Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Angels With Us

Two Sundays ago, my husband and I took our oldest son to a meeting at our church. Our bishop was speaking to the young men of our ward and their parents. It was a positive experience, and we felt the Spirit very strongly. I love that Greg and I were able to talk to our son during the short drive home about what we felt that night, for our son is still growing in his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his understanding of how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints benefits our lives.

Even though the meeting was meant mainly for the young men of our ward, I took a wonderful lesson away from our bishop's words as well. Now, I have read the scriptures that our bishop referenced many times before, but that night, I felt something stir within me as I heard him speak about those profound verses.

2 Kings 6:15-17 reads:
15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 
16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 
17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
Interestingly, just four days later, those scriptural words rushed into my mind after I experienced a heart-trying event. I know it was not a coincidence that I was instantly reminded of those lovely words in my moment of dejected sorrow. I was immediately buoyed up! My sad tears turned to an intense feeling of warmth and love for me from the other side. Yes, this experience reaffirmed that my ward's bishop is absolutely the right person for that calling.

I feel those verses apply to each and every soul! If people would just open their hearts and minds to the possibility of heavenly help (It's real!), I believe our world would be a much happier place.

I've believed in angels for as long as I can remember, I know they've been with me throughout my life for I have felt their presence. Yet after losing several people I love, heavenly help is that much more real to me. Like anyone, I've experienced the hills and valleys of spirituality. Thankfully, as my life has continued, steady spiritual progression is the norm for me, and my spiritual plateaus are becoming scarce. It's a delightful feeling!

Oh, how I would love it if everyone could internalize the above scriptures and really feel the spirit that comes with them. For I truly believe that we all have angels looking out for us. I don't know if they are with us every minute of every day, but I believe angels are with us quite often. If we could remove the spiritual blinders from our eyes, we would see generations of our extended family members all around us, ready and waiting to help at a moment's notice!

I'd like to continue this happy thought with what is shared in Romans 8:31:
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Yes, God has created this glorious Plan of Happiness for us, which includes the supreme blessing of angelic help. Knowledge that our loved ones—our angelsare with us, gives us much to be joyful about. We truly have nothing to fear! :)

*To learn more about the role that angels (heavenly and mortal) play in our lives, please watch, read, or listen to this uplifting talk, "The Ministry of Angels", by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Public Speaking

I've been busy this past week with getting my children ready for school. While I'm so very happy for their opportunity to attend excellent schools, and associate with wonderful teachers and friends (We live in such a lovely corner of the world!), none of us are very excited about next Monday. My little darlings want to stay home and just hang out. I want my babies to never leave home! Okay...I say that, but I absolutely want them to have life experiences outside of our home—without Greg or I there. I want our children to learn and grow. I especially want their precious souls to associate with others, and have experiences that will teach them how to respond (or not respond) in varied environments/situations. Yes, we run into this I-don't-want-to problem every August. Thus, we're s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out our relaxing/lazy days as far as they can go without snapping.
Isn't life grand?! :)

Anyway, this is the reason for my lack of blogging. Well, that, and my preparation for the Mia Maid Young Women lesson I'm teaching tomorrow. I cannot wait to share what I've created, here on my blog! I actually have about four additional posts I've been tinkering with for a while now, but my family always comes first. Thus, I'll probably have a blog explosion within the next few weeks! *A blog explosion is not to be confused with a head explosion, a.k.a, exploding head syndrome—it's a real condition, look it up!

Until I write more, I'd like to share this great blog post (below) on public speaking. I know, I'm random! But public speaking is what I was thinking about tonight and I wanted to share. Plus I thought, "Oh, it'll just be a short blog post!" Yeah, right. I'm never short in talking or writing! Ha ha.

In my church, members are given many opportunities to speak publicly—even from the time we are about four years old! I've always appreciated the experience and knowledge my church talks have given me, but I wish I would have taken an actual class on public speaking in addition to just getting up in front of my church's congregation. That said, no matter the ward (church congregation) I've spoken in front of, the members were all so kind, attentive, and supportive of my talks...even when I went over my allotted time! (Side note: I've spoken publicly in situations other than church, but church is what I think of immediately when I think of public speaking.)

A few years ago, I spent a fair amount of time researching public speaking. I analyzed myself and figured out my public-speaking flaws:
  • I speak too quickly.
  • I don't look up at the audience enough.
  • I don't like "winging it" because I can easily become side-tracked and forget my point.
  • I completely write-out my talks word-for-word, and read them word-for-word. Apparently, this a no-no in public speaking...yet I'm not so sure because it is very comfortable to me! ;)
  • I wish I could use a teleprompter that would broadcast my perfectly-written-out talks on the screen!
Yes, I still have areas to improve in my life. ;)

The idea that helped me the very most with public speaking is this (I have no idea where I read it):
The audience members want you to succeed! They don't want you fail any more than you want to fail! (Which you don't want to fail!)
Audience support was something I had never thought of previously. Yet when I thought about my participation as an audience member, I thought about many of the people I've listened to over the years. Not once did I wish any of them ill will. I truly only wanted to learn from them and support them. It was a great moment to realize the audience was on my side!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this great (and relatively short) public-speaking resource by Nacho Caballero:

Happy Saturday night, everyone!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Unfriending vs. Unfollowing

I have a love/dislike relationship with facebook. Even though I rejoined the facebook world approximately 10 months ago, I sometimes wish I would have stayed deactivated.

There are many aspects of facebook I truly appreciate, like keeping in touch with loved ones and friends; seeing beautiful photos of people I care about; laughing at silly memes and videos; connecting with people I've lost contact with previously; learning fascinating new things from the people I care about; sharing information that's important to me, or that I feel would be beneficial to others.

But there are many aspects of facebook that I really dislike, for example: their algorithm; my unanswered friend requests; over-active friends/family who post incessantly (Depending on the day, I'm probably one of them!); the dreaded discovery of an unfriending from someone I honestly thought I was real-life friends with (Where did I go wrong?!); rude/vulgar comments/messages (this rarely happens to me through my personal friendships, but it does happen when one of my friends have "liked" a public post that shows up in my news feed); spam posts; wondering if one of my friends has unfollowed me; annoying advertising; wanting to check facebook too often.

Yes, the above paragraph includes the reasons I struggle with staying active on facebook. I really don't like feeling unconnected to family/friends (Read about my facebook experiment from 2013.), and facebook is a big huggable crutch for many of the people I know. (I'm saying that in the nicest way!) So, I stay activated.

Since rejoining facebook last year, my biggest annoyance has been the unfollow option. Before the unfollow button came along, it was easy to know if someone was connecting with us on facebook: either we're friends with someone, or we're not. But now, no one really knows if they're connecting with their friends!

I'm not a "like" seeker, but it is helpful knowing that someone on fb is actually seeing/reading what I post because they clicked the thumbs-up button. I sometimes wonder if anyone (besides my dear, sweet mother) reads what I write on facebook, or if it's just a complete waste of my time? (*Side note: One of the things I love about my blog is the fact that I can see that people are reading my posts, but I will continue blogging regardless of how many views I get because I love blogging! Facebook doesn't have a stats option.) I also wonder if people are annoyed with how many posts I "like". I try to contain my likes because I know they show up on my friends' news feeds. Yet, I "like" posts to show my support! :) And it's a double-edged sword because there are so many things I like, it's hard to contain myself! :)

I wish there were an answer to my unfollowing frustration besides leaving facebook altogether—and you must know that I've seriously considered leaving. For I believe if we've accepted a friend request, and vice versa, we should keep following the people we're friends with. Otherwise, why are we facebook friends in the first place? Right?! That said, I know the algorithm messes up my theory because even though we're technically following our friends, facebook might not show their posts to us, so people think we've unfollowed them, which is untrue.

After thinking about my quandary for several months, I've decided that as much as unfriendings hurt, I would honestly prefer an unfriending to an unfollowing. That way, I know where I stand with someone. Although, I know it's not always easy for people to make those decisions because some relationships are complicated. Plus, I think even though some people have unfollowed a friend, they're too much of a sissy to unfriend them.

Now that I've voiced my issues, I feel like such a silly! If we were chatting in-person, here's where I would speak my husband's favorite saying as of late, "Hashbrown, selfie!" If you don't know what I'm referring to, it's from one of our family's favorite commercials! *It doesn't really have anything to do with our discussion, thus I love it even more! Ha ha.

Yes, after all of my frivolous blabbing, I think facebook should remove the unfollow option, and we should all be brave enough to admit who we're really friends with!

P.S. Now would be a good time for any of my facebook friends who aren't following me (or don't want to follow me) to unfriend me. Go ahead. I can take it. :)

P.P.S. I made a comment on my facebook page based on a couple of good comments I received (here and there). Here's what I wrote and would like to add to my post:

I guess what I didn't convey very well is: if we consider ourselves friends with someone (in real life and/or on facebook) that means we should be able to handle their posts—regardless what they consist of (after all, it's who they are!)—and not hide from them by clicking the unfollow button. And yes, I understand that is an "all or nothing" way of thinking, but it's how I feel. :)

I've also unfollowed people in the past, but then started following them again because I thought, "What does that say about me, that I can't handle what they're posting??!!"

I view friendships and family relationships as acceptance of each other, even if we don't always agree with each other's points of view. :)

03/25/15 Update: I've since left Facebook again—this time for good! If you'd like to know more, read my post, "Farewell Facebook!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Day I Stopped Following Matt Walsh

I have enjoyed reading Matt Walsh's blog for nearly a year now. He's made me laugh and nod my head in agreement many, many times. But today, I stopped following Matt Walsh. I deleted him from my Google+, Blogger Dashboard, and Facebook accounts.

Why, you ask, did I stop following Matt Walsh? Why would I stop following someone that I agree with 70% of the time? (Give or take 10% points.) Well, it's because he wrote a post that I absolutely cannot get behind. He's written posts before that I don't agree with, but I just let them go. Not today.

Today, Mr. Walsh posted about Robin Williams' suicide. I knew what Mr. Walsh's title was before I read the post, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and read every word he had to say. Yet at the end of his post, I was done.

You see, Mr. Walsh, we must not judge another person's soul when they commit suicide. We cannot possibly know or understand where a person was in their mind when they took their life. There is no way to ever comprehend what truly happens when a soul commits suicide, until we make it to heaven ourselves and can have a conversation with them. To judge someone so quickly, so harshly, so finally, is reprehensible.

I highly recommend this article about suicide, Suicide: Some Things We Know, and Some We Do Not, by Elder M. Russell Ballard. He's a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Here are some of my favorite sections from his article:
"The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, formerly of the Quorum of the Twelve, expressed what many Church leaders have taught: 'Suicide consists in the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life, particularly where the person involved is accountable and has a sound mind. … Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned for taking their own lives. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord’s; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course.' (Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 771; some italics added.)"

"I feel that judgment for sin is not always as cut-and-dried as some of us seem to think. The Lord said, 'Thou shalt not kill.' Does that mean that every person who kills will be condemned, no matter the circumstances? Civil law recognizes that there are gradations in this matter—from accidental manslaughter to self-defense to first-degree murder. I feel that the Lord also recognizes differences in intent and circumstances: Was the person who took his life mentally ill? Was he or she so deeply depressed as to be unbalanced or otherwise emotionally disturbed? Was the suicide a tragic, pitiful call for help that went unheeded too long or progressed faster than the victim intended? Did he or she somehow not understand the seriousness of the act? Was he or she suffering from a chemical imbalance that led to despair and a loss of self-control? 
"Obviously, we do not know the full circumstances surrounding every suicide. Only the Lord knows all the details, and he it is who will judge our actions here on earth. 
"When he does judge us, I feel he will take all things into consideration: our genetic and chemical makeup, our mental state, our intellectual capacity, the teachings we have received, the traditions of our fathers, our health, and so forth.
"We learn in the scriptures that the blood of Christ will atone for the sins of men 'who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.' (Mosiah 3:11.)"

"Thankfully, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught this enlightening doctrine: 
"'While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard. … He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, not according to the narrow, contracted notions of men, but, "according to the deeds done in the body whether they be good or evil," or whether these deeds were done in England, America, Spain, Turkey, or India. … We need not doubt the wisdom and intelligence of the Great Jehovah; He will award judgment or mercy to all nations according to their several deserts, their means of obtaining intelligence, the laws by which they are governed, the facilities afforded them of obtaining correct information, and His inscrutable designs in relation to the human family; and when the designs of God shall be made manifest, and the curtain of futurity be withdrawn, we shall all of us eventually have to confess that the Judge of all the earth has done right.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ed. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938, p. 218.) 
"I draw an important conclusion from the words of the Prophet: Suicide is a sin—a very grievous one, yet the Lord will not judge the person who commits that sin strictly by the act itself. The Lord will look at that person’s circumstances and the degree of his accountability at the time of the act. Of course, this gives us no reason to excuse ourselves in committing sins, nor will the Lord excuse us, if I understand correctly. We must constantly strive to do our best in emulating the Savior in every aspect of our lives. At the same time, however, let us remember that spiritual growth comes 'line upon line,' that the key—in the spirit world as well as in mortality—is to keep progressing along the right path."
No, family/friends/acquaintances/strangers, we must certainly not judge what someone else is going through! Now that I've expressed my frustrations, I'm going to follow my own advice and not judge what Mr. Walsh wrote, for he is entitled to his opinion. But that doesn't mean I need to agree with him, or continue supporting his blog.

In the end, I will continue following our Savior, for Jesus Christ is the only one who knows and understands all of us. It's truly because of Him that we can be restored to our heavenly home, and live with our loved ones for eternity!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Need to Reads

I was in the middle of composing an email to my extended family members, when all of a sudden, I felt inspired to transfer my email into a blog post, so I did. :)
Hi My Family! 
Recently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has published essays/articles on controversial topics/issues (some more controversial than others) that many ex-Mormons and critics of The Church have talked about for years. 
I'm impressed The Church is willing to face these criticisms head-on. Thus, I've linked some of The Church's essays/articles—and a few others that were published previously—that I classify as Need to Reads. Even if you don't agree with The Church or its teachings, I hope you'll take time to read them, as they are filled with fascinating information. Have a wonderful day! 
Side note: In regard to The Church and its request for tithing and fast offering contributions, please let me say that I've always loved contributing financially to my church. I love knowing that my contributions are helping many people and programs! The benefits of The Church's welfare program and humanitarian aid/service is unmatched! In fact, check out The Church's Bishops' Central Storehouse, for it is a sight to behold. Its goods and services positively affect thousands, if not millions, of lives for the better!

Thus, I was pretty excited the other day when I came across this TED talk, How to Buy Happiness, by Michael Norton. His research proves that people are happier when they are monetarily charitable!! Therefore, people who pay tithing and fast offerings are happier...I know I am!

In case anyone is wondering, I have heard/read of the many and varied criticisms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I don't live under a protective rock, or with my head in insulating sand. That said, I'm a deeply spiritual person.

I pray to our Heavenly Father. Oh, how I pray! I study and think deeply about the scriptures and other Church publications. I exercise faith. I read or listen to others' spiritual accounts. I attend and serve in The Church and its temples. I've had multiple amazing spiritual experiences that no one could ever take from me! My spiritual experiences have no earthly explanation, but I know I've been, and continue to be, inspired by the Holy Ghost and angels—who speak by the power of the Holy Ghost (2 Nephi 32:3). I honestly believe my spiritual experiences have been given to me by our loving Heavenly Father, and made possible through our Savior, Jesus Christ. My spirituality surpasses the criticisms of The Church.

Because of my faith and spiritual experiences, I absolutely believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true and correct church on the earth, and that it operates through divine inspiration and revelation. (I hesitate to write I know because I've seen how it turns-off some people.) 

So, here's what I say to those whose testimonies (of the truthfulness of what The Church is and teaches) are faltering:
  • Pray.
  • Read the scriptures and other Church publications.
  • Fast.
  • Watch or listen to General Conference.
  • Attend the temple, if possible.
  • Exercise hope and faith!
  • Faithfully follow what The Church teaches and see what blessings and miracles occur in your lives!
Until you are able to stand firmly in your own testimony, lean on those around you. Slowly, but surely, you'll have the strength you were seeking. To help you in your journey, may I suggest checking out these two wonderful General Conference talks? They are worth everyone's time! :)
To go along with President Uchtdorf's talk, I just read a lovely blog post You Can't Sit By Us, by Meg Johnson. She makes such a great point that we all need to have an inviting countenance (face/eyes/spirit), so others will feel welcome to join us! *That said, I understand how sometimes shyness or a lack of confidence can appear to others as snootiness or snobbery, for I have been accused of this in my life. Let's just do the best we can at making others feel welcome! :)

Lastly, please remember that people are so not perfect, including church leaders that many people highly respect and love. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was literally the only perfect person who ever lived on Earth. Remembering everyone's tendencies toward imperfection has helped me remain faithful to The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and continue my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For it is only through the atonement of our Savior that we can eventually be perfected.

Moroni 10:32 says we should "come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [our]selves of all ungodliness; and if [we] shall deny [our]selves of all ungodliness, and love God with all [our] might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for [us], that by his grace [we] may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God [we] are perfect in Christ, [we] can in nowise deny the power of God." Yes, we imperfect people can make better choices, and possibly impact others' lives for the better!

I look at it like this: If I can be imperfect (I'm so imperfect!) and still have amazing spiritual/inspiring/revelatory experiences, so can The Church's leaders! I strongly believe they are spiritually connected to the Lord because I have experienced those wonderful spiritual connections myself. The Church's leaders truly have the members' best and eternal interests at heart.

Every single one of us has been born with the Light of Christ in our souls. We all have the potential for spiritual greatness if we're simply willing to humble ourselves and make the necessary sacrifices!

P.S. I'm so pleased with how my typographic design turned out! It feels super yummy to me, which is exactly how I feel about my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and all of the benefits that come with it! Yes, readers, membership definitely has its privileges! ;)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mothers, Never Doubt Your Worth or Importance

Before you begin reading, please know that I have permission from my darling daughter to share our personal story with all of you. She told me she feels our story could be helpful to all children and their mothers. All I can say is WOW, I'm a blessed lady to have such a wonderful and thoughtful daughter! :)

Last night, I had such an interesting experience. It all began when I took my daughter to the store to buy contact solution for her new contacts. She's so happy she doesn't have to wear glasses anymore! Three cheers for good vision! (Seriously, never take good vision for granted. Ever.) My daughter brought along the last of her birthday money to purchase a few treats. She wasn't too happy I made her leave her iPod at home, but I wanted us to actually talk to each other in the car. I must say, it was a very smart move on my part. We talked, chatted and laughed the entire time! We were gone for about an hour and had a lovely time bonding together.

When we got home, we stayed in the kitchen so she could nibble a few bites of her treats. (By the way, don't eat a few Reese's Pieces followed by a Junior Mint, otherwise your mouth will think it's eating soap! My daughter learned that the hard way. Ha ha.) We sat next to each other at our beautiful kitchen table (that I waited 15 years and nine months to purchase!) and continued happily chatting. I began looking through the mail she picked up for me before we left for the store. All of a sudden, I got really excited when I saw an advertisement for adult ballet classes in one of those coupon magazines.

You see, I love ballet! I greatly enjoy watching ballet, and I love doing ballet myself—even though I only started really learning it as an adult. I've been wishing I could take ballet classes again, ever since we moved from Colorado six years ago. My family knows how much I adore ballet. I even purchased the New York City Ballet's workout dvds a few years ago. It's a great workout!

I exclaimed to my daughter, "Ooh! There's an adult ballet class at that studio! I've been wishing for an adult ballet class nearby! I wonder how much it costs! I'll have to check it out online."

My daughter instantly said, "Mom, I remember when you used to go to ballet all the time when we lived in Colorado. ________ [her older brother] and I used to cry at the window every night when you left." Surprised, I said, "You did?" With tears in her eyes, she said, "Yes. we cried every time you left." I was surprised at her words because while I remembered my children didn't really like that I went to ballet two nights a week, I didn't remember that they cried at the window! SO sad face. :(

Her recollection of that time made me feel so badly! I mean, I probably waited until 8:30 p.m. to leave, and Greg stayed home and put the kids to bed right after I left. And our kids have a fantastic relationship with Greg, he is an excellent father! Not to mention, I was a complete stay-at-home mom, just like I am today. I have always been a 100% stay-at-home mom. Okay, I actually calculated and combined the hours/days I've spent away from my children, and figured out that I've been there for my children 99.4% of their lives—at least when they weren't at school. (*I previously listed my time with my children at 95%, but decided to see what the number—me being away from my children—actually was, and it was way too high.)

I said to my sweet daughter, "Oh, ______! Give me a hug! I'm so sorry I made you feel badly!" She hugged me and then she really began to cry. Stunned, I said, "______, is there anything I can do for you? Is there anything I can say that would make you feel better?" Her words shocked me, "Don't go to ballet again. Just stay home, Mom." I said, "So, is it only ballet that you don't want me to leave for, or do you not like it when I leave for other things too?" Crying, she said, "I wish you'd never leave, Mom. I just want you to be home with me all the time!" I was truly surprised beyond belief.

We talked some more and she calmed down. She expressed that she understands her dad needs to go to work to support our family, and that's okay. But she surprised me again when she conveyed how she would rather that Greg and I didn't leave her and her brothers home alone on date-nights, etc. I asked her if something bad has happened to her that she needs to talk about. She assured me that everything is okay/fine, and I believe her. She said she understands when I need to go grocery shopping or to the doctor, etc., and that it's okay for her dad to be home with her when I'm gone doing those things.

I said, "So, how is it okay that you get to leave me every day when you go to school?" I was kind-of joking, but she strongly replied, "Well, you make me go to school!" I said, "Hey, it's either that or home school, and we've talked about this before. You don't want to have me as your teacher, so you go to public school." She instantly responded, "I know, and I want to keep going to school because I get to see my friends every day!" She also spends time with her friends outside of school, and I'm very glad for that.

My darling daughter and I concluded that it's best if I'm home with her as much as possible, which is so not hard for me to do. :) Plus, she knows that anytime I run errands, she is more than welcome to come with me. :)

What I've come to understand about my children from this discussion is, if they're given the choice whether to stay home alone (because they're legally old enough to do so) or come with me, they're totally and completely fine to make the choice to stay home alone. :) But they don't enjoy me leaving them home on a regularly-scheduled basis for activities they deem as "Mom doesn't want to spend time with me because she would rather leave home and do something else."

I think what it all comes down to is this: Children need to know that their mothers are absolutely there for them, 100%. Children want to be able to do whatever activities they choose, but they want to be able to see their mothers out of the corner of their eyes, smiling and cheering them on. Mothers are their children's safe place! Then, when children are ready (and every child is different), they'll gradually be able to let go. Yet a child's "invisible cord" is always attached to their mother, no matter how much physical distance is put between them. I know this is true because I've experienced it with my own dear mother. :) And now I have another strong example from my daughter that matches how I felt during my growing-up years.

This experience has completely renewed my motherly efforts. For a little while now, I've felt a smidgen less important in my children's lives. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I have one teenager and two pre-teens. If a catastrophe happened, my children could be totally self-sufficient...they don't need me in the ways they used to. In terms of having older children, I've felt that I could be replaceable—but nothing could be further from the truth! My children are definitely expressing their independence and growth (I'm so happy to watch them progress and grow!), but again, they need to know that I'm absolutely there for them whenever they need me. And I strongly believe all children have very similar feelings to my children.

Yes, Mothers, never doubt your worth or importance, for you are more valuable to your children than you could ever fully understand!

Now, I'm going to finish watching The Wizard of Oz with my sassy, sweet, cherished daughter. There is truly no place like home!

I snapped this photo while watching our new Blu-Ray disc! As a young girl, this scene was always my favorite part of The Wizard of Oz!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Amazing Teacher Husband

Today, my wonderful husband, Greg, was released from his church calling as one of our ward's gospel doctrine teachers. He served in his calling for nearly one year and I wasn't ready for him to be released yet! :(

The reason for his release is because he was called to be our bishop's executive secretary, i.e., the Bishop's Sidekick. ;) Don't misunderstand me, I'm thoroughly happy Greg was called to work closely with our bishop because he (our bishop) is a great man. I'm truly so pleased for Greg's association with the many great men in our ward. We have been continually blessed by the stalwart members of this ward! Like I've said before, our wonderful ward members will never fully understand how much they mean to our family! :)

This isn't the first time Greg has been a bishop's sidekick. When we lived in Colorado, Greg was also our ward's executive secretary. Our family was significantly blessed because of Greg's association with our fantastic Colorado bishop—he grew spiritually by leaps and bounds! Greg was already a spiritual giant in my eyes, so his growth was impressive to behold.

Anyway, back to my feelings about Greg as our ward's gospel doctrine teacher. He was an amazing teacher. He captivated his audience throughout each and every one his lessons—at least it felt that way to me! Greg gave us many points to ponder long after the lesson concluded. He connected with as many people as he could. Greg made us laugh, and he made me cry in the best way possible. I'm guessing he brought tears to other people's eyes, but I can't speak for them. :) Although, Greg received the nicest note from a previous gospel doctrine teacher that gushed about his teaching abilities. And he mentioned several folks in our ward who individually thanked him for his lessons, which is always so lovely to hear! I think it's safe to say he made an impact.

Greg was uber dedicated in studying the lesson material four weeks in advance. And he continued to study until the night before he taught the lesson on Sunday. Because he was an early morning seminary teacher when we lived in Texas, I feel he was an even better gospel doctrine teacher! Those Texas high school kids were so blessed to have Greg influence them!

I wanted to digitally record Greg's lesson today, but I refrained because I want to keep my lovely front-row memory of him tucked in my mind for future daydreaming. :) I know, I'm so cheesy! But I can't help it. I love being taught eternal truths by the love of my life! I am a better woman because I've been married to Greg for the past 16+ years. I know he would say the same about me. :) Neither of us are perfect, but we are definitely better because we're together!

If you couldn't tell, I relished and cherished every minute of Greg's lesson presentation today. I wished our Sunday School hour wouldn't end! Alas, all good things must come to a finale. (I just couldn't repeat end one more time, so I wrote finale instead! Ha ha.) I'm just grateful for all of the joyous Sundays I spent listening to my eternal companion teach gospel truths. Now, another wonderful ward member will be able to benefit from the gospel doctrine teaching opportunity.

I meant to take a photo of Greg and I after church today, but I forgot. It didn't help that we were on different schedules. We were also a bit tired from attending to ward/church duties early this morning until late this afternoon. Thus, here is a photo of us on Father's Day. It's a bit fuzzy because it was taken on my smarty phone, but I love it! :) I'm overjoyed that Greg will be standing by my side throughout eternity!

Friday, August 1, 2014


This movie quote is probably one of my all-time favorites:
Stoic: No more of....this! [gestures to all of Hiccup] 
Hiccup: [miffed] You just gestured to all of me.
Why do I love that quote, you ask? Because in my life, I have felt just like Hiccup. Not in the cartoonish, entire-movie sense, but definitely in the "They don't appreciate me for all that I am. I don't feel very connected to them." way. I haven't felt like Hiccup every day, mind you, but enough that when I heard those lines for the first time, little tears stung my eyes. It's amazing how much truth can be spoken/shown/felt in a movie...an animated movie, nonetheless!

By the way, I sincerely love both How to Train Your Dragon movies. After thinking very seriously and honestly about them, it's safe to say that they are two of my favorite movies. I admire the depth of their scripts, but their incredible flying sequences have even more to do with my love for them. Oh, how I hope we can fly in heaven! :)

So, what does one do when someone gestures to all of them in a non-pleasing way? How does one handle the feelings of not fitting-in, not being appreciated, not matching whatever social situation they find themselves in? Yes, it's a mighty lonely feeling when I've known that others thought of me much like Stoic thought of his son, Hiccup. I'm guessing other people have felt this way too. Thus, below are some coping mechanisms that have helped me through my Hiccup moments.

*But before I continue, I highly recommend following President Gordon B. Hinckley's advice when it comes to relationships (emphasis added), "While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you." (If you have time, please read President Hinckley's entire talk, "A Prophet's Counsel and Prayer for Youth"—you won't regret it!) He's absolutely right because, sadly, there are people who would wish us harm. We must be careful and protect ourselves.

Okay, now we may resume with my bullet points—assuming, of course, none of the people we're dealing with are trying to harm us!
  • Internalize that sometimes people are simply clueless. They truly might not understand that their words or actions are making others feel badly.
  • Acknowledge the fact that everyone is different. No one has the same set of fingerprints or soulprints. We are meant to be different. (I thought I invented the word soulprints, but then I Googled it and found that I'm not as original as I thought. Hmph. Regardless, I love it!) 
  • No matter how deep our desire is to have close connections with others, sometimes we just won't mesh with everyone. Hi! It's also impossible for our souls to become intertwined with everyone we meet, nor would we want that!
  • Just like we might not appreciate every personality trait in others, the same applies to us. We need to allow others to feel their feelings, even when their feelings might not be so happy towards us.
  • We should optimistically own our high hopes that a relationship/friendship will take off, but it's smart to keep a "small box" of realistic expectations in the back of our souls. Then, if the relationship doesn't take off like we hoped, we won't be devastated.
  • It's pretty easy to figure out if we're clicking with others, or not. When we come to the (sometimes sad) realization that they aren't appreciating what our souls have to offer—and we've truly given our very best efforts to link souls with them—it's okay to move along to the next relationship.
  • We needn't feel like failures if we aren't beautifully harmonizing with others, for there are plenty of people to sing with! We just need to keep auditioning! ;)
  • We need to stay strong in our personalities, for there is only one of each of us and there will only ever be one of us!
  • Each of us is truly important, even though we might not be important to everyone we meet. Thus, we must cherish those people we are important to. They are the ones we should focus our positive energy on; negative energy doesn't get us anywhere. We should not spend any time in negativeland. (Yes, I made up that word!)
  • Dwelling on people who don't get us is a waste of time. That said, if there's something we can learn from others that will improve ourselves, we should humbly and truthfully analyze their criticism. If appropriate, we can implement what we've learned from their critique and become even better! :)
  • Discovering splendid connections with others is sometimes just a matter of diligent seeking. Only we can determine how patiently we'll endure our search. :)
What it all comes down to is this: life is life. Everyone has happy and sad days. Sometimes we'll feel above the tippiest-top of the world, but other times we'll feel like we're alone in a pit, and no one is willing to lend us a friendly hand. Complete, honest acceptance of those facts will help us push through the hard times. For as we learned from Gary Ceran, we can take comfort in the fact that every problem will ultimately end.

I love this quote by Fred Rogers, "The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self." Yes, if we continually give our honest selves to others, we can find those wonderful souls who will gesture to all of us with appreciation, delight, and true affection!

P.S. If I could, I would fly at lightning speed on a brilliant satin-white dragon with shimmering yellow wings and electric blue eyes! :)