Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Advice for First-Time Parents

A pest control guy just showed up at the door. He saw me holding our 4 month old. He said his wife is 16 weeks along. Of course, I thought I'd give him some advice having this all so fresh in my mind.

1. Plan that someone will always be sick---especially when you have multiple children.

2. Plan that no one will ever get any sleep---especially when you have multiple children.

3. Give your wife a break, especially the first six weeks. She loves you, she may just not want to be romantic.

4. Do everything you can do to help your wife, especially the first several months of having a new baby. She may say, "aw, it's ok," but either just go clean the house to the very best of your ability or take the baby for a couple hours and just try and disappear.

5. Plan that you'll never do anything you want to again---especially while you have multiple, young children at home.

6. Figure out how to go on dates. I recently posted on Facebook:
"I used to have to make time to work because the rest of my time was for play; now I need to schedule time to play or I will always work."
It's the same for dates. Your relationship will suffer if you don't make time to spend together. There are always so many other things to do that together time just won't magically happen. I never understood this until I had 3 or 4 kids, now with 5 I totally get what older married couples were saying.

Now, if you follow these expectations, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Trust me. It's all about the expectations.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Faith and Works

I turn 40 tomorrow. Yikes. 40.

When my mom turned 40, two of her friends took her to lunch. One smuggled in a dead plant and put it on the table as the centerpiece. I remember 40 for my mom vividly, yet I really didn't understand why it was kind of a big deal. I mean, it wasn't a big deal to me: she was just mom.

After moving cities, then having a baby and staying much in seclusion the last four months, I've been a little worried about 40. Would anyone remember me? Would anyone even know it was my birthday? Usually birthdays aren't that big of a deal, but 40.

An older, single friend posted on Facebook how she prayed big and specifically. I decided that I guess I could do that, too. I prayed that friends would take me out to lunch; that's all I wanted for 40. I was afraid it wouldn't happen and wondered if I should drop a hint to my husband. I mentioned it, but I don't know that he'd take action on it.  I mentioned it to my mom.

Probably within a week after my prayer, my Visiting Teacher texted about meeting at a park so our daughters could play. Within an hour she texted again and said, "Your birthday is coming up! What if I bring you lunch and we can hang out at your house? Would that be easier with the baby?"  Four days later she messaged again saying two other gals wanted to come!

Not only did all these women bring lunch, they brought flowers, a card, and that crazy, amazing Costco chocolate-mousse-tuxedo-whatever-it-is-cake.

I could not believe it. Although I prayed to go to lunch, it was definitely easier to have people to my house considering the baby, the preschooler, and my two older girls are off track. I have to say, my Heavenly Father knows my needs before I do, and I thank Him for an in-tune Visiting Teacher. Wow.

That's the faith part.

Now, here's the works part. I said I mentioned it to my mom (works). After I heard initially from my Visiting Teacher, my mom asked if she should call some of my old friends and you know, put in a word. I told her, "I dunno" as I already had some new friends coming over and I really didn't want to beg for birthday wishes.

The day after we had this little conversation, I got a text from an old friend wondering about getting together for lunch for my birthday. After some planning and replanning we will be getting together with a bunch of friends, so that will be nice.

I just find it so interesting that this single situation was both answered directly in faith as well as in works. Faith, in that my prayer was directly answered without any human meddling, yet it was also answered through the works of humanly angels.

Yup, God does answer prayers and I haven't been so spoiled since I lived with my parents!

UPDATE: So I asked my husband if he had anything to do with my Visiting Teacher coming over after I wrote this last night. I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was affirmative. Now, that may spoil the faith part of my post, but just knowing that he was sensitive to my wants caused tears to come to my eyes. My husband isn't the sensitive type and like I said, I didn't expect him to do anything, so this was a BIG deal that he cared enough about my feelings to actually DO something!

I guess it's kind of like the miracle of the seagulls. When I took Utah history at BYU, I learned that the seagulls actually came every year to eat the crickets in the SL valley, so it really wasn't a miracle, was it?  BUT, the Mormon pioneers didn't know it was a common occurrence, so it was still a miracle to them.

Either way, I'm just glad God answers our prayers.

UPDATE AGAIN: My Visiting Teacher had been planning to do something special BEFORE my husband even contacted her. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Opposition in All Things

My husband came home from work the other day saying that he'd heard someone speak on getting good sleep. Apparently the speaker had the opportunity to sleep in as long as she wanted for quite some time, and eventually fell into a 11 to 7 pattern or something. She shared how good she felt and how she didn't need stuff like coffee anymore.

I asked, "Did this person have kids?" I was guessing not. Evan replied, "No, she has a boyfriend and a dog." Ha. I knew it.

Recently it's really struck me that even though I know I need to sleep more and I know I need to eat better, I JUST CAN'T. Ok, I can probably continue to try and eat better, but frankly, I can't control my sleep. There's a cute little person who wakes me up once or twice a night who wants to eat. So, even though I know what is good and healthy, I still have opposition to good things.  Good isn't always easy.

I think I get caught thinking that if I make good choices, life will be easier, but you know what? It's not always true. There really is opposition in everything, both good things and bad.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Laws and Blessings

A friend recently posted an article on Facebook entitled Happiest Parents Have Four or More Children. I immediately thought, is that because they're already calm and stable enough to be able to handle it? And yes, the parents had planned and chosen the lifestyle of having that many children.  Nevertheless, it got me thinking, what are the blessings God gives us when we live his laws? Maybe we are happier when we have children (I'm still working on getting a hold on that one. We had our fifth since I last wrote. Maybe the happiness comes later?). When we pay tithing or give charitably, we feel better: just look into financial experts like David Bach or Dave Ramsey. When children serve outside their families, it has the greatest impact on them, more than serving people they know and family (sorry, I can't remember the exact benefits). Additionally, the opposite is true: when we don't live God's laws, there are natural adverse effects. You have multiple sex partners, you're quite likely to contract diseases.  Anyway, that's all.

I think blogging is good for my brain. I've saved some cool things on Pinterest and some on Facebook, now, but there's something about processing it through writing. Plus, I can always come back and see what my thoughts were when I blog about it. We'll see if I can find the time to write again now with 5 kids. I never imagined having 5!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Religion of a Different Color - Interview

I just finished listening to a two part interview (#22 & #23 of the Maxwell Institute podcasts) with Paul Reeve and Ardis Parshall about Reeve's book, Religion of a Different Color. This was absolutely fascinating!  Namely,

1. The author shares a primary source Mormon view of WHY some considered polygamy to be good, in that because men had greater sex drives, it allowed them to stay faithful to their wife(s) during times when it was not considered proper to have intercourse (nursing, menstruation) because they had other acceptable outlets.

2. People tried to define Mormons as a race so they could discriminate against them like they did with other races. The US was meant for white people, so white people who practiced polygamy (Mormons) didn't fit the paradigm, and they needed a way to marginalize Mormons.

3. Reeve and Parshall could not find evidence that the ban on the priesthood for blacks came from God, yet He allowed it to happen (and allows us all to reap the consequences), just like He allowed Joseph to lose the 116 pages, etc.

I loved Reeve's and Parshall's testimonies at the end. Parshall basically said there is still safety in following the prophets as they are at the helm, even if they may sometimes make mistakes.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

There Were Eminent Women, too?

You may have heard about the "eminent men" who appeared to Wilford Woodruff in the St. George Temple. Vicki Jo Anderson wrote a book about it in 2000. There are also some paintings of the event.

But did you know that there were also 68 women who appeared who had been instrumental in paving the way for the establishment our country? Hannah Moore was one of these women who appeared. How have we never heard this? What a disservice we do to the wonderful women of history by leaving them out! I wish I had more time to look into this further, but I find it fascinating. Anderson is supposed to write a book about the women, too. 

Seth Adam Smith has written a blog post about some of the women.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Inherent Power of Women

Tonight I read a post by Valerie Hudson Cassler about women and their power. The post was actually in response to Ordain Women in 2013, but now that that's mostly dead, it's interesting applying what Cassler said now.  I'm just saving the quotes here for future reference.

As a feminist, the idea that men would ever have the right or ability to give women divine power strikes me as deeply anti-feminist.  Are we saying that only with the permission of men and by the hand of men can women partake of divine power?  And that since male permission has not been forthcoming to this point, women in fact possess no divine power at present?  That we women are reduced to pleading with men to give us our power?  A laugh wells up in me at the sheer irony of this “feminist” position, but at the very same moment, I also feel to weep bitter tears in the realization that only a profoundly toxic culture for women could produce a situation where good-hearted women and men advocate an anti-feminist position as a step forward for women.
I hadn't thought of that before: why should women need power from men? Shouldn't they get it straight from the Source? Haven't we been given any power that we already need?
Please do not misunderstand.  I am not opposing the ordination of women to divine power.  Not at all—I am suggesting they already possess divine power and authority, and not by the hand of men and not by the “permission” of men.  Dorothy already has those ruby slippers on; she just hasn’t realized it yet.  And it is plain no man can tell her this truth; she has to learn it for herself.  When she does learn, she will then seek to fully hold her birthright, and no longer mistakenly plead for a man to bequeath it to her.  As women more fully wield their birthright of divine power, our community will finally be able to approach Zion
Takes me back to the concept of women living beneath their privilege. Can we discover what that privilege is and act upon it. Is it rearing children, is it more than that?

Men should not hold a privileged position in shaping the world in which women and their children and loved ones must live.  This principle of equal voice must extend beyond the family: women should be equally represented in the leadership of towns, cities, nations, and the world.  The world will never find sustainable solutions to its problems without the input of women, who weave the threads of life.
Yes! This coincides beautifully with the paradigm of Big Ocean Women. Women need a voice; they will contribute greatly to finding "sustainable solutions" for society's ills.

She added several paragraphs about what she thought would happen in the future within the Church regarding how women & girls are treated. The thing that's nice about Cassler, is that she doesn't offer her opinion with an ultimatum for change. She just sets it on the table, and if people want to believe the same, they can. She'll patiently wait any changes, but just puts her thoughts out there.
I anticipate that we will see the Personal Progress Program for Young Women be modified to include preparation in real-world life skills that young women need.  Just as the Young Men (in Scouts) are taught merit badges such as communication, citizenship, and so forth, so we will begin to see that our Young Women need such important skills as well.
Interestingly, as I've prepared to be the Young Women camp director this summer, we already do have a program that teaches "real-world" life skills; it's all found in the camp manual. When we do not use the camp certification program, girls miss out on these skills. Many people don't even know about them.
It is high time for a change of heart among women. We must start believing that women possess a divine power and authority that does not originate with men, though it is foundational to our partnership with men.  We must not only say we are equals, we must walk and talk as if we truly are. 
It's up to us to claim our power and know we are something.
This change of heart starts in our marriages and our homes; indeed, it must, for that is where we live the life of the heart most fully.   What would you as a woman do if you truly and deeply felt you wielded the divine power and authority of your Mother as her apprentice?  Would you not first reach inside and seek to learn what this power and authority is and how to wield it?  Would you not then begin to reach out, even if tentatively at first, to use that power for the good of those you love?  And then extend that circle beyond your family to become a Mother to the whole world?  Would you not seek to ensure an equal voice for women in all spheres of human decision-making, even at the national and international level? And would you not then strive to ensure young women learn these truths at their mother’s knee?
When I went to the Big Ocean training, I LOVED that Carol Allen said we must first meet the needs of our families, then if there's something left over, we can reach out to our communities, and then the world. But, we must do it in order or things fall out of balance.
Again, the great key is this: instead of allowing our culture to remake our doctrine, we must allow our doctrine to remake our culture.
She says the Church already teaches us that men are not above women, so some of us should stop acting like they are.
We take nothing away from our brethren to exercise our own divinely bestowed power and authority alongside theirs in partnership; indeed, we only increase the store of blessings available to the children of God as we women begin to consider ourselves as beings with divine power.
She said this in reference in offering a prayer of faith concerning a child.
It is time for women to rise and shine, sure in the knowledge that it is our divine destiny to do so, and also confident that our brothers will be our most heartfelt cheerleaders.
She believes men will not hold women back in claiming their influence.  Among men I know, I believe she is right.
Because women typically are subordinate and treated as inferior to men in much of the carnal world, men also have much to gain from the establishment of Zion, perhaps more than women do.  For so long as men exercise dominion over women in an order of unequal power, so long as men receive greater esteem and respect than women, and so long as men enjoy greater wealth than women, men will suffer darkness in their lives and their lives will be impoverished.  Indeed, it seems that often those who dominate suffer more spiritually than those dominated, those who esteem themselves better than those esteemed less, the oppressors more than the oppressed.
It's fascinatingly true that by oppressing others we miss out on the great contributions they, too, can make. It reminds me of Half the Sky.

A friend posted on Facebook tonight that her 8-year old son was taunting her 7-year old daughter that she would never have the priesthood. She asked how others would handle the situation. Interestingly, her post appeared right as I was reading the above article. I mentioned that V.H. Cassler would tell him, well he'd never be a mother. I admit, even 6 years ago I'd think that was a lame comparison to holding the priesthood, but as I learn more, I better understand the great creative power and influence of women. The hand that rocks the cradle really does rule the world! My old attitude says that I did not fully value motherhood because had I valued it, motherhood would have be an acceptable comparison to priesthood. Other people responded stating she could teach him that the priesthood is a tool for service, so he's got his "power" all confused. Additionally, someone commented that once endowed in the temple, a woman also is endowed with priesthood power. I know some people interpret that as women holding the priesthood, but I don't think that should be confused with holding priesthood office. The temple does not ordain women to priesthood office, yet it helps a woman recognize the role of the priesthood in her life and everything about it. She does everything under priesthood power and authority.

Oh yeah, one other very interesting thing Cassler pointed out was a slightly definition of priesthood on one of the LDS Church websites. We are familiar with the standard: priesthood is the power and authority of God delegated to man on Earth (and we usually leave off:) to act in all things for the salvation of mankind. This new/other definition states: "The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of our Heavenly Father. Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and earth. Through this power He redeems and exalts His children. He gives worthy priesthood holders authority to administer ordinances of salvation. All of Heavenly Father's children can qualify to receive these ordinances and access the power and blessings of the priesthood." Therefore, it is His power, and it is used to create, redeem, exalt, and administer ordinances. All His children can receive these blessings and many, women included, help give these ordinances.