"We should develop the capacity to see men not as they are but as they can become when they are members of the Church, when they have a testimony of the gospel, and when their lives are in harmony with its teachings."
I started my first journal in 1980 at the age of 8. I have been writing for the last 35 years.
35 YEARS! That is a long time.
My handwriting was constantly changing as I would try out new styles. I had more crushes that is humanly possible and I am mortified of my immaturity. Things I had forgotten came flooding into my memory as I read the words on the pages.
Stories and experiences that I remember, but over the years wonder if they really happened or did I embellish the story where right there on the page on the day they happened.
Memories fade. Experiences become dull.
I have spent the last few days scanning and photographing the first few years of my life (2 binders down and 6 more to go, just to get through high school). This preservation project is going to take a long time, but it is something I have felt strongly about doing recently.
For my Christmas and birthday presents, John had all our negatives scanned so we could have a digital backup now of all our married lives and a few rolls before. What a treasure!
I don't feel like there will be anything of value in these words for my posterity, but perhaps a little gem here and there that will give comfort.
Since my sophomore year in high school my planner and journal have been a combined unit and as I have been watching this new creative planner movement hitting the scrapbooking industry and beyond, I can't help but smile thinking back to all the dashboards and planner pages that I created 15 years ago before it was even in vogue. Seeing all the beautiful products and formats is also making me reconsider starting a ringed binder again.
However, I just finished another moleskine notebook and I sure do love this current system so I will probably stay with what is working. I also remember how much I dislike the rings. Hard to write and draw with. I will certainly start adding more creative pursuits in my new planner/journal. I have loved the June listersgottalist format. I can't wait to share it.
As I work on this preservation project for the next few months I am excited to remember experiences long forgotten. I hope it will add great strength and wisdom to my life today and for generations to come. It will also help make things more organized, much needed in my life.
If I could offer any advice or wisdom when it comes to your own personal history, for what it's worth because I am certainly no expert, I would say just start. Start now in what ever point you are in life. Don't be too worried about everything you have missed and everything that might need to be done, just start. One day at a time, one paragraph at a time. No matter what you leave will be of great value to your descendants. Start today.
“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” (Oprah Winfrey)
Of course biology has a great deal to play in motherhood and I will be eternally grateful for your biological mothers, but I also love what this statement means in my life.
I love you just as you had been born from my womb, just as I had felt the pain of labor and delivery. Words can not express the feelings of my soul and the love that I feel for both of you.
This picture is very dear to me for many reasons, primarily because this is how we have spent most our first year together, each of you in one arm (I have very strong biceps now). I have held you tiny hands and watched them grow chubby. I have cuddled and rocked you until the sorrows have passed. I have fed and changed you until I had forgotten who had eaten and who had been changed. I have sung you lullabies and prayed for your growth and strength.
But most of all I have loved you.
I will always love you!
So the next time you ask if am your real mother or just your guardian, please remember the sleepless nights and extra tears. Don't forget about the laughter and the beautiful moments spent together for I am not going anywhere. We are in this together and what a beautiful journey we have started.
This week I will write about women and the priesthood. One way I like to approach topics that are difficult either for me or for others is by starting with truths I am certain of, and then seeing what blanks still need to be filled in. Sometimes with an understanding of the right truths, everything makes sense, and the blanks take care of themselves. Above all other truths, seeking and growing into an increasingly more sure knowledge of God has the effect of establishing a firm foundation and answering all questions.
First, God is perfect, possessing all good in ways that are to lesser or greater degrees foreign to imperfect man and woman. God is perfectly aligned with truth and perfectly loves all His children. Christ lived His mortal life in a way that demonstrates truth, in what he taught, and in what is important to Him and what is not. Material things, honors of men, and worldly power, for instance are not important, and so Christ was born in a manger and lived outside a structure of honor, power, and material things all His mortal life, even to the point of subjecting Himself to rejection, scorn, false accusations, suffering, and death, all for the purposes of living truth completely and loving all, even His persecutors and executors, infinitely.
Second, God is no respecter of persons, meaning He loves all without distinction. Class distinction is anti-Christ. Christ spent time with children, publicans and sinners, and lepers in a manner that was unusual in the eyes of the powerful and honorable in the culture and even in the eyes of His own disciples. Christ spent a lot of time with women in very meaningful ways and circumstances, in a way that was unusual within the existing culture of the world. Christ’s perspective of and interactions with individuals was and is completely anti-culture, but the culture is so pervasive in this world that people predominantly see through its lenses. Christ saw, loved, and acted in truth, and so He associated with people in a revolutionary way, which is the eternal ideal.
Third, God possesses all knowledge, and in comparison with that knowledge, the knowledge of imperfect man and woman barely registers, somewhere much closer to 0% than 1% of God’s knowledge.
Fourth, a key requirement for progression in knowledge and in all good things is the willingness, humbly and submissively, to sacrifice all things in the similitude of Christ. This sacrifice of all things places imperfect man and woman in the position to receive all that the Father has. The principle Christ taught that we must lose our lives to gain our lives applies in all cases. Living without this willingness to sacrifice all things is like living in a dark cave, holding onto possessions of whatever kind in the cave, jealously guarding them, unwilling to leave them behind, when outside the cave is an infinite endowment of light. As one example, living in this life with an expectation of fairness or even decent treatment from other imperfect people, rather than looking to God alone for salvation is fruitless and limiting, keeping a person in darkness to one degree or another.
Fifth, man and woman cannot receive all the Father has without each other, but together as equal partners they can eventually receive all things as they exercise faith. Eternal lives, is most correctly understood as a plural term, and the promise for each man and woman who exercises sufficient faith in Christ is to live in the eternities with a companion who has through the grace of God become like Christ, meek and lowly of heart, and full of perfect love. This blessing is provided by God whether in this life or in the next as a result of our faith and His grace alone.
Sixth, as stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. Ideally and eternally man and woman are beautifully complimentary. Gender differences bless a man and a woman with the capacity to bond fully—physically and spiritually, and to exercise true power and influence in creating life and in sacrificing for and serving numberless others.
Seventh, true power can only be possessed paradoxically by those who are meek and lowly in heart and whose desires are to serve and bless others, acting without deception, manipulation, and control. Priesthood power includes the power to create, nurture, and bless life with the end objective of blessing posterity with a fullness of joy. The fullness of this power can only be held and these purposes fully and eternally accomplished by man and woman joined together by God’s sanction and authority acting in a complimentary and unified way as they grow in love for each other and for their posterity and others they serve.
In conclusion, this issue as everything else, comes down to faith in Jesus Christ. Can we place ourselves fully in the hands of Him who is perfect and look to Him alone for salvation which, if we are willing to sacrifice all things to obtain and humbly follow Him, will be infinitely beyond anything we could have otherwise imagined?
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
"Faith in Jesus Christ and following His teachings give us a firm hope, and this hope becomes a solid anchor to our souls. We can become steadfast and immovable. We can have lasting inner peace; we can enter into the rest of the Lord."
I have finally made some time to put together this Christmas album. I have vacillated about whether such an album is necessary, but in the end I decided to just go with it.
I started with a 12x12 chipboard American Crafts album that I cut off a few inches so that it would be accomodate 9x12 page protectors. When I worked within the scrapbooking industry I always created 8.5 x 11 inch pages. A square has always been difficult so when I saw someone online create this size (and now it's readily available) I knew I wanted to try it.
The wreath was a large tag from one of the gift bags that I cut away, added glitter and adhered. As I worked I remember how much I loved creating, reusing, and customizing.
It was strange starting again, or rather creating a regular scrapbook page and I found that it has taken me a while to get into the rhythm again.
I am intermixing pocket pages with regular pages and I am mixing up the sizes to suit my whims.
Along with using the products I have in my stash I am also using Ali Edwards December Daily kit and one by Kelly Purkey. I am slow letting the photos dictate the colors so you can find nearly every color of the rainbow in this Christmas album.
I saved some of the Christmas cards we received and used elements within the album.
Rock has been having some knee/leg pain and at his appointment we learned that he has a crazy range of motion with this legs. Thankfully he will not have to have surgery to correct the problems. In his latest appointment we found that his body is naturally correcting itself. What a great blessing for him... all of us.
Most of the pictures I had printed at Persnickety Prints. They have wonderful customer service and the quality is great. I appreciate being able to unusual sizes.
Some layouts require very little words. They are favorite traditions and the photos speak for themselves.
Others are filled with sentiment and additional stories need to be told.
In the past I have always sewn my page protectors, but I decided to give the Fuse Tool a try. I have not been disappointed. It has enabled me to add pockets in places I had not considered and it has save my sewing machine needles, although I have still sewn on plenty of these pages.
I come from two very strong families. My parents were raised by good, amazing people (my grandparents) who sacrificed, taught, and loved for the good of their family and posterity. I would not be who I am if it were not for them.
Of course then there is the other side. The side where there are expectations about who you are and who you will become because are part of these great families. I can't tell you how many times someone has nodded their head and said, "OOOOHHHH, you are a .... (insert one of the family names)" or "You're C and M's daughter" as if that immediately tells them who I am.
Perhaps it does.
I have made plenty of decisions based on up holding the family name. I have always wanted my parents and my grandparents to be proud of who I am and the choices I was making. Now, don't get me wrong, I made plenty of wrong choices all of which were purely selfish and thoughtless. But knowing who I am, where I came from and where I was going gave me a foundation that helped me when I struggled.
As I watched my children laughing and eating dinner last night, I wondered if they felt the same way about us as parents and grandparents. I worried that my expectations were too high for them. I don't want or expect them to be perfect. I do want them to work hard and do the best they can in the circumstances they are in. I reflected to the conversation we had had a few days prior. It had been a rough morning filled with unkind words and general disobedience. I was struggling to be a good parent and the children were seeing the hypocrisy of my actions and words.
In a heap of tears I sat everyone down and apologized for the difficult morning. I begged for their forgiveness as I told them I was doing the best that I could, but I knew that it was not enough. I assured them that I loved them and that I would always love them, but that I would continue to make mistakes because I was learning right along side of them.
Then I said, "I won't be able to be the perfect kind of mother that you can use as an example of marvelous control and example, but I hope that I will always be the kind of mother that can admit her mistakes and try again. That is the only kind of person I know how to be and I'm not giving up on you or myself."
See that is the kind of person I learned to be from my parents and my grandparents. I can't think of specific things that they have done wrong, but the very nature of life on earth is about overcoming our weaknesses and mistakes. I see in their examples the strength to work hard and overcome challenges as they come. Their lives and examples give me hope to start again, to put one step in front of the other and cling to the rod. Their words and voices echo in my mind to stand firm and love.
Last week John and I celebrated our 23 wedding anniversary. I wrote this on my instagram post:
"As I awoke this morning and reflected on the anniversary of this day, I wondered what my 19 year old self would think of me now? She would probably be disgusted with the excess weight and stretch marks. She would be shocked at the number of children, but I hope she would see strength, determination, and faith that would inspire her.
She would surely cry as the wonderful man she would marry turned and said after 23 years and tears in his eyes "I love you more each day” for she would understand how truly bless she would be."
I was touched by the kind words of friends and family over my early morning musings. I remember my 19 year old self and although I was a good young woman I knew so little and I certainly didn't have the wisdom or perspective to understand who I am today and all that I have accomplished in my life. Instagram is an interesting platform and often I find it difficult to express in two simple sentences all that I feel in my heart, but I was truly moved by the thoughtful comments.
We celebrated our anniversary by going to the temple and performing sealings. It's an anniversary tradition that we have tried to do every year. It's humbling to knee across the alter year after year and look into the eyes of my beloved husband and feel such love and gratitude for the lives we have created together. He blesses my life is immensely and cherishes me in a way that I brings tears to my eyes and an outpouring of love in my heart. Marrying John was one of the best decisions of my life.
The children have always been so thoughtful each year and try to make our anniversary extra special. This year they sent us texts throughout the day:
Happy 23 anniversary!! This is what we like to call a count down of love aka 23 of the many reasons we love your couple power!!
23. If you guys fight you know how to resolve it and express an outpouring of love:)
22. You guys are both awesome chefs!
21.you are both selfless and sacrifice so much for us.
20. You have given us a great love for reading and studying both spiritual and secular things.
19. You have always grossed us out, but shown us that you love each other.
Gross!! 18. You guys both have a pretty good sense of humor (mom you still don't like nacho libre but we love you anyways 😉)
17. You've got some great genes that you passed on to us 😏
16. You've always made sure we had family dinner together as much as possible.
15. "I love mommy's hair and...well daddy doesn't have some.." Loaf
14. "She has pretty dresses when she goes to church" "daddy too?" Me. "NO! He has pretty shirts." Loaf
13. Dad is super romantic and always gets mom red roses!!!
12. "I love them because they let us play the computer." Dash
11. "Because they brush my hair." Loaf "does daddy brush your hair?" Fred "he did once but it really hurt."
10. "Ah, ummmmm, I I think...hehehe I don't know, I like mostly everything." Brick
9. You are really great friends to all of us.
8. You set wonderful examples for us of faith and commitment to your covenants
7. You love the temple and chose to go there for your anniversary.
6. You have a pretty cute "how did you meet" story.
5. You put up with all of us crazy hoodlums every day.
4. You believe in us and what we can achieve even if it seems crazy.
3. I love that you guys have conversations sometimes, but you don't actually say anything because you just make facial expressions and you just know what the other one is thinking.
2. You spend time together and sometimes both of you fall asleep while you are watching tv. It's pretty cute;)
1. You are our couple crush!!! We love you soooo much!!!
What a delightful way to spend the day, feeling loved and appreciated. Thank you girls for making our anniversary so wonderful. You are always so thoughtful each year, even if I forget and say we don't do anything.
Being the father of four young boys and working with other young boys in my church calling I observe a lot that is immature in them, but at the same time I observe so much potential and growth that occurs so quickly. There is an amazing difference between an 11 year old and a 21 year old, and this development happens gradually at times and in distinguishable spurts at others. One of these distinguishable points of development occurs in the LDS church when at the age of 12 a boy receives the Aaronic priesthood, is ordained a deacon, and begins to serve in that capacity. They know what they are doing is serious and have an expanded sense of duty, reverence, and dedication.
I was thinking about this the other day and remembering a young man who taught me so much about sacrifice and consecration and how to actually live these principles at an early point in my life. I was in the first few months of my mission, and he was maybe a year older than me, just 20 years old—eight years after having received the Aaronic priesthood and having held the Melchizedek priesthood for two years at the most. We were assigned to work in a city that was difficult and to which we had to travel by train every day. Five years ago the branch of the church in that city had been closed due to general apostasy, and we were assigned to see if it was the right time to reestablish a branch of the church there.
When I first met this companion he outlined everything he wanted to do, and it was overwhelming to me. I had never done anything close to that in my life. The schedule alone was something I had never come close to doing physically. Due to the fact that we needed to take the train with its inconvenient schedule and due to everything he wanted to accomplish during each day, he wanted to be out the door at 6:15 every morning and return to our apartment around 11:00 every night. I followed his lead and learned from the way he committed himself entirely, heart, mind, and strength, to serving God and those we met, taught, and served. In less than a year I had gone from having all kinds of support and adult leaders to a point where our adult leader (our mission president) was a day’s travel away, and I had only my 20 year old companion, in a situation that was very difficult. In reality, it wasn’t just my companion and me, as the spirit of God was with us, protecting us and enabling us to do so many things we were incapable of doing on our own. I remember a couple of weeks into this experience walking home from the train every night at 11:00 feeling like I had springs in my shoes, energized and happy, due to the effect the spirit was having on me at that time.
What I learned through this experience is that when a person sacrifices everything, placing everything on the altar in the similitude of the Son of God, and consecrating themselves fully to God, they place themselves in a position to receive spiritual blessings that they could not previously have imagined and be developed by God’s grace and enabling power in miraculous ways. Eventually, with full consecration God can give us all He has and all He is.
"Most of us know someone who would say, 'If you want to be my friend, you’ll have to accept my values.' A true friend doesn’t ask us to choose between the gospel and his or her friendship. To borrow the words of Paul, 'From such turn away.' A true friend strengthens us to stay on the strait and narrow path."