Saturday, November 13, 2010

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...

We used to live in a ward where everyone felt like family. We lived in a ward where we belonged. And then we moved to another ward. When we moved we had that "welcome" feeling that you hope to receive when you enter a new ward. It was nice to be welcomed into another ward family. Unfortunately, that feeling did not last long. Eventually, that feeling came to be the feeling you get when you go to a dinner party where you are a friend of a friend who just happened to be standing around when your friend was invited. Does that even make sense?

Well, that is how our family has come to feel in the last year or so. We accept that it is partly our doing as we are not an incredibly social family. We are a really busy family with lots of things to do outside the church. Our lives revolve around the Gospel. We are faithful in everything that we do. Christ is the center of our lives. However, we do not revolve our lives around the people in church as others in our ward do.  Our lives revolve around our family (and when I say family, I include our closest and oldest friends in that category).

This isolation was bothering me recently. I was trying to figure out why I was feeling more isolated than I have in the past.

So, as in other times in my life when I want to figure something out, I do two things. I pray. I read the scriptures.I was given immense amounts of peace from prayer.  I was given incredible insight from the scriptures. I did not exactly figure it all out, but I was definitely at peace with the isolation. I did not feel the prompting to go out and be a part something. I did not feel the prompting to go and make new friends. I felt the prompting to serve. I felt peace in my life and my place in this ward.

And then I had an experience where I received my answer. It was unexpected, but it was an answer.

What I learned was this: My life revolves around the Gospel. I live the Gospel in everything that I do; however, there are many people in my life that are not members of the church. My mother, my father, my sisters, my brothers and sisters-in-law, my father-in-law, my nieces and my nephews, and many, many good friends. 

As I was thinking of all of the people that I love, I realized this: My husband and I are converts. Yes, we have some really good friends in our ward and in our previous ward. And yes, some of our closest friends are LDS. However, because my life revolves around the Gospel, it is perfectly wonderful for the people who are closest to our immediate family (me, my husband and children) to not be members of the Gospel. How will I be able to spend eternity with the people I love most in the world if I choose to revolve my life around those who already have the Gospel?

I realized that there was a time in our lives when we needed to feel a part of a ward family. We were just coming back into activity when we moved to our old ward. We needed fellowshipping. We needed to feel welcomed. When we moved into our previous ward, our testimonies were fragile and were still mending. During those years in that wonderful ward, our testimonies were strengthened through the families and relationships in that ward. Our testimonies were strengthened by the service in that ward. The service we provided and the service we received.

Now our testimonies our stronger, and now it is time for us to use that strength in our own testimonies to impact our families and our closest friends who do not have the Gospel. There is a time for everything. And for my family, now is the time to share the Gospel, through our lives, through our words, and through our example.

I now realize that we are not isolated and that  there is "a time to every purpose under heaven." I know that we have family waiting for us to finish the work that needs to be done. Now it our time to do that work. To see that work done. "To every thing there is a season..." We have a new season upon us. We have new responsibilities to tend to.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Compliment

I received the nicest compliment from an unexpected source today. A mom called to ask me about the church's new Personal Progress website. We had a great conversation as I explained how the website works. We talked about her daughter and how much she has grown as a Young Woman and a leader. I was relieved and happy to hear that this mom noticed the change in her daughter that I have noticed. At the end of the call she said the nicest thing I have heard in a while.

She said, "Thank you for all that you do for the girls. You are doing such a great job. I know that you are getting a lot of crap thrown at you and your family by some people in the ward, but I wanted to let you know that it is not deserved. You are so wonderful for our girls."

I was so surprised by the nice words. I know that there are women who are criticizing me about things that they know nothing about. Things that they have not asked. Things that involve my family. Things that are really none of their business. But, I told her that in response to their hurtful and mean words, I had a choice: to either get angry, hurt and offended, or to  take the road that Christ would have me take. I told her that I know that everything that I do is led by the Spirit. That is all that I can do. I have chosen to turn the other cheek. To not be offended and to pray for these women. She said to keep doing what I am doing.

This was such a simple statement, but it made me feel so much better about my calling. I know that I am doing the best I can. I know that I am doing what the Lord wants me to do. It is amazing how good it felt to have a mother tell me that she knows it too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My children

I have neglected to mention how much being a mom is a part of who I am on this blog. As much as I love teaching and serving, my own children bring me more joy than I ever thought possible. They know just when I need a hug after a long day. They know just the words to say that will make me smile no matter how frustrated I might be. At times, they know me better than I know myself.

Being a mother is the greatest blessing in my life. The fact that these amazing children are sealed to me for eternity is a blessing that is difficult to comprehend, but it is a blessing that I know is true.

I know teachers that stay at school long after the school day ends. I know teachers who bring so much work home with them that they might as well have stayed at school. I understand their passion for their work. I also understand their urgency to keep up with the demands of work. I feel that urgency. However, I am ever so grateful that I have my husband and children to keep me grounded. It is because of their love that I have my priorities exactly where they should be. It is true that sometimes grading takes me a bit longer than I would like, but if I have to choose between taking a few extra days to get papers handed back and a few extra hours with my children each night, I will always choose my children.

My children are my motivation in everything I do. I know that I am a better teacher because of them. I know that as much as I love them, I have a Heavenly Father who loves them even more than I do. I am so grateful for that knowledge.

I am grateful to be the mother of two amazing children.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Love Them

I went to church with an old friend recently. She goes to a Christian church. The kind that has a band in the front and where people stand and raise their arms when they sing. This was my first experience at her church. It was interesting; different. It is amazing to me the difference between those who have the fullness of the Gospel and those who do not. But, that is not what I am going to write about today.

Knowing that I am Mormon, my friend was hesitant to invite me to her church. I was so glad that she did even though I am pretty sure she expected me to say no. I was visiting from out of town and did not bring church clothes with me. I told her that I did not have a skirt to wear. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "We don't wear skirts to church; you can wear your jeans and fit right in."  This was a bit different for me and even though I was uncomfortable wearing jeans to church, I went with it. (It helped when she told me that I would look out of place if I wore a skirt...strange.)

We arrived late to the sound of a band playing exuberantly. It was interesting; everyone was standing and some were swaying their arms above their head in praise. The band was playing drums, guitar, bass, and keyboard. Everyone in the band was singing and most of the congregation. The words were displayed on a projection screen. Now, I can't read music, but I rely on the music notes when I sing. I had no idea the tempo, beat, or rhythm of the song, so I did not sing. But people did not care. They welcomed me and continued their own worship. Some sang, some did not, but all worshipped in their own way.

And then, as I took in the scene around me, something unexpected happened. My testimony of the Gospel was strengthened and all without a single spoken word. For, as I looked around at the strangers surrounding me, I heard Heavenly Father whisper to me. "These are my children, too. I love them just as I love you. Love them."

From that moment on, regardless of the words that were spoken or the songs that were sung, I became a better person because I was there. Even though I know that Heavenly Father loves all His children equally, it is so easy to get caught up in the truthfullness of the Gospel that we forget the simple things.

I am so grateful for the Spirit and I pray that I never forget these words or the feeling that accompanied them.

"These are my children, too. I love them just as I love you. Love them."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maybe I should wear a Red Letter A

Not for adulteress...of course not, but maybe for something  else...not sure what, I will get back to what the "A" could stand for.

There is a group of women in my ward that want me out as YW President. Mind you, they have not said anything to me or to my Bishop about this, but they have made their feelings known to other members of the congregation. Of course, they have also expressed this to their daughters. They have the right to tell their daughters whatever they choose. I do not begrudge them that. They have the right to even tell each other whatever they want. I do not begrudge them that either (although I do think it is a bit childish). These women have criticized me. They have criticized my worthiness for my calling (in spite of the fact that I have a current Temple recommend and regularly go to the Temple; they have seen me at the Temple. They know this). These women have done everything short of going to the Bishopric...really, I wish they would go to the Bishop. Then at least the rumors and backstabbing would stop. If they question my ability in my calling, why not go to the one person who can both address their concerns and release me?

What's ironic about this, is that I do not think that I am the best YW President. If these women who criticize me could see even an inkling into my heart, their criticism would pale in comparison. I am harder on myself than any outside person ever could be.

I know there are women who could do this calling better than I. There are women who have done better than I. However, I also know that the Lord put me in this calling, at this time, with these girls for a reason. I will not question His judgement. His faith in me is enough; I do not need to know the reasons why I am in this calling. I will do my best to do all that He expects and asks of me.

I am a targeted woman it appears. And regardless of how hard I try at my calling or how much I pray for inspiration. Regardless of how hard I try to follow that inspiration. Regardless of how many of the other mothers and daughters actually think that I am doing a good job. Regardless that the Bishop tells me that he knows that I am where I am supposed to be. Regardless of all of this...I am a marked woman.

Still not sure what the letter A should stand for, but I am thinking about putting one on my dress this Sunday.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Movie

I saw "Easy A" this week. I have been  looking forward to seeing this movie since early this year. Not only did it not disappoint, I actually loved this movie.

Now, I know there are those that think this movie is immoral and inappropriate, and to those people I simply ask, "Did you understand the movie?" A student of mine watched this movie and explained that she was very bothered by the fact that Olive never "acknowledge" the wrong in her decision. She was also extremely upset at the "extremely" negative connotation of Christians in the movie. She also felt that there would be teenagers who would feel compelled by Olive's "immorality" and follow her bad example. I was intrigued by her assessment of the movie, and after seeing the movie, I am actually very disappointed in her assessment.

I loved the movie. I know, I already said that, but it is worth saying again. Did Olive make a bad choice. Yes. Did this bad choice lead to other bad choices? Also, yes. But, her choices were not because of an immorality on her part; her choices were actually based on her humanity. Was Olive "immoral"? I do not think so. She was compassionate to a fault. The girl simply could not handle people crying to her, and if there was a way to help people stop crying, she was up for it. But, it was not just tears that she wanted to help. She was willing to take upon herself the bad in order to keep the bad off of others. She was willing to make her life more difficult in order to make other's lives easier. This is impressive. Who among us will willingly tarnish our own reputation in order to save others? She was willing to do that. Not only was she willing, she embraced it. Seriously, she owned it. And in doing so, she learned a lot about herself, her family, and society as a whole. This movie, if one really pays attention, makes you think. I love that this movie challenged teenagers (and adults) to look at how they judge others. To look at how they judge themselves.

Now, I am not saying that Olive is not without fault. I am simply saying that she was willing to do what others simply were not. She challenged the (unjust and unfair) judgements of those around her (adults included). She did not judge others even when they judged her unfairly and quite harshly.

I also have to say that I loved the wit and intelligence of this movie. It had me laughing hysterically and thinking provocatively. I also loved the references to my favorite 80's movies: "Say Anything," "The Breakfast Club," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Can't Buy Me Love," and, of course, "16 Candles." Truly brilliant!

I have been debating teaching "The Scarlett Letter"...maybe I will.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Irony

I don't swear. I used to swear, but it has been a long time. Once I had children I decided that there were certain words that they did not need to hear their mom say. I was right.

Now, I work in a high school where I am surrounded by profanity. Profanity from students, profanity from teachers, and sometimes profanity from parents. I accept this, and I do not try to change anyone. I do not allow students to swear in my classroom, and I have no problems making a comment to students who swear in the hallway. In my near decade of teaching, the profanity I hear in the school on a daily basis has never prompted me to swear.

The irony, you ask? Well, the people who tempt me to swear are the very people that should not be tempting me to swear. They are the people who are supposed to be a charitable, compassionate, selfless, and service oriented people. Yes, that is right; the people who tempt me to swear are some of  the very same people who I go to church with on a weekly basis. The very same people, who themselves do not swear.

Why is that? I wonder. I wonder a lot actually. Because it is not the genuinely charitable, compassionate and service oriented people that I see every Sunday who tempt me. It is those who I see every Sunday who are the demanding, judgemental, and selfish people who tempt me to swear. Now, don't get me wrong. MOST of the people I see every Sunday are wonderful. They are charitable. They are compassionate. They are selfless. They are truly service oriented. BUT, there is a small minority of people who go to church and just want more. They are the people who expect everyone to serve them. They are the people who never have enough and are the people who demand that you (or I) give it to them.

These are the people that cause those awful, nasty, four-letter words, to pop up in my head. And, as Young Women's President, these are the people who expect me to raise their daughters. These are the people who expect me to put my life on hold....to put my own children on hold....to bring their daughters to dances and to non-ward or non-stake activities. These are also the people who get mad when I say that I can't because I have plans with my own family this Friday or I have plans with my own family this Saturday. Or I have a work commitment.

I happily serve four hours on Sunday, three hours on Wednesday, not to mention Presidency meetings, Ward Councils, Stake Auxiliary Tranings, Girl's Camp, Trek, Youth Conferences...and I don't complain about those. I love my calling. I love serving. I love these Young Women. And when in the service of my calling, I will happily help in any way I can.

Now, I don't blame the parents for the words that pop into my own head. I am accountable for my own thoughts. But I DO ask these parents who cause yucky words to enter my brain.."Why don't you drive your own kids to the dance or to wherever?"

There you have it...I love my calling. I love my girls, but I may have just prompted my own release.

How is that for ironic?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Last week of summer

Sadly, my summer break is almost over. Normally, I feel a tinge of excitement for the beginning of school, but for some reason, all I feel is sad that the summer went so quickly. I am simply not ready to send my own children back to school. I am not ready to start taking care of other people's children again. I have enjoyed this summer so much. We played and laughed. We went swimming. We rode our bikes. We toured historic and fun places all over Colorado. We visited great friends and had great friends come and visit. We saw family. We went on a fabulous vacation over seas and learned so much as a family. We even planned more vacations for this year.

We missed more church than we have in a long time. I think we missed four Sundays in our ward during the last 12 weeks, but with each Sunday missed we felt more grateful for the Gospel in our lives. We talked about what a blessing it is that the Gospel remains the same regardless of where we are in the world. We even ran into missionaries on our trip overseas. I cannot even begin to explain how happy it made me to see the familiar white shirts and black name tags. There was comfort in seeing the Gospel at work around the world.

But now, I have one more week until I go back to work. My children have three more days after I start. Wish us luck. We are not ready for summer to be over.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mr. Right or Mr. Good Enough

I have read several blogs about this topic, and I have been reluctant to address it. However, I had an interesting conversation with the mother of one of my students and it made me think.

M just graduated from high school, and, while attending her graduation party, M's mother asked about my husband. M told her that I have the best husband who spoils me with purses, shoes, clothes, etc. (This is true, I generally am not a fan of shopping and my wonderful husband has great taste.) M also told her that I am "giddily in love" with my husband. Also true. Actually, this is more true than the fact that I am spoiled. My husband and I have been together since we were 17. I fall more in love with him every single day. The mother then told me that my relationship is one that M uses as a measure of what she wants in a boyfriend/husband. She said that M could always tell that my husband respects me, loves me, and would never ever hurt me in any way. I was both flattered and humbled by this. I had no idea that my love of my husband and his love for me was something she noticed.

I told the mother this, "My husband treats me like a queen, not a princess. There is a difference, and women need to know the difference."

It is in the connotation of each word that holds the difference. A princess gets anything she wants. She may be loved, but she has not earned full respect. She is seen as someone who needs guidance and direction. She is seen too often as helpless and in need of rescue.

But a queen is not helpless. She has earned respect. Not only does a queen have the love of her king, she also has his devotion, his loyalty, and his respect. I love the story of the 300 Spartans.  The women of Sparta were unlike other women of the time period. They were respected and empowered by their husbands. Not only did the men fight for their kingdom; they fought for the honor of their wives.

This is what is means to have Mr. Right. To be respected. To be loved unconditionally. To be loved passionately. To be honored and cherished. To be worthy of the best and receive the best.

But that is not enough...there are plenty of Mr. Good Enough's that will offer all of these things, but the reverse is also true. For a woman to have Mr. Right means that she loves unconditionally. She loves passionately. She honors and cherishes her husband. I know too many women whose husbands worship the ground they walk on but who are also not truly happy in their marriage. It is simply not enough to be loved, a queen must love her king the way he loves her.

Why would a queen accept anything less than everything she deserves? To love and to be loved with an eternity waiting.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Feeding the missionaries

I love feeding the missionaries. It makes me happy. For years I have told every set of missionaries who serve in my ward to call me if they ever need food. While we have them over for dinner as often as we can, I tell them at dinner that they can call me on a moment’s notice and I will feed them. In over 10 years since, no one has ever taken me up on my offer.

Until tonight.

At 4:19pm my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered it anyway. It was Elder B. He asked me how I was doing and gently asked if I remembered my offer that to feed them if they needed it I told him I remembered. He said, “Well, I hate to ask, but the family who was supposed to have us for dinner just cancelled.” He started to continue, but the mother in me interrupted and asked, “Can I make you dinner?” He was so sweet and sincere in his reply. I told them that it was not a problem at all, except that my husband would not be home for dinner. I asked if I could make them dinner and bring it to them. Again, he was so sweet and sincere in his reply. He did not want to bother me. I assured him that it was not a bother (as I still had to make dinner for me and my own boys) and that I wanted to do this. I was so grateful and happy that they took me up on my offer. I told them that I would have dinner to them around 6pm.

I made them dinner and dessert (because I like to eat something sweet after dinner). As I approached the house with the food, I paused a moment and through the window saw that Elder B was sitting at a counter reading. He looked content, yet sad. Does that make sense?

Knowing that they were hungry and waiting, I rang the doorbell. As he looked up, I could see the genuine gratitude in his face. It warmed my heart. He answered the door, and I brought the food to the kitchen. The other Elder expressed his gratitude as well. They were so sincere in their appreciation. I assured them that it was my pleasure to feed them.

Still, I could not help but notice that there was something so lonely about them tonight. Maybe it was because tomorrow is Father’s Day. Maybe it was the quiet of the house. Maybe it was me.

Maybe it was that I was imagining my own sons on their missions. And maybe it was the pending loneliness that I was feeling thinking of these future events. Whatever it was, I walked away from the missionaries home with an extreme sense of gratitude for the work that these young men. They do not need to be grateful for my bringing them food. It is I who am grateful for the opportunity to serve them. They serve selflessly. They serve honorably. As a mother of sons, this continually increases my faith. My only hope and prayer in feeding the missionaries is that in 9 years and 11 years, when my own sons are serving missions, they always be fed by someone who appreciates them. That they will always be fed by someone who wants to feed them, who wants to serve them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Love

I fell in love with my husband when we were seventeen years old. He literally tackled me, and even though he and I had been close friends for almost a year, it wasn't until he tackled me that I really noticed him. A few days later he tackled me again, but this time he ended the tackle with a first kiss. I knew that kiss was going to be my last first kiss.

And now, here we are, almost two decades later. Two children, two houses, two dogs. I am his queen, not his princess. There is a difference; although, I do not think most people realize the difference. Queens are loved. Queens are respected. Kings fight for their queens.

Years ago when the movie "300" came out, my husband saw it. (Gasp...I know! It is rated R.) He came home and told me that I should watch it. I was in my adamant "I will not see a rated R movie" stage. I said, "Yeah, I don't think so." He told me again, but this time he told me that there was a deeper meaning to the movie that I would appreciate. (Seriously, he knows me so well. All he had to do was invoke the English teacher buzz words to entice my curiosity.) It took a few weeks, but eventually I relented and saw the movie.

My husband was right. I loved the movie. It was beautiful. There were ugly parts, but the ugliness made the beauty more profound. There was a point in the movie where King Leonidas talks about his Queen. He talks about her strength and passion as a woman. He talks about how much he admires and respects her. He honors her.
As a King, he is not only devoted to his country, but he is devoted to his Queen. In defending his country, he defends her honor. In fighting against tyranny, he fights for her freedom. In his dying words, he tells that the bond between him and his queen needs no words to be spoken.

I know this is a movie, but what a profound statement of love and marriage it was to me. And to hear my wonderful husband talk about the meaning of this movie, made me love him even more. I am his queen. I have no doubt. Words need not be spoken for me to know that even after almost two decades, he loves me more now than ever before, and my love for him is stronger than I ever imagined possible.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I awoke early this morning to put flowers and yellow ribbons on our friend's doorstep. Today marks two years since our friend's daughter, S, passed away. S was 12 years old. My family wanted to let them know that we will always remember.

As I was driving to their home, I asked Heavenly Father to please not let me be the only one who thought of this wonderful family today. As I approached her house, I learned that my prayer was not needed. Her daughter's wonderful friends had already decorated the house with love for this amazing family. There were balloons, expressions of love, a collage, and even a small glass angel in their front yard. They wrote in sidewalk chalk on the driveway wonderful words of love. I arrived at 5:30 this morning. Those sweet wonderful girls must have gotten up so early to make sure that this family knew how much S was loved and missed.

It was beautiful. Even though these wonderful girls are excited for summer vacation and eagerly awaiting entering high school this fall, they still remember their friend who was taken home so young. They miss her. They love her. They love her family.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"There is a divine purpose in the adversities we encounter every day. They prepare, they purge, they purify, and thus they bless."


I love James E. Faust. I love this quote. It reminds me that patience in necessary in facing our adversities. I am not a patient person, but I am working on it. Actually, I am being made to work on it. While this is not a bad thing, patience in the Lord shows that I have faith in his timetable and not mine. I know that my Heavenly Father knows what he is doing. I know that there is a grand purpose in all things. I know that all things happen for a reason and all things will be for my benefit in the end.
 
And even though I know these things. Even though I have faith that everything happens for a reason, I still struggle to wait. There are things that I want to know now. Not doctrinal things, temporal things, life things. I want to know how certain events and discoveries are going to change my life. This is interesting considering I always talk about how much I hate change. But, the funny thing is, I actually embrace change when it comes to life. My life is ever changing. My children are growing. My son starts middle school in three months, and I am excited for that change. I am excited that he is growing up. Don't get me wrong, I am terrified of middle school. I hate middle school. Sixth grade should be in elementary school and ninth grade should be in a junior high. (Wait...tangent...I will talk about that another time.)
 
The point is, I do not mind change when it involves growth. I do not mind change that enlightens (and sometimes even shatters) my world view. I like change when it is a gradual change. My son did not magically become a middle school student. He started out as a baby and has slowly turned into a fiercely independent 10 year old.
 
Back to being patient. I am actually waiting for something to change my life. I am waiting because someone else is is control of this. I must wait for someone else to decide that she is ready for a change in her life. And when she does decide she is ready, my family and I will be here. We will be ready for whatever change in brings.
 
Until then, this test of patience is an adversity, albeit a small one. I have no control on what is going to happen. I cannot change the timeline. All things happen in the Lord's timeline. I cannot say that I am being patient, but I am trying to be.
 
I am preparing and purging and hoping to be purified and blessed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Teaching

I love teaching. It is a second home for me. I love my students. I have to make a big decision that will affect my students. I have to choose several for leadership positions. This has been a difficult decision for me; one that I have weighed and considered all of my options. A decision that I have prayed that I will make the right one.

The thing is, there are students who are going to be disappointed because they will not received their specific coveted leadership position. I will talk to each on individually and explain the reasons why, but, in the end, I am sure that I will lose some students over this decision.
I have some kids who are ecstatic, truly ecstatic over their new position. They are nervous. They are afraid to let me down. They are worried they do not know enough. I know each of them will be great. They will learn. They will rise to the occasion. They will shine.

They are all good kids. They all deserve a shot at leadership, but some deserve this chance more than others. It is interesting because I firmly believe that not getting what one wants is just as valuable as getting what one wants. I do not think the generation I teach understands that. There is a sense of entitlement. A sense of "If I don't get what I want, then it is your fault."

I even had one student express to me his disappointment and anger over not getting his coveted spot. He told me that he will take the position, but he is not at all happy about it. I asked him, "If you are not going to be excited about this opportunity, then why take it?" I also explained that I have several others who would be ecstatic if I gave them this position. I chose this student because he has worked hard. He did not get exactly what he wanted simply because he does not have the skill set for those positions. I explained that the opportunity in front of him is a stepping stone and that if he was going to take it reluctantly and begrudgingly, I would rather him turn it down.

He kept the position, and I am hoping that he will step up and be the leader I know he can be. However, I cannot deny that I have my doubts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You do not LOOK Mormon

I have traditionally loved Sundays. People I work with are critical of the three to four hours I spend at church every Sunday. I tell them that it is just what I do. It is a part of who I am. They also get frustrated because I do not partake of the things that they do. I do not judge them. I laugh with them. I go out with them. I do not drink alcohol with them. They know this, yet it frustrates them, and, quite frankly, it angers a few of them. I have spent years trying to figure out why it frustrates them; I have stopped trying to figure this out. I have learned that because I do not look Mormon, some of my co-workers expect me to act as they do.

My students have not always known I was a "Mormon." I make it clear at the beginning of the year that I have certain standards. I do not elaborate unless I am asked. Eventually, I am asked. My first year was the funniest. Throughout the first semester my students learned that I do not swear, I do not drink, I do not smoke, and I have never tried an illicit or illegal drug. At the end of the year, it came out that I was, in fact, "A MORMON."  It was silent when this news came about. The class was shocked. I asked why they were shocked.

"You do not look like a Mormon," was the overwhelming response. This is not the first time I have been told this. In high school when I was baptized. In college when I was inactive and my visiting teachers came over for the first time. (Let me tell you, that is not a way to get to know someone you visit teach.) And even now, my husband and I have been told that we do not look like a "typical Mormon couple." This is an interesting statement that we have heard on more than one occassion.

And even though I most certainly act like a Mormon. Wait, scratch that, there is no "acting" involved.
I live my life in accordance with Gospel standards. My husband lives his life in accordance with Gospel standards. We teach our children to live their lives in accordance with the Gospel. We are Mormon every single day of the week, not just for three hours on Sunday.

I continue to wonder what exactly does a Mormon woman look like? Apparently, not me.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From the mouth of babes...

My youngest son came to me this morning and told me he had a nightmare. He said, "I had a dream that we were in a tornado and a flood, and we were not prepared." Those are his exact words.

My husband and I will be going through our 72 hour kits and food storage tonight.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To teach forgiveness as well as to teach to be forgiven

I am generally a very forgiving person. I do not hold grudges. I do not harbor resentment. I have learned throughout my life that harboring ill feelings only affects me. It does not affect the other person. How can it?They do not know the thoughts in my head. So, in general I am a forgive and forget kind of person.

BUT....
I have been harboring a grudge for some time. It has been a difficult one for me to let go. I have tried, but these two people really hurt me. I thought they were my friends, but friends do not say such mean things about each other. This happened almost a year ago, and every time I think I am finally over it, something happens to slam it back in my face.

I was recently reminded by the still small voice that the Atonement is to teach forgiveness as well as it is to teach to be forgiven.

I heard these words in a talk almost 20 years ago. I know that my Savior and Heavenly Father love me. I know that my Savior and Heavenly Father forgive me. I know that my Savior and Heavenly Father are merciful. And so I am left wondering, why have I struggled to be loving, forgiving and mericiful to these two people? When I realized this thought this morning in my personal prayer, I broke down in tears. If I cannot forgive these two people, then how can I expect the same of my Savior and Heavenly Father. Why did it take me so long to realize this?

I have felt more peace today than I have felt in a long time.

So I am left with the peace and the remembrance that the Atonement is just as much about teaching me to forgive as it is about teaching me that my Savior and Heavenly Father will forgive me.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Something I read that got me thinking...

I read this yesterday and I have been thinking about it ever since. I thought I would blog a bit about it.


"There is a seventeenth century proverb that reads: 'Believe no tales from an enemy's tongue.' But perhaps we can believe our own examinations of ourselves."

It continues..."If you were choosing someone to trust, could you trust yourself? ... Would you like to be at your own mercy?... Would you like to live with yourself?"

There are admittedly many questions that I left out of the quote, but these are the ones that spoke to me. The other questions were easier for me to answer. Questions like, "Would you hire yourself?" Yes, I am a good worker. I take pride in what I do. I am sincere in my love of teaching. and "If you were your own partner, could you trust yourself? If your partner were to die, would you treat his family as fairly as if he were alive?" Answering both...Yes, I would. That was simple, but the first questions...those are more difficult.

It is sometimes difficult to be honest in a blog, but since I there is not a single soul other than myself that knows who I am, I can write without trying to live up to something. In my personal blog, there is a bit of censorship. I ask, "Do I really want people to know this about me?"

But on this blog, I am merely an LDS woman, who happens to be a wife, mother, and teacher. Fortunately, I know many women with the same titles. So here, I can write without second guessing what I am writing.

Back to the questions at hand. ...

"If you were choosing someone to trust, could you trust yourself?" The answer to this one seems simple; I am a trustworthy person. I trust three people with anything and everything. They trust me the same. However, it is only those three people that I trust. Would I trust myself? That is tough. Yes, I want to trust myself, but am I worthy of the trust that I place in others. This, I am not so sure of. I am not a gossip, but sometimes I feel that I share too much of myself. Is this the type of person that I want to share things with? Again, I am not so sure. I have struggled with talking too much my whole life. Even as a child, I was precocious. I talk. I share. I am trustworthy, for sure, but in looking at my closest friends, they are not like me. They do not talk as much as I do. They listen better. Maybe that is the issue. I need people to listen to me. Would I listen to myself talk? Would I trust someone who talks as much as I? I am guessing, probably not.
Alas...something to work on.

"Would you like to be at your own mercy?" An old friend described me as genuinely kind. She said she hated to use that word, but it fit me. I think I am kind, but I also know that I am a realist. There are times when reason beats out kindness. For example, the educational system in which I live is under tremendous economic stress (and by stress, I mean educational cuts). In my building alone 10+ teachers will find out this week that they will not have a job for the next school year. I do not envy the principal. He has a tough job. This is the part where I am not sure if I would like to be at my mercy. I am a realist. Jobs must be cut. There is no choice. Were it my decision, I would be forced to have difficult conversations with people in my department; with people I call friends. I would do this in a kind manner and would undoubtedly shed a lot of tears. I am a harsh judge when it comes to teaching. I am critical. In essence, I show very little mercy when it comes to teaching and teaching well. If I were to sit back in judgment upon myself the way I judge others, I am not sure I would want to face myself.
Ouch...that one hurt. Yet another thing to work on.

"Would you like to live with yourself?" First off let me say that I love my husband. He is good and kind and patient. I am not patient. I would not want to live with myself. I know that I can be irrational and confusing. I know that I am demanding. So, alas, I am grateful that my husband is not like me. Sadly, I would not want to live with myself, but I am grateful that my husband does!

So there you have it. Honest self reflection on a blog. Now, I must get to work on becoming a person that I might like a little bit more.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Temple

I love leaving the Temple. I know that may sound strange to some, but I do. All too often, I enter the Temple feeling rushed. I try not to feel rushed, yet somehow, rushed is how I feel.

BUT, I leave the Temple at peace. I am not rushing to get my children, to get dinner, to do anything. I leave in peace. I leave more focused. I leave with the Spirit. Don't get me wrong, I enter with the Spirit, too. The 40 minute drive to get to the Temple helps this. I can take the time to talk to my wonderful husband. We can talk about our children. We can talk about the Gospel. We make a conscious effort not to talk about work or our frustrations with the world. We simply talk and let the Spirit guide us to the Temple.

It is a good feeling going to the Temple, but there is a complete feeling when leaving the Temple.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Right Combination


I was not in the mood to go to church yesterday. I had a bad week between my calling and my job and the collision of the two. All I wanted to do was hide. Be off the grid for a weekend.

But Sunday rolled around, and I felt very strongly that the one place I needed to be was at church. I needed to take the Sacrament. I needed to feel the Spirit. I am grateful that I went.

It was a missionary farewell, and while I enjoyed the talk given by the future missionary, it was the talk by the current young missionary serving in my ward that made the difference. He said,

"There are currently 117 scientific elements, and when they are combined correctly, they can make something really beautiful and amazing. The same can be said of the elements of the Gospel. When combined correctly, they can make something more beautiful and amazing. The first element is faith. When faith is combined, beautiful combinations occur."

I will admit that I was not listening too intently at the beginning of his talk. My mind was wandering. Then, I heard this simple statement, and I was hooked. I began to feel the warm comfort of the Spirit that I needed.

I know that when faith is combined with other elements of the Gospel beautiful things happen. Faith is the first element needed for miracles, but, more importantly, I also know that faith is the first element needed for tender mercies to occur.

"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance" (1 Nephi 1:20).

After Sacrament meeting, I sat in the foyer. I sat and talked with a friend about the struggles in my calling and in my work. And then, in a tender mercy, the Bishop came out of his office and invited me to talk with him. I sat and cried in his office. I told him of the struggles that have weighed me down the last two months; teaching, living, and serving in a very small city. The conflict with girls who are both in my classes at school and in my calling at church. He told me that I was on his mind a lot the last two weeks; he knew that he needed to talk to me.

In his quiet and protective manner, he made me feel better. A lot better. He encouraged me in my calling. He told me that he knows I am where I am supposed to be. He told me that the Lord wants me in this calling at this time. He told me that he has witnessed the difference I have made in the lives of the youth. He reminded me that regardless of my struggles, my own two children must come first at all times. He also admonished me to acknowledge my feelings, both good and bad. He told me that it is natural to feel a sense of pride in my calling, but he warned me of the bitterness and resentment that can come from pride. He took words from my heart and my mind and made me understand them.

My worlds may be colliding and even exploding, but I have faith that all things happen for a reason. I am grateful for the reminder that faith is the first element needed for beautiful and amazing things, but more importantly, today I am grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Testimony and a few other disclosures.

First and foremost, I am a faithful Latter Day Saint Woman. I have a testimony of the restored Gospel of Christ. I live my life in accordance with the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a wife of 12 years to a wonderful and strong Priesthood Holder, and I am the mother of two amazing sons.

I was raised Catholic and was was introduced to the Gospel by a friend in my freshman year of high school. I was lost and struggling, and Heavenly Father sent someone to bring me home. She literally brought a lost daughter of Heavenly Father home. To say my parents were supportive would be misleading. They were not happy about my decision, and it took a year before they allowed my baptism. I was baptized during my sophomore year, and, to date, I am the only member in my family.

I went to high school with my husband. He is also a convert. He was introduced to the Gospel during his junior year of high school (not by me...we were good friends at that point, but we were not yet dating). He was baptized during his senior year of high school, and he is also the only member in his family.

In the interest of full disclosure: My husband and I have not always been active Mormons. We went inactive right after high school, lived together, and were married four years later in a Lutheran church with our family and friends present. I do not regret the decisions that I made. It has made me the faithful LDS woman who can stand before you unashamed.

A year and a half after we were married, we decided to start our family. I found out I was pregnant in January 1999. The first words out of my husband's mouth were "We better get ourselves back to church. Our lives and salvation are no longer about us."

So we went. We met the Bishop and started the process back to the Gospel. It was a good journey; difficult at times, but well worth every minute. We were sealed as a family in the Denver Temple just before my first son's first birthday. We have never looked back. There have been bumps in the road, but we manage to stay on track.

I choose to follow the admonition of Henry David Thoreau on this one:

Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.

I love my life and make no apologies. I accept the decisions that I have made without exception.

I will write more on the various topics of my conversion and faith, but I felt it necessary for my readers to know where I sit before you know where I stand.