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.