Tuesday, April 28, 2015

That's wack. And not wiggety-wack, just the regular kind.

Today started out fine ...

Got up, showered, dressed.
Had devotional with the kids, dropped Bruise off to track club.
Bucket got on the bus. I finished getting ready ...

Then, when Bubbles and I got into the car to go into town/shopping ... I go to plug in my iPod ... and then the car won't start. When I press on the brake, the dashboard clock fades away to nothing.

I don't know my neighbors well enough to feel like I can just go ask them for a jump.
Okay, I was going to say that Michael isn't picking up his phone (so I also emailed AND shot him a text), but he just called back.
And he'll come home at his lunch break, figure out stuff and we'll figure out what all needs to be done.
If nothing else, he'll stay home long enough to pick up the kids from strings (which means he'll just be staying home for the rest of the day) ... and we can either walk to pick Bucket up from her after-school running tomorrow. We'll see.

I'm hoping it's just that either I shorted out something that's easily fixable OR that Bucket just didn't close the stupid door quite well enough (it has a crappy sensor anyways) and the battery was just run down a bit.

Okay. I'm going to figure out dinner and read a book and go soak my head or something.

EDIT: And watch a bazillion episodes of Teen Girl Squad. And read my scriptures for the day. And probably do my Duolingo. Distractions galore!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Crazy Dream Chronicles - Part 1,493 (or thereabouts)

This morning was a two-fer!

I woke up this morning (and was back in bed JUST in time for the 4:30 alarm to go off) after this first dream ...

I went to pick Bruise and Bucket up from school (no idea where Bubbles was in this dream), but instead of picking them up at their real-life school, I was at the school that my mom taught at for ages (where it would be about a fifteen-minute drive home to my childhood home, as opposed to a five-minute drive to our house ... BUT, as in dreams, we still had our current house).

And, Bruise and Bucket had, for some reason, taken the bus (which normally wouldn't go to my childhood home, not on the bus route from THAT school ... but, again, DREAMS). And I didn't realize it, so I was out of the car and inside the school, since one of the office ladies (from their IRL school) needed a ride home, and I was asked to do that.

So, I'm hanging in the office of my mom's old school (-ish), writing notes to two male teachers that don't exist at EITHER school, when I realize that it's 4:19 PM. This office lady STILL isn't ready AND my kids took the bus nearly an HOUR ago and they're probably sitting around outside, freaking out.

Then I recall that, no, we have that cool button-lock so they can get inside (which is true), so they're probably fine and CPS won't be waiting for me.

And I race to the car, just in case, and there's my phone so that I can call the house and check in on them.
I try to use speed dial and end up calling Oliver Sacks' voicemail, somehow. And I feel bad for hanging up right away, rationalizing that I'll redial THAT number later to wish him the best of luck with his brain cancer (which he DOES have IRL, but I don't have any direct contact info as much as I adore his writing).

Then, I can't get past this LONG, rambling voicemail from my stepdad where he's telling me (as I'm turning the corner by the I-Mart, down highway 99) about how he and Mom are sorry that I'm sick and they'll come bring me medicine/cough syrup tomorrow.

FINALLY, as I'm turning onto the ramp for I-5, I get through to the house number and Bruise answers and his voice is FULL of tears because he DIDN'T KNOW WHERE I WAS and, there's a three-way call with my mom, censuring me for being irresponsible ...

Oh ... actually there was ANOTHER dream stuck in there ... so THREE dreams total ...
Michael, I, and some other people were spying or something. And we had to go to this resort/club/thing. We'd leave the room after the dance performances (because then the dancers would do stripping ... and we're not into that). I don't remember who we were working for or what the goal of this reconnaissance mission was ... but, I ended up (to throw off suspicion), kissing a male dancer and going out to his car to talk. Yeah, I had to full-on kiss another guy in front of my husband. Awkward and not at all fun, really. (If I had been an unmarried woman, it would have been fine.)
I don't remember much more about that dream. Besides trying to apologize non-verbally to Michael while sucking another man's face, and trying to sell THAT to the dancer. (I haz conflictz az spy ... which is yet ANOTHER reason why I don't work in espionage. Can't lie. Don't have any desire for infidelity. Yeah, I'd be the worst spy ever. It's not like one can be, "Oh, I'd totally be throwing myself at you, sans clothing, but I JUST got out of a [mythological] relationship and you'd be my rebound." Because, really, I doubt that some Russian drug lord or whatever would be all, "Oh, you're so sensitive and vulnerable. I respect that. Here, let me tell you all my secrets." ... I mean, that'd be awesome if it worked. I could be the best spy ever (besides being unable to lie convincingly)!)

OKAY, so THIRD (and FINAL) dream!

In this one, I must have been back in high school or something (SOMETHING, thinking on it. Because I was worried that we couldn't find the appropriate technology, that's right) ... and we had a project in theater to do karaoke.
(Truly, it wouldn't have been too terribly off from some of our real-life projects. Just a simpler version of those, really.)

BUT, I was helping my Roxy-sis to have a song and music. And, for some reason, I had a karaoke cassette that had some tracks on it. And she was going to sing Coolio's "Gangster Paradise."
Yeah. Not really her type of song, especially while we were in high school.

So, I was making sure that I had the cassette ready for her, all rewound ... and it got caught a little in the player, so I had to CAREFULLY remove the tape from the player and grab a pencil to wind it all back in JUST SO ...

And I worried that we might not have a cassette player at the school for her to use ...

And then I was trying to go through whatever instrumental CDs we had so that I could choose some song to sing ... and trying not to freak out because I couldn't use the cassette, since I didn't know any of the other (rap) songs on there and I didn't have any other karaoke tapes ...
(Which, IRL, I had ONE karaoke tape. We didn't have a karaoke machine or anything, but I had ONE karaoke tape ... of some of the songs from Les Miserables. Yeah, I was THAT KID in middle school. Is it any wonder that I was NOT in the cool-kid bunch? ... Yup, I really don't miss the social scene in middle school. I miss a handful of people (mostly teachers, really. Again, THAT KID).)

But, yup. That's about what all went on in my dreams -- being a crap, disorganized mother; being an apologetic spy who won't watch strippers; and making sure that my friend is taken care of ... so that I can run about like a muppet when it's time for me to cover my bases.

I'm sure this all means something ... and not just (as in that spy dream) that I should get a feminine-cut suit ... though I did cut a nice figure in it.

My brain is a strange place.

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's make-up-your-own-title day! (No, not REALLY)

I know, I know, it's been a few days. But not SO terribly many as it COULD have been ...

Let's see.
Michael's done with his CRAZYHUGEEXPENSIVELONG test. In a couple months, we should learn if he's passed it. (Just FYI, this test only has a 42% pass rate. Yowch, right?)

Bubbles is in the middle of potty-training. She's doing pretty well ... Mistakes are still happening, but nothing horrendous.

Last week, one of my "baby" cousins turned 22. And she's THISCLOSE to graduating college.
I also got to have a lunch date with one of my friends that I hadn't seen (in person) for what feels like ages and ages. We had a great time. I've missed her bunches.

We cleaned the church (we had traded our assignment last week to this week).
I have to say that cleaning WITH kids takes a LOT longer ... but Bruise and Bucket are learning (bit by bit) how to clean the church bathrooms decently.
Yes, we opt for cleaning the bathrooms and the drinking fountains instead of the kitchen and vacuuming classrooms.
(Now, July-December, we'll have the other jobs to choose from -- washing the windows, vacuuming/sweeping the chapel, cultural hall, hallways ... and some other things. But, as for me and my house, we prefer the bathrooms.)

SO ... Michael can actually clean the bathrooms, kitchen, vacuum the classrooms assigned, AND clean the drinking fountains (that's the BEST one, really) in around an hour by himself, so he says ...
It took me, coaching Bruise and Bucket, on the wiping down the sinks and toilets (Michael was in charge of refilling toilet paper and paper towel dispensers and, for the most part, mopping), it took us almost EXACTLY one hour.

On Sunday, when we were walking into church, we ran into Brother D--. He made such a point of thanking us for COMING and CLEANING at the church (it's a nearly random assignment given to at least two families each week. Our family might be assigned to help clean maybe four times a year?) ... but it was pretty apparent that folks aren't showing up or doing their work.

I could rather tell that, since in the Nursery, we have PILES of sawdust where ants burrowed through earlier this month. (I should just take Michael's key and give that room a DECENT vacuuming sometime during the week) And, when I was scrubbing the toilets, they were hosting quite a pink ring of mineral-sediment in each and every one of them.
(When you have someone in the other ward remark on how good the toilets look ... I mean it's flattering, but it's also rather irritating. This is the Lord's HOUSE ... it SHOULD be taken care of.)

So ... yeah. And Michael got home from a meeting last night feeling frustrated.

Pretty much all of it really boils down to the fact that a good majority of folk in the ward (and don't get me wrong, I love my church. I love my ward. But we're none of us perfect. Apparently, here's an area in which a LOT of us can aspire to show HUUUUUUUUGE improvements. Just sayin'.) are not taking their responsibilities/duties seriously.

I mean, yes, sometimes there are times when a teacher just WON'T SHOW UP for church, leaving either the Sunday School presidency or the Primary Presidency skedaddling to find someone to take his/her place OR squeezing two classes together.
It's understandable when it's an emergency ... but just NOT showing up for a calling that you agreed to do (and it's not like there's NO ONE who could pitch in and sub. Heck, I just typed up the list of Primary substitutes into a pdf for my Nursery co-leaders.), it's not responsible.
(And I say this as a woman who LOVES to sleep in.)

I see Michael busting his butt to TRY and be a good steward (as called for, being an Elders Quorum president) to all the families assigned to his care (Not all the families come under the stewardship of EQ. Some are assigned to the High Priests' group in the ward). And ... well, he can't do it. Even when I'm at my most supportive, there simply aren't enough hours in the day/week/month/year/century for him to administer to each family on his own.

And, well, he tells me that there are three brethren in Elders Quorum who are consistently doing their Home Teaching.

Yes, you heard me.
A SINGLE DIGIT ... yeah.

I've offered that, if I'm asked to speak in church in the near future, to issue a call to repentance.
(I can do that, since I do strive to do my Visiting Teaching. I feel intense guilt if I haven't reached out to my Visiting Teachees each month. Because, dang it, they DESERVE to know that Heavenly Father loves them, Jesus loves them, and they have at LEAST two sisters in the ward who know and love them and are willing to help out. Besides, Home/Visiting Teaching also is a great act of service to the High Priest Group Leader/EQ President/ Relief Society President, since THEY need to be able to know how we can best serve those in our ward's boundaries ... and, if they don't have the time/ability to visit each and every family/sister, how can they have ANY chance of knowing about those needs?

It just irks me.
And maybe it's got something to do with the fact that we haven't been home taught since before my friend Kim died (her husband, who's since moved out of the ward, was one of our home teachers. Our other home teacher is ... in legal trouble/having a crisis of faith. So, yeah, it's been a few months since we've had a visit. I GET that people are busy. But, when you're putting other priorities before serving the Lord, I have a bit of a problem with that.

Right now, I don't really know who my Visiting Teachers are.
And I get that whoever I've been assigned to are probably just really busy ladies ... but, at the same time, it's sad that they feel that I don't even rate a call/text/email/Facebook message/whatever.
I mean, sure, I'm doing okay. For the most part.
But, well, what if I weren't? Who would I call?
(Okay, I'd call my mom. But, when my mom passes, I'm going to be UP. A. CREEK.)
And I do have some friends in the ward, too. Like our RS president ... she'd make sure that I was taken care of.

But what of the families/sisters who DON'T have a friendship established with the RS President or someone, anyone else? That's RIGHT THERE what Visiting Teaching is all about (and Home Teaching, too). It's helping the good shepherd by going after and checking on all His wandering (and not-so-wandering) lambs.

And, from my experience of Visiting Teaching, I KNOW that it's not always easy. There will be sisters who don't WANT visits (or even ANY contact from the church). When that happens, you just write letters or send texts (if they're cool with that) and let them know that you're there for them, that you care, that they're not alone or forgotten.

One gal (who I met by being assigned as her Visiting Teacher) was rather flabberghasted when I visited, Michael in tow as my VT companion, since I couldn't get hold of my assigned companion. We had a lovely visit, which started a friendship. ... She was flabberghasted because, when she asked if we had any fun plans for the coming weekend/spring break (in a couple days), I told her that Michael and I were getting married the next day. (It was true. And it was a HUGE reason why I wanted to be SURE to visit her before we went on our honeymoon. Because VT is a priority to me. Not just because of numbers ... but because I'd feel AWFUL if any sister assigned to me felt lonely, forgotten, or neglected. That's NOT how Heavenly Father would want her to feel.)

So, yeah, I can't really wrap my head around why so many folks in the ward aren't reaching out to those they've been assigned stewardship over. Even if you're only able to make contact once every couple months, it's SOMETHING.
If I had more time, I'd be about ready to just print out cards saying "If you need anything, please give your Home Teachers ________ & ________ a call at, respectively ___-___-____ or ___-___-____. Or contact your Visiting Teachers ________ & ________  at ___-___-____ or ___-___-____. They'd love an opportunity to get to know, love, and serve you! ... And if they don't, give me a call at ___-___-____ or email me at ____@_____.___ and I'll set them straight at what a wonderful opportunity they're selfishly neglecting. Because you're awesome! And they should know that!"

But that might be a little, oh, passive-aggressive and overly forward, I suppose.

But, yeah. It's irritating that things like this happen.
(Since, in regards to the cleaning the Stake Center, Brother D-- is no spring chicken. Nor is he in the best of help. He shouldn't have to pick up the slack for all the people who aren't pitching in their share. *SIGH*)

But, well, it's sucky. Because I love these people ... but I also, at the same time, want to give them a GIANT kick in the bedonk-a-donk to get them into gear.

Yeah, I shouldn't talk about this aloud. Or else you're going to hear me bellow that "If we'd just GET IN GEAR and DO STUFF, we'd get blessings, y'all! And I FREAKING NEED blessings! If we'd just DO our CRAP, we'd receive more! THIS is the reason why we DON'T HAVE the SEALED SECTION of the GOLDEN PLATES! I'M TRYING to get my CRAP DONE! I'VE STARTED READING MY SCRIPTURES DAILY! NOW YOU GUYS NEED TO STEP IT UP!!!!!"

And, well, that's not the most Christlike way to address people.
Regardless of whether or not it might be true.

But, yeah ... that's about where it stands.

So ... besides that, I am toning my hair with my awesome purple shampoo. I left it in for, like, 25 minutes the other day. And Michael was impressed at how much blonder/more-platinum my hair looked. So I'm leaving it in longer today. Worst case scenario -- my hair will be a little on the lavender side. Oh, boo. (Honestly? I'd be kinda thrilled.) And I FINALLY got around to giving myself a manicure. Most of my nails (fingers and toes) are a deep nude. But my big toes and my ring fingers are sporting nail strips. Mint green with a cream/dusty rose floral print. The nude ties in with the shadows on the pinkest parts. If you care. Which you might not.

Oh, I've been talking to Bruise and Bucket about puberty.
The other day (Friday morning, before school), I was telling them about their (soon-to-develop) secondary sex characteristics [e.g., body hair, Adam's apple, breasts ...] but I also mentioned menarche and (Bruise was HORRIFIED at this) nocturnal emissions.

But, hey, at least they're aware of what fresh hell their bodies have in store for them.
I did tell them that they really didn't need to discuss this with their school chums or anything ... since it's really something that families should discuss. BUT, with all the fun-fun-fun of upcoming Sex-Ed classes, I figure that I should cover my bases as to human development and gospel doctrines and morality and expectations NOW, while they still listen to me, right?

So, that's most of our week in a nutshell.

And, from discussing with the kids this morning (about accepting God's will, even when we DO have righteous desires ... we have to learn that He does know more and will give us all what's best for us to learn. And I mentioned how we prayed [and fasted] that Kim would get better and come home to her family and us ... and that it ... ... didn't happen.
Bucket crawled into my lap and gave me a big hug. Which was nice, even though she's solid for her size (that girl, I swear, is all bones and muscle. Good for her, right?).

But, yeah. It's not fun when I drive by the road that Kim's family's old apartment is on. Or I watch some clip from Jimmy Kimmel and think that I should share that with her ... and I .... can't. But I'll deal.

I just, you know, I thought I'd be older. A LOT older. ... when I started losing friends this way.

I know it makes me sound all petulant and childish, but I don't LIKE it. Not at all.

Well, I'm going to go load the dishwasher or something. And wash this application of purple shampoo out of my hair.

THEN maybe I'll enlist Bruise and Bubbles to help me build a blanket fort where we'll eat ice cream until it's time to go pick up Bucket.
Though I'll probably be DONE with effort after I load the dishwasher and do some laundry. Or something. They house will wait another day for cleaning, I guess.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

In which I am ... something

So, I'm in a little funk.
Which might be a bit of an understatement, really.
But, regardless, ...

So, I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but my Nana (my dad's mom) has dementia.
I used to be able to say that "She's been diagnosed with dementia." But now, really, it's not just a diagnosis. It's not something that I can just wave away ... as much as I wish that I could.

She's not able to live alone anymore. She lives with one of my uncles and his wife (She really didn't ever have to worry about where to live. If she had rather lived with my dad and his girlfriend, they [or, what really counts, my "stepmom"] were more than willing to have her come live with them, too).

Part of this is just sad ... and life ...

Of course, I'm a rather sentimental idiot person. And it hits me a bit harder at times.

My kids have no memory at all of Nana and Pop-pop's house by the creek and one of the parks in my hometown. Because they've never been there. Ever.
(By the time Bruise and Bucket were even conceived, Nana had sold that [lonely, to her, after Pop-pop's death] place and had moved into her own place in the main city. Bubbles will barely ever even remember THAT house.)

Whereas, so MANY of my childhood memories (especially Christmas Eve memories) revolve around that house.
I mean, it could be worse. Nana promised my cousin, S, that she'd get the house ... and, well, that's obviously not going to be a reality. But I think that S is able to deal with that ... at least, a lot better than I would.

I can be honest that, as much as I LOVE Christmas, since Grandma Darlene passed, it's been different. THEN, after Pop-pop passed (and Nana sold that house), it was even more different. I still love it ... but ... it's just not the same. And I miss that sameness, that consistency of opening presents on the burnt-orange carpeting with a fire in the fireplace, with my dad's-side cousins FINALLY getting there. And racing to the bathroom with Cousin S to try on our new clothes ... and the old green corded telephone ... and ... all these little things.

And it reduces me to tears, missing these times that I took for granted far too much.
I wish that I had thought to take (and develop) pictures of each room, of the outside of the house, of Pop-pop's garden ... and I am so disappointed that I never did.

Though, in my mom's shop/garage, I do have the original kitchen door to Nana's old kitchen (before the remodel). Someday (and Michael is aware of this), I will have a house around it again.
I love that door. It's one of those Dutch-style ones ... where you can open just the top half.
Everyone thought that I was silly/crazy for asking for that door ... but, well, I do love it. ... If it would fit in our house here, I'd have installed it ages ago. ... But it takes me back, just thinking of that door. Nana would open it and check the laundry running on the (enclosed) porch. Or go put the bowls of custard out to cool, sprinkling nutmeg on the tops ...

So, even though my family was quite amused/bemused by my request/demand, I have no regrets at all about it.

But there are things that I wish that I could have done differently or could just have the chance to do again because I miss those times ...

  • When my parents separated, I wish that I had visited Nana and Pop-pop more. Especially when my dad wasn't in town. I avoided him when he visited for a bit, telling him that I had plans or was busy (when it wasn't really true. But, when you're eleven/twelve, how else do you really punish someone who's made it apparent that the effort to be a family with you and your mom isn't worth it? ... So, yeah. But I should have visited Nana and Pop-pop more when he wasn't at their place).
  • I miss going out shopping with Nana. Even just browsing at The Emporium or The Bon Marche or Sears or J.C. Penney ... and most of those stores are getting to the point where they no longer even exist. 
  • I miss being able to talk to Nana and knowing that she'd recall that we even had a conversation the next day/week/month.
  • I miss being able to talk to Nana on the phone and that she'd be able to hear me/recognize my voice. Now, even though my kids and I are the only folks who call her "Nana," she can't hear me well enough. But she does love to get a phone call. So I call my Aunt I, talk to HER and give her any pertinent information, and then chat at Nana ... who can't really hear me at all. So now I work hard to send her cards and letters ... so that she can KNOW who's sending her things and what all IS happening.
  • I miss going to the movies or musicals with Nana.
  • I miss going over to play at Nana and Pop-pop's. Riding the tractor/riding lawnmower and helping Pop-pop "drive" (then actually mowing Mrs. Weatherbee's property for Pop-pop) [True story: When I was little, I wanted to get a riding lawnmower so that I could ride it to school. This was before I saw "Can't Buy Me Love." I just really loved driving the riding lawnmower. Way cooler than a bike.], having dinner (always at 6:00pm) with Nana and Pop-pop. Sitting down at their kitchen table on a summer afternoon when Nana would put out a bowl of strawberries, fresh from the garden, sprinkled with sugar, and then pour some cream on top and hand me a spoon.
  • I miss Nana being such a lady so often (dressing up to go out shopping. Getting a wet set every Saturday. Touching up her lipstick) and yet using phrases like, "I've got to use THE POT!" when she needed to answer the call of nature. 
I wore my pair of silver patent-leather Sketchers to bits, really, because my Nana loved me enough to buy them for me. Mostly because, when I unwrapped them (either for my birthday or Christmas), she told me how she'd gone up to Eugene to buy them ... and, since she and I wore the same size shoes, everyone watched as "this old lady tried on all the crazy sneakers."

So, even though they got old and scuffed-up and dirty, I wore them and smile whenever I looked at my feet. Even when one of the girls I considered a friend mocked them. (My answer to her less-than-favorable opinion of my shoes? "My Nana gave them to me.")

Because those shoes were total physical proof of how much my Nana loves me.

Yesterday, while out with Mom, I bought an earring display ... thing. But now I can display both my dangling AND post earrings (I wear a lot of stud-type earrings) ... and I spent around an hour or so putting my earrings on it. At first, I worried that I'd lost one of a favorite pair from Nana ... but, thankfully, I found it in a baggie that I'd had to sweep a lot of the-disaster-that-is-my-make-up-counter into.

Maybe one reason that I'm taking this hard is that, as I've realized, dementia is horrible in the fact that it makes you mourn the person who has it BEFORE they've died. And I don't like that.

Another reason could be that, even though I was sealed to my parents when I was little, my dad left the church totally. Had his records removed and all. And my mom's sealed to my stepdad now. I don't know exactly how things will end up working out. I mean, I have faith that they WILL ... but I'm not so concrete as to the HOW of things ... but, when I sing, as in the Primary song, that "Families can be together forever" and "I always want to be with my own family," I've never considered NOT being sealed to my Nana and Pop-pop. But with my dad having removed himself from the situation ... well, things will work out. I know, I KNOW, that Heavenly Father wants me to be happy. And I can't see a way that I would be happy without maintaining those family links. So I KNOW that something will work out. And that's a definite reason to keep on working on my family history and making sure that all the other temple work gets done ... so that, when the time comes that there IS an answer, I'll be ready. And I can be sealed to Nana and Pop-pop and their families.

So ... yeah. I'm ... yeah.

I'm just living by faith in this. Having the answers NOW (or years ago) would be nice. But, well, it's an opportunity to live by faith, right?

Monday, April 13, 2015

BOMTC - Still Making Progress!

So far, I haven't missed a day. But it's not been an easy thing.

Like Michael says, I really need to SCHEDULE a time to do my reading.
And I've noticed that I do a LOT better when I do my reading aloud.
AND I need to follow President Eyring's counsel to pray BEFORE I read.

But, well, at least there's some progress ... in that I've stayed on schedule. Even if it means grabbing my tablet before I fall asleep in order to DO what I've put off earlier.

So, yeah. It's going. And I'm feeling good about it.

Now, my mom's here, so I'm going to write more later.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Goal: BOMTC - Day 2

Okay, I didn't get my reading done until after I put Bubbles to bed.
(Michael took Bruise and Bucket to Cub Scouts/Activity Days ... so the house is quiet ... and I spent Vesper's naptime taking a bath and reading a library book [Happy early birthday present to me! However, the house really could use cleaning ... so we all know what I'll be doing tomorrow, right?])

I read 1 Nephi, chapters 4-6.

I don't know that anything totally stood out to me ... but I do like that Nephi felt prompted to include the story/vignette of how their mother, Sariah, fared while her sons returned to Jerusalem to retrieve the Brass Plates.

She, the wife of a prophet, had issues with her testimony. She feared that her sons perished and that she and Lehi would die in the wilderness.

Lehi worked, lovingly, to assuage her fears. He didn't tell her that she was wrong ... but he worked to listen and assure her.

And, when their sons (with the addition of Zoram) returned, she and Lehi rejoiced together.

I don't know why I like/appreciate this inclusion ... but I do.

Maybe because it demonstrates a good/healthy husband and wife dynamic (e.g., helping each other through trials, easing fears, responding mildly to rebukes if/when they occur ...) or maybe because it does help to demonstrate that these are real people, not just some characters in some wild epic.

Because, truly, Joseph Smith could NOT have managed to WRITE this on his own.
There is no possible way. He did not have the schooling, the ability to research, the knowledge or wisdom, or even the TIME to create this himself.

There's too much detail that he wouldn't have known ... that the world is only realizing IS factual and verified NOW. He couldn't have known many of these things at all.

And that's not even considering that, as Emma, his wife who loved him dearly, stated that he could barely manage to dictate a coherent letter ... so writing an EPIC is something far beyond his mortal abilities. It could ONLY be done through the power of God.

... But, hey, I've made it though two days (82 left, if I've counted correctly)!
Now to keep on it.

I did almost feel like breezing through some more chapters ... but, this is a schedule. I'm going to stick to it. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Goal: Scripture Study

Okay, confession: I still haven't really been able to successfully develop a daily scripture study/reading habit. And I'm almost 34.

However, it's times like these when it's really nice/cool that I have Facebook friends who are inspired to share things.
One friend shared that she's doing "The Book of Mormon Translation Challenge."
In short, read The Book of Mormon during the time frame that it took Joseph Smith to translate it (84 days).

I'm not worried about being able to finish it in the time frame ... I AM worried that I will sluff off and give up. So I'm telling y'all about it so you can keep me accountable.

AND, as Brother Simon (who runs the blog site for it) points out, one great thing about this challenge is that, by the end, one should have gotten a good start at having developed a habit of reading the scriptures daily.

Which, as I've pointed out, I need help doing.

So, instead of rubbing my nose in how many times I've attempted to make a habit and failed  ... or how many years I've lived without cultivating that habit in the first place, I'm going to focus on STARTING and developing this habit.

I'm happy to report that today, I did my first steps. I read the introduction to The Book of Mormon (which was yesterday's pre-challenge-starting assignment) and I read chapters 1-3 of 1 Nephi. It feels good to make that (small, but definite) progress.

What stood out to me today was at the end of 1 Nephi 2, verses 23-24:
23 For behold, in that day that [the descendants of Laman and Lemuel] shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.
 24 And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.
          (Emphasis mine)
As I read that, it did strike me (as Michael had already observed) that those who chose to make a vocal spectacle during the sustaining of our church leaders could be considered to be doing just that -- stirring us to remember WHY we sustain these leaders, giving us an opportunity to reflect on our testimonies of our prophets and other leaders, deciding who we will choose to follow ...

And ... well, it just stood out to me. And it made me think.

If you read the post for today over at The Book of Mormon Challenge, Brother Simon came away with a different overall impression. It doesn't mean that he or I am more correct or wrong than each other. It just means that, at this time, these are the (different) things that we needed to learn/realize for ourselves.

And I love that about the scriptures ... as we learn more, we are more able to see more in these holy writings. We will receive answers to our own questions. And, even when we read a passage/verse/chapter/book that we've read before, we can gain new insights and inspiration as we study.

That's one thing that I miss while I'm serving in Nursery on Sundays; the opportunity to attend Sunday School and Relief Society, where our lessons are discussed by lots of people with very different life situations, experiences, viewpoints. Sometimes, I would be able to learn, from my brothers and sisters in the gospel, to look at a story/lesson/quote/experience from a completely new point of view.
(One of our Sunday School teachers, who was a single mother through very lean times, shared that as she counseled with her Bishop, she learned that "It's easier to live by money than live by faith," while stressing that living by faith does have many more rewards.)

But, I'm optimistic that this challenge that I just happened to stumble upon thanks to a Facebook friend might JUST be the ticket to starting a successful scripture-study habit for me.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The promised NEXT post

In which I refer to "My Experience in the Conference Center During the Opposing Vote" by Erin Hallstrom.

I will first give this caveat that I added as a comment immediately after posting it on Facebook:
I know that I don't always say all that much in my heart about my religion ... but this is one of the times that I really felt inspired to do so. 
I also want to state that we (as the LDS religion) state that ALL people are "free to believe how, where or what they may," per the Thirteenth Article of Faith. So no pressure to think that I'm going to be at all offended/hurt/whatever if you believe differently than I do. Because I won't. ^_^

So, keeping that in mind ... here's what else I feel needs to be said:

This article resonated with me.
Two parts, especially:
1 - "Let me clarify something: while I don't agree with the method used here, I don't have any personal issue with those who felt the need to dissent. I know there are members in our faith with a wide variance of experience and belief. We don't all have to think the same way to be brothers and sisters. I genuinely hope those who felt the need to oppose can find some peace within our community."
YES ... the problem isn't with differing opinions. It's with the method chosen, thought up and decided on in advance, that I find inappropriate.
2 - "However, the dissenting votes had an unexpected result for me. For years I have grown used to the routine of the sustaining vote. I raise my hand in faith--but perhaps without the level of thought such an act is owed. Today I found myself raising my hand just a little higher. More than ever before, I wanted my sustaining vote counted."
As Michael pointed out, the plans of the organized group behind the "opposed!" votes were known to many in advance. The Prophet and other leaders of our church did not stop this from happening. And, maybe against the plans of that group, there has been a bit of a rallying among the saints and an awareness of the covenant that we are making to support the work of God moving forward ... and to NOT take this covenant we make for granted.
It also brings to mind this:
“The standard of truth has been erected; No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:540.
If it is God's will, He will have it done.
Our duty is to love, wait, and watch.
As some friends are pointing out, some feel distanced, unheard, unrespected.
Love them. Friendship them. Listen and prayerfully guide them.
We are all brothers and sisters. We all chose to come to earth, to partake of the great plan of happiness -- to learn and grow. We all are trying. We all need help and cannot do this alone. We cannot expect Christ to do everything. We are a way to help serve His people.
We will never be punished for loving others. But we cannot allow ourselves to be led astray or to, through inaction and fear, allow others to be led astray. We need to, as Elder Pearson instructed, read The Book of Mormon and the words of our modern prophets every day, every day, every day. If we familiarize ourselves with the Gospel through personal prayer and scripture study, we'll be better able to follow Christ and see things as they really are. We will be lead by the Holy Ghost. We'll be better examples, better leaders, and better people.
I am honored to be able to raise my hand to sustain my leaders. By raising my hand to sustain them, I am not "voting" for them ... I am covenanting to support them, to follow them, to help them as they carry out the work of the Lord.
I testify that Thomas S Monson is a living prophet, called of God, to serve the world in this day and age. I sustain him as well as his counselors and the quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators who are called of God to serve, lead, and instruct the world. I know that when I follow the prophet, I am blessed. I KNOW that Heavenly Father does not (nor does any of those He has called) desire our blind obedience --- He WANTS us to prayerfully study the scriptures and seek for knowledge and wisdom. He WILL give us it as we are ready for it. He knows all. He knows our hearts. He knows what we need, better than we know ourselves. He loves us and wants the best for each and every one of His children. And we are ALL His children. His desire is for us to serve Him because we WANT to -- willingly, happily, joyfully. He does not lead by coercion, only by gentle persuasion. Because He loves us perfectly, without beginning or end. Because He IS love.
And THAT is why He gives us commandments; why He gives us scripture, both ancient and modern; why he gives us apostles, teachers, bishops/branch presidents, stake presidents, patriarchs, seventies, and all other leaders that we have. It's why we have Home and Visiting Teachers. It's why He presented us (and we accepted) the Plan of Salvation.
Because HE. LOVES. US.
And Christ loves us just as much, as is demonstrated by how He taught how to return to our Heavenly Father; how He chose to suffer for all the pain, sins, and suffering of ALL mankind; how He was willing to die for us so we all will be resurrected, how He appeared to some of those who loved Him to let us know that He lives, how He gave us the keys of Priesthood Authority and restored those to Joseph Smith, Jr., after the apostasy-- this time never to be taken from the earth.
All of this is proof to me that God LOVES us.
And THAT is why I love Him. And I will try to be better and to serve Him better every day.
And He will STILL love me through all my failings -- that I will repent of so that I, as a loving daughter, can become more and more like my Heavenly Parents and my elder brother (my Lord, my Savior, and Redeemer), Jesus Christ.
So I will work harder to love my brothers and sisters. Even when (especially when) we have differences in thought and opinion.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let me explain ... no, there's too much, let me sum up ...

Okay, where to start?

Forget that, I'll catch up later. But right now, I'm just going to restate some of my thoughts that I've put on Facebook.

I first linked to April McMurtrey's blog post, "President Monson, I Sustain You" because, while I was stewing a bit about how irritated I was about a certain-group-who-won't-be-named-here-to-avoid-giving-them-more-attention's choice to go to Conference solely to oppose the sustaining of President Monson, his counselors, and the twelve apostles.

If you're not familiar with this at all, here's what I'm talking about in a nutshell:
We have the opportunity during the Saturday Afternoon session of General Conference to, no matter where you are (listening in person at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah; at home in your pajamas [that's me ... unless I've gotten showered and dressed by then], listening to it in your car, etc.), have the opportunity to show by raising your right arm to the square/raising your right hand that you covenant to help and support [whoever the is being sustained] to do the work of God/fulfill his/her calling.

Now, if you're opposed (because you have knowledge that an individual is unworthy due to sin/s or some other legitimate reason that needs to be brought to the attention of those calling him/her), you have an opportunity to show that. Whoever is conducting that bit of ward/stake/general business will ask, "All in favor, show by the raise of the right hand/usual sign. ... Any opposed, show by the same sign."

(I'll admit that, when I was little, I wondered why it was the same sign. I figured that maybe people should raise their LEFT hand ... but now that I'm aware that it's a COVENANT, using the right hand makes a LOT more sense. ... Yeah, I was a weird child. ... That hasn't really changed.)

SO ... back to General Conference, when President Uchtdorf (second counselor in the First Presidency), asked for "any opposed?"

A small number in the Conference yelled, "OPPOSED!" (apparently, they also raised their hands AND stood). And they did that for the sustaining of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Uchtdorf kept his poise. "Your vote is noted." and "Please meet with your Stake President after the meeting is over." And he made sure to emphasize by the same sign, since that group apparently wasn't listening.

Now, I don't know what these individuals have gone through. I don't know their stories. I don't know if they've chosen to discuss whatever is troubling them with their bishops/branch presidents or stake presidents. I have no knowledge of any of this.

But, what I do know is that they chose, planning in advance, to be disruptive in a solemn gathering. And I'm trying not to be offended that they were rude to those in the meeting and (some of) MY leaders.

I was very glad to read Sister April McMurtrey's Christlike response and her personal plan of action.
As I posted on Facebook:
I'll admit that I'm a bit irked at what I really hoped was some drunk frat-boy prank at Saturday Afternoon's session at LDS General Conference ... though it wasn't. It was, unfortunately, real.
However, this gal's blog post is just about the perfect response to the situation. I should try and follow her example. (Though, I did tell my kids if they EVER chose to act in a manner as disruptive, rude, and selfish [Zoƫ's addition, actually. My kids are awesome], that'd I'd be SORELY disappointed in them. Because there are proper ways of giving a dissenting vote. Yelling at a religious event is NOT one of them.

Well, there were quite a few comments on that. Most were in agreeance that these individuals ACTED in an inappropriate manner, that regardless of whether or not they felt that they were being heard or not, there are other, more mature ways to show their disapproval of how the church is being run.

Then it started to veer off-course. I have one friend who seems to feel that it's her duty to fight everyone's battles. She (rightly) stated that we should love these individuals, that all they need is love and support.
I see that's the main point of her statements and she's right that we NEED to love them. But regardless of how they feel unheard at present, there's always a choice in what actions we take. And, since they decided to take THIS action, I feel that they're shooting themselves in the foot with that.

As I told another friend who underwent a horrible attack (as in, she was left for dead afterwards, but she lived through it), and was judged harshly and has since left the church due, a lot, to the treatment a lot of people gave her. That, and since she's a rather outspoken individual (which I love about her), she often felt that she didn't have a place in the church. (I'll be writing something about that in another post ... but, really, EVERYONE should feel welcome here. Jesus didn't sent folks away. Neither should we.) ... BUT, as I told her:
And, I have to say, our church is a sadder place for not having awesome people like you in it.

"But that's our loss. Because we, as a people, have not done our duty in successfully making our wards places where you and many others feel nurtured, protected, appreciated, and loved.
"We need to be better. It's a hard truth ... but that doesn't mean that it's not true."

And I'll stand by that. The gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect. Its followers, even including its leaders (as they'll readily tell you themselves!) are not. Nelson Mandela said, "I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying." ... and THAT is what we are. We are trying. And, as we were told in this General Conference, we need to give others credit as they try. If we don't, we're a church of latter-day hypocrites.

Eventually, thanks to Michael's stepping in with this lovely comment below, things settled down a bit.
I feel this post as veered past the original intent which was to respond in a more Christlike way. To forgive and to show mercy even we disagree or are hurt. The post was not meant to attack others or for others take offense. I hope we can forgive all those have wronged us and be forgiven for the offenses we have caused. I hope all those who continue to respond to this post will remember those principles.
And I did my best to soothe any still-ruffled feathers with this:
I very well understand that many people have issues with the church and its leaders and all ... but I firmly believe that civil discourse is the best way to handle this. Taking actions that are rather rude and disruptive can be alienating, which definitely does not help one's cause, no matter how much in the right one might be.

Maybe that's why I respect Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and, heck, Martin Luther ... (Luther himself was quite a rabble-rouser, if you think about it. But he did his best not to disrupt the meetings that occurred inside the church building.)

But, like I told my friend, Brooke, a lot of what I think really needs to be written in a post ... so I know what one of my week's projects is going to be.

And thanks, everyone, for your input. I love you all ... and I want you to love each other, too. Part of the wonder of this world is that we DON'T all feel/think exactly the same. Learning to love each other and learn from each other (even if it might JUST be learning patience with them) is really, truly vital.

And I understand that dealing with a text-only based platform, like comment-sections, can be really limiting without the inflections and other non-verbal cues that are present in face-to-face communication and vlogging. So, I just ask -- for the future -- please try to read each comment (especially those that you might feel are wrong or accusatory) in the kindest tones of the sweetest child that you know. Because I know all of you ... and you are all very wonderful (and NOT just because you flatter me ... as much as I do eat up that praise. :P).

I just want you all to leave this comment threat without any bad feelings towards each other. We often don't completely understand each other ... at least not at first.
(Have I told y'all the story of Michael's and my first argument? We still reference it, since it was quite hilarious. We were both correct, just about different aspects. Which, really, is quite applicable to life, when you think about it. :P)

So ... yeah.

I don't know what to do ... and I could just apologize for everything. Ever.

But, thanks to Sunday Morning's session of Conference, I'm feeling a lot better towards my fellow men and women.

Especially since I bit the bullet and went full-on "here's how I feel. Amen." as you'll read in the next post.

Counting ...

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