Sunday, March 31, 2013

My very favorite meeting!

Yesterday, Sun and I watched the General Young Women's Meeting with a friend and her 12 year-old daughter.  I love that meeting!  When I watch that meeting, I am always reminded that I am a daughter of God, who loves me.  I hear how God feels about His daughters, always.  Even when I am not serving with the youth, I listen to the meeting because of the feelings I have while I watch it.  Yesterday was no different.  Here is the link if you want to watch the entire meeting.

This is an amazing little video they showed illustrating a young woman preparing to attend the temple and being reminded throughout her preparation of the covenants she has made and the ones she hopes to make.  It is absolutely beautiful!  Enjoy:

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Crisis of Faith

photo credit:
 Within the last year or so, a few of my family/friends have made major life decisions that have lead them away from the gospel.  These were all endowed people who at one time had a current temple recommend.  Because my contact with them was not consistent, to me, their decisions seemed 'out of the blue' and not in harmony with their personality/character.

I pondered for quite awhile how these decisions just 'came out of no where.'  Then I recalled a few principles:

  • Big decisions never come out of no where.  People have been pondering them for some time.  They may never share their thoughts with anyone and so it seems 'out of nowhere,' but it never is...
  • Lucifer works on our thoughts as much, if not more than our actions.  Actions are only thoughts put in motion.  For as he athinketh in his bheart, so is he...(Proverbs 23:7)
  • It is possible to 'sin' in the way we think....  But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God.  (Jacob 2:5)  Also, added to this thought is the scripture from Alma 30:11 which teaches:  For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on aequal grounds.  Even today, church discipline is not enacted for beliefs, but behavior.  However, it is clear from the verse in Jacob, the prophet refers to the people as 'beginning to labor in sin, which sin....'  Thus even though the people may not be sanctioned for their thoughts, they are certainly being cautioned and told they need to change their thoughts.
  • We have a responsibility to monitor or 'police' our thoughts.  President Monson in April 2010 General Conference quoted President McKay, "President David O. McKay, ninth President of the Church, advised, “I implore you to think clean thoughts.” He then made this significant declaration of truth: “Every action is preceded by a thought. If we want to control our actions, we must control our thinking.” Brethren, fill your minds with good thoughts, and your actions will be proper. May each of you be able to echo in truth the line from Tennyson spoken by Sir Galahad: “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.” 7

So how can we avoid a similar crisis of faith??

  • Pray.  Prayer is the act of bringing the will of the child in line with the will of the Father. (I know I heard this in General Conference, but could not find the quote...I will keep looking.)  For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.(2nd Nephi 32:8)  Prayer is basically sharing our thoughts with God.  If done regularly and if we are listening, God will eventually share some of His thoughts with us---especially those that affect us and in areas where we need to change.
  • Read the scriptures and study the words of the prophets.  Reading the scriptures will keep us in tune with the Spirit of the Lord and we will gain insights into how the Lord thinks and feels about specific things.
  • Recognize area/ideas where you may not completely agree with a doctrine of the gospel or position of the church.  Read what the prophets and the scriptures say about the topic.  Pray for understanding and an open heart.  If after participating in this process, you still have not reconciled this discrepancy, agree to put the issue 'on the shelf.'  Recognize that you may not have all of the information on this issue, but having a question does not negate the other truths you already know.  Choose to have the faith necessary to be patient and to allow time and learning to possibly bring reconciliation to light.  Choose to remain faithful in what you know and exercise your faith that a loving Father in Heaven will eventually bring understanding and light to you in His time.
  • If you recognize your consistency in prayer, scripture study, or church attendance has waned, agree to recommit to those behaviors today.  Do not wait until tomorrow.  Elder Eyring, October 1999: 
    "And so Satan tempts with procrastination throughout our days of probation. Any choice to delay repentance gives him the chance to steal happiness from one of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father.

    We have all been tempted with that delay. We know from our own experience that President Spencer W. Kimball was right when he wrote, “One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination,” and then he defined it: “an unwillingness to accept personal responsibility now” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 48; emphasis in original). And so Satan works on both our desire to think we have no cause to repent and our desire to push anything unpleasant into the future. He has tempted you and me, and those we love, with thoughts like this: “God is so loving; surely He won’t hold me personally responsible for mistakes which are simply the result of being human.” And then, if that fails, there is the thought that will almost surely come: “Well, I may be responsible to repent, but this is not a good time to start. If I wait, later will be better.”

    There are some truths which expose those lies intended to tempt us to procrastinate repentance." 
  • Remember that none of us are so strong that we cannot fall.  Behaviors begin with thoughts.  When we neglect our spiritual duties or do not monitor and change our 'wrong thinking,' we leave the door open for our own crisis of faith. 

O be wise; what can I say more? (Jacob 6:12)

PS...check out Heather's five for Friday here

Monday, March 25, 2013

A few random moments I want to remember!

My babies do not like to have feet in their pajamas.  I keep thinking each kid will like the pj's with feet.  We buy new ones (or used ones at the thrift shop).  I make them wear them with the feet for a week or so until the baby just absolutely refuses to put them on.  Then I remember that they don't like the feet.  I finally give in and cut them out.  Then my babies will wear their jammies without complaint.  I think it is just because my boys (in particular) have really big, sweaty feet, even as babies.  I wish I would just accept that and as soon as I bring the pj's home, just cut the feet out and save a week of complaining!  Some day this mother will learn.

I went outside the other day to pick up what I thought was an underwear waistband. .....Well it was that.  I couldn't believe it was just out in the backyard, lying around.  When I actually picked it up,

THIS is what I found:
A sling shot.  Yes, one of my boys tore the underwear waistband off of his underwear and made a sling shot out of it.  Where do they come up with these things??  It is actually held to the band with little nails.  Don't you just love the ingenuity??  I'm sorry, your mother will not purchase a slingshot for you because, well, you're a boy and we all know what will happen with that.  So you'll make one of your own out of your underwear!  You must be a boy scout!

Speedy's epic fruit master piece:

Yesterday after church, Spike, Spike and I were hanging out eating a bag of popcorn.  It was just me and him.  It was so cute to watch him stuff four to five pieces into his tiny little mouth, to kick back onto the couch and just enjoy hanging out with me.  I could picture him as a teen doing the exact same thing, only I probably could not share the couch with him because he would take up the entire thing.  But I just love those moments when you can see into their personality and imagine them a few years older and see in your mind, their development.  I JUST LOVE BEING A MOTHER!

And then there is this beauty:
Her missionary papers are almost in, probably this week!  We are so glad to have her home for a few months before her service!  We love you!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paper is not Dead

I saw the most hilarious video this morning!

Watch and Enjoy!
Sooooo sweet!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NOT Mother of the Year!

Since Saturday evening, I have been really sick----fever, congestion, sore throat, tired, just plain yuck!  Sunday morning I decided I was too sick to attend church services.  We decided it would be wisest for the baby to stay home with me, since my husband has to be on the stand at the front of the congregation (because he is currently serving as the Bishop of the ward) and that left the children on the bench by themselves.

The family had been gone about an hour.  I had just finished reading Cocoa's post about accepting the nomination as Young Mother of the Year in Nevada and some of the other great women who will be honored at the national convention.  The baby had been watching Winnie the Pooh (TV and computer are in the same room).  I decided I had enough energy to fold a load of laundry.  The baby helped me get it out of the dryer.  I sat down in the TV room and started folding.  I noticed that the baby got quiet, but just figured he had found something interesting in one of the bedrooms.

When I was just about finished folding the laundry (10 minutes max), I thought, "I had really better find out what that baby is up to."  I went down the hallway to see if he was in the bedrooms or if, heaven forbid, someone had left one of the bathroom doors open and he was in the toilet.  He wasn't in the bedrooms, or the bathrooms.  By this time I am calling his name and starting to stress a little.  I noticed the front door wasn't shut all the way and thought, "Oh no, I hope he didn't go out the front door."  As I approached, I could see some strange man outside on the sidewalk holding my baby and a police officer. 

I threw the door open and said, "Yes! That's my baby!"  The nice man brought the baby to me, as the officer was explaining that the baby was just about to cross the street.  I said to the baby, "Where have you been?" relief in my voice.  The man repeated my words and then said this to me, "I wouldn't let my little dogs get out in a situation like that lady!" giving me a stern look over the top of his sunglasses.  He thanked the officer and then got into his truck and drove away.

The officer, of course, wanted to know my last name, then my first name, then to tell me how much peril the baby had been in and that I may want to consider changing the door knobs on my front door so the baby can't do that again.  I brought the baby in the house, chained the front door, sat down and cried for about 1/2 an hour.  It was only then that I thought, "Gee, it's a really good thing your dogs can't open the front door!"

Anyway, I do not think I will be winning any awards for motherhood any time soon.  Plus, since I am still feeling nasty, I think I'll get myself to the doctor today.  Thanks for listening.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Family History, what are you waiting for??

photo credit:
I am a family history buff.  I don't know what it is, maybe it is the Spirit of Elijah.  Well, not maybe, it definitely is.  From the time I was little, I have really enjoyed looking for and finding my ancestors.  I love knowing how the families connect and finding out about their lives, where they come from and what my heritage is.

I go through spurts of family history.  When we were first married and still students at BYU, I spent a lot of time at their family history library, looking up censuses, viewing microfilm, and making photocopies.  It took a.lot.of.time.  This was the day before computers were readily accessible, and to tell the truth, before I really knew how to use them.

Today we are so very blessed by this technology.  It is amazing!  Yesterday I did in two hours, what would probably have taken me several weeks of work 20 years ago.  Family history can seem overwhelming because there is so much to be done and we often wonder where to start.  I want to share a few thoughts that have kindled my recent Spirit of Elijah and hopefully will ignite yours, if not already aglow, as well.

One:  Do family history work 15 minutes at a time.  I picked up this tip from a dear sister who works in our family history library.  I didn't believe it was possible at first.  But she suggested that we set the timer and only work 15 minutes at a time.  I had been putting off doing more family history work because I did not feel I had the time available that I did in our early marriage.  However, I decided to give her method a try.  I committed to 15 minutes three times a week.  I am amazed at what I have been able to accomplish in the last two weeks.  Really amazing stuff!  Maybe I will put the stats in this post, later.

In the last three weeks I have been working 15 minutes here and there, we have prepared 24 names for baptism, 7 couples to be sealed, and many families to be sealed together.  I have the names in a file, in the familysearch family tree (mentioned below) just waiting to be printed the next time we attend the temple.  My children can perform those baptisms for their ancestors!

Two:  Start with the first 100 years.  Don't think you have to go back to Noah, just make sure you have the information for you, your children, your parents, and your grandparents, if possible.  Put in aunts, uncles, cousins.  Update what you know without any effort.  You will be amazed at what is already out there and in the computer.  Just try it!

Three:  Start by going here (New Family Search) and type in your username and password.  I like using the new program FamilySearch Family Tree.  It is the program that is replacing New Family Search, so I just decided to get used to it.  Plus, it has some really neat features!

When you have some information put into that program, it will automatically link you in with other patrons whose lines connect with yours.  There may be a lot more there than you have any idea!!  Then, you can go to THIS WEBSITE and create the coolest family history tree EVER!

Several days ago, I woke up one morning with a particular ancestor's name running through my brain.  Over, and over, and over again.  The next day, I looked her up in FamilySearch Family Tree.  Her ordinances were done. Her husband's ordinances were done.  Her children's ordinances were done.  But her parents were not listed.  Her line stopped right there.  I noticed that my aunt had put her information into the program, so I sent her an email asking about this ancestor and any information she had.  She had been looking for our ancestor, but hadn't found anything.  I decided to go to our family history library yesterday and look for her.  The library has access to programs I do not have on my home computer, like  I looked for her.  And found her immediately!  Then, through being able to look at some other patron's family trees, found her parents, and through census records found her siblings!!  It was AWESOME!!!

While I was working on family history a few days ago, a friend of mine was over at the house.  She is getting ready to serve a mission.  I showed her what I was doing and how easy it was to prepare names for the temple.  She got excited and said that another member had showed her where the obituary for her grandfather was in our family history library (he was the coroner, so he knows obituaries!).  I called her from the family history library and asked her if she wanted to come with me.  She did!  I went and picked her up.  In the hour and a half that she was there, she added her parent's information, her grandparent's information, and aunts and uncles all from the obituary and then she found a couple of other people.  I am telling you---just do it!!  You will be amazed at how easy it is and how much fun, plus the feelings and promptings you will get as you begin.

Our ancestors have been waiting for decades and centuries to have their work done.  They were promised that if they came to earth at a time when temples were not available, their posterity would seek out their information and make sure their covenants were available.  It is our time.  We have the technology.  We have the information available.  We have the temples close (ours is four hours away, but closer than any of my ancestors had a temple, or the gospel!).

What are you waiting for????
Log in now!  Go, go, go!!!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Repost for the Book of Mormon Forum

This was originally posted November 4, 2012.  I am re-posting it to participate in the blog hop over at We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ.

"Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also"
Elder Shayne M. Bowen

When I first heard this talk, I cried through the entire thing.  When I reread it, I cry.  Because this talk so deeply touched me, I decided to post my reaction and comments to it on my own blog, instead of just making comments on Stephanie's blog.

photo credit:  delparsons studio

Elder Bowen tells of teaching a family on his mission, a mother with several children these words in Moroni:

“Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.

“And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins.

“But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!”

He then shares these words in his talk:
        After reading this scripture, Sister Ramirez began sobbing. My companion and I were confused. I asked, “Sister Ramirez, have we said or done something that has offended you?”

        She said, “Oh, no, Elder, you haven’t done anything wrong. Six years ago I had a baby boy. He died before we could have him baptized. Our priest told us that because he had not been baptized, he would be in limbo for all eternity. For six years I have carried that pain and guilt. After reading this scripture, I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. I have felt a great weight taken off of me, and these are tears of joy.”

        I was reminded of the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who taught this comforting doctrine: “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.”2

        After she suffered almost unbearable grief and pain for six years, the true doctrine, revealed by a loving Father in Heaven through a living prophet, brought sweet peace to this tormented woman. Needless to say, Sister Ramirez and her children who were eight years and older were baptized.

He then goes on to share his own story of when his sixth child, an 8 month old son, passed away from aspirating a piece of chalk.  His story is deep, personal, and sweet.  He shares his 'natural man' responses to that tragedy and expresses how the Atonement of Christ helped him through that period in his life and even how it helps him today in putting that experience into perspective.  His words are so moving that I hope you will go and read them for yourself.

I have thought of these words often this week, as I have pondered about some of the tragedies that happen in the world in which we live.  Two families in particular have been on my mind, this family suffering tragedy from the storm, Sandy , and this family, suffering tragedy from a long term nanny.  As a mother, I have thought about both of these women and the insurmountable suffering they must be trying to manage and overcome.  My heart hurts for them, though I do not know either of them or any of their circumstances other than those reported in these stories.

I wonder if the words of Elder Bowen and Moroni would provide the same 'Balm of Gilead' it did for Elder Bowen.  Would this information bring them peace?  Do they know it already?  Like Elder Bowen, just because we know the information, does not mean that we automatically get to skip past the pain and the emotional and sometimes literally, physical process of healing.  Life is so different in theory than it actually is in application.

The older I get, the more I learn that it is indeed the application of the doctrines of the gospel we have been sent here to learn.  How difficult and soul stretching it is to put them into practice!!  It seems that the Lord has a unique way, a specifically designed and tailored, individual path for each of us as we learn to put into practice those principles which are most difficult for each of us.  He does require us to, or gives us opportunity to, make our weaknesses become strengths, if we will succumb to the required curriculum and allow the doctrines to penetrate our hearts.

I, personally, am not very fond of His teaching methods, but I can testify to their effectiveness.  I do not like feeling pain, or sorrow, remorse, or any of the negative feelings.  For a long time, I thought I could avoid them by just not feeling, or as I like to say, by blocking my feelings.  I have learned that by doing so, I cut off my ability to feel all of the feelings.  I could choose to be happy, but I did not feel a deep sense of joy.  Since I have had to learn how to allow myself to feel and not let those negative feelings incapacitate me, I have actually had some days where I am deeply, deeply happy.  I can feel my heart singing..........  and I have to remind myself that I cannot have the good without the bad.  Jacob, in the Book of Mormon
teaches us that very thing:

     For it must needs be, that there is an aopposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

      12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no apurpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the bjustice of God.

      13 And if ye shall say there is ano law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not bthere is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

I am still not at the point where I appreciate the negative experiences, knowing that I will also experience growth and development.  I guess I am still learning how to apply that knowledge.  But I do recognize that I receive significant growth.  I learn.  The lesson sinks deep into my heart and I change because of my trials.  I think that is one of the reasons I so appreciated Elder Bowen's message.  I recognized the application of his teachings in my own life, even though I have not experienced the same depth of loss as Elder Bowen and the other mothers in this post.  I pray that when my own, personally tailored trials come, that I will be able and willing to let the lessons penetrate my heart and I will be healed through the Atonement of Christ, as was Elder Bowen. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Teenagers and Doctrine

Our little daughter turns 12 next month.  She wants to have her ears pierced.  Earlier this week, she had learned to put her hair up with knitting needles.  There she was sitting at the table, hoop earrings hanging around the tops of her ears (in anticipation of how they would look when they were pierced), her hair wrapped around one knitting needle, talking, talking, talking to me.  As I watched her, I saw it.  There she was, my young woman Sun, and I thought, 'Oh, this is going to be so fun!  We are friends!  I really love her!'

Speedy turned 14 last week.  He had to shave all of the fuzz off of his chin because he was beginning to look a little wooly.  He is concerned because he still doesn't think he knows how to dance and he wants it to be right.  It doesn't matter that we have given him a few instructions on slow dancing and explained that fast dancing is just moving your body to the rhythm.  His comment was, "It is so very strange to think that I can do things today that I couldn't do yesterday" (like go to dances).  He will figure it out.

I love teenagers!!  They really are my very favorite!  I love how their thinking expands and they begin to discuss adult topics.  They have opinions.  They have experiences.  They are beginning to experience real life as individuals.  Many of their friends are having those experiences too and they are hard.  Really strong emotions are attached to their experiences and they are primed for greater and greater things.

After teaching our children the basics of the gospel, articles of faith, the scripture stories during their childhood, our teenagers are ready to discuss serious doctrinal principles and their applications.  We discuss real life situations and people and how the principles they have learned apply.  We can't know everything, and we try not to be judgmental of people or make assumptions about their lives.  Anything that is public is fair-game, especially if we are discussing things in the news.  My husband is a political science guy so he is always in the news and aware of current happenings, especially political ones.  So we discuss policies, upcoming legislation, who is saying what and how those ideas/policies will affect us and others and compare those things with doctrinal principles and Heavenly Father's laws and scriptural stories that coincide.  We have some very serious discussions.

People are really amazed at the depth our children can discuss something.  Sometimes people have accused us of writing our children's talks for sacrament meeting.  We don't do that.....ever!  It would rob them of the opportunity to express themselves and put together the doctrine for themselves.  We do discuss their topic and what the principle is, scripture stories that might illustrate that principle, or ask them if they have another story that might illustrate it.  Then we teach them this simple principle for giving a talk:

1.  Teach the doctrine you have been given--principles, scriptures, prophet quotes, that you can find to back up the doctrine.
2.  Share a story or two that illustrates that principle.  It can be from the scriptures, real life, personal, you name it.
3.  Testify of the principle you have taught.

That's it.  Then we send them to go to work.  If they are preparing a primary talk, we teach them to do the same things, only on a smaller scale.  If they need help coming up with a story, I may remind them of a scripture story, or ask them to go and read the story, or remind them of something in their own life.  Then I ask them to tell me how they felt or the consequences/blessings they observed from their experience.

Elder Neil L. Andersen, in his conference talk, Tell Me the Stories of Jesus, shared these words:

President Thomas S. Monson has described the rising generation as “the very best ever” 1 and has said to our youth: “You have come to this earth at a glorious time. The opportunities before you are nearly limitless.” 2 But he also warned, “We have been placed on earth in troubled times.” 3 “It is a time of permissiveness, with society in general routinely disregarding and breaking the laws of God.” 4 We are surrounded by so much that is designed to divert our attention. “The adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us in his web of deceit.” 5

We hold in our arms the rising generation. They come to this earth with important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. We cannot be casual in how we prepare them. Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith.

I shared this quote last week sharing my testimony in sacrament meeting.  I am sorry to say that since I did it from memory, I did it wrong, but the general message was correct (at least I can remember the meaning of what was said :-).  But this is so true.  Our children, the rising generation, do come with a 'premortal fire of faith'!  It is already there.  We just have to fan the flames.

They are feisty spirits.  They are determined, head strong, full of boundless energy and they can argue, well, I might add.  Our job is to turn those characteristics into qualities that can and will be used in the service of the Lord, to remind them of who they are and who they are to become.

I would continue, but this post wasn't suppose to be about teaching our children morals and doctrine.  That is the topic I will be writing to on Cocoa's blog in April.  I guess you'll just have to wait for the rest of it.  But if you want to know what the prophets are saying, check out this video:

Bringing up children in light and truth

I couldn't figure out how to embed it in the post :-)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ramblings to catch up...

photo credit:
Augh!  Sickness!  We have had about two weeks of sickness which ran through the entire family.  The baby has finally kicked it.  He actually probably had two to three different things that have lasted for about six weeks.  But in the process of all of his illness, I think he has finally cut his last eye tooth as well.  We also moved him into a 'big boy' bed, which he has been sooooo excited about.  We are still having to lay down with him in the bed so he will go to sleep and not get up and play, but today he actually took his first nap in the bed and I didn't have to stick him back into the crib for nap time.  His little feelings have been so wounded when I have finally had enough and put him into the crib--broke his little heart.  But he is obviously getting the idea!  Hooray!!!!

nap time in the big boy bed

Drew and I were both down at the same time with the illness.  Luckily for me, my sweetheart felt so bad that he didn't want me cooking either, so he rearranged our budget so I could buy cereal for breakfast and several dinners that didn't require much preparation.  I have felt so SPOILED!  We must have definitely changed our life style if I feel pampered by cold cereal and prepared meals!  (Those were just part of our normal life early on...)  What has been really funny is that although the little kids have been in hog-heaven because of the menu, the baby won't eat it.  He just looked at his cold cereal, moved the spoon around a little, put his fingers in it, let it get soggy and then wanted out.  He asked for eggs, and crackers.  So funny.

I was well enough to pull off our Visiting Teaching Conference/RS birthday brunch...thanks for asking :-)  For part of the program, our Relief Society President wanted us to participate in 'mock' visiting teaching.  I visited Michaels (Arts and Crafts store), found some stickers, handed them out randomly as participants came through the door, then told them they would 'need this later'.  At the appointed time, I turned the group loose to find the two other people who had their exact sticker.  Viola!  Random groups of three.  Then we spent 20 minutes in our random groups visiting.  I think this was the favorite part of our morning.  When it was time to get everyone's attention, they were so busy visiting, I had to tap on the microphone for two solid minutes before the conversations died down.  (One sister even turned around and said, 'You told us to visit. Stop interrupting us!'  Luckily, she is one of my best friends :-)  See??? Visiting teaching isn't hard, even when we don't know each other.  We just have to stick ourselves out there and do it!  We are all women.  We have things in common.  We have hearts to serve!  Now we just need to serve those the Lord has given us stewardship over.  Not hard---Be Brave!

Then, this morning, for my scripture study, I read THIS, amazing talk by Elder Holland.  I really, really appreciated Elder Holland's personal interpretation of the conversation between Peter and the Savior.  I could really sense where Peter was (not that I really know, but Elder Holland's interpretation made the conversation more real to me and more personally applicable), in his doctrinal development and understanding of the experiences they had just been through.  I think we all go through that to a degree....we go through the motions of what we think the gospel is asking of us.  We really are making effort and making changes.  Then something happens and we kind of fall off of the wagon.  We stop continuing the change we were making, because it is hard, or it doesn't make sense, or it should be finished by now, we have done it long enough and we cannot see a difference, or whatever.  Then I feel the hand of the Lord calling after me, Carin....Do you love me? 

(Elder Holland's words....) "did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?.......Then Peter, [Carin]why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, [Carin] are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, [Carin] for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally ....."

Then I couple those thoughts with my visiting teaching conference.  When our sisters were visiting (we combined the two wards that meet in our building for this activity), we shared our hearts, our struggles, our trials, our joys, our hopes.  We have each other.  Each of us knew there were a few sister in that room that we could call on if we had trouble.......any trouble.  Most of the sisters we (or at least, I) visit, do not have that because they are not currently actively participating in the ward family.  They still have struggles, trials, hopes, joys, but they don't have, or they don't know they have the same support system that the rest of us do.  They need to know someone is out there who will help, who will lift them when they are down and support them when they struggle.  The gospel is a gospel of inclusion, not exclusion.  We say, come, you will find help, support and friends here.  We will love you.  Join our circle of sisters.  Be a part of us, regardless of your bad habits, tattered clothes, broken hearts.....come, join, share, love.  We will include you.  And the Lord asks us to do it, to reach out, even if today our sisters are not interested.  They may be tomorrow.  We must be about our Father's business.  Feed the Savior's sheep is our mandate too. 
Photo credit: Del Parson's studio