Friday, June 28, 2013

Family First Friday Post #1

On Sunday, June 23rd, my family I were sitting in our chapel watching the new mission president's broadcast.  We showed up early and watched the live broadcast at 3, instead of coming with the rest of the ward at 5.  Alone in the chapel, we were hoping to see our Provo MTC missionary singing in the choir.  Though I did not see him, it was an amazing broadcast.

I was particularly touched by Elder Nelson's interview with a member of the new General Young Women's Presidency, Sister Neill F. Marriot.
 Sister Marriot shared her conversion story and the part member missionaries played in the growth of her testimony and decision to be baptized.  I loved the interview.  She seemed so very sweet and genuine!  But my very, very favorite part had nothing to do with the missionary theme.

Sister Marriot is the mother of eleven children.  Eleven!!  When asked how she manages her callings and her family, her response was, (paraphrasing) I just took care of my family first and everything else worked out.  I LOVED her response.  I just take care of my family first.....  Isn't that the way it should be??

I have a servant's heart.  I love serving and helping others.  I like helping outside of my family.  I am sure part of my love of service, other than the good feelings I have from participating, is the appreciation I receive from the group or person served.  (I seem to have a need for recognition.  Silly natural woman!)  Unfortunately in motherhood, that is probably the last thing I receive from the many, many hours of service I give as a mother.  Recently, four times in the last two years, I have been asked by outside groups to participate in a lengthy (two months - two years) commitment that would only require a few hours each month.  My heart has longed to participate.  I can make all of the justifications I want and I can even quote church leaders about participating in civic responsibilities and groups.  I want to help and I would love the outside recognition for my participation.  Thankfully, before I have accepted the commitment, each time, I have consulted the Lord.  Each time, the Lord has said, No Carin, This is not for you.  It has made me sad each time.

Twice, I was offered money for my time.  Each time, I had a little extra time and thought I could manage it.  Six months after the first offer, my husband was called as the Bishop.  Then I didn't have any time.  And if I had accepted the paid position, it would have been difficult to give it up because truth be told, we could use the extra cash.  But the Lord has let me know, the work I do in my own home, even though unpaid and many times unappreciated, cannot be compensated for with money.  No amount of money can replace what I can do within the walls of my own home, not for my children and my husband.

What I really, really appreciated about Sister Marriot's comments was that she always just took care of her family first, and everything else worked out.  So, mostly in an effort to remind myself of the importance of my work, on Fridays, we will talk about Family First, because we know if we put them first, everything else will just work out.

What blessings have you received by putting your family first?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Historically Sad Day.

photo credit:
Today the Supreme Court of the United States of America handed down its decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and declaring a lack of standing for the Proposition 8 case in the state of California, which affirmed that marriage is legally recognized as the union of one man and one woman, and I put up a post about left-overs.

I am saddened deeply by the news.  I am sad that the voice of the people of California, given through the legislative process, three times, has been vetoed by the highest judges in our land.  Sad.  I am saddened by the fact that the other side of this argument will not stop their push for their agenda here.  Now that they are legally recognized and sanctioned, they will push to have that position pushed and ratified in the schools and taught to our children.  They will push to have individuals and organizations that do not morally agree with their positions declared as discriminating entities.  It is already happening here in our country.  People are losing their businesses because of their moral beliefs.  Last I checked, we were free in this country to believe. Those who have been shouting for tolerance are becoming the least tolerant of anyone or anything opposing their beliefs and ideals.

A few years ago, when I was looking for a web-site on the World Congress of the Family, I accidentally stumbled upon a LGBT website.  I do not know what the name of it was. I have not tried to find it since.  I cannot tell you where it is.  I do not remember.  But as I was trying to figure out if it was the site I was looking for, I found a list of all of the countries in the world and all of the states in the United States.  In the list, was an accounting of which countries recognized their ideals and to what level, and what agenda they were working on next:  Domestic Partnerships recognized, pushing for recognition of Same-Sex Marriage; Same-sex Marriage recognized, pushing for recognition in the school system; Marriage recognized, working toward adoption rights, etc....  You get the idea.  I was appalled.  I realized this was not a state fight, or a national fight, this was a world fight.  The adversary was attacking this doctrine the world over and he was extremely organized and well-funded.  I realized then that I could not idly sit by and hope that the good people of the world would recognize his lies and the problems it would pose to our society.

I do not exactly have a lot of time to run around shouting 'the sky is falling' to my neighbors and trying to sway the political process.  I am one woman, one busy woman, fighting the fight, down in the trenches, here in my home.  So what can I do??  How can I stand up for my moral beliefs and do my part??  What is my responsibility??  Here are a few ideas:

Teach my children/grandchildren:  I can help my children to understand what is going on in our state and nation.  I can make them aware of the political process.  We discuss both sides of the issue and why we believe the way that we do.  We can give the children things to say in response to pressure from others about their beliefs.  In our home, it is simply, "I believe their choice to marry and act on those desires of their heart are harmful to them and to our society."  That's it.  Surely they will be pressed further, but further discussion will likely result in many disagreements in detail.  Talk to them at their level and understanding.  Our elementary school students have a different level of understanding and development and ability to converse than our middle-school children or those in high school and college.

Vote.  I make sure I vote in every election.  Teach your children to vote.  It is my place to voice my opinion and desire.  (Even when judges in the land feel they can change those votes.)  I still believe in upholding and sustaining the law.  I may not agree and I will do what I can to peacefully help others to know my beliefs and why.

Talk to people in your circles.  Discuss your political beliefs with others, but do so in a peaceful and kind way.  Remember they are just as free to have their own opinions as you want to be to have yours.  So though you may disagree with them, be as courteous to them and respectful of their beliefs as you want them to be of yours.

Blog/Facebook/Tweet:  Use your social media to share your opinion and why.  When addressing others, be kind and considerate.  We can disagree without being disagreeable.  Choose the higher ground and remember that when you teach the truth in love, the Spirit will be your witness.  But when we behave in ways that the Spirit cannot condone, he cannot be there to testify of the truth.

Don't post about left-overs when there are more important things to talk about.

Pray:  Pray for your country.  Pray for your leaders.  Pray for your neighbors.  Pray for yourself, your family, your children.  Pray for strength and courage to stand for truth and righteousness.  Pray always, then listen for the answer, and follow those promptings and feelings.  If we are all working together, we will be stronger.

Tomorrow, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum.  There is a great article here.

And here is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint's response to today's ruling.

Table Talk--Left-overs

Do you ever get totally frustrated with the left-overs in your refrigerator or the odds and ends in the cupboard?  With just a few little tricks you can eliminate waste, create new dishes, and save some money.

Similar dishes use almost the same spices and can usually be combined without problems because the flavors are closely related.  For instance, basil, garlic, onion and tomato are used in most Italian dishes---spaghetti, lasagna, pizza sauce, marinara, and others.  If you make a pizza sauce and create too much, you can simply use the left-over sauce the next time you make spaghetti, lasagna, or need a little tomato sauce in a soup base, or chili.

Onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and lemon or lime can be used in almost anything Mexican---Spanish rice, beans, meat for tacos, enchiladas, whatever.  Sometimes we will make beans and rice. With the left-overs, I can add a little salsa to the mixture, roll them in tortillas (flour or corn) and pour green enchilada sauce over the top.  It has to be the green one and there is only one that I love.  Here is the photo:
This sauce makes anything you make delicious!  I have used it for rice and bean enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, I think I even poured it into some taco meat I was making one time....yummy!

A lot of creating in the kitchen is just knowing what spices are used in the base and then using your imagination, or what you have on hand.  There are certain things you can use for substitutes if you do not have the required ingredient on hand.  Brown sugar, white sugar, and honey can be used almost interchangeably in most recipes.  Powdered or canned milk can be substituted for regular milks, or rice milk, soy milk, or other milk.  Sometimes I use powdered eggs in my baking--1 TBLS of egg mix and 2 TBLS of water.  Though powdered eggs do OK in a bread/cake kind of recipe, powdered eggs to eat, I find nasty.  I won't do that again.  Tomato paste can be watered down to tomato sauce.  I even used a can of tomato soup in place of sauce one time.  It does change the flavor a little, but not much.  And sometimes, you can just eliminate an ingredient....i.e. vanilla is just a flavoring.  You really don't need it in your cookies.

Left-over cooked vegetables from a pot-roast or even roasted in the oven just scream "Put me in a soup!"  Just boil some water, add bullion (chicken, beef, or vegetable) for flavoring, maybe some flour, corn starch, or instant mashed potato flakes to thicken it up, add your already cooked vegetables, left over meat, noodles, barley or beans if desired and have soup.  Serve it with bread and salad and your meal is complete.

One day we made apple crisp and my family ate all of the topping off of it.  The next morning I only had cooked apples left.  No one was going to eat that.  What could I do??  Apples, cinnamon, sugar, oats.....hmmmmm.  So I made oatmeal for breakfast, cut up the apples from the crisp, added a little more cinnamon and sugar, and toasted the rolls from dinner the night before.  Viola!  Oatmeal with a little twist.

Many left-overs can be dressed up in a new way and eaten before they mold in the fridge.  If you don't know how to use a spice in your spice rack, look it up on the internet and see how it is used.  You will learn something new and have new tricks in your cooking repertoire.  Have faith in yourself!!  With a little courage, you may come up with a new favorite food.  Try it, you might like it!

What is your favorite left-over dish??  How do you serve it? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thoughts about sacred things.

photo credit:
Recently I have been concerned with the casualness with which some young adults approach the law of chastity.  I won't go into the details as to why it is bothering me and I have been thinking about it, but the Lord's standards, given through His prophets, are clear.

The Lord and His prophets condemn sexual immorality.
All sexual relations outside of marriage violate the law of
chastity and are physically and spiritually dangerous for
those who engage in them.
The Ten Commandments include the command that we
not commit adultery, which is sexual intercourse between a
married man and someone other than his wife or between a
married woman and someone other than her husband (see
Exodus 20:14). The Apostle Paul said that it is “the will of
God” that we “abstain from fornication,” which is sexual
intercourse between an unmarried person and anyone else (1
Thessalonians 4:3). Latter-day prophets repeatedly speak out
against these sins and against the evil practice of sexual abuse.
Like other violations of the law of chastity, homosexual
activity is a serious sin. It is contrary to the purposes of
human sexuality (see Romans 1:24–32). It distorts loving
relationships and prevents people from receiving the bless-
ings that can be found in family life and the saving ordi-
nances of the gospel. 
Merely refraining from sexual intercourse outside of mar-
riage is not sufficient in the Lord’s standard of personal puri-
ty. The Lord requires a high moral standard of His disciples,
including complete fidelity to one’s spouse in thought and
conduct. In the Sermon on the Mount, He said: “Ye have
heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not
commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh
on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with
her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28). In the latter days
He has said, “Thou shalt not . . . commit adultery, . . . nor do
anything like unto it” (D&C 59:6). And He has reemphasized
the principle He taught in the Sermon on the Mount: “He that
looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit
adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but
shall deny the faith and shall fear” (D&C 63:16). These warn-
ings apply to all people, whether they are married or single. 
                                                    True to the Faith, Chastity, pp 30-31
Question: They always tell us we shouldn’t become sexually involved, but they never tell us the limits. 
What are they?

Answer: Any sexual intimacy outside of the bonds of marriage—I mean any intentional contact with the 
sacred, private parts of another’s body, with or without clothing—is a sin and is forbidden by God. It is
also a transgression to intentionally stimulate these emotions within your own body. 10

Satan tempts one to believe that there are allowable levels of physical contact between consenting
individuals who seek the powerful stimulation of emotions they produce, and if kept within bounds, 
no harm will result. As a witness of Jesus Christ, I testify that is absolutely false.

Satan particularly seeks to tempt one who has lived a pure, clean life to experiment through magazines,
videocassettes, or movies with powerful images. He wants to stimulate appetite to cause experimentation
that quickly results in intimacies and defilement. Powerful habits are formed which are difficult to break.
Mental and emotional scars result.

When you are mature enough to plan seriously for marriage, keep your expressions of feelings to those
that are comfortable in the presence of your parents. 11 To help you keep these sacred commandments, 
make a covenant with the Lord that you will obey them. Decide what you will do and will not do. When 
temptation comes, do not change your standards. Do not abandon them when circumstances seem to
justify an exception. That is Satan’s way to hurt you by making it seem that sometimes God’s law does
not apply. There are no exceptions.

Question: Before you are married, how far is too far to go if it is with someone you care for?

Answer: Before marriage there can be no sexual contact with a boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancĂ©e, or anyone 
else, period. 12 While a commandment, that standard is for your happiness. That’s why the Church 
counsels you to go in groups and not to date while you are young. Later, as you prepare for marriage, 
remember that true love elevates, protects, respects, and enriches another. It motivates you to make 
sacrifices for the girl or boy you love. Satan would promote counterfeit love, which is really lust. That 
is driven by hunger to satisfy personal appetite. Protect the one you love by controlling your emotions 
to the limits set by the Lord. You know how to be clean. We trust you to do it.
Those are powerful words and easily identified standards.
In 1986, (27 years ago!) President Ezra Taft Benson declared:
The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality. This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of Israel than any other. (See Journal of Discourses, 8:55.)

President Joseph F. Smith said that sexual impurity would be one of the three dangers that would threaten the Church within—and so it does. (See Gospel Doctrine, pp. 312–13.) It permeates our society.

Sexual immorality was the final straw that destroyed the family I grew up in.  I was the oldest of six, at age 18.  I had three brothers, 16, 14, and 13, and two sisters, 10 and 9, at the time.  None of my siblings, because of our family situation and the fact that they had quit coming to church services, none of my siblings had significant enough contact with other adults in their lives to teach them these important standards for lasting happiness.  Some of the children were in decision making stages and others approaching them, places where the moral decisions they made would determine the course of the rest of their lives and they had no significant adults there to help guide them.  I had made my escape to college, so I wasn't even there to help.  (That will have to be a post for another day.....I could write an entire chapter....)

But did you know that sexual immorality also causes damage to those who are preparing for family life and lessens the experiences you can have in a marriage, even a covenant marriage and desecrates the Atonement of Christ?  Listen to Elder Holland: 

One of the “plain and precious” truths restored in this dispensation is that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” (D&C 88:15) and that when the spirit and body are separated, men and women “cannot receive a fulness of joy” (D&C 93:34). That is why obtaining a body is so important in the first place, why sin of any kind is such a serious matter (namely because it is sin that ultimately brings both physical and spiritual death), and why the resurrection of the body is so central to the great triumph of Christ’s Atonement.

The body is an essential part of the soul. This distinctive and very important Latter-day Saint doctrine underscores why sexual sin is so serious. We declare that one who uses the God-given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and processes of life, “the very key” (Ensign, July 1972, 113) to life, as President Boyd K. Packer once called it. In exploiting the body of another—which means exploiting his or her soul—one desecrates the Atonement of Christ, which saved that soul and which makes possible the gift of eternal life. And when one mocks the Son of Righteousness, one steps into a realm of heat hotter and holier than the noonday sun. You cannot do so and not be burned.

Please, never say: “Who does it hurt? Why not a little freedom? I can transgress now and repent later.” Please don’t be so foolish and so cruel. Why? Well, for one reason because of the incalculable suffering in both body and spirit endured by the Savior of the world so that we could flee (see D&C 19:15–20). We owe Him something for that. Indeed, we owe Him everything for that. In sexual transgression the soul is at stake—the body and the spirit.

I have long believed that inside some of the hardest doctrines, deep inside them, are some of the greatest truths and the most precious principles. But these are not to be discovered casually or irreverently. Obedience actually brings both blessings and additional knowledge as Peter promised; obeying correct principles accelerates knowing (see 2 Pet. 1:8). Such is the case with the seventh commandment.

For instance, Alma said that we must bridle all our passions so that we can “be filled with love” (Alma 38:12).

If such passions were actually true love, they would not need to be replaced with love. The Lord (in an 1839 revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith) linked “charity towards all men” with letting virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly (D&C 121:45).

In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of how some of those who might change for the better fail to do so because the lusts of former things actually “choke the word” (Mark 4:19). This choking occurs because carnality is a profound contraction of the soul.

In pondering the seventh commandment, we come to see that we are also dealing with considerations of a transcendental or eternal character. In Proverbs we read, “Whoso commiteth adultery … lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Prov. 6:32; emphasis added). There are some consequences of sexual immorality which we are simply not able to measure fully; but they are very real—though not seen. Paul wrote about the things that are not seen which are eternal (see 2 Cor. 4:18).

Quite frankly, brothers and sisters, we should be preparing now to live in a better world. This life is so vital, but it is such a small moment. And if we are too quick to adapt to the ways of this fleeting and flawed world, that very adjustment will maladjust us for our life in the next—a life that will last forever! No wonder those who break this commandment “lacketh understanding.”

 Have you ever thought about it that way??!!  I never have.  Considering that sexual immorality is the plague of our day and that sexual morality is linked with "charity towards all men," is it any wonder that our society today is struggling more and more with basic human decency one towards another, that our society is filled with violence toward children, and more and more children are affected by families experiencing divorce?  How can we teach the next generation the importance and significance of obeying this commandment if we do not do it ourselves, or have not done it in establishing our own families?  How can we testify to them that we understand the blessings and know of the promises granted to the obedient if we have not been the obedient?  Can you see that one person's immorality can affect generations and generations of people and more than one family?

Please read the linked articles from the prophets!  They are amazing!!  I would love to just quote them all in their entirety.  Also, you should read Middle-aged Mormon Man's blog about Mission Prep and Romance.  Our issues really begin there.  When we are willing to allow our children to violate the standards of the prophets and wink our approval whatever our justifications, we are helping them down the road to serious sin and problems in their lives.

Be true to the faith, today and always and help our young adults and youth to do the same!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five for Friday...Ugh! Edition

The baby broke my digital camera.  Ugh!  A few days before he broke it, he took these photos of himself.  They are very cute and he is in his 'Uperman' shirt.  He loves it so much I can hardly get it off of him to wash it.  He wore it for about a week the first time, even to bed, under his PJ's.  He hasn't ever seen the movie or anything that would teach him about it.  I just thought it was hilarious!  Also, on my phone, I have a photo of me and him as the wallpaper.  He saw the photo and said "Mom."  Then I pointed to his photo and said, 'Who is that?'  I couldn't see his face, but I am sure there was a grin as he said, "Uperman!"  I laughed and funny.  But I am so very sad that my camera is broken because I cannot afford to replace there won't be any photos of things here at home for a while.

I wanted to show you photos of my new bathroom!!!  It is almost completely finished...just a little touch-up paint, hooking the water up to the sink and the shower and hanging the towel bars!!!  Then I remembered the camera is broken!  Ugh!  So no photos.  But I did purchase this shower curtain:
which looks awesome with the key lime paint and dark brown cabinets!  I cannot wait to have it functional!!

There are riots in Rio de Janario!  Ugh!  Our #3 missionary is scheduled to depart to there at the beginning of July.  My keeping up with the news husband informed me and left cnn web pages of the riots up on the computer this morning so I could see them.  I am glad he is still at the MTC in Provo for a little while longer.  But with the reasons for the riots, reported as the government spending billions on new stadiums for the hosting of the World Cup next year and raising bus fares and not having adequate education or hospitals, I don't imagine they are going to die down anytime soon--as we are all feeling the economic squeeze.

I had a few more Ms. P incidents this week.  I cried.  I am so tired of them.  This whole understanding my feelings and feeling them in the moment thing stinks.  I liked it much better when I just buried them inside and pretended that they didn't bother me.  Sometimes now my feelings get hurt and I am just kind of non-functional for a time and don't know how to get past it.  How do you people live like this??!!  I am so busy and so focused.  Last month, an hour before a monthly meeting held at my house, my feelings got so hurt that 1/2 an hour before the meeting I just cancelled the entire meeting because I didn't think I could manage hosting the event in light of my emotional state.  Yesterday, it happened again.  Really???!!!  An hour before the meeting when I have about an hour's worth of preparations to do?  I tried doing the preparations anyway, but I couldn't focus.  I went upstairs and cried and prayed and was just totally frustrated.  But this month I did not cancel the meeting.  I managed to pull it together.  But I still have not processes the feelings and my thoughts about them and how I want to handle that situation.  It is not a Ms. P situation so it requires a little more delicacy.  Ugh!  I hate allowing my feelings to be hurt!  That would probably explain my attitude toward those girly girls who are so into their feelings and emotions.  They drive me crazy.  It is apparently because I am one and I see it as a weakness not a strength.  Sometimes being a psychology person when you have plenty of your own emotional baggage to manage is exhausting! Ugh!
Have you ever noticed when you have some big spiritual milestone coming up the world at your house seems to fall apart??  I have noticed this phenomenon over and over and over again.  Some people have it happen right before a big event, some people have it happen right after a big event.  I think it is Lucifer's way of trying to keep us from doing important spiritual work or to make us doubt that what we did do is important and significant.  I have learned (since mine happens before the event) just to put my head down and keep going.  Things will work out and be OK.  Because of the emotional stress we have been having here at my house, we must be heading for several major spiritual events.  It has been horrible!  Everyone seems to have an attitude, about everything.  Issues in our marital relationship are coming to the surface.  I'm super emotional and getting my feelings hurt all the time...ugly.  We did get our missionary off.  Another (Tammy) leaves in about a month.  Then a week later Spanky comes home, and about a month after that we are sending the college boys back to school.  It doesn't seem like that schedule should warrant the stress we have been experiencing.  Something else must be on the horizon.  I wonder what that is?  Anyway, keep us in your prayers, I'm sure we can use it :-)

I hope your week is going better than ours!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lessons Learned from the Saga
Yesterday I posted The Saga.

Today we are discussing some of the things I have learned from my experience and some of the doctrinal principles that apply.

We'll jump right in:
  • Though I have completely curbed my ability to cut into another person, because of the things I did say to Ms. P, she is sure that I hate her.  Now this is just not true.  I have never hated her.  I have been sufficiently annoyed and unwilling to speak with her, on occasion.  But I do not lie awake at night thinking of things I can to do retaliate or going over and over and over in my head the things she has done that annoy me.  Sometimes I am dumb-founded and I do ponder about it, but only so that I can try to see things from her perspective and figure out if my behavior was out of line or needed correction.  Yesterday's post explained why I chose not to talk to people when I am too upset with them.  Most of the time I try not to express my annoyance to people because I know it is just something I have to figure out and work through.  But this behavior has never meant that I hate someone.
  • Because of her insecurities, Ms. P has been unwilling to talk to me and validate or invalidate her suspicions of my motives or feelings.  This is normal.  Who wants to talk to someone if you are sure they are going to tell you they hate you?  Usually if I am in a situation like this, I will approach the person by saying something like, "Recently your behavior has looked like [this].  I am wondering if I have offended you in some way or done something that has irritated you....?"  Until we choose to verify our own thoughts about another, we are left to interpret them on our own (unless we ask Heavenly Father to help us understand things differently) and continue believing our wrong thoughts about others.
  • Ms. P has misinterpreted several of the things I have done or said and her current opinion of my feelings is now coloring some of our past interactions------further validating (in her mind) the inaccurate feelings she has assigned to me. 
  • In the past, I have been the one to clear the air between us.  Our relationship comes back into harmony only because I make effort to correct her misconceptions and apologize for what was said or done.  At this point, I just remind you that you can never cook a pancake so thin that there are not two sides and one person cannot bear all the responsibility for issues in any relationship.  Recently I learned that she feels I have done all of the hurtful things and she has not done any, so I am completely responsible and she has nothing to apologize for.    Wow!  Really?!!  Ok, well, since I am the only one who ever apologizes in this relationship.....
Well, the truth is, I just decided I was finished.  I am a fixer.  I like things and relationships fixed.  I will apologize even when I have done nothing wrong, if it will help to fix the relationship.  The truth of that however, is that approach is not honest.  I do them no favors apologizing for things that are not my responsibility, for the sake of peace.  I do not have to fix it.  I am not responsible for the other person's reactions or feelings.  Sometimes there is growth in letting them work it out on their own.  This time, I decided not to fix it.  Not my job.

But there are some things I do need to fix.  My 'shut-it-down' comments have been hurtful.  They have never been intended to be and I believe they are allowing for more justification of the mistreatment of my children and those close to me.  I probably would do better to simply say, "I am too angry to speak with you right now," instead of the things I have said.  That would be more honest.

Doctrinal Principles:
  • Agency:  hers and mine.  I am not responsible for hers.  I am responsible for mine.  I need to treat her properly.  I have felt like I have, but I could choose kinder words to express my feelings honestly.
  • Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.  I do pray for Ms. P.  I serve her, sometimes anonymously, but I have.  The other day I read a sign that said, "Live so that if someone said something negative about you, no one would believe it."  I hope I do that.
  • Forgive.  I am not waiting for Ms. P to apologize, in fact, I really believe that.will.never.happen, especially if she does not believe she has done anything wrong.  I can forgive her for making mistakes, being unkind or mean, and I can even forgive her for things she doesn't know she has done.  Forgiveness is for the person harmed-----so I don't have to carry around negative feelings toward that person.  And I work on this every day.  I admit it is difficult when something else involving my children and Ms. P comes to light.  I struggle again, sometimes for days.  I think sometimes, we want forgiveness to mean 'I trust you again.'  Well, it doesn't.  I am not perfect in my ability to apply Mercy just yet.  I am learning too.  When my trust has been violated, you may never get it back.  It takes a lot, and I will not do the work for you.  Its not that I hate you, or even that I do not like you, but I do not trust you, and that is how it is.  I have not learned how to repair this yet.  I'm sure the Savior will help me to figure it out.  But for me today, forgiveness and trust are different, and I can have one without the other.
  • Trust and Faith:  I know I can trust and have faith in God.  I know if He tells me to do something, even if it is difficult, it will be what is best.  Several times I have received promptings to do something for Ms. P.  I have acted on those promptings.  I have no idea what they have done for her, but I know what they have done for me.  They have softened my heart toward her.  I have seen inside Ms. P's heart.  I know she can do good.  I know she loves God and Jesus Christ and the gospel.  I know she can be kind.  I know she is learning and growing, just like me, and I do not expect her to be perfect.  I know she has hard things to do in her life without drama on my part and I honestly try to just avoid anything that would cause more drama for either of us.  Maybe what I do expect is too much.  I get particularly irritated when I feel she behaves in a way with my children that I take special care not to do with hers---like be unkind to them because she is upset with me.  I really like her kids and think most of them are amazing.  The others I do not know very well and so my opinion of them is not quite formed yet.
  • Hope:  What do I hope for Ms P?  I hope she learns to love herself.  I hope she learns that even if people do not like her, she can believe it is probably just because they really do not know the true Ms. P.  Ms. P, you do not have to pretend in order for people to like you.  You have some very nice qualities and you can be very, very beautiful if you will allow yourself to change and grow.  
There isn't one of us who everyone will like.  Some people even hate God and I'm pretty sure He hasn't done anything hurtful to them.  Remember He only gives loaves and fishes---not stones and serpents.

As for me, I hope I will always interact appropriately with the Ms. P's of the world.  I have some very valid reasons for why I struggle with those personalities.  Reasons I didn't know until this week and reasons I wouldn't have understood without the current Ms. P situation.  They have NOTHING to do with Ms. P, except she facilitated my learning process, and they are too personal to share in blogging.  They are things I will have to work on.  But now, because of my new understanding about myself, hopefully I will be able to manage any future Ms. P situations better and more like the Savior would.  It has already improved other relationships I struggle with.

I hope Ms. P and I both become the women God intends us to be.

What about you?  How do you manage difficult relationships?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Saga
I hesitated sharing this publicly on my blog.  Then I realized that some of you readers have heard the other side of the story, so you should at least have both sides.  Those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, just enjoy the story, learn from the doctrinal principles and apply them to your own relationships. :-)

Here goes:
There is a particular person in my life who has caused much grief over the years.  (It is not my father....FYI)  Our relationship has been extremely difficult for me.  I will call her Ms. P.

Ms. P and I differ completely in the ways we parent and lead others.  Over the years, Ms. P has had opportunities to work with my children and I have had opportunities to work with hers.  Because of our differing leadership styles, each of us has probably managed the other person's children in a way the mother did not appreciate and there were other interactions not involving the children, that I found particularly irritating and insensitive.

For years, I did a fairly decent job of hiding my annoyance and being kind anyway.  A couple of instances pushed me too far and I over-reacted letting her know of my annoyance.  Then I tried to talk with her and patch things up, tell her I was sorry and ask her to forgive me.

Over the years, I recognized Ms. P is difficult to speak with about anything.  She makes a decision and that is it...that's how it is.  Because of this, I quit trying to reason with her or even explain things if I knew her opinion was different than mine.  Many people who live here just let her have her way because they do not have the emotional energy to stand up to her if they disagree.  For years, I just tried to stay out of her way.

I had another friend who seemed to just love Ms. P.  They had an amazing relationship.  I could not understand it.  I used to marvel at my friend's ability to love so completely.  I wanted to be like her.  I secretly wondered how she did it!

When our (Ms. P and I) paths would cross, I could be pleasant and we would just chat about the normal stuff---how are your kids, what have you been up to, surface conversations, etc...

Now I will detour for a moment.  I have an emotional line---probably from growing up the way I did.  When someone is being unkind or abusive to me, I will take it, and take it, and take it until someone backs me into the corner or crosses the line.  At that point, my claws come out.  I am going to get out of that corner, even if I have to go through you to do it.  Most of my friends do not even know I have that line.  There are very few people who have ever pushed me that far.

I learned about the line in my teens and in college, I saw first hand that I was capable of shredding another person with my words when I was pushed beyond the line.  Now, as a disclaimer, I have needed to learn to communicate better so others get a 'heads up' that I am not OK with their behavior.  I have also learned that there are certain personality types which push me to the line.  And, that those personality types are the least capable of managing one of my shredding episodes. 

Those I struggle with most, are those who struggle with their self-esteem and try to cover that by either controlling everything or appear to know everything in a given situation.  I seem to have a 'fake-o-meter' and I can read right through it.  In college, I did not realize this was their condition and so I did not restrain my mouth.  As I have matured, I have done a much better job and can honestly tell you that I have not shredded anyone since moving here---about 15 years ago.  I have done a better job at understanding how the personality affects me, recognizing my approach of the line, leaving before I hit the line, and reframing the interaction to control my attitude and opinion of the person, situation, etc...That is the history of my emotional baggage.  I developed the claw defense to keep me safe.

Then one day, it happened.  Ms. P crossed the line.  What was it exactly, you want to know?  Well, she started messing with my children.  It was one thing when her attitude and insistence affected me, my husband, and others.  It was a different thing when it started negatively affecting my children---that was the line.  I am not going to go into the details, because they are not necessary for the story.

I also know from my previous experiences that talking to Ms. P would do no good and actually, I was annoyed enough with her that I knew a conversation with her might push me over the line in the moment and I would say something I would regret.  I decided instead just to shut-down any conversations that began so that I did not say something nasty.  I did not do it all the time, but if I was recently annoyed over another Ms. P incident,  I shut it down.  Now, mind you, I did not think I was being unkind or rude.  I was just in no place to fake the conversation or exchange pleasantries when I was so perturbed with her.

Unfortunately, Ms. P's behavior was not a one-time occurrence, nor was it limited to only one child.  I have never discussed these instances with her because I never saw the point.  There would be no benefit and it was only potentially riddled with problems.  Each time, after my annoyance subsided and I managed to patch up my kiddos, I just prayed to be able to let go of the situation.  I prayed to be kind to Ms. P.  I prayed to understand her.  But I also no longer trusted her with my children or any family information, thus there wasn't much to talk about.

Unbeknownst to Ms. P, she was not the only one causing drama at my house.  We were having difficulties with other people being unkind to my children.  Now, I understand that the problem could be my children and not the adults, but as we would ask the kids to recount the incidents and we would drill them about their behavior, and we would seek other opinions from those who had witnessed the issues, our children seemed to behave appropriately in the situation.  We would counsel them further as to how to appropriately manage their situations, encourage them to pray for guidance and revelation, and remind them of the doctrinal principles they needed to follow and help them to see things from the other people's perspective.  It was a really crazy time in our lives.  I share this only to let you know that there was other stress going on and I was particularly protective of my little crew.  In honesty, I am sure this played a role in my comments to Ms. P.  The other people hurting my children pretty much just ignored us---but not Ms. P.  She wanted to publicly pretend that everything was just fine.  I don't play games and I do not pretend, which is probably why I decided to handle the Ms. P situation differently.

Recently, I have learned some interesting things about my interactions with Ms. P.  But I will save those for my next post.  Stay tuned.....

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Every Child, A GATE Child
In our school district, the acronym GATE stands for Gifted and Talented Education.  When I was growing up, they called it TAG (talented and gifted).  Functionally this is the district's attempt at recognizing those students who have 'gifted' learning abilities.  They are usually the kids who get their work done quickly because it comes easy to them or they are the ones who blow the curve in your high school or college classes.

I LOVE the gifted and talented education.  I love the unique games and classes and ways of thinking the GATE education offers.   And I believe the things they teach and the experiences they have would be beneficial for all children.

I have just a couple of problems with the whole GATE concept, however.  First, children are only tested if a teacher recommends them, which usually means they have to have the right teacher and relationship with that teacher.  A student may be a GATE student, but if because of the circumstances of the classroom, i.e. peers, teacher/student personality conflicts, lesson material, etc...the student doesn't perform like a GATE student, then the recommendation will not be made.  Because of funds and time, they do not test everyone.  Some GATE children may never be identified as such.  Second, a parent may make the request to have their student tested, but if the school personnel do not agree, their student will not be tested.  Third, regardless of which tests they use, the tests only measure certain areas of 'recognized' gifted-ness....this is my major problem with the GATE idea.  Here is why.

I believe we are all children of God, created in His image and capable of becoming like Him.  Let that sink in a minute.......(waiting..........getting a drink of water...........checking my email.........more waiting.......)

God--a person with all knowledge, perfect character, able to create universes but aware of the tiniest details necessary for microscopic life, perfectly just and perfectly merciful----and we are His children----ALL of us.  Which to me means we ALL have the potential to become completely like Him, if we choose to.  Thus, all of us have to be gifted and talented in some area.  We just might not know what it is and it may not be (probably is not) recognized or quantified by a GATE test.

Now, some of you will disagree with me.  What about those who are mentally handicapped---they are obviously not GATE kids, you may say.  But I believe they are.  Wouldn't you agree that some of those people are the most kind, patient and forgiving people?  They can experience severe cruelty and mocking, yet they do not get angry or revile their persecutors.  Their character is perfectly mild and meek.  In that area, their characters are much nearer to God than I am.

As their parents, we just have to help them figure out what their innate gifts and special talents are.  Then we need to help them develop those gifts further.  This will help to enhance their self-esteem so that when they have to face their weaknesses they can already be aware of their strengths and not feel overwhelmed by the growth in front of them.

There you have it:  Every child, a GATE child.  You probably have a few little Einstein's running around in the kitchen right now, marking on the furniture with least that's what the one in my house is doing.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Little People Philosophy

Little people are just that........LITTLE  PEOPLE.  They have feelings, emotions, ideas, agendas, thoughts, hopes, dreams, etc...  All of the psychological characteristics adults have, children do too, and babies.  They may not have the cognitive abilities to plan in the long term, or the vocabulary to express what they want, but that doesn't mean that they don't have an idea about what they need and how they want it.  Just ask any two-year old.

I have always spoken to my babies in complete sentences because of this thought.  To me, they can understand what I am saying and how it affects them, if I explain it to them.  They do better when they know what to expect.  One experience I had the drove this home to me was when our oldest was in the hospital at 1 month old.  He had had an emergency surgery to clean out his abdomen after his bowel perforated (a story for another day).  He had been post-surgery 1 week and they were letting me hold him for the very first time since the surgery.  He had only been having IV fluid for the week, as his surgery area involved his intestines.  As I held him, he kept turning over indicating that he wanted to nurse.  I talked to him about what had happened and that he wouldn't be able to nurse for a little while longer until he had healed a little more.  I told him that I wanted him to nurse too and that it would all be alright soon, that his little body was receiving all of the nutrients it needed, even though his stomach didn't think so.  After our little conversation, the baby rolled over and went to sleep.  No crying, no attitude, no more trying to nurse, just acceptance. 

My babies have all done better, especially with medical things, if I tell them what is up.  "We are going to the doctor today.  He is going to check out how your body is growing.  He will check your eyes, ears, throat, nose with his little light.  He will listen to your heart and to your back.  He will poke at your tummy.  When we are all done, you will have to have some shots.  They will hurt, but it won't last long. If we don't give you the shots, you could get some nasty diseases that could make you really, really sick for a long time.  Then it will be all over and you'll get a sucker and we'll go home."  If you talk to them, it will help them to process what is happening, even if they don't understand at the moment.

When Drew and I went to Las Vegas for his aunt's funeral, I sat down with Spike, Spike the day before and explained that I was going to leave early the next morning, before he woke up and I would be gone the entire day.  Then he would go to sleep and wake up and I would be gone that day.  Then he would wake up and go to sleep again and I would be gone all of that day.  I would get home late at night, after he had gone to bed and when he woke up, I would be there and we would go to church.  He did not understand me when I explained it.  In fact, I am not even sure he cared.  But when I got home and he was so excited to see me and then was obviously not happy with me because I had been gone, I reminded him that I had tried to tell him what I was doing, but that he probably didn't quite understand what I had said.  He gave me a hug and that was the end of it.  When I tell him I am leaving, now he will say, bye, bye Mom and I let him know I will be right back, or I am taking someone to school or work.  He does better when he knows where I am and what to expect.

Some of you may think I am crazy, but that doesn't matter to me.  The little people need our help to obtain their agendas, soothe their emotions and help them make sense of the world around them.  The sooner we begin speaking to them like people and acknowledging their feelings, emotions, desires, and frustrations, even as infants, the sooner we will cement the natural bonds between parents and children.  And they will know that they can count on us to help them know what to expect and when.  They will be more secure and as they grow, they will seek us out because they have known from a very early age that we were dependable and honest.

My littlest man got a hair cut this week end.  I miss his curls.  He looks like a different boy and I think his wild hair suits his personality....just a little wild in his own right. :-)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Protecting our Nestlings

photo credit:
 President Packer taught this idea when he shared this story during the last general conference:

The back windows of our home overlook a small flower garden and the woods which border a small stream. One wall of the house borders on the garden and is thickly covered with English ivy. Most years this ivy has been the nesting place for house finches. The nests in the vines are safe from foxes and raccoons and cats that are about.

One day there was a great commotion in the ivy. Desperate cries of distress came as 8 or 10 finches from the surrounding woods came to join in this cry of alarm. I soon saw the source of the commotion. A snake had slid partway down out of the ivy and hung in front of the window just long enough for me to pull it out. The middle part of the snake’s body had two bulges—clear evidence convicting it of taking two fledglings from the nest. Not in the 50 years we had lived in our home had we seen anything like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience—or so we thought.

A few days later there was another commotion, this time in the vines covering our dog run. We heard the same cries of alarm, the gathering of the neighborhood finches. We knew what the predator was. A grandson climbed onto the run and pulled out another snake that was still holding on tightly to the mother bird it had caught in the nest and killed.

I said to myself, “What is going on? Is the Garden of Eden being invaded again?”

There came into my mind the warnings spoken by the prophets. We will not always be safe from the adversary’s influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings.

We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things that are most spiritual. The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded.

 As an avid bird watcher and lover of  snakes, I found this story fascinating.  I loved the vivid imagery of the neighborhood finches sounding the alarm and all coming together to assist and warn others.  I couldn't help but wonder--What if this was our reaction to the spiritual dangers of our society now?

Lucifer, like the serpents, has started entering our homes---through the media we watch or view on the computer or the television, the music we listen to, the ideas perpetuated on facebook or twitter, the mindless business of texting, tweeting, posting, liking, gaming, etc....

What if every time a young woman showed up to church dressed immodestly, or a young man viewed pornography in his home, or an immoral idea or value was taught at school, the neighborhood men and women all gathered together and sounded the alarm??

What if instead of feeling isolated and alone in our problems, the entire ward flocked together for support?  Now, I am not suggesting that we need to air all of our dirty laundry or struggles to the world, but how do you respond when someone you love confides in you something they are struggling with?  Do you love them more, add them to your prayers, ponder on their situation and try to help? 

The adversary tries to isolate us---to make us think we are the only ones having this problem, everyone else has a happy life and they are too busy to be burdened by our problems.  then as we are feeling alone, desperate, and distracted, he picks off one of our little ones by introducing them to damaging spiritual ideas, thoughts, or behaviors either through their friends, media, teachers, or others...

How can we protect them when they are not with us most of the day?  We simply cannot neglect the basics.  In this talk, from BYU Women's Conference, the Primary General Presidency emphasized three points:   

1.  Family Prayer--They quoted President Kimball, saying, “In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.”  And they discussed this idea, if we are too busy to have family prayer, what are we then teaching our children---that the office, or the school bell, or the world is more important than speaking to our Father in Heaven?  Is that the message we want to send?? 

2.  Family Scripture Study.   I apparently didn't take great notes during this part, but I can tell you that it is so important just for the feelings in your home.  Not every time we have scripture study is it a remarkable spiritual experience, but we have had some amazing doctrinal discussions that have come out of our reading the scriptures together.  As we read, children will ask serious questions they have been pondering, and then the discussions begin.

3.  Focus on the Temple and Family History Work--They shared this quote from Elder David A Bednar:

As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.   

If we are too busy for these things, then we are not doing all we can to protect our nestlings and it is possible they may become the prey of that serpent.

If you happen to notice someone else's fledgling is being stalked, sound the alarm, come to their aid, and let the parents know of your love and concern before the adversary claims another victim.  But remember to check on your own nestlings first and help protect them through family prayer, family scripture study, and focussing on the temple and family history work.