Friday, September 26, 2014

FFF#36--Serve the Children

This will just be a quick post, as I have a ton of things to do today and I didn't get this written until everyone was up and in my face.  But, at our house things have been a little busy.

Yesterday, Speedy has his wisdom teeth removed.  Surgery went well.  We got some food and pain meds into him within a relatively short time.  The bleeding eventually stopped.  Slim hung out with him most of the afternoon watching movies while Speedy just laid there.  It was good.

The night before surgery, Slim brought Spike up to our bedroom about 12:30 a.m because Spike couldn't breath.  He said they had given him a breathing treatment but he was still wheezing horribly.  Spike has croup.  I could tell from his breathing.  After nine children, I can tell by the sound.  We took him into the bathroom and steamed the snot out of it and then just sat in the misty air for about 15 minutes.  Then I rubbed some croup medicine on his chest and we put him back into bed.

All heck broke loose at our house about 4:00 p.m yesterday afternoon.  I was trying to clean the kitchen and get dinner ready before I took Sun to her theater class.  For some reason, she kind of emotionally exploded in anger, threw something at Slim and hit him.  Then as we were explaining the choices she now had before her, her feelings got hurt because she felt she was being 'punished unjustly'.  She stormed off to her room and slammed the door.

After about 10 minutes, I decided to go and see if she would talk to me about her feelings and why she was upset.  Her door was locked and she wouldn't open it or talk to me.  I told her that if she didn't open the door, she might lose the opportunity to attend class.  She just ignored me.  I decided to give her a little more time to cool off.

Ten minutes later, I went to check on her again.  I could tell she was trying to open the door, but it wasn't working.  "Sun?  Are you stuck in there?"

"Yes, Mom."

"OK, let me go and get Slim and see if he can help us."

We spent the next half an hour trying to free her from her bedroom.  In the mean time, Speedy was late taking his pain medication--by only 15 minutes.  But he was in so much pain, it brought him to tears.  I got Speedy pain medicine, while Slim climbed through Sun's bedroom window and started working on the door from the inside.  People were hungry.  Dinner wasn't quite finished and it was time for us to leave.

Miraculously, I did not explode or lose my temper throughout the entire ordeal.  I have definitely matured in my ability to control my temper and my stress level with the children.  I knew Spike, Speedy, and Slim all didn't feel well.  I could tell Sun didn't, by her behavior.  What good would it do the children if I let my emotions of stress or irritation join in the chorus of unhappy souls in my household?  Would it help the children to feel loved and valued and cared for?  They are only children (with the exception of Slim).

A friend of mine was over the other day and she shared with us the difficulty she has as an adult in expressing, feeling, and labeling her emotions.  She has this issue, because as she grew, when she would express her feelings of frustration, or sadness, or being overwhelmed to her mother, her mother would turn the tables on her and invalidate her feelings by telling her she didn't have anything to feel that way about.  Her mother's life was hard, and here is why her mother could feel those things, but as the child, she was not allowed to.  Now as a grown woman and mother in her own right, my friend struggles to understand how she feels and why.  The treatment she received as a child, from her mother, has retarded her ability to manage her emotions as an adult.  She has to learn how to do that now, because something that should have been a normal part of development was not available to her.

Unfortunately, emotional development (or moral development) does not happen on a strictly linear time-line.  Just because you are an adult, doesn't mean you understand how to behave like one or act like one.  Adults should be able to put their own emotions in check in order to help children manage theirs.  Right?  Sadly, that rarely happens.  Now, I understand we are all going through things and probably most of us did not grow up in an ideal home where our feelings were valued and nurtured, much like my friend above, and even my childhood did not have those things.  So  how then do we give those things to our children? 

The first thing to do is to recognize our shortcomings.  We have to know where, when and how we are struggling.  That takes some soul searching and some serious time.  In our busy day to day schedule, we will not just have the information drop into our laps.  We have to take time through prayer, and pondering, to understand why we behave the way we do, analyze if that behavior is in line with the principles of the gospel we know and believe, and then decide what we are going to do about it if they don't.

In the above example, my friend recognized what she needed from her mother and didn't receive.  I think most of know those things.  We have a pretty good idea of where our parents 'messed us up'.  I think most of us also try diligently to compensate in our parenting for where our parents were lacking.  A silly example  in my life is that I never felt I had enough underwear growing up, or socks without holes in them.  As the mother, my children are never lacking underwear or decent socks.  We probably have WAY too many!  But it is my attempt to compensate for things I lacked as a child.  And that is not to say that I have bad parents.  I think they too were doing their best to compensate for the things they lacked in their childhood.  My mother religiously took us to the dentist because she did not have dental care as a child and that really bothered her.

But beyond the temporal, we need to address the emotional needs of our children.  We need to validate their feelings.  With yesterday's happenings, yes, my daughter behaved inappropriately.  She received consequences for her behavior.  But she also deserved and needed my emotional understanding.  By choosing to get angry about the door issue (we had to pull it off the hinges and remove the molding from the door, all of which now needs to be repaired), I simply add to her negative emotional burdens of her behavior.  She really felt bad enough that she threw something and hurt her brother and that she broke the door.  She did not need the added burden of my anger and frustration.  She really needed my understanding and love of her when she misbehaves.

She was also late for her class.  Why should I care?  My daughter's emotional stability is more important to me than whether or not she was late to one class.  We are usually on time.  If I am more concerned about what the teacher or the other students think of me because my daughter is late for class, then my priorities ought to be reexamined.

A few years ago, the first time I was the Bishop's wife, I had been asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting.  I had seven small children, ages 12 to about six months, I think.  Drew was gone to his meetings.  Church started at 9 a.m.  My talk wasn't finished.  I was working furiously to get it finished.  I could hear the children screaming at each other in the kitchen.  The baby was crying.  I wasn't dressed and not many of the children were ready.  Church started in half an hour and it took 15 minutes to drive there, and I HATE being late.  I decided to stop fighting for my agenda and take care of my children.

I left the computer, called all of my little ones into the living room.  I asked them about their disagreements and desires.  I told them that Heavenly Father loved them.  It was His day and He wanted us to be happy.  There wasn't happiness in our home and the Spirit could not be there.  We needed to pray and ask Heavenly Father to help us to be happy and to be kind and to invite the Spirit into our home.  We did so.

 I had to let go of my time-table.  We finished the prayer.  We made assignments for siblings to help one another so we could be ready to go to church.  We got into the car and drove off.  We were late, but we made it into the foyer for the sacrament ordinance.  When the doors opened, my little family filed into the meeting and sat on the bench.  When it was my turn to speak, I left the children in the pew and went to the pulpit.  I gave my prepared remarks.

When I got to the point where I didn't know what to say, I realized that my experience of that morning fit perfectly into my talk about how we should spend our time.  I shared our story of that very morning.  I had actually made the right choice!  I stopped fighting for my agenda and for the expectations of others and I took care of those precious children within my charge and my stewardship.  I nurtured their feelings and their emotions and I helped them accomplish the tasks they had before them.  In the process, the Lord took care of me and the responsibilities that I had.

As adults, let us always be thinking about what we can do to serve, love, and help those precious children who the Lord has given to us.  They deserve our time, our effort, and our emotional maturity.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Making changes

Some days it is really hard to write.  I can't think of anything to write about.  Sure, I have thoughts once in a while and write them down, but if I don't blog about them when the thought strikes, then often it is gone and does not return.  Take today, for instance.  Last night I had a thought as to what to blog about today.  This morning it is gone.  "Sit at the computer, the thoughts will come."  Sitting here.  No thoughts.  "Start writing. The words will come."  K.  Here I am, writing, no specific words, just a bunch of ramblings.

Then it hits me---the thought--do you ever feel like life is like that?  I mean, we are just going along, everyday, doing what we do every day, trying to do what we are suppose to be doing but feeling like we are just wandering around with no purpose or specific direction?  Just going through the motions, or trying to survive, or just doing it because someone else told us it is what we are suppose to be doing??
copyright: Karen Larsen photography

Once in a while, I find myself there---going through the motions just to survive, to keep everyone eating, breathing, and clean.  Those days are farther behind me than they used to be, but even with mostly teenagers, it happens once in a while.  Is that OK??  To live just to survive?

I think sometimes it is just fine.  Sometimes survival is all you can do and that is alright if that is where you are and what you need to be doing.  I did that after my parents' divorce.  I just went through the motions of living.  I was denying my grief and sadness (because I had no idea when I would 'get over it,' which I don't know that I ever will because it still breaks my heart and I still see the consequences, every day).  But I just got up every morning, went to school, came home, did my homework, went to work, talked to my friends---until I left for college.

Leaving for college was another huge adjustment for me.  It was scary.  I didn't know anyone.  I didn't have any financial support or back up.  If I failed, I was going home---somewhere.  But I didn't think about failure.  I couldn't focus on it.  If I did, I would have been overwhelmed by my fear and it would have thwarted my success.  I simply put my head in the sand (emotionally speaking), rolled up my sleeves, and went to work.  I had a job.  It paid for my expenses.  There were things that came up, trials, difficulties, that needed managing along the way.  But I again just moved forward, enjoying the moments, but I'm pretty sure I was just in survival mode.

As I began to live in a more healthy emotional environment (away from my family and the pain of its demise), I began to grow, even though my emotions were deeply buried away.  I learned about the atonement, of Christ's sacrifice for me, and the significance that plays in my life.  I had grown up in the church, and attended regularly, but I don't think the doctrines ever sunk into my heart until I about three quarters of the way through the first semester. 

I had been speaking, regularly, with one of my psychology professors (Dr. Budge).  At first we just talked about my family and my sorrow there, mostly my angry feelings toward my father, and our turbulent relationship.  It was in a meeting with Dr. Budge that he first suggested to me that maybe I wasn't living the way I believed.  WHAT??!!  What are you talking about?  But as I left his office and pondered on our conversation, I realized what he was saying.  I say 'I believe these things,' but my behavior does not reflect that belief.  For instance, if I said I believed going to church was important and necessary to learn about God, and learning about God is important, but then I do not go to church, I am creating an incongurency within myself.  I obviously do not believe both statements, unless I am also willing to admit that I am willfully rebelling.  Can you see how that works??  And who wants to admit that?  No one wants to believe they are willfully rebelling.  It is easier to change their beliefs about God or going to church or its importance.

We have thoughts, behaviors, and words.  When two or more of those things are not in harmony with each other, that causes an internal conflict.  We are beings that need to be in harmony with ourselves.  That brings us peace and happiness.  When our thoughts, behaviors, or words are not in harmony with each other, we seek to bring them into harmony by changing something.  Most of us know that changing behavior is hard, so we kind of avoid that.  The easier road is to change our beliefs or how we think about things, even though those changes may not be true.  Lucifer is a master at helping us to change our thinking and justify our wrong behaviors.

Essentially what Dr. Budge was telling me, was that I needed the atonement in my life. I needed to take the  more difficult road and change my behavior.  It wasn't anything major, mind you, but I still needed the atonement.  I needed its healing power in my life, and I still do.  I didn't understand, at the time, enough of how it worked to apply it.  First, I had to get down on my knees and admit to my Father in Heaven that my life wasn't in harmony with my beliefs and the things I had been taught.  I had to tell Him that I was sorry.  That I desired to change.  My heart was ready, but I would need His help because I didn't know how.

copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
As I prayed, an immediate warmth filled my soul.  I knew He was listening.  I knew He loved me.  I knew He would help me.

I would like to tell you that that was all I needed to do and then it was fixed.  That would be a lot easier.  It wasn't.  It took me time.  Prayer ever day, asking for help to change things---to read my scriptures, to say my prayers, to attend church with my ward (not my boyfriend's ward), to do my homework, essentially to change my heart and keep the change, to not listen to Lucifer's reasons for justifying my bad behavior.  As I did those things, an amazing miracle occurred! 

My heart opened up.  No enough to let out all of those negative emotions, but enough to begin to let the doctrines penetrate it.  I felt better about myself!  Why?!  Because my behavior was more in line with my beliefs. 

Here is the scriptural backing for what I am telling you:  Alma 36 and 37

Alma testifies to his son of his conversion process, his bad behavior before, the visit from the angel (who instructs him to remember the captivity of his fathers and to acknowledge his bad behavior), the memory of his bad behavior and how it affects others, and then how he changed and what he now asks of his son, specifically Helaman. 

Read it!  Over and over again!

Then ask yourself, where in my life are my behaviors not in line with my beliefs and understandings of the doctrines of Jesus Christ?  I guarantee you that God will answer that prayer!  And if you act on that seed, and do not cast it out by your unbelief, but plant it in your heart and give it space to grow and begin to nourish that seed, you will find greater happiness and peace because you will have just moved your life more in harmony with your beliefs!!

As you do so, your heart will open up and though it may not be fixed today or tomorrow, through continued diligence and effort, over time, you can get out of survival mode and begin to live with purpose.  Have a great Sabbath day!!
Christ will be there in our afflictions and imprisonments, as well.  We just need to turn to him.

Friday, September 19, 2014

FFF #35---Love the Children

I don't know about you, but my heart breaks every time I read or hear about children being neglected, abused, used for evil purposes, or suffering.  They are so innocent!  They do not deserve to have bad things happen to them.  We have a responsibility to see that they are protected.  It is our job!

I read earlier this week how ISIS has kidnapped children from neighboring villages who were on their way to take their exams to admit them into high school.  They have been gone from home for a month.  A few of the boys escaped and told their families how they were being treated, told that they would be beheaded if they tried to escape, and forced to watch jihadists' films at night.  It made my blood boil.  When we were told of the atrocities to the Christians in that area, my heart yearned to scoop up those children and feed them, shelter them, and allow them a safe place to just live and be.  I feel to roar at those who sell children for labor, or money, or sex.  Where is your sense of duty?!!  Why do you feel no responsibility to protect the innocent but use them for your personal gain??!!  That is wrong!  It is evil, and it is wicked.  You will be held accountable for the suffering you cause those innocent, lovely children!!

That is my biggest beef with homosexual marriage.  If you want to live your life that way, fine.  If you want to call it marriage, well, I don't agree with that, I don't want you to call it marriage.  But if you want some of the same financial protections under the law, OK, I can understand that and see its validity for you.  But you want to raise children? Uh NO!  That is not fair to the child.  Who is standing up for their rights?!!   That child has the right to a mother and a father.  That is his/her right!  It is not a matter of two parents, two mothers or two fathers is still only one gender.  The children have a right to two genders of parents.  Mothers and fathers are different in how they interact, teach, train, love, discipline, and play with their children.  And children are entitled to both!  Sorry!  End of story.

My heart cannot save all the children.  If I could, I would.  But I can protect, love, teach, train, help, mentor, soothe, nurture, feed, guide, and hope for the children within my home, in my community, and within my scope of influence.  They may not choose to live the way I would live.  And that is alright, because how they live as an adult, is their choice.  But regardless of the choices they make, children have a right to my responsibility as an adult to protect them and their childhood.

Elder Oaks in October 2013 General Conference explained our position best.  Listen to his words.....(I probably should have just linked the talk, but just read what he says).

For Latter-day Saints, God’s commandments are based on and inseparable from God’s plan for His children—the great plan of salvation. This plan, sometimes called the “great plan of happiness” (Alma 42:8), explains our origin and destiny as children of God—where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. The plan of salvation explains the purpose of creation and the conditions of mortality, including God’s commandments, the need for a Savior, and the vital role of mortal and eternal families. If we Latter-day Saints, who have been given this knowledge, do not establish our priorities in accord with this plan, we are in danger of serving other gods.

Knowledge of God’s plan for His children gives Latter-day Saints a unique perspective on marriage and family. We are correctly known as a family-centered church. Our theology begins with heavenly parents, and our highest aspiration is to attain the fulness of eternal exaltation. We know this is possible only in a family relationship. We know that the marriage of a man and a woman is necessary for the accomplishment of God’s plan. Only this marriage will provide the approved setting for mortal birth and to prepare family members for eternal life. We look on marriage and the bearing and nurturing of children as part of God’s plan and a sacred duty of those given the opportunity to do so. We believe that the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity.


Because of what we understand about the potentially eternal role of the family, we grieve at the sharply declining numbers of births and marriages in many Western countries whose historic cultures are Christian and Jewish. Responsible sources report the following:
  • The United States now has the lowest birthrate in its history,2 and in many European Union nations and other developed countries, birthrates are below the level necessary to maintain their populations.3 This threatens the survival of cultures and even of nations.
  • In America, the percentage of young adults ages 18 to 29 who are married fell from 59 percent in 1960 to 20 percent by 2010.4 The median age for first marriage is now at its highest level in history: 26 for women and almost 29 for men.5
  • In many countries and cultures (1) the traditional family of a married mother and father and children is coming to be the exception rather than the rule, (2) the pursuit of a career instead of marriage and the bearing of children is an increasing choice of many young women, and (3) the role and perceived necessity of fathers is diminishing.
In the midst of these concerning trends, we are also conscious that God’s plan is for all of His children and that God loves all of His children, everywhere.6 The first chapter of the Book of Mormon declares that God’s “power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth” (1 Nephi 1:14). A later chapter declares that “he hath given [his salvation] free for all men” and that “all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden” (2 Nephi 26:27–28). Consequently, the scriptures teach that we are responsible to be compassionate and charitable (loving) toward all men (see 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 John 3:17; D&C 121:45).


We are also respectful of the religious beliefs of all people, even of those increasing numbers who profess no belief in God. We know that through the God-given power of choice, many will hold beliefs contrary to ours, but we are hopeful that others will be equally respectful of our religious beliefs and understand that our beliefs compel us to some different choices and behaviors than theirs. For example, we believe that, as an essential part of His plan of salvation, God has established an eternal standard that sexual relations should occur only between a man and a woman who are married.

The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given to His children. Its use was mandated by God’s first commandment to Adam and Eve (see Genesis 1:28), but other important commandments were given to forbid its misuse (see Exodus 20:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan. Outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman, all uses of our procreative powers are to one degree or another sinful and contrary to God’s plan for the exaltation of His children.

The importance we attach to the law of chastity explains our commitment to the pattern of marriage that originated with Adam and Eve and has continued through the ages as God’s pattern for the procreative relationship between His sons and daughters and for the nurturing of His children. Fortunately, many persons affiliated with other denominations or organizations agree with us on the nature and importance of marriage, some on the basis of religious doctrine and others on the basis of what they deem best for society.

Our knowledge of God’s plan for His children7 explains why we are distressed that more and more children are born outside of marriage—currently 41 percent of all births in the United States8—and that the number of couples living together without marriage has increased dramatically in the past half century. Five decades ago, only a tiny percentage of first marriages were preceded by cohabitation. Now cohabitation precedes 60 percent of marriages.9 And this is increasingly accepted, especially among teenagers. Recent survey data found about 50 percent of teenagers stating that out-of-wedlock childbearing was a “worthwhile lifestyle.”10


There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God’s decrees about sexual morality and contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and childbearing. These pressures have already authorized same-gender marriages in various states and nations. Other pressures would confuse gender or homogenize those differences between men and women that are essential to accomplish God’s great plan of happiness.

Our understanding of God’s plan and His doctrine gives us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification in the laws that permit them. And, unlike other organizations that can change their policies and even their doctrines, our policies are determined by the truths God has identified as unchangeable.

Our twelfth article of faith states our belief in being subject to civil authority and “in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” But man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral. Commitment to our highest priority—to love and serve God—requires that we look to His law for our standard of behavior. For example, we remain under divine command not to commit adultery or fornication even when those acts are no longer crimes under the laws of the states or countries where we reside. Similarly, laws legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” do not change God’s law of marriage or His commandments and our standards concerning it. We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from serving other gods and priorities—even those becoming popular in our particular time and place.

In this determination we may be misunderstood, and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination, or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority—to serve God—and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited.

A teaching of President Thomas S. Monson applies to this circumstance. At this conference 27 years ago, he boldly declared: “Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully, but as the determination to live decently. A moral coward is one who is afraid to do what he thinks is right because others will disapprove or laugh. Remember that all men have their fears, but those who face their fears with dignity have courage as well.”11

I pray that we will not let the temporary challenges of mortality cause us to forget the great commandments and priorities we have been given by our Creator and our Savior. We must not set our hearts so much on the things of the world and aspire to the honors of men (see D&C 121:35) that we stop trying to achieve our eternal destiny. We who know God’s plan for His children—we who have made covenants to participate in it—have a clear responsibility. We must never deviate from our paramount desire, which is to achieve eternal life.12 We must never dilute our first priority—to have no other gods and to serve no other priorities ahead of God the Father and His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

May God help us to understand this priority and to be understood by others as we seek to pursue it in a wise and loving way, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
If you need to read more, check out this article (Homage to the Home).
 Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Courage in the face of hate.

Sorry, I have been MIA this last week.  We have had some things going on, which I may or may not touch on in this blog post.  But if I don't, I'll let you in on it later.
Copyright:  Karen Larsen photography

Today, in many of the blogs I read, I have heard a common theme and since it is one I have really, really struggled with, I decided that would be the topic of my conversation today.  It is just this:  Haters are gonna hate.  Stephanie Nielson touched on people 'hating' her on social media and being mean to her regardless of what she posts, what they wear, what they do, what her religion is, etc....  Heather from Women in the Scriptures received a not-very-nice, anonymous letter from one of her neighbors about their ability to keep up their yard.  One of Heather's readers referenced this blog post by Kate, which I have also found accurate, and  Misty wrote about all of the negativity and meanness happening across the globe and what she is planning on doing about it.  Her post really touched me!

I have to tell you, the things these women posted about are all things I have struggled with too.  I shy away from being too personal in social media because I am a sensitive person and even if I do not know you, I want you to have a good opinion of me.  It really hurts my feelings when people are unkind, even in a 'constructive criticism' kind of way.  I try to let comments roll off my back, but most of the time, I just can't do it.  Instead of being brave like Heather or Stephanie and just crying because people are not nice, I have tended to just eat.  I am getting better about that though, and now, in the moment, I can cry, so that is improvement.

I struggle to stand up to people in public meetings and just say, "This is what I think and this is why" because I am so concerned that someone is going to disagree with me and berate me or be mean to me in public.  I have had plenty, plenty of experience of people being mean to me.  It is hard for me because I try really, really hard to be kind to everyone, to see things from their perspective, and to lift people.  So when people are directly mean to me on purpose, it is so hard for me.
Here is what I have learned:  There are mean people out there.  I cannot control them.  I can control whether I allow what they say to hurt me and how long it hurts me.  Most of the time, when I reflect on what they have said, and evaluate the validity of their gripe, it is usually unfounded, misunderstood, taken out of context, or is a direct reflection of where they are at the moment.  As I have tried to figure out how to manage my relationships with these people, because for me, most of them are in my immediate circle of social interactions (not friends, mind you, just people I have to interact with, constantly), I have had to pray to act more like Christ.  I study how He and the prophets have behaved when they were treated badly.  How did they say what they needed to say and stand as a witness for the Savior, for themselves, for their beliefs, without lowering themselves to 'meanness'?  Because, I recognize that when I am mean back, that is where I cross the line and I sin.  I have to pray for help.  I pray for them, like Misty suggested, because it really does soften my heart and help me to have compassion for them and understanding.  I pray to see them as God sees them, not because I want to know all of their sins, but I do want to understand their struggles, and challenges so that when I interact with them, my heart comes from a place of love and not hurt.

Sometimes, I do stand up and say something that is valid, constructive, and calls them on their bad behavior.  But most of the time, my job is to heal my wounds, forgive, and learn not to be mean back.

What do I think about the reasons I get to endure such treatment?  Well, first and foremost, it is one of my weaknesses.  I don't tolerate others' meanness well, personally or in how I treat them in return, even if I use indifference.  How does that change anything?  Second, I think God wants and needs us to be able to discuss conflicting values and interests in the face of attacks, because let's face it, that is the tool the adversary uses to diminish the discussion--when good people say nothing because of fear.  Our Father in Heaven needs us to be articulate, educated, kind and courageous.  The best way to build that kind of faith and determination in a spirit like mine, who is afraid of conflict and ridicule, is to allow me to receive it once in a while and then teach me, line upon line, how to handle it and how to respond to it, properly---the Lord's way.  Then, when I am so armed, I can teach it to my children and others, and I become much more serviceable in the kingdom.

Listen to the words of Sister Sheri Dew in her book, No One Can Take Your Place:
We too need unflinching moral courage.  A recent experience demonstrated this vividly to me.  To my great surprise, in March 2003 I found myself at the United Nations as a White House delegate to an international commission focused on issues relevant to women.  The setting was entirely new and quite overwhelming.  New people.  New language, as it were. New motives to discern.  And an entirely new system to understand.

From day one, I observed something that seemed curiously incongruous.  Women who impressed me as God-fearing souls in search of honest solutions to their problems often lobbied for the same things as women who had blatantly evil designs.  I struggled to know if there was a way, apart from spiritual discernment, to detect the motives of these women.  I listened carefully to what these two varying groups said and at night searched the scriptures for insight.  But it was a puzzle.

Then one evening as our U.S. delegation held a briefing, angry lobbyists began to attack us about the President's position on HIV/AIDS.  These women were vicious.  They were mean!  In fact, if you don't mind me saying so, they were as unattractive (read: ugly) as any women I had ever met.  As I prayed silently to know what to say when I took the podium I had a clear impression:  "Sheri, don't you see?  The mean ones are the evil ones."  My fear vanished instantly.  Now that I knew how to identify those on the opposing side, I wasn't afraid, because I learned long ago that Satan never backs up his followers but the Master always does.  The power of Jesus Christ is always stronger than any power emanating from the dark underbelly of the adversary.  Believing the Lord would fill my mouth if I would just open it, I plunged in, at first uncertain how to both teach truth and support the administration......

.....What did I learn at the U.N.?  I learned that vigorous differences of opinion can be discussed respectfully, but when people become vicious, they are likely working for the adversary.  I learned that even in a spiritually hostile environment, truth is truth, and there is power in truth.  I learned that when we have faith in the Lord, we like Paul "may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear" (Hebrews 13:6).  And I learned that the gospel is so practical.  During two weeks, I heard no issue debated that couldn't have been resolved by applying truth.  The gospel of Jesus Christ has the answer to every conflict in our lives, our families, and even our nations.  His truths heal hearts and bridge cultures.

And they also inspire courage.  The courage to stand alone.  The courage to open our mouths when prompted.  The courage to prepare the greatest generation of missionaries, mentor the greatest generations of youth, and share the gospel in any setting.  Unflinching moral courage.

Every time we exercise our faith in the face of fear or discover a doctrinal insight in the scriptures or the temple, we are better able to build the kingdom of God.  Every time we discard a sin or a self-serving motive, every time we keep a trust or gain another glimpse of who we really are or speak truth, we are better able to build the kingdom of God.  Every time we help someone else strengthen faith or resolve, we build the kingdom of God.  In short, every small step we take to develop  our God-given attributes of faith, knowledge, obedience, purity, integrity, identity, and courage makes us better able to build up the kingdom of God.

Isn't that amazing and inspiring?  Now, I do not necessarily think or believe that those who are unkind to me are working for the adversary.  In my case, they are just people, like me, who are trying to do the best they can and they make mistakes in their daily interactions with others.  Sometimes their behavior affects me or my family and my feelings are hurt.  Mostly, I can manage my feelings by forgiving them, dismissing their comment as unintelligent, or uninformed, or just judgmental.  Just because someone thinks or believes something about me, doesn't make it true.  If I learn to live my life by looking through the lenses of truth, I don't have to be hurt by others beliefs or comments.  If they are true, then I can work on changing those things about me.  If, as in Heather's case, I am doing my best to manage my work load within my circumstances and people still have an attitude, then I just have to let them have their attitude and recognize that I am doing the best I can, whether they like it or not.

The Spirit said something to me the other day the bears repeating, "I don't ever have to feel bad about the responsibilities on my plate, because the Lord put them there."  Here is how that applies for me:  I didn't ask for nine children.  I didn't ask for my husband to serve as the Bishop, twice.  I didn't ask for the attitudes who live at my house and require all of my time and ability.  I didn't ask to have all of my time taken by people, in and out of my ward and my family and have zero time left for yard maintenance or household projects.  I have plenty of those things to do and I really enjoy doing them.  But the Lord has given me a different work, and it is alright, because it is His work, and He gave it to me.  And that means nothing judgmental toward any of those people who don't have that many children and spend their time doing yard work.  Good for them.  Sometimes I wish that was me.  But most of the time, I am happy in the work He has given me, even when that includes loving people who hate me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

FFF #34--Spiritual legacy

When I moved here to California, we had four children and were expecting our fifth.  We didn't know a soul here.  We got a job, moved our little family and began our adventure after college.

I didn't have any idea what kind of stress that was for me or how much it affected me, until one afternoon, about 23 weeks pregnant, our little Scuff was being more rambunctious than he should have and not listening to me.  He had recently turned four.  He was running away from me while I tried to speak to him and instead of calming myself down, I simply grabbed him by his hair and took him to the floor.  I said whatever it was I wanted to say to him and let him go.  By the time Drew got home from work, I was a complete emotional basket case.  One because I realized how much stress I was under and had been under for the last two months, and two because I took our little boy to the floor with his hair!  I don't do that kind of thing, usually.  I have grown a lot in my motherhood since then.  I can honestly report that I have not taken a child to the floor with their hair since!

But, when we arrived, I had to find schools, doctors, dentists, where the grocery store was, you know, all those lovely things about moving.  Yuck!!  Plus I was managing the emotions of my little crew because they moved too, and had their own feelings about it!

Not long after we arrived, a woman from the ward came over to our house.  I felt immediately connected to her.  It was as if the Spirit was saying, 'You can trust her.'  Time would prove, I could trust her, completely.  I called her to watch my little ones while I attended a doctor's appointment, or when I needed to do something one on one with a particular child.  My dear friend was there as I had all of our other children born here in California, except Spike.  Over the weeks, months, and years she was a part of my life, there was never anyone I loved more.  Her service and her ability to know when I needed help was uncanny!  Actually, it was just that she was in-tune.  She heard and listened to the Spirit and then she came exactly when I needed her.

When it was time for her to leave the area, I cried.  I went over and helped her pack.  I wrote her a letter from my heart expressing my gratitude for her love and service and tried to explain to her what our relationship and her love had meant to me.

As life went on, I learned that her father had been the stake president here when they first built our building.  He had helped purchase the land, hosted Church representatives to oversee their progress, spoke to the city counsel about how our building would benefit the community, oversaw the construction of the building, and then dedicated that building.  My friend's family left a spiritual legacy here in our community.  She passed that on to me through her service and dedication.  She did that for each person she served, and she served many, many people, as did her entire family.

A few years ago, her daughter was roommates with our current Primary President, at BYU.  They love each other like women can do when they live in the same house and have the same beliefs.  Our current Primary President, just made the move here from Washington state a few months ago.  She has three little people.  Her little family, looks similar to mine when we arrived.  Our Primary President has an amazing testimony and a great love for people and for the Savior.

Through our presidency meetings, I have been able to provide similar support for her as my friend did for me.  How fitting, that my primary president dearly loves my friend's daughter and has a similar relationship with her.  As I explained yesterday how our lives (mine and the primary president's) intertwine with my friend's family and the spiritual legacy they have left here, tears just streamed down both of our faces.  Because now the torch is passed to a new generation, with an understanding of where we have been and a vision of where we need to go.

I just think Heavenly Father is amazing in His ability to plan our lives and to help us to see His patterns as we go about His work.  Do you have a vision of how the work is growing in your portion of the vineyard?  Can you see His hand across the generations?  If you cannot, or have not thought about it, do a little research.  I bet you will find it.  Talk to others who have lived there a long time.  Ask them to tell you about your little spot in the vineyard.  Ask them who built their building.  Ask them who was the stake president at times of change and ask them to tell you the stories.  Find out about the faith of those generations of people.  It will give you a greater love for the people and the area you are serving in.

And Melanye, Solanye, Emilye, and Brittnye, you may never read this, but just know, I love your mother!!  I love the legacy she left and I try to honor her and your grandparents with my service!  Thank you for sharing your mother with me!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Green IKEA

I have an awesome story.  Wanna' hear it??

K.  Here it goes.

A few weeks ago, I needed 'Trek' clothes for Speedy.  I wanted to get some pants that I didn't care if he totally trashed because I knew they had four river crossings, Speedy is hard to fit, and he is super hard on his clothes.  I didn't want him to ruin any of the ones we had for school.  So I headed out to the thrift store to fine some.  I did!!  I found one long sleeved, but light-weight shirt, and two pair of pants that would work, for $10.00 total!  Score!!

While I was there, I had the thought to go check out their dinner ware.  So I did that.  A green set of dishes, five dinner plates, five salad plates, and five bowls for $10.00 for the set.  We had broken all of our cereal bowls.  I had two left, we had been using the china ones and that week we had broken one.  When I saw the set, the only thing I cared about were the bowls.  In my head, I did the math, because it was so hard.  Well, let's see, I only want the bowls, so I am paying $2.00/ bowl.  Yep, I am willing to pay that, and I bought the set.
Ya....this set, minus the cups, which I HATE.

After I washed them and we began using them, I noticed that I LOVED them.  They were awesome.  I also decided that I needed to have more bowls, so on my next trip to Target, I checked out their dinner ware.  I found some clear glass bowls, the same size and they were only $1.59/ bowl!  Score again!!  I bought five.  I figured out budget could handle that.

Fast forward three weeks.  I really like those dishes.  Then I thought, it's too bad I don't have any more of those IKEA dishes.  But I like those Target bowls.  I think I'm going to go and get some salad plates to match those bowls and then in a few months, I'll get some dinner plates and I'll just put my own little set together of glass and green IKEA.  That will work.  Drew asked me to go to Target today.  So I'll go and check out their dishes.

Bummer.  No salad plates!  I guess I'll just have to order them on-line.  Whatever.

Drew called me later in the day.  His co-worker is moving out of the area this week and trying to off-load his stuff.  We have a young man we are aware of just setting up his initial residence.  Drew's co-worker was wondering if he needed some of his stuff, including a set of dishes.  I knew the young man didn't need dishes, because I was there when another friend gave her set to him.  But, I thought, I might want his dishes.  We arranged a meeting between the two men and I came along to move the stuff because our young man friend doesn't have a car.

There were plenty of things given to him that I drove to his house.  The co-worker gave me the dishes.  They were all packed up in paper and a paper bag.  So I just took them home.  Then we had guests over when I arrived, so I left them in the car until our company went home.

I went out to the car and brought the dishes in.  Sun and I started unpacking them.  Wowser!  It was a serving for six.  Six dinner plates, six salad plates, and six bowls!  Guess what ??  They are IKEA dishes!!  AND, they are green, just a slightly different shade of green, but GREEN!!  If I alternate dinner and salad plates and bowls, they look interesting and beautiful, and look like they belong together!  Can you believe that!!??  Three weeks apart, a set of five and another set of six that match, that I LOVE, that cost me $10.00 and a little bit of gas!
They look like this, only with a greenish glaze.

And now I have a matching set of dishes.  I know that shouldn't be important, but it is to me, even though it is stupid, and not important in the eternal scheme of things.  It was just another testament to me that Heavenly Father loves me, thinks of me, cares that I have the things I need and some of the things I want and if I will listen, He can provide them for me in a manner that my budget can afford!  (And now I can let go of all of those odds and end dinner wares that have been just hanging around because we couldn't afford to do something else.

Thank you Heavenly Father!!  Thank you for my IKEA dishes!!  (PS, the story is cooler because we do not have an IKEA store anywhere even close!)