Monday, September 30, 2013

Gems of Jewels

Yesterday I randomly browsed the internet, wondering about the outcome of something I had researched over a year ago. As I was searching, I came across a forum website dedicated to being snarky (as they put it) about other people's blogs, or videos, or tweets. Basically, they were tearing down other people's online content. I was saddened as I read their harsh, judgmental and cranky-pants words. It made me want to run and hide from my new blog! :(

I worried, "What if one day someone starts a mean forum thread about something I wrote and snarks me to bits and pieces?! I don't think I can handle the meanness!" I think it's just grown-up online bullying. Not cool.

Yet as I thought about the awful forum posts/comments, I came to the following conclusion: While there is a lot of meanness online, we must rise above it - otherwise everything online will be junk! We must combat the awful comments with posts about lovely, happy or inspiring things! Thus, I will create posts that include the good things I've found online!

Here are a few gems of jewels that I've found so far. Enjoy!
  • My friend Johanna's blog post, Ephipany, is an excellent reminder for all of us. We must be kind, loving, patient, merciful and forgiving to everyone.
  • A talented young woman I know and admire, Elizabeth Hovley, is an unbelievably great artist. I feel her beautiful art needs to be shared over and over! I would love it if she were able to seriously "make it" in the art world - for she truly has a gift that is rarely seen by someone so young. Please see her blog, Create Ripples, for an artistic awakening that I promise you won't regret! :)
  • I have been following the miraculous story of Elder Britten Schenk ever since I read about it when we were living in Texas. I recently watched the video of his story - in his own words - and feel that more people should be introduced to this living miracle of a young man! *I hope more of us can appreciate life the way he does. What an amazing example he is to everyone on earth! Seriously, either read his blog (linked above), or watch the video below...or both!

  • I stumbled across a blog that includes many of the videos created for Mormon Messages. I found it fascinating that so many of the Mormon Messages videos that I absolutely LOVE were created by the owners of the blog, Matter Unorganized! I'm predicting that this dynamic movie-making duo will be going somewhere great in the future! There are so many great videos, I can't choose just one. Thus, here are just three of my favorites:

  • Lastly, I found this video from Vimeo (thanks to the above listed blog!) which contains the smart words from Steve Jobs. It's good advice for all of us!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Motherhood Mythbusters

One of my strongest-held opinions is that motherhood is one of the greatest gifts in the universe! I believe nothing compares to being a mother—unless you're talking about marriage. :) Because to me, marriage is bliss! Marriage and motherhood go hand in hand. And I'm referring to the traditional definition of marriage, not the "new fangled" definition of marriage that seems to be permeating our society. Yes, in terms of marriage and motherhood, I'm very old-school. :)

Motherhood is the most beautiful, the sweetest, most satisfying and amazing life occupation there is. To be able to create life—to grow a child inside and outside of a womb, and to influence that child's life is simply miraculous. Motherhood gives me the greatest joy! I wouldn't trade my motherhood opportunity for any amount of money or experiences in the world! :)

Last Sunday night, I picked up a large manila envelope from my in-laws house for Greg. You see, Greg's wonderful mother passed away in 2008, and Greg's siblings were finishing clearing out some odds and ends that belonged to all of the children.

In the manila envelope were many papers and pictures for Greg. There was one three-page document that looked like a letter. After I began reading it, I realized that it was a talk (i.e., speech) from Greg's missionary farewell. (We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Church doesn't do missionary farewells anymore, but has the new missionary-to-be speak in sacrament meeting as a regular speaker with a chosen topic.) The talk was written by Greg's fabulous mother, Anne. I loved reading her words so very much! It's like I was transported back in time to the very sacrament meeting when I heard Anne give her talk for the first time.

What I found most fascinating, was the sentence where Anne said, "As the baby of the family, I have spent a lot more time with Greg alone than with any of the others." (She meant her other children.) Anne's words echoed endlessly through my mind. As I internalized what I read, I thought, "As far as I'm concerned, her words and Greg's life are an absolute "CONFIRMED" on Motherhood Mythbusters!"
photo credit
Let me further explain what I mean...

I've always felt that the greatest influence in a child's life is his or her parents. Because Greg was the baby of the family, he was able to have more one-on-one time with his mother—her words clearly state that. But what I found most interesting to note is that Greg is one of the best people I know. Although, Greg and I agree that it was very fortuitous that we never met earlier in our lives because we most likely wouldn't have liked each other very much! Ha ha. Apparently, he was quite the handful when he was younger and I wouldn't have put up with it! Greg is such a good person all by himself, but I truly feel that one of the biggest reasons Greg is who he is today is because of the influence of his fabulous mother—brought about by the extended amount of time he spent with her. :)

To continue my feelings about the importance of a mother's influence, I want to share what I discovered while listening to an interview that the Mormon Channel did with Elder Dallin H. Oaks and his wife, Sister Kristen Oaks. (The term elder is a position in our church. The term sister is applied to every female in the church, as a sign of respect—for we are all children of God.) At one point in the interview, Sheri Dew asks the question (at 68:40), "Let's take this now and segue in to the larger discussion, and that is, I know that we would all love to have both of you comment on any particular moments/experiences/patterns that helped you in the development of your testimony [of the gospel of Jesus Christ]."

Elder Oaks replies, "I guess for me, it begins with the great trust that I had in my mother. She was a person of great faith—and at a time when I couldn't say that I knew the gospel was true - I trusted and leaned on her testimony. And because I trusted and leaned on her testimony, I just felt to say, 'Well, I'm just going to try to keep the commandments, and assume that the leaders of the church are inspired, and I'll see how that works out.' And so, it was faith in her that set my feet on the path that led to an individual testimony."

Sheri Dew responded, "The wonderful influence of a fantastic mother."

Elder Oaks, "Umm-hmm..."

Sheri Dew, "Very tender..."

Isn't that so beautiful?! It's heartwarming to hear a grown man revere his mother that way. Her influence on his life was monumental! This was not the only time Elder Oaks spoke so highly of his mother. He has stated, "I was blessed with an extraordinary mother." Thus, I feel my theory about the importance of a mother's influence on her children is concretely backed-up by the very public and excellent life of Dallin H. Oaks. If you want to read his bio, please click here and here. He's one of the most interesting speakers I've ever listened to! :)

I don't know if my theory applies to all children, but I would love to do a study about it! There's always an exception to every rule, but it would be so fun to see if children who spent more time, and quality time, with their mothers did better in life than those who didn't. Since I'm not a scientist or a sociologist or any kind of "ist", I don't have any proof (at least not today!) other than Elder Oaks' statements, Greg's life example, and Anne's words to base my theory on. Yet those examples are enough for me! I think my Motherhood Mythbusters theory is correct! :)

Now I'm thrilled to share Greg's mom's talk that she so lovingly gave at Greg's missionary farewell. I have complete permission from my wonderful husband to share her words with the world. :) I think he likes the fact that her words will live on—I know I do. I miss Anne so much, and I can only imagine that Greg's feelings are just like mine...multiplied by 100.

Without further ado, here is Anne's sacrament meeting talk from September 25th, 1994! Also, the font below is the same as her original document. :)
"Can you believe we are here again? Tiffany forbade me to do this, but Greg hasn't thought to tell me yet, so I'm going ahead with my plan. 
Greg will you come stand by me? 
Will any one who was ever Greg's Primary teacher or the [Primary] president when Greg was in Primary, please stand? Will any one of Greg's Sunday School teachers, Scout leaders, Home Teachers, Priesthood Leaders, Bishop, and Counselors please stand? 
These are just some of the people besides your family who have had the greatest influence on you and have helped to get you to this point. They are also probably surprised that you got to this point. You may be seated. 
We owe you a huge debt of gratitude. No parent can get a young man to this point alone. We appreciate the untold hours you have spent in planning and preparing and being with Greg - in classes, on outings, Scout trips, etc. 
I thought Greg's farewell would be the easier of the two, but I have found myself reflecting on Greg's growing-up years as the baby of the family, I have spent a lot more time with Greg alone than with any of the others. I've been wondering, 'Is he prepared for this next step?' I've decided if Greg will magnify the many talents he has been given, he will be a successful missionary. 
It's been said that a missionary needs the confidence of a tightrope walker, the commitment of a marathon runner, the enthusiasm of a vacuum salesman, and the courage of a mountain climber. Since Greg may not feel he possesses all these traits, I would add: humility, mighty prayer and the spirit of the Holy Ghost.
Greg has tried to portray confidence with his tough guy, macho image that says, 'Outta my way.' I think he's done this so people won't suspect he has deep feelings. He's done a pretty good job of convincing most people. I've even forgotten a few times and fallen for his act. 
[Greg,] Now you need to put your total trust and confidence in Heavenly Father. Remember the oft quoted scripture in 1 Nephi 3:7. [And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.] Remember, Greg, NOTHING is too hard for the Lord. This is where humility comes in. You may not feel confident sometimes, but remember you are on the Lord's errand and he has promised to help you if you do your part and are prepared. Your mission is to help with His mission: that of spreading the gospel and bringing people to Christ. If you are humble, you can be an instrument in God's hands. Any personal shortcomings will fade away when the Spirit enhances your abilities. 
The next point is the commitment. Greg has shown commitment and determination in sports and his schoolwork. If you will apply this same determination to your missionary work, you will be successful. I know many days you've been hot and tired or wet and cold and you've never complained to me - at least that the coach wanted you to run just another play, or do another set on the weights. Then you would come home and do your homework without complaint. Be willing to work this hard, Greg, on your mission. When it's late in the day and you're wet and cold, or hot and tired, finish the street or the apartment building before you quit. 
I'm not sure about the next point: enthusiasm of a vacuum salesman. Greg may have to develop enthusiasm as he develops the courage to spread the gospel. Of course, you could always turn on your charm. It's worked on almost everyone except for Mr. Talbot. I encourage you to be bold in declaring your mission. You will be very visible - I think it's a prerequisite to be at least six feet tall to go to Japan. You've been very vocal in the past about a lot of things. Now you must be vocal in proclaiming the gospel. I know you just hate it when I strike up a conversation with people at the meat counter in the grocery store, but you are going to have to do this very same thing. You will need to be creative in finding ways to introduce the gospel to people. You also cannot look at a person and decide that they can't change. The Spirit can prompt people to receive the truth. Your job is to prayerfully and humbly present your message, and if they are prepared they will accept it. 
You know what it feels like to be a hero and save the game. That incredible rush is indescribable. It feels that same way - only better - to save a soul. Go forth now, Greg, with confidence, commitment, enthusiasm, and courage.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
I am eternally grateful for the influence of Greg's wonderful mother. My life and my children's lives are blessed every day because of the time that Anne selflessly gave to my husband. :)

P.S. Greg's dad, Jim, is every bit as wonderful as Anne. They were such a dynamite couple! Jim had a great impact on Greg's life as well. We are so happy we still get to spend quality time with him and his lovely new wife!

Friday, September 27, 2013

What Google AdSense doesn't tell you before you sign up...

Don't laugh, but when Greg and I were talking about beginning this new blog, we talked about possibly putting ads on it. I've always wanted to run as far away from blog ads as I possibly could! Yet, Greg pointed out that since I love blogging anyway, I might as well see if I could possibly receive payment for doing it—no matter how minuscule the amount might be. I thought, "Well...I am taking my time to write blog posts, so if anyone wants to read my blog and happens to see the ads, then I guess that's okay..."

So, I signed up with AdSense! :) I thought I read their terms and conditions thoroughly before I signed up. You must know that about me—I don't sign up for anything willy-nilly. When it comes to finances and my personal information, I don't just do things randomly. For me to sign-up with Google AdSense, I had to be very certain of what I was getting myself into! It was a huge step for me to actually click the button that made my AdSense actions concrete!

Thus, the very next day, I was stunned to get the email that stated,
Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. Unfortunately, after reviewing your application, we're unable to accept you into AdSense at this time. 
We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below. 
Insufficient content"
It then continued on to basically explain that I needed more content/writing on my page, i.e., more blog posts. HI! I found myself frustrated at that point. That frustration falls under the category of, "Things that could have been brought to my attention yesterday!" Movie quote! Does anyone know what movie that quote is from?! :)

Anyway...Google's AdSense email made me feel silly and not-so-smart. Then I became annoyed. It could have been so easy for Google AdSense to clearly state that it would not be wise for you to sign up your new blog if you haven't composed any posts yet! Yet, on their "How it works" page, it says nothing, nada, zilch, about needing to have many blog posts composed before signing up! And I'm sure there are many out there who would say I'm just a dumb blonde for not realizing that I need blog content for their machine to scan. Of course that makes sense. But, again, they should have clarified their point that you need to have multiple blog posts up and running before you apply!

The email told me I could reapply, but I am not going to do that for a while—especially since when I logged-in to my account and looked on their AdSense page, it wasn't very nice to me. It generically stated that the reason my account was shut down was because of clicking on my own ads. Yeah, their reprimand doesn't apply to me, since I didn't have any ads to begin with! Hello!

Whew! I feel much better having shared this information. Maybe someone else can learn from my mistake and save themselves from receiving an AdSense email that causes annoyance. :)

P.S. I'm just venting. I like Google. I really do! :) They help me find answers to so many of my queries, and I truly appreciate that about them. I just really dislike doing something I think is right (that I've researched!), that ends up being wrong.

P.P.S. I fully acknowledge that I could have missed the "insufficient content" information somewhere (but I doubt it! ha ha). I'll have to log-out of my account and go back and re-read the AdSense information pages...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fears of Redundancy

One of my worries about starting a new blog was the fear of being redundant. You see, I wrote quite a lot on my private blog and covered many subjects over the past five years. Thus, I've been a little timid about starting this new blog - simply because I don't want to be redundant with what I posted on "Adrie World". Yet, I have to go forward with my feelings. I knew I needed to start this blog, so I did it! Yay me! ;) I also know there will be many topics that I'll want to write about again. But there are so many people in this world who have shared their thoughts and feelings over and over again and nobody cares. So, I'm not going to worry if my words might seem "old hat" to some. I'm just going to be brave and jump in! :) Besides, old hats are super comfy and fun to wear, right?! Ha ha.

To my previous readers: I might take some of my older blog posts and change them, or tighten them up, or whatever I feel like doing, and then post them here. Or, I might not! But that's the beauty of blogging - I can write about whatever I want! :) Just like you can read whatever you want! :) Isn't the internet great?! Except for when it's not know, like when someone chooses to post bad/inappropriate/yucky content. Then the internet sucks! Yet, I hope to be able to combat some of the yuckiness that we find online. Yes, I want to use my small spot on the web to share happy thoughts, useful or interesting tidbits, and fun life experiences. :)

I absolutely want to do what Gordon B. Hinckley's marvelous words suggest to all of us! He said,
"We cannot be indifferent to the great cause of truth and right. We cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and watch the play between the forces of good and evil. Wrote John the Revelator: 'I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth' (Revelation 3:15-16).
"John's imagery is vivid. It points to our critical duty to stand strong, even to become leaders in speaking up on behalf of those causes that make our civilization shine. Each of us can be a leader within our sphere of influence. The adversary of all truth would put into our hearts a reluctance to make an effort; we must cast that fear aside and be valiant in the cause of truth, fairness, and right." (Standing For Something, [2000], 171-172)
Yes, I am most definitely not lukewarm or cold. My works are hot in the sense that I want to stand strong in defense of what is right and true! I refuse to "sit" in the lukewarm sideliners' tub that so many people seem to be flocking to these days. It's also sad to see that many of those lukewarmers choose to jump ship into the freezing cold waters of iniquity. Thus, if I'm redundant in my defense of goodness, truth and right, so be it! :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Fresh Start

Wow, where to begin. I can't believe that today I'm actually starting a new blog! I'm so excited! :)

I've been thinking of creating a public blog for several months. The private blog I began writing a little over five years ago, "Adrie World" has been such a wonderful part of my life! Writing it helped me through some very hard times, but some really great times as well. Yet, with our recent move from Texas to Utah, I've felt this stirring inside of me—one that I wasn't exactly sure what to do with. I've also had quite a few interactions with others recently, and personal experiences, that have led me to know that I am supposed to begin a new and public blog. Also, as sad as it was for me to discover, I've felt over and over that it was time to let go of "Adrie World". When I finally figured out that all of these changes needed to occur, I was like, "WHAT?!", but I've happily come to terms with it. :)

After thinking about creating a new blog, and praying about how I should proceed, I talked with my wonderful husband, Greg. We decided together that it was indeed time for me to have a fresh start with a new/public here it is! Oh, and I have my three wonderful children's "okays" for creating "Enthusiastic Fantastic"! I explained everything to them, and they're all on board. By the way, I won't be writing exclusively about my children, for I want them to be able to create their own lives on the web—as they desire—without a lot of prior chatter interfering from their dear, sweet, mother! Ha ha. I gave that disclaimer because I don't want this blog to suggest that I am self-centered. I just feel everyone should be able to share what they want online without other people butting-in.

I really don't know where this blog will take me because I don't have any grand plans. All I know is that I want to share my thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences with the world. And by the way, sharing myself with the world is such a scary thing for me! I am naturally on the cautious side when it comes to sharing my feelings with people I don't know. Also, I worry about all of the "crazy" people in the world. *So if you're "crazy", please don't harass me, or post mean comments, or stalk me, or freak me out—okay?!! Ha ha. Just kidding. Sort of. Seriously, don't do anything that would make me call the cops on you!

I can't promise any specific posting schedule because I am a wife and mother first and foremost. I daily need to take care of my family, for example: doing the dishes and laundry; vacuuming; organizing; grocery shopping; general house cleaning, etc., etc. That said, you must know that I love love love blogging! Oh, blogging makes me so happy!

I've realized through my time writing in "Adrie World" that I have made some great progress—personally speaking. To see that I consistently want to blog, shows me that blogging has a very specific place in my life. It's something that I truly want to do. I don't feel any pressure from anyone to blog—it's just in me. I simply want to blog every day! Of course, that doesn't mean that I will blog every day, just that I want to. :)

Yay for fresh starts!!!