Category Archives: Things That I Think About

Sunday – The Book of Mormon

May

1

2016

Last winter I was awake in the early hours with a little one. As I rocked the baby in the pink-grey light, I really tried to meditate on the things that challenge me.

One thing I worried about was how to guide my children in the gospel. How would I protect and fortify their growing testimonies against the palpable darkness that is permeating all around me?

So that morning I listened to the creak of the rocker, and prayed about how to guide my children. And the answer came clearly: The Book of Mormon.

I told Wyatt about that impression. The Book of Mormon would be the key to giving my children sound doctrinal testimonies of the gospel that will anchor them to the Church of Jesus Christ. Even when others have testimonies that waver and question and doubt, those who have real understanding and knowledge of the Book of Mormon will be able to withstand. It was such a clear and simple, and powerful answer. And I instantly recognized both the simple truth and the great obviousness of it. It has renewed my commitment to our scripture reading with the littles.

This week I saw this, and it reminded me of that early morning answer.

Sunday: I Was A Stranger

Apr

17

2016

March was a hard month. An incredibly hard month. Wyatt was way too busy, and I was stretched way too thin. Between work and his new calling (which during March did not relieve his time commitment), he was gone four or five nights a week. Add in a neighbor who needed help with a major project, and Wyatt was home less than half a dozen evenings the entire month.

So at the end of the month when I went to Women’s Conference, I was on the verge of tears. I went to the meeting feeling a great need for a “break.” A break from doing unto. I felt like all I did was unto others, and I had nothing left.

And then this talk happened.

And I wasn’t offended or bothered or anything. I just felt like a failure from the start. I was stretched the max and praying for Heavenly Father to give me a break. And instead He was asking for more.

In the first time in perhaps ever, I left the meeting not feeling uplifted, but instead more overwhelmed and maybe a little deflated.

And I didn’t act.

Instead I continued to push through the challenges of my own life that I was already facing. I continued to support Wyatt as he continued to be gone. I continued to babysit for the people who asked. I continued to clean my house and wash my dishes and care for my kids and weed my yard. I continued in my little-but-hard-to-swallow-life. And I didn’t act on the call to serve.

But I talked about it – with a few people I trusted. I confessed all that I’m confessing here. They all said the same thing: “That wasn’t for you. You’re in a different season of life. Just continue to do your best, and that’s all anyone wants.”

But it didn’t feel like it.

And then this weekend I had a few hours to really reflect on the call. I thought about my inability to mobilize myself. I wondered if my friends were right, if the call wasn’t meant for me.

And remember this part from that talk:


 In the October 1856 general conference as President Brigham Young announced to the congregation that handcart pioneers were still on the trail and late in the season. He declared:

“Your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains, and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, … otherwise your faith will be in vain.”

We remember with grateful admiration the men who headed off to rescue those suffering Saints. But what did the sisters do?

“Sister [Lucy Meserve] Smith recorded … that after President Young’s exhortation, those in attendance took action. … Women ‘[removed] their petticoats [large underskirts that were part of the fashion of the day and that also provided warmth], stockings, and every thing they could spare, right there in the [old] Tabernacle, and piled [them] into the wagons to send to the Saints in the mountains.’”3

Several weeks later, President Brigham Young gathered the Saints again in the old Tabernacle as the rescuers and the handcart companies got closer to Salt Lake City. With great urgency, he pleaded with the Saints—especially the sisters—to nurse the sufferers and feed them and receive them, saying: “Some you will find with their feet frozen to their ankles; some are frozen to their knees and some have their hands frosted. … We want you to receive them as your own children, and to have the same feeling for them.”4

I love the pioneer stories. I love the courage and the hope and the grit that echoes in each heartbreaking challenge they faced. Pioneer stories are dear to me. And I’ve always wondered what I would have done if such a call came to me.

And now I know.

Apparently I would’ve gone home and cried and felt sorry for myself. I would’ve felt inadequate, my faith would’ve wavered that I could do more, or be more, than the impish and unprofitable servant that I am.

 

But that’s not how I want this story to end.

I want to answer the call. I want to answer with strength and resolve and mostly . . . faith. Faith that the Lord will expand my capacities. All I have to do is get to work.

I will keep you posted on all the miracles that will surely come forth.

Inch by Inch and Row by Row

May

21

2014

I have been in the process of planting my garden the past week and a half.

Today I planted the corn and sunflowers . . .

3 rows, 100 feet each, every four inches.

 

And as I sowed my seeds, my swollen belly bent over the black earth, the sun hot on my back and burning my arms, I sang to myself to keep myself from giving up –

“Inch by inch, and row by row
Heaven bless these seeds I sow
Heaven warm them from below
‘Til the rain comes tumbling down”

 

Later I went out to get more flower seeds to add to my zinnias this year. As I drove, I thought about creation and destruction . . .

 

In The Garden

Creating a garden, more than anything, takes time and diligence. Even when I’m sooo tired, I must keep going, getting those little plants or seeds into the ground, if the garden will ever be created.

But the destruction of the garden – all those months of hard work, in bed after bed, can be destroyed in one afternoon of determined pulling, raking and digging.

 

In My Life

Creating the life that I want to live seems to take time and diligence too. Becoming the person I want to be in my talents, skills and capabilities, is often more daunting than planting the garden. I must remind, encourage, and continue to try as I eek out little moments where I become better than I was before. Often this creation process is too subtle to notice in the day to day, but over the years I am beginning to recognize my life moving forward.

And how simple it would be to destroy those ideals with excuses, laziness or poor choices. I have to remember not to waste this life I have been given!

 

In the Children

My thoughts always circle back to the children when I am thinking about the garden. Because they are the little things I’m trying to encourage to grow most of all. With kind words, and diligent cultivation, I believe I can help them bloom into amazing individuals.

But today I remembered how easy little things are to destroy – a bad mood, a rage of temper, I can quickly undo all the work I’ve done before. I must be so careful with these little things, singing to them as they grow strong and sure.

 

In the Spirit

And thus I concluded it is with our spirits – that growing close to Heavenly Father, growing close to the Spirit, is something that requires diligence and time; a consistency in making righteous choices, a consistency in being willing to make righteous choices. But our communion with the Spirit is always a gentle one. And choosing to withdraw from the spirit through actions or attitudes, can destroy so quickly what has taken so much time to build. And you can’t just go back to how things were before – you have to start at the beginning again – a new “spring” to plant and sow and build.

 

So it seemed to me today to be an eternal truth: that creation takes time. It takes effort and diligence and patience. But destruction, of our temporal, physical, emotional or spiritual lives, can be as swift as only a moment.

 
 
You can listen to “The Garden Song” – sung by Peter, Paul and Mary, and watch some guy’s cute puppy. It was the only video of this song I could find :D

Troubled Times

Feb

14

2014

*This is a long Andrea rant. If you don’t want to read, I won’t be offended. But if you do, you will learn something about our family that I haven’t announced formally. The Ensign article I am writing about can be read here: http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/magazines/ensign-march-2014/2014-03-00-ensign-eng.pdf

I read a thread on Facebook today; posted by a popular blogger, it was a link to a single paragraph taken from the March issue of the LDS Ensign Magazine. The single paragraph, posted on a site I’ve never personally perused called “By Common Consent” was surrounded by links, advertisements, and followed by a stream of responding comments, read this:

Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self­ respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for.

-Elder Tad Callister of the Presidency of the
Seventy, “The Lord’s Standard of Morality,”
March 2014 Ensign, p. 45-49.

Having already seen a handful of the angry response comments, I decided to read a little further. I clicked on the link and read the entire article. What I found was an unapologetic call to members of the church to cultivate, embrace, maintain, and then preach high moral values without concern to the voice of the world who claim such values are irrelevant.

The article was a concise reminder many points of church sexual moral standards. Each of these points can have entire books written about it as a part of our doctrine, our history, and our future. It was book ended with the point that God has the highest and final voice of moral law, and His voice has been given – time and again – throughout the ages, by His prophets; and that God offers us redemption and a way for repentance through Jesus Christ, and finally with an assurance of blessings that come with living such a life.

 

Of course, the irony was not lost on me – here was a man given stewardship and called of God to teach His Gospel. The man was voicing those teachings (the same taught by prophets and holy men of all dispensations) in a sacred and certified church publication (i.e. articles are not published willy-nilly, but rather with serious consideration and editing oversight). And his voice was being . . . mocked across social media by member and non-member alike. Anger erupted from feminists across the board who shouted foul that a woman should be told to be modest, that a woman could have influence over a man’s thoughts, or that a woman would “get the type of man they dress for.”

I put my own two cents into the conversation with the following comment:

<BLOGGER, name removed>, I am seriously so disappointed in you. You linked to a quote taken out of context, without encouraging readers to then read the entire article. Guess what the VERY NEXT paragraph of the article is about? The responsibility of men (and women) over their own thoughts. This whole article is an unapologetic call to the members of the church to maintain high and important moral standards.

As for women dressing modestly as a help to society as a whole – good, freaking night! We do need to help the men in this world, and guess what, the men in this world help us too! One is not without the other, either in righteousness or unrighteousness. We are helping each other, as we are designed to do, to become our best selves. People who think it’s us against them don’t understand the fundamental reality of human relationships.

And later, after being told I was perpetuating the problem by shaming the blogger with my “disappointment,” I clarified that my disappointment was not in her judgement as a member of the church, but rather her academic dis-integrity to link to a source that does not give full content by encouraging people to read the entire article before making judgement on the content.

 

At that point I disengaged from the conversation. I understand that social media is a powerful tool. I also understand that I do not know how to wield it.

 

But later, as I swept my kitchen floor, I thought of the four boys I will be raising, and the challenges that lie in my path as I try to raise them to be men of honor and high moral values.

Certainly the world will not make it easy for us.

 

There is a terrible story today in the news. A young girl (15) was attacked on her way to school. Gratefully she was able to escape. Last week another young girl (11) was not so lucky. All week I have waited at the school bus stop with my children, not leaving until they are safely on the bus, because I don’t dare leave these small ones alone with society at large, even when I know the residents of every house between mine and that bus stop just half a block away.

But it struck me today that while we as a society anger, and anguish over the tragedy that is so very real in these stories, where is the anger for our boys?

These poor girls were taken advantage of because someone else was stronger than them (physically), and could cause such devastating long-term harm by the selfish decisions of another.

And one day my little boys will be weaker (emotionally, sexually, mentally) than those around them – women, adult and young alike, who will selfishly decide that the collateral damage of their dress is an effect of unconcern to their rights of feminist expression. And the collateral damage to my boys may be the beginning of a long and dark path they will walk in their life.

Now let me be clear: I am in no way comparing the severity of the rape of a young girl to the confusion of seeing an immodest woman to a young boy. They are not the same in severity. But they are both attacks on the weak, the inexperienced, the vulnerable. We as a society can do better. As a mother of boys, as a mother of a daughter, I will do better.

I am grateful for prophets and leaders of the church who can say what needs to be said, even in the backlash of our culture. I will second their voice!

Read the Ensign here:

http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/magazines/ensign-march-2014/2014-03-00-ensign-eng.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Widow’s Mite and the Mother’s Might

Sep

18

2013

“The Widows Mite” painting by James Christensen

There is the parable of the widows mite –

in my mind a tale of the importance of generosity,

of humility,

of sacrifice.

Of financial effort to build the kingdom of God.

A testimony of tithing, of blessings, of the rolling forth of the Good Word.

An invitation to give all that we have in our temporal world, that we may gain in the eternities.

 

But this summer another truth has whispered to my heart.
And there is the beauty of the words of the Savior – to one is given one truth,
and to another, another.
Each in their time and season.

“The Responsible Woman” painting by James Christensen

 

And to me – the understanding of the Widow’s Mite has become an understanding of a Mother’s might. It is more than just giving all that we have, more than just a consecration of our earthly blessings as testament to our eternal faith.

It is to give all that we have in our souls; more than we can bear, and then giving more again.

It is the call of motherhood, to dig deep, find more strength, more courage, more will to chose to do right in the moment, and more humility to fail and still, try again.

In giving all that I have as a mother – more than I am – more than I could ever be on my own, yet somehow all that I am with the help of unseen hands –

in doing this, I feel the promised blessings of those who give to the building up of the Kindgom of God – not in some abstract of the future, but in the now – in this eternity.

And that is a tender mercy of the Lord.