Friday, November 6, 2015

Do We Look?

(This is the first in what will be weekly posts on different scriptures. I am taking an online religion course, and one of the assignments give you the option of writing a blog post, as well as several writing prompts to use as you are writing. Though I will try to make sure they are doctrinally sound, they are obviously my own thoughts and not meant to be anything official.)

There is a story in the Old Testament (Numbers 21:4-9) that has always captured my attention. The Israelites, once again under pressure, turn to murmuring. Trying once again to teach them humility and to trust in Him, they are bitten by 'fiery serpents' which take the life of many of them. Repentant, the Israelites come to Moses, and ask Him to ask the Lord to take away the serpents.

The Lord does provide deliverance to them, but not in the way they are expecting it. They asked for the serpents to be taken away, instead they are given a way to be healed from the serpent's bites. Moses has been commanded to make a pole and fashion a fiery serpent to put upon it. When the people have the faith to turn and look at it, they will live. Many people looked and were saved. However, like Alma points out (Alma 33:19-20) some of the people were hard-hearted and simply refused to look.

This is the part that always gets to me. You are surrounded by poisonous snakes, one of which has bitten you, which means you will die. The Prophet of the Lord has told you that if you look at the snake on the pole you will live. Yet, you will not look? Even if you don't believe it will work, how can you not look anyways, just in case?

However, in looking around the world today, I can't help but wonder - how many today would look? The serpent upon the pole was symbolic. As with most scriptures I think they have many different meanings. First, and most often referenced is the similitude to the Savior. He was lifted up that all men might know where to look and not perish. Do we look to the Savior?

Do we read the words He spoke? Do we try to follow those words in our daily lives? Do we seek His will in our lives? Do we reach out to Him in prayer? Do we really try to align our lives with the example He set for us? Is it any harder for us to do these things, than it was for the Israelites to come near to Moses and look up at the pole?

The other thing that the story symbolizes, to me anyways, is our willingness to Follow the Prophet. The people were in danger of destruction. The Lord shared with them how to avoid it through His mouthpiece the Prophet. Are we willing to follow the Prophet to avoid spiritual destruction? Is the advice the Prophet gives us taken seriously in order to avoid events he is warning about. Does it seem too simple? Do they seem antiquated, or not 'politically correct'? Do they go against our social views?

The Israelites were tempted in many different ways, in order to test them, and purify them for entrance into the Promised Land. We too, will be tempted in ways that are almost too much to bear - when that time comes, and we are in that moment of decision - Will We Look?



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Back To School

A few years ago, I learned about a new program our Church was offering called Pathways. It was a way to attend school part online and part in the classroom. Due to a misunderstanding, I did not participate that year. About part way through the year, I realized I could have gone, and looked forward to attending the next fall. However, before that could happen, I got pregnant with Eric. I was debating signing up anyways, as he would be about 9 months old, but I didn't feel right about it, so I waited. In October, my husband got called as Bishop of our ward, which validated my decision to hold off.

I thought it would be a long time before I would get the chance to attend Pathways. Usually, Bishops serve for an average of 4-6 years. Then, unexpectedly, the ward boundaries were re-arranged, which moved us into a new branch, only two and a half years in. My chance for Pathways was much closer now.

As the start date got closer, I started to hesitate, wondering if now was really the right time. You need an entire year of being able to attend the classes on a Thursday night, plus the time to do all the classwork and studying necessary. As of right now, we have nine children still at home. (My oldest, actually got married right before I started, and moved to Idaho.) My youngest two, are still under three. Yet, I got the distinct feeling, that if this was something I wanted, now was the time to do it. This year.

Once your first year is over, you can space out the rest. The first year is to establish 'residency' at BYU-I, and then you can complete your degree as you have time. The first year however, is a specific course of study, held during set times of the year. In order to complete it, you need one fall, one spring, and one summer semester.

So, I started. It has been Amazing!!! I love it. The best thing is, is that it is already helping me in my life. I have already used many quotes and lessons learned in my religion class for my kids during Family Home Evening. I have used the knowledge from my Life Skills class in studying for classes I teach at Church, as well as helping me homeschool. Just this past week, we studied about Lifelong Learning. There were many stories and quotes I shared with them about the importance of always learning.

One other thing that was a point this week, was the request by Church Leaders, to join in the 'conversation'. To take the time to share our beliefs online, and use the internet for good. It reminded me of this blog, and re-inspired me to make a concerted effort, to post at least once a week, something good that has happened.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

So many posts...

In my head, I have written about a thousand posts for this blog. Unfortunately, that is where they have stayed. Well thought out, well intentioned, but never actually typed out. Why? Some were victims of procrastination, laptop problems, or babies crying, but most were due to the simple fact, that I felt they weren't the 'right' post to jump back in with. I felt that since it had been awhile since my last post, I needed a great 'catch-up' post to start with, and then I could start posting all my random thoughts.
However, now an entire year has passed, and instead of looking back through a bunch of cute, quirky posts, I have nothing. Perfectionism, has struck again. How often do we have great ideas, but don't act on them, as they aren't 'perfected' yet? Or, we aren't worried about them being perfect, but they just don't line up with how we think they should be done?
I am currently working my way through a study course on Great Education, as well as one on some classic books. Due to some computer problems/family challenges, I missed the first month and a half of the classics, and was interrupted in the education one. Once able to jump back in however, I hesitated. Should I start at the beginning, or jump in current? After debating this, for the last six weeks, yet finding no time to actually catch up, I finally asked which would be better. I was instead asked a question back. "If you could catch up, wouldn't you have already?"
Yes, yes I would have. However, I didn't want to recognize my current limitations, accept them, and then move forward doing my best. No, I stayed where I was, stuck. Not being able to move forward, yet not able to go back and fix anything either. There is nothing wrong with wanting to excel at what we do, the problem comes when we get so concerned about doing it 'right', that we don't actually 'do' anything!! Sometimes, in the words of a mentor friend, we just need to "ready, fire, aim".  Sometimes, actually most times, things are figured out as we work through them. If we always waited for all the traffic lights to be green, from home to our destination, we would never get where we want to go. Yet, we constantly do this in our personal lives.
I am making a new commitment to myself, that though I will always be a planner, and a list writer, I will no longer let fear of it not being 'right' or 'perfect' hold me back from accomplishing things. And this this time next year, I will be able to look back and read a years' worth of (hopefully) cute and quirky stories and memories.
*quote was from Rachel DeMille and the classes I am taking can be found at www.tjed.org




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Time flies...

I was just re-reading my last post, about getting ready to go to Time Out for Women. It is hard to believe that it has been that long since I have posted! It is now May already! So much has happened since then... Maybe a quick update post would be a good place to start.

Shortly after that Conference, I found out I was expecting again!! This will be our tenth child! If it is a boy, we will be tied up at five girls, and five boys. After three girls in a row, then Eric, I am thinking that it will be a boy, so he can have a little partner. I can't wait! It is such an amazing experience!

I was enjoying the baby moving around the other day, and the thought of how fortunate I was to be feeling this once again, washed over me. I cannot honestly imagine, only being able to experience this a couple times. It has been such a privilege to be able to enjoy ten pregnancies. To see that line appear on the pregnancy test, to hear the heartbeat for the first time, to feel those first few faint flutters. All of those things are just amazing!!

As I am typing this, the baby is moving all around, and my body is having those early warm and fuzzy, practice birthing waves (contractions). My one year old is curled up next to me in bed, looking like an angel sleeping peacefully. My other children are all tucked into their beds and fast asleep as well. Is there anything so serene as the peace you feel at the end of the day, when all your children are sleeping in their beds, all at home? I know my time enjoying that, is coming to a close, as the oldest ones will be moving on shortly, so I am trying to savor each moment I have it still.

They are only ours for such a short time. One of the benefits of having a large family, to me anyways, is that you have the chance to learn some important things as your first kids grow older, and then put into practice those lessons as the younger ones arrive. I used to wish and wait for all those milestones that seem so all-encompassing with your first one or two. Sleeping through the night, crawling, walking, talking, etc. Those things are so much fun to witness, but they do not hold with them, the enormity that they once did. All the moments in between are cherished just as much, if not a little more. The way they feel as they snuggle against you sleeping, the looks that they give as they discover new things, their little hand in yours as they go down a step. Those are the daily moments that I look forward to.

The essence (at least I feel) of mothering, is not in the giant moments, but in all the little ones that are in between. I can't tell you how many times when I was a young mother, that people tried to tell me, to slow down, and enjoy it. I tried to humor them, and even follow that advice, but in the back of my mind I was always thinking - "As soon as we get to (a few milestones later), then I will be able to relax and enjoy it". I understand what they meant now. I do enjoy my younger ones, a lot more. There is less stress, less anxiety, less of my self worth wrapped up in what age they are when they do certain things. I am able to enjoy them for being them. I am able to cherish each moment.

Don't get me wrong. I love my older ones. We had so much fun together. Life was so much simpler. It was just them and me, home all day together. I look back with such fond memories. I watch old home movies, and laugh and smile, and am filled with a sense of awe and amazement at those early days. I have learned so much from them. I just wish, in retrospect, I had savored those moments more. They are so fleeting.





Friday, October 5, 2012

My Journey

In a few weeks, I will be attending a retreat sponsored by Deseret Book. This is a wonderful two day event, that always inspires, uplifts, and encourages me. They have some of my favorite authors speaking this time. In addition, they are offering the chance to have lunch with the presenters, if you submit a story about a journey you have taken. It had to be under 700 words. I think mine is 699. I have been wanting to share my conversion story on here for awhile now, but can't seem to find the time to type it all out. So, I will post this short version here. It is based on the one I just submitted to mormon.org.


Growing up, I can remember always wondering if there was a God. We were not raised with any religion in our home. I used to envy my friends who went to church, and took classes during the week. I always knew I wanted to belong to a church when I grew up. This desire to know about God, eventually led me to the Restored Gospel.
As I began searching in earnest, I happened to attend Church with friends along with my husband and two year old son. That Sunday, the Young Women were sharing their testimonies. One after another, they spoke about their faith in God, and how it affected their lives. I was very touched, and impressed that these girls could have such solid faith, when at 21 I was still unsure what I believed. I knew at that moment though, that I wanted my children to be brought up with faith, and renewed my efforts to find a church to join. I continued to attend the different churches in my town, but nothing ever felt right.
Having not grown up with, or in, a faith, I had created my own picture of what Church should be like. I always thought when you went to Church, you belonged to it. It was a part of your life. You knew everyone, they knew you. You loved and served each other, and it was a big part of your life. It was not a Sunday only thing. Most of all, it should bring into your life a strong faith, that you built your life upon. After I had attended the local churches a few times, I was bothered that I still wasn't sure if there really was a God. Was He really there? Did He really care about me? Feeling kind of awkward to ask someone such a personal question, I kept it to myself for a few months.
One night however, while talking to the neighbors I had attended Church with month’s earlier, the opportunity to ask 'how do you have faith?' came up. I mentioned those girls I had seen as an example. How did they know? How did my neighbor's know? After a great discussion, they sent me home to read a few verses in the Book of Mormon, which talked about how faith is like a seed. I read about how you need to plant the seed by desiring, and then about how it grows as you act upon it. I read not only those verses, but the entire Book of Mormon over the next 5 days. That was the beginning of my testimony that God lives, He loves us, and He restored His Gospel to us. I found the faith I was seeking, and the Church I had always envisioned. I was baptized four weeks later.
 Though not interested at first, my husband slowly gained a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was baptized on Father’s day, almost two years later. We were sealed in the Temple a year later while expecting our third child. That was 17 years ago. We are now the parents of nine children – ages 19 down to 8 months. We remain the only members in our family on both sides.
Since joining, we have tried to be as active as possible, and pass on our faith to our children. They are the first generation to be brought up in the gospel. We struggle sometimes, in raising them completely different from the way that we were raised – to incorporate the scriptures into teaching moments, to remember to have family prayer, and how best to engage the children in scripture study. We have fun introducing and building what will hopefully be family traditions – Family home Evenings, General Conference weekends, having the Missionaries over for “breakfast for dinner” nights.  We enjoy tender moments as my husband is able to give the children blessings for their health, and for comfort.
One especially touching moment was a few weeks ago, when I was able to listen to my daughter, age 16, bear her testimony in Sacrament along with all the other Young Women. In that moment, it felt like a circle had been completed.

Monday, July 23, 2012

FHE on "Samuel the Lamanite"

Tonight we had our Family Home Evening with another family in our Stake. We have seen each other at many stake events, been friends on Facebook for awhile, but never really gotten to know each other in person before. So, we got together for FHE. They provided the pool, fruit salad, a fire pit and s'mores, and we provided the cookies, and the lesson.


I told the story of Samuel the Lamanite, from the Book of Mormon. We talked about him climbing on the wall to give the news of the coming of Jesus' birth, and about the new star, and how they needed to repent or face destruction. We talked about how some people believed, but most did not, and some even tried to kill him with the bows and arrows. We then discussed how they could not hit him, as the Lord was protecting him. I made the point that the Lord is always with us when we do as He commands. He will watch over us, help us, and even spare our life if that is necessary for us to carry out His will. (As I was sharing a recap with my oldest son later on, he remarked that it was the same lesson we learn from Nephi. "And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I awill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.")


Afterwards, we had the kids make little bows and arrows that they could keep to remind them that the Lord is always there for them as they strive to follow and serve Him. They were made out of popsicle sticks, dental floss, and q-tips. We got the idea from The Brooding Hen (http://thebroodinghen.blogspot.com/2010/06/tiny-bow-arrow.html). They really did work!!! The kids had a blast shooting each other with them. I ended up making an extra one for my husband for his desk at Church. I think I will find a really nice scripture to go with it, and make a nice little display for him to have.


Overall, I think it was a great night! It is so much fun to fellowship with other members, and get to know them in thier homes. We also got to pass on our secret to making awesome s'mores. (Use chocolate chip cookies instead of graham cookies!!). Hope you had a good FHE too!!! Now I need to find another great idea for one in a few weeks with a few families at our house.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"I Know that My Redeemer Lives"

While on a family vacation (details and pic's to follow), I had an opportunity to spend an hour or so alone with Eric, my five month old son. We had enjoyed a nap together earlier that day, so it was a nice suprise, when the opportunity arose again so soon. While Dad took the kids swimming again, Eric and I nursed, and rocked, and then he started to drift off to sleep. As I walked around the room, I decided it would be nice to have some music. Since we had no Wi-fi, and I had already listened to my regular playlist in the car over and over again, I decided to put on the EFY list I had created. (Especially for Youth - week long retreats for Young adults put on by BYU - Brigham Young University - and they always have music as a focus, so every year they put out a CD with the songs on it.)

As we slow danced around the room, one of my favorite songs came on. "I Know that My Redeemer Lives". This has always been one of my favorite hymns. As I sang along, I started to feel my heart grow very tender, and my eyes starting to water. I could really feel the Spirit, and I was reminded of how much I really do love the Savior. With nine kids, homeschooling, and a husband that is Bishop, we have a pretty busy household. Even though I read scriptures daily (well, pretty close anyways), and say a multitude of prayers everyday (family, meals, in my head as I go through the day, with kids at bedtime, etc), I have gotten distracted. My testimony has always been, and continues to be strong. However, when I study lately, I have only been studying for a purpose. I am usually preparing a lesson of some kind - seminary, RS, Primary, FHE, etc. I do learn while studying, and I do feel the Spirit while teaching, but it is not the same as studying and praying just to do it. Just to draw close, just to feel the Spirit, just to learn more about Him.

I love doing those things!! I always have, and I hope I always will. But let's face it. Life happens. You get into a routine, or a rut, and you find yourself, just trying to survive the day. You find yourself doing those things, because they are important to you, because you need to, because you are supposed to, and even a little because you know they bring you joy - but you forget to feel it. I mean REALLY feel it. To take a few minutes to really feel how important this knowledge is to you, to really feel what the Savior did for you, to really feel how special it is that you can talk to him through prayer, to really feel how amazing it is, that you were able to find the Church, and gain a testimony, to really feel just how much you love Him, and really feel how much He loves you.

But for those few moments, I REALLY felt it. It came back to me. Why I do every thing I do. Why I teach my children the things I do, why I support my husband in his callings, and pray for my son to serve a mission. Why I read my scriptures, and say my prayers. I know all these things, and I hope you do too. For a few moments as I stood there with my little man snuggling on my shoulder, swaying and singing to him, I could feel why I do those things. I am grateful for the reminder, and I am going to make that a priority - to gain and keep that feeling. To stop being so distracted. To enjoy the Gospel a little more. To enjoy my scripture study, and look forward to and enjoy praying. And I hope you will too!!!