the Scripture part of it.)

Today, I:

  • got up
  • made the kids' lunches
  • had them clean off their tables (since Bubbles was asleep and they couldn't work on their room, which REALLY needed LOTS of work)
  • Got the kids off to school
  • Did dishes
  • Filled up a crapload of water bottles
  • Put Bubbles to nap
  • Cleaned out some cabinets (Rubbermaid food containers, glass cookware, other cookware, small appliances, pots and pans, glasses)
  • Grabbed a shower, got dressed, got Bubbles up and dressed, went Visiting Teaching
  • Fed Bubbles
  • Blew up the air mattress (to be sure that the patch job is holding)
  • Cleaned up the laundry room (took out bags of plastic bags, got laundry started again, vacuumed the floors, tidied up the counters, put the water bottles in that fridge
  • Put Bubbles back down for a nap
  • Cleaned out the fridges and the laundry room freezer
  • Cleaned the hall bathroom
  • Cleaned more cabinets (mugs, kids' stuff -- like arts and crafts things)
  • Kids got home
  • I let them go out to play while I ... did something ... I don't even know. Oh, I made dinner.
  • I helped them clean their room a little ... until I got frustrated with Bucket trying to outsmart us by hiding clean clothes (rather than PUT. THEM. AWAY.) ... which is only SLIGHTLY better than throwing clean clothes back into the laundry.
  • Cleaned out my purse and diaper bag.
  • Cleaned off memory cards for the cameras.
  • Made a list of what all to pack ... must remember to pack Bumbo seat. It'll make life easier.
  • Cleaned the fish tank
Tomorrow, my plan is to clean our bathroom ... the hardest part will be organizing the counters. Then Mom will be up. She and I will watch the Netflix DVD (Michael's on a No-Media Week challenge. I was honest from the start that I was NOT going to be able to do that. AT ALL.) ... then, um ... I don't know what'll happen then.

I'm fighting off a nasal-thing. I know that one side of my nose is all stuffed up and inflamed. But Michael gave me a blessing, so it'll all be good.

I'm just about caught up on dishes. And I'm caught up on laundry ... now to KEEP it that way, right?

Now to read my scriptures and the conference talk ... I know I should have done it earlier. But they only posted today's reading ... not very long ago. So, really, I'm not all that behind!

Mosiah 14:1-15:9
  • You should just read it. Abinadi testifies of the Savior. His appearance to the Nephites is foretold ... Seriously, just read it. It's not terribly long. And it's good.
  • I mean, really ... Abinadi just wants them to understand about Jesus.
Conference Talk - "For Peace at Home" - Richard G. Scott
  • "The ideal place for that peace is within the walls of our own homes, where we have done all we can to make the Lord Jesus Christ the centerpiece."
  • Regardless of our circumstances (married, single, if we have a worthy priesthood member in the home or not), we can center our homes and lives on Jesus Christ.
  • It's not just up to parents to determine the spirituality of the home; Children can help to assist in maintaining peace in the home and being a good example.
  • Obey the commandments.
  • Technology can be used as an enhancement to spiritual communication (e.g., reading your scriptures on your smartphone). Be wise in how you embrace technology. 
  • "When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God—power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord." 
  • "One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds."
  • "Recognize the good in others, not their stains. At times a stain needs appropriate attention to be cleansed, but always build on his or her virtues."
  • Don't try to accomplish everything at once. If we do our best, and turn to the Lord in prayer, He will guide us to do the most-needed things. 
  • There will still be trials ... but, a Christ-centered home will be a place of strength, peace, and refuge.
Okay ... I'm really, really tired. It was hard to type this all correctly. If there are any glaring errors, please bear with me, okay?

I don't have a lot to say about this talk. It's good ... don't get me wrong. But I don't have anything really to add.

Except that I liked the shout-out to good technology! Whoo!! ... Yeah. Wow, I'm tired.

Okay. Shutting up now.

Monday, April 22, 2013

A clean desk ...

So, yeah, I cleaned my desktop. No, the PHYSICAL one. Not just the one on my computer screen.

And ... well, let me tell you, it's a little surreal. And it's not PRISTINE clean. OH HECK NO. But it's a TON cleaner and less cluttered. I had a HUUUUUUUGE pile of recycling and a bunch of junk on there. And it's a lot less dusty, too.

Effective use of Bubbles' naptime? I think YES.

So, I'm rewarding myself with ice cream.
SHUSH. I EARNED IT.

So, I came home early from church. Bubbles was tired, but was not going to take a nap at church. No matter what. So ... well, I took her home and she napped. And I had some quiet time and felt like a loser for missing Relief Society. (I'm about to count the weeks down until Bubbles starts Nursery. (18-month-olds enter a Nursery class until they're three. Then they start Sunday School properly. LOTS of parents get to the point where they look forward to Nursery starting. With Bruise and Bucket, we were invited to bring them in a little early ... like a month or so before ... and stay in Nursery with them. This was a nice way to get them acclimated to it. On their first REAL day of Nursery, Bruise ran in, ready to go. Didn't even want to give us kisses or say "bye" since there were SUCH FUN TO BE HAD! ... Bucket, however, needed a little encouragement.)

I will admit, I'm tempted to just go hang out in Nursery. At least I'd be able to hear a lesson without having to attempt to keep Bubbles quiet and from toddling up to the front of the classroom.

LOTS of people at church (especially considering how short of a time period I was there) remarked on my hair. So, that lets you know how much brighter a red it is now. Do I mind? Nope. If someone didn't like it, would I care? Nope. My hair, my rules. And I know how to deliver a "stop talking" type of line while maintaining a "butter wouldn't melt in my mouth" expression.

Well, I'm pretty much caught up on laundry ... the washing and drying part of it. I should have another load to wash by the end of the day. So, that's good.
I should wash a couple loads of dishes (maybe I can fit it all into just one load?) ... and that'll be caught up.
Then to clean off all the kitchen counters ... and clean some cupboards, too. Then to sweep and scrub the floor. Then to clean up the laundry room and the hall bathroom. AND, if I have time this week, clean up OUR bathroom and the floor on my side of the bed. Then vacuum it. And the kids' room.

(The kids have their own jobs to get done this week:

  • Monday - Clean up books/magazines by their bookshelf
  • Tuesday - Clean their room (includes putting away clothes properly)
  • Wednesday - Clean their tables
  • Thursday - Just keep the house clean!! And make sure that they're packed!)
So, yeah ... things are getting into gear. We have a housesitter all lined up. Our neighbors are going to keep an eye on the place, too. So, if you're reading, please don't break into the house. I'm sure you're much too pretty and kind to go to prison. So don't take any chances!

I've worked at getting music updated on my iPod (5th generation, baby ... it's practically an antique by now! That's how I roll with Apple products, apparently. ;P) ... so, there's that. Got all the passes and reservation papers and coupons printed out. *phew*

Now to just get packed and the house ready for everything. I can do this.
I mean, heck, my desk and 90% of the front room is ready. Now to get the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and laundry room ready! And pack up that car! It's going to be so full.
(Someday we'll be able to afford to just travel with the clothes on our back and a toiletry kit. THIS is NOT that trip. :P)

Michael figured out what was wrong with the air mattress. Last week, my mom ended up on the floor twice. There's a hole in it. We'll patch that tonight. And finish getting the bedroom doorknob aright. Since it still doesn't have the two screws to keep it together, Bruise and I (at different times) have been trapped inside the bedroom. Whoops!

I did my Lumnosity (brain stuff) practice. And I practiced Spanish (went pretty well for how much I neglected it) and German (verdammt. ... Could have been better. But, hey, at least I practiced, right?).

So I NEED to get my reading/study assignments done, right? RIGHT.

Today's reading is Mosiah 13:5-13:15
  • Abinadi was right when he told the priests not to touch him (or else they'd die). He preaches (while glowing, like Moses on Sinai) with authority from the Lord. And he states that, after his message is finished, it doesn't matter what happens to him. He knows that he's right with the Lord. He preaches of the Ten Commandments and of the Law of Moses. He foretells of the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, when we will need to keep a higher law (Christ's commandments).
    He explains WHY we have the law of Moses, why God didn't just give us the higher law THEN. He tells of the coming of the Son of God.
  • I ... I just don't get why people didn't listen to Abinadi. I mean ... he's GLOWING.
    Maybe they were really distracted by that? But still, why would you be mean to a guy who glows? I think that it'd be rather scary, especially if you weren't already on his side.
  • It's good to be reminded of (as in Exodus) why Moses' people didn't get the higher law. God was all ready to give it to them ... but they grew tired of waiting for Moses to come back from the mountain and thought that worshipping an idol and being VERY naughty was some type of a good idea.
    So, Moses comes down with the higher law ... and sees what's going on. And he KNOWS that these people are NOT AT ALL ready for these commandments. So, to protect them from themselves, he goes back and gets commandments that they CAN manage to keep. Like how we get a learner's permit and have to practice a lot before we can get a driver's license (at least, as a teenager). Or how we have prerequisites for high school and college classes. Because, most times, we all NEED to take those preparatory classes first so that  we won't fail.
  • But ... he was GLOWING!!!!! Seriously ... glowing.
Today's talk is ... well, it's a bunch of things:
  1. The Sustaining of Church Officers (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
  2. Church Auditing Department Report, 2012 (Robert W. Cantwell)
  3. Statistical Report, 2012 (Brook P. Hales)
  • So, this is all the start of the Saturday Afternoon Session of Conference ... In case you wondered what was going on (if you want, you can always head over to lds.org and read/watch it yourselves. No pressure, though. I know that I don't always want to be told what to do.)
  • So, first things first, we all have the opportunity to sustain our General Authorities ... those leaders over the wider geographical regions of the church (as opposed to Stake or Ward leaders, who have much, much smaller geographical regions to preside over). Like, how the prophet leads the whole church. And the General Relief Society Board is over all the adult women, since they're in charge of the other Relief Society leaders.
  • It's quite powerful to see all the hands be raised to show support for our leaders. It's also a great experience to be able to do so yourself ... a little bit of a testimony to yourself, "This man/these leaders is/are called of God. They are all here to serve us. I will do what I can to support them in their efforts."
  • Wow, there are a LOT of people serving us in the church. LOTS.
    And, remember, we have a lay clergy ... so they're doing this for US, not for any paycheck. And it's not like they have fan clubs or get a lot of acclaim. So, wow, they must really love us.
  • On to the Auditing Report ... It's really short. Elder Cantwell (I wonder if people call him "CountWell" since he works with finances ...), well, Michael says that he, indeed, sounds like an auditor. I am always intrigued by how he sounds as he talks. His voice is so far back in his throat that it sounds like he's swallowing his words as he delivers them. 
  • The Auditing Report avows that the Church has been using its funds responsibly and reporting their use accurately.
  • (Truth be told, I really never listen much to this ... So it's good to read it. Not exactly thrilling, mind you. But reassuring. And it's good to know that SOMEONE out there can follow a budget ... Too bad our political leaders can't follow that example. :/ )
  • The Statistical Report is also rather dry ... until you compare it over time. It's amazing to see how the church has grown (Started out with six guys in one ward back in 1830 to 14,782,4773 members  worldwide by the end of 2012). We have 140 temples in service now ... Pretty big stuff.
I didn't really get any huge spiritual insights from this section of Conference ... but it is reassuring: I support and sustain our leaders. I have a testimony that they are called of God, that they serve us because they love us, that God wants these men and women in these positions. I'm glad that the Church manages its funds well and honestly. Tithing doesn't seem like such a sacrifice if you know that the funds are doing what is best for the world ... and not just going to line someone's cashmere pockets or something. And the Church is still growing. Missionaries are doing their work. Good stuff.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

More stuff ... Nothing exceedingly clever ...

Okay, Bubbles is MOSTLY napping before church. Mostly.
And the kids and I are all dressed. And I have a little bit of time. Instead of eating breakfast so that I'm not a crankypants, I'm going to blog, instead.

We had to replace the bathroom hall's doorknob. The spring inside the old one was giving out ... so we couldn't get IN to that bathroom. Yeah. Not cool. Since we HAVE to close that door to keep Bubbles from playing in the toilet.

We also put a new doorknob on our bedroom door, so we can lock ourselves in (PHWOAR!), but it didn't come with the needed screws (NOT a pun), so Michael will need to go back to Home Depot ... but not today, because it's the Sabbath.

I've gotten Bucket's hair done ... and, well, there's a lot of yelling going on. And she and Bruise are crashing around like a small herd of elephants ... and since Bubbles IS down for a nap, I'd like her to GET that nap.
So, no matter what, I DO sound like a cranky McCrankerpants.

Well, let's get somewhat spiritual ... let's read.

Today's section is Mosiah (duh, right) 12:17-13:4

  • King Noah puts Abinadi in prison and he and his dudes council together what to do with him. They question him, hoping that he'll get tripped up in his words and they can accuse him of lying and then put him to death. But, instead, they're confounded in THEIR words.
  • Abinadi teaches of Christ and His commandments. The priests say that they teach the law of Moses. And Abinadi's all (paraphrasing), "If you teach the law of Moses, why aren't you keeping it? You know that I'm telling the truth. So, tell me, does salvation come by the law of Moses?"
    And they're all, "Um ... yes?" But Abinadi's all, "Dudes, if you KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS, yes, you will be saved ... and here's what those commandments ARE ... (and he lists some of them) ... And REALLY, dudes, you're not even TRYING. And, even more than that, you've led the people astray."
  • King Noah is getting REALLY angry at this. And he commands the priests to take Abinadi away and kill him ... because he's crazy (or so Noah says).
  • BUT!! When the priests go to grab Abinadi, he's all, "Don't touch me. Because, if you do, God is going to smite you DOWN. I'm commanded to deliver this message. And I am going to do it. Besides, you've asked me questions and demanded answers ... and I haven't finished. You might think that I'm crazy, but that's just because you're angry with what I'm saying." (YES, it's paraphrased. Do you even have to ask?)
So, yeah. do NOT mess with Abinadi when he's got a message to deliver.
(The cast of Romeo and Juliet, what with all their messages to deliver, could have learned a lesson or two, amirite?)

Okay, now for the talk of the day:  "Come Unto Me" by Henry B. Eyring

Before I start, I'll confess that I'm a bit of an Eyring fangirl. A few years back, pre-children, our University Ward choir had the opportunity to provide the music for a Stake Conference ... where President Eyring was presiding (and spoke at). It was pretty amazing, being able to sing for him. We didn't get to shake his hand or anything; he was kept REALLY busy ... but he's amazing. And I was so very sad when he had to go ... because it was so awesome, being in the same room as he was. You could FEEL the difference when he left the room.

Okay, so let's go through the talk ...
  • Doctrine and Covenants 88:63 - The Lord instructs us that how close of a relationship we have with Him depends on us. (We KNOW that He is always there ... we just have to make the effort. And, through making that effort, we will feel Him ever so much nearer.)
  • President Eyring testifies that he, himself, has experienced that joy that comes from coming closer to the Savior. He has accomplished this mostly through simply keeping the commandments. He shares an example of one of those times.
  • He then speaks of, after the crucifixion and burial of Christ, how He appeared on the road to Emmaus, how He spoke to his disciples. Even though they did not recognize him, He taught and testified to them. And walked with them. And, when the day was over, they entreated Him to stay with them.
    And He did.
    They ate together ... and their eyes were opened. They recognized Him ... and He vanished from their sight. They KNEW, they had a testimony of His identity. And they rushed off immediately to share this good news with the eleven Apostles ... And, as they did so, He appeared again.
    And, after teaching them again, He declared to them that they were all witnesses of these things.
  • We, also are called as witnesses. We are entreated to keep the covenants stated in Mosiah 18:8-11.
  • We have also been entreated by modern-day prophets who have reminded us of the Savior's promise -- that He will be with us (Doctine and Covenants 84:88)
  • Other times that President Eyring has especially felt himself coming closer to the Lord has been when he partakes in acts of service. The Lord will also draw closer to our family members. There are loving servants and opportunities that will be given to draw our families closer to Christ.
  • As we pray and serve the Lord, we may not have EVERY blessing that we desire, BUT we will have the Savior close to us and our families. He will bless us with what is best. We will feel His love and comfort. As we serve, we will be strengthened through His power. In the end, we will witness the promises made by the Lord.
  • Follow His example. Come unto Him.
  • And President Eyring closes with his testimony. And in it, he states:
    I am a witness of the Resurrection of the Lord as surely as if I had been there in the evening with the two disciples in the house on Emmaus road. I know that He lives as surely as did Joseph Smith when he saw the Father and the Son in the light of a brilliant morning in a grove of trees in Palmyra.
    This is the true Church of Jesus Christ. Only in the priesthood keys held by President Thomas S. Monson is the power for us to be sealed in families to live forever with our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We will on the Day of Judgment stand before the Savior, face to face. It will be a time of joy for those who have drawn close to Him in His service in this life. It will be a joy to hear the words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”19 I so testify as a witness of the risen Savior and our Redeemer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Yes, I really did like this talk a lot, too. It's wonderful to be made aware of such (for lack of a better word) amazing blessings that are available to us ... all we have to do is make an honest effort.

Okay, I have about ten minutes to get us ready for church.
I have enough time to wake the baby, get her dressed, make sure that Bruise and Bucket have their stuff for church, and get in the car. We can do this. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

O! For a clever title!

So, I got my errands done (some grocery staples and those keys copied) and Michael got home.

We went and grabbed some lunch, then hit the comic book (satellite) shop here in town.
Now, when I say that the shop is a satellite, it's because it's a SMALL off-shoot of the next town's established comic book store.

Michael was a little sad to see that this store was more about gaming (as is the other comic store here in town ... Apparently, table-top gaming is where it's at!). Still, we looked through the bookshelf of comics ... and browsed through everything else.

I did buy something ... a game that had caught my eye when Roxy and I had a Girls' Day Out. She took me to the Thai market and a comic/gaming store that she loves.
It's called "Timeline" ... you put inventions in order. Yes, I know. TOTES geeky.
BUT ... It sounds like fun (to me) and we can play it with Bruise and Bucket.
(No, there is NO hope that they will escape our nerdish tendencies. They WILL be assimilated.)

Then we went to Costco ... where we discovered that, of all things, Bubbles doesn't care for parmesan cheese. Strange, huh? But we got most of the food for vacation ... so that's one less thing to fret about.

We unloaded groceries. I put Bubbles down for a nap (when the girl is obviously wilting and sucking on the grocery cart, yeah, time for bed-byes). The kids came home from school just after Michael took the van to get the brakes replaced.

Bucket EVENTUALLY ate all the previous night's dinner. Then we could FINALLY eat our (cold at that point) pasta ... but we had ice cream afterwards ... so that was okay.
Bubbles went to bed early ...

This morning, Michael went to help on a service project. I took the kids and we had the oil changed in the van and got it washed (Bruise and Bucket enjoyed hot cocoa and popcorn while I read the paper -- Bruise was happy to hear that the Oregon Ducks lost their last game. Yeah, he's funny). Then we headed back home and cleaned it out. Yay for it being ready for a trip!
After that, we hung around until Michael got back. Bubbles was taking a nap, so he jumped in the shower and we headed over to the local kids' club activity. Bubbles picked up a coloring book. They both got temporary tattoos about recycling. And I helped them build little birdhouses.
(I can wield a hammer and some glue LIKE A BOSS. Didn't even chip my manicure! ... Nope, did that cleaning the car. Nothing a nail file couldn't fix. Phew!)

Michael's had them clean up the front room while I'm on a mission to get dishes and laundry caught up.
And we need to pack. Ugh. This is the hard part of vacationing ... the planning, planning more, and last minute plans.

Oh, I only realized last night that I TOTALLY SPACED going to either the School's PTC meeting OR our ward's Relief Society weeknight meeting. Whoops! ... We were busy trying to get Bucket to eat her damn dinner ... which was enough to make anyone's head explode. Good times (not).

So, I should read stuff, huh?

Here goes!

Mosiah 12:1-12:16
  • Abinadi had to go into hiding for a couple years, since (evil) King Noah and the other people all wanted him dead. But, well, a prophet's work is never done ... so he comes back to call them to repentance (like Jonah ... when he was done running away. Just without the great results. *sigh*)
  • Abinadi prophesies ... and, golly, but it does NOT look good for the Nephites if they don't decide to repent and be a whole lot better. But, well, the people don't like that ... So the priests are all, "Hey, Noah, you're not a bad guy! This guy's just a lying McLiarpants saying mean stuff about you and us and the rest of the people. Here he is! Do with him what you see fit. Since we know that you wouldn't do anything wrong!" (Paraphrased, of course.)
    (Also, they're cowardly jerks. ... Well, most of them.)
And the Conference Talk of the day -- "This is My Work and Glory" by Elder M. Russell Ballard.
  • First, Elder Ballard starts speaking of the wonder that is our universe ... and how our home, being in the Milky Way, is only one of 200 billion similar galaxies. ... He's right, it's completely wondrous to think that creation is so, so huge. (Yes, I believe in Creationism. I ALSO believe that there's room in it for evolution. Yes, I buy into both. So what?)
    And, still, for as BIG as the universe is, as small as we are in comparison to it all ... we are, each one of us, so special and loved. ... What?? I've just got SOMETHING IN MY EYE, okay?
  • Elder Ballard goes on to teach about the priesthood ... It's through priesthood power that everything was created, that the Atonement was made possible, ... the Savior used priesthood power in performing the miracles He did. We have the priesthood on Earth, to bless and to bind.The power of the priesthood is "a sacred and essential gift of God."
  • The power of the priesthood is different from the authority of the priesthood. The authorization (or ordaining) is the authorization (through the laying on of hands) to employ priesthood power when worthy and acting in accordance with God's will.
  • I think that I'm just going to have to quote him in this one ...
    In our Heavenly Father’s great priesthood-endowed plan, men have the unique responsibility to administer the priesthood, but they are not the priesthood. Men and women have different but equally valued roles. Just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood to establish an eternal family without a woman. In other words, in the eternal perspective, both the procreative power and the priesthood power are shared by husband and wife. And as husband and wife, a man and a woman should strive to follow our Heavenly Father. The Christian virtues of love, humility, and patience should be their focus as they seek the blessings of the priesthood in their lives and for their family.
    It is crucial for us to understand that Heavenly Father has provided a way for all of His sons and His daughters to have access to the blessings of and be strengthened by the power of the priesthood. Central to God’s plan for His spirit children is His own declaration: “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
  • Then he tells us of tomato plants.
    A granddaughter showed her grandfather a tomato plant that she started, learning in her second-grade class, that one seed could produce many tomatoes, which would produce many, many seeds.
    She also told her grandfather how she almost killed her tomato plant. It was left in a dark room, unwatered, for many days. When she came upon her plant in its sad state, she cried for the millions of tomatoes that would never come to be.
    But, she was grateful for a little miracle ... Her mother told her that the plant wasn't dead. So, putting it into a window and giving it water, it was strengthened and grew into a healthy tomato plant, under the loving care of this little girl.

    We, each of us, are like that tomato plant. Our potential is truly unlimited, due to our divine heritage as spirit children descended directly from our Heavenly Father.
    We are, though, all capable of becoming spiritually weakened and withered, if we do not work to nourish ourselves with prayer, scripture study, and keeping our covenants and commandments. If we remove ourselves from the spiritual light and the living water that the Savior provides, we will, like that tomato plant, wilt.
  • More good quotes:
    The same priesthood power that created worlds, galaxies, and the universe can and should be part of our lives to succor, strengthen, and bless our families, our friends, and our neighbors—in other words, to do the things that the Savior would do if He were ministering among us today.
    And the primary purpose of this priesthood power is to bless, sanctify, and purify us so we can live together with our families in the presence of our heavenly parents, bound by priesthood sealings, participating in the marvelous work of God and Jesus Christ in forever expanding Their light and glory.
  • Elder Ballard has also worked on a video for the Church, Strengthening the Family and the Church Through the Priesthood. Its purpose is to show how each of us, regardless of circumstance (including age, gender, or marital status), can partake of the blessings of the priesthood. 
  • If any person feels as if your faith or testimony of the Savior is less than it should be, turn to Him. Use that light and living water. Don't be a wilted tomato plant.
  • More quotes:
    Joseph Smith said, “The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 104).
    God has freely given His power to those who accept and honor His priesthood, which leads to the promised blessings of immortality and eternal life.
    I testify that the work of Jesus Christ is accomplished through the priesthood.
He's always been a good speaker. And I think it's important to know about the priesthood. Really, there's very little of it that I really understand. I know that it's Christ's power for us to use on Earth, to accomplish His work. I know that it's powered through faith. I know that it's important.

I also know that I don't hold it myself. I do get to share it, since I'm sealed to a worthy priesthood-holder. Like I've said before, I find that acceptable. I think that having the priesthood is a huge responsibility ... And, in my life, I have enough to keep me busy.

I know that there are women out there who might not feel as important since they do not hold their priesthood. And that makes me feel sad ... because I want them to KNOW that they ARE important. Just as important, indeed, as anyone else.

I just want everyone to feel loved, appreciated, and valued. And respected.
If everyone could feel that way, couldn't we all be content? And, if we're happy about ourselves, won't we make sure to get everyone feeling good about themselves? ... And then we could stop all these bad things that happen. Because we won't want to hurt anyone else. *sigh*

Seriously, I'm ready to go out with a "Free Hugs and/or Compliments" sign. Maybe I should just get a button made. I could totally do that.

Oh, also, in other news, I've gotten lazy and frustrated in my foreign language studies. Accusative pronouns (in German) and most everything in Spanish, too, are haaaaaard. Waaaaaaah!!
I'll get over it. Either that or I'll be a loser-snoozer and give up.

So, if I act a little snarly, just assume that I've JUST gotten done with my Duolingo practice.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Diving right in ...

Today's assigned reading -- Mosiah 11:16-11:29

  • So the Lamanites are up to their old tricks, killing the Nephites while they're just watching their flocks. 
  • King Noah (it's hard to NOT write "evil King Noah" EVERY TIME, since that's how I think of him in my head. Yes, I AM still three/four years old when I read this story. Shush.) sends guards to protect the Nephites, but he doesn't send enough ... so the shepherds (or goatherds or cumleonherds or whatever) AND the guards are all killed and the sheep (or whatever) are stolen.
  • Now they've just made Noah MAD ... so he sends armies out. And the Nephite armies win and brought back some loot. And they're all boasting about what all THEY did themselves (and being total ingrates to God) ... and they're all bloodthirsty and so happy to be killing those Lamanites.
  • Then there's a Nephite named Abinadi. And he starts to preach repentance ... since that's what the Lord commanded him to do. Because if the people DON'T repent, they're going to be punished. A LOT. So it'd be a heckuva lot better if they humbled themselves and chose to repent before the Lord humbles them.
  • And, of course, when people are told that they're doing stuff wrong, they get upset. (Hey, I KNOW that I'm a screw-up on SO MANY LEVELS. I KNOW this.... yet I still can get a bit miffed when I'm told that I'm doing stuff wrong. So I GET why the Nephites are all peeved about it ... but they take it to the next level ... well, like the next five levels.) So, yeah, they want to kill him.
  • And they send Abinadi to King Noah. He, of course, doesn't take constructive criticism well AT ALL and determines to kill Abinadi.
Yeah ... I know this story. Because, when Mom started reading me the Book of Mormon Stories, I latched onto this story. I ADORED Abinadi. And I was full of RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION that some jerk king who doesn't appreciate what he has goes after a prophet of GOD.
Because he should know better. He did not listen to his daddy. And he SHOULD have. Because you do NOT try to hurt the prophet. That's just REALLY BAD.

And, you know, it's nice that I'm smart, even at a young age, about some things. Makes me feel like less of a screw-up, you know?

Okay, so here's the Conference talk for the day:
"The Savior Wants to Forgive" - Elder Craig A. Cardon
  • Elder Cardon talks about a story from Jesus's mortal ministry  -- Luke 5: 17-20, about a man with palsy whose friends lower him, on a bed, to where Christ is teaching and healing. Jesus, when he sees what great faith they have, to go to such efforts, tells the man with palsy, "Man, thy sins are forgiven."
    And Elder Cardon ponders if, since the scriptures don't tell us of the man's response, if maybe he wondered if Jesus understood why he and his friends brought him there.
  • Elder Cardon goes on in talking of many of the miracles that Christ performed... and returns to the story above, teaching that Jesus Christ chose, in this instance, to show the world His unique role as the Savior of the world. It caused the scribes and Pharisees there to accuse Him of blasphemy, because only God can forgive sin.
    Christ  asked them why they would say that ... and questioned them if it would be easier to heal a body or to heal a soul. Then he stated that He had power upon earth to forgive sins ... and then healed the paralized man.
  • Now, believers in Christ accept that He can heal us, both spirit and body.
    However, sometimes people don't always accept that this forgiveness isn't limited to the final judgement. We are not excused in our sins. We're not to return to past sins. We are to repent ... and He will forgive us.
  • With this, there's power to enable and redeem. To stengthen and sacntify us. As many times as we sincerely repent, He will forgive us. Regardless of the seriousness of the sin. He wants us to be able to overcome the world. He understands us ... and, through His compassion for us, we will be able to do it.
  • We must repent. And some sins, by their serious nature, are harder to repent of than others. There can be no forgiveness from blaspheming the Holy Ghost. Murder and sexual sins are graver sins than most others. ... But, He does not ask us to be perfect immediately. He allows us to improve, bit by bit, over time ... and, as many times as we repent, He WILL forgive us.
  • We must sincerely repent, instead of rationalizing sin. We can, through Him, fight off addictions. Yet, every time we falter, He is there for us. If we strive, with an honest heart, to him, He will turn our weaknesses into strengths.
  • Just as He forgives us ... we need to forgive others. We need to see, as President Thomas S. Monson has taught, "men NOT as they are at present, but as they may become." We need to be aware of the potential of every person ... and treat them with respect for what they will become.
  • This is why Christ was sent to Earth, to us. To make it possible for us to be able to repent when we are imprfect. And He wants to forgive us. Exercise faith in the power of the Atonement of Christ. Repent. He loves you and wants to forgive you.
I liked this talk quite a lot.
Because, face it (I have), I need to repent. I make A LOT of mistakes.
Earlier this morning, I had to REALLY practice patience. ... I was about to take Bubbles out and run some errands, but I got a phone call. In orderr to take the call, I had to put Bubbles down to nap. And that was about two hours ago. So, no, I STILL haven't gotten the errands I wanted to run done. Which is frustrating.

Also, I had to walk Bruise and Bucket BACK out to the bus stop after they FREAKED out because the older girls there were saying that they wanted to walk to school. So, OF COURSE, my kids FREAK OUT because THE BUS MIGHT NOT BE COMING BECAUSE IT'S NOT THERE YET AND THE GIRLS WILL WALK TO SCHOOL ... But, no. The bus came, RIGHT ON TIME, like it ALWAYS does. And the girls weren't walking to school because the bus WAS there. ... And I stand, holding Bubbles, wrapped up in a blanket (because I hadn't gotten her dressed yet) .... and it's sprinkling .... and I'm doing my best to bite my tongue and not tell off my lovely babies for making Chicken Little look totally calm and well-adjusted.
But I love them more than I don't love them ... so I bit my tongue, smiled, and Bubbles and I waved at the bus as it drove off. 

And besides, I should get out of the habit of saying "crap" all the time. So ... I need to repent. But I need to be sincere about it ... so I need to work on NOT saying that. And I don't know that saying "expletive" is a great alternative ... since when I write that I say it in my blog, it makes it look like I really did say AN EXPLETIVE but that I am just censoring it for YOU, which isn't the case at all. I literally am just saying "expletive" instead of an actual swear.

Okay. I know that Bubbles is going to wake up soon. And, because of everything, I'm totally out of motivation. ... So it's a good thing that I'm already showered and dressed ... or else THAT wouldn't even be done by the time that Michael gets home.
*headdesk*

Well, I'm sure that the REST of the day will be much better. Right?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Crazy Dream Chronicle - "Noms"

So, yeah ... I can't really explain this one much at all ...

But somehow, people were becoming these stone statues ... but the statues could speak to each other and could move. And they'd fight each other ... but regular people would think that the battle-scars were just erosion or something.

And I got turned into a statue. And the statues were called "Noms." And you could only see what you knew about ... So, if you didn't know another statue was there, and no one told you about it (or you didn't overhear anyone talking about it), you couldn't see it.

Yeah ... it was weird.

Not exactly like "Blink" (Doctor Who ... if you've heard of "the weeping angels," it's that episode) ... but kind of similar in bits.

Thursday ... Yup.

So, Mom's headed home already ... and it was a good visit (as always).

We took the kids to ColdStone and got ice cream (I have to say that The Pie Who Loved Me is preeeeety dang tasty!) ... then we got Bruise and Bucket their Happy Meals and we got Baja Fresh for dinner (Burrito Ultimo, Enchilado Style ... and tons of Pico de Gallo and Mango Salsa? Don't mind if I do!).

She and I also stopped by Jo-Ann and raided the dollar section for some more things to keep the kids entertained on the drive down to vacation. And we got some more lanyard-lacing-stuff ... Now Bruce and Bucket can't lose their sunglasses ... since I made a little sunglasses holder for each of them. Yup. That's about as crafty as I tend to get. *sigh*

Bubbles had the most awful diaper (for her) when I went to change her after we ordered at Baja Fresh ... it was rank ... and, somehow, leaked out of one leg of her diaper into her pants.
I felt like a bad, white-trash mom, as I rolled up her pants, cleaned her as much as I could with ALL the wipes I had, got her into a clean diaper, and carried my Bubbles No-Pants out of the restroom. Good thing we ordered "to go," anyways!

I had fun volunteering this morning. I got to read to Bucket's group ... about Anansi the Spider. The group is so large, that I only read to half of them at a time. But I made sure to do the voices (my "Elephant" voice is much the same as a voice that I'd do for a cow, interesting, no?) ... and I got them their worksheets to do. Good times.

I also (finally) called my Nana to thank her for my birthday card (that I got ... um ... LAST WEEK).
It was good to hear from her ... she had fallen while trying to get back into bed EARLY this morning. She's really fine, thank goodness. And she laughed about it quite a lot.
I'm glad that (1) she's okay ... I mean, she's in her 80s now. She could have broken a hip ... and she's all alone in that house of hers ... and (2) that she's taking it so well. Whew! Between her and my mom, it's not hard to see where my self-effacing sense of humor comes from. ^_^

I didn't read the Conference talk yesterday! I was all about to do it, then Bubbles woke up ... right as Mom got here. Whoops! At least I had read my scriptures, right?

Which I still haven't done YET ... but I AM going to do it/doing it NOW.

So, it's Mosiah 11:1-11:15
  • Zeniff gives the kingdom over to his son, Noah ... Ohhh. I think I know where this is going.
    Oh, yeah. I know this now. This is one of my favorite stories from when I first joined the church. Apparently, it made QUITE an impression on me. Enough so, that I'd say prayers in Sunday School entreating the Lord to punish that "evil King Noah" ... and I'd get it combined enough with the story of the OTHER Ammon, and beg, blood-thirstily for "the arms to be cut off ALL those wicked Lamanites." Yes, be glad that I've mellowed out since then.
    At the same time, I'm sure that you're not all that surprised that I was THAT kid.
  • BUT!! Before I get TOO far ahead of myself, here's the story -- So, Noah becomes king. And, even from the very start, he's not a good king. He doesn't keep the commandments and does whatever he wants. He has lots of wives and concubines and set the people to sinning (Now, it doesn't say that he ordered his people to sin, per se, or if that occurred due to his awful example. I wonder which was the case ... because, frankly, I wouldn't put the first possibility past him.)
  • Unlike his father, Noah has NO desire to work to support himself. So he taxes (20%) of, well, just about everything. The taxes pay to support himself, his wives and concubines, his priests, THEIR wives and concubines ... doesn't sound like he implemented any systems to take care of his people or anything. Boo on that. ... Really, how hard would it have been to at least install a library system?
    Answer: APPARENTLY TOO DANG HARD. 
  • The people had to work to support this poor behavior (to put it mildly) ... and, because of Noah and his priests, they turned away from worshipping the Lord.
  • He uses the riches he's gained to build a lot of (expensive) buildings. With, of course, the best and richest seats for himself and his priests. And he has a tower built so he can look over all his lands and see what's going on around. 
  • In short, he's only looking out for himself and his own comfort. Oh, and he starts getting a bunch of vineyards started ... and he and his people start getting their drink on. ... Like I said, he's not a good ruler. (A good ruler/leader is one who's more concerned with what's best for his/her people ... not just getting a free ride and lots of swag. ... And, looking at the world today, wouldn't that be nice if we had more people out there to serve than to get money and prestige?)
Okay ... and to get caught up on the Conference talks ... before I forget. AGAIN.

First is "A Sure Foundation" by Bishop Dean M. Davies.
  • Listening to this one, Michael and I were amused because Bishop Davies talks like an engineer.
    He isn't ... but he did work in real estate investment, construction, and management industries before being appointed as a general authority for the Church.
    He also worked for the Church, directing construction of meetinghouses, temples, and special project facilities (what those are, exactly, I'm not totally sure ... but, regardless, he doesn't do that anymore, since he's a general authority).
  • He starts talking about the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, which he experienced. He uses the ground the Marina District there was built on as a parable to why WE need to be built on a firm foundation ... so that we will not be destroyed, spiritually, like the devastating effects that occurred from building upon a landfill of sand, dirt, and rubble, which when put under pressure, turned into a liquid-like mass ... and that mass simply cannot support the apartments that were erected upon it.)
  • He likens how the temples today are built to how we should construct our lives.
    They take into account the weather and geology. They study the design and building materials. They work so that the temple can withstand regular weather and occasional storms, yes, but also earthquakes and other, unforeseen, natural calamities that could possibly occur. 
  • We can start with the blueprints of the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel - faith, repentence, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. These will help anchor our lives to the Atonement of Christ.
    We can do this through prayer, reading the scriptures (NOTE: I'm so glad that he says "reading" as opposed to "studying." Because, right now, I can do reading. I'm TRYING to learn how to STUDY. But I'm not quite there yet. So, hey, I'm doing okay! Phew!), partaking of the Sacrament (other churches often call this Communion), and getting those priesthood ordinances to benefit the structure of our lives.
  • He adds that we have to balance these, just like in mixing concrete (it will fail if there's too much of one element. Yeah, I knew that off the top of my head. Blame that on my being married to an engineer.) We have to also, in our own lives, balance out all the facets of those gospel principles ... or else we'll be weakened and our spiritual habits won't be strong enough to see us through the trials we will face.
  • Of course, while he expounds upon these practices that we need to integrate into our lives, he does state, "While reading the scriptures is good, reading by itself is insufficient to capture the full breadth and depth of the Savior's teachings. Searching, pondering, and applying the words of Christ as taught in the scriptures will bring wisdom and knowledge beyond our mortal understanding. This will strengthen our commitment and provide the spiritual reserve to do our best in all situations." (Yeah ... so I have something to work up to, right?)
  • And, most people who attended Primary (the children's class) were singing, in the back of their heads, the song about the wise man who built his house upon the rock ... and the foolish man built his house upon the sand. Just like the parable in the Bible (New Testament, in case you needed it narrowed down. I can't do any more than that, off the top of my head. Probably because I haven't studied the scriptures enough. *sigh* :P)
The talk for TODAY is Elaine S. Dalton's "We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father"
She gave this right before she was released as Young Women's General President.

To be honest, I used to not care for President Dalton as much as I could. When she was first called, I was somewhat irked by how (as I perceived it) she seemed to condescend in her tone when she talked to the youth of the church. ... As I've heard more talks from her, I've grown to appreciate her more and more ... and I don't feel that she's talking down to us (since, face it, I still feel like a teenager inside).
But, with this talk especially, you could really feel how much she loves and cares for the young women she presides over (and those who influence them ... which would be everyone).
  • "What-e'er thou art, act well thy part" -- This statement that she read on a garden gate in Scotland, as a young adult, strengthened her testimony that Heavenly Father KNEW her and had a plan for her ... that SHE mattered.
  • In fact, she wasn't the only one who had been influenced by that adage; David O. McKay (a past prophet) had also been encouraged by such a sign. Enough so that, when the building it was on was being torn down, he obtained that stone and had it placed in a garden at the mission home in Scotland.
  • President Dalton testifies that we, as daughters/children of God are all unique and different -- but each of us has a part that matters, because we each matter. We should always remember that we are children of Heavenly Father and He loves us ... always and without condition, perfectly.
  • She expounds of the strength of women -- how we influence our children (and/or those children that we come into contact with). We women help to nurture and teach. We are companions and coworkers in building the kingdom of God here on Earth.
  • President Dalton lets us ponder on how parents (and leaders) can help young women to know that they are daughters of God ... and she gives us some examples of what we can do: stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all places. We need to exemplify virtue. We need to honor priesthood. We need to show love to our families. Mothers and fathers need to show love and respect in their homes and help each other as equal partners.
    (Whenever I hear people say that LDS/Mormon women are so downtrodden and whatever, I really have to just cock my head at them and wonder what is going on. We have wonderful leaders who are women. We get to share in priesthood power. Heck, once a temple president stated, flat-out, Heavenly Father loves women more. I know that there are women out there, even in the church, who may not feel as recognized or they might feel less powerful ... And my heart goes out to them. I figure that they probably just are wanting to serve MORE. And power to them to have a righteous desire like that. I, however, am strong in my opinion that I don't want to wield the priesthood like Michael does. Because what with taking care of my family and fulfilling my calling, I do not want any more responsibility than what I already have. I say this as a woman who knows that her husband can be called upon, at any time (since he keeps himself worthy to hold and utilize the priesthood), to give a blessing. And, when the need is there, he SHOULD go [if he really can't make it, like because we're out of town or whatever, he finds someone who can] ... That's what having the priesthood is all about, in my mind. It's being worthy to serve ... and serving at every opportunity. That's a LOT of responsibility. ... But, I do agree that boys do seem to have more opportunity for recognition, what with Scouting and people sustaining the advancement in the priesthood. Still, I'm glad that they've revamped the Personal Progress program so that girls can be recognized much more for all the effort and discipline that they've demonstrated. It's small steps sometimes, but we're working toward good things.)
Wow ... that was a bit of a tangent at the end, no? ... But still ... they were good talks. And I'm liking the opportunity of this 40-day challenge to read (and, in the case of Priesthood session, get acquainted with) these talks.

Now, I should go restart the laundry or something, right? 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Little bits ...

Okay ... I'm showered. That's a good thing.
Even though I'm rocking some MAD muffin-top over the waistband of my jeans (Denizen by Levi? You suck LOTS. kbai!).

But I obviously don't care enough to change, so ... well, there you go. If I'm offending your eyes, look away!
Or just concentrate on my masterfully-applied make-up. That's what I end up doing.
(Seriously -- I'm rather obsessed with shoes, make-up/skin care, nice-smelling things, and nail polish. And  books. ... And I figured out why a few years back: It's because you can rock them and look good (or, at least feel/smell good) regardless of whether the scale or stupid designers like you.

Besides, even if I'm totally critical of how my butt looks or how much toning I could really have, neither Michael nor the kids really seem to care. And I'm healthy enough to not need one of the motorized scooters at Wal-Mart, so that's a total plus there.

Yes, I admitted that I shop at Wal-Mart. I'm not proud of it ... But I'll be honest about it.

So, right after I finished blogging, Michael came home. No, the migraine had NOT gone away.
So, he took a nap and some Ibuprofen ... and Bubbles and I went to Wal-Mart (there, I said it. Happy??) since we needed some things ... and it'd keep the house quiet while we were gone.

Then, we got back and the kids came home and I had them help clean up the house and unload the dishwasher while I worked to get (closer to) caught up with the dishes. And I put the lasagna into the oven.

The kids brought home their progress reports (and I realized that morning, after they left for school, that I had forgotten to give them their folders ... well, they didn't remind me, either. So there!) ... They're doing well. Bruise still needs to try harder in writing ... and have some more organization/keeping to the topic ... But, overall, that's some good improvement. So I'm not going to fuss about it.

Bucket's progress report was fine. Her scores are good and she's putting in noticeable effort. So I'm fine with that.

We had dinner after Michael got up (and even he remarked about how nice it was when he was home almost an hour early. YES. But, well, until they let him telecommute -- and we have a house with a dedicated home office -- it's a rare thing. Except on Fridays, since he gets home in the early afternoon).

I ended up with a bit of a headache ... and my allergies were acting up.

Not really too much to report ... nothing terribly, terribly exciting.

This morning, the kids were up early (again) ... I made sure that they got their lunches together. Bucket STILL can't find her lunch pail ... so I put the kibosh on their watching a video. If she's not going to bother looking for it (since she declared that it COULDN'T be at school ... which means that it HAS to be here at home), then I'm not going to let her watch TV. She's adamant that it can't be in her bedroom, but won't look there. And I pointed out that, hey, we have a little miss here in the house all the time who might move things. So you HAVE to look EVERYWHERE, because Bubbles likes to carry thing around. And if you don't put it out of her reach (and I cleaned off the messy, messy junk counter so I knew it wasn't there), then you HAVE to accept that you're going to have to get off your duff and LOOK for it!

Yes. Meanest mother EVER.

So, after the kids went to school, I put Bubbles to nap, got a shower, got dressed, and tackled cleaning/organizing the pantry cupboard ... since after having bags of baby food and boxes of tomatoes (diced/sauce/paste) lying on the floor for WEEKS ... yeah, it NEEDED to be done. So it's MUCH better now. And I moved the boxes that I collapsed out to the recycling and threw away a bunch of plastic bags. And you can actually WALK through the kitchen without tripping. And Bubbles won't be needing to carry packets of Ramen around. Phew. AND I can see all the baby food ... and, therefore, USE IT UP. Good stuff.

Okay ... so now onto Scripture study/reading before my mom arrives (she's on her way. And I want to pay attention to HER!)

Mosiah 10:1-22
  • So, after this huge war, it's back to peace. But Zeniff isn't stupid, so he makes sure that they have all sorts of weapons ready. He's not going to let his people be taken by surprise again. And he puts guards around the cities and their flocks. And there's peace for 22 years.
  • Things are going really well -- crops are doing well, the women are making beautiful cloth and everyone has clothes.
  • Zeniff knows the importance of knowing your enemy, so he sends spies off to check out the city of Shemlon to see how they're fortified.
    The Lamanites there have bows, swords, cimiters, and slings. Their only armor is a leather girdle.
    The Lamanites approach the land of Shilom (seriously, the names are too similar. Please, when naming cities, give them VERY different names. Thanks.)
  • Zeniff sends the women and children into hiding in the wilderness (outside of the city). All the men, young and old, that can fight are gathered to go to battle. They're placed in ranks by age (I'm rather curious if this is a common practice? I should read up on that).
  • The battle starts, with the Nephites prayerfully going into battle. The Lamanites are dependant upon their own strength. And they sound scary -- they're wild and bloodthirsty. And they believe that they and their ancestors have been wronged, repeatedly, starting when Lehi and his family left Jerusalem.
    (Lehi and Nephi followed the commandments that the Lord gave unto them ... Laman and Lemuel rebelled. A LOT. Nearly continually. If they had chosen to cooperate, there would have been peace. But, well, when you're doing your own thing, you don't always want to listen to anyone else. ... But, really, this is so intriguing ... you have both sides of the story, what both sides of the battle believe.)
    And, moreover, the Lamanites' tradition is to teach their children to HATE the Nephites -- that the Nephites should be murdered. Stealing from them, anything possible that could be done to destroy them = awesome to Lamanites. ... Hm, this does sound familiar ... like some factions of modern-day religions, no? And I'm talking about some recent-ish (well, within the last millenium or so) Christian sects, too. (Crusades, anyone?)
    ... Seriously, can't we just learn once and for FREAKING all that hate is NOT the answer?
    Okay, okay ... I'm shutting up and getting back to the last few verses today.
  • Zeniff has realized, by this point, that the only reason King Laman allowed these Nephites to settle in these lands (Lehi-Nephi and Shilom) was to take the opportunity to raze them all for the (perceived) wrongs committed by their ancestors.
  • Zeniff's army goes to battle, relying on the Lord to strengthen them and protect them. They are victorious in driving off the Lamanite army. So many Lamanites died that they were not able to count them. The Nephites return to their city and go back to farming and raising their flocks.
  • Zeniff is pretty old ... he confers the kingdom on one of his sons ... this is the end of his record.
Well, I have to say, Zeniff is a pretty good ruler. He tries really hard to protect his people and to do what's right. And he takes responsibility for making a bad decision ... and tries to do his best to make the best of it.
I mean, what more can you expect of a ruler? 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Challenges ...

Maybe I'll get a fun title ... or, at least, a creative one ... but right now ... no.

So ... I'm sure everyone's aware of how there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon (well, thanks, Allanna's subconscious. You almost had me write "Boston Massacre." And, though rather apt, that's not what it was supposed to be.)

(Yes, I just talked to my subconscious there. What, you mean you don't?)

But, yeah ... I'm in a bit of a funk.
And when I say a bit ... I mean A LOT.
Because I am generally a happy-ish-type person.
And I don't feel happy much at all right now.

And, NO, it's not my period. Thanks for asking.

But the fact is that, yes, bad things happen. People are suffering. Some lost their life or a loved one. Many more were injured. There's a picture making its way around Facebook (and yes, I did check for authenticity. Because I HATE it when things are posted that aren't confirmed truth. Sadly, this IS.) with a man who lost at least one leg (below the knee). ... And, according to the news reports, out of the 170 or so injured, there were a LOT of amputees.

And an eight-year-old boy was killed ... out of three deaths, one was so young.

Nevertheless, things like this SHOULD NOT HAPPEN.
I want to know what someone would think to explain that behavior ... and, well, then I DON'T want to know. Because, regardless of any explanation which MIGHT make some semblance of reason for this to occur, there's the fact that it SHOULD NOT HAPPEN.

I feel angry. And helpless. And depressed. And irritated.
All rolled up into some little hedgehog-ball of upset ... with a soft underbelly of hurting.

Because, well, I can't even imagine what those runners and their friends and families are going through.
I can't imagine how it could be to go run in a marathon ... and then end the day with the possibility of never running again.

This is bollocks, y'all. Total bollocks.
Why can't we just be freaking NICE to each other?
Why do we, as a species, target each other? It doesn't make sense.

I just want to go and smack everyone up the head and be all, "You're a FREAKING CHILD OF GOD. HE LOVES YOU. HE LOVES EVERYONE. SO JUST GO AND TREAT EVERYONE WITH LOVE, DAMMIT!"

But, well, wouldn't that be a bit hypocritical and counter-productive?
I think it might be. Just a titch. (WARNING: UNDERSTATEMENT ALERT)

Seriously ... what is it with the fact that every time I try and do something frigging RIGHT, crap blows up (not always literally) ... but still. What the aitch is UP with that?

(Satan, that's what. Because he wants me to just give up and be a spiritual slug ... amirite?)

(Oh gosh, now I have SNL's The Church Lady in my brain. That usually just happens when Mom and I sit next to each other in Sunday School. Then we'll whisper "Could it be ... SATAN!?!?" or "Well, isn't that special?" to each other. Yes, there's a reason my mom is one of my besties. Many reasons, actually. But that is one of them.)

BUT!!
Where was I? Ah, yes!
SO, yesterday started out fiiiiiiiine -- I got the kids off to school (even though Bucket's lunchbag appears to be missing. Again.), Bubbles and I said an itsty prayer together (never too early to start a habit, right? And I should be doing WAY stinkin' better at instilling this into ALL the children. And myself.). Eventually, I got breakfast and did some laundry. ... And I got the news about Boston.

I don't really know anyone in Boston ... do I?
Thankfully, all my friends' friends (that THEY know) who were in the Marathon are safe and accounted for.

I read my scriptures ... blogged about that.
Started another spiritual/scriptural-type challenge ... Voices for Virtue created a 40-day challenge.

In the shortest terms possible, here it is: Read one conference talk per day for 40 days (with the exception of one day when you read the Sustaining of the Church Officers and the Auditing report and the Statistical report ... because those are all rather short)

So, yeah ... I started doing that, too. Since it STARTED yesterday. And, well, why not?
I mean, if it's so important for us to receive this revelation as a whole church, shouldn't I actually, you know, better acquaint myself with it?

Yesterday, also, my language practice SUCKED. Seriously sucked. German conjunctions and Spanish questions (Que, Donde, and so on ... and, yes, I DON'T have the accents on there. Because I'm lazy and peevish.) ... they just were NOT happening.

But, regardless, I DID read my scriptures and the opening remarks for Conference.
Did I feel tons better? ... I really couldn't say. Mostly because, well, if you usually feel around an 80 and then you feel around a -500, feeling around a -75 is better, but not great.

Today's reading was Elder Packer's talk. And it was a nice talk. I do worry, though, that he's not going to be with us a terribly lot longer. And that makes me sad.
He talks of how much wisdom he's gained ... and how, even though it's so hard to move about and do things he used to love, he wouldn't change that ... because the knowledge and experience he's gained is so precious to him.
He also talks of complacency and protecting the home and family against the bad things that are out there.

However, with what happened yesterday ... I keep thinking more toward one of the last talks given in Conference. Elder Bruce D. Porter gave a talk, "Beautiful Mornings."
And I liked how it was summed up over at The Latter-day Snark ... about how it wasn't so much about why bad things happen to good people, but more about who cares why bad things happen to good people.
I did give it a quick read-over ... and, yes, I feel more better than I did before I read it.

I do have a testimony that, through Heavenly Father's plan of happiness, that things will work out.
(Which reminds me of another conference talk, President Uchtdorf's "The Hope of God's Light.")

I know that we will have trials here on earth. And that we have the opportunity to learn and to grow from the trials that we and others face. It's not always going to be easy or fun ... But there will be good to balance out all the suck that is in the world. And, without all the bad, how would we even recognize what is good? ... So I do have to be thankful for the bad, too. (Though I might not be as grateful for it as I probably should be.)

I'm grateful for the Atonement ... so that we have a sure witness that everything WILL be right. Maybe not right now, but eventually. I'm glad to know that the people affected by the bombing will be made whole and perfect again.

It's just trudging through the figurative mud here that is hard. But we'll get by, right?
(If you're not sure, we do have it on good authority that we WILL. It just takes time and effort.)

Okay, so I should read my scriptures for the day ... Mosiah 9:1-9:19
  • Okay, I had to go to the actual scriptures to make more sense of all this ... Chapter headings make like a LOT easier. So, now Ammon and Limhi and everyone are reading the plates Limhi's people found (So, they were translated! Whoot!) ... and it's the record of a civilization that came before.
  • Zeniff is the part of a group who've left Zarahemla for the land of Lehi-Nephi He knows how to read and write (obvs, or else we wouldn't have this record). He spies on the Lamanite forces ... but, when he observes them , he realizes that there's a lot of good ... so he doesn't think that his group should wipe the Lamanites out. 
  • However, the leader of the group is more bloodthirsty and doesn't really care for the idea of making a treaty with the Lamanites. So much so that he wants to put Zeniff to death for daring to question orders. He's spared due to a civil war fought among their own people. He is one of the few (it sounds like less than half of the original troop survived) that returns to Zarahemla to report to the families.
  • Still, they REALLY want to regain the land of their ancestors, so they head back ... but, since they're not as righteous as they should be, they have a lot of trials (famine and "sore affliction," which always makes me think of boils ... but I'm sure that's not it. Or, at least not all of it.)
  • Eventually, they return to where they started (where the original group camped, at least, before the civil war) ... They meet with the Lamanite leader who, remarkably, is pretty cool with the transfer of land. They agree to make a peaceful transfer ... his people leave the land of Lehi-Nephi and Shiom.
  • BUT!! King Laman was a crafty guy ... after the Nephites move in, build their homes, establish farms ... really get settled in, he plans to get the Nephites into bondage and repossess their lands.
  • But, like the Israelites in Egypt (as in "Tell old Pharaoh 'Let my people go!" ... you know, the story of Moses?), the Nephites were prosperous and, well, there were a LOT of them. So King Laman is forced to act sooner rather than later.
  • The Lamanites are a society where there's not such the great work ethic, apparently ... and they really, really want to have all the food and flocks that the Nephites have raised (Kinda like the dog and the cat in "The Little Red Hen." You know, they don't help out, but they're more than happy to offer to eat the bread. Should I have prefaced that with "Spoiler Alert?" :P)
    So, under the king's direction, they start fighting with the Nephites and taking the crops and flocks of those they overtake.
  • The Nephites that aren't killed in the raids flee to the main city with its stronghold and beg Zeniff for protection. He arms them with all the weapons he can get his hands or or create ... and they go to battle with the Lamanites, crying to the Lord for help.
  • There's a huge battle ... In about 24 hours, they slay 3,043 Lamanites. Eventually, the Lamanites are driven back out of the land of Lehi-Nephi. The Nephites bury the dead, including their own 279 casualties.
I'm not totally sure what all I should be learning from this. ... I mean, it's really good to have a good work ethic. And to pray when you're doing hard/dangerous things. There is the whole similarity of the Nephites and Israel in Egypt ... I don't know that I really noticed that before.

But ... yeah.

Well, my mental health number is a bit better than it was earlier. 
Apparently the migraine that Michael came home with must have gone away ... since he went to work and everything. We're counting down to our vacation ... I'm trying not to freak out. Because, apparently, I am a  control freak and I'm trying to figure out how to keep the kids entertained on a long car trip (and that's IF we don't get in a traffic jam) and what all to pack for food and how many pairs of underwear we all need ... and how many diapers to bring (because, after getting urine in my FACE last time, if a certain child of mine does not empty his bladder out? He's going to pee into a diaper, so help me. Because, face it, you do NOT need to use the bathroom every half-hour. Especially in HEAVY TRAFFIC. Just sayin'.)

And I'm gearing up to wear a swimsuit. Please send me the mental fortitude to deal with the idea of people seeing me in a swimsuit ... because I am NOT in shape like I was when I was a teenager. Also, I am so pasty-white that I practically glow in the dark. ... However, since I colored my hair (red), it's rather fitting for that. But still ... I don't like being in a swimsuit in front of people so much. I like swimming and playing in the water too much to let it stop me ... but, oh, goodness. First world problems, amirite?

And we need to get an oil change and vacation is coming up fast and ... oh, I think my brain is going to explode and leak out my ears. Until we head off ... then I'll be okay. It's just that I'm bad with anticipation. It apparently freaks me out. So I live in denial until it's too late ... I freak out and try to get everything done ... and then I can have a good time.

It's exactly what I do when I gear up for a performance.
Fun times, right?

Counting ...

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