Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Find Your Love

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt 5:43-44.)


Each of us has an unlimited supply of love stored up in our hearts and souls. And yet, we rarely spend it. We are too thrifty with our love. Like the megalomaniac who spends his days acquiring more and more money and possessions and yet can’t bring himself to spend any of it.

We mustn’t be like that with our love.

Love is a divine trust given to us at birth. It’s only caveat: You must spend it.

It is wonderful to love your family, to cherish each one and shower your affection upon them. And yet, it is not enough.

Love your friends, be a good friend. Be there for them, serve them, love them. And yet, you must do more.

Love the stranger you see at the grocery store or in the car next to you at the red light. Love them. Smile at them. Help them. And yet, there is more.

Love the neighbor, ward member or business acquaintance who has just offended you. Accept the bad, but don’t keep it. Let it go, and love. Then, love some more.

Love yourself. Despite all your shortcomings, despite all the many ways you let yourself down day by day, despite all the things you should have done. Love yourself.

The gift of Love works unlike any bank account on earth. It begins maxxed out, filled to the brim, ready to be spent. But unlike our earthly accounts, this account is perpetually refilling. Spend the love you’ve been granted, and it will multiply and grow, filling your account time and again with yet more love to be spent.

In Church this past week, we had a lesson on becoming one as a church, being united as a people. I’ve never before understood how that could really work—just the practicality of it was beyond my understanding. But during the lesson I began to see how we as a people can be more united, like a couple in marriage is united.

In marriage, you give your love, your care, and your understanding to your companion. You put their needs and wishes before your own. You think of them and what would please them, make them happy, feel loved, and you strive to do those things.

Becoming one as a people, is not unlike becoming one in your marriage. If we truly love and care for our fellow man, we will be united in purpose for the betterment of all.

But you have to be willing to love, because that is the key that unlocks your unselfish desires. You must first spend it, give it freely, willingly, uncensored and without expectations, and you will find that you will receive more than enough to sustain you, to lift you and to cheer you.

Find your love. And then, give it away. 

If you would like to post on Finding Your Voice on your own blog, feel free to add your blog address to Mr. Linky here so we know where to find you. Thanks for participating!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Feminism, Mormonism and Optimism

When did I become so closed-minded?

Or, rather, when did I cross the aisle and begin to fight for the enemy?

When I was a university student I was all about sexual equality. I could do anything a man could do and do it better, even (sing with me now folks "anything you can do, I can do better!"). I planned to not only have a kick-butt career but to kick feminine stereotypes too.

Oh, I thought I *might* one day have a child - but only one, and even then just for the experience of it. Just to say "I did it" and then because I was a modern feminist woman, right? I can do it all. I can have it all.

I had some issues with the whole men-only priesthood thing when the missionaries first introduced me to the Church. How could I really belong to a church that wouldn't allow women to be leaders? To be spiritual leaders? I was just as spiritual as any man, any day. Maybe even more so.

And I was supposed to just be a mother?

Uh, I think not.

But then, I had a change of heart.

A spiritual experience that rocked my world and changed the way I saw myself. Just like that. Like lightning from a cloudless sky my perception of my role, of who I was, of who I was to become, shifted

Yesterday I was called as to be a Den Leader for the Cub Scouts. I was so, darn happy to get this calling. I had envisioned any number of callings I might receive all of which I was less-than-thrilled about. However, I had determined to go in with an open mind and open heart and accept whatever it was I was called to do. 

So when they said Den Leader, I was elated for a number of reasons.
  1. It's a much easier calling than all the ones I'd conjured up in my head in the days leading up to my call.
  2. I get to be with my boys and I kind of like them, so I'm okay with that.
  3. I get to serve with another gal in my ward who I really like.
  4. The time commitment is a lot less demanding than the YW calling I had last.
  5. I don't have to be in charge of anything which is something I had feared a bit.
  6. I like scouting and think it's a great program that my boys are lucky to be able to participate in.
  7. And probably a bunch more reasons that I'm too lazy to think of right now.
When I got home from church late yesterday afternoon, I immediately googled "Den Leader Cub Scouts LDS" in hopes of finding some info on what the calling entailed. The first link that came up was to this blog post at Feminist Mormon Housewives

At the time I read it, there were 113 comments. I only skimmed them, but from what I could see they were all but one responses of people agreeing with the blogger's point of view which was basically that scouting within the Church was a bad idea and they hated the calling. 

Since then I haven't been able to get that blog out of my mind. I've been stewing on it, rolling it over in my head, and generally noodling on the whole idea of feminist Mormon housewives. 

The original housewife herself said the name was an oxymoron and she like it that way. Her intent in beginning the blog was to provide an outlet for other women like herself to be Mormon, a housewife, while also being liberal and self-proclaimed feminist.

See now, this is where I realize that I am not the girl I once was. I used to call myself feminist. Now it tastes like a bad word in my mouth.

From a girl who ridiculed motherhood and valued it for naught, I have become a woman who embraces it with my whole heart. I no longer have any qualms at all at being a mother rather than a priesthood holder. I don't know that these Housewives do either, I'm just sayin'.

For me, and this is where my judgemental self is going to peek out of her closet for a second, I would say that I think women who still call themselves feminist are not fully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Ok, I need to qualify that. A feminist is simply one who considers herself, as a woman, equal to any man. And I think any LDS woman can get behind that. We know we are created equal. However, I think feminism has come to mean a whole 'nother thing. And honestly to read the various blog entries of the women at Feminist Mormon Housewives, I think they belong more to that other camp, the one I used to be a member of too, before I, well, saw the light.

When I commented on that den leader post about how I was looking forward to my new calling and I felt sad that this woman was serving in a calling she hated, one of the bloggers on the site called me 'holier than thou'. If having a little optimism, seeing hope in a new situation and hoping all that I work with are expecting the best for themselves too, is 'holier than thou' than I don't know how to be a latter day saint, I guess.

Isn't that what we're supposed to do? Move forward in faith? Expect the best, from ourselves and others around us? This experience has taught me a sad lesson: that not everyone out there is happy doing what they are doing in the church. I thought, perhaps naively, that most people serve willingly and happily in the church. Oh sure, I've had callings that have worn me out, that I haven't been able to get the hang of and that I hope never to have again. But if I were called to one of them again? I would accept, and then get right onto my knees.

Now, if that makes me holier than you, I'm not sure what to say.

For me, it just means that I know better than to think I can do anything in this big, bad world without the help of my Father in Heaven. I am just learning and stumbling and fumbling my way through and hoping for the best . . . always hoping for the best.

I am still a feminist, and personally, I think I got the better deal, this whole motherhood thing versus the priesthood. Who wouldn't curl their toes in happiness in response to their children's shouts of sheer joy at the prospect of spending more time with you? 

I am a Mormon, and it has changed me profoundly. I am so much better for it.

And, I am an optimist. 

Call me crazy, kooky or stuck up, but happiness is where you find it . . . and that my friends, if wherever you choose to look for it. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Photo Tag

Tristi, tagged me in a game of Photo Tag.

You go to your pictures directory, into your sixth folder and pick your sixth picture.

In my case, the sixth folder happened to be an Adobe folder of samples, so I went to my seventh. Hope ya'll don't think that's cheating.

As it was, I didn't get a very funny, exciting, titillating or otherwise. But it IS of two people I love a ton:
This is Chelsea and Kenny. I set them up on their first date (a blind date, oh horror!) and they got married eight months later! Sweet!

I did their engagement pictures for them and this was one of them before I cropped and edited it. 

They are such a cute couple. Kenny adores her. They just had their first baby, Benjamin, in November.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ What Do You Value?

What do you value most?

Is it money? Recognition? Family? Love?

Hyrum W. Smith, author of What Matters Most—The Power of Living Your Values said, “Your governing values are the foundation of personal fulfillment.”

In other words, those things you most value will define the sort of person you are, what you do and what you say.

You might assume that because you value something that it governs your daily actions, but that is not always the case.

The loving, doting father is arrested for sexually abusing his daughter’s friend. He lived a good life in every other respect. He did was what right for his family . . . except in this one thing. But it is a contradictory thing that has the power to take down everything he otherwise believes in.

Or, in a more benign example, the loving mother who has just counseled her daughter to remember the value she has a human being and not just as a sexual object, takes a pill to help her keep her spirits up, even though none has been prescribed.

It is elemental that we discover for ourselves what it is that we value. Find it, focus on it, and work at it.

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25.)

I had always taken this scripture in a more literal context. But in considering it today, I realize that Jesus knows our very thoughts. We cannot act one way while our thoughts dictate another. It won’t be long before we crumble under the weight of such confliction.

Figure out the sort of person you need to be to reach your values. Then be that person at home, at work; with your friends and with your family.

Let your actions stand for what you believe, for the values you hold dear.

For me, I value family. I want to be with my family forever. If I’m to take to heart Matthew’s counsel, then I will recognize that there can be no room for being snarky to my children, being weary of them, or cussing at them. I will devote my care and attention to those things that will work for the good of the family and to the building up of the little spirits, and the big ones, that encapsulate it.

I need to live as a woman who is part of a family.

I value love. I want to feel loved, give love, be loved. I can’t then turn off my heart when it’s least convenient for me. When a friend needs me, or a child, or my spouse, I can’t save for later what needs to be given now. My love needs to be free and ready; available at a moment’s notice.

I need to live as a woman who is love.

I would love to hear what your values are, and how you perceive them when wearing the different hats you wear.

You are free to post your comment here, but I also invite you to post your own thoughts on this subject at your own blog. If you do, let Mr. Linky here know, so we can all go see what you’ve written.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Books, Books, And More Books

I stole this little meme from Jen's blog. Have fun!

In April 2003 the BBC's Big Read began the search for the nation's best-loved novel, and they asked us to nominate our favorite books.

The ones I've read are in bold, the one's I want to read are in italics. The rest? Well, maybe someday. If you like--copy and paste this list to your blog and share what you have read!

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling

25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. George's Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick O'Brian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlotte's Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence Life of Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life In A Modern Town

My friend Anne, participated in this tag on her blog and I thought I'd play too. I'm not going to tag anyone, either, but the questions are interesting, so if you'd like, feel free to use them for inspiration for your own blog.

What was school like when you were little?

I remember feeling like school was free and easy, fun and interesting. I had teachers who challenged me, who believed in me (that is, after my Kindergarten teacher who, along with the school principle, began the process of having me institutionalized. Amazingly, my mother picked up my cause and went to bat for me. Needless to say, I was never sent to an institution).  But after that, I liked the teachers and remember being treated well and having a lot of fun with my friends at recess. I still vividly remember certain school lessons from grade 4 and 5, they had that much impact on me.

What was a memorable experience from your childhood? How did you feel about it?

When I was fifteen, my mom rented a camp spot in Grand Bend, a popular vacation spot southern Ontario, Canada, about an hour from our home in London. There was a beach, a lake that stretched so far that it looked like the ocean—you couldn’t see any shore at all. Grand Bend also had a quaint little beach town, Canada’s version of a small California town, I think. Little shops sold beach gear and clothing, boutiques sold Indian arts and crafts from local reservations. And teenagers roamed the streets like packs of dogs. It was awesome.

For my birthday, she took me there and we had a party at our campsite. We went there every weekend for the whole summer and didn’t have to set up and take down our tent trailer every time. We just jumped into our car on Friday after mom got off work and headed out of town.

We drove a carmel colored Ford Cordoba with general Corinthian leather (thank you Manuel Esteban). It featured a high-tech 8-track stereo, which my mom had a large collection for. We listened to “Rockin’ Robin” and “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Brody,” with the volume up loud. I remember sticking my head out the window and bobbing up and down as my mom and sang along as loud as we could.

Those memories, melded into one, have become my single-most favorite memory of my childhood, and conversely, memory of my mother. That was the moment, that we were truly happy, truly free.

What has changed since your childhood about your local or national community?

This is difficult for me to answer as I haven’t lived in the communities of my childhood since I was nineteen years old. I no longer even live in the same country.

But I suppose some generalities will be the same: Like the freedom we (those of us in our middle years) had as children to roam far and wide in our towns. I lived in a ‘sleeper community’ of Toronto, and then in the major city of London. In both places I was free to ride my bike as far and as wide as I had the energy to go. I rarely went with friends, favoring instead wandering adventures on my own.

It makes me sad to think that I believe my generation was truly the last to have such freedom. Even as a teenager I was aware that times had changed. I turned my color up to hide my face from the view of the older man sitting on the bench at the bus stop. I steered away from strangers on the bus, preferring to sit by myself. Even then, there were the beginnings of whisperings that strangers were not safe, that children were not safe. Still, they were secrets, not generally accepted. We still tried to live in the worlds of our childhood.

Unfortunately that world has completely gone now, those secrets are common knowledge and we can no longer pretend that our children are safe. Sadly, I think this change has overtaken all towns and cities, the world over.

I wonder if we’ll ever get that innocence back. I think, probably not. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Just a General Update :)

It's been a long time since I've posted about just regular ol' life stuff, so I thought I'd bore you with the trivial details of my life, because, of course, I know you're dying to know what's going on with me. Right? Yeah, you know you want it.

So, David just left for a long trip to Worcester, MA. That's pronounced "Whoost-ah" for all you non-Massacheutians (or whatever it is they call themselves.)

Our roof needs to be replaced.

Charlie is loving karate for the first time ever and it is just so dang cool! I believed that if we stuck with it and didn't let him quit, that he'd find his stride and come to like it but ... maybe I didn't believe enough, because I've still been pleasantly surprised and happy at the result!

Xan is loving karate, as usual, and was invited to try out for, and was accepted into, the schools' demonstration team. It means a lot more time at the studio, but it's all good. I'm super proud of him.

And I haven't missed a single karate class of my own since the beginning of the year! Huzzah! I rock. 

However, I have hardly been writing at all. I've been feeling ambivalent about my writing and doubting my abilities, my stories ... everything. For the first time in two years I don't have anything immediately ready for submission to the LDStorymaker's first chapter contest. I won for YA last year and the year before I placed second. This year? I might not even have the chance to 'place' at all since I might not even enter! I can't let that happen. I've GOT to get writing again.

I've just been so full of self-doubt and second-guessing and stuff. It's yucky.

I'm still homeschooling the boys and it's going really super great! And yes, I'm rather amazed that I am saying that and that it's TRUE! I even said the words out loud to my husband this week "I think I'll homeschool them again next year." I held my breath after I said it, waiting to feel that feeling that tells me no, that's the wrong decision, but ... I didn't. Instead the words rang with truth and rightness. My husband just bobbed his head and said that he just assumed I would.

Because really, it's going that well.

Charlie is a completely changed boy. Xander is reading and learning at the speed of light. The love and feeling of solidarity in our home has grown ten-fold, nay, a hundred fold. Huzzah!

And even though David has to travel a lot (about two weeks out of every month, it seems) he really loves his job and the people he works with and for. That is gold, right there. We're all looking forward to reconnecting tonight, and every night while he's away, on our online game Wizard 101. Xan said when we play together it's like Daddy isn't far away at all, and that is a really neat thing.

And there you have it ... a wee little update from my home to yours. Have a great day!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Find Your Weakness

“I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

Have you ever considered that your greatest weakness, could actually become your greatest strength?

Close your eyes for a moment and think about your weaknesses. How could they become your strengths? Do you believe it’s possible for them to become your strengths? What do you believe might need to happen in order for that to be so?

For me, I think at this moment in my life, my greatest weakness is my lack of faith in myself. I have been doing a bang-up job of beating myself up for the last several months. I am too fat. I am not smart enough. I am not a good friend. I am not a good writer. I am not a good photographer. I have no willpower. I am not … anything very good at all.

I do believe that all these things could become my strengths.

I could believe in myself. If I were not too fat (or didn’t think that I was) I might have more courage to speak up and meet new people; I might play with my children more.

If I knew I was smart enough, I might be able to enroll in that Masters program I’ve been looking at and go out in the world helping others.

If I were a good friend, I would never hesitate to call or visit someone who came to my mind, because I would feel I was worthy of being their friend.

If I knew I was a good writer, I might actually finish something and keep submitting it to editors and agents until it found a home.

If I believed I was a good photographer, I might not have given up my business and I might have a source of extra income and the opportunity to meet and serve new people.

If I had the willpower to do all these things I could be strong. I could be powerful.

When Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, the Lord counseled him:

“All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes” (D&C 121:7–8).

Because my lack of self-esteem, is my foe. It is the adversary I battle every day. It is the exact opposite of the nature I was meant to develop here on earth. I do not believe that God sent me here to be weak, and hide my light under a bushel, so to speak.

He sent me here to shine.

God tries us in this life, He challenges us. But if we endure it well, and learn to make our weaknesses our strengths, we will be “prepared to receive the glory that I have for them” (D&C 136:31).

But I don’t believe that the glory He has for us is meant to be enjoyed solely in the Courts on High. If we can overcome our weaknesses in this life, glory can be ours today, here and now.

Don’t ignore your weakness. Make your weakness into your strength.

What are your weaknesses? How can you make them your strengths? And what would it mean to you, if your weakness did become your strength?

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do Unto Yourself As You Do Unto Others

Why is it that many of us are quick to see the good in others, and yet refuse to see the good in ourselves?

I've been thinking a lot about body image lately. I've been very aware of the chubby girls and women I've seen and yes, I've been comparing them to myself. I can easily see how one girl dresses really fun and funky and I love that. I see how another has a great hair cut, or beautiful eyes. 

I do not judge them for their chubbiness.

In fact, I admire them because of it. They are beautiful and letting their lights shine even though they might not have the ideal body. 

Why is it, then, that I can extend this same courtesy of judgement to them, but not to myself? 

The same applies to how I keep my house, or how I fulfill my callings, or ... you name it.

I am very hard on myself. I've always known that I'm a perfectionist and that it's super hard to live up to my own expectations of myself. And yet, I can see where others have made choices, allowing certain elements of their lives to slip a little while concentrating on something else of greater importance. I can admire them for that choice, I can understand it.

And yet, again, I do not extend that same courtesy to myself. 

For me, well, I must be perfect. I am not allowed to have a chubby body, I am not allowed to have a less than perfectly cared-for home - you get the picture. 

And the irony is that I am so far from perfect, it's not like I'm simply trying to maintain the high standard I have achieved. No, but I am beating myself up for not achieving the high standard I believe I must attain in order to be ... what? Loved? Admired? Respected?

Is it not possible that someone else has seen me and thought "She has such a pretty smile," rather than thinking "She should really do something about her weight." Is it not possible that someone has come into my home and rather than thinking "She should really do some more decorating in here," they thought "What a nice feeling this home has"?

This has been a bit of an epiphany for me. I think I've had it before, and I will likely have it again, but for now it feels fresh and new. I should try to treat myself the way I treat other people. 

I should be kind, helpful, forgiving, loving. I should think the best of myself, even when I've fallen short of expectations. 

Just a thought . . .

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Find Yourself

Sometime in November I was listening to the Glenn Beck show when he spoke on several things we should do to personally be prepared for what is to come. Not so much as physically prepared as spiritually, personally, prepared.

I want to talk about his suggestions, but will probably do so a little at a time because I don't have a lot of time to devote to writing my blog and, if you're anything like me, I prefer shorter posts to longer ones because I often don't have much time to READ blogs, either :)

Glenn said that we need to find ourselves. He said, 

"Who are you really? What do you believe? Have you been pushed and challenged? Do you know where you stand? Can you support it with real facts?"

I am honestly not sure if I can answer those questions suscinctly. If someone asked me, I'm sure I would humm and haw until all interest in my answer had passed. So let's see if I can tighten it up, and figure out my answers for myself.

I would like to challenge you to answer these questions, as they come, on your own blog, and/or in my comment trail.

Who am I?

I am a  Daughter of God. Knowing that shapes everything else I am. I am a Wife, a Mother, a Friend. I am a person who believes the best in others, but rarely of myself. Conversely, I believe in my ability to do what needs to be done, or to be successful at new things I try, and yet somehow I feel that I am an impostor

I believe that through strengthening the line of communication between myself and my Father in Heaven, I can come to live, and be, as a Daughter of God all the time, so that I can answer, without qualification, that I AM my Father's Daughter.

What do I believe?

I believe that we are all created equal bey a loving Father in Heaven who watches over us and wishes the best for us. I believe He loves me, that He loves you.

Have I been pushed and challenged?

Yes, I believe I have. From an abusive childhood, a long fall from grace as a young adult and a long climb back to forgiveness and redemption, to the loss of babies, to probably my greatest challenge of all - my experience raising Sam and my consequent decision to find him another home in which to live.

I have been challenged.

Do I know where I stand?

I believe I do, but I think I need to work on strengthening my position. I stand for Truth and Righteousness. If I feel that neither of those virtues are being served, I will stand and fight for them - I think. 

I'm not sure how I can strengthen my position on where I stand. Wait, I do. I will bear my testimony at every opportunity - every time I do that, I will strengthen my position and become even more firm in my beliefs and in my position.

Can I support my position with real facts?

In addition to bearing my testimony, which builds my inner strength, I must read, listen and research to build my knowledge and again, to strengthen my position. The scriptures, words of the prophets and the words of contemporary reporters who I feel I can trust, I will build and strengthen my position with facts and truth.

There is so much for me to do, so many ways yet that I can grow. I am grateful for the opportunity I have in this life to do just that. I won't take it for granted.

So how about you? Who are you?
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Friday, January 02, 2009

David Bowman ~ Artist

David Bowman: has had a passion for art ever since he could pick up a pencil. He loves creating images of the Savior that inspire and uplift. Along with his Christian fine art, David has also written and illustrated a series of scripture storybooks for children titled "Who's Your Hero". Check out his website at to see more of his precious art.

The Savior tells us we need to become as little children to inherit the kingdom of God. I've often wondered what it is about little children Jesus loves most, and I think its their innocence. They are clean slates, seeing the world and others through untarnished eyes. Their hearts are pure, without the baggage of cynicism and self-doubt. In this piece, I've tried to imagine how a child would act upon meeting the Master for the first time. Without reservation or inhibition, I think he would simply want to play with Him. He would be at complete ease, allowing his pure little heart to soak in the love and laughter of His pure, infinite heart. Its no wonder Christ delights in these little ones and sets them up to be our examples.

One of the greatest human needs is a sense of security. In all aspects of life, we naturally gravitate towards anything that makes us feel safe. In this piece, I wanted to convey a sense of complete peace and calm like only the Savior can provide. It's a security that allows us to rest assured, without fear or worry, when we put ourselves trustingly in His arms. Little children have that inherent kind of trust in their parents, so it's fitting that the man and girl who modeled for "Security" are actually father and daughter. They generated
the exact feel I was looking for.

"My Child"
This piece conveys an intimate, up-close-and-personal feeling of the Savior's love. Notice how all the lines draw your attention and point towards Jesus' face in the center. I chose the name "My Child" because the only thing that could compare (even remotely) to Christ's compassion for us is the love of a parent for his/her child. This image is also intended to put things in perspective. Above all, we are God's children first. He allows us the privelege of experiencing parenthood for ourselves and we are entrusted to be the mothers and fathers of His children here on earth.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Forgiveness, Perfectionism and The New Year

I'm a fan of Flylady and today she sent out an email that I found particularly poignant for me. 

Do you ever look back on your life, on the last year, and have regrets? Flylady says that "regrets are just perfectionism in hindsight."

That was a bit of an 'a-ha' moment for me. Mainly because as soon as I read it, I recognized the bells of truth clanging in my head.

I am a perfectionist. It took me a long time to realize that I was a perfectionist, because I wasn't perfect at anything! I thought perfectionists were those women with the lovely, perfectly decorated, white-glove clean homes. I didn't think perfectionists every looked like me.

But, apparently, they do. 

Flylady also says that grudges are another form of perfectionism because they arise when we aren't treated the way we think we ought to be treated. Having just spent the last few days nursing a grudge against my sweetheart (which I've already let go of and sought forgiveness for) this one hit a nerve.

And Flylady offers a cure.


We ask others to forgive us for holding grudges against them - for expecting them to live up to the unbelievably high pinnacle we can't reach ourselves. But have you thought about forgiving yourself? 

Forgive yourself for expecting too much of yourself. Forgive yourself for beating yourself up when you turn out to be ... ta da! ... only human.

Flylady counsels us to laugh every day, even if it's at ourselves. We are, never have been, nor will we ever be, perfect. So laugh, forgive, and be at peace. Flylady even has an affirmation for us: "One baby step at a time, peace is mine in 2009." 

So can I do it? Can I forgive myself for my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my imperfection? Can I laugh at myself, and learn to love myself, not just in spite of all of my yuck, but maybe even because of it? Because my shortcomings are part of what makes me, me, right?

My shortcomings highlight my strengths and bring gratitude into my life. I'm grateful for what I can do, what I am good at, even though there's so much I would like to be better at. I'm grateful for my shortcomings because they cause me to reach out for help, and my life is more rich because of the good people who help me out and lift me up. 

And if you didn't have your own shortcomings, there might not be any way for me to serve you, to be your friend, and that would be a real loss for me. 

So, yeah. I have a lot of things I'd like to do better in 2009. But, I'm not going to beat myself up for what I failed to do, or didn't do well, in 2008. I do love myself, and I will practice forgiving myself of always expecting too much of myself and of others. I like Flylady's affirmation, so I'm going to make it my own this year.

My baby steps include getting a hold of my home and all my to-do's, using the flylady system; getting my two completed works-in-progress tidied up and ready for readers and then submission. Others, too. Homeschool. Church stuff. But I'm not going to list them all, because I just want to be better, not perfect. Right?