15 October 2017

Cognitive Dissonance

Puppy heaven is where my kids have been all weekend and will have some withdrawals when the neighbors return.

"Mom, you know you want a dog!"

"Can't we get a dog?"

And what would I hear in a few weeks.

"I took her out last time."

"Why do I always have to take care of the dog?"

"It's not my turn."

Yep. Not gonna happen.

Kiersten came home this weekend and her facial expression was priceless when she was greeted at the door by a yapping dog named Queen Bee in her honor.

Cognitive dissonance. That is what she called trying to wrap her little brain cells around the fact that we had indeed introduced a dog into our family. We have been adamant for years when the subject is always broached that there would not be a dog in our family. I grew up with dogs; most of them a yellow lab all named Lady. Tyler has a disdain for them. 

Number two was the fact that it was an inside dog. I've never been overly fond of animals inside the house. For those brief minutes that we toyed with her, I wish I had it on camera. Her dad and I reveled in her complete and utter consternation.

The truth eventually emerged that we were only dog sitting for the weekend. Our family will still continue to be the family Kiersten knows us to be.

01 October 2017

God doesn't do random

I was given a couple of tickets to the General Women's Meeting in Salt Lake (which is now technically the first session of General Conference) and treated my friend Lisa to dinner and then conference. She has dealt with a lot of really hard things in her life and is one of the strongest women I know.

She is working her way back to activity and told me afterwards how she wasn't sure about coming, but after listening to the talks, was so glad she came. The spirit is so cool how it can touch us all in different ways. God knew she needed to be there and made it possible for us to go. There was no randomness in having my neighbor across the street sit next to me at stake conference the week before and offer me her two tickets.

I love to listen to Sister Neill Marriott, with her southern accent, speak about her short comings and the authenticity that flows from her. This particular night she spoke about a relationship with a family member gone sour. I guess I never imagined anyone who is in that position to have struggles of any sort. But isn't it these hard things that make us strong? A life of ease will never mold me into who God needs me to be.

As I waited in the foyer for a moment, I was drawn to this painting by Brian Kershishnik. Continuous heavenly help is always with us during our difficult times. Our heavenly father loves us with a love that is immeasurable. He has not left us to toil alone.

My favorite talk from the general women's conference was Sister Eubank:

"Finally, my dear sisters, may I suggest to you something that has not been said before or at least in quite this way. Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world." -- President Kimball

“You don’t … build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.” -- President Hinckley

The prophets are calling on us, my sisters.
Will you be righteous?
Will you articulate your faith?
Can you bear being distinct and different?
Will your happiness in spite of your trials draw others who are good and noble and who need your friendship?
Will you turn on your light? -- Sister Sharon Eubank

Additional talks that spoke to me this conference
*Elder Rasband
*President Uchtdorf
*Bishop Waddell

*Elder Zwick
*Elder Ellis

30 September 2017

Things never stay the same

My 3+ years in young womens has come to an end. I remember the day I was called thinking three years seemed like an eternity and now here I am at the end. This past Wednesday instead of going to an activity, my counselors and I treated ourselves to dinner. I sincerely hope my friendship with these ladies continue now that this sojourn is over. I have been so blessed with great women to work along side me and keep me sane.

I've known for awhile that this was coming which gave me time to think about a parting gift for my beautiful young women. I decided the best thing I could give them was my testimony. The day I was called, I added 40 more daughters to my family. I will always consider them one of mine. I prayed for them a lot. I laughed with them. I cried over them. I thought about them incessantly. I loved them deeply. I will miss them. I will miss talking with them. I will miss listening to their conversations in the car. I will miss their silly pranks. I will miss their insights during lessons. I will miss their texts.

BUT, to be frank . . . I will not miss the activities. I loved everything else about young womens. I did not enjoy coming up with weekly activities. Sorry girls. That was just not my forte nor my passion. I would prefer to give a 100 lessons to planning an activity.

This may have been my first stint in a young women calling. I do not think it will be my last. Just like these flowers (from my stake YW presidency) will slowly wilt and die, things never stay the same.

My testimony letter:

Hi there!

I am no longer in the position of Young Women president and wanted to leave you with one last gift from me. I thought about this for quite awhile and felt that my testimony was the greatest gift I could give. I once had one of you young women ask me how I knew this gospel was true and right. So let me tell you and that young woman what I know and how I know.

I was once a young girl like you, full of worries about the future and not quite confident about myself and speaking my beliefs. In fact I was so terrified of getting up in front of people that I didn’t bear my testimony in a testimony meeting until I was an adult with small children (please don’t be like me in that regard . . . be brave and share what’s in your heart . . . the Lord will bless you for it). Since then I’ve come to know that I was born with the gift of faith. I’ve always just felt that the gospel of Jesus Christ is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, there came a day where I encountered a faith-shaking experience. You too will have something or someone who will shake you to the core -- will your faith and your testimony be strong enough to withstand it? I had to really decide if what I had been taught all my life was all really true and right. I prayed. I studied. I read scripture. I never got an earth-shattering answer but more a feeling of peace and content. From that moment forward I CHOSE to believe and have never looked back. Let me share a few things I’ve learned in my 41 years (Yes! I am old.).

**Faith is a conscious choice. You make a choice every day whether to believe or not.

**Cling forever to the things you know when you’re surrounded by things you don’t know. The time to jump ship is not in the middle of the storm. STAY IN THE BOAT. STAY FAITHFUL. DON’T WALK AWAY.

**The Son always comes up. In the darkest of nights, the Son is always on duty and when we need him, we can find him through prayer, through meditation, through the scriptures.

**Faith is an assurance that things will work out for my good. I may not know how, I may not know when, but I know they will because Heavenly Father is in charge.

**Faith is a real power. Some might think it's a crutch to lean on in times of difficulty, but I know otherwise.

**Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space. Same with fear. When I start to be fearful and worry, my faith is waning.

**One aspect of the atonement is there is no end to the Savior’s ability to succor us in our pains, afflictions, temptations. The atonement is as much for me who hurts from other’s choices as for anyone who had ever committed a wrong.

**Sometimes when going through a difficult time we want to ask the Lord to take away the trial, the pain, the sorrow. Instead we should pray for the grit to continue, the willpower to hang tough, the strength to persevere. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Keep trying.

**Instead of asking WHY questions . . . Why is this happening to me?, I learned instead to ask WHAT questions . . . what do I need to learn from this experience? What can I do to help those around me? What can I do for my family?

Faith comes not simply by knowing and believing but by doing. I choose to consistently grow my faith and testimony by DOING what God had asked me to. Is it easy? Heavens no. It’s downright hard a lot of the time. But the blessings that have come to me are worth the price.

Heavenly Father asked me start reading the Book of Mormon with my little family more consistently so I did that. He asked me to continue to attend church every week and I have done so. He asked me to begin attending the temple with more frequency than I had been. So I started attending at least once a month and I have only missed 2 or 3 months in many, many years. He asked me to start sharing my beliefs with those around me. So I started a blog (ahumandoing.blogspot.com) where I record those things for others to read. I got brave and began bearing my testimony out loud in fast and testimony meeting (that first time was soooooo scary).

I tell you these things because testimony and faith and most importantly conversion comes from action. You have to do something to get something. If you want to know if the Book of Mormon is a true book from God, you must read it and study it. If you want to know that Joseph Smith did indeed see God and Jesus Christ than you need to study and read and pray about that . . . MORE THAN ONCE! If you need to know if there is even a God in Heaven than again you must put some work into finding out. He will tell you. I promise you that. Those answers come in quiet ways, usually through our feelings.

More than anything I know that our Heavenly Father loves each one of you individually for who you are. Don’t ever forget that! Work on your relationship with him and his son and it will be a safety net in the tumultuous days ahead. I know that this gospel is what brings me the most joy and I testify of its truthfulness. I know because I have tested it and there is nothing that comes close to the peace and happiness in my life when I am doing and becoming what the Lord needs me to be.

If you ever feel like giving up or giving in or have questions that don’t seem to have answers, I am always available, day or night to talk. I love you and consider you an extension of my family. I gained 40 new daughters the day I was called and am so blessed that the Lord allowed me to be a part of your lives for such a short time. You have truly been a blessing to me.

20 September 2017

Disturber and Annoyer

I was reading in 1 Nephi 15, and in verse 5 Nephi tells us he is overcome with great afflictions that were great above all.

I began to think about the trials and adversity he had to face. I followed the cross-references and read about Moses and Joseph Smith, both great men who were also beset with great afflictions and I began to wonder why hard things, bad things, happen to good people who are trying to do the Lord's work.

My answer came as I read in Joseph Smith History 1:20 where Joseph Smith says, "I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of [Satan's] kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me?"

It seemed to witness to me that those sincerely involved in the great work of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man would not have a life of leisure and pleasure. 

As I took stock of my own life, it was those times where life was comfortable and easy that Satan no longer saw me as a great threat and could back off a little. But those times when life was hard and uncomfortable, where I had to really dig in my heals to not quit, to keep moving forward, those were the times I was more fully committed to the gospel. Those were the times I was completely participating in the game of saving souls.

So if life seems hard know that Satan simply sees you as a disturber and annoyer of his kingdom and is working overtime to thwart you. Stay strong. I, for one, want to one day be able to have a membership along with Nephi, Moses, and Joseph Smith in the Disturber and Annoyer Club.

Our stake had a conference this week and President Child was very candid as he shared a point in his life where there really wasn't much left to live for after having a business deal go terribly wrong. With a small family and little hope in sight, he thought about a life insurance policy his family could cash in on should he step out of the picture.

This was shortly before the October 1999 general conference and an answer came so powerfully to him through the words of Elder Holland that testified of God's love and knowledge of him.

“Don’t give up, boy.
Don’t you quit.
You keep walking.
You keep trying.
There is help and happiness ahead . . .
You keep your chin up.
It will be all right in the end.
Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

And you know what, two weeks later things began to turn around for that man and his little family. My stake president is one of those might ones who holds a membership in the Disturber and Annoyer Club.

17 September 2017

Tarantula sighting

Well, the myth that we have tarantulas in the foothills has been debunked*. Erik caught one about a mile from our house and I made sure he released it at least 3 miles from where we live. 

*Apparently I used this word the wrong way. I guess I should have said that the myth has been proven true. It wasn't an exaggerated myth, just a myth since we hadn't seen any tarantulas yet even though we had heard they were around.

As he shoved the bag with it in the van full of girls I was taking home from young womens, we screamed and squirmed. I never want to see anything like it again.

And I thought our wolf spiders were on steroids.

Hmmmm. Maybe they were. I think the scale is all wrong in the photo above. Or maybe our wolf spiders really were that big. Too bad I didn't think to put a lighter next to our one-hour-rent-a-pet-tarantula. Anyhoo, I know I really don't like big, hairy, eight-legged creatures.

10 September 2017

These are the days of . . .

* Sending Nona home.

Her story is inspiring and we asked her to share at youth conference to start off our testimony meeting. She is from Christmas Island where my mom and dad served their mission. They came home and she ended up on a mission in Bountiful. Six months into her mission she discovered a tumor on her brain. She was released from her mission and has been living with my parents while she undergoes chemo treatments. Her last treatment was several weeks ago and was given the clear to go home. Ash spent several weeks at grandma's this summer where she and Nona developed a special bond and gained another sister.

*Kiersten attempting to find her way around a big city by bus. She wanted to go to the Provo City Temple and this is her advice: "Pro tip: Make sure the bus is going where you think it's going BEFORE you get on it. Good news is I still made it to the temple! Totally worth the hassle."

*Nate racing for Stansbury High School.

This latest meet he finished 6th, setting a personal record of 17:30,

and he racing against cousins, one we didn't know would be there.
*Erik doing one of the things he loves . . . graphic design. Because we carpool to the same school every other day, I got to witness the process that goes into making a t-shirt.

*Kiersten learning to be ninja-level poor and scoring two free tickets to the BYU/UofU football game with her award winning smile.

Have I mentioned that she was voted best smile in high school?

03 September 2017

Miracle of the glasses

Testimony meetings tend to have a theme and today's was about remembering. Remembering the Lord. Remembering the tender mercies that happen. Remembering the blessings that come to us. For me, if I don't write it down, I tend to forget which is one of the reasons for this blog. Hence I'm documenting the following story lest I forget.

Youth conference has come and gone again.

Two years ago we were camped in the exact location and watched as the bishop went off the zipline . . . . with his glasses on. My counselor and I both yelled glasses as he plunged into the water, never to find them again. On that particular trip he ended up traveling 45 minutes to get another pair in order to drive home.

This trip we chided and kidded and reminded him to take his glasses off. Our group split in half with some going on a hike to Indian writings and the other half staying to play in the pond. My group arrived back from the hike to hear that the bishop couldn't find his glasses and thought someone had taken them as a joke. My counselor who stayed behind was pretty sure he had dove into the water . . . with his glasses on. He wasn't around when we heard this so a couple of kids dove in the general vicinity of where he was thought to have gone in, searching for a lost pair of glasses.

No luck.

When he returned, Bishop Steinagel ventured further down the pond than anyone had been searching. He relates that he was diving down trying to spot them with his eyes and not having any success. He stopped a moment, said a quick prayer for help, and immediately had a thought to step to one side. As he did, his foot felt the glasses and he was able to pull them up with his toes.

He told this story to my dad who was in awe that he was able to locate them. It's a fairly good size pond and can get deep quickly.

Dave Davies, one of his counselors and a covert jokester, fashioned  some eyeglass protection should he ever attempt to go in the water again.

Isn't it wonderful that the Lord knows our needs and is able to help should we only ask. He wants to help and bless us, but he also knows it helps us to grow when we humble ourselves enough to ask when we are in need. This story is so characteristic of Bishop Steinagel. He is a man who listens intently to the promptings he gets and follows them. It is a gift I greatly desire and am working on.