Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy "Holy" Days!

I am absolutely overcome with emotion at the Holiness surrounding me this holiday season. I am exhausted with laughter and tears and just being plain good old fashioned tired! This Christmas I didn't care about getting anything. I could have rec'd nothing at all and my joy could not be anymore full than it already is. Never before in my life have I felt so much love for family and friends. I literally could not contain it all. I felt as if I would burst if I didn't show it and share it. It seems as though the more I gave the more I wanted to give. That feeling is with me still.

Today after cleaning my apt from all the holiday cooking, baking, sewing, wrapping and other projects I sat down for a moment and thought about yesterday, Christmas day and the day before which was Christmas eve. I became so overwhelmed with emotion that I just broke down. Not so surprising, the last 2 days has already been so full of joyful tears, I figured I was all cried out. Not so much! I was so happy and so grateful for so many people in my life and what they mean to me.

I looked up and silently asked my father in heaven:

"How is it possible to feel so blessed and have soo much love for these people, I don't fully understand it!" It was almost frightening. Where was all this love for these people coming from?
A line from my patriarchal blessing popped into my mind: ....
" may receive the blessings that are there for the just... Blessings that will be so great that you cannot even contemplate at this time.."

I can't imagine there being more joy than this I have been feeling the last couple of weeks. And there is something very contagious about feeling pure joy, when it truly immerses you, you want everyone around you to share in it, and the spirit will put into your path those gifts to share. And when you're trying to
.. live as you should the Lord will make things happy for you and those around you. The results are amazing. I've seen and heard of some incredibly amazing things happen this month:

3 weeks ago My daughter said she had a surprise for me. She gave me a red sweater and a gray & black beanie and said... wear this and a pair of jeans and boots be ready by 10 am Sunday morning, we're being picked up. I had no idea what was she was up to but I Obeyed. Sunday morning I put on my uniform that my daughter bought for me and even through on some make up. ( I don't care for makeup) And was ready by 10:am. She had arranged for a woman in the ward to pick us up and take us into the canyons and did family Christmas portraits of us. It was fun. We did some posed shots and she did some candid shots and even go us snowball fighting.

(The photos' are wonderful and I love them :)

Just the 2 of us!

Laughin at my crazy mama!

U lookin at me?

Take That!

After the photo shoot in the woods we sat speaking with my photographer about how much she wanted to do something for me and this was what they came up with. She felt that I do so much for so many others. I was so touched. I mentioned to her that I would like to do the same thing for a family very special to me. I wanted to have some professional photo's taken of the children of a friend of mine. I wanted him to have some really nice photo's of his kids. I didn't have lots of cash and I WASN'T going to do the in studio portraits at a sears or JC penny or kiddie candid. Well without any further details she immediately said she would love to. No questions asked and no charge.

2 weeks later She drove 45 minute in a snow storm with below freezing temperature on a very windy day to do this for me. It took less than 20 minutes for the whole photo shoot but there was such a spirit of fun and joy & togetherness within that 2o minutes. Her joy was doing this for me. My joy was doing this for them. It was a snowball effect and people, events and things were coming together for everything good I wanted to do this holiday season and it was all being done with an overwhelming feeling of love for anyone who jumped on board.

I woke up Christmas eve realizing I had 4 quilts to put together. I had put so much else on my plate that I found myself slacking on some important project that needed to be done in less than 24 hours. I don't sew that great. But I can design and draw very well. When it came to sewing the quilts together I ran into problem after problem with the machine. My sister and daughter we great at answering my every frustrated call when the machine would stop working for whatever reason. As I sewed quilts, they tied them. I had roped them into another of my ideas and dragged them into the pressure of time constraints. The could have been upset with me. They probably should have. I was frustrated with myself. But they turned it into so much fun and laughter. And we had so much fun. talking about the quilts and the personalities that would soon be using them! I even ran out to deliver some pkg late Christmas eve and they chose to stay behind to finish tying the 3 quilts I had made that morning. That left me with one last one to finish on Christmas day.

After I had returned home late Christmas eve, my daughter had the idea to turn the photos my photographer had done of my friend's family into a movie presentation. She had already set up some pictures into a movie format and asked me what I thought. I liked what she was doing. She thought we should put it to music. My sister, knowing more about music than just about anyone I know she asked me what kind of music I wanted. I wanted something with a "gospel music" sound. I thought of the kids in the photos and their family. They had been through a lot this year. Some sad and dark days for sure. I wanted something that would strengthen their resolve and let the world know they had not been nor would be defeated. Something that they could look to be their family "National Anthem" for this next year. She found what we thought was the perfect song. We worked on the presentation all night and into the morning. My daughter using what she knew of the kids as her inspiration worked meticulously on this. When she finished she made the copies, one for each parent of the children. I was wired all night. I watched the presentation over and over and cried each time, such was the love I have for this family. I think I fell asleep about 6:30 Christmas morning and about 10:am I woke everyone up so we could finish our quilting. We all watched the DVD movie presentation one more time and my sister said... "something is missing, it's not complete."

After she said it there was an anxious little spirit in the room. We all felt it, I started to tear up and get overcome with emotion and nodded in agreement.
"you know what we have to do don't you?"
I asked.

My sister and daughter nodded as well. We'd be taking a trip out a cemetery to take pictures of the other family member which had that passed away some years earlier. There was such an excitement to do this that I had a hard time focusing on the other tasks for today.

About 4 pm camera's in tow we went to the cemetery and uncovered the little resting place of the missing angel who belonged in the video/movie we had spent the night before producing. We then scurried off to another friend's house for dinner.

There, we would insert the other pictures and finish the DVD presentation to be gifted later that night. When we showed our other friends the movie we were doing and explained why, they began to give input and ideas on how to do the final editing and rearrangements. We all sat and watched the presentation a couple more times. I teared up each time I saw it all through the editing stages. It was such an uplifting thing for us me to watch. That feeling was extended once again to those around me. This feeling of giving and sharing and caring and doing was growing and extending to everyone in our paths. I'm just loving it. As I gave the special gifts we created for each person, my family and friends were standing by via cell phone/ text waiting and wanting pictures and every detailed reaction as I personally gave them gifts. As each reaction was relayed my friends and family cheered and jumped up and down and produced tears of delight. The joy was all in the giving.

This year has been Magical.

We wanted no one to be excluded right down to the pizza delivery boy.

My sisters ordered a few days before Christmas. It was a cold snowy night the roads were horrible and dangerous. About $40 worth of food was ordered. One of my sister's looked at the other and said.... "the bill came to about 48$. Should we give him $60 and tell him to keep the change.... or should we tell him THIS....( she pulled out $100 bill) and tell him to keep the change?" They both grinned at one another. When the doorbell finally rang they were like silly little girls racing to get to the door. They took the food... handed him a crisp $100 bill and said... "Keep the change!" The look on his face... PRICELESS! He looked at them both and couldn't believe... "are you sure?" he kept stammering. Oh they were sure. The tip was bigger than the bill. The delivery guy couldn't have been more than 16 years old. He probably drew the short straw to have to make a delivery on such a night! For him, it was work. For my sisters it was all about bringing Joy to someone.... anyone.... a pizza delivery boy!

I guess my turn was next!
Christmas day I was told we needed to go to my other sister's house to open presents. Sure, why not? They called and wanted to know when we'd be coming. The time was unsure but we'd make it over there soon enough. Well soon enough ended up being about 5pm Christmas night. When we got there, they were JUST sitting down for dinner. "Oh, she's here, I can't wait NO MORE said my other sister." They instructed me to go sit on the couch. "but we can do this after dinner..." I was saying as she ran upstairs. "go get the video camera!" She yelled from downstairs. I was thinking what in the WORLD is going on. My other sister had been hinting all day that my present was too big to hide in her small apt. I figured they got me new flat screen TV or some other electronic thing I didn't need. I've never been so happy to be so wrong.

So I sat there on the couch eyes closed, blanket over my head to make sure I wasn't peeking. I could hear everyone scurrying around in into position. And then finally I hear... "OK... Open your eyes!"

I pulled the blanket off my head and was looking at the back side of a large portrait. The words on the back said:

"To Karyn and Alieshia A gift out of your dream" And is was signed by Greg Olson.

They turned the portrait around, it was a beautifully framed and I couldn't believe what I was looking at:

"Hand In Hand" by Greg Olsen.

I started shaking and crying. A week ago I saw this portrait for the first time and it brought tears to my eyes. I have a daughter who will be 18 next month. I had planned on giving her up for adoption. The week she was born, basically all hell broke loose and nothing went as planned. In my frustration I had a new born that I had no plans of raising. In my frustration I called my mother who simply said to me... "when you fasted and prayed about what to do with this baby, what was your answer?" I told her I really hadn't fasted or prayed, I just planned on giving the baby up. She suggested I hit the knees and petitioned my father in heaven to find out how to handle the situation. I spent the next day in fasting and prayer and by the end of the day I had the answer of what I was supposed to do. That night I dreamed of a little girl, dressed in pink with an afro puff in her hair walking hand in hand with the savior, and he was basically telling her to be patient with this crazy lady who she would call mama and would be raising her.
The next day I phoned Social Services and told them to extend my apologies for the family that was waiting to receive my daughter because I was going to be a mommy!
It was actually a relief to my social worker. I find out later that everyone felt I should be keeping the child. Everyone knew but me.
Now you can understand my reaction to the portrait? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever own and large canvased sized portrait of any photo, not to mention this very special one!
My sisters all crying, my daughter next to me crying... couldn't WAIT to tell the whole story!

That's right, there's more.
3 days after I showed them the portrait online, they are out shopping. They decide to go to a Costco store. They started going to one Costco and for some reason ended up at a totally different Costco. They walked into the store and turned a corner and one of them saw a sign that said.. "Greg Olsen." And there was a line.
The sister's looked at each other in disbelief. And the plan had already been formed in both of their minds. They were suddenly on the same wave length. One sister went in search of the portrait.
The other sister actually cut to the front of the line, excused her self to the next person and approached Brother Olsen:
"I just have to know what was your inspiration for this portrait?"
He said it was always something he wanted to do but wasn't quite sure how to bring it to pass. Then My sister said...
" I have a story for you..."
and proceeded to tell him how 18 years earlier I had this struggle with giving a child up for adoption and the minute I decided to keep the baby, the dream i had of a little girl walking hand and hand with savior and him explaining to her about this crazy mother she was being sent to.
He said my story brought him chills and he wanted to meet me. My sister's bought 2 photo's that day said she needed 2 more. They got the 2 autographed and Brother Olsen's son called another store and they were holding them for my sister and she had only a couple hours to get them. Brother Olsen then proceeded to give them his home phone number and email so I could contact him! My sister mentioned that I'm the program director for the LDS Genesis Group and we'd love to have him speak. I'm to contact him and set up a time we could come over and have him autograph the other 2 portraits and discuss him doing a fireside for me.

I went back today and read the poem that goes along with this portrait. It reminds me maybe of how my daughter might of felt, waiting for me to make the right decision on her life:

Like a child in the woods I lost my way,
Alone and afraid I stopped to pray.
"Father in Heaven" I cried in my need,
"Please guide me home, I'll go where you lead."
Like a light in the forest he sent down his son,
My heart became warm, and new hope had begun.
"Take my hand and I'll lead you", I heard him say, "
Stay by my side for I know the way".
Now a child in the woods all filled with delight,
The journey is joyous as I walk in his light.
No longer alone in a shadow filled land,
He leads me home as we walk hand in hand.
- Greg Olsen

I truly have a firm testimony that when we are doing all we can to live righteously and are headed in a direction other than what God The Father has planned for us, we will not allow us to make major mistakes. I believe he will put people and events into place to help us recognize a that we may need to reconsider our current course. It's so important to live in a way that we can recognize and hear those tender promptings of the spirit. Prayer works. I have a new respect for the saying... " move heaven and earth..." because I have seen this happen so many times in the passed couple weeks.

Back to this "Holy" Day Season. I never gave much attention to the words.. "over joyed."

I am so in love with the people in my world. I never knew I could feel this abundance of love for those around me. It feels as if it is never ending and ever replenished. I don't want this feeling to ever end. I want to make this feeling contagious to everyone I care about because having this feeling every day makes life so much more meaningful. I can't find the proper words to express what this is.

My message to everyone is simple: BE LOVE and you will be loved.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fraternaties & Sororities

My Daughter and I were watching "STOMP THE YARD" the other day. The language was somewhat to be desired but it was a pretty good show. I can remember going to the parks on Saturday growing up and watching the step teams practice and do their things. I miss it. Steppin' is a big time feature of the black fraturnities and sororities. I've always wanted to belong to a Sorority. My Grandmother was part of the AlphKappa Alpha's. So is my Sister In Law, the same Soro. My Younger brother is member of the Omega Si Phi It's pretty cool to watch him and his wife do what they do in their organizations. I've got twinge of jealously. Well I had a twinge of jealousy. Until I go this fabulous idea the other day :)

I went to the Church Distribution Center to get a couple things and renew my church magazine prescription, bought a couple of books and dvd's. And I was walking by the ctr rings. I've got about 3 different ones some place. The Hawaiian one was pretty cool. I also liked the Korean and Hungarian ones.

But what caught my eye were just the regular one's they hand out in primary. You know the kind that turn your finger green? yeah they had a bunch of them in different languages. What caught my eye was the one in Greek! It looke like a real Frat or Soro ring.

Anyone who knows me knows my imagination is outta control wants it gets started. I'm staring at this Greek CTR ring and I'm really diggin it. I tell myself.... you know what? I AM part of a sorority:
CTR: Chi Theta Rho!
Ok so it's not a literal translation but it's was the closest I could find.
I'm marketing this to be my new sorority! Anyone can join they simply need to have a desire and show evidence of choosing the right or wanting to choose the right. And I'm heavily recruiting. I'm even going to buy some of the rings to pass out to sorority sisters and frat brothers. How cool would it be if none of us were ashamed to wear that little primary ring that turns your finger green and make a firm stand to choose the right? I'm game. I love the thought of belonging to a World Wide Sorority/Fraternity organization. I thing it'll be the topic of my next Youth Fireside...and I'm going to pass out the rings to all the youth how cool would THAT be?

I encourage everyone to join... and more importantly to recruit! And for .71 cents you, too, can get your Fraternity/Sorority ring :)

Friday, December 14, 2007

How We Got To Be LDS~

My first recollection of anything religious was my mom reading us bedtime stories from the bible. Our family wasn't a member of any church during that time, but everynight when my father was working my mom would pull out her big white family bible and read to us. I enjoy it. When I was about 4 or 5 years old i can remember being outside sunday morning playing and a bus would come around and pick up the neigborhood kids and they've disappear for a couple of hours then return. On day my siblings and I got on the bus. Keep in mind if I was about 5 years old, my younger brother was 4, my older sister was 6 and our older brother was probably 8 years old.
One day we just jumped on the bus with our friends and went to church! It was fun, a bunch of your friends on this bus singing songs like

This little Light of mine
Jesus Loves The Little Children.

We'd get off the bus and be ushered into this church where we colored pictured of Jesus and sang more songs and had a bible study. They collected penny's from everyone and then we got on the bus and went back home. I loved it. What I didn't like was they made us spit out our gum during bible study. They said they would give up a piece after wards but they never did. Since i never got my gum back I decided to keep my penny's cuz they lied to me each week. After bible study we'd go hear rather loud exciting sermon then get on the bus and sing all the way home. What better way to spend the sabbath then being on a "FUN BUS" with all your school yard and neighborhood buddies singing songs about Jesus, away from the parents for a few hours! Good stuff.
My father and I were talking just last night about this and he said....
" your mother and I must have lost our minds! What parents send their kids off on a random bus that collects kids take them away for a couple of hours and bring them back? We had no idea where you were or what you were doing. Then one Sunday you all came in the house singing books about the bible. So we figured you were learning some good stuff and retaining it. We continued to let you go for a while. It was great. Then your mother and I decided that it was probably time we all get some religion. So one day we all went to the church you were going. And you never went back after that."
"well how come?" I ASKED
" man, them people were holy rollin in the isles and back then, we used to joke about them kind of people!" ( I started crackin up !")
"But I think (he continued) that the best thing that ever happened to our family is the day your mother and I got invited to a dinner and 2 young men with the same first name of elder were there!. I'm not sure what direction we would have been headed as a family, but I KNOW that we are better off now then we would have been had we never joined the church." And he proceeded to bear his testimony. It was an awesome moment. My dad and i talked for nearly 6 hours last night. Laughing and joking most of the time about our time in the church.
A walk down memory lane: He used to officiate church basket ball. He talked about one time when he toss a stake president out of the game and then ejected him from the building. He uppercut a guy! LDS basket ball is VICIOUS and dad didn't take no crap. He said it was disheartening to watch priesthood brothers to act that way towards each other. I asked him if he ejected that Stake President before he got the priesthood?He said... "yeah, and as a matter of fact, He was the one who gave me the priesthood." I had to laugh about that. ONLY in the LDS church!
We shared some really fun memories about growing up in the Church. For a couple years my father played Santa Clause for the Ward Christmas parties. My dad is an AWESOME Santa Clause.
It seemed for a time we were always having ward parties at our house. Before we joined my dad would black mail the missionaries into playing with our family. They'd have to go sledding or to the winter park with us if they wanted us to hear the next discussion. Fun times. When I look back at our family and the whole LDS experience it really has been a Joy! My parents were really good about finding joy in the church while we were younger. Don't get me wrong it's been tough being in the world and not of the world. Yes we ARE a peculiar people. I've been hanging with some pretty amazing kids this summer and fall and we talk about some of the things we can and can't do as church members. I'm so impressed with them and their committment to staying pure till marriage and not dating too soon and so on. One day they asked me what makes me so cool. I get that alot when I'm hangin with teenagers... "you are soo cool." I tell them... "you know what makes me cool? Being LDS makes me cool. Yeah we have some freakish cultural stereotypes (funeral potatoes, jello, casseroles and what not...) But we do alot of cool stuff as Mormons. We have a really cool legacy. We have a networking program for taking care of each other like no bodies business. And no matter where you go in this world, if you are lost, hungry, alone or scared, for the most part you can pick up a phone book, call an LDS bishop and pretty much feel secure." And you don't HAVE TO BE LDS to have that, we'll help anyone.
To me, that's pretty cool.
I LIKE being LDS. I haven't always liked it, but now I am so proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

PS... I miss that penticostle bus, though!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I've Done Some Crazy Things At Christmas...

Last night I did the craziest thing surrounding Christmas holidays. I've done the 12 days of Christmas. I've build a snow village in the middle of the night in someones front yard. I've build a snowman on top of a car roof. My Waffles & Christmas Stories Event is always a crazy thing. But this thing I did last night, at least for me, tops it. My daughter plays the violin. My sister sings and has sang with Steven Kapp Perry, Michael Mc clein, Merril Jenson and a few other old school LDS music people. Me? I follow really well. I can sing with people if I know the song. I don't read music at all.
Well my daughter was playing orchestra in the Stake Christmas Fireside last night. She invited my sister to come along. I went along for the ride. I heard them saying words like.... "Music... "dividing into sections...." "chorus..." but some where I missed the "sing along" part.

Our Stake did a Messiah Sing along last night! Little did I know what I was going to be in store for. We walked into the stake center and most of the chapel was almost full. My sister and I found a seat. She then asks, what I think is the weirdest question.... "what section is this?" I'm thinking.. Section? What does she mean? "tenors" was the answer. She turns to me and says.. ."we need to move." I'm thinking.. move? Why on earth would we need to move? So we travel around the chapel looking for a another spot to sit. The stake music coordinator was handing out this really thick book to anyone who needed them. I grabbed one for my sister, she would want to know the program, right? Well she ALREADY knew the program. I soon find out that this is a MESSIAH "SING ALONG." Now I had heard something about these things, but I wasn't sure what it was and what it all entails. And somewhere in my sister and daughter's conversing about it over the phone, I COMPLETELY missed it. Well, too late to back out now, we were about to get started. We had an opening prayer and then the guy from the stake announced what the program was and how it works and my jaw dropped to the floor. My sister was all sorts of giddy. My daughter, was eyeballing me from her orchestra seat holding back laughter. I sort of looked around uncomfortably and I noted that several people had their OWN copy of this thick book they handed me earlier. As the books opened they had their stuff marked up and highlighted with notes and ques and scribbles and everything else. I was feeling REALLY uncomfortable and nervous. My heck it was JUST singing. I've sang before. I've sang by myself before. Not often. Not even very well, but I've shamelessly done it. Anyway, I soon find out that WE, the audience are actually going to be singing the Chorus to the Messiah. OK, so how bad can it be?

Let me tell you how bad it can be. I was sooooooooo lost. first of all I know what good music sounds like, and I can sing on to the radio with the best of them. I can even do a karaoke duet. But this thing.... I looked at the music and was absolutely freakin lost! I cant read music, didn't know what notes to follow... didn't even know what LINE I was supposed to be singing until 1/2 way through the things and that was because I finally peeked at the music sheet of the lady on the other side of my sister and she had it highlighted. I tell you it was CUH-RAY-ZEE! I was messing up ALL over the place. But hey, they conductor at the beginning said
"it's all in fun, if you mess up, so what, keep going and just enjoy yourself!"
yeah, right!
I couldn't have messed up more if I had busted out with Ludarcris' "Pimpin All Over the World."
One I got the hang of it, which was the last song "Hallelujah." It was actually pretty fun. My sister LOVED IT! my daughter loved watching ME struggle and she played in the orchestra pit. Well, I don't feel too badly. My friend was there, she can't sing either. Her husband is a composer. She was so lost that her husband was singing "turn the page..." to the Hallelujah Chorus.

(turn the page! Forever and ever.. hallelujah, hallelujah!)

Yeah, that was definitely the craziest things I've ever done at Christmas.

Everyone should try it at least once!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I'm not sure what happened to me tonight, but it was an interesting experience. I was in a book store earlier this evening looking for a couple of gifts, a couple books and DVDs. The overhead speakers were playing holiday/seasonal music throughout the store as patrons came in and out of the shop. I faintly noticed my favorite holiday carol overhead and didn't pay too much attention to it as I thumbed through books and photos and journals with gift purchasing through my mind.
At one point I sort of stopped in my tracks. I'm not sure what stopped me or why but I became still and it seemed as if the overhead music was much louder than before. In that stillness something came over me. The feeling was so strong and deep that my breath and my heart quickened and my eyes began to tear up. Was it the Celtic sounds of the my favorite carol overhead? I had never heard this version before: instrumental version of "What Child is This?" played on a Celtic flute. The music seemed to fill my very being and tears that had welled up in my eyes began to spill over. I quickly blinked and brushed them away but they would continue to flow steadily. I was sniffling and catching quick little breaths. What was happening to me? There was no sadness or anger or even frustration, although in the last three days there had been plenty of it. I tried to retire to an unoccupied corner of the bookstore where I could go back and gain some kind of control. What in the world was going on here? I had absolutely lost my composure and I couldn't explain why even if I wanted to. The feeling was quite, sweet. It was burning deep through me like a spot light on stage piercing my very skin. I walked around the rows of books and other gifts sniffling and wiping away tears.
"Get yourself together, girl what is wrong with you!"
I repeated in my head. The funny thing is, nothing WAS wrong. I can't think of one thing that was upsetting to me that would have cause such a reaction. It was a feeling of calm and peace over me. Almost like a silent love was enveloping me and filling me with grace, hope and love. The words "testify of me and my love" kept going through my head. There was anxiousness in the thought as if I needed to get some urgent message out. I found myself nodding my head as if to say.. " I will, I promise!" The feeling stayed with me for a little while before it slowly faded off. It didn't leave, it just sort of faded off like the dying of a large fire into a smaller one. A warmth still resides within me.

There comes a time, for me, each year when the Spirit of Christmas arrives. And when it hits, it really hits and it feels like Christmas. I belive this year it hit extremely early and in a book store. Tonight I've taken a journey of the passed 12 months. This time last year my world was so crumbled and upside down I didn't ever feel as if I would get it together. When I think back of the pain, hurt, sorry, and sadness that myself and many of my friends have endured the last 12 months, I am in awe of their strength. I drew from them in my weakest moments. I am amazed at how Heavenly Father has sustained me and those around me. I am blessed to be surrounded by those who were eager for my joy and happiness, who took my burden, prayed with me and for me and helped me recognize and believe that that no matter what I've been going through, heavenly father wants me to succeed. He will meet me where I am no matter what my condition is and he is ready and waiting to bless me. I only need to believe, trust and have faith. It took some doing. I had to get to the point where I could no longer stand myself or the condition I was in to takes the steps needed to make the changes I wanted to have in my life. And when all was said and done I was instructed to "go forth and testify of God's love for his children. There are those around you who will need to hear your testimony. It will save them." It reminded me of a blessing I rec'd about 13 years ago that mentioned "your life will be a testimony of Jesus Christ" Wow. When I think back at some of the many blessings I have had and how they companion each other through the years, I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for me. I know he has aligned people, places and events in my life to guide me closer to him. I am so grateful for the a Loving Heavenly Father who is just and merciful and knows me so personally and intimately that he has tailored a path specifically for me to follow so I can return to him with honor. I'm grateful for that opportunity. I'm grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ who came into this world for me and whose love was so great for us all that he willingly allowed himself to be humiliated, beaten, tortured and crucified. The very least I can do is make sure I live in such a way that those drops of blood he shed for me were not in vein. The least I can do is make sure my words and actions are not a mockery of that sacrifice. I know God loves us, his children. I believe in Jesus Christ and I know he lives today.

I hope that someday all who comes across this message will receive that same witness, and have the desire to come unto Christ.

Jesus IS the Reason for the Season.
Happy "Holy'days!

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Each day is another year gone by and each year is another landmark in our lives.
We focus on certain land marks such as births, deaths, anniversaries and other various events with monumental meaning, forgetting the greatness of each day.

When I wake up do I look around and focus on what’s right in my life or what’s wrong? Have I piled up walls around me of the bad and negative things and imprisioned myself by it each day? Have given in to Lucifer’s invitation to anger, depression, hopelessness, contention, pride, and sadness or have I chosen to surround myself with the goodness and positives that encourage my own goodness, hope, joy and love?

The sun rises and sets each day, regardless if I see it or not. Some days the Sun’s rays are blocked by heaven’s clouds and some days the Sun’s rays are blocked by my own clouds. Recently I’ve found strength in know that although there are days I may not see the sun and it‘s light , or feel it’s warmth, I KNOW the sun is there. Sometimes its minutes before the sun appears and sometimes its days. But I know its’ there and soon I will see it’s brightness and feel it’s warmth. I only need to be patient and wait. While I wait, I do those things that keep me patient until I can see the light and feel the warmth of the sun again: I wear warm clothing to protect me from the cold. I use lights and other things to help me see and to guide my way throughout the day so the visual absence of the sun doesn’t hinder my everyday life. Doing these things gives me comfort, patience, peace, love and it sustains me.

Each day by focusing on the things that give me comfort, peace and love it seems to attract and increase more of those things. (Is this what is meant by “The Law of Attraction?”) And those things of a negative, depressing nature seem to fade. And it’s not that they really disappear, they just sort of fade away to a point where their importance has diminished greatly and they become easier and less tedious to deal with. I’m anxious to deal with them so those things can be replaced with something more positive.

Take some time this Thanksgiving to think about those things that give you patience, peace and love. Seek them out daily to sustain you, until the sun begins to shine again in your life. You may not always feel it, you may not always see it, but know that the sun is ALWAYS there. There are always things to be grateful for each day and focusing on them will create even more things to be grateful for each day. I promise :)

Homework: Now go back and reread this and replace the meaning of "The Sun" with "THE Son" after clicking this link:

And have a BEAUTIFUL Day and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Lord Will Not Force Himself Upon People;

"...And if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation. If they are content to depeond upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then, of course, the Lord will leave them to their choesn fate...
... The almighty is with his people. We shall have all the revealations that we shall need if we do our duty and keep th ecommandments of God....
If there be eyes to see, there will be visions to inspire
If there be ears to hear, there will be revealations to experience
If there be hearts which can understand, know this: That the exalting truths of Christ's gospel will no longer be hidden and mysterious, and all earnest seekers my know God and his program..."
(Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Spencer W Kimball; Chapter 22)
Today we discussed how we can be prepared to recieve revealation. Each of us have the ability to recieve it regarding our lives and those we have special fellowship over. The great thing about revealation is that it's one of MANY ways the Lord communicates with us. The most important things we need to remember about recieving revealations is we must be willing to put in the effort of being worthy and willing to recieve it. If we keep in mind that Heavenly Father wants us to succeed and will aide in that success if we do our part. Doing our part is usually more than just dropping to our knees and issuing up a quick "holla back, Lord." Jumping up and then continuing on our way. I know at least for me it usually takes more than just that. I will say, however on times when I do feel closest to the Lord, some times it is just that easy. Those times are rare indeed.

I've been working on the passed few months increasing my Faith in God the father and his son Jesus Christ. I've got some close to heart issues I've been working on and they have been of great concern for me for quite some time. I've half heartedly offered up prayers in answer to my questions regarding these things but must admit I've not really paid much attention to what could be the answers. A couple of things come to mind as to why:

1. Is there a certain "pay off" being in a state of ignorance?

I would have to say yes. There's very little ownership or responsibility.
It allows me to be spiritually lazy. And if it's something I have no real desire to take care of in my life, then I make the choice of being dumb to the situation. If i don't know what steps to take to move forward, then I don't have to take responsibility or accountability to act on it.

2. Am I ready for the answer?
In most cases, I am ready for the answer. And upon recieving that answer, I'm usually pretty quick to act. I have energy and focus take the answer and immediately apply it. It is very rare that I have a situation I'm not ready to recieve the answer on. But I think this is the case with my current situation. I'm unclear of what I'll have to do if I recieve the answer and if it's not what I would like it to be, I'm not sure I'm strong enough to act on it.

*sigh* What's a girl to do? Well one thing about me is I really don't like for things to be unsettled. Because it keeps resurfacing and that's just annoying. Toward the end of Relief Society our focus was brought to Enos Chapter 1 vs 4 in the Book Of Mormon:

"And my soul hungered and I knelt before my Maker and I cried unto him in
mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached into the heavens..."

Tell me that's not a man who was prepared for revealation. He not only was prepared for it, he was anxious for it. Ready for it. Willing to do what was needed to impliment it when he rec'd it.

That's how we need to become when we are seekin answers to prayers, or aide in situations that are beyond ourselves. We gotta want it. We gotta be hungry for it. We gotta be intentional. And we are and THEN seek Heavenly Father to recieve it, it shall be given. The Lord said in

Matthew 21:22: And all things whatsoever ye ask in prayer believing, ye shall recieve.

In 1 nephi 15: 11: Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and aske me in faith believing that ye shall recieve with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.

There is no reason for the Lord to withhold information or blessings from of if we and THEY are righteous.
We did recieve homework at the end of the class. Well anyone who is going to church goes home with homework, or should, at least in my opinion. So maybe I'll say we were given a challenge.

Here is the Challenge:

"Do you want guidance? Have you prayed to the Lord for inspiration? Do you want to do right or do you want to do what you want to do whether or not it is right? Do you want to do what is best for you in the long run or what seems more desirable for the moment? Have you prayed? How much have you prayed? How did you pray? Have you prayed as did the Savior of the world in Gethsemane or did you ask for what you want regardless of its being proper? Do you say in your prayers: “Thy will be done”? Did you say, “Heavenly Father, if you will inspire and impress me with the right, I will do that right”? Or, did you pray, “Give me what I want or I will take it anyway”? Did you say: “Father in Heaven, I love you, I believe in you, I know you are omniscient. I am honest. I am sincerely desirous of doing right. I know you can see the end from the beginning. You can see the future. You can discern if under this situation I present, I will have peace or turmoil, happiness or sorrow, success or failure. Tell me, please, loved Heavenly Father, and I promise to do what you tell me to do.” Have you prayed that way? Don’t you think it might be wise? Are you courageous enough to pray that prayer?" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, Spencer W Kimball; Chapter 22)

Am I courageous enough to pray that prayer? Usually, YES, absolutely without a doubt. But as to this current situation.... I wasnt. But now, I feel I am. If Im not, my own personal challenge is to prepare myself to be in a place to be courageous enough to pray that prayer very soon. THAT prayer is a life changing prayer. Whatever That prayer is for you, you have to really be ready and willing to pray it. There is a mighty strength and humility to praying THAT prayer because it will require action. That action may be to stop doing somethings that maybe you shouldn't be doing. It may require you to take people out of your life or place them in a more appropriate place or distance in your life. It requires you to prioritize. It requires you to act in a way that is conducive to the answer Heavenly Father has provided. It requires you to take responsibility and be accountable for following or NOT following the council recieved.

My Grandma would say... "girl, before you ask the question MAKE SURE you want to know the answer, cuz you just might get it." Amen to that Grandma.

I hope that as we all look at where we are in our lives regardless of activity or status in the church we will all prepare ourselves to be courageus enough to pray THAT prayer.

President Kimball also said:

"If one rises from his knees having merely said words, he should fall back on his knees and remain there until he has established communication with the Lord who is very anxious to bless, but having given man his free agency, will not force himself upon that man..."

"...And if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation. If they are content to depeond upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then, of course, the Lord will leave them to their choesn fate..."

Good Luck with Praying THAT prayer!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cuz That's How I Roll!

My daughter, now 17 came up to me when she was about 8 yrs old and said..

"Mom, how come we don't have pictures with black people on the walls?The only pictures of black people are you and me"


So I looked around the walls of my apt and notice she was right. And it was a great question. We had pictures of a couple of temples, the first presidency of the church, a little girl sitting at the knee of Christ. A man returning with honor for his earthly journey and into the arms of God the Father, The Christus, A family in front of the temple... I guess what I'm trying to say is we had pictures in our home of all those nicey nice LDS eternal goals and things. It was LDS art. But we couldn't find any art at the time that had multi cultural families depicted. Usually it wouldn't matter, because up until this point, it didn't matter at least to me. As I listened to her ask some more questions and thing about things out loud, I heard what she WASN'T asking. And what she wasn't asking was this:

We have pictures of all these people receiving all these blessings and ordinances of our Church, but none of them really identify with me as a little black girl.

How do I know this was what she was asking? Cuz we discuss it through the years as she got older.

I started being intentional about finding art that depicts some of our culture as black women and as LDS women.

Here are some of my treasures. It's mostly photo's of the photo's in my home now so excuse the flash lighting on the pics.

This blanket means very much to me. I use it a lot of my youth firesides I do called "Tapestry"

Each individual color and strand of this tapestry plays and important roll in the final design of the blanket. Just as each of God's children and their individual beauty plans an important roll in the Lords Final design. Together in our different colors, shapes and sizes we are the Lords Masterpiece. Just as this Blanket is a masterpiece.

I went through a phase where I collected black angels. I don't know why but I wanted black angels. Some of my white friends asked me "why does it matter?" I said it doesn't matter Per Se, I just want what I want and I want black angels. When I asked them why they had white angels, white dolls, white greeting cards and such they shut up really quick. That's who they are and its' what their family identifies with. It's not some great issue, it's just what I wanted. They also thought a Black Santa clause was weird. Well the Santa that came to my house each year was black. No biggie, he just was. Why wouldn't he be? Anyway I found this tapestry blanket in a magazine a few years ago. It's called "FAITH" I purchased about 10 or 12 of these blankets. I gave one to my mom, step mom, sister in law, sister, daughter and various other friends.

I have a friend who lives a couple hours north of me. When I met him he was going through a very VERY Rough time. I think he appreciates this blanket more than anyone else I've given them to. When he found out I was LDS he basically went off on me saying

"I guess it was nice knowing you, I haven't been to church in years...."

I had to tell him... "I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but I've enjoyed getting to know you. If you feel you need to move on, then I can accept and respect that. I don't care "

He was shocked. And we became pretty good friends

I remember one year he said Christmas hasn't come for me in years. So that year, for Christmas I gave him just a book filled with uplifting quotes about life and the difficult times we go through and the blessings we receive and sometimes forget. I fell in love with my Dakota Moon C.D so I have him that as well & with that I also gave him one of the blankets. I think he said he framed it and hung it on his wall. That was about 8 years ago. I recently was in touch with him. He had gotten married and was in the middle of a divorce. He said to me.

"I still have that blanket you gave me. You must be my black angel, because when times are hard without even knowing, you appear back into my life to help me along, just like an angel."

My response to him was... " I AM YOUR BLACK ANGEL!" Many people have called me their Angel. My Halo may be tarnished at times and some feathers may be missing from my wings but I AM an angel.

I love Jason. I love this blanket. And I love being a black angel :)

This is probably my favorite photo of all time.

It used to be part of a calendar I had. Some of my earliest memories are my mother reading to us from the bible. This was before we were baptized members of the church. This reminds me of my mom in her greatest moments of trials and strength. What's really amazing about this piece of artwork is, it also reminds me of my Grandma, my mother's mom. Because I see images of her as well sitting on her couch with her bible open watching the PTL club. So for me this is timeless of all the Mama's and Grandmama's in my family. It reminds me of them all because they were very into knowing and studying their scriptures. I want some day for this picture to remind those in my family of me.

This is probably my next favorite piece.

If I could find a wall size print of this I'd put it in my living room.
This is a greeting card I actually framed. It's of the Prophet Joseph Smith imprisoned. Feeling forgotten, burdened and alone
There's not a man, woman or child on earth who can't or wont identify with this picture sometimes if not many in their lives. If I look at it long enough it brings me to tears. I've had many dark days this year when I have literally broke down and looked towards heaven searching for comfort, hope, relief, protection and love. The beauty is I have received! This one is very dear to me.

This is a favorite with the Sisters in the ward when they come over and chill.

It's pretty self explanatory: My Black Moses!

SHOOT! Who wouldn't mind a black Moses to come along and rescue them from the things we're a slave to in this world. "LET MY PEOPLE GO!"
Dreads, staff, and alla that! What I like most about it, is the look in his eye. He knows, that he knows, that he knows there is a force behind him that Pharaoh will never be able to stand a chance against. He just knows it. His look is determined with faith unwavering. HE BELIEVES.
And best of all, he's right over my fire place mantle :)
It reminds me to try and have that look in my eyes. I want to look like I know, that I know, that I KNOW!

This one is called the the Baptism

It reminded me of a program I saw called "Pioneer Saints in Africa." Or something like that on BYU-TV.
Most people don't realize that back in the 1960's in Africa there were literally stakes waiting to be baptised. But the church didn't send missionaries to Africa at the time. For 18 years some people waiting to become members of my church. I recall the words of a man who went in for his baptismal interview and as he was asked each question he replied, "yes, I've been living that way for 18 years." ATE-TEEN-YEERZ!
WOW! All I can say is WOW. How many of us can't go one week w/o breaking a baptismal or temple covenant? (that's a whole other blog, yeah?)

The way has been paved and we are so blessed to be in a time when all the blessings and knowledge of the gospel are available to us at the touch of our fingertips and in our homes.
This picture reminds me of my daughter when she was about that age.
Right down to the hair.

My daughter was always pretty self content and self entertaining. She would lay on the couch, put a cover on her head and play peek-a-boo all by herself and just giggle away. Once when she was about 4 or 5 she saved some water melon seeds and planted them. She took a plastic spoon and dug a small hole with it, put in her handfuls of seeds and put a mound of dirt on top of it. She would even go out and water it a couple times a week. One day she was staring out the window.

"Boppy, what you lookin at?" I asked her.

"I waiting for my plant to grow mommy!"

"Really?!" I said, half enthused.
And that was that. I didn't pay any more attention to her and this plant. I figured it would die and she would forget about it. A couple months later I noticed this crazy vine in the bush area of our apt complex. didn't pay too much attention to it. By the end of summer this vine was out of control and even growing around the rails to the upstairs apartments. Turns out that my child grew water melon that summer. The whole apartment complex enjoyed several water melons that summer. During the fall the apartment owners ripped out their bushes and began to grew squash and watermelon from now on. Yeah, I have a pretty cool kid. This reminds me of her childhood. I think I learned more from her than she'll ever learn from me.

Another Favorite with the women who come over!

I liked this for a few reasons. It's called the FIRST SUPPER.

There's 13 really buff men in this photo depicting the LAST SUPPER. Their skin is all different shades of chocolate and Carmel. And EVERYONE loves chocolate and Carmel. Yes I know it's an Black vision of the first supper, you can tell by the watermelon and other fruits. And don't trip, I happen to love watermelon AND I'm addicted to fried chicken. Now what?

I figure the olive or darker skin and woolen hair is probably more accurate anyway.

I love this Statue!

It's not elegant or expensive or anything like that. But It's me and my girl. When I decided to keep my baby girl the song that played in the radio was Bobby Browns... "every little step I take, you will be there." And the other song that has been running through my mind the last 18 years is "just the 2 of us. We can make it if we try just the two of us." I was pleased when Will Smith did the remix of that song with his son.
This is the close up.
It speaks to my cultural side, my motherhood, my spiritual side, my whimsical and funny side, my sexy side. (Yeah, I do have sexy side somewhere in there). I reminds me that my I AM all those things, cultural, mom, spiritual, whimsical, funny and sexy. My daughter are is becoming these things as well.

They aren't much I know but they've helped keep a healthy cultural balance at least in my immediate home. My family is pretty well integrated and I'm proud of that. To take a disliking to any one culture because it would be me disliking a part of myself.

We also have the Typical LDS art in our home: temple, Christis, family pictures and such. This year i want to start a wall with friends and their families on my wall. What better way to have a feeling of joy and love in your home a wall dedicated to those friends and family members you love. Also if you feel you are struggling with finding art you can use anything. I have several greeting cards in 5x7 frames. Same with calendar photo's and just crazy picture's I've taken myself.
Anything that helps create a feeling of love and happiness and uplifting should be displayed in your home, because as you feel these things, so will those who enter.
........ If there is anything virtuous lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things!

Monday, November 5, 2007


In the LDS world yesterday, just as every first Sunday of the month was fast Sunday. That means we've skipped 2 meals and given the money we would have spent on those meals to fast offering to help feed the poor and add funds to the church welfare system. It also means that our Sacrament meeting would be a testimony meeting. That's where members of the congregation are able to stand and bear witness to the truthfulness of God the father, his son Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost as well as other Gospel truths : the power of prayer, having faith, priesthood power and so on.
Let's talk about priesthood power. We believe that priesthood is the power on earth to act in the name of God.
Elder Groberg in his 2001 April Conference address (priesthood session) said:

"Just as clean wires, properly connected, are required to carry electrical power, so clean hands and pure hearts are required to carry priesthood power. Filth and grime slow or prevent the flow of electrical power. Unclean thoughts and actions interfere with individual priesthood power. When we are humble, clean, and pure of hand, heart, and mind, nothing righteous is impossible."

I think this is one of the best descriptions of Priesthood power I've ever heard.

Yesterday in sacrament a baby was blessed. Another of our LDS typical ordinances done on fast Sunday. The Brother conducting the meeting called forth all the men who would be in the blessing circle. A few men, typically male family members of the baby and it's parents are those who come forth. The father holds the baby in the right palm of his hands, those in the circle place their right hands under the baby to support him/her as well and then place their left hand on the shoulder of the brother in front of him, connecting them altogether in a circle. A blessing is then pronounced upon the baby. It was a beautiful blessing. But what really captures my attention was the blessing circle. When they called for the those who were asked to be in the circle men just kept coming and coming. There were altogether, i think 17 men, it that circle. It was the 2nd largest circled I'd ever seen. The size of the circle doesn't really matter it's all about the worthiness of the men and the power they hold to present the child to the Lord.
Typically I closed my eyes during these things but for some reason I was mesmerized by the men in the circle. 17 of them. I looked at their hands on the backs of their brothers and all I knew about the power of the prieshood came to mind.

I wanted to shout... " HEY! THA'S AN AWESOME FRATERNITY Y'ALL BELONG TO!" It really is. Men of God standing righteously together with his power. Who wouldn't want to be a member of that brotherhood. And the symbolism of their hand on the shoulders of their brother in front of them as if to say.... "It's Ok, man, Cuz I GOT YO BACK!" A BAND OF BROTHERHOOD! I made me giddy with delight!

I thought about that all through sacrament.... that Priesthood power is the same as saying... "I Got Yo BACK!" Never have I seen such a fantastic visual example of it! It actually made me giddy inside thinking of all those around me in that building that had my back from Bishopric down to the little 4 year old Joey who ran in front of me yelling,
"I get the door for you sister "Duglee."

I laughed. My hands were full my arms had stuff spilling over the top of them. He pronounced my name wrong but I had no doubt that 4 year old, he had my back!

I closed my eyes and my thoughts went to a friend of mine, in a suite, standing in that priesthood fraternity. His brothers hold up his baby, and their hand on his back as if to hold him up as well. I heard his voice trembling, overcome with emotion speaking the words of a beautiful blessing.
*sigh* alas, that was just a day dream but it felt real to me, I became emotional at the thought of such a wonderful experience and opportunity for him.

I think of all the men I know who have that power or should have that power. I know some phenomenal men. I know some shady men. I know some good men. Most claim this power of the priesthood. The Good thing about this power is that it mostly works on YOUR faith in God. That means, I don't need to get a priesthood blessing from the Prophet, or an Apostle or a bishop. I can get it from my next door neighbor, or my brother or my best friend or even the guy sitting next to me at work, because the power is the same. But I'm finding it's very important to encourage the men around us to be worthy of it, and to hold true to standards of blessings of having that power.
"Don't get caught without it!"
We used to tell the guys in college. Because
I remember a time in college when I was hurt ...Let's just say there was a lot of blood involved and I ended up in the E.R. I asked one of the guys who went with me if he could give me a blessing. He couldn't. He was ashamed. I was upset I put him in a situation that was embarrassing for him. My asking just did not make the night any better for either one of us. This was a ward brother of mine who was not in great standing to practice his priesthood power. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't have my back. Toward the end of the school year, he and I went out hiking and he talked about that day in the E. R. He thanked me for asking him that "dreaded question."

"I felt so horrible that I couldn't give you what you needed that day. And I began to think of others I cared about, that I should be prepared and worth to administer to, and how disappointing it was that I was not in a worthy position to act in the name of God if needed. I decided that Day I never wanted to experience that kind of shame again. So thank you."

WOW! Told ya that was an AWESOME FRATERNITY to belong to.

Back to my visual.... The circle of brethren together, hands on the shoulders. I can't think of anything that says "I got your back" more than that.

We should never be shy, ashamed or hesitant to expect our priesthood holders to perform those duties we need. We should hold them accountable to be worthy to hold that power which they claim. We should lovingly encourage them to be worthy of it, never holding it over their heads or rubbing it in their faces or demeaning them if they are not in a position to perform that power.
To all my Brothers out there who "Have my back..." and the backs of all those around you, I say THANK YOU.
And to those who have my back in other ways, I say THANK YOU.
Know that I will always try to have your back as well.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Oh, Mercy Mercy Me....

Such were the Lyics from Marvin Gaye's song "Mercy Mercy Me...!" And that brother can sing a song, can't he?

Mercy has been the theme of the year I think. In the book "Peacegivers" it mentions how is it that most demand mercy for ourselves and demand justice for others. I believe it talks of Jonah and the city of Ninevah. Go read the story its only 4 short chapters: 3 pages.
Jonah is sent to call
Nineveh to repentance—He flees on a ship, is cast into the sea, and is swallowed by a great fish.
Jonah prays to the Lord, and the fish vomits him out on dry ground.
Jonah prophesies the downfall of Nineveh—The people repent and the city is saved.
Jonah is displeased with the Lord for his mercy upon the people—The Lord rebukes him.

Jonah didn't like Ninevites, that's why he fleed. They were his enemys and the Lord was sending him behind enemy lines so to speak to save them.
As we think of our enemies it wouldn't be easy for us to approach them and try to make nicey nice with them. I would have a hard time, that's ALOT to ask. How many of us could do it?

Upon being swallowed by the whale of course he realized the error of his ways and ask the Lord for Mercy, which the Lord gave. The Lord told him if he went into Nineveh, preached the word and they did not convert he would destroyed. Nineveh. He went forth unto Nineveh, did his missionary work. I guess he didn't plan on them converting because he sat and waited on a hill for them to be destroyed. And was angry with the Lord for not destroying them even though they converted. He felt conversion or not their corruption trumped their conversion and the Lord should not have mercy on them. I believe the book of Jonah ends with the question:
" ...And should not I spare Nineveh...?"

I guess in my mind i hear the Lord saying... "Hold Up, Jonah...... you cried mercy unto me... and I spared you. Nineveh cried mercy unto me... but I shouldn't spare them...? Wassup with that?"

I'm taken back to the times where I cry mercy to Heavenly Father and then deny it to those who seek it from me. We want so much for justice to be served with we are offended, but we want mercy applied when we offend. Should not the Lord Spare Nineveh? How often we forget in our lives that we are Jonah as well as Nineveh?

Can I give forgiveness and mercy without receiving it? And do I have a right to expect it, if I have not given it? How can we give, that which we don't have?

Since the Lord sees fit to spare us, should we not see fit to spare one another?

I have been fortunate this year to receive more than my share of mercy and forgiveness. I have also created more than my share of situations where I've need to please mercy and forgiveness.

I am grateful for being shown such love in times of my wretchedness and I'm happy to extend the same.
In LDS terms I guess you can say: Because I have been forgiven much I too must give.
In ghetto trems: what goes around comes around
In traditional terms: Due unto others

As Portia says in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice:

"The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:
… it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, …
But mercy is above the sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself.
(Act 4, sc. 1, lines 184–95.)"

Monday, October 29, 2007

FHE with ME!

This weeks Family Home Evening was really fun. I am pleased with the fact that talking about the scriptures or the Gospel is a fairly typical thing. She gets alot of fun things from her siminary classes and we'll go over it just like any of her school work or anything else deemed worthy of discussion. I'm glad she's comfortable enough with herself and in the Gospel that talking about some aspect of it is a regular daily thing, like talking about the weather, or sports or what happened at school today.

Today she brought home a puzzle. That's pretty much all I'm going to say about the puzzle because it's taken me 2 hours to do the thing. I *JUST* finished it. I don't feel so badly. She finished about 20 minutes before I did but she's been working on it off and on all day.

Anyway... here's the puzzle, enjoy. Let me know how you do on it :)

Bible Stories
There are 30 books of the bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle.
It was found by a gentleman in an air plane seat pocket on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much, he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing on his john boat. Another friend studied while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, who was intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That’s a fact. Some people, however will find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not easily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or a scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event, which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade booth set a new record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, “The books are right there in plain view hidden from sight.” Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind, that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude would help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus; there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found. God Bless

Sunday, October 28, 2007

God Is Trying to Tell me Something......

Now, I know why people stop going to church. It's because they feel guilty and that God is picking on them and they don't want the pressure.

Today was stake conference. I'd been not feeling particularly interested in Stake conference. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to go. I've been so disappointed in myself this week in somethings and absolutely thrilled in other things. I was just very mentally and emotionally tired.

When I went to bed I just planned on sleeping in and lounging for the day. I had been in the habit of considering stake conference a "free" Sunday. You know, where you don't really break the sabbath but you road trip or go to the mountains/canyons and just sort chill, or stay home and be lazy. I kept waking up...5:30, 7:43, 9:09. Church started at 10:am. I laid in bed til about 20 after and decided I should get up and go. I have come to recognize that when I don't want to be there the most, is when I need to stay home the least. I had this experience a few years back and the same eerie feeling was upon me again.

We arrived at the stake center 15 minutes early and the chapel was already filled so we sat back in the chairs. I waved and smiled at the different ward members and recognized some of the stake members as well.

The service began. The first talk was an OK talk and usually I would assume it would set the mood for the whole service. It didn't. Although it was a good talk it was hard for me to focus. I feared the whole meeting would be painfully boring. I was wrong. I spent a lot of time the last week in prayer and even fasted 3 of the 7 days last week.

I really wanted to be totally done away with some things that had been plaguing me for some time, and it had gotten to the point where I couldn't stand myself about it. I remember in a Sunday School class quite a while ago one of my favorite people, Brother Richard Craycroft.

We were talking about procrastinating on repenting and reactivating ourselves and blah blah blah. He said something to the fact that..

" Us stubborn people sometimes we have to allow ourselves to get to the lowest point. We have to be so disgusted with who we are that we just cannot live with ourselves one more minute in our present condition." I knew that point very well and had reached that point on a couple of issues.

I gone over my goals for the last 6 months and rated myself pretty harshly on my progress. I turned again to the April General Conference issue of the Ensign, the church magazine and turned to the talked that was ingrained in my mind and studied it once, again.
In my fasting and praying I had asked Heavenly Father to put before me those things he wanted me to learn most and to help me find a way to really learn those things I were struggling with and to teach me in a way that I could finally get it through my thick scull. It's funny to me that I would ask for Heavenly Father's help and then stay away from the most likely place(s) (stake conference) where I may receive that help.

I sat disappointed after the first talk and then a young return missionary got up and spoke. He talked about By knowing who we are and who we can become gives Satan less power over us.

"if Satan can convince us to forget who we are and what we can become then he has scored a victory."

" Look for and serve to the divine potential in everyone. Treat them not how they are, but who they can become."

I had used those exact words so many times myself while working with the youth and with their parents. My step mother had asked me at one time how come I'm the only one who could get along with my stepbrothers. I told her

"i treat them how they can become, now who they are. You have to look for that child of God within everyone and communicate to it"

WOW! I had forgotten these things. My own words. My own teachings smacking me back in the face. I had not done this lately at least not in my own life.

He also said "Our relationships and lives would be better if we look for the divine potential in ourselves and others. We ought to focus more on recognizing and finding help others to achieve their potential. "

In doing so we would not do anything to disrespect ourselves and others.

It was a great talk from the young return missionary. I was sad I had forgotten the implement the very things that I had counseled so many others to do. All the firesides I'd given and counseling sessions I'd had with many of the youth and their parents and been lost to me. (often times we are our own patients)

My forgetting had cost me. It had cost me dearly and was still costing me. I'm sick of it costing me.

The next speaker was a youth speaker. The first things out of her mouth was

"How you speak says much about who you are. You don't need to use language that would hurt someone Else's feelings, insult others, putting them down. We should always use positive language and try to stop negative language, even if it means holding our tongues because it will have a damaging effect on your relationship and could cause you sorrow."

Elder Jeffery R Holland's talk from April General Conference came quickly to mind. I knew that talk backwards and forwards. The quotes, the scriptures... everything. It is ingrained in my head.

And then she quoted the scripture that was also ingrained in my head... the same scripture Elder Holland used in his talk:

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

She challenged us to make the effort to be better. Invite the spirit to be with you to guide your words. I silently accepted the challenge. I had been working on it only to realize I still have a long way to go.

The next talk spoke about "who's drowning in life?' Who do you know who is drowning in life and could use as surfboard? I few people came to mind. I sort of felt as if I was in the riptides of life. Fighting to get out of the undertow so you can surface and catch that small breath to sustain life, only to get sucked back under again. He spoke of what we are doing to extend a surfboard to those we know of who are drowning in life.

"When we let go of anger, hurt, from whatever, whoever, whenever, we can have marvelous experiences of forgiveness. If we truly love our Heavenly Father we would love those around us in all we do and say. We should speak and show kindness, be slow to anger and willing to forgive and forget."

he quoted from Elder Bednar's talk about being offended:

" To be offended is a choice we make, it is not a condition."

A member of the stake presidency then spoke. He said something very profound:

"you may be right, I may be wrong, but if it separates us... we're both wrong."

He urged us to pray for forgiveness. And then pray to Heavenly Father to then teach you so you could know them for who they are. *ouch*

Yeah, that phrase stung: "pray for forgiveness and then pray to asked Heavenly Father to teach you so you can learn them for who they really are."


It hurts every time I hear it, read it, or say it.

He turned us to Alma chapter 61 and read to us parts of a letter from King Pahoran to Moroni. Moroni had written a venomous letter to Pahoran accusing him of abandoning him and his armies and finding joy in their afflictions and purposely with holding what was needed. Pahoran has been under the stress of his own people abandoning and rebelling against him. And when Pahoran wrote back to Moroni, he explained what was going on about the rebellion and other issues.

He then read to us the first part of vs 9:

"And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart."

He spoke of the kindness and forgiving capacity Judge Pahoran had for Moroni whom he loved.

Had Pahoran been quick to anger he undoubtably would have made the situation worse.

It was what he did next that caused the tears to flow:

He referenced the April conference and began to read the talk in which Elder Jeffery R. Holland gave. A warmth ran through me as I remembered those days last week I fasted

(I had asked Heavenly Father to put before me those things he wanted me to learn most and to help me find a way to really learn those things I were struggling with and to teach me in a way that I could finally get it through my thick scull.)

I closed my eyes and layed my head back as if praying to the ceiling and recited the words in whisper with the speaker:

"Paul put it candidly, but very hopefully. He said to all of us: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but [only] that which is good . . . [and] edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God. . . .
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you. . . .
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

I couldn't believe it. Well, actually I could believe it. This stake conference was tailor made for my last week. I get it. I Get It. LORD I GET IT! I wanted to scream. I did feel differently this time. Because this time, my heart felt it. Although my head had heard the talk many times and knew the words, the right words to say and how to apply it, I was simply going through the motions. We can know something and it can have a surface effect. But until you feel it... really feel it in your heart, it will have temporary and surface results.
I know the if you really want something, you have to get hungry for it. You've got to want it, and you have to be intentional about it. Only then are you ready to receive.

Grandma always said... "Make sure you want what you ask for... because you just might get it."

Amen, Grandma.
I know that was her way of saying... "if you ask the Lord for help and intend on really, really accepting that help, then you have be in the correct placed to receive that help and to go through whatever it takes, to shake off that thing which is holding you back from that which you desire. If you are halted in the process and turned away.... then you really desire a different thing. Make sure your desires are true."

I accept the challenge, once again, to
Speak with the Tongue of Angels
Seek out the Child of God in each of us
Remember who I am and what I can become
Look for the Divine Potential in myself and others
Treat others not how they are but with the diving potential of who they can be.
Let go of anger, hurt, passed burdons.
Ask for forgiveness
Always forgive
Be slow to anger
Be quick to resolve
Speak more edifying.

Game on, wish me luck!

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments
Hand in Hand


I earned some temporary wings!