Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome 2009!

Two Sundays ago we (my husband, my kids and I) sat down criss cross applesauce on the picnic blanket in the family room and ate a dinner of chips and seven layer dip. This was the kids request and I complied because it sounded like a good gimmick to get them to sit with me and write down their goals for the new year.
It was so much fun that we might make it a tradition. They came up with some great goals and I typed them up and put them on the fridge as a constant reminder. Of course it is only two weeks later, but they haven't been doing too bad. As for me and my ambitions...well, here we go (yes, I'm publishing them because this might actually help me feel a sense of accountability...)

1. Read at least 15 minutes from a good book every night before bed ( yes, it is sad that I have to make this a goal...I love to read and I manage a good read every now and then, but it's true...I've used the "I'm too exhausted at the end of the day" excuse a few too many times now, that it's time for me to make it happen).
2.Put a post at least once a week on my blog.
3. Have personal scripture study every night before bedtime. I'm doing this right now and I'm loving it!!!
4. Make Sundays more meaningful. This one is a little vague, but I'm desperately needing to get to the point where I like Sundays again. They used to be my favorite day of the week and now I hate them. Did I just say that? I hate that I hate them. I want to love them, but helping my kids define "rest & worship" has become a source of torture. I will gladly welcome any suggestions from anyone of any denomination. Does anyone feel my pain on this one?
5. Dedicate more time to service. Once again this is a bit vague, but I've been once again over using the excuse that my "service" is in the home. Not to belittle that service (since it is the greatest), but part of being a great mom is serving others and having your children see you do it and also participate in it so it becomes a habit established with them as well.
6.Run the Helvetia Half marathon and Hood to Coast. Yikes!

That's all the ambition that I have in me.
Now that they are all typed up here for all to see, it's time for me to make them happen. At least that is what I told my congregation at church two Sundays ago. My bishop asked me to give a talk on "being doers of the word and not hearers only" and so I related that to making our goals realities...

Talk – January 11, 2009

Being Doers of the word and not Hearers Only

So. I’ll have to admit it. When the bishop asked me to speak on the topic of “being doers of the word and not hearers only, it made me squirm a bit. It made me think of making goals and resolutions. Here it is the beginning of 2009 and most of us here including myself have probably thought of or written down some goals for this year. That is great and all but how many of us can remember where our goal list of 2008 is? Or maybe you remember where it is, but it looks exactly the same as this years because you never quite got around to them. Or maybe you consider them more friendly reminders than actual things you plan to accomplish. If any of this sounds familiar, then maybe you also squirm when reading James Chapter 1. In verse 22-24, it reads…

One story shared by Elder Oaks when he was president of BYU went something like this:
Many years ago the federal government placed county agents throughout the country to help farmers learn to be more productive. One county agent in the South went to visit an old farmer in his area, but he found that convincing the farmer to change proved rather difficult.
He asked the farmer, “Wouldn’t you like to know how to get your cows to give more milk?”
“Nope,” the farmer replied.
“Well, wouldn’t you like your pigs to have larger litters of baby pigs?”
Again the farmer answered, “Nope.”
“Well, wouldn’t you like to learn how to get more corn per acre?”
The same answer was given as before: “Nope.”
Exasperated, the county agent asked, “Well, why not?”
The farmer replied simply, “I already knows more than I does.”
In other words, his knowledge was greater than his application of that knowledge, so why make matters worse by obtaining even more knowledge!
Why do we always seem to know more than we do? How come we can come up with great new years resolutions and post them on our cute blogs or type them up in a cute font and post them on the fridge for all to see, but we struggle with finding ways to actually “do” them?
In a general conference address a few years ago, Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated, “In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, November 2000, 32; emphasis in original).
And I want stick in there, in between the knowing and the becoming is the doing. So the order would be knowing, doing and then becoming or being. We must learn, then apply our knowledge and that is what helps us become what we had intended.
First, we must increase our level of knowledge, or what we know. In our search for truth, however, we have to be selective, because we have an overwhelming amount of information available to us.
How important it is for us to shun the harmful, avoid wasting time on the useless, and, instead, focus on the useful and vital—that which gives eternal perspective, helps develop wisdom, and teaches us the mind and nature of our Heavenly Father. An example of this might be is that a personal rule of mine that I use when selecting what movies to watch, rather than relying on the strangers that work for the rating system to decide what movies are appropriate for me, I use the 13th article of faith. It says that we, as Latter-day Saints, seek after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Articles of Faith 1:13). That’s a good standard for us to keep in mind as we choose what to read, what to listen to, and what to view.
Fortunately for us all here, we have a the perfect resources available to us to obtain our knowledge…and those are, the temple, Church magazines, and the scriptures.
Improving Our Doing
We have established that we know from where to gain our knowledge…how do we change it from a cutely typed up resolution to an action?
The Lord expects each step upward in knowledge to be followed by a step upward in performance. section 82 of the Doctrine and Covenants instructs, “For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation” (D&C 82:3).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell highlighted the tight linkage between knowing and doing as follows:
So it is that discipleship requires all of us to translate doctrines, covenants, ordinances, and teachings into improved personal behavior. Otherwise we may be doctrinally rich but end up developmentally poor. [“Becoming a Disciple,” Ensign, June 1996, 14]
Why does our doing so often lag behind our knowing, whether with home teaching, family home evening, or a wide range of other areas? I suppose that busy schedules, distractions, wrong priorities, lack of commitment, and just poor time management contribute to the problem. We can always seem to find time for the things that we want to do.
There is the key: get the spirit in our hearts so we want to do it.
Improvement in the doing arena takes great dedication. New habits can be hard to establish, and old habits can be hard to break.
Richard G. Scott suggests an example of how our habits can be overcome.
Suppose a small child were to run in front of your car. What would you do? First your mind decides to stop. Nothing else can happen until that decision is made. Then you take your foot off the accelerator. Can you imagine stopping a car with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake? Finally, you firmly apply the brake.
The same pattern is followed to overcome your entrenched habits. Decide to stop what you are doing that is wrong. Then search out everything in your life that feeds the habit…systematically eliminate or overcome everything that contributes to that negative part of your life. Then stop the negative things permanently.
We are blessed to have a Heavenly Father who says it is never too late to change or to make things right.
Just as our gaining of knowledge should expand from basic principles to deeper doctrine, so should our doing go beyond the minimum as well.
Joseph Smith said… It is not meet that I should command in all things. . . . . . . Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. [D&C 58:26–28]
Just as there are harmful and useless materials that can occupy our reading and learning, so are there harmful and useless activities that can occupy our time. We should avoid filling our days with these activities and instead spend our time doing that which is useful and essential. As someone once stated, that which matters most must never be at the mercy of that which matters least. Giving service—such as that which we give in the Church, in our communities, and especially in our families—is central to this useful and essential work. By losing ourselves in doing good for others, we come to understand what the Lord meant when He said: “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).
Moving from increasing our knowing and improving our doing, we come to the third and most important part of our progress: purifying our being, or refining who and what we are deep down in our hearts.
Elder Henry B. Eyring clarified that although doing is important, it is not our ultimate goal. he said, “The things we do are the means, not the end we seek. What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be” (“As a Child,” Ensign, May 2006, 16; emphasis added).
Elder David A. Bednar added, “People of integrity and honesty not only practice what they preach, they are what they preach” (“Be Honest,” New Era, October 2005, 7).
We must be what we know and do. OR it is from knowing and doing that we become. The Savior is our perfect example. He is the mark we must always look to. He is our supreme example. He was chosen as our Savior not just because of His perfect obedience but because of His perfect love—love that encompasses perfect knowledge and that motivates perfect obedience.
The family proclamation also highlights the long-term process of becoming like Christ, saying that we are here in mortality to “obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, November 1995, 102; emphasis added).
Because of differences in opportunity, talent, and circumstance, how we become Christlike varies somewhat from person to person. But common elements in our spiritual progress include gospel study, service and activity in the Church, and obedience to the commandments. But, above all, it is the cleansing effect of the Atonement and the Spirit that purify and change our hearts.
Whether you chose to listen to this talk or not is fine with me because the squirminess I felt at the beginning of this assignment has been replaced with an eagerness to turn my nicely typed goals into realities with the hope that they will bring me closer to my Savior and ultimately more like him.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Christmas 2008 in review

The snow is gone, the presents unwrapped, the tree was hauled off by the boy scouts and we now have the 1:30 time slot in church. What does all this mean? It means that I'm sitting down and putting into action one of my new goals for 2009 which is to add a post to my blog once a week. Now that I have put that in writing, I expect you all to send me friendly reminders. I also expect that you won't judge me when you see how fast I fall off the train of accomplishing my goals. Enough about me and my goals...I'll save that for next week's post since I need to spread them out. Let's move on to Christmas.

Of course there was the snow that added an element of excitement and some sad realities to this season. There was the excitement of one whole additional week of Winter Break on account of the icy roads, but then there was the reality of a frazzled, frustrated and guilt ridden mom who saw 4 kids watching too much TV, playing too much WII and playing too much computer during that very long last week. There was the excitement of Adam, Diana and Madeline's arrival only to be met with the sad reality that their flight from Utah was cancelled and the roads were closed and they would have to spend the holidays in Utah. There was the sad reality that Doug and Staci and kids would probably not be able to make it to Oregon on account of the weather and then the excitement that came when we found out the highway had opened and they were on the road. There was the sad reality that Jon and Kirsten experienced when they had to cancel their trip to Sunriver but then the excitement when we found out we would get to see them more during Christmas. There was the sad reality that came on Christmas Eve when it took us three hours to drive home and then the excitement that comes from a good night's sleep and a wonderful Christmas morning. There was the sad reality that we may not return back to Salem to visit Jason's family on account of the roads and then the excitement that came after a positive news report and a good night's sleep.

So as you can see, the snow came with a roller coaster of emotions, but when all was said and done, it is always exciting to have a white Christmas in Oregon and I know that the kids had a fabulous time playing in it.

All the way from LA...here is Olivia...

Eric and Mary...Jon and Max...

Cousins had a fun time playing indoors at grandma's house and we soon realized that somehow everything seemed a lot more fun without your clothes on.

Whether you were inside...

or outside...

When we weren't playing in the snow, we were cooking, eating, playing games, watching "A Christmas Carol" or dancing...

That obnoxious dog provided hours of entertainment for my kids during our snowed in days...who knew?

When we weren't dancing to obnoxious music, we were singing it. Now everyone needs to know that I'm really putting myself out there in posting this video as nothing makes me more self conscious than singing in front of people, so...no snickering...okay snicker all you want, you won't be able to help yourself, but just so you know...I am very aware that I am off key and that Doug is and always was the more musically inclined one in the family and if he doesn't sound good in this performance, it is all my fault, but with all that said...we sure had fun. We were only missing Matthew in this tribute to Walker Middle School Westside Singers...

Okay...never mind...after two days of racking my resources, I discovered that the video clip contained too many megabytes and it won't be able to upload. Sorry to get your hopes up. I know you all were just waiting with baited breath to listen to my out of tune voice...maybe some other time.

After all of our Christmas eve celebrations with the Heder side of the family, we traveled back to Banks where we had a wonderful and cozy Christmas morning with just Jason and I and kids. I took no pictures, just a lot of videos. I needed proof that Santa had come, because unbeknownst to me, my children had been good. They got what they asked for from Santa, so I'm pretty sure some serious deal making took place.

We headed back to Salem that night to open presents with the Short side of the family and rather than enduring another drive back that night, we opted to stay the night. The next day we had a fun day of shopping and movie watching.

In conclusion...Christmas was almost perfect. I'm so glad that all my family was safe and that I got to spend some wonderful time with those that made it. I can't wait until next year!