Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Food Storage Blog!

I have had a couple of people contact me with recipes and lots of other great ideas on food storage. We have decided to pull together our ideas on a new blog. (The URL is, but of course, food storage isn't just for Mormons, and the content will be much broader than just Church-related material.)

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

Prayers Needed

I have spent the last few minutes reading cjane's blog about her sister and husband who were survivors of a small plane crash. Stephanie and Christian Nielson suffered severe burns and will likely be in the hospital for months. They There are some wonderful things happening to help support them and their family (they have small children) through this difficult time. A recent fast was held, and they would appreciate prayers in their behalf.

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

Learning from Nephi: Trial and Error

I hate not being perfect.

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.
(Hymns, #97)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Survey about the Ensign

Have you always wanted to give feedback about Church magazines, but just never known how? Right now they have made it really easy. Click here and fill out a survey about the Ensign. (Hat tip to Julie at T&S -- this was in their sidebar.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Share Your Food Storage Ideas and Recipes Online!

This news story was interesting to read...people are using YouTube and other online vehicles to share about food storage, and people are paying attention. In fact, the Church's Public Affairs department has recently made a request that members share in this way. In these hard economic times, the principles of provident living can be helpful for anyone, regardless of their religious affiliation.

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

Ideality vs. Reality

(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.

Whatever, right?

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 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)