Friday, February 27, 2015

Family First Friday #6--Tammers Homecoming!

I have missed two Friday posts!  Life has been kind of exciting and busy here.  Two weeks ago, before I missed the first post, Tammy got home!!!  She arrived Thursday night.  I tried to get my Friday post finished before we picked her up, but it just didn't happen.  Then I spent all of Friday visiting with her and hanging out and hearing about her mission.  It was so wonderful and fabulous!!!  The week before that we had all been sick, including me, for like three weeks!  It has been a long recovery!!  I even took Spike to the hospital at the beginning because he couldn't breath.  But Tams got home and we didn't make her sick, for which I was super grateful!

It never ceases to amaze me the growth and development these young adults have gained by serving a mission.  They are more interactive.  They look people in the eye.  They keep conversations going.  They know the scriptures.  They know who they are and they know where we can find answers.  I LOVE their service and I LOVE the results of their service in their very own lives.  Scuff gets home in May and I get to see it all over again!!  I LOVE that!

This is how we all felt that Tammers was home!

We, of course, had to play.

Last Friday we all went to the beach.  It was super cold, but we had a good time.  The wind was blowing too, so everything was full of sand.  There were too many dogs on the beach that day for Shorty.  He ended up going back to the car and hanging out for about 45 minutes because he does not like dogs.  We only ended up staying for two hours, but it was still fun, even though we were cold.

Then, after the beach on Friday, my sister arrived!!!  She just spent the weekend with us!  We had a great time!  I really miss hanging out with her, even though it has been like 25 years since we did!
Don't you just love the sun bursts?  Somehow I didn't realize we were photographing right into the sun.  But it made for superb beach photos!!  The color is amazing!

And that's the crazy stuff we have been up to!  Today it is raining.  Tomorrow I get to give a talk at a Spanish baptism, luckily I get to speak in English.  Thank you!  I don't speak Spanish :-)  I'll try to keep up better.  It might be easier now that I am not sick!

Friday, February 6, 2015

FFF #6--Castles in the Sand.

Aren't those amazing??!!!  They are so beautiful and so perfect!!  It is difficult for me to believe they are sand.  But it is more difficult for me to believe that someone or more than one someone spent all of the time it would take to make something so amazing and beautiful and then to do it out of a medium as fickle and fluid as sand!  Seriously!!??  Your beautiful work, your time, your effort, your talent, gone in one rain storm, one gust of wind, or one rogue wave.

More than not, life is like that.   We choose those activities that are important and significant to us and that is where we put much of our time, talent, effort and even sometimes, our entire life.  Have you ever wondered if you were building out of sand?  Or are you building something that will last for eternity?  I don't know about you, but when I look back on my life's work, I want it to mean something.  I don't want to look back and realize that I was using sand as a medium. 

I know, I know, I am talking in riddles.  I have something weighing on my mind.  I have a dear friend, whom I love.  She is amazing!  She is talented!  She is dear to my heart.  She is building sand castles and I don't know how to tell her.  I don't know if I should tell her.  She is happy and she is excited!  Her castle is beautiful!!  But it is still made out of sand, and not the things that will last for eternity.  I know she is not trying to use sand.  She doesn't believe that is what she is doing, or she wouldn't do it.  She has more sense than that.  I mean, how do you say to someone, "You know all that work you have been putting in, all that time and effort to express your amazing talent?  Sand."  Because other people don't see it as sand.

I have never been good at building castles in the sand, not real or figurative sand.  I don't pretend.  I can't make believe and play nice with the other kids with rose colored glasses on.  I have to live in reality.  For me it is the only comfort.  I want to know where I stand, in the gospel, in my relationship with you, in my job, in my parenting.  I only function in reality.  If I am not quite in reality, it is only because, for the moment, I believe it is reality.  But when the glasses come off and I really see?  Then I shift into functioning in the new reality.

When I become aware that a relationship is not what I have thought it was, even if the other person doesn't see the difference?  My behavior toward them changes because I am functioning in a different paradigm of the relationship.  Did you know some people can't do that?  Some people are afraid of reality.  When they realize you only function in reality and they do not, your friendship with them is over.  I do not worry about that with my sandcastle friend.  She lives and works in reality, which I appreciate and value.  But I have lost plenty of people who I had considered friends because they do not want to live or work or play in reality.  Which has been fine for me, because the truth be told, trying to maintain a friendship with those people is really exhausting because I can never remember 'which' reality they are functioning in.  I am feeling like all of this rambling is probably not making a lot of sense, but it does in my head.  Does that help?  Probably not.
This is the extent of my ability to build sand castles.

It is really difficult for me to write today.  I am sure my feelings are in the way.  How to say what I want without saying to much or offending someone.  It also doesn't help that Spike Spike is sick today and bored and all he wants me to do is play with him, which I have, but he is not satisfied.  And so he is in my face.

When I was a younger mother, I asked a question of my religion professor once.  I had four small children, five and under.  We were talking about studying our scriptures and making time for the Lord.  I simply asked how that was possible when you had little children.  The response I received was not favorable.  Basically I was told (without anyone understanding my circumstances) that if I was ignoring the children to spend some 'quality time' reading my scriptures then I was missing the point of the gospel.  Ya.  It was not a pretty moment.  I left the class feeling awful and like a total and a complete failure as a mother.  I knew time with my Father in Heaven was important.  But seriously, with four small children five and under, I couldn't go to the bathroom without assistance from one of them.  There was never time and all I was looking for was 15 minutes, not an hour, not three, not a day.  Literally, 15 minutes.  That was before you had scriptures on your phone.  Otherwise I could have read them as I walked home.

Spike is a much different child.  If I let him, he would take all of my time every day.  Seriously.  He will not use the toilet unless I am in the room with him regardless of how bad he has to go.  He will wet his pants.  He needs me to eat with him.  He wants me to sleep with him.  Still at three, he is like a wool sock full of static cling that just came out of the dryer.... A.L.L.T.H.E.T.I.M.E.  And when he is sick he is worse, even with ibuprofen.

Maybe my friend isn't using sand.  Maybe she is just distracted.  Her distraction though, is evident in the lives of her children.  While she is building her castle, she is missing her opportunity to build in the lives of her children for eternity.  I have not been willing to make that trade.  My mother did it.  And I will not.  It is a little more personal to me.

This is my day.  This is my time.  These are my children.  Children do not stay children forever.  They are not pliable and mold-able forever.  If you have not built your relationship and taught them while they are little, they will not let you when they are older.  They won't listen then.  Sometimes even when you have they don't listen to you from about 13-21 (or returned missionary age).  Somehow when they return home from their mission you have become an all-wise parent again, but not usually before that.
My formatting is messing up.  It must be time to stop.  
Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Blessings this week!

I really wish I had more time for blogging.  Some very fun and interesting things are happening at my house!  I have two quick stories for you.  The first is about sandals.  I have one pair of sandals that I LOVE!  I have loved them since I was in high school, about 30 years ago now.  I had a white pair in high school.  They took forever to break in, but once those babies were broken in, I wore them everywhere!  They were super comfortable!  I could wear them with a skirt, jeans, shorts, pretty much anything.  They were awesome!!  Well, as time would have it, they broke and wore down and I had to throw them out.  I was sad, but I had loved them and worn them completely out!  They were worth the $10.00 I had paid for them.
copyright:  Karen Larsen photography
Time goes on. 

About 10 years ago now, I found another pair, for $10.00!!  I bought them because I knew what kind of a bargain they were.  I didn't wear them very often because they are hard to break in and now I was chasing children and my feet weren't as good because I was also 50 pounds heavier than I was in high school.  But I still loved them and wore them periodically.  Last year, they finally broke in.  Since then, I have worn them more often.  This pair is brown.

After our last little trip (I don't remember where---me and Drew), I couldn't find them.  I knew I had taken them on the trip with me.  But I could not find them when I got home.  I assumed I had left them in the hotel, which I was a little anal about leaving stuff in, so I thought I brought them home.  But when I couldn't find them, I thought I must have missed them.  I have been looking for them for about 6 months.  I have mourned their loss.  They are very much an '80's sandal and I didn't think I would ever find another pair.

Last week, I was looking for scotch tape in my wrapping paper box.  I was digging because I needed it for my seminary game the next day.  I wasn't having any luck.  'Keep digging' came the thought.  'Look harder!'  The box isn't very deep.  It is long, but shallow, but I kept digging.  I started looking around the box.  I picked up a cloth grocery bag and moved it and as I did so, I felt something familiar.  "Wait!"  I grabbed the bag and opened it up.  Inside were my sandals!!!  I was sSSSOOOOOO excited!!!

I thanked my Heavenly Father profusely!  They weren't lost!!  They were here the whole time!  I had no idea I was so attached to a pair of shoes!  That was my miracle #1.

Miracle #2 was a bit more intense. 

My little Spike Spike has an anaphylactic allergy to nuts.  The last time we visited the allergist, she told me she was going to order him an epi-pen for which I was super grateful!  (An epi-pen is a dose of the medicine epinephrine with which I can inject the allergic person after exposure to their allergy.  It is just enough medication to keep their airway open while I get them to the hospital for further medical treatment.  I have one for the bigger boys, but it is an adult dose.  I didn't have one for Spike, who is just a little guy.)

Well, when the pharmacy got the order, they called me to make sure I had insurance because the price of the epi-pen without insurance was $962 (and change!).  I about fell off of my chair.  Seriously!  You have got to be kidding.  (That is almost what I pay in rent every month, and more than all of the food my family eats for one month!)  We certainly didn't have that in the budget.

Because I was worried about the price, I didn't fill the prescription right away.  Well, Monday I felt like I should fill the prescription.  I was nervous.  I told my husband about the phone call from the pharmacy the few days before, but I didn't tell him the price of the prescription.  He was already wondering how much it was going to cost us and asked me to wait to fill it.  When I picked it up, the lady at the counter said, "you have insurance, right? Because I am not sure how much it is going to cover $962 + anyway." 

That was my concern also.  I had been praying since I entered the pharmacy.  "Please let the price be something we can manage.  And something that my husband won't be upset that I spent."

As she ran our insurance card, she got a look of relief on her face and said, "Well that brought it down to a $20.00 co-pay!"

"Sweet!!  I can spend $20.00!"

Then she ran the other insurance card and it took care of the $20.00 co-pay.  I walked out of there with the prescription for zero dollars!  What a HUGE blessing!!  Thank you Heavenly Father.

I decided at that point that Drew could handle me spending $1.00 for Smiley's Cheetos!

Those are my huge blessings for this week!  Today in seminary we studied D&C 82:10.  "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."

I am so grateful I try to do what He says.  He provides blessings to my family in ways that I can not anticipate.

On the flip side, Shorty has been sick for three days with a fever.  Now I have to go pick up his antibiotic and take Smiley to the dentist.  But I don't have to pay $1,000 for Spike's epi-pen!

Thanks again!

Friday, January 30, 2015

FFF#5 2015 Basic Behaviors

Along with our discussion of basic doctrines,  it is important to acknowledge that there are basic behaviors that when put in place, allow the Holy Ghost to more fully witness the truth of the basic doctrines to us.  Have you ever thought about that?

When we were making our list of the basic doctrines in our seminary class, we used the missionary pamphlets to help us make sure we were covering the right things.  As the youth listed them on the board, they came up with some basic behaviors the missionaries teach to new investigators.  Can you think of what some of those behaviors might be?

Prayer.  One of the very first things we teach people is their relationship to God, our Father.  Then we teach them to access that relationship through prayer.  Sermons and sermons can be given about prayer, when, where, and how to pray; what to pray for; non-repititious prayer; fasting and prayer; etc...  But the point of prayer is to recognize our relationship to our Father and then to access that relationship, and eventually to bring our will in line with His.

Scripture Study.  It has often been said 'When you want to talk to God, use prayer.  When you God to talk to you, read your scriptures'.  Reading and studying our scriptures can give us insight into how our Father in Heaven relates to us.  The scriptures are replete with men's experiences with God.  As we read about those experiences and try to put into practice those behaviors, we will see the hand of God in our own lives.

Obedience.  To access our understanding of the basic doctrines, God expects us to do what He says.  We have to try it out.  He has laws, rules.  If we want to understand and have a testimony of the basic doctrines, we have to show our willingness to receive that testimony by actually doing what He asks of us.  Our willingness to make sacrifices for obedience is what opens the way for the testimony of the Holy Ghost to penetrate our hearts and witness of the truth.

Repentance.  When our behavior is not inline with what God expects, He asks us to change it.  Our willingness to change it, to repent, to make those sacrifices again prepares our hearts to receive the witness of the Holy Ghost.

Going to Church. Yes.  This one is significant as well.  Every week.  I have just made it a personal rule that unless I am pretty much on my death bed or my children will spew noxious viruses around babies or elderly people, then we need to be at church.  Part of that responsibility is to partake of the sacrament.  I think I am just now beginning to realize the spiritual significance that weekly experience plays into my motivation and my ability to withstand temptation.  I read recently, though I cannot remember where, but I am looking for the reference, that one of the first things people do when they are falling away from the gospel is to quit taking the sacrament.  I pondered on that for a little while trying to figure out how they do that.  Then it hit me.  They quit coming to church where the sacrament is offered.  Even though most of the time, church attendance is easy, it is also easy to skip a week and think it doesn't make a big difference.  Remember the scripture 'by small and simple means are great things brought to pass'?  Taking the sacrament each week is a very small and simple thing, but it brings about great things in our lives.  When we choose not to attend, we choose to remove ourselves or our children from the spiritual benefits the ordinance of the sacrament offers us.
Chastity.  Super significant.  In our day of sexual promiscuity it is important to remember that sexual purity is very important to the Lord.  If you don't believe me, just look here, here, here, and here just for a few of His thoughts about the matter.  Keeping the law of chastity qualifies us for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and protect us from the spiritual and emotional damage of sexual sin (reference here).

Tithing The First Presidency gave the following definition of tithing: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this” (First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970).  You can read here to learn more about the why's of tithing and the blessings attached thereto.  I have friends of many different churches.  Some of them pay tithing to their church.  I have seen the same blessings the Lord promises me for paying my tithing given to them for paying their tithing.  The Lord honors their sacrifice and blesses their offering.  It is a testament to me that our Father is no repsector of persons.  He delights to honor those who honor Him, especially if they are obedient to the laws they understand and they are applying them in the best way they know how.
Exercising faith, unto repentance through obedience remits our sins, softens our hearts, and allows the Holy Ghost to fill us with hope, and love, and testify of doctrinal truth and bring us revelation.  The entire cycle is kept in place by prayer.  Remember Moroni 8:25-26?

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

 26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

If you are struggling to receive a testimony of the basic doctrines of the gospel, check your behavior and see if there might be something in the way you live stopping the Holy Ghost from the ability to bear that witness to your soul.  I guarantee you, that if you are searching and seeking with real intent and your behaviors are in line, the Holy Ghost will witness the truth of those doctrines to you.  And that's what we are learning in seminary too.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Children who die early.

We had a really amazing discussion in seminary this morning.  It didn't start off very lively, the youth had all been up late and didn't feel well.  I just asked them about their evenings and then we got into our discussion, which this week has all focused on Doctrine and Covenants 76.

Doctrine and Covenants 76 is a six part vision the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon received as they were translating the Bible and pondering about John 5:29.  Here is an outline of the teachings and which verses they compare with:
Today we were discussing the Telestial Glory presented in D&C 76: 81-112.  The question posed regarded children who died in infancy or those who were not able to be taught the gospel in this life and what would happen to them.  I directed the youth to section 137, where Joseph was shown another vision in which he saw his brother Alvin in the Celestial Kingdom with God the Father and Jesus Christ and Joseph marveled at that fact because Alvin had died before the Lord had set up his kingdom though the prophet Joseph Smith.  Joseph wondered how that was even possible.

As he was pondering, the voice of the Lord spoke to him:

Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God;

 Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom;

 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

 10 And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.

We also discussed the doctrine that those children who die in their infancy, will, in the Millennium be resurrected to the state in which they were laid down (or died) to then be raised to the full stature of their spirit.  Those righteous parents will have the opportunity to raise those children to maturity.  One of my youth asked if I could find where that doctrine was taught because it was new to her.

Well, my sweet husband found it for me.  Here it is.  It is found in the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith manual, Chapter 14.  (Remember that my links are in English, but you can change the language by using the three letters that correspond to your language.)   I will just copy and past the significant parts from the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Parents who lose children in death will receive them in the resurrection just as they laid them down.

At the funeral of two-year-old Marian Lyon, the Prophet said: “We have again the warning voice sounded in our midst, which shows the uncertainty of human life; and in my leisure moments I have meditated upon the subject, and asked the question, why it is that infants, innocent children, are taken away from us, especially those that seem to be the most intelligent and interesting. The strongest reasons that present themselves to my mind are these: This world is a very wicked world; and it … grows more wicked and corrupt. … The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again. …

“… The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable, wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope.”5

“A question may be asked—‘Will mothers have their children in eternity?’ Yes! Yes! Mothers, you shall have your children; for they shall have eternal life, for their debt is paid.”6

“Children … must rise just as they died; we can there hail our lovely infants with the same glory—the same loveliness in the celestial glory.”7

The Gospel brings to comfort to those who mourn.
Joseph Smith taught that young children “must rise just as they died” and that parents will greet their children with “the same loveliness in the celestial glory.”

President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church, reported: “Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: ‘You will have the joy, the pleasure and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.’ …

“In 1854, I met with my aunt [Agnes Smith], the wife of my uncle, Don Carlos Smith, who was the mother of that little girl [Sophronia] that Joseph Smith, the Prophet, was speaking about, when he told the mother that she should have the joy, the pleasure, and the satisfaction of rearing that child, after the resurrection, until it reached the full stature of its spirit; and that it would be a far greater joy than she could possibly have in mortality, because she would be free from the sorrow and fear and disabilities of mortal life, and she would know more than she could know in this life. I met that widow, the mother of that child, and she told me this circumstance and bore testimony to me that this was what the Prophet Joseph Smith said when he was speaking at the funeral of her little daughter.”8

Mary Isabella Horne and Leonora Cannon Taylor each lost a young child in death. Sister Horne recalled that the Prophet Joseph Smith gave the two sisters these words of comfort: “He told us that we should receive those children in the morning of the resurrection just as we laid them down, in purity and innocence, and we should nourish and care for them as their mothers. He said that children would be raised in the resurrection just as they were laid down, and that they would obtain all the intelligence necessary to occupy thrones, principalities and powers.”9

It occurred to me as I was reading his words, that some of you who read my blog may not know this doctrine or have access to these teachings.  You need to know that it was important enough to Heavenly Father for you to receive this doctrine and comfort your hearts that my feelings were to drop what I was doing immediately and to write this blog post.  That is how much He loves you.

I hope this doctrine brings you peace and comfort.  Now I can report back to my class as well!  Have a great day!!  Remember, that we, too, must live worthy to have that blessing!