Saturday, January 30, 2010

as daughters of God, our nature is divine

A few Sundays ago I gave the lesson in our Young Women meeting. Teaching and I have a love/hate relationship. I relish the opportunity to study a topic in detail, learning new things about my assignment as well as myself. However, I am very uncomfortable teaching these teenage girls. I am not being humble, but rather very honest when I say that I am not a "good" teacher. I do enough to fumble my way through my forty minutes of instruction (I use that word lightly) but I talk too much, and yet don't ever seem to be able to really get across the message I feel in my heart. Thankfully the young women and YW leaders put up with me, and for their sakes I am glad I do not have to teach more than once every few months! I do however want to blog a bit (for my own recollection) about that particular lesson and the message that is so appropriate for our times.
The idea of the lesson was that keeping the commandments helps us reach our full potential as daughters of God, thus fulfilling our roles in the Lord's Plan of Happiness. But what I got most out of it was the definitions of our "Divine Roles". As women, literally spirit daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have divinely appointed roles that must be fulfilled to ensure the success of Heavenly Father's plan of happiness.
Those roles are for us to become:

Wives & Equal Partners with an Eternal Companion

Loving Mothers

Teacers to our families and all those around us


To me the definition of divine means "of an eternal nature"--something that started before I came to earth and something that will continue on after our time in mortality has ended. Divine also means to me that it originated with Someone greater than myself, Someone of Divinity. So how do these definitions signify our Divine Roles? It tells me that there are wonderful things we can do in this life. As women in the year 2010 there are opportunities our predecessors could only have dreamed about. Practically nothing, no dream, no goal, is unobtainable, so long as we are willing to work hard and sacrifice. And I'm all for it--worthy goals and ambitions. Why shouldn't we reach high and accomplish much? But we must not lose sight of those roles that have an eternal nature. Our Divine Roles not only complete the Lord's Plan, but ultimately are what will bring us the most happiness. Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants good things for us. It would only make sense that He would create roles for women that would enhance their lives, make them better. Satan knows this, and since he wants to make everyone as miserable as himself, and since his greatest desire is also to thwart a plan centered on bringing souls to Christ, he knows that if he can destroy the far-reaching influence and power that comes through a righteous woman, of course that will be a target upon which he places great emphasis. Think about it--how much of the world today (society, media, etc) would have you believe that the role of motherhood, the role of creating a home, of being a loyal & devoted wife, is weak, old-fashioned and out-of-date? Where do you think the root of these ideas and opinions stems from? Or perhaps a better question is from whom?
We should strive to do great things in this life, but as we do so, let us not forget that the greatest roles we can fulfill are roles of divinity and accompany eternal blessings, and that fighting for them, fighting to be great within them, are the most worthy strivings of all.

-(Painting by Mary Cassatt, "Breakfast in Bed")

Hope Sig1

Friday, January 29, 2010

'these are a few of my favorite things' : HALLE VERSION 8.0

Halle, you are 8 1/2 years old.
Here are some of your favorite things:

Brady Bunch reruns
High School Musical & Hannah Montana
(You also love "iCarly" but your
mean mom won't let you watch it. Pardon me if I'm
bothered by the fact that a show marketed towards tweens
constantly refers to 'being in love' and 'making out'...)

Kiwis & Strawberries

Fiber One Cinnamon Squares
& Honey Graham Oh's cereals
Corn on the Cob & Green Salad
(particularly Caesar)
Writing Stories & Poems
Reading Books
Dancing & Singing
(you love listening to CDs on your
little player & shakin' your booty to the
music in your room)
Your Scriptures
Teaching others.
Teaching anyone who will listen to you, and teaching them anything.
For example, you decided to teach the little girls
down the street to play the piano and you actually did it!
They can play a little ditty, all by themselves, thanks to you!

Shirley Temple Movies

a time to fortify & protect...

As I have participated in the challenge our ward issued to the youth to read the Book of Mormon this year, I have renewed a love-affair with the scriptures. I struggle with the scriptures at times, with the language and understanding symbolism, etc., so this year-long challenge has proved to be such a blessing! To read the book in 12 months, you read an average of 20 verses, or 1 1/2 pages per day. For those seeking to know the "time commitment", that's basically about 5 minutes of study. FIVE MINUTES. Since I try to get up an hour before the kids (reading with zero-distractions is a requirement for my processing-brain), that gives me more than enough time to read over several times the daily reading assignment or look up footnote references, etc. in an effort to better understand just what it is the scriptures are trying to tell me. The last time I read the Word of God with this much attentive detail and zeal was probably back in my high school seminary days. I didn't realize how I'd missed it, or what it did for my everyday life. I find myself...more grateful. There will come a day when I will leave this mortal life behind, and pass on thru the veil. When I do, there will be many people I seek out to meet, but I can tell you this--some of the first that I will be looking for will be these ancient scripture prophets, both of the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon. I will fall to my feet and weep tears of gratitude, thanking them for writing down these precious words. What a painstaking process it must have been for them, scribing into plates of metal so that we future generations might have the wisdom of their experiences and faith!
The entire book of Alma may prove to be my favorite. Such gems are written in those chapters! Recently my thoughts have been with our current reading assignments, which have been the late 40's and early 50's chapters. Every morning before I read, I've prayed, asking Heavenly Father for three things:
  1. help to remain focused (assistance for my wandering mind),
  2. an increased understanding,
  3. and lastly, for the ability to extract from those ancient words something I can apply to my own life today.
Rare has been the day when the Lord has not granted these desires, and I'm sure on the days "He" hasn't, it has most likely been "ME" who was probably not focused or paying attention.
This is what I've gotten out of this week's reading:
Chapter 51
After a few years of peace, the wicked Lamanite leader Amalickiah once again through his own greedy and evil ambitions disregards the lives of his soldiers and followers and is determined to come into war with the Nephites, this time for personal reasons as he is obsessed with destroying Captain Moroni, who had humiliated and defeated him about five years earlier. During the years since the Nephites first victory against Amalickiah, Moroni and his armies worked tirelessly to prepare their people for another battle. They fortified their cities with watchtowers, and walls or heaps of earth to protect them from the arrows and stones their enemies might use against them. Preparations to keep the evil out had become their first priority. However around 67 B.C. peace and prosperity had been in the land long enough that the people began to let down their guard, becoming too comfortable and less aware. They began to have political disputes among them, so much so that Captain Moroni and his armies had to turn their attentions away from their preparations for the dangerous Lamanites and instead use their energies to resolve the contentions among their own people. It was during this time that the cunning Amalickiah chose to attack in one of the weaker Nephite cities, which he succesfully overcame and held hostage. This "small" victory allowed him to then do the same thing with several other Nephite cities.
In verse 9 it states: "But behold, this was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi; for behold, Amalickiah had again stirred up the hearts of the people of the Lamanites against the people of the Nephites and he was gathering together soldiers from all parts of his land, and arming them, and preparing for war with all diligence..."
And in verse 27: "And thus the Lamanites obtained, by the cunning of Amalickiah, so many cities, by their numberless hosts, all of which were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni; all of which afforded strongholds for the Lamanites."
I couldn't help but think that our homes are as the lands of the Nephites. Just as it was then, it is again a "critical time"--a time in which Satan is anxiously waiting to weasel his way into our lives, our homes, our very hearts. How vital it is for us to fortify our homes against the evils of this world! How vital it is that we must constantly check ourselves, not only in our own behaviors, but also in our relations with those we treasure most. We can fortify our homes, through studying the scriptures, prayer, Family Home Evening, attending our church meetings so that we can learn and progress, and through serving each other, but all of that goes out the window if we allow contention to occur within our sacred walls. Or if we watch one bad movie, read one less-than-virtuous book, view one repulsive & inappropriate website. Satan is cunning and he is watching for these moments when we might become distracted, just as the Nephite armies had become distracted by the wrong choices of their own people. It is these moments when the Evil One will creep his way into our homes, when we become too comfortable and lose our guard. It made me realize that as a parent in my home, I have a responsibility to remain focused and not allow myself to be distracted by things in the world that are not worthy of my attention.
Do I allow myself to be "stirred up in anger" with the people in my home?
Am I willing to admit my weaknesses in order to make them stronger?
Moroni in his wisdom knew that to really fortify his people and protect them from the adversary, he not only had to know their strengths, but also their weaknesses.
And do I focus too much on the weaknesses of my family members?
Once he knew the weaknesses of the people, he didn't dwell on them, but instead worked to overcome them.
Are there things in my life that could distract me that I tend to justify? Are there things in my life that I need to let go of so that I can place my focus upon things of greater worth? What I can do to better contribute in creating a secure fortress for my family?

I want to live in my life in a way that my choices fortify instead of distract. I would love to be as Captain Moroni, a man firm in the faith of Christ and who believed there are certain things in life worth fighting for. I love how he is described in Alma 48:17. "Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea the devil would never have power of the hearts of the children of men."

President Howard W. Hunter said:

"Not all of us are going to be like Moroni, catching the acclaim of our colleagues all day every day. Most of us will be quiet, relatively unknown folks who come and go and do our work without fanfare. To those of you who may find that...unspectacular, I say, you are 'no less servicable' than the most spectacular of your associates.

You, too, are part of God's army."

Hope Sig1

Thursday, January 28, 2010

if only they could tell us what they know...

This is the latest post from one of my new favorite blogs, which can be found at THIS WEBSITE, which is where people have been challenged to take an image, picture, photograph, whatever, and put into words how that image reflects their testimony of Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love this particular post, because I have people in my own life who will someday be made "whole" is from them that we will gather round and long to hear their "side of the conversation".
Hope Sig1

Sunday, January 24, 2010

tonight's dinner conversation: TRAVEL AMBITIONS

"Mom, when can we visit England?"
"I don't know...maybe we can all go together in ten years."
"I want to go on a cruise like Lauren & Brianne."
"I want to go to Idaho!"

Hope Sig1

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


What was Wyatt repeating over and over tonight?


Again...too much T.V.???

Hope Sig1

Monday, January 18, 2010

can i take the heat? i can november-to-march!

With our very dear neighbors making a move to Yuma, Arizona this week (so sad to have them leave!), it's got my heart remembering our four years living in Mesa. I was hesitant to move to Arizona when Brett first approached me about the idea back in '03, but I can say with confidence that both of us loved our time there. We grew as a family, we grew as individuals, but we especially grew as a couple there. We made wonderful friends, lifelong friends. We came to love the area and the landscape--I still have yet to see a sunset with colors as bold and bright as the ones we saw with the setting sun there!
Here are some of the things I miss most:
Brimhall Pool
We loved this community pool and spent lots of time there.
It was clean, offering activities for any age, and was a great escape from the summer sun!
Payson, AZ
For a couple years, we made a traditional trek up to the cool mountain town of Payson to celebrate the 4th of July. It's so hot in the summer, that it's really not enjoyable to watch fireworks in Phoenix! Payson is so cute and charming, and GORGEOUS. The area resembles in many ways the mountains near my hometown, so when I was feeling homesick, or needing to see fall foliage, this is where we'd go. We always stayed at the Days Inn motel, and I'm assuming I could still recommend it. Very clean, very reasonable. The second year we went, we talked Charles & Melody Bearman into coming with us--we visited Tonto Natural Bridge State Park and hiked the Waterfall Trail.

On Independence Day a local Christian Church throws a fundraiser at the park with games and activities for the kids. Then they put on THE BEST fireworks show with music (still have yet to see one that compares); bright colors exploding over the lake. (Those poor ducks didn't know which way to go to escape the loud booming!) Hard to believe Autumn and Alex are TEENAGERS now!

All of these girls have really grown up!

The Plants & Flowers
I miss the flora and fauna of the desert. I always felt like "the desert" was my least favorite landscape--I had considered it drab and boring. However, I now miss those beautiful, tropical plants that were all around Phoenix--I especially miss the bright pink and orange hibiscus flowers! (This is Halle on the 1st day of little!)
We miss being so close to California!
It was wonderful living in small enough proximity
that you could easily make San Diego a simple weekend excursion!


Probably what we miss most is of course the WINTER WEATHER! We miss Trick-or-Treating or putting up Christmas lights IN SHORTS! I thought I'd really miss the snow, that Christmas wouldn't feel the same without the white wonderland... Then you experience 7-8 months of near-perfect weather and that all goes out the window.
It was gorgeous!
This is how we spent our 2005 Christmas Eve Day -
running around the park in short sleeves!
You can see the temperature on
our car thermometer...a balmy 80 degrees!

So if the Butlers (our departing neighbors) are reading this, just know that although we'll miss you, we're a bit jealous, because weather-wise you are in for a treat! Yes, the summers are stifling and sometimes nearly are cooped up inside (much like the winters here) but now your "miserable" weather only lasts 3-4 months instead of the 6 months of COLD we have in Utah! You'll love Arizona. You'll love the people and the community, you'll love being close to Cali, you'll love the new variety of plants, and you'll be grateful for the growth you experience.
We know we did!
Hope Sig1

Friday, January 15, 2010

Carpe Diem!

(Saw this on MIM's blog today and fell in love with it.
Thanks for the quote, Natalie; and thanks, Mary Ellen Smoot,
for saying it the first place.)

"We each have to say to ourselves, What will I create of my life? My time? My future?


First, go where the Spirit directs. Be still and listen. Your Heavenly Father will guide you as you draw near to Him. Immerse yourself in the holy word of the prophets, both ancient and modern, and the Spirit will speak to you. Be patient, ask in faith, and you will receive guidance in your creative efforts.

Second, don't be paralyzed from fear of making mistakes. Thrust your hands into the clay of your lives and begin. I love how Rebekah of old responded to Abraham's servant who came in search of a wife for Isaac. Her answer was simple and direct, "I will go." Three words she said.
Rebekah could have refused. She could have told the servant to wait until she had the proper send-off, a new wardrobe, until she lost a few pounds, or until the weather was more promising. She could have said, "What's wrong with Isaac that he can't find a wife in all of Canaan?" But she didn't. She ACTED, and SO SHOULD WE.
The time for procrastination is over. Begin! Don't be afraid! Do the best you can. Of course you will make mistakes. Everyone does. Learn from them and move
Third, support others along the way. Every person on this earth is unique. We all have varied interests, abilities, and skills. We are each at different levels fo physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Finally, rejoice. CREATION ISN'T DRUDGERY.
Creation flows from LOVE. When we do what we love, we rejoice along the way.
If you are unhappy, if you are feeling weary, troubled, or disillusioned, may I ask you to try something? Instead of dwelling on your troubles, focus instead on creating something remarkable, something of eternal significance. Nurture a testimony, strengthen a relationship, write a family history, go to teh temple, serve."
Mary Ellen Smoot
Hope Sig1

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

playin' in the powder...

Here he is:
Scotty, our Scottish Snowman!
Carson even welcomed him by singing to him
(see comment about "Frosty/Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" video below)

Daddy's got some good helpers!
Brett's enjoying the snowblower
his parents gave us for Christmas!


I wanted so badly to post video I took of
Carson singing to Scotty the Snowman,
but blogger won't let me.
Stupid Blogger.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Raspberry Peach Sorbet, anyone?

Looking forward to warmer days.
Days that aren't 11 degrees.
Days with clear skies.
Days so hot, we seek refuge in the shade.
Already reading up on the types of plants I'm going to be busy putting into the backyard in the spring, anticipating another fun session of "Craft Camp" with dear friends, and particularly salivating over the treats this baby's gonna make. I'm thinkin' Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream, Mango Banana Surprise...

Hope Sig1

Saturday, January 9, 2010

welcoming in a new decade with nothin' but good ol' fashioned fun!

Spending New Years in the Basin was relaxing, fun, and soooo wonderful!

Mom and Dad were brave and took on Halle in Kings in the Corner, with the Arizona rules, of course. (Dad, loved watching the western with you, and Mom, thanks for the scrum-diddly-umptious food, particularly the PORK CHOPS WITH GRAVY!!! Do you still have leftover rice? Next time I won't make the mistake of doubling the serving size!) There's something about going home that is so relaxing. You just feel so comfortable and at ease. If the kids were entertained, you could find Brett, Mom, Dad, and Myself reading our books. I finished "The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie", and it did not disappoint. Brett finally wrapped up "The Lost Symbol" and Dad enjoyed John McCain's autobiography. Last time I checked, Mom was working her way through about 3 different books! Maybe she'll finish sometime before Easter! ha ha
We also enjoyed watching "A Christmas Story" on the big screen at the Vernal Theatre (great idea, Nickole!).
This was our second time spending New Year's Eve at the Red Canyon Lodge with Mike & Fawn--that place is so great and fun! It's like having the accomodations of a simple motel in the rugged backdrop of the mountains next to a wood-burning stove! We laughed because two years ago when we did this, Fawn and I totally overdid it--the food was delicious but WAYYYY too much in quantity (shrimp, crab, steak, you name it). This year we decided to simplify and just do fajitas, but both Fawn and I forgot so much of what we needed (OK, she forgot one thing, I forgot everything!). Still, we managed to have an abundance of great food and an even better time! We even found the perfect sledding hill--fast enough the older kids had fun and mild enough the smallest kids felt brave enough to go by themselves!
Thanks guys, for another wonderful New Years!
See you in 2012???
This was so nasty, disgusted, and just plain WEIRD.
Natalie cut into the tomato only to cut a spider that was INSIDE the tomato in half! The spider was still wiggling it's leg even after it was cut. From the outside the tomato looked pretty much unblemished, except for the teensy-tiniest little healed-over pin-size hole that no one would have even noticed had we not been looking for an entry point. Talk about heeby-jeebies!

Nice face, Bert!

kind of hard to see, but can you make out the baby to the
right of the doe? so sweet! and the mama stepped in front
of the fawn after this picture was snapped to protect her
baby. i loved that!

Paige & Natalie gave Halle a little makeover
just in time for the countdown.

"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson