Sunday, February 22, 2009

When a Pet Dies -- Help please!

It's incredibly late; of all things, tonite, I watched our fish die and, of course, wanted to take care of it before I went to bed (and so the kids didn't have to wake up to the sight).

I know it's important to help children grieve. I don't know that I have it in me, but we gotta do what we gotta do. So I thought I would turn to my blogging friends for thoughts on what kinds of things (rituals, etc) might make this a little easier.

I responded to my daughter's request and included dirt in the garbage bag (since we can't bury the little guy, that was her alternative plan for 'burial' -- ah, the innocence).

Any suggestions would be appreciated. And condolences for the drama we will have around here tomorrow (er, later today).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Feel the Love

"Honey, it's almost time for us to do valentines. Can you take a minute to write something for the kids?"

It took an hour or two for my husband to process that, but obviously it hadn't fully processed, or I hadn't been clear enough. He approached me later.

"OK, where are the cards you wanted me to sign?"

I smiled.

"There are no cards. You get to provide them." With a slight hint of tease in my voice, I added, "I could give you some stamps to make some cards if you want." (There are times he would have done that, but time was of the essence here.)

We laughed as he teased me back and pretended to really want to do that.

"Where's some paper?"

Again, I smiled, since our house is swimming in paper products of all shapes, sizes, types, and colors. (My girls love crafts.)

"Kids, why don't you help your dad find some fun red or pink paper?" Since they had just gone hog-wild creating cards for the family, it would have been easy to find.

"That's ok, I have some here," he said.

I was the one teasing again as he walked to the table with spiral-bound, lined paper.

"How romantic!" (He'd already given me a rose, chocolate and a bookstore gift certificate (which equals true love in my book)), so I didn't expect anything. "Will you make me one, too?"

"Do you want wide- or college-ruled?"

(He has a sense of humor that always catches me off-guard. I gave a full belly laugh at that one.)

What he wrote on those silly lined pieces of paper made me cry.

And yes, he did write one for me, too.

It's the little things, ya know?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

To serve and love and to be served and loved

Even as I sat down at my computer, I wasn't sure what to write about, but I found myself writing this post, which sort of fell into place on its own. The comments have been wonderfully honest and heartfelt. Please consider taking a moment to share your thoughts.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Favorite Church Ads

I just checked out some Homefront videos I hadn't seen before...don't know if they are new or I am just out of the loop.

(If you are old enough to know what Homefront is, just call that another age test...hehe). (Many more Mormon video links can be found here.)

Anyway, I then found this one, which has always been one of my faves, and, I'll admit, always, always makes me tear up. (I'm sappy like that.))

If you are old enough to have favorite Church ads (just kidding...they still have them), I'd love to hear what they are/were. Include YouTube links if you have them. Such a fun way to spend a few minutes.

(Brings back memories cuz my dad was a tour guide at Temple Square back in the day and we would go watch shows (movies and others)...when Homefront was really popular.)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Age test

Are you old enough to know why this is funny?

Random, I know, but once in a while, random is good, no?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Hang in and Hang On"

It's past 3:00 a.m. and I have been lying here, praying, struggling. The past weeks -- the good and the hard -- have worn me beyond my limits. Sick kids, traveling boys, sick momma, another sick kid, tons of activities planned for the girls why they were gone, tons of issues with sleep meds not working while they were gone, tons of expectations to try to fulfill, and good face to maintain for my babies. Tons of stress to push through to keep them and me afloat. Tons of flakiness with things like appointments and returning library books (Sorry Jill!).

And then there was tonite. Tonight (or last night, I guess, if you want to be technical), I was supposed to have a night off, but instead, I had a husband come home to report about parent-teacher conferences, we had some significant until-that-point-unknown school issues to then discuss (nothing like a good surprise pt conference to perk up a momma's day. not). I had two little girls who needed to talk about the bullying they have experienced, and I struggled to help them sort through when and how and to whom to go about such issues. (I did have the presence of mind to remind them that they could talk to me anytime about anything...even years past, but that they needed to talk to school officials immediately when physical harm is caused.)

And then I found myself going to Wal-mart three hours later than planned (nearly midnight) to find some black pants for the dress rehearsal tomorrow (er, today) that I had only found out about before they left for pt conferences. I was driving nearly like a drunk person, so tired, so dizzy.

At least I stocked up on Cheerios for cheap.hehe

All my plans to get things done early so I could have a night off and maybe even an earlier night turned into one of the more intense and draining nights I have had in a while. One of those nights when you have given so much already and you just keep thinking -- I can't do more!

And so I scraped myself into a shower, and into bed, where I prayed: "I just can do this. How can I possibly pull myself together enough to do another day, to put on a face for the kids who need me more and more as time goes on?" If it were just the mommy stress, that would be hard enough, but there are other issues that I'm dealing with that have drained me big time. All I want to do is retreat into some space of isolation and insulation from it all.

As I lay in bed, I had the thought to pull out my computer and read Elder Holland. The talk I thought I would read wasn't the first I found, but this one was good. There is much there, including the always-stirring story of the toil and trouble and time that went into the building of the Salt Lake Temple. He ends with this:

Blood, toil, tears, and sweat. The best things are always worth finishing. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” (1 Cor. 3:16). Most assuredly you are. As long and laborious as the effort may seem, please keep shaping and setting the stones that will make your accomplishment “a grand and imposing spectacle.” Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Dream dreams and see visions. Work toward their realization. Wait patiently when you have no other choice. Lean on your sword and rest a while, but get up and fight again. Perhaps you will not see the full meaning of your effort in your own lifetime. But your children will, or your children’s children will, until finally you, with all of them, can give the Hosanna Shout.

I testify that God loves each of us and that Jesus of Nazareth, his Only Begotten Son, came to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5), bringing a divine form of workers’ compensation to you who keep tugging those granite boulders so faithfully into place. I love you and believe in you. I have wanted very much to encourage you. You are laying the foundation of a great work—your own inestimable future. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” I pray that you will know and that you will persevere, “however long and hard the road,”

I am all the more tired now, as my body processes my sleep meds and the minutes tick by. But at least I feel like I might be able to try again tomorrow, to tackle my life. I have just been giving so much lately, and feel that I keep finding more mistakes than not, and keep meeting up with the pain that my physical and other limitations cause for others. I give so much, and yet I fall so short. And in some ways I feel I fall backward, even.

But Elder Holland (then Pres. Holland) has always been one of those who says the right things for me. I joke that my guardian angel works with him and his wife, Sister Pat Holland.

And, so, I am hearing Elder Holland tell his story about being stranded in his car (remember that one?)

Don't give up.... Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it—You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.


On those days when we have special need of heaven’s help, we would do well to remember one of the titles given to the Savior in the epistle to the Hebrews. Speaking of Jesus’ ”more excellent ministry” and why He is “the mediator of a better covenant” filled with “better promises,” this author—presumably the Apostle Paul—tells us that through His mediation and Atonement, Christ became “an high priest of good things to come.” 1

Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as “hope for a better world.” 2 For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of “good things to come.”

My declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need. There is help. There is happiness. There really is light at the end of the tunnel. It is the Light of the World, the Bright and Morning Star, the “light that is endless, that can never be darkened.” 3 It is the very Son of God Himself. In loving praise far beyond Romeo’s reach, we say, “What light through yonder window breaks?” It is the return of hope, and Jesus is the Sun. 4 To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His “more excellent ministry” with a future of “better promises.” He is your “high priest of good things to come.”

Thanks, Elder Holland. Thanks, Father, for leading me there. At least I don't feel completely overwhelmed. I'm exhausted beyond belief, but I feel more peaceful after reading his words. Elder Holland has often taught about hope and optimism. Not exactly what I feel I can muster. But I can begin by not quitting, but instead choosing to keep on going, right?

See you on the other side of the sunrise, more about lunchtime. Hopefully now I can sleep at least.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Because I was asked

Back in the midst of the Prop 8 debate, there were a couple of people who were interested in considering possible reasons for supporting prop 8. While I realized that there wasn't any way to 'prove' many things either way, I wanted to start capturing many of the concerns I had.

Recently, I was asked once again why I chose to support Prop 8. I figured it would be worth sharing some of my thoughts here. This list doesn't represent all of my thoughts, but does capture many of them.

Please note: At this point, I'm not interested in debating with others on what follows. I realize others may have different points of view, and I respect your right to have your thoughts and ask for the same respect in return. In the end, as I said before, I think one of the challenges with this issue is that we can't necessarily prove things one way or the other, and so we each have to decide where we think all of this could lead, and choose accordingly.

I should note that I had already begun to formulate my list of concerns and reasons I supported proposition 8 before the Church came out with its reasons. (I have been accused of only blind following, but I have thought about and considered this issue for years, ever since Prop 22 in 2000. I did not make my choice about my stand lightly, or blindly. Did the Church's directness in this issue affect me? Of course it did. But in the end, I made my choice for reasons beyond just 'the prophet said so.')

Even still, and even if some people will refuse to believe it, taking a stand was difficult, because I know how charged and painful this issue is. and in my heart of hearts, I don't want to cause others pain. I have found, however, that there will be some who will not see my point of view or my decision as anything but hateful and prejudiced. At some point, there is probably nothing I can do to change those minds. But in a sense, such reactions only solidify some of my concerns. I feel that given our democracy, there must be room for respect for other people's viewpoints. And so, again, I would ask for such respect for mine. And ask that you consider giving the benefit of the doubt before commenting. At this stage of the issue, and given my weariness with some continued attacks on my character, unless I feel your comment is respectful, I will not post it. Thanks in advance.


Following are some of my reasons that I supported Proposition 8:

· Gays, through domestic partnerships, were already provided rights and protections under California law.

· The people of California already voted on this in 2000, and 61% of voters decided that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. Four of seven CA court justices overturned the voice of the people. The split vote demonstrates that even among experts, it is not agreed upon whether gay marriage should have ever been made legal in the first place. (In the two other states that legalized gay marriage at the time of Prop 8, the votes were also split 4-3.)

· I am deeply concerned that essentially that one vote at the court level could have (and has had) this kind of power to overturn the majority vote of millions of people. This is a precedent that concerns me greatly for future votes on issues yet undefined, in California or elsewhere.

· I am struck by the fact that 27 states in the nation had passed amendments such as Proposition 8 prior to the vote, and more than a dozen other states had passed other statutes or measures that also protect the traditional definition of marriage. Worldwide, I believe only 6 countries have legalized gay marriage. In short, legalized gay marriage does not represent what the majority of US citizens or the majority of nations of the world support. This presents not only an ideological clash, but also the very real potential for future legal and political fallout, which could be costly in time, money, and energy for all of us.

· I am concerned about the potential threats to rights of those who may have religious or other beliefs or opinions supporting traditional marriage as the ideal. This is not to say that I support intolerance of or unkindness to gays. In no uncertain terms, I believe that gays are no different from anyone else in that they deserve common decency, respect, compassion, and kindness. But it is not hard to imagine the effort to protect the rights of gays clashing with the free speech and/or religious rights of those who believe gay marriage is wrong, or who feel for other reasons that traditional marriage should continue as the foundation of our society. This kind of intolerance for those who support traditional marriage was part of the debate about Proposition 8, and continues post-Prop 8. Tolerance must go both ways, and I am concerned that we will see less and less tolerance for those who support traditional marriage if gay marriage were to become legal.

· I am concerned about potential public school curriculum issues. If gay marriage had become legal in CA, it would have had to be treated equally in courses that discuss marriage and family life. For parents, teachers, and taxpayers with viewpoints and/or beliefs that consider heterosexual marriage to be the ideal, again there could have been conflicts of interest and possibly even a threat to individual rights. As a parent and a taxpayer, this has concerned me. I also was concerned for teachers who may believe personally that teaching these things to children is not a positive thing.

Perhaps you heard that recently, a class of California first graders was taken to their lesbian teacher’s wedding. From an academic standpoint alone, I believe that such outings (funded by taxpayer money) are unnecessary and inappropriate for school. I could imagine that a parent or taxpayer opposing such a field trip could be viewed as engaging in discrimination, or even ignored -- even if the concerns expressed are about academics and not gay marriage per se. I am concerned that legalizing gay marriage could justify more of this kind of specially “protected” curriculum decision. I can appreciate the desire for “diversity education” but think it not unreasonable to be concerned that, given the nature of “political correctness,” this kind of thing could be taken to an extreme that doesn’t consider or protect others’ rights, particularly the rights of the parents of the children involved and the rights of taxpayers whose money supports the schools.

· I am concerned about changing the definition of something that has been the foundation of society for millennia. Even with its exceptions, where divorce or other less-than-ideal things occur, traditional marriage has proven over time to be a foundational institution for societies and in the lives of children in a positive way. The failings of marriage are not because of the institution, but because of individuals, and those problems would exist with gay marriage as well.

The full impact of legalized gay marriage – negative or positive -- cannot fully be ascertained, because the concept of gay marriage, let alone its very limited practice, simply has not been around for very long. As such, I am not comfortable with the idea of submitting society (including, and perhaps especially, children) to an experiment that, in my mind, could have potential significant, lasting, negative consequences in many ways and challenges the wisdom and experience of millenia. My concern is not just for the immediate future, but for generations to come. (I realize that those who opposed prop 8 could use their concerns for children and the future as support for their position. Again, I am not interested in debating, and I realize that it's possible to come down on completely opposite sides of points like this. But given my worldview, I come down on the side of traditional marriage.)

· My last point for my purposes here, but not my least, is that I am concerned about the impact that legalizing gay marriage could have on children. I’m not questioning the reality that gays could and do provide loving homes for children. However, I believe that policy and law should consider what is, in general, best for children now and in the future. It is my belief that children deserve, wherever possible, to be raised by a mom and a dad, and that societies, in general, benefit from the stability that traditional marriage can offer.

I believe also that legalizing gay marriage could create a confusing environment for children, where roles like husband, wife, dad, mom, male, female, etc. could end up being altered. For example, I have already seen men called "Mum" and “like a bride” in videos that obviously support gay marriage. While I believe there is lots of room for sharing of family responsibilities, to me, to be a mom and a bride is to be female. These are simple examples of how I think this all could be very messy, and not just in terms of semantics, but in terms of what these terms and concepts have truly meant for millennia in the fabric of society and family life. I think these roles and definitions are important as children grow and develop personally, socially, sexually, and in other ways. (Again, I realize not everyone will share this view.)

And it probably goes without saying that for some, these words and roles have tremendous religious significance for many Americans. Again, parental (and/or religious) and societal teachings could clash -- where it matters most – in the raising of our children and grandchildren.

There is no one reason why I supported Prop 8. To me, it was a complex mixture of legal, political, social, educational, and religious reasons that led me to make the choice that I did. I may never be able to convince some people that it was hard, and continues to be hard, to take a stand on something that has caused many people pain.