Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DAY OF FASTING AND PRAYER FOR AMERICA

Those of you who know me, if you think about it, will realize that I never send forwards, no matter how cute, dire, funny, or true it may be. I don't mean to start now, but I did just receive a forward that I wanted to pass along to those interested, without adulterating your inbox.

Please suffer my soapbox for a moment, or at the least skip down to below the bold headline and read the really important part that follows (up until then is just my ranting), but know that to me this isn't really political. It is spiritual.

I do look on the current course of our country with trepidation. The government, meaning the elected officials in the government, is aggrandizing itself and gathering more and more unrighteous power that was never indented to be a matter of national governance [i.e. mandating programs to promote irresponsible home ownership and loans, "rescuing" floundering businesses, labeling absolutely natural and vital gasses (carbon dioxide) as "hazardous waste" that must be strictly regulated, mandating that the labors of another must be given without just recompense (vis. entitlement programs, universal healthcare, et. al.), insulating individuals from all the possible negative eventualities of life (flood insurance for otherwise uninsurable areas, why uninsurable? because of the very high likelihood of floods!; mandating insurance for all preexisting conditions, even if the person made no effort to be insured before the condition arose), I could go on and on, but I won't]. Many of the ostensible goals are admirable: taking care of one's fellow man, preparing for life's pitfalls, averting an economic crisis, but in taking these goals out of the free will of individuals and mandating it the population or by bolstering a diseased system without remedy to the causes (which were quite often government officiousness in the first place), the government of this country is follow in an evil track. And I mean literally evil. It is exactly contrary to God's law to forcibly remove the free will of man and the consequences individuals must endure because of their own choices. (Please don't extrapolate that I think all problems a person has are the consequences of their own choices. I don't. And I wholeheartedly support and promote private charities in their work to relieve suffering however it is found--that is the result of free will offerings, not force or coercion in any form--including a government tax or mandate.)

I have received countless emails, both forwards from personal acquaintances and from mailing lists I belong to. They all say essentially the same thing: Things are going awfully. We are doomed. (Though occasionally one will break the mold and say: Things are going awfully. We are doomed. Send us money.) I do not believe everything I read, but I see enough of what is actually going on to feel sick inside. My biggest problem is how powerless I feel. I see my country with its glorious constitution suffering an identity crisis that may leave it forever crippled, yet I can't think of any way to be involved that will make a difference. The candidates (the only way we really have of making a difference--getting people in to the offices who will pursue that difference) that I support and vote for are not elected, or there is no candidate who reflects my values and goals. Career politicians win favors for their constituents so they keep being reelected, and every constituent who votes for such a politician believes their "favor" is actually the important one, not an inappropriate earmark, and it is everyone else's incumbent that needs to go.

However, this is one suggestion that rings true to me, that is empowering. It is not about horrible destruction of all we hold dear and nothing for us to do but cower and tremble. It is what we can do. It is what we must do. Whether you participate in a national day of fasting and prayer, or pray in your own way at your own time, please, please, pray for our country, and remember that there is great power in shared fasting. This is what will save us--God's influence gently touching individual hearts and minds to make the better, the more noble choice, in whatever choice they are faced with. I don't know the people who originated this message, but I agree with and endorse it wholeheartedly.

[commence pseudo-forward]

DAY OF FASTING AND PRAYER FOR AMERICA

"We, my wife and I, are firmly convinced that our elected politicians are incapable of representing the will of the American people – and incapable of adhering to the Constitution of the United States of America which they took a solemn oath to uphold and defend.

"We are among the millions of U.S. Citizens who are at our wits end sending e-mails, faxes, telephoning, meeting with elected officials, demonstrating, rallying – and hoping – that those representatives will do the will of the people. They have failed. Have we, as well?

"The United States of America is a choice land, a nation that was founded by our forefathers who were divinely inspired by God the Father Almighty. This choice nation has been the defender of freedom throughout its relatively short history. We have led in the fight for freedom against many tyrants and dictators who have plundered and pilfered their citizens and have subjected them to great sufferings through blood and horror. The people of those nations who suffered these great injustices knew that they could always depend upon the goodness, power and righteousness of the United States of America to extract them from their plights, and it was done – many times over. It was not done without expense – the expense of the blood and sacrifice of the members of our armed forces – and the suffering of their families.

"As the year 2009 soon comes to a close, we the citizens of the United States of America find ourselves facing many of the challenges – which those nations suffered at the hands of their political leaders. We are being attacked from within! Who do we turn to? To which great nation can we turn to help us keep and maintain our freedom? We do not have the same hope of those nations to whom we were benefactors.

"We MUST turn to our Savior. If we are a righteous people, we will be deserving of, and receive of His blessings as He has promised. He suffered and died for us – He atoned for our sins; each one of us - individually. We know that - as a nation – we can once again be the choicest of lands. However, we cannot achieve that blessing without our willingness to please our Lord and Savior.
We are asking that all who read this message that have faith in Christ designate Sunday December 6, 2009 as a day of fasting and prayer for America .

"You do not have to march on the nation’s Capitol nor go to a tea bag rally. From the comfort of your home, you can get on bended knee and with a broken heart and contrite spirit, petition the Lord to bless this nation generously according to His will. Then, keep the fast for that day. Make that Christ-like commitment to our Heavenly Father. He will listen, He will answer. That has been promised.

“'And whatsoever ye shall ask the father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.' (3 Nephi 18-20) 'And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.' (Matthew 21:22) "

Joe and Janice Hagen St. George, UT.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to get kids to eat vegetables

Tonight I was doing the dishes and filled up the dishwasher, but still had about half of the top rack empty. So I started looking around for other things to put in and realized I wanted something more to eat. Something like vegetables because I was feeling a little heartburn coming on (forgive the TMI). I remembered we had leftover mixed vegetables from last night, so I got them out to eat up and put the container in the dishwasher. I realized that the kids (my Willow and my sister's Sam) were in the other room, and if I was eating something, they would inevitably see it and want some. So I had to decide if I was willing to share. This would have been more of a quandary if it were, say, chocolate, but being as it was vegetables, it did not take me long to decide: Heck, yes! So I called to the kids in the other room, "Who wants a snitch of vegetables?!" And both of them came galloping in shouting, "Me, Me!" So we squatted in the kitchen sharing a tupperware of cold mixed vegetables with one fork. They loved it, and argued about who got the last bite. Then Willow insisted she wanted more, so we got out the leftover squash from 2 days ago and she ate that up. I don't mind my kids having a midnight snack of all the vegetables they want.

The real secret is the word "snitch." This is a magic word. Anything is desireable if it is a snitch. So we never call anything a snitch unless we want to share it. (What? A snitch of chocolate? No, this isn't a snitch, this is just a bite.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Motherly Musings

I know this is probably incredibly cliche, but I really didn't know you could love each of your children this much. I get that you don't love your second any less than your first, but I think I always sort of thought of it like the general love-ness of your life increases and you have overwhelming good feelings about being a mother and all of your children, but this is like, mind boggling awe and fierce devotion on a very individual level. I love each of my children absolutely with all of my being, completely independent of eachother. Wow.
How full my mom's life must have been with 11 to love like that. I am loving my children right now, and I don't really want the time to go quicker, but I am just so excited to meet all the rest of my children (I'm not even pregnant again yet, my body hasn't reset from the last one yet, so stop speculating!) I want to know them, who they will be, how many of them there are. Nothing can even come close to comparing with this feeling of motherhood. It truly is what it is all about.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I deserve a major award

Neoma owes me for this one. She put off and put off figuring out a costume for Sam, who wanted to be the muppet Rowlf the dog for Halloween until the Thursday a little over a week before Halloween. It was only started then because she decided to go to the community Harvest Happenings event that Saturday. I prodded her to get started on it and helped her find some brown clothes that could make a really make-shift costume (borrowed leggings from Willow, Neoma's fleece jacket) but we still didn't have anything for the ears that would say "I am a dog." Neoma thought about going to the fabric store to buy fleece or feaux fur or something, but she didn't do it. I went looking through my fabrics and remembered I had cut off the cuffs of a new brown linen jacket that the sleeves were too long on. I didn't think I had thrown them away, but I couldn't remember where they were. I finally looked through a box of old worn-out clothes that are in too bad of shape to give to a thrift store, but I just feel stupid throwing fabric in the garbage can to go in a landfill and be buried forever. I ran across the pants shown in this picture here:

They are fabulous double-knit polyester with the crease down the front of the leg actually sewn into place. Looking at them again, I couldn't remember why I put them in there in the first place. I think the stitching must have been coming out in some places.















Regardless, I took those defunct slacks and refashioned them into this:
























Yes, that entire ensemble, except for the cardboard piano in his hands and the socks on his feet used to be my pants. And there was very little left over, too. You may all gasp in awe. Thank you, thank you.

Our Prize-Winning Pumpkin


Yes, this Jack-o-Lantern won us an actual award--the people's choice award (the only one given. They didn't have like, official pumpkinly trained judges or anything) in the adult division of our community Harvest Happenings event. Yes, we beat out all the other (4) entrants. The competition was fierce (they had made no provision to ensure people only voted once--who knows how many people tried to stuff the ballot box!) but we prevailed (even though Willow voted for Neoma and Jason's pumpkin)! We recieved a large black and orange ribbon and a cool gift basket with lots of yummy things and a scratch-and-sniff gift card to blockbuster (it smells like buttered popcorn).

But even aside from the competition, Kevin and I had a lot of fun carving this. We used some woodcarving tools we seem to have accumulated at some point. Idid the vegetables and Kevin did the basket. It wraps a little further around the pumpkin than you can see well. Our only disappointment was that they couldn't display it in the dark or with a candle inside, so it didn't look quite as cool (but we still won anyway, so hey).
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I know you're jealous


I know this is every woman's dream. And he's all mine!
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tender mercies and other awesome things God does


10 points to the first person to correctly identify each of our costumes. Ready, Go!

Our ward at church had a Harvest Party on Halloween. As you can see from the picture, I enjoyed it immensely. Actually, I did have good time and was able to participate in some of the activities like getting pictures taken, going on a wagon ride, helping my daugher "fish" at the game booths, and taking my kids around to the cars for the trunk-r-treat. This was also what everyone else got to do, but it was especially cool for me because I was the person in charge of it all, and that meant that things were running smoothly enough that I didn't have to pay attention or fix things the whole time. That is what is so cool.

But what amazes me the most is how God is willing to to come right into your life and give you answers to the most seemingly trivial things. Case in point (Warning--this will be a long and tedious story in which I describe in great detail aspects of events that you will probably never care about but make for a thorough understanding of how I feel about what happened): The place where the activity was held is a Christmas Tree farm owned by members of our ward. It is an awesome venue, but comes with the uncertainty of being outdoors in rainy Northwest October. The only permanent shelter available for us there is the selling shack, which is empty this time of year. It is also the only source of electricity in the area, so we try to make that the place where we have the food. The problem: it's a pretty tiny shack with only one entrance. Actually, there are 2 entrances, but the second is a narrow back door onto a short boardwalk connecting it to the storage shed behind with an extra-large step down to the ground on the side. Two years ago when I went to this event (this is the first year I have been in charge and I missed last year's) they had tables set up all the way around the edges of the room (where the outlets are) and the crockpots of chili and other food on them so people enter, walked around the food loop and exited the same door while others are still trying to come in. It was a mess trying to get through the buffet line. So my task was to streamline the process.

I had been meditating for weeks on just how to do this and was not much further along than a niggling feeling that the back door should be able to be used. The owners were leary about using both doors and exiting the back because of the tricky step down at the end. I still hadn't come up with anything by the time I arrived in the morning to set up. I was still wandering around waffling about what to do--so-and-so said this needs to happen, so-and-so says this won't work, so-and-so said this will be a problem, so-and-so said ... etc--when finally it hit me, as I shortly realized, as a stroke of inspiration: I am the person in charge of this event. No one else is supposed to decide how this works. I have done my due diligence and gathered ideas and opinions, but now it is time to decide, and I am the one who has been called and set apart to recieve the promptings and direction to make this work the best possible way for the people it is intended to bless.

With this in mind, I said a fervent prayer, turned around toward the building and saw it again with entirely new eyes. The tricky step at the back door is really only a trick if you are trying to go down it in the dark with your hands full. This years event was earlier than past years, so it would not be dark, and if we had the beginning of the buffet line at the back, people could enter that door instead of exiting it. Thus, they would be able to see it clearly on the way up and their hands would not yet be cumbered by their food. Such a minor change, such a seemingly simple concept, but it made all the difference in being able to go forward with the planning and set-up. The second challenge was that the shack was too short for a line that would allow for all of the chili to be set out on a single line and too narrow to have two lines for people to go down both sides of (besides, this is somewhat of a chili show-off event, so I wanted all of the things people brought to be available in one place, not divided between two separate lines). Also, the outlets for the crockpots were all along the walls, and though we had extension cords, they would be pretty trippy and likely to be snagged and pulled down hanging off the edges of the tables.

I was stewing over this, looking at the tables set up in the shack when I litterally had a vision of how it could be. The picture was flashed into my mind of two tables set up side by side in the place of the first table of a buffet line with a single table centered at the end of the other two. The extension cords were run from the walls under the tables and up between the two so there were no hanging over the edge where people would walk. There were heavy carpets to cover over the extension cords on the floor, so they would not be kicked or caught. The two tables together provided more than enough room for all of the pots and pans of chili that would be brought and the last table easily held the cornbread, condiments, and desserts.

It blows me away that my Heavenly Father would condecend to so thoroughly answer my mundane dilema. I know it was from Him. It was a seemingly secular subject, but though very much in my own body and while I was thoroughly awake, I cannot claim that the extremely complete picture that was planted in my mind was at all of my own making. I love the Lord. It was a brief and simple vision, but it made everything work well. It was one of those things that bless lives not because they make themselves known, but rather by being entirely unnoticed. The arrangement of getting food at a ward activity is not typically something people remember after the event as having enriched their life, but they can remember if it was horrible, and that experience can overshadow anything positive that may have happened there. In that way, a proper arrangement is a spiritual matter, in that it allows other, more spiritual things to be at the forefront. It was such a problem in the past that one of the major things people remembered was how horrible the set-up was, so much so that people actually did notice and remark that things flowed smoothly this time. How often do you hear that at a ward potluck, "Wow! This dinner was so fabulous--we could actually get through the line!"

And now another Awesome Thing God Does, and I don't think Kevin will mind me sharing it. Yesterday I got home from being out with the kids and Kevin was just finishing watching a movie. I left the kids with him for a moment and came back in the room to find the kids playing around just fine and Kevin leaning over with his head in his arms on the counter, sobbing. It took several minutes before he had composed himself enough to talk to me, during which I am frantically trying to figure out whether he was injured, whether he got horrible news, whether he was just so touched by the movie he was watching, or what. He just kept shaking his head, no, no, no to everything I asked. Finally he could choke out, "We have wonderful kids." That was all. He'd had a moment, entirely unsought for, when he was divinely granted a view of these people who are our children in all of their eternal glory, as God sees them, and it moved him to tears. As Kevin put it, it was as if Heavenly Father whispered to him, "there is more to this person than you can possibly know," and then He showed him. Wow. I love my husband.
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