Monday, June 23, 2014

By Way of "B"

I found comfort in the following Mormon Message by Elder Jeffrey Holland. My husband and I have been living in "B" for quite some time. And it has been a rocky, slow moving road... or roller coaster. One day we will arrive at "C" (I think!). Until then, I am relying on the Lord's strength to see us through.



"I have absolute certain knowledge, perfect knowledge, that God loves us. He is good, He is our Father. And He expects us to pray, and trust, and be believing, and not give up, and not panic, and not retreat, and not jump ship, when something doesn't seem to be going just right. We stay in, we keep working, we keep believing, keep trusting, following that same path and we will live to fall in His arms and feel His embrace and hear Him say, 'I told you that it'd be okay, I told you that it'd be alright."

-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

"Satan, in his carefully devised plan to destroy the family, seeks to diminish the role of fathers. Increased youth violence, youth crime, greater poverty and economic insecurity, and the failure of increasing numbers of children in our schools offer clear evidence of lack of a positive influence of fathers in the homes. A family needs a father to anchor it.

Surely we have learned by now, from the experience over centuries, that the basic family provides the most stable and secure foundation for society and is fundamental to the preparation of young people for their future responsibilities. We should have learned by now that alternate styles of family formations have not worked and never will work. This was stated plainly by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World.'"

-L. Tom Perry, "Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling"


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dear Neighbor-

The other day I went on a walk alone. I crossed paths with you walking your dog. You and your husband are older than us, but do not have kids (not my business). But you have your dogs and take good care of them, and you don't dress them up so you've earned points in my book. You both seem like really interesting people. Luckily, our family has a dog because otherwise I'm not sure what else we would talk about. All of our conversations revolve around dogs. 

Recently, I decided enough is enough and that I need to take a proactive approach to expand our conversation topics. As we talked the other day, I made a conscious effort to think outside the doggie box. I thought it was going well until a lull came in our conversation. You filled the silence by asking how my dog was doing. Not my children, not my husband, not me- our dog. I was a bit stumped by that one. I responded, "Oh, fine. She's a funny little dog." I sensed it was an unsatisfactory answer, but I honestly couldn't think of anything else to say about my dog that could actually be interesting to a human. 

I've thought over the last few days how I could have handled that question better. I'm really more accustomed to fielding questions about the people in my house. We just have different life experiences and perspectives. Please help me understand what you want to know about my dog.

Do you want to know:

  • the latest weird thing she ate and yacked up in my house?
  • how many times a day she chases lizards?
  • the last time she had a dingleberry?
  • how many hours a day she sleeps?
  • how much food she eats in a day?
  • where she likes to lay in the sun?
  • how many hours a day she spends cleaning her bottom?
  • which toy is her favorite?
  • the last doggie bottom she sniffed?
  • the last human bottom she sniffed?

These are the only things I can think of to report about my dog. Please let me know if these are the kinds of things you want to know about or if there is anything I'm missing. It would help me out a ton.

Thanks!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Callings & Inadequacy

A few days ago I was wondering whether Apostles ever feel inadequate in their callings. While they are no doubt spiritually strong, the scope of their responsibility is so large I can't even fathom it! Amazingly, I found the answer in a booklet that my sister-in-law received in church for Mother's Day. Not only did it answer my question, but it also taught what to do with those feelings:

"A few months after my calling as an Apostle, I spoke to one of the senior members of the Quorum of the Twelve about how inadequate I felt for the calling I had received. He responded with this mild reproof and challenging insight: 'I suppose your feelings are understandable. But you should work for a condition where you will not be preoccupied with yourself and your own feelings of inadequacy and can give your entire concern to others and to the work of the Lord in all the world.'
"That is good advice when any one of us is called to a new position. Our understandable feelings of inadequacy should be put aside quickly. Our preoccupation should be to do all that we can to prepare ourselves and to serve wherever we are called."

-Dallin H. Oaks
"Trust in His Promises: A Message for Women", Dallin H. Oaks and Kristen M. Oaks

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

"Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother’s image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child’s mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security; her kiss the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness the first assurance that there is love in the world.

"The noblest calling in the world is motherhood. True motherhood is the most beautiful of all arts, the greatest of all professions. ...

"Mothers sow the seeds in childhood that determine to a great extent life’s harvests in adulthood. A mother who instills into the souls of her children respect for one another and love for motherhood and fatherhood, renders a great service to the Church and to humanity in general. Children from such homes go out into the world as good citizens—citizens who will render the service which their parents have rendered, to fight the battles which their fathers and mothers have fought. … 

"Motherhood is the one thing in all the world which most truly exemplifies the God-given virtues of creating and sacrificing. Though it carries the woman close to the brink of death, motherhood also leads her into the very realm of the fountains of life, and makes her co-partner with the Creator in bestowing upon eternal spirits mortal life. 

"All through the years of babyhood, childhood, and youth, yes, even after her girls themselves become mothers and her sons become fathers, the mother tenderly, lovingly sacrifices for them her time, her comfort, her pleasures, her needed rest and recreation, and, if necessary, health and life itself. No language can express the power and beauty and heroism of a mother’s love. … 

"No nobler work in this world can be performed by any mother than to rear and love the children with whom God has blessed her. That is her duty.

-David O. McKay, "Teachings of Presidents of the Church", chapter 16

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Chocolates Made Me Do It

Usually, I find the messages inside Dove chocolates a tad on the cheesy side. I was surprised to find these messages in a recent bag that I was given, listed in the order opened:

"Feed your sense of anticipation."
"Indulge your sense of enjoyment."
"Satisfy your sense of surprise."

Is it just me, or is Dove now encouraging emotional eating instead of smiling? 

The amazing thing, is that I had eaten most of the bag without even reading the messages and realized I was following their suggestions anyway. Crazy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Instructions for Life

I was recently going through a box full of my college memorabilia and came across these "Instructions for Life" by the Dalai Lama. A good reminder for myself.:
  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others, and Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
  7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

Speaking of the Dalai Lama, I recently watched "Seven Years in Tibet" for the first time since high school. It is a great movie with a lot of great lessons. It follows the story of Austrian climber, Heinrich Harrer, that befriends the Dalai Lama. It also focuses on how the takeover of Tibet by communist China occurred.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

For Sale:

3 bedroom 2 bathroom home. Has been filled with lots of love, laughter, tears, and silliness*. Many important life lessons taught and learned. Perfect home for a young family to learn the ropes of home ownership/repair. One child and a dog have been added.

Entry hall suitable for basketball or bowling. Expect an annual visit by a lost turtle from a nearby pond scratching at the front door. Dining room has experienced innumerable dinner conversations, homework assignments, and craft projects- eventually completed. Updated kitchen has seen its share of casseroles, Cincinnati Chili, tacos, pulled pork, and chocolate chip cookies. Family room great for hosting birthday parties, Family Home Evenings, movie nights, games, piano practice, and dancing to the "demo" button on the keyboard. Spacious Master Bedroom ideal for discussing important decisions and problems... and other marital stuff. 2nd Bedroom perfect for designing and displaying Lego creations, reading, looming bracelets, and athletic dreams. 3rd Bedroom can be converted from sewing room to baby's room when your prayers are finally answered. Has seen many sleepless nights. Currently used for role playing cooking and baby care, reading, and playing with princesses. Both bedrooms have harbored personal growth as well as growth spurts. 2 car garage provides extra storage and will allow husband to work on projects- usually completed- including 2 Pinewood Derby cars. Most importantly, it will protect you from the rain when you get home. This will never go unappreciated. Lawn has been expertly maintained and is the source of much pride. Spacious, fenced backyard provides clear view of beautiful orange, purple, and pink sunsets. Perfect for playing catch, batting practice, hours of swinging/sliding, and housebreaking a puppy. Beautiful laurel oak provides generous shade and beckons for children to climb. Adequate dirt for digging and making "pies". Yard contains (2) square foot garden boxes when you attempt to grow a vegetable garden- can be converted to a butterfly garden.

Quiet street with friendly neighbors. In the evening, enjoy soft breezes and beautiful starry skies, frequent calls of Canadian geese flying overhead, the faint sound of cheering from the neighboring soccer park, and if you're lucky, a whippoorwill.

* Individual circumstances will influence your experience in this home.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Playing 'Possum

The other day I was digging in a planter and unearthed a millipede. He scrambled around and then rolled up into a pitiful ball and lay still. A few minutes later he wriggled to life and went about his business as if nothing had happened. I smiled at such a pathetic response and superiorly thought, "How silly to play dead at the slightest disturbance. Humans meet their challenges head on." 

But then I wondered if playing dead until the coast is clear is a tactic that might have some value, and if it could be worth experimenting with in my own life: I get pulled over for speeding. Play dead. I'm asked to play the piano at church last minute. Play dead. The weekend has left me with a mountain of laundry to do. Play dead. My child remembers they have a huge school project due the next day. Play dead. I have unannounced company and the house is a wreck. Play dead. My kids ask me what's for dinner. Play dead. The possibilities are endless!

Ultimately, I decided it would not be well received. Too bad.

Speaking of playing 'possum, here is one of my favorite commercials.


Monday, March 24, 2014

The Candy Bomber

Last week, I was made aware that the C-54 "Spirit of Freedom", a plane involved in the Berlin Airlift, would be close by and recreating a "candy bombing".


For those unfamiliar with the story, a brief history lesson... 
In 1948, the Soviet Union had blockaded Berlin (preventing food, coal, etc. to be delivered by train or car) in an effort to force them to accept Communism. The Western Allies worked around the blockade by delivering goods via plane to Western Berlin, the Allies' occupation zone, thus allowing them to survive and keep their freedom. During this time, Lt. Gail Halvorsen, a cargo pilot, was inspired with the idea to deliver candy to the children after meeting a group of them one day while touring the city.

One girl told him, "Almost every one of us here experienced the final battle for Berlin. After your bombers had killed some of our parents, brothers, and sisters, we thought nothing could be worse. But that was before the final battle. . . . [Then] we saw firsthand the Communist system [of the Soviets]." He goes onto explain that while the children were living on very little, "they could get by... as long as they could trust the Western Allies to stick by West Berlin," so that they would not lose the new freedoms they had heard their East Berlin relations lose- property, free speech, free elections, other civil liberties, or relocation to the Soviet Union.

(It's amazing that a child could have such insight, and sad to realize how much war must mature children).

I wanted our family to participate in this recreation, but I wanted it to be meaningful to my son. So, I bought "Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift's 'Chocolate Pilot'" by Michael O. Tunnell, for him to read before the event. The book was written for older children, and did an excellent job of explaining the history simply, as well as Gail Halvorsen's experience. It is also chock full of pictures from the time, many of them from Gail Halvorsen's personal collection. (A shorter version of the story is available in the Oct. 2010 Friend and also in Tom Brokaw's "Christmas from Heaven"- which I have not read yet). Coincidently, my son had just finished studying World War II in school, so it was a timely follow up. I love it when the stars align like that!

It is one of my son's favorite books now, and did in fact make the "candy bombing" so much more relevant. We weren't just merely waiting for a plane to drop candy, but we were remembering the children that so eagerly awaited such a prized treat in post WWII Berlin. 

  
Keep your eyes out for the Spirit of Freedom in your area!
 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Opportunity

Master of human desires am I.
Fame, love, and fortune on my footsteps wait,
Cities and fields I walk; I penetrate
Deserts and seas remote, and, passing by
Hovel, and mart, and palace, soon or late
I knock unbidden, once at every gate!
If sleeping, wake- if feasting, rise before
I turn away. It is the hour of fate,
And they who follow me reach every state
Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
Save death; but those who doubt or hesitate,
Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
Seek me in vain and uselessly implore-
I answer not, and I return no more.

- John James Ingalls

 And here are two other quotes I like about opportunity (something I always hope I have the wisdom to recognize and the courage to follow):

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." 
-Thomas A. Edison

"Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor"
- Stephen Sondheim, "Into the Woods" 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Elder Kopischke

Recently, I heard Elder Kopischke, of the seventy, speak. He quoted from Joseph Smith History 1:19 and gave us advice as to how we can feel the power of godliness in our lives:
  • Do not let divine habits become routine (do not forget the meaning behind what we do, such us church attendance, etc.)
  • Use the Atonement in our lives. The Lord wants us to come to Him.
  • Listen to the prophet and local leaders. When we do this we will always be safe, our faith will increase, we will always endure, and everything will work out.
    • We can "stone the prophets" with indifference, rejection, or selecting what we want to follow.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lord Baden-Powell Farewell Address

Robert Baden-Powell was a lieutenant-general in the British Army and the founder of the Boy Scout movement. From the little I've heard about him over the last few years, he is an inspiring figure. This letter was read in my church yesterday as part of someone's talk. It was a message that he wrote to the scouts and saved to be published after his death. I thought it was a relevant message for anyone, scout or not.:

Dear Scouts - if you have ever seen the play 'Peter Pan' you will remember how the pirate chief was always making his dying speech because he was afraid that possible, when the time came for him to die, he might not have time to get it off his chest. It is much the same with me, and so, although I am not at this moment dying, I shall be doing so one of these days and I want to send you a parting word of goodbye.

Remember, it is the last time you will ever hear from me, so think it over. I have had a most happy life and I want each one of you to have a happy life too.

I believe that God put us in this jolly world to be happy and enjoy life. Happiness does not come from being rich, nor merely being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence.   One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy, so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man.

Nature study will show you how full of beautiful and wonderful things God has made the world for you to enjoy. Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one.

But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best. 'Be Prepared' in this way, to live happy and to die happy - stick to your Scout Promise always - even after you have ceased to be a boy - and God help you to do it.

Your friend,

Baden-Powell

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Quasimodo Eye

In my 10th grade year of High School, I developed a mysterious and strange eye itch. It was a very specific itch that warned me my eye lid would quickly evolve into a puffy, swollen, embarrassment. Sometimes the upper lid, sometimes the lower lid, sometimes both- and if I was really lucky- both eyes. I affectionately referred to it as my "Quasimodo eye", because it was that horrendous. As luck would have it, the Quasimodo eye would most often rear its ugly head after lunch. I would then be forced to finish the rest of my school day looking at the ground and avoiding eye contact with boys I had crushes on between classes. It even almost ruined picture day, but held off till after my picture was taken to fully develop (A trained eye can pick out the infant stages in my picture).

Despite much investigation, my parents and I were never able to figure out what triggered the Quasimodo eye. We could not find a link to a single food, chemical, or cosmetic. We would follow a theory down a path, only for it to evaporate and leave us at a dead end. There was enough inconsistency in when it would develop, that we finally gave up and chalked it up to mystery. Maybe it was a pollen? In that case, there was nothing we could really do about it.

And then the Quasimodo eye gradually faded from my life. It made a few appearances in college and has since been MIA. It was truly a lesson in humility. Maybe it was divinely sent to protect me from the advances of dangerous males? I may never know. But as self conscious as I was of my Quasimodo eye in High School (aka: the World to my teenage mind), I can feel grateful that my Quasimodo eye has not forced itself to literally be seen by the whole world. 

Bob Costas, I feel your pain. 

Now I want you to spend a day anchoring with a mouth guard that keeps your teeth from moving after you've had your braces removed but your retainer has not been made yet... A scarring story for another day.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Stats

Even though I do nothing whatsoever to grow my blog, I still find my stats fascinating. I check them out every now and then and wonder who has been reading my blog in say... Indonesia, Russia, Israel, or the Ukraine, to name a few. My little brother, Mr. Google Expert Extraordinaire, bluntly suggested that most of my traffic is probably accidental- which I must concede. But deep down I still like to think I have worldwide audience and that my posts are being intelligently discussed over a dinner table of vienerschnitzel or pita bread.

What I find most amusing about my stats are the "Search Keywords" that people are putting in search engines and leading them to my blog. Specifically, I have been surprised to find there seems to be a high interest in Amish people and adoption as those keywords are regular entries. It seems this post is hitting high on their google searches- and probably disappointing them. I don't know how this post will affect things... 

Here are some of my favorite keyword entries:
  • amish adoption for free
  • amish adopting babies 
  • adopt amish
  • how to meet President Uchtdorf
  • amish and adoption 
  • where do amish adopt babies

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wise Words Read While Waiting For An Oil Change

"You have to be willing to let go of the life you planned in order to live the life you're meant to live."

-Maria Shriver 
AARP Magazine, Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pulling My Leg

The other evening, I decided to wear a pair of knee length boots that I hadn't worn for at least 5 years. When I originally bought the boots, they were the only ones in the store that could zip up due to my large calfs, but as I attempted to zip my boots up I realized there was a problem. Neither boot would zip up more than half way. After tugging and manipulating the zipper on my right leg I was finally successful. The left leg, on the other hand (or leg...haha), was a bit more stubborn and I had to enlist the help of my husband. It was a scene reminiscent of "Gone With the Wind" when Mammy helped new mommy Scarlet O'Hara into her old corset... only less glamorous. Finally, we were triumphant.

I was confused by this new turn of events with my once roomy boots and I considered the possible explanations: 1.) my legs are buffer than they used to be,  2.) I have gained weight, or 3.) is it possible that the leather shrank from standing unused for so long? I pondered what this could mean all evening. It was not until the next day that I realized that I had fallen victim to a practical joke! George Clooney must have had my boots taken in a small amount, just like he did with Matt Damon's pants when he was trying to get in shape for a movie! Luckily, I had just read about the stunt or else he would have completely gotten away with it.

That George is such a joker.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Little Prince

I reacquainted myself with "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery last week and enjoyed it very much. It's a very quick read. Here are some of my favorite quotes (which I will update as I get time to find the rest):

  • "And, in fact, on the little prince's planet there were- as on all planets- good plants and bad plants. The good plants come from good seeds, and the bad plants from bad seeds. But the seeds are invisible. They sleep in the secrecy of the ground until one of them decides to wake up. ... As it happens, there were terrible seeds on the little prince's planet... baobab seeds. The planet's soil was infested with them. Now if you attend to a baobab seed too late, you can never get rid of it again. It overgrows the whole planet. Its roots pierce right through. And if the planet is too small, and if there are too many baobabs, they make it burst into pieces.'It's a question of discipline,' the little prince told me later on. 'When you've finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend your planet. You must be sure you pull up the baobabs regularly, as soon as you can tell them apart from the rosebushes, which they closely resemble when they're very young. It's very tedious work, but very easy."
  • "I need to put up with two or three caterpillars if I want to get to know the butterflies" -The Rose
  • "The little prince went to look at the roses again. 'You're not at all like my rose. You're nothing at all yet," he told them. 'No one has tamed you and you haven't tamed anyone.' ... 'You're lovely, but you're empty,' he went on. 'One couldn't die for you. Of course, an ordinary passerby would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she's the one I've watered. Since she's the one I put under glass. Since she's the one I sheltered behind a screen. Since she's the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three for butterflies). Since she's the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she's my rose.'"
  • "'One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.' ...'It's the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose important.' ... 'You become responsible forever for what you've tamed. You're responsible for your rose...'" -The Fox