Sunday, September 16, 2012

I sat flipping through a collection of quotes by President Hinckley just now and landed on this one:

Every sacrament meeting ought to be a spiritual feast. It ought to be a time for meditation and introspection, a time for singing the songs of praise to the Lord, a time for renewing one's covenant with Him and our Eternal Father, and a time for hearing the word of the Lord with reverence and appreciation. 

I couldn't help but chuckled to myself as I read that and thought, "Yeah, sacrament meeting should be like that but I can't for the life of me remember the last time it actually was like that." Lately, I have been dreading going to church each week. It is an exhausting ordeal wrangling the children into clothes and making them look at least half-way presentable, getting to church and then wrangling all three children through sacrament meeting. Today, for example, was actually pretty decent. James and Ruby scuffled over the activity books, Archie pooped and had to be taken out, James was bent over coloring just as the water tray was passing over his head when he popped his head up and sent water all over the place, meanwhile Archie has crawled under the bench and scrapes his eye, Ruby is constantly telling James to stop kicking her, James wants to hold Archie and Archie cries, then Ruby wants to hold Archie and Archie cries, then James has to go to the bathroom. And this was a light day. I barely had time to balance the cup to my lips whilst simultaneously trying to keep Archie from grabbing the cup and falling off my lap. So, meditation and introspection?? Well, let's just say that I'm laughing as I'm typing this. And don't even get me started on speakers who go over time by even one minute or closing prayers that are way too long... I literally start screaming in my head, "Shut up!!!! Sit down! It took all of my energy to keep some semblance of control over these children for the last hour! Now shut up and close this meeting!!" Yes, I really do that in my head if it's been a particularly trying sacrament meeting.
Then, it's on to Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society. Usually, I'm nursing Archie during one of them and during the other one, I'm chasing him down or walking the halls with him. I often ask myself why I even bother going every week when I get almost nothing out of it. As I pick up my children from Primary, I am quickly reminded why I go through this struggle every week. I don't do it for me (otherwise, I would just take the baby home and put him to bed), I do it for my kids. I'm helping them build a foundation that will be with them throughout their lives.
In thinking about President Hinckley's quote, I can't help but think that he spent all of his married life sitting on the stand  during sacrament meeting.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Arise... And Be Men"

One of the aspects that I enjoy most about my job placing exchange students is meeting with potential host families in their homes. I inspect their homes to make sure they are clean and suitable and then sit down with them to ask them a variety of questions regarding their finances, the stability of their home life, and their motivations for hosting a student. It's not only an interesting process it's also great to have reaffirmed again and again that most families are good families that are trying to do right by their families regardless of their religious affiliation. 
A few weeks ago, I met with a single mom that had hosted a student through another organization when she was still married and she was now ready and wanting to host again through our company. As I started the interview process, she immediately started telling me about her husband and the dissolution of their marriage. They had been together for 15 years, married for 13, and have three boys together ages 8, 5, and 3. She told me all about their wedding and vows, how they went through pre-marital counseling as required by the Catholic Church, about how her husband had said that there was not one single thing that would ever justify divorce, and about how her current home had been their dream together. Then she told me that about nine months previous he had decided that he didn't want to be married anymore and he didn't want the burden of responsibility. She said she was devastated. I asked how she was coping and her eyes welled up and said, "Well, it was only nine months ago so it's still pretty raw. It's especially hard on my oldest son who asks every day if he can see his dad or asks if dad is coming over." She then went on to explain that one of the reasons she wanted to host another exchange student was so that her oldest son could have an older male to look up to in the home. So sad. I met the little boy and he seemed downcast and sad. I found out a little later in the conversation that her husband had been engaging in extramarital affairs and that he was now living with one of his mistresses. She seemed to think that he might come to his senses one day and I asked her if she would take him back if he wanted to come home. She replied, "I think I would. I just want us to be a family again. I want my boys to be happy again. I think he just got stressed out and couldn't deal with the birth of our third child. You know, divorce is one of the three most selfish things a person can do in this life--divorce, abortion, and suicide." I would have to agree. Now, in writing this, I am aware that I only heard one side of the story. Maybe she was a shrew of a wife. But the thing is, she didn't seem like a shrew. She seemed like a very sweet woman who had devoted her life to God and her family. And as I walked away from her home all I wanted to do was call her husband and punch him in the face and some how make him understand all of the heartache he had caused his wife and his innocent children. I wanted to ask him if he really understood the repercussions of his choices and if he knew that his boys would have trust and commitment issues for a long time because their hero destroyed their family and broke their hearts. 
Which leads me to the above book. I recently finished reading The Broken American Male and How to Fix Him by Rabbi Boteach. It's an insightful read and his familial and religious morals run parallel to my own. His ultimate goal is to save families. While reading it, I couldn't help but think of the father and husband from my story. I also thought about my husband and father and how thankful I am for the gospel and particularly, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which teaches us the sacred distinction and importance of the roles of mothers and fathers. We live in a world that teaches us that the only thing that makes us valuable is how much money and fame we have. I'm grateful for the gospel which keeps us grounded and is a consistent reminder for us that our real value and worth is determined by our loving relationships (including our relationship with God) and our contributions to others. I'm grateful every day for a loving husband who fights the good fight every single day; who is a loving father-- the kind of father that sacrifices is own birthday to take his five year old son on his first Fathers and Sons Campout. He is James' hero. He's a hero to each member of our family. Not only because he works really, really hard but because even at the end of the day, when he's physically spent and mentally drained, he still musters up enough energy to play with the kids for a while or fix something around the house that needs repaired or help out with the baby. Many times I will look out the window to see James following right behind Adam and mimicking his every move. He wants to be just like his dad, a man, which echoes Lehi's counsel "Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men..."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Talk

I was "blessed" with the opportunity of speaking in church today. On Mother's Day, of all days. I never realized how daunting it is to have to speak on Mother's Day. I gotta tell ya, I struggled just a little bit. I know that this day is not the happiest day for a lot of women and a lot of men, for that matter, including my dad. He commented one time that Mother's Day wasn't his favorite day because his mother had some struggles in her life. I also wanted to be sensitive to the single sisters and those women who desperately want children or more children and that dream has not been fulfilled. So instead, I decided to shift the focus of my talk to womanhood and incorporating motherhood into it. The basis of my talk was on this quote by Sheri Dew:

Motherhood is more than bearing children, though it is certainly that. It is the essence of who we are as women. It defines our identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gave us. President Gordon B. Hinckley stated that 'God planted within women something divine.' Elder Matthew Cowley taught that 'men have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. They are born with an inherent right, and inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls...and the regenerating force in the lives of God's children.' ... We are all mothers in Israel, and our calling is to love and help lead the rising generation through the dangerous streets of mortality.  (For the full talk )

I also shared this quote by Neal A. Maxwell:

In our modern kingdom, it is no accident that women were, through the Relief Society, assigned compassionate service. So often the service of women seems instinctive, while that of some men seems more labored. It is precisely because the daughters of Zion are so uncommon that the adversary will not leave them alone. 
We salute you, sisters, for the joy that is yours as you rejoice in a baby's first smile and as you listen with eager ear to a child's first day of school which bespeaks a special selflessness. You rock a sobbing child without wondering if today's world is passing you by, because you know you hold tomorrow tightly in your arms. 
So often our sisters comfort others when their own needs are greater than those being comforted. That quality is like the generosity of Jesus on the cross. Empathy during agony is a portion of divinity. 
When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing, because it is a celestial institution, formed outside telestial time. The women of God know this. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be Kind to Your Web-footed Friends...

A couple of months ago, we decided we would start a new journey by getting a pet(s). Adam and I decided that a dog was definitely out. I'm forever ruined on dogs due to my in-laws awful canines. I can't stand fur scattered around the house, I hate dogs' slobbery tongues and stinky breath, and I especially don't like picking up their nasty poop. That, and I don't have time for a dog since my plate is pretty full already with three kids. A cat was never even an option. I hate cats. I haaaate cats. I developed a special loathing for cats at our old place when every bloody cat in the neighborhood decided to use our yard as it's toilet. No thanks. I hate cats. So, we decided to get chickens because 1) they are ALWAYS an outdoor pet 2) they produce something useful 3) James was really excited about getting some. Mind you, I never thought that we would ever actually get chickens until I woke up one morning to the sound of a hammer and looked out the window to see Adam building the darling little coop in the picture. (Side note: Adam never ceases to amaze me with his endless talent. He simply looked at a picture of a coop that he liked and went outside and built it. Amazing! That is not an easy thing to do. I can't build anything without detailed instructions.) So, we ended up with two ducks and four chickens. The other night, a raccoon broke into the fenced area and killed one of our ducks and a chicken. James was pretty heartbroken.
I have been so pleased and proud as I have watched James take care of his chickens. He checks on them first thing in the morning and multiple times throughout the day. He loves getting them out of their coop and holding them and running around the yard with them. He always refills their food and water as needed. He loves them. One day we came home to find that they had escaped the yard. We couldn't find them anywhere so we started circling the block. He was crying and crying and looked at me with big tears in his eyes and said, "Maybe they ran away because I didn't take good enough care of them and they wanted to find a new home." That was so sad. I assured him that he takes exceptional good care of them and that they just wanted to go on an adventure. Adam's brother came over to help us and found them right away, walking in a group half-way down the block. What a relief that they were all safe! James was so excited to see them.
James will frequently make 'deliveries' to the house. He'll ring the doorbell and yell, "Delivery!!" and there will be a 5-gallon bucket with a chicken in it. He thinks that's hilarious. It has been a really great learning experience for James--he is learning responsibility and learning how to treat his pets with care and love. We have enjoyed adding them to the family.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Swim Suit Season is Fast Approaching...EEK!

I have really got to get by bum in gear. Swim suit season is almost here and I am feeling very frumpilicious. I have been drooling over these suits and these ones too  Maybe someday I'll have the bank account to go with them. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Good Clip. But then, I've always been a Jon Stewart fan. Thoughts?

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Haps

Easter at the local Baptist church which included an egg hunt, games and pony rides. 

 Our annual Easter with cousins. But we missed my sister and her family.

 Spring came finally!
 I've been enjoying all of the thunderstorms lately.
 Adam's newest acquisition.
 I just love Ruby's face in this picture.


 Can't believe how much this little guy has grown. He's such a good-natured baby.

 I love his face in this picture. So cute. Little squishy cheeks.

 Looking like a tired mom of three.

Monday, February 13, 2012

President Monson

I have been 'in line' to get a copy of President Monson's biography at the library for several months now and my turn finally came two weeks ago. Now, I know how this is going to sound, but I've had kind of a difficult time feeling the same love for President Monson that I had for President Hinckley. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I have doubted that he's a prophet or anything. I just really, really loved President Hinckley and I still miss him. On that note, as I started to read President Monson's biography, I could not put it down. It is page after page of miracles and faith-promoting stories. It is clear that, from the beginning, he was a special person and that he was being raised up as prophet for our day. He truly has gone about 'doing good,' inspiring those around him, serving, strengthening, and lifting up all who come within the grasp of his influence. To the Rescue has increased my love for President Monson and has strengthened my testimony that he is the Lord's chosen servant on the earth today. This book has already changed my life, my attitude, and perspective and I'm only half-way through. If any of you reading this could use a spiritual uplift, I highly recommend obtaining a copy of this book.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Archie's Blessing

James has a special love for grandma great.
My mom and her sister Renee.

My brother Greg and grandma.
Great grandma.
Great grandpa.

I love this photo.
Adam gave Archie Benjamin a name and a blessing New Year's Day in our ward. It was a great way to start 2012 and it also worked out perfectly because Adam still had quite a few family members in town for the holidays. This is the group of priesthood holders-- my grandpa Ardell, my dad, Adam's brother Chris, Adam's dad, Adam's brother Matt, Adam, Adam's brother Aaron, my brother Bryan and my brother in law Blake (Charity's hubs). I wanted a big group photo but that didn't happen obviously, so my brother took a bunch of random shots. I also wanted a picture of just Adam and his brothers because they all looked so handsome that day but that didn't happen either. Adam was being a little impatient so it didn't quite happen. Oh well. It was a lovely blessing and a lovely day spent with lots of family on both sides. The only people missing were my sister Emily and her husband and daughter. Archie is such a blessing in our home and has a sweet little spirit.

Happy New Year 2011

This picture pretty much sums up our New Year's Eve. We spent the evening at my brother and sister-in-law's house and we actually made it to midnight although I was pining for my bed by 10:00. Ruby fell asleep in the chair around 11:30 and slept soundly through the noise makers at midnight. She didn't even flinch when James put a horn right up to her ear and blew as hard as he could. Happy New Year! Hope it's a good year for us finally! 2011 pretty much sucked but for the exception of little Archie.

Happy Christmas!

Bleh, looking nasty. Me, that is, not sweet Ruby.

Christmas 2012 was pretty good. The kids were up at their usual time, we opened presents, and then headed to church at 10:30. Santa brought James a Wii and a big firetruck as his main presents. Ruby got a Disney princess castle that she has been fawning over for months but does she ever really play with it now? Not really. I really enjoyed attending church on Christmas, although I wish we would have sung more carols other than the opening and closing songs. I wish we met together at church every Christmas Day to sing hymns and then go home. Adam said they did this in England where he served. Members met at the church for an hour to sing carols, regardless of what day Christmas fell on. It really helped set the tone for the day and was a great reminder for the purpose of the holiday. Right after church we went to Adam's parents' house to open presents with his siblings and eat dinner. At 4:00 we headed over to my parents' house and repeated the process. It was a good day but we were pretty tired by the end of the day.