Saturday, December 27, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
(BTW, this book, The Mother in Me, is awesome! I bought several copies to give as gifts to mommas I know. It's the kind of book I wished I had had when I was a momma of little ones. (Yeah, it's all worth it (a million times over) but there were days when I wondered, and wondered if there was anyone else who wondered. And this book would have helped me see that I'm not. And that that's part of the plan.)
It's really the kind of book that will appeal to lots of readers, though.
I'll share one of my favorite quotes from the book here, just to give you a glimpse:
"Since Heavenly Father has purpose in all that He does, He knows that sending children into this home will not be a perfect experience. Maybe some of my children's success is from watching my failures. Sometimes I yell; sometimes I lose my temper; sometimes I speak without thinking. My children watch me do all these things.
"Then they watch me fix it....
"They watch me make amends, apologize, repent....They watch the Atonement play a part in my life. Maybe part of the purpose in sending children to imperfect homes is to teach them how to fix mistakes."
(And I know I am supposed to include a name and a page number, but I am going to ask forgiveness of my friend who wrote this, rather than permission, because I want you to be able to discover this wonderful truth in the book on your own as it unfolds; the context makes it all the more powerful. Ahhh...you just have to love good writing.)
There are many, many moments in this book that will make you pause, ponder, smile, or weep. (I even threw the book across the room at one point -- not because the writing was awful, but just because I was going through an awful time and it really struck deep.)
But then again, you will find that book-throwing happens to the best of us -- you will, that is, if you read the book! :)
Have I piqued your interest yet? GO COMMENT, then! And if you don't win the giveaway, put this one on your list -- for you and for women you know who cherish motherhood but struggle with their humanness in that ever-important role. Or for those who have been there, done that (or may still be waiting to be there, do that), but love good, honest writing. (This is not one of those fluffy books that makes motherhood look like something you treat with kid gloves, or makes it all appear like it's all bliss. It's real, and I love that.)
And when you get it, come back and tell me what your favorite story or poem was. (FWIW, if I had to pick a favorite, it's on page 26. But there were so many things I loved in this book. And since it's a compilation of essays and poetry, there really is something to reach out to every reader.)
(I know. It's awful posting posts like this two days before Christmas. I'm sorry, but it's Christmastime! I've been, you know, getting ready for Christmas! And yes, I will admit...I'm a book junkie....)
But then I hit a wall. And what do I do when I hit a wall?
Yup. I hang out with my 'puter for a bit. (Hey, now, everyone is in bed around here anyway.) Tonight, it was the usual: checking email, checking local headlines.
I was saddened by an accident that took the lives of two teens.
But there was happy news! NieNie and her family got an amazing Christmas present: a house! (Wow.) That made me want to check out NieNie's blog, where I read some fun archived posts that people had requested. I'm still so amazed at how this whole thing has brought people the world over together -- how much Stephanie had inspired so many (can I just tell you how many people asked me "Have you heard of NieNie?), and how her life continues to do that.
And that reminded me that I hadn't read cjane's blog for a while. So I devoured some delicious writing over there. (Wow.) She's amazing.
And then I remembered that I hadn't mentioned her book here. Shame on me. And now it's too late to get it by Christmas, but that doesn't mean you don't still want it!
This is a book that was created mostly as a fundraiser for NieNie and her family -- a way that writer and editor friends could contribute to the cause.
But, you know, it's also just a whole lot of fun to read cjane. No, it's more than fun. Yes, her writing is entertaining to be sure, but it's also powerful, inspirational. (Humph. That word sounds so cliché to me right now, but remember, everyone's in bed, so that means it's
So, anyway, go ahead. Enjoy it! You won't regret it.
(And thanks, cjane. You and your sister really are an inspiration to me. And a great distraction from my to-dos.) :)
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I am happy for her. She was old, and sick, and all but bedridden. She suffered a massive stroke years ago, before I even knew her. I can't imagine how difficult it was for her to be so dependent on others. To have so little control over so much of her body. To have life be so different from what it was, and have it continue for so long that way.
I'm sure it was all the more difficult when her husband passed away a few years ago. Oh, how she missed him!
But what I am pondering tonight is something that she said more than once: "My stroke was the greatest thing that ever happened to me."
I think also of my dear aunt, who was in a car accident at the age of 19 -- at the prime of her life. She was a P.E. major, someone who loved sports and loved to dance. And she ended up paralyzed from the waist down. While she pursued her dreams with passion (she ended up teaching P.E. for years, getting a Ph.D. and being a university profession), some dreams have remained unfulfilled. We as cousins gathered at her home last night for our highly-anticipated yearly party; we are her children, as she has never married and had children of her own.
The irony of trials can sometimes be so painful. They can even seem, in our mortal view, so senseless.
Irony describes some of how I feel about some struggles in my life. For example, there are few things a mom of young children needs more than health, but if anything, my health as of late has been worse than what I have dealt with the past six years since my chronic illness began. Other challenges in combination with my health issues have tested me to limits I didn't know I had.
And I confess that sometimes I pound on the doors of heaven, pleading for strength and perspective that can be difficult to find in the midst of the struggle.
I am reminded tonight, as I consider Grandma, my aunt, and so many others whose lives have had tangible evidence of pain and trial (so often the irony is unseen to others!) of something Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught:
It's easy to talk about trials being for our good when we aren't in the middle of them. At least that is the way it is for me.
What I now read is a most wintry verse indeed: “Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith.” (Mosiah 23:21.)
This very sobering declaration of divine purpose ought to keep us on spiritual alert as to life’s adversities.
Irony is the hard crust on the bread of adversity. Irony can try both our faith and our patience. Irony can be a particularly bitter form of such chastening because it involves disturbing incongruity. It involves outcomes in violation of our expectations. We see the best laid plans laid waste....
Without meekness, such ironical circumstances are very difficult to manage....
Amid life’s varied ironies, you and I may begin to wonder, Did not God notice this torturous turn of events? And if He noticed, why did He permit it? Am I not valued?Our planning itself often assumes that our destiny is largely in our own hands. Then come intruding events, first elbowing aside, then evicting what was anticipated and even earned....
Irony may involve not only unexpected suffering but also undeserved suffering. We feel we deserved better, and yet we fared worse. We had other plans, even commendable plans. Did they not count?...
Customized challenges are thus added to that affliction and temptation which Paul described as “common to man.” (1 Cor. 10:13.)
But then I am reminded of what I taught my son years ago when he asked why some people get sick (of course, in his general question was a very specific concern about why his mom was struggling with health issues -- it's been for over half of his life!).
The analogy I used with him was how that when we build our muscles through weight training, it can hurt. It can be hard. The way we build strength is to have resistance. I didn't use that word, but he clearly understood the principle. We have, more than once, reflected together on that reality. I will make motions of lifting barbells and talk of building spiritual muscles. And he will nod. (Children are so teachable. Would that I could be so receptive to simple truths.)
In answer to prayer, God is now the Parent reminding me, the child, of this principle. I prayed for perspective tonight and thought of Grandma. Of my aunt. Of so many others whose lives have been riddled with irony. My heart has been softened a little toward the ironies in my own life.
Elder Maxwell's words have helped.
Elder Maxwell goes on to list many other ways in which the Savior's life was laced with irony. His life was unfair, too! He understands irony and adversity.
In coping with irony, as in all things, we have an Exemplary Teacher in Jesus. Dramatic irony assaulted Jesus’ divinity almost constantly.
For Jesus, in fact, irony began at His birth. Truly, He suffered the will of the Father “in all things from the beginning.” (3 Ne. 11:11.) This whole earth became Jesus’ footstool (see Acts 7:49), but at Bethlehem there was “no room … in the inn” (Luke 2:7) and “no crib for his bed” (Hymns, 1985, no. 206.) [What a truth to remember at this time of year!]
At the end, meek and lowly Jesus partook of the most bitter cup without becoming the least bitter. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; D&C 19:18–19.) The Most Innocent suffered the most. Yet the King of Kings did not break, even when some of His subjects did unto Him “as they listed.” (D&C 49:6.) Christ’s capacity to endure such irony was truly remarkable.
You and I are so much more brittle. For instance, we forget that, by their very nature, tests are unfair.
I invite you to read more of Elder Maxwell's talk here. It's one that has become a sort of anchor talk for me.
I'm grateful the Lord brought it to my remembrance tonight.
What talks, quotes, scriptures, or principles bring you strength and perspective during hard times?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It's a day when I find myself reflecting on the last decade of my life. How my life changed ten years ago! How I feel I have changed over the past ten years!
Motherhood was not something that came naturally to me. At all. I still remember vividly the time my husband flat-out said I was more suited to the boardroom than to motherhood (gee thanks, dear!). But really, in a way, he's right . (Isn't it ironic that sometimes it's the women who would make amazing mothers naturally who either find themselves single or married and unable to have children?) I think being a mom was one way the Lord could stretch and test me the most intensely. But, of course, these little people have blessed and enriched my life immensely.
It has been interesting the last while to look back on the past decade of my life and to feel that maybe, just maybe, I've made some progress. There were times early on (and actually, for many years) when I wondered if the children would have been better off with someone better, someone for whom mothering came more naturally, someone with strengths where I am weak. (Truth be told, sometimes I still catch myself feeling that way.) But when I'm honest with myself, I can feel that God really is more patient with me than I am with myself.
In fact, when I am seeing clearly, when I'm open to the Spirit, I accept that progress often (usually?) is measured in decades, sometimes even generations. I fight that reality. I would rather have progress be much quicker.
But, as a good friend of ours often says: Things Take Time. That "slow" progress (what's a decade to God, really?) is part of mortality. (Still...fighting...that...reality....)
Thank heaven for an Atonement. I do believe the Savior is helping me become a better mother, a better person.
Here's to hoping the next decade is better than the last. And that applies to much more than just the growth I need as a mother. The list of things I am working on in my life is very long at the moment.
But the list of ways the Lord has delivered me from myself -- the list of other decades of progress (for whatever reason, a decade often seems to be the measure of miracles in my life) -- is getting longer, too. Someday I may write about more of those miracles.
But today, I'm celebrating this decade.
Happy birthday, JJ!
Right now, he has hours of Christmas music that automatically stream from his home page. I've been enjoying it as background music while I'm at the computer and working in the house.
He also has some free MP3s and sheet music you can download, and a whole bunch of other music you can play through the playlist.
Ahhhhh. Love it.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Ode to Joy
What's your favorite funny mini-flick? (Keep it clean, please. :) )
Friday, December 05, 2008
(And if you haven't seen this at the Newsroom, it's worth a read, too. It's a compilation of supportive statements and articles. It's heartwarming to see what the Church calls "measured voices" providing "reason [and] support amidst [the] Proposition 8 reaction.")
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Warning: You will probably want to have a tissue handy.
Have miracles ceased? This is pure and perfect evidence, at so many levels, that they have not.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I was reminded tonite (one of those little thoughts that passed through my mind) that President Faust talked about this man in his powerful talk on forgiveness.
Well, read this, a news story I read tonite. It brought tears to my eyes.
(If you didn't read all the links, you should. Really. OK, you don't need to read the first one (the actual news story, which is just plain sad), but the others are must-reads. I have a lump that remains in my throat even after reading them.)
Especially at this time when we reflect on the importance of gratitude and of the Savior's birth and life, stories like this just make me want to be a better person, more loving, more Christlike, more faithful, more forgiving.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Yesterday was a pajama day for me (meaning I wasn't feeling the best). But I had an idea that was too fun not to follow through on.
Child #2 (age 8) had a lesson yesterday at school on table settings and etiquette. At the last minute, we decided to pull out the china (something we had never used as just our family) and surprise Dad with a formal dinner (even though part of the menu was just leftovers).
#1 distracted Dad upstairs while the girls took over the main floor. I cooked while the girls folded napkins and made name cards and set the table.
The look on Dad's face when he walked into the room was simply priceless.
#2 delighted us throughout the meal with etiquette tips she had learned. I learned a thing or two!
I suppose I should have gotten dressed for the occasion, though. Ah, well!
(I have to say that the soup I made for those who didn't want leftovers was a hit. YUM!)
Friday, November 14, 2008
"Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues. People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal. Efforts to force citizens out of public discussion should be deplored by people of goodwill everywhere."
They point out that the inappropriate and "extreme actions of a few" ought to be discouraged by all.
Read the whole statement here.
[Edited to add the following]
The Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah have also issued similar statements. Hats off to them as well. (Find links to their statements here.)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I'm so weary of all the anti-prop 8 stuff. I understand the pain and frustration, but the way many people are dealing with that is out. of. control.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
"We should smell more cigarette smoke in sacrament meeting."
I recently heard a story about a woman who, as a child, was shunned by ward members because her dad (not active) smoked, and therefore the children smelled like smoke.
This should not be!
Of course, there are many other things we could include besides Word of Wisdom problems that may test our ability to withhold judgment and instead reach out in love. We are probably all aware of people who struggle because they feel different and/or inadequate in some way. The list could be endless, I'm sure (people might feel different because they are divorced, or single, or infertile, or struggling with mental illness, or struggling with physical illness, or "liberal," or doubtful, or....)
Elder Marlin K. Jensen spoke at our regional conference about this, and reminded us that, in some way or another, at some time or another, we will likely all feel 'different.' I was so moved by his talk because of how often I have felt different. (I still have yet to write about what his talk meant to me that day; it was a direct answer to prayer. Maybe someday I will.)
We really are all broken, and that's part of the plan, part of the purpose of mortality. And a significant part of our Church membership and activity is to learn to love and work with and reach out to imperfect people and remember that we are all inadequate, all beggars.
Pres. Hinckley once said:
There are so many young people who wander aimlessly and walk the tragic trail of drugs, gangs, immorality, and the whole brood of ills that accompany these things. There are widows who long for friendly voices and that spirit of anxious concern which speaks of love. There are those who were once warm in the faith, but whose faith has grown cold. Many of them wish to come back but do not know quite how to do it. They need friendly hands reaching out to them. With a little effort, many of them can be brought back to feast again at the table of the Lord.
More recently, Elder Wirthlin said this:
Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.
Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
This is something that Elder Wirthlin has talked about at other times as well:
The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.
Each one of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another.
Never look down on those who are less perfect than you. [And I would add, how on earth can you know where someone really is on the road to perfection compared to you?] Don’t be upset because someone can’t sew as well as you, can’t throw as well as you, can’t row or hoe as well as you.
We are all children of our Heavenly Father. And we are here with the same purpose: to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
One way you can measure your value in the kingdom of God is to ask, “How well am I doing in helping others reach their potential? Do I support others in the Church, or do I criticize them?”
If you are criticizing others, you are weakening the Church. If you are building others, you are building the kingdom of God. As Heavenly Father is kind, we also should be kind to others.
We live in difficult times. There is much opposition for all of us, which means there will be much of struggle and opportunity to exercise agency and learn by experience, which means we will all make mistakes. As I ponder the words of our prophets and leaders, I feel them calling to all of us to open our hearts to each other, to show Christian courage -- to not respond to others as the natural man would want to respond (defensively, unkindly, selfishly) but to
truly pray for charity and seek to be more like the Savior. No. Matter. What.
As my husband and I talked about this tonite, I mentioned this idea of smelling smoke in sacrament meeting. We reflected on this concept, which we have heard more than once from people whom we admire, reminding us of the importance of opening our hearts to others.
But my husband captured another facet of this issue, also so important to remember. He said, in essence, "Yes, we should rejoice when we smell cigarette smoke in our church meetings.
"However, we cannot change the Word of Wisdom to help them feel more comfortable."
Therein lies a tension in all of this. At times, people have wanted to equate love with changing doctrine and commandments. Or, sometimes people are afraid to say something doctrinal because they might offend someone whose life doesn't match the ideals that the doctrine teaches.
This should not be, either.
I'm not saying that we should ever use doctrine as a weapon, throwing it in someone's face in a confrontational way. I have written before about how we should not judge each other in a vacuum against gospel ideals. But we cannot and should not shy away from these ideals, either.
Our meetings are a place to nurture each other, not just in love, but "in the good word of God" so we can stay "in the right way." It is only through truth that we can truly be free. It is only in following the Savior's doctrine that we can fully become His disciples and truly come to know Him.
In that beautiful talk by Elder Wirthlin, he reminded us of the importance of doctrine when he said:
To those who have strayed because of doctrinal concerns, we cannot apologize for the truth. We cannot deny doctrine given to us by the Lord Himself. On this principle we cannot compromise.
I understand that sometimes people disagree with doctrine. They even go so far as to call it foolish. But I echo words of the Apostle Paul, who said that sometimes spiritual things can appear as foolishness to men. Nevertheless, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men.”
In truth, things of the Spirit are revealed by the Spirit. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
We testify that the gospel of Jesus Christ is here upon the earth today. He taught of His Father’s doctrine, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
But again, doctrine should never be used as a weapon. As Elder Hales recently said,
As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication. Questions and criticisms give us an opportunity to reach out to others and demonstrate that they matter to our Heavenly Father and to us. Our aim should be to help them understand the truth, not defend our egos or score points in a theological debate. Our heartfelt testimonies are the most powerful answer we can give our accusers. And such testimonies can only be born in love and meekness.
The most effective way we can help others is for us to be founded in truth.
And a key part of that truth is about how the Savior expects us to treat one another. I hope we can each strive to do our part to bring more love and light and truth into others' lives.
And to those who feel different, I would say: You are not alone. There are many who care and want to reach out, but may not know how, or may be clumsy -- perhaps even careless or clueless at times -- in their efforts. Please be patient with the weakness of those around you. Help others know how to help you. Pray for a friend who can listen and love.
And most of all, know that the Savior is aware of you, and that line upon line, you can work through whatever you are facing, with His help. In the end, that is why we are all at Church -- because we all need Him so desperately. We are all beggars. We all have our 'cigarette smoke' even if it's not all equally apparent.
As we all strive to be more loving and patient with each other (regardless of where we are on the path, regardless of whether we feel like we belong or feel different), I believe we can each become better at being more like Him, line upon line. The more we open our hearts to each other, the more He can fill our hearts with His love -- and His healing power and mercy.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
I was touched by this statement from the Most Reverend John C. Wester, Bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. (The former bishop of the Diocese also issued a statement, and other leaders from other faiths are quoted here.)
It's important to remember that, as Bishop Wester said, "[O]ur two churches [Catholic and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] joined with a wide alliance of people from different faiths and ethnicities including Orthodox, Jews, Evangelicals, Hispanics, African Americans, Asians and Anglos."
I also loved this from Bishop Wester, which is something that deserves repeating:
Our defense of traditional marriage should in no way be interpreted as an attack on any person. To the contrary, we honor the dignity and sacredness of each individual.
In my view, those who perpetuate a perception of hate and bigotry on the part of those who supported Prop 8 are in a very real sense contributing to the pain that has come with the passing of the proposition. To continue to assert that those who supported Prop 8 are nothing but hateful, uncaring, unChristlike people only fuels the fire of contention and division. Of course, this can go the other way as well...those of us who support Prop 8 cannot and should not respond in anger or disdain when others differ in their opinions. We must allow each other the space to disagree without dissolving into attacks and unkind generalizations. It's hard when we hurt not to do this, but it's so important for us all to think and act with open, loving hearts.
Again, from Bishop Wester:
One of the hallmarks of our country is that people of different opinions can debate neuralgic issues and at the same time demonstrate respect, civility and courtesy for the other. I pray that this will be the case going forward.
This is my prayer as well.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
But I couldn't have predicted how I would feel.
There was no sense of celebration in my heart, no feeling of victory or vindication. I am grateful, yes. I am relieved the vote is over...just anticipating that day was hard!
But this isn't like a sports game, where I feel like running around the house screaming, "We won!" I know this issue has caused deep pain and confusion for many, and that very fact has made taking a stand on this issue very difficult. And it makes the fact that it passed difficult, too. I have no desire to rub this in anyone's face. My feelings are deep and complex.
I feel sobered by all that has happened. Even after a vacation, I feel drained. I feel sad that this issue has been (and continues to be) so divisive. Even as I took a stand on this issue because of my concerns about the future, I still have many concerns about what the future will hold, at many levels.
The statement by the Church that was issued today reflected many of my feelings, thoughts, and concerns.
Most likely, the election results for these constitutional amendments will not mean an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country.I had this realization hit me hard a few weeks ago. This is not the end of this issue. I have a feeling we've only just begun.
Such an emotionally charged issue concerning the most personal and cherished aspects of life...stirs fervent and deep feelings.
Indeed. There is both an intensity of emotion and a lot of pain -- on both sides -- that exists because of this issue. As such, there is much required of all of us as we move forward:
We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information....
As we move forward from the election, Church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.
There is a call there for unity, for forgiveness, for love and charity and understanding and suspending judgment. My heart is heavy with the feeling that this has to some degree caused a rift of sorts in the Church and in our nation. There are things we can and must do to help heal that rift -- even as we will continue to have varied and strong opinions on this topic.
I am reminded of Pres. Eyring's talk about unity from this last Conference. I just skimmed it and found this:
Happily I am seeing more and more skillful peacemakers who calm troubled waters before harm is done. You could be one of those peacemakers, whether you are in the conflict or an observer.
One way I have seen it done is to search for anything on which we agree. To be that peacemaker, you need to have the simple faith that as children of God, with all our differences, it is likely that in a strong position we take, there will be elements of truth. The great peacemaker, the restorer of unity, is the one who finds a way to help people see the truth they share. That truth they share is always greater and more important to them than their differences. You can help yourself and others to see that common ground if you ask for help from God and then act. He will answer your prayer to help restore peace, as He has mine.
What an invitation, what a reminder, at a time like this.
Back to today's statement from the Church:
Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians.
This is so important to understand. Neither the Church nor individuals who supported prop 8 should be accused of hateful motives.
I do not mean to ignore the real fact that prop 8 has felt personal to many. I also know that among supporters on a broad scale, there were some whose motives were not good. But the Church does not condone such behavior! And neither do I.
I know tears have been shed because prop 8 passed. Tears have been shed by those who supported it, too. This has been hard for all of us.
I believe in many ways, the future will give all of us some significant -- and likely difficult -- opportunities to really consider and practice what it means to be Christlike -- to be sensitive to the pain of those with whom we disagree, and to learn to love, accept, and forgive those who have made choices that have hurt us.
I believe there is pain for people on both sides of this issue that needs the healing power that only the Savior and following His teachings can provide. At some point, we must allow each other to believe what we believe, but strive (again as was said today) "to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society."
A sobering charge indeed.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
WHERE: University Mall Deseret Book Store, Orem, UT
WHEN: 2:00-4:00 p.m., Saturday, October 18, 2008
The editor and authors of The Mother in Me: Real-World Reflections on Growing into Motherhood (Deseret Book, 2008) will donate all royalties from book sales on October 18 to the Stephanie and Christian Nielson Recovery Fund.
Those who cannot attend the party can participate in the fundraiser by purchasing copies of The Mother in Me in any Deseret Bookstore nationwide or on Deseret Book's website anytime on Saturday, October 18. (Note: this fundraiser does not include purchases made through Amazon.com.)
Stephanie Nielson, sister of one of the book's contributing authors, and mother of four young children, was critically burned over 80% of her body in a private plane crash in the Arizona desert last August. Her husband, Christian, was badly injured as well. Both are residents of a burn center in Maricopa County. Stephanie has been in a medically induced coma ever since the crash. The couple's post-hospital rehabilitation will not be covered by insurance.
The couple's injury has sparked a nationwide fundraising effort. Media coverage has included national exposure on The Today Show and in People Magazine and The New York Times, as well as local exposure on KSL News and in The Daily Herald.
Stephanies' blog, The Nie Nie Dialogues, inspires tens of thousands of daily readers across the nation with her daily celebration of young motherhood.
The Mother in Me, a collection of prose and poetry written by 28 mothers of small children, also offers an uplifting perspective on life with little ones. The book was featured on Doug Wright's program, "Everyday Lives, Everyday Values," on KSL radio Sunday, October 12. The editor and a dozen contributing authors will be signing books at the fundraising party on 10-18.
(P.S. cjane will be there! If you haven't read either of these amazing women's blogs, it's worth your time.)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Every day: There will be a booth set up to get CA residents who are living in the area registered to vote and registered for an absentee ballot. The deadline is coming up VERY soon. The booth will be by the West doors of the Wilkinson Center from 11-2 every day. They will have absentee registration card and voter registration cards. If you know anyone in the area who is a CA resident in Utah County and needs to vote, this would be a great place to send them. People can also come help run the booth.
Tuesday (that would be today!): Blogging blitz. Meet in rooms 4824 and 4826 of the Lee library. The idea is to have groups get onto various sites, news stories, etc. and make comments to help people understand why we are supporting Prop 8. More information can be found here.
Wednesday: Speaker and phone banks. At 7pm in the Terrace of the Wilkinson Center (by the Cougareat), Beverly Rice, president-elect of United Families International (UFI), will be speaking. UFI has donated all the money we have needed for this effort. She will be talking about why Prop 8 is so important and monumental. Food and phone banks will follow her address.
Thursday: Phone bank from 7-10pm in room 3222 of the Wilk.
There are many ways we can each get involved in this grassroots campaign as our leaders have encouraged. Tell your friends about Prop 8. Share the new website the Church has created (one of the videos from that site is in my sidebar). Talk about it on Facebook. Write on your blogs. Encourage those you know in CA to vote to support Prop 8.
My musing for the day: I think something that is so important is to make is so very clear that we are not supporting Proposition 8 out of hate or a lack of love. We need to help people understand that we who support Proposition 8 love and care about our gay brothers and sisters. As the Church's website, preservingmarriage.org, states: "We can love someone while still maintaining and advocating our standards and beliefs."
One way we can help people know this is to vocalize our support of the Church's position AND our love and concern for our gay brothers and sisters and their families. Silence in either way can leave people wondering. Let's let our voices be heard, both in support of traditional marriage, but also in support of those who are gay. We *can* do both. And we need to. It's what the Savior would do. Our leaders have made this clear. The Savior always held up and defended and taught the truth, boldly and without apology. But He was there, loving and supporting and reaching out to those who were cast aside by others in society. Let us NEVER be someone who casts people aside. But let our unequivocal position about traditional marriage and morality NEVER be equated with a lack of love. And let us never give someone reason to make that association.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Make no mistake; there is clarity and unity about this issue among the prophets of God. With all the recent (and intense and direct!) talk of the need for us to be unified as a Church, I wish there was a way to communicate how important I have felt it is for us as members of the Church to stand with our leaders and respond to their invitation however we can. Their position is unequivocal and very, very clear. This is a call to action, perhaps unprecedented, with the potential to impact generations to come.
We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.
As part of their desire to support us in defending traditional marriage however we can, they have created a new website, preservingmarriage.org. Take a look and spread the word!
Even if you are not of my faith, I invite you to consider this issue carefully. In my meager attempt to 'do what I can,' over the next while, I will share some of my thoughts on this topic and why I feel so strongly that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. There are many, many reasons beyond just my faith, even as that certainly has played a role in my position on this issue.
I have a renewed desire to do all I can to sustain, support, and protect marriage as it has always been -- between a man and a woman. I invite you to do the same.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Sister Julie B. Beck
Sister Silvia H. Allred
Sister Barbara B. Thompson
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
And, if you haven't already, you just have to check out the new and improved way they have consolidated all of the broadcast information, including audio and video streams, into one place.
And, to top it all off, we've got access to a new player that monitors your connection to give you the best streaming possible, and gives you other options, including instant access to talks that have been recently broadcast, and other video archives.
I love the blessing of the internet and how the Church is using it to bless us all.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
But at the same time, Elder Jensen reminded us that our mortal weaknesses and differences do not change the ideal, the doctrine.
I want to use this as a springboard for something I have been thinking about. There is an interesting dynamic that I have seen repeatedly on the internet. When a person takes a position on a topic, it's not uncommon for others who disagree to then assume or assert that that person is uncaring, unloving, or insensitive. Sometimes that may be true (again, our culture falls short of the ideal sometimes), but often, such judgments themselves are unfair and unkind.
This is on my mind for various reasons. One is that I have clearly taken a position on Proposition 8. It wasn't too long ago in a discussion elsewhere on this topic that a gay Mormon basically said that it was members like me (people who support Proposition 8, for example) who somehow make it harder for gay Mormons to want to live.
The heartache evident in this person's comment (and others that I have read elsewhere) tore at my own heart. I cannot adequately express the concern and compassion I have for gay Mormons who feel caught between their attractions and their needs/desires for companionship and family on one hand, and their desires to be members of the Church on the other. I have *very* strong feelings about the urgent need to have our culture be a place where people struggling with this or other less-than-ideal issues can feel more safe, more able to reach out for help in sharing their load.
As Elder Jensen noted, our culture is not yet there. I hope that talks like his will continue, and will prick our hearts so that we can all be more willing to reach out to those who struggle (with any number of things from homosexuality to addiction to less-than-ideal family situations to even different opinions).
But there is that other side of this coin. Ideals, doctrine, prophetic counsel all do exist. As much as people want to have it be otherwise, these things are really not up for grabs. We can each choose how we respond to these things, but we don't have the authority to change or dismiss what prophets teach.
In addition, a problem I have seen is that sometimes in the broader culture, and even in the Church, people want to demand that the only way to show compassion is to change or renounce position or belief. But this cannot be. We cannot expect others to 'prove' their love, concern, and compassion by expecting them to change their beliefs to match or validate our own.
I realize that in our mortal state, we all have to figure out (through study, prayer, experience, pondering) what we believe to be right, good, and true. Also, because of our mortality, we will all fall short of the ideal in one way or another. That means that there will be differences in both opinion about, and execution of, various teachings, counsel, and doctrine.
But please, let's be sure that we don't equate difference (or even personal definitiveness or decision) with disdain. I believe it is possible to hold to ideals -- and also to have and maintain different opinions -- and still have compassion and love in our hearts.
I believe the closer we come to and follow the Savior, and the more we trust in His love for us, the more that is possible. He is the perfect example of that balance between unbending devotion to truth and doctrine, and unending ability to love, forgive, and succor.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Articles in text
This is an article I have linked to before, but I thought I would bring it up again. It was cited in the Church's document ("The Divine Institution of Marriage")
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Even when my husband is home, motherhood and homemaking is work. Hard work. For me, there is often much that is not 'natural' about it. I'm not a natural housekeeper. I'm not really a natural with young children. My 'natural' self wants to be out working, or curled up in my bed devouring a book, or lying on the couch with my laptop, or connecting with people and just talking about life and the gospel until I'm hoarse.
Or, on nights like tonight, my natural self wants to curl up in a ball and cry, simply from sheer exhaustion, from wanting and needing someone to nurture me. But my children need me. And so I press forward.
Lately, I've been quite flabbergasted by how much it takes to coordinate my children's little lives (and we work to keep life simple!), to keep them fed and clothed and on top of their homework enough that they don't completely embarrass themselves (or me...yes, I'm still working on not having my ego tied up in my children's lives), and to try keep my house from always looking like a tornado hit it. (From a recent discussion with my children (OK, it was more like a mini-lecture): "Please, guys, just don't play in the living room. Just give me one room in the house that isn't a disaster! I'm starting to lose it!")
But there's more than that that has the potential to overwhelm me. My role as mother and nurturer demands much more than just keeping us all going physically. (Much more, actually.) Those little moments when they need help with this and I'm wanting to do that are often the most difficult parts of my days. There are times when I feel like I will drown if I don't stay on top of my to-dos (or that I will die if I don't have a moment of solitude), but I sense that they need me now. Those little moments can mean the world to them; the cumulative effect of lots of little moments is what can help shape their perception of my love for them and of their value as individuals.
Don't get me wrong. I'm so often not good at seizing those little moments. And I am not saying that moms can't or shouldn't ever have a break. But I am really feeling the need to do more of the "little moments" work that is so easy to dismiss. And just as with all the other elements of homemaking, nurturing is work. Even as I love my children with a fierceness that sometimes hurts, I struggle in my humanness to give them what they deserve and need. (A post for another day could be about how it seems that in a way, the older they get, the more they need me.)
I stood tonight, yet again, over the sink, rinsing dinner dishes while trying to orchestrate the children's remaining evening tasks. Within, I could feel the the seeds of an eruption bubbling beneath the surface. I fought that part of my natural self, fought it hard. I exerted all I had to try to speak with kindness, love, gentleness, patience, and attentiveness. As I did so, it was as if I could feel the roots of my soul digging a little deeper. I could feel just a few more rough notches on my character losing some of their edginess.
I was reminded tonight that I am doing this motherhood thing -- giving so much of my life and self and time and energy -- not just because the children need me (which they do, imperfect as I am), but because I need them. I need to be their mom, to learn to overcome my natural self. This role is teaching me new depths of faith and love and sacrifice and endurance, and helping me feel new depths of God's love and grace and refining power.
From one of my favorite talks on motherhood, by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
One young mother wrote to me recently that her anxiety tended to come on three fronts. One was that whenever she heard talks on LDS motherhood, she worried because she felt she didn't measure up or somehow wasn't going to be equal to the task. Secondly, she felt like the world expected her to teach her children reading, writing, interior design, Latin, calculus, and the Internet--all before the baby said something terribly ordinary, like "goo goo." Thirdly, she often felt people were sometimes patronizing, almost always without meaning to be, because the advice she got or even the compliments she received seemed to reflect nothing of the mental investment, the spiritual and emotional exertion, the long-night, long-day, stretched-to-the-limit demands that sometimes are required in trying to be and wanting to be the mother God hopes she will be.
But one thing, she said, keeps her going: "Through the thick and the thin of this, and through the occasional tears of it all, I know deep down inside I am doing God's work. I know that in my motherhood I am in an eternal partnership with Him. I am deeply moved that God finds His ultimate purpose and meaning in being a parent, even if some of His children make Him weep.
"It is this realization," she says, "that I try to recall on those inevitably difficult days when all of this can be a bit overwhelming. Maybe it is precisely our inability and anxiousness that urge us to reach out to Him and enhance His ability to reach back to us. Maybe He secretly hopes we will be anxious," she said, "and will plead for His help. Then, I believe, He can teach these children directly, through us, but with no resistance offered. I like that idea," she concludes. "It gives me hope. If I can be right before my Father in Heaven, perhaps His guidance to our children can be unimpeded. Maybe then it can be His work and His glory in a very literal sense."
And one more from Pres. Packer that has always stayed with me:
A sister may finally come to see why we stress the importance of mothers staying at home with their children. She understands that no service equals the exalting refinement which comes through unselfish motherhood. Nor does she need to forgo intellectual or cultural or social refinement. Those things are fitted in—in proper time—for they attend the everlasting virtue which comes from teaching children.
No teaching is equal, more spiritually rewarding, or more exalting than that of a mother teaching her children.
I've already written about this article, which talks about how those not in California can help by making phone calls to assess voter sentiment.
The folks over at Millennial Star are compiling a list of articles, videos, websites, personal experiences, etc. * on this topic. Thanks, all!
Following are links that people have sent me:
Website created by people in CA which includes links to editorials, court cases, social science studies, etc.
LA Times Op-Ed piece: "Protecting Marriage to Protect Children" (written by a liberal Democrat, no less -- this to me is one of the best articles I have read in terms of how it explores the importance of traditional marriage for children)
A detailed analysis of the issue, complete with talking points (to be honest, this one is a bit too strident/confrontational for my liking, but it still brings up some important points)
Website created by those working on Proposition 8 in the Poway area
(includes forms, presentations by local people involved in the effort, a PDF to the pamphlet created for the campaign, talking points, and more)
There may be more, but for now, that's a start.
*I thought I would reproduce the list here, too.
Statements from the LDS Church:
Evidence from northern Europe (which has had SSM the longest) shows that legalized SSM leads to an overall destruction of marriage as an institution in general. There is a direct correlation between the prevalence of SSM and co-habitation, the rise of legal polyamory, an increase of children born out of wedlock and a slippery slope of moral decay.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
So....here are a couple of pics of the playroom wall (hard to get a good angle since the room is small). She has done whole walls before, too. But this can give you an idea of her talent. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, see the gift idea post here). And be sure to check out more samples of her work can be found on her blog.)
What do you give someone who has everything? Have you ever considered custom art and portraits as an option?
fit your house with a certain color scheme or subject. you can give the priceless lifelong gift of turning your loved ones into a work of art. capturing your children wheMelissa specializes in portraiture and turning your favorite photo (people or scenery or places or objects) into a work of art, either color or black and white. If you choose color, she can customize the colors to match your décor.
But she can do just about anything. She does murals (I have an underwater Nemo scene on my kids' playroom wall -- you wouldn't believe it, and I'd show you if I could get Blogger to let me upload pics. Email me if you want to see it.) She's done logos. She's done the cover of a technical journal. She even personalized a pair of leather shoes!
If you are wondering what to get that person in your life who has everything, or what kind of wedding gift you could give that will last a lifetime and beyond (and wouldn't be returned!), or what to give yourself to capture your memories or your children or something else precious to you, contact Melissa. You won't be disappointed.
(And as the wife of a busy dental student who just lost his on-the-side job and SAHM of two little kids, she'd be grateful.)
*Mention this blog post and you will get either 10% off the total or free shipping! And anyone you refer will get the same deal! Spread the word!
Monday, September 15, 2008
This effort is NOT intended to change anyone's mind or opinion. It is simply to find out how people are feeling about the issue, to answer questions if someone has them, and to invite those who support Proposition 8 to get involved and to vote when the time comes in November.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have asked its members to do what they can to support Proposition 8. (Some reasons for the Church's position on this can be found here.)
How can we do this if we don't live in CA?
One thing we can do, of course, is donate to the coalition the Church has joined. You can do so here.
Did you also know that people outside of California can actually get involved in the assessment and communication process by making phone calls? If you are interested in joining in this effort, you can find out more here. [Edited to keep a focus on pointing others somewhere where the effort is organized on a larger scale.]
And I will say this: I will admit it; there was a part of me that breathed a sigh of relief with the fact that I don't live in California. (I walked precincts in 2000. It was hard.) But since I believe this is an issue that affects us all, and that the decision in CA will have a significant impact on the rest of the nation, I feel it's important for me to get involved. I invite you to consider getting involved, too.
One last note: Proposition 8 is not an anti-gay effort. It is a pro-marriage effort. Please respect my choice to support the effort to keep marriage between a man and a woman. I respect your choice to do something different. But don't misinterpret or misrepresent my choice (or the Church's position) as a lack of love or concern for gay people, because that is simply not true.
You are free to share your thoughts about this topic here, but I do moderate comments, so please keep comments respectful and relevant.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Family history, you can do-oo it,
Your family history.
Cuz Ardis, on her blog, Keepapitchinin, has made it
Easy as can be!
She's giving lessons there, teaching basic tips,
Read lesson one, two, and three.
She's an expert and she'll help you
Start your family history!
Seriously, getting this kind of step-by-step help from someone like Ardis is an amazing thing! Feel free to ask her questions, and give her feedback, so she knows how this information is helping people.
And I believe there will be more lessons to come, so stay tuned. Thanks, Ardis!
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Sara R. has already posted three posts, and OkieDokie has some great ideas brewing. I will likely transfer some, if not all, of the content on my three-month storage blog. This blog will include information related to all aspects of food storage, not just the three-month supply.
If you are a food storage fan and have ideas you want to share, let us know. And if you have ideas, links, resources, tools, organization tips, or whatever else, come comment and share. The more the merrier!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Please remember them in your prayers. If you feel so inclined, you can also use the button below to donate to help with medical bills and other expenses.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
So, I know it's the plan and all, to learn by our experience, but, you know, sometimes it's just plain hard.
I have been sorting through some difficult decisions as of late. The kind where I feel like I *really* don't want to make a mistake (you know that kind, I'm sure, because we all have them). I *thought* I was heading in a good direction, but then I figured out that maybe it wasn't really the right direction. (Or maybe things had changed and I needed to try a different approach. But still, it can get frustrating to not feel like, "YEAH! This is IT!") It truly is a line upon line time in my life (you probably know what I mean there, too, because I think we all have those as well).
I have been studying Nephi a lot lately. Like reading and re-reading First Nephi. I even went to a musical during Education Week (thanks to my friend who had an extra ticket), and that got me reflecting on him all the more.
I've learned boatloads from Nephi (ha! no pun intended), but here I want to share what I learned this week. I learned that sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right.
And guess what? Maybe that's ok.
Nephi and his brothers were commanded to go back to Jerusalem to get the plates of brass. (A whole different post could be written on why they weren't able to get them before they left. The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways, and saving time and effort and reducing pain and struggle is not always His primary purpose for us. Note to self....)
Of course I need not let you know how many times I have read First Nephi. (Who hasn't? After all, it's the first chapter in a book we always recommit to reading, right? What's that joke about First Nephi being the most-oft-read book of scripture?...)
But this time, reading about the three different attempts hit me in a different way than it ever has. (I love the scriptures and how this happens. Often.)
The first two attempts to get the plates really failed quite miserably. The brothers were in physical danger, and ended up losing their property. Laman and Lemuel were not only ready to go back to their father; by the failure of the second attempt, they were angry, and started beating Nephi and Sam.
Yet another post (or many posts) could be written about Nephi's amazing patience, his faith, his reliance on scripture and on God's promises to ground him, and the extremely difficult commandment he was eventually given to kill Laban (and how he worked through his initial reaction and the repeated commands he was given). There are amazing lessons in all of these things (and more).
But for now, I wanted to focus on the message that came to me RIGHT when I needed it this week: That sometimes it takes trial and error to figure out what the right solution is. And that's okay. That didn't mean that Nephi was evil. It didn't mean that the Lord wasn't there. Perhaps it just meant that the Lord gave him room to try a few different things, to exercise his agency, to learn what worked in that situation and what didn't. And perhaps to learn to rely on the Lord all the more. Because of his faith, Nephi believed that in spite of his weakness, the Lord would guide and help him. And the result of that faith was that he gained some knowledge. He learned more about how God works. He learned that exercising faith is not a vain exercise. He learned a lot about why the scriptures were so important, and he probably learned a little about himself.
But not giving up, he figured out what was Right, and he probably learned a lot more along the way.
This little lesson has caused me to reflect, once again, on the fact that the Lord is there and the Atonement is there so that we don't have to be perfect on the first try. And even as we trust in Him, we won't always figure everything out perfectly, but we can get there if we don't give up and continue to trust in Him. He has given us space and the mercy necessary to learn from trial and error, if we will but "be faithful to him" -- to exercise our faith until we have figured out the next step. Sometimes that is all we will be given. One step at a time.
Lead, Kindly Light....
I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So, if you have some ideas, go find a way to share them!
p.s. You can see some of my food storage recipes here. (This is a site I created when I was emergency preparedness coordinator in my ward. Our ward was split, so that calling didn't last long. I haven't updated it in a while, so feel free to send me recipes if you have some you would like to share there. We could make it a group effort!)
Sunday, August 10, 2008
(I also posted this at Blogger of Jared, so you can send comments that way.)
As a trying-to-recover perfectionist, I will admit that it's always been difficult for me to process the ideal when I know that my reality is often so far from the ideal. I have spent a good portion of my life feeling like I am never enough. I have been known to have General Conferences end, finding myself feeling simply buried in my inadequacy. Actually, sometimes a whole lot less than an entire weekend of General Conference can do that to me.
I know I am not alone.
Sister Beck's talk has been the topic of conversation, again. That talk spurred more reaction that anything I have seen in my decade+ of online discussions about gospel topics.
I should say that loved her talk. I loved her boldness and clarity. I love the power of clear and pure direction that can help keep me centered in a world that is constantly shifting.
That doesn't mean, however, that I have always found it easy to hear all the things I should be doing to really be the kind of woman God wants me to be. There have been many times when I have sobbed from the pain of my imperfection. But I felt the Lord prepared me for this talk. He helped me know that He knew the specifics of my life, and that I didn't need to do all the ideal all at once.
The teaching about housework (which, if you look at it, was more about teaching and helping children grow and progress than about keeping a clean house for cleanliness’ sake) could have sent me in one of those spirals, but it didn't. Why? Because I had had some personal inspiration about how and why I could make some improvements. And because of that, I knew that God knew about my specific situation and frustration (health issues, a weakness in the cleanliness area, and great insecurity about these things). As such, I was able to take Sister Beck's counsel as just that -- counsel. The specifics of what to do about that counsel had already come to me from God, so I didn't need to beat myself up needlessly about my weakness and inadequacy and imperfection. I could just pick up from where I was and try to do better, in ways that HE showed me!
(Just for the record, my house is still often a mess, but the end result of a clean house is not my goal right now. The process is what I'm engaged in. "Progression, not perfection" is a new motto.)
That personal experience taught me a lot about processing ideals. I think it's really easy to feel like the exception, because in a sense, most of our lives are exceptions in one way or another. I want to ask, honestly and really and truly: How many of us really feel like our lives fit the ideal? By the show of hands?
I thought so. :)
Think about it. How many people do you know who got married just at the right time, to the perfect person; had kids in succession when they wanted them to come; had no health issues with themselves or their kids; have a family where everyone willingly goes to church never yells or fails at anything, where everyone grows up happy and united, where all are temple worthy and returned missionaries, etc. etc.
Sure, there are some few whose lives have gone pretty smoothly. (So far, anyway.) (Either that, or we really don't know what's really going on in their lives.)
I have talked to women who are divorced, who are trying to figure out how to have a marriage with men who have addictions and/or serious sins, who are single (I've been there myself, too), who want more kids and can't have them (that would be me as well), or who have more kids than they feel they can handle, who have other individual struggles that leave their lives significantly short of the ideal.... We all know these people -- or perhaps more likely ARE these people, living some less-than-ideal something.
As such, we all can feel the pain of unfulfilled or even shattered dreams, and sometimes can also feel neglected, either because we do often focus on ideals in the church, and/or because people use these ideals as measuring sticks for our worthiness or worth. Or worse, we use them on ourselves.
But guess what? That's not how things work. Or rather, that's not how the Lord works. And I think talks on "the ideal" can give us the opportunity to really learn what His love and help and mercy and guidance can mean and be in our lives...to really learn how to become.
Sure, we have ideals to strive for. We should be constantly seeking to improve and seeking to be changed. But that's the thing. We aren't supposed to be able to do it all on our own, all at once, or even all in mortality. If we could actually live the ideal completely on our own, how on earth would we learn how to turn to God and live, to let the Atonement actually do what it was fulfilled to do?
I have pondered Elder Holland's words from the most recent WW Leadership Broadcast, and I think they are ever-so-important to remember.
Now, I hope this helps you understand why we talk about the pattern, the ideal, of marriage and family when we know full well that not everyone now lives in that ideal circumstance. It is precisely because many don’t have, or perhaps have never even seen, that ideal and because some cultural forces steadily move us away from that ideal, that we speak about what our Father in Heaven wishes for us in His eternal plan for His children.
Individual adaptations have to be made as marital status and family circumstances differ. But all of us can agree on the pattern as it comes from God, and we can strive for its realization the best way we can.
We who are General Authorities and general officers are called to teach His general rules. You and we then lead specific lives and must seek the Lord’s guidance regarding specific circumstances. But there would be mass confusion and loss of gospel promises if no general ideal and no doctrinal standard were established and, in our case today, repeated. We take great strength in knowing the Lord has spoken on these matters, and we accept His counsel even when it might not be popular.
The very fact that he said this to me tells us how very AWARE they are of all of us in our less-than-ideal lives -- be we single, married, with children, childless, with healthy family relationships and fulfilled dreams or lives of utter pain and chaos. But that doesn't change the fact that they simply HAVE to keep focusing on the ideal, because otherwise that pattern could be lost in all the exceptions and the cultural chaos surrounding what family and marriage is vs. what it is supposed to be.
Sister Dew addressed this challenge at Women's Conference as well:
"In this audience are sisters coping with every situation imaginable. Some of you have never been happier. Others are grappling with unseen ordeals, weeping into your pillows at night, then putting on a brave smile and facing another day. I know. I've experienced both.
It is because of the range of our experiences that we as women can be a tough crowd. We sometimes pounce if a speaker doesn't say just what we want to hear. But here is the reality: We each have our customized opportunities to deal with disappointment, yet our disappointments don't change the doctrine....None of our lives are perfect, and neither are we. Nonetheless, in the spirit of not offending or overwhelming one another, it can be tempting to water down the message."
In the end, no matter where we are in life right now, our goal is eternal life, which includes eternal family relationships. But that doesn't come necessarily through ideal family relationships here. In fact, more and more, I think the challenge is to learn to accept the ideals without being paralyzed by them. To learn to let our imperfect lives and selves, painful as they are, turn us to God. To make the most of the life He has given us, be it close to ideal or far from it.
I believe God expects us to learn to turn to Him to figure out what it means to strive for the ideal as best as we can. Right now. We can do that, line upon line, regardless of what our specifics look like. He doesn't judge us in a vacuum against the ideals (which is sometimes hard to remember because that is how we often judge ourselves and others). He will take us wherever we are, and help us take the next step, if we will turn to Him.
I am coming to really feel that if I rely on the leaders to do all of that exception-managing and specifics-acknowledging for me, I am missing out on really learning to lean on Him. I believe our general leaders care deeply, and will continue to seek for ways to address a worldwide church while acknowledging how much variation there is in our lives. But that's the point. There is just too much variation for them to address at the level any of us really need for our pain and struggles! And I think it's unfair to expect that of them. The LORD is the Source of our customized counsel, and we will find more peace, power, perspective, and progress if we learn to take the ideals and turn to Him.
I say that with conviction because I am experiencing this in my life right now. I feel that one thing the Lord is teaching me in my less-than-ideal life, with my imperfect self, is that when I choose to really turn to HIM for that support I sometimes wish I had for my specifics and exceptions (from leaders or others).... Wow. I have had some really powerful experiences lately that have helped me know that HE IS THERE and that He can help me see specific guidance in the general principles that are taught by prophets, both ancient and modern. I don't need to hear my specific situations and struggles addressed to learn how to process the ideal in my less-than-ideal reality. That's not always easy, but it's an exercise in faith that is helping me grow and feel His love and power in amazing ways.
The Savior sacrificed His life so that I don't have to beat myself up with ideals. When I hear the Lord's servants teaching the ideals, I am learning to remind myself that they aren't beating me over the head, either. In the end, they are inviting me to take the ideals and then take my less-than-ideal life and self to God and see what He wants me to do now to keep pressing forward steadfastly toward the ideal -- an ideal that will only be possible through the Savior as I turn my life over to Him.
Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will find out that he can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life to God will find he has eternal life.
-Pres. Ezra Taft Benson (Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Tambuli, May 1977, 20)