Today is a New Day

I’ve been in a bad mood lately. I don’t really know when it began but I can tell you when I decided to make it end. I was hanging out with a friend, we’ll call her Kate, on Friday and she asked me if I needed help with the kids. There was something about the way she asked, her question having some pity/concern or something in it and it struck me that I haven’t been my best self lately.

I used to roll my eyes at things like, “happiness is a choice”, but really folks, it is and I’ve known that for quite some time (ps- I’m not naive though to the very real fact of depression and that is not something you just will away – but you can choose to seek help). A few years back one of my goals had been to leave people better than I found them and I found that because of that I was a better person. I think I’m going to institute that in my life again because my bad attitude hasn’t been leaving people better than I found them. And when I focus so much on complaining or fault finding with people and places in my life, it filters the way I see things and then I get sucked further into that mood.

So that was Friday when I decided to get over whatever it is I’ve been allowing to control my mood for months. Yesterday was great, not a whole lot happened but I was in a better mood, I was a better mom too.

Today church was amazing and it’s been a long time since I’ve thought that. It’s been good or okay. But today I got so much out of church and when I looked at the people around me I found good, complimentary thoughts popping up (honest second here – lately I’ve had mean thoughts pop into my mind). I’ve resisted liking my new ward and it wasn’t hard to resist it-it’s very different than my old ward. Much louder, less organized and such. But today I was just overcome with the feeling that I was surrounded by really amazing people. In Young Women’s (have I mentioned I’ve been called to serve in YW again?) the girls are incredible, they participate A LOT and what they know and what they have to say was just amazing–I was just impressed with each and every comment they made.

I’m so fortunate and for months I’ve been blind to that, or resisting it and I didn’t realize I was doing that or the effect it was having on me. I haven’t been taking the time to practice gratitude. Not just listing my blessings but to see the world around me in a better way.

Last week I taught on gratitude, and I gave the girls each a notebook and told them how President Eyring had shared how he looked for the hand of the Lord in his life (or his family’s life) each and every day. So I challenged them to look for the hand of the Lord in their life each day – and since I don’t issue challenges I’m not willing to do myself, I’ve been keeping my own notebook and at the end of every day I take a few minutes to ponder how the Lord has blessed me that day. It’s super hard but I’ve done this before so I know from experience that it gets easier. And I can feel my attitude improving. If you haven’t guessed, Kate was my mention for Friday because I needed that question to push me out of my rut.

Anyway – just wanted to say that and don’t know how to end the post so this paragraph will do that for me. I’ll post about Halloween and this weekend in a separate post.

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Fall into this update – see what I did there?

A lot has happened since my last post. At the beginning of October, I was released from my calling with the Young Women. For those of you unfamiliar with how callings work at my church, everything is volunteer. We receive a call from a member of the bishopric and then we serve for a number a years and then we are released. The Bishopric prays about who should fill what callings. A relief society president could become a primary teacher – it’s all based on inspiration and revelation.

I served with the young women for three and half years. We knew the release was coming, just not exactly the when. I got a heads up two weeks before and I didn’t take it well – LOTS of crying. But it was nice knowing in advance so I could just enjoy the time I had left with the girls. This basically sums up my feelings.

The Sunday I was released I was the one teaching- I gave a lesson of Gratitude…which I thought fitting, since I was sad but also very grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know the girls and be a part of their lives.

The next Sunday, I was asked to teach Relief Society the following week. I was beyond stressed. When I first left singles ward I thought being a relief society teacher would be a pretty sweet calling. But after years with the youth I was nervous about teaching adults again. I didn’t have much of an outline, just taught from a conference talk – no other guideline. It was awful! I asked a question and got absolutely NO response. I moved on and I was most of the way done with what I had prepared with 20-25 minutes left!! Luckily I asked a question that seemed to get people talking (or they finally took pity on me) and we only ended a few minutes early. The next week I got a calling to be a Relief Society teacher the second and fourth Sundays…so there’s that. They are changing the curriculum in January to be more the way the youth program is so I guess they thought I’d be a good fit since I already have experience with that. Oh and the YW President was called as the 1st counselor and so she’s still my “boss”- which helps me be more comfortable right off the bat.

Also at the beginning of October, my oldest nephew came for a weeklong visit, followed by a one day visit from his parents. So I was spending a lot of time in the West End with my family there.

Stormy/Nicky (Its easier just to use their real names) started “preschool”. It’s one day a week and they basically just play. But social skills are learning too and I already see a big improvement. Every couple of weeks I get to help out in the classroom and that’s more fun than I thought it would be.

Gertie/Izzy will be 6 months old next week! I can’t believe how fast time has gone. She’s at a really fun stage. Super cute, smiles all the time, and so curious about everything! She reaches for objects and is rolling over. We’ll be starting solids in the next week or so.

Chewy/Matt and I are in a weight loss competition with each other. Not really, but we are both losing weight and I’m very competitive. At first I wasn’t because I had so much extra, you know, having just had a baby. But over the last month or so I’ve really closed the gap. I still weigh more than my husband…but I’m only a few pounds away from him and my pre pregnancy weight.

Let’s see- what else. I’m still writing whenever I can and meeting with my writing group. I still take family photos and continue to work on my photography skills. Oh – and I’m making Nicky a new quiet book. We’re trying to be better about keeping him in the chapel during sacrament meeting – so I thought making a new quiet book might make it fun/easier. I’ll take pics when I’m done. So far it’s not too bad, as long as I don’t compare my work with my Pinterest inspirations of course.

That’s it for now. Here are some photos for making it all the way to the end!

General Update

Have I mentioned that we want to move? I’ve been wanting to move since Stormy was born but now Chewy is on board too. The house is just getting too small.

So we’ve been saving for a down payment and working on fixing this house up and we are hoping to move sometime between spring and fall 2018. In the meantime our house continues to wage war against our savings account. I’m not sure who is winning to be honest.

We have a huge list of projects and as time goes by we start wondering what we can just leave, if you’ve seen my neighborhood you know we aren’t going to get back much money on unnecessary upgrades.

A few weeks ago, when I was potty training Stormy actually, we had a lot of rain. At one point I thought I stepped in pee by the fireplace, then later i realized it wasn’t pee but that our fireplace was leaking. It was a bad week for me and I just sat down on the couch and cried because I wanted my toddler to stop peeing on the floor and I wanted to be done with this money pit. Then I bucked up and got to work. I found a company on Google that had great reviews and called them for an estimate. They said they’d have to inspect it first and that would be $199. Seemed steep but when rain water is coming into your house, threatening to mess up your floor, you do it. So they came out, took a picture of the top of my chimney (I guess that was the inspection) and said the repairs would cost $1350….so of course we got another estimate. The next company came to do the estimate (for free but even if they did an inspection it would have only cost $50). The guy sealed the hole for now (for free – thoughtful), and he was knowledgeable and honest with me, he didn’t think as much work as the first company said needed to be done actually needed to be done and he explained to me why. Then – their estimate came in at $600…I’ll let you guess which company we went with. He even explained to me why they came in cheaper. Most chimney companies work on commission, they do not.

Anyway, now that I’ve written my review. So there’s that.

Stormy starts “preschool” on the 15th. It’s a Mothers Morning Out program, it’s not full blown preschool. One day a week, no parties, pageants or field trips. I’m hoping it will be good for him to interact with other kids besides his cousins. Several times throughout the year I’ll be helping out in the classroom. Should be fun to see him in that setting.

We had a bunch of rain last week and Stormy discovered puddles. And I had fun taking slow-mo videos of it.

Gertie is now 3.5 months! Can you believe it? The craziest thing is, I wasn’t even dating anyone 5 years ago and now I’m approaching my fourth anniversary and have two crazy but adorable kids.

My church calling is going well. I’ve been serving in young women’s for about three and a half years. It’s coming to an end soon though and I find it all bittersweet. It will be nice to have my Thursday nights back but I find that going to youth night always makes me feel better and refreshed. It’s hard hanging out with two kids all day. I absolutely love the girls I work with and even though I’ll still see them at church, I know it will be different and I’ll miss them. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for whatever calling is coming next, but it’s hard to imagine any other calling being as fulfilling as this one has been.

I bought a laminator…that’s right, I felt that was update worthy. I’ve been making little family home evening pouches (I’ll do a post on those later) and laminating everything I can think of. I love it.

I think that’s it for the update – I’ll try to be better about blogging more often so that the posts aren’t so long.

Public Speaking…

I gave a talk yesterday – I think my anxiety is worse while pregnant, but I’m not sure.  Once I got up and started talking I was fine but I’ll tell you what, the moment I sat down I couldn’t help but smile with relief that it was over!  Anyway – here’s my talk (minus the intro) for those who are interested.

My talk today is on the mutual theme for 2017.

When I was younger and we had a research project it involved many hours at the library, using a card catalog and finding the book I hoped would have the information I needed.  Then I actually had to read through it to take notes or photocopies and keep them all together so when it came time to write my paper I didn’t have to do the whole search all over again.  All this work made it so that when I was curious about something, such as, how are marshmallows made, I chalked it up to a mystery of the universe and forgot about it.

Then came the internet, and soon smart phones,  so that you could hold in your hand the gateway to learning anything you wanted within seconds of wanting to learn it.  You could Google how marshmallows are made and not only learn how it’s done in a factory, but make your very own at home!  We have such quick access to knowledge and information, finding the answer can be as quick as opening a web browser or even telling your phone to look it up for you.  We can find any useful or absolutely useless tidbit online.  But while the internet can give us information and knowledge it cannot give us wisdom.  Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information.  Wisdom is the combination of knowledge and experiences creating insights that deepen one’s understanding of relationships and the meaning of life.

Knowledge can be acquired in seconds, but wisdom is something that takes a little bit more time and more effort on our part.  The scripture for the Mutual Theme for 2017 is James 1:5-6 , but it has been summed up into one word.  Ask.  I love this, because the first thing it tells us is that it’s okay to have questions.  With this scripture, we find out who and how to ask.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” – it doesn’t say, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of Google, Siri, or Wikipedia.”  Next, it says, “ask in faith, nothing wavering.” To me, this means asking with faith that the Lord will answer our prayers, but also, that we can be depended on to do the work required.  Sheri Dew said in a recent BYU-Idaho devotional, “None of us are entitled to revelation without effort on our part.  Answers from God don’t just magically appear.”

I know that sometimes, I pray without real intent to act, I just expect the Lord to take care of things.  Elder Bednar says about James 1:5-6, “Please notice the requirement to ask in faith, which I understand to mean the necessity to not only express but to do, the dual obligation to both plead and to perform, the requirement to communicate and to act.”  When I was attending BYU-Idaho, Elder Bednar was then President Bednar and he would have family home evenings with different student wards throughout the school year.  I remember on one such occasion he explained the same idea.  He told us, if there was an answer we were seeking, we should not only pray, but act.  Meaning, we should study it out, we should attend all our Sunday meetings, we should participate in classes and volunteer to pray, we should serve in the Temple.  We should show the Lord we are ready for an answer and we should be where the answers can come.  Every time I have needed an answer from the Lord, I remember this counsel.  I cannot tell you how many times I have received answers during Sacrament talks, General Conference, Sunday School, reading my scriptures, or at the temple.

When we pray, we should keep in mind that we aren’t just expressing a desire to the Lord, but we are willing to do what it takes to achieve that desire.  I remember shortly after college, praying each and every night for my parents.  My father’s business partner had passed away and the company struggled to survive through the recession.  Despite his best efforts, the company had failed.  My parents were also raising my two young cousins and it hadn’t been easy, emotionally or financially.  I prayed that the Lord would bless them for the sacrifices they were making and that they would have the things they needed.  When I prayed this, I had the faith the Lord would do it, I just didn’t think about HOW he would do it.  Several weeks later, I got a phone call from my dad and I could tell it was difficult for him to ask, but he needed to borrow money and he wondered if I would be able to help him.  He told me to not answer right away but to think about it.  I hung up the phone with him and checked the amount in my savings account.  It was just a few dollars more than what he would need.  My stomach clenched, if I gave him the money I would have nothing to fall back on if something happened.  But then I remembered the words of my many prayers for my parents and realized that I was going to be the vehicle for which the Lord would answer those prayers.  I know my father was inspired to ask me.  I also know it was no coincidence that the amount he needed was almost exactly what I had in my savings account.  The Lord was asking me to act to answer my prayers.  I didn’t hesitate after that.  I wrote the check to my dad.    Grateful that my prayers had been answered and also grateful for the lesson that sometimes we are the answers to our own prayers.

I debated sharing this next story with you because it involves Facebook but it’s just one example of the ever widening gap between the world and God and the danger of attaining knowledge but not wisdom.  About a week ago, a friend of mine shared a video that had gone viral of a little boy reciting his ABCs, except that with each letter, he recited a bible verse.  I thought the video was cute and the verses he recited were also training to be a good citizen.  Anyway, I “liked” the video and then for some reason I can’t explain, I looked at the comments.  Most were very positive, they also enjoyed this cute video, they loved seeing parents teaching their children about God, etc. etc.  But there were some angry comments about brainwashing this child to believe in God and denying him the ability to choose what to believe.   I closed Facebook, only to wake up at 2 am the next morning, unable to sleep because I couldn’t stop thinking about these comments and the blatant attack on religion.  I kept thinking about how these people had the knowledge of the world but not the wisdom of God.  I thought of 2 Nephi 9:28 “… When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.”  The people leaving the negative comments used language making them sound like a philosophy textbook (I hated my philosophy class).  They argued that this wasn’t the same as educating a child but denying him free will.  I disagree.  These parents armed their child with building blocks so as he grows older and gains experience, he can come to know the truth for himself.  Because of what they are teaching him, he will be better able to choose for himself.  To quote Sheri Dew again, she says, “There have always been and will always be charismatic men and women who can launch what sound like, on the surface, reasoned arguments against the Father and the Son, the Restoration, the Prophet Joseph, the Book of Mormon, and living prophets.  But doubters and pundits never tell the whole story, because they don’t know the whole story-and don’t want to know.  They opt for clever sound bites, hoping no one digs deeper than they have.  Sound bites will never lead to a testimony.  As seekers of truth, our safety lies in asking the right questions, in faith, and of the right sources-meaning those who only speak truth: such as the scriptures, prophets, and the Lord through the Holy Ghost.”

Each and every one of us comes to at least one moment in our lives where we must choose for ourselves what we believe.  Parents and leaders can teach you the things of God, but they cannot give you your testimony or conversion.  For that, you must do as President Hinckley said, “Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work.”

The world in which we live does not make it easy or popular to follow the Lord.  I found two quotes that were similar.  The first comes from Elder James E. Faust back in 1987, he said, “In the future the opposition will be both more subtle and more open.  It will be masked in greater sophistication and cunning, but it will also be more blatant.  We will need greater spirituality to perceive all of the forms of evil and greater strength to resist it.  But the disappointments and setbacks to the work of God will be temporary, for the work will go on.”

And the other quote is from President Uchtdorf, “Satan, our adversary, wants us to fail.  He spreads lies as part of his effort to destroy our belief.  He slyly suggests that the doubter, the skeptic, the cynic is sophisticated and intelligent, while those who have faith in God and His miracles are naive, blind, or brainwashed.  Satan will advocate that it is cool to doubt spiritual gifts and the teachings of true prophets.”  It is not only the youth who are exposed to the temptations and the flattery of the world, but each and every one of us.  The theme, though for the youth program, is something that we all need to help strengthen us against the adversary.

The questions we have or will have, that we can take to the Lord vary – from doctrinal to personal.  I’ve asked the Lord questions ranging from, “was Joseph Smith really a prophet?” to “do you  love me?”  You may have questions about if the Lord can forgive you for something you’ve done, or you may be asking if the Book of Mormon is true.  It is more important than ever that we seek wisdom from the Lord to help strengthen us.  Don’t be afraid to ask the Lord, as the scripture says, He giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.  This means he doesn’t deny anyone, he gives openly and generously, and he won’t criticize or scold you for humbly seeking an answer.  Sheri Dew suggests two questions to start you off with, the first, “ask the Lord to teach you what it feels and sounds like for you when He is speaking to you through the Holy Ghost.”  The second is, “if you’ve never asked the Lord how He feels about you, that is a great question to ask.”  Even if you have asked that one before, may I suggest that if you are struggling whether it’s with a question, or a trial, ask Him again.  He understands that sometimes we need reassurance and a reminder that we are his children.

The answers we are seeking do not always come the way we expect them to, so we need to listen up and pay attention.  I remember one year listening to conference, and it had been an emotionally trying year.  I was almost 30 and had ended a bad relationship and I was so angry at this other person that I struggled to feel the spirit and to feel God’s love for me.  My questions for conference that year, were if the Lord could forgive me and help me stop being so angry and if I would one day get married and have children.  I still remember Elder Shayne Bowen standing up at the pulpit and sharing the story of losing his 8-month old son because he aspirated on a piece of chalk.  The talk, while moving, seemed to be about parenthood and losing a child, but I had learned many years before not to ignore something because I didn’t think it applied to me.  Near the end of the talk, came the answer I was seeking.  He said, “As I felt the guilt, anger, and self-pity trying to consume me, I prayed that my heart could change.  Through very personal sacred experiences, the Lord gave me a new heart, and even though it was still lonely and painful, my whole outlook changed.  I was given to know that I had not been robbed but rather there was a great blessing awaiting me if I would prove faithful.”

His statement not only brought me great comfort and proved to me that the Lord still loved me because he answered my questions, but it also showed me what I needed to do to overcome my anger and self pity and promised that I would not be denied blessings if I proved faithful.  I do want to add that just hearing this didn’t fix everything, it started my journey.  I had the answers, now I had to do the work.  It took several months, many more prayers, and many personal sacred experiences, but I was able to overcome that trial.  Brothers and Sisters, and especially the youth, navigating through mortality certainly isn’t easy, but I promise if you come to the Lord and ask in faith, nothing wavering, he will give you revelation, peace, and joy.

Teaching Prep

I’m teaching in January so I’ve been pondering and preparing my lesson. It’s been tough for me to prepare this time.  I’m not sure exactly why but I’m sure the holidays didn’t help and then I kept thinking what I should say for my guest post for Ashley’s blog and then there’s also the fact that I’m pregnant (gender reveal to come next week BTW).

The only thing I’ve known for sure about my lesson is that I want to share this video I came across.  I found it on lds.org under the youth site.  The topic I’m going to try to focus on is “Why is Jesus Christ Important in My Life?”  Also on the site, I found a talk by Dallin H. Oaks where he mentions a woman who tells him she’s been asked to return to church and she just can’t think of why she should.  He says something to the effect of, when you think of all the Lord has done for you, don’t you have many reasons? And her response, “what has he done for me?”

I think a lot of people forget, or do not understand, exactly what the Lord has done for them.  I found this video to be a beautiful message about what Jesus Christ has made possible for all of us.  I truly believe that if we all worked on developing our relationship with the Savior that there would be less contention and hatred, we would be more understanding of other’s shortcomings and weaknesses, and we would all have more peace about the things we cannot control.

In case the video doesn’t work, I’ve put the link at the bottom of this post.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/yw/godhead/important?lang=eng#video=reclaimed

In West Philadelphia…

Sorry I’ve been a little MIA.  I find it’s not so easy to get on the computer and type up a blog post when you have a 14 month old.  I can’t leave him unsupervised too long as he has now tried to eat soap, took a bite out of deodorant and pulls open the oven (either on or off, baby don’t care).  And if he’s not busy finding reasons for me to call poison control, he’s at the baby gate (which blocks him from the computer/kitty liter box room begging to come in and destroy everything…and maybe taste some cat liter).  Anyway – the beastie is slumbering so I thought I’d take the chance to catch up a little on the blog.

Last week, Stormy and I were able to travel up to Philadelphia Pennsylvania with the young women at church for the temple open house up there.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the words I just typed – in our church we have meeting houses where we get together on Sundays and during the week for activities and then we have temples.  There are far less temples than meeting houses and the temple is far more sacred.  Near us, we have the D.C. Temple (where Chewy and I were married) and the Raleigh Temple and now the Philadelphia Temple.  So you can see there aren’t as many.  When a temple is first built they have an open house where anyone (member of our church or not) can go and get a tour.  Then they dedicate the temple and once the temple is dedicated it’s closed to the public.  Only members of our church who have a recommend can enter.

The PA temple will be dedicated sometime in September so until then, the public is welcome to go and tour.

Ok – with that out of the way, here’s our trip.  The ride up went extremely well.  We got there in four-five hours (we stopped for lunch).  Stormy did really well.  I had two of the young women with me and one sitting in the back keeping him entertained.  We easily found the parking deck we wanted (I get anxious about city driving – mostly because of the parking situation in every city known to man).  We met up with another young woman who recently moved from our ward to PA.  It was great to see her and her mom again.  Then we went exploring.

The heat index was at about 1,000 degrees that day and I had a backpack and a baby.  Sweat literally dripped from me from the moment we we walked ten feet until ten minutes after we found air condition.  How did people survive in the days before air conditioning?



We first went to the Liberty Bell.  I have to say, I expected some elevation, a flight of stairs or an elevator ride…I don’t know why I thought this.  It’s ground floor at the end of a hallway.  There were lots of people but it wasn’t too crowded.  We didn’t spend long there, probably because we didn’t want to lose any of the girls.  So we took a picture and headed to Independence Hall.

 


For whatever reason we didn’t actually go to Independence Hall – we just took a picture.  It started to remind me of my D.C. trip with my sisters a few years back where I was stuck driving and we drove by things taking pictures…and I hated it.  Except I didn’t hate this, I just wanted to get inside.  I was giving Stormy water like crazy because I was so worried he would dry out.

We made our way to a visitor center with a gift shop and information but most importantly, a water fountain and air conditioning.

They had a moving dinosaur 


We remained there until it was time to go to dinner.

The walk through the city wasn’t so bad, except that we had a hoard of teenage girls from Mechanicsville, VA-many of which had probably never been in a city before.  They were distracted by shiny things, boys, homeless people mumbling.  It was a challenge to keep them all moving along and not leaving any behind when they saw a window of shiny jewelry or a small bird in the middle of the road (no joke – had to tell her to stay on the sidewalk).

We did dinner at Chipotle where I ordered a cheese quasadilla and bowl with rice, chicken, cheese, beans, etc.  The funny thing is – the employees probably though the qausadilla was for Stormy and the adult sized bowl was for me…not so.  Stormy ate most of it, he really seemed to enjoy the mixture of the food.  I’m so glad he eats more adult like than I do.

read that closely…

Then we made our way to the Temple for our scheduled tour.  We just barely made it in time to sit down and wait…I guess the group waiting was too big so they split us.  It was nice to be sitting in a comfy seat with AC, however Stormy was tired, it was his bedtime and he didn’t want to sit still.  The open house was pretty awesome.  I’ve been to one before in Utah (because they have a new temple about every six months – sarcasm…but I’m sure it’s close to that), but the young women hadn’t been to one before and the chances of being able to go to another on the east coast are pretty slim.  That’s why we decided to do this, that and we had a place for all the girls to spend the night for free (see above – YW and her family moved recently).  We first were taken to a room and shown a video which explains what happens in a temple, the different things done there such as baptisms, marriages, etc.  One thing I thought interesting was the emphasis on the marriages being between a man and a woman – which makes sense since the civil definition of marriage has been expanded.  It also stood out because there was totally a gay couple going through the tour with us – I get self conscious about that stuff because I don’t want to offend, but at the same time, it doesn’t change God’s law.  I think I may have written before (or it’s in a draft somewhere) about how hard it can be to stand up for what I know is true when it’s telling someone they shouldn’t be with the person they love.  But I know God’s stand on it and must defend it.  Neither here nor there, just saying it stood out to me because of them.  One of the men had really good questions (about temples in general) and I was curious to hear what he would ask next.  He wasn’t confrontational or anything, and I really liked that about him because it was obvious he didn’t agree with some of the things said, but he didn’t bring those things up, like he understood there wasn’t a point in debating those things.

He was totally tired – and maybe a little stuffy

I’m digressing.  The temple was beautiful…it had a LOT of stairs though, my legs were burning by the end (didn’t help that I was still carrying a backpack and baby).  By the end though I had to get going, Stormy was fading.  I had booked a hotel room for the two of us since I figured a house full of teenage girls wouldn’t offer much chance to sleep.  So we took some pics and headed our own way.

When we got to the hotel there was a woman in front of us checking in.  I had Stormy and he had his teddy bear and we were waiting to be assisted.  The woman turned and stared at us…like the kind of stare where you refuse to make eye contact but you can feel it and kind of see it our the corner of your eye and it’s almost as though she wanted to say something.  You know that kind of stare?  I hate those kind of stares.  Another employee came to the counter to help me check in.  The woman was staring again.  At one point she mentioned she had a cat with her – so she shall now be referred to as the creepy cat lady.

We got our room key and I went out to the car to grab our stuff, leaving creepy cat lady at the desk.  I walked past her and her traveling companion in the parking lot on the way back.  The hallway and elevator were not air conditioned – in case you were wondering.  So I was back to dripping with sweat.  We got into our room and I had brought a pack ‘n’ play but was considering leaving it in the car as we had a king sized bed.  Certainly you can share a bed that size with a toddler.  I put Stormy on the bed, got him in his pjs and had him ready for bed but he just whimpered on the bed, unsure what to do.  So I grabbed him and headed back down to the car to get the pack ‘n’ play.  When we got back to our room I saw Creepy Cat Lady a few doors down, going in to her room.  I smiled and then turned my attention to everything else in the hallway.  I saw her out the corner of my eye…staring…I got us in our room and deadbolted the door.  I locked every feasible lock there was.  Add to my list of fears – people who stare.

While I was struggling with the pack ‘n’ play someone tried to open our door!  My thought of course, was the Creepy Cat Lady.  Needless to say it took me a while to calm down.  I mean, my child is adorable, you know this.  As Chewy puts it, he’s a buttery concoction, so we have to be careful no one steals him.  I wouldn’t put it past the cat lady to try and take him to feed her cat.

I finally got his bed set up, but it was totally uncomfortable, so I put a spare blanket down..then I put to pillows underneath.  He lay down and drifted off.  I went to take a shower and then I heard him crying.  I ran into the room and found that the pillows didn’t cover the whole pack ‘n’ play and he had rolled into the gap they left.  So I grabbed two rolled up towels from the bathroom and put those in the gap.  He finally fell asleep – I finally got a shower.

The bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever laid down in…but I didn’t get a lot of sleep.  Stormy kept waking up in the night, probably terrified that teh Creepy Cat Lady had entered the room.  He finally fell asleep in the bed with me (meaning I didn’t sleep well because it turns out you can’t share any sized bed with a toddler).  I woke up early and sat in the bathroom watching Netflix on my phone until it was time to wake up.

We ate breakfast at the hotel (which is never as good as you hope it will be) and he got lots of strangers talking to him.  Then we rushed off to meet up with the girls and head home.  I had a different girl ride back with me.  The drive back was miserable, I won’t even regale you with the stories, needless to say, what should have been 4-5 hours turned into 9.  His dancing was the only gem of the day.

 

Our car selfie – the phone is for GPS


Other than that – Stormy was miserable and as soon as we dropped our girl off at her house, he threw up.  I worried it was heat stroke but then he was all snotty the next day, and the next, and then I had a sore throat and my other symptoms followed.  So the past week Stormy and I have been quarantined at home.

 

Perfection

I taught the first Sunday in July and my topic was perfection.  More so – not letting perfection get in the way of trying.  This topic…given to the one who starts planning out her lessons a month in advance and practices them until they are practically memorized…gee great.  So I thought about it a lot, thought about how to open, what to focus on, what in the world to say.  I listened/read podcasts, church talks, scriptures, etc.  Here is goes…

In Matthew 5:28 we read, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

So I asked the girls, “What does perfect mean?”  They came up with the same answers I did, “flawless; without mistakes”

Russel M. Nelson said:

“In Matt. 5:48, the term perfect was translated from the Greek teleios,which means “complete.” Teleios is an adjective derived from the noun telos, which means “end.” The infinitive form of the verb is teleiono, which means “to reach a distant end, to be fully developed, to consummate, or to finish.” Please note that the word does not imply “freedom from error”; it implies “achieving a distant objective.””

That’s completely different from what I thought ‘perfection’ to be, especially the “freedom from error” part.

While preparing for this lesson, I had the opportunity to go out with the Sister Missionaries.  They had a lesson scheduled, but as happens so often to them, that lesson cancelled just as we arrived to the home.  So we went to visit people nearby.  One man we visited was baptized just a short while ago.  When the sisters first met him, he was barely able to walk he was so drunk.  They worked with him, got him attending addiction recovery and all the while visited with him and taught him about the gospel.  When I first met him, he was sober and getting ready to be baptized.  He was so optimistic.

Well, when we went to visit him on this night, he was not in such a good place.  I had noticed he wasn’t at church the previous Sunday and he missed his friend’s baptism Sunday night.  He was completely different than the man I met.  He had fallen, and he had fallen hard.

At one point, he leaned forward and said to the Sisters, “I never said I was perfect.  Never said I would be.”

His definition of perfect was the “flawless. without mistakes” definition and that’s a hard thing to live up to.  When you fail to be perfect, it’s easy to just give up because it seems so unattainable.  But perfection is not about finishing the race without any errors, it’s about finishing.  Perfection, as we read, is about reaching a distant end, it’s about being fully developed and along the way to that, we make mistakes.  Enduring is getting up each time you fall, recommitting each time you make a mistake, repenting each time you sin.

Then we watched this video:  Men’s Hearts Shall Fail Them

I asked the girls what they thought about the video (I warned them I would ask this and yet it was still like pulling teeth afterwards – I told them I was fine sitting in silence and I finally got some talkers).  The thing that stood out most was that perfection will come in the next life; don’t demand the unreasonable, but demand improvement.

I had a bishop once tell us that improvement was like looking at a calendar…let’s say you want to be better about saying your morning prayers.  You do it the first day, and the next, and maybe even for a week but then you are late one day and skip it.  By the end of the month you’ve said your prayers maybe 20 times out of 31.  Have you failed?  NO! You’ve improved, you’ve done better and you kept trying.  Continue trying and soon you’ll have developed the habit of prayer.

We have to keep an eternal perspective rather than focusing on every failure.

In 1 Nephi we read the story of when Nephi and his brothers are sent back to get the gold plates.

In 1 Nephi 3:7 Nephi says, “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.”

…so Nephi is armed with the knowledge that the Lord won’t let him fail – right?  He should be able to walk right up to Laban (who currently had the records) and just ask for the plates right?

in verse 11 Nephi’s brother, Laman, is sent to talk to Laban.  Laban was made and kicked Laman out and called him a robber and threatened to kill him.

Who would have given up here?  I would have, I hate rejection, much less having my life threatened.  But Nephi doesn’t give up.  Why do you think that is?

In verses 15&16 we find out:

  1. 1)Because it’s a commandment
  2. 2) Because of Faith.

In verses 22-23 they’ve gathered all their gold and silver and precious things and they are going to try and buy the plates from Laban.  Again-they are kicked out and their lives are threatened.

But does Nephi give up?  Does anyone remember what happened between the brothers after this? (beating and an angel appears).  What does the angel tell them? (go back)

So Nephi goes back and then what happens?  He comes across a likely grotesque and definitely drunken Laban and is told to cut the guy’s head off…to which he hesitates because..well that’s murder.  But he goes through with it, gets the plates and as a bonus he gets Zoram (and Zoram gets freedom).

Nephi by all counts, failed several times to get the plates.  He wasn’t able to just walk in and get them because the Lord had commended it.  But that didn’t stop him, it didn’t make him doubt if it was actually a commandment or not.  He didn’t say, “well, maybe I’m just not cut out for it.”

The same as we aren’t able to JUST BE perfect because the Lord commands it.  During what we may perceive as failures–we need to remember to have faith that the Lord prepares a way for us to accomplish the things he commands and there isn’t something WRONG with US when we don’t get it right the first time. Perfection isn’t attainable in this life, our job is to continue to improve.

An interesting thing I came across while working on this lesson.  In Matthew 5:48, Jesus says, “be ye therefore perfect even as your father which is in heaven is perfect”.  In 3 Nephi 12:48 he says, “be ye therefore perfect even as I, or your father who is in heaven is perfect.”

The interesting thing to note here is that in Matthew 5:48 – Christ had not yet been crucified or resurrected, whereas in 3 Nephi, when he visits the Nephites, he has already been resurrected.  Even Christ was not truly perfect until after his mortal ministry was complete. By all definitions – Christ was perfect, except for Greek translation – “to reach a distant end, to be fully developed, to consummate, or to finish.”

Read Ether 12:25-27

The Lord, the same one who commands us to be perfect, GIVES us weakness.  And through weakness, he can make us strong, he can make us perfect – or rather, complete.  When we struggle, we must remember to turn to the Lord.

President Uchdorft gave a talk titled “You Can Do It Now!” in which he relates a story of a time he went skiing with his grandson.  He fell and when he attempted to get back up he only fell again.  After a few tries he gave up and tried to hide his face in case anyone he knew passed by.  Then his grandson came over to him, reached out a hand and said, “You can do it now!”  President Uchdorft said near the end of this talk, “You are stronger than you realize.  You are more capable than you can imagine.  You can do it now!”

I know that this is true for each and every one of you.  I know from personal experience, having situations in my life where I felt physically and emotionally incapable of continuing and yet somehow I was able to reach my destination (physical or spiritual – sometimes both).  I’ve had young women tell me that they didn’t think they could do something, and I’ve told them time and time again that they are stronger than they think.  They will surprise themselves and will have many amazing experiences if they just continue trying.