Thursday, December 24, 2009

Every Good Thing

I watched in amazement and wonder as my 10 month old baby girl carefully picked item after item out of the tipped over diaper bag, tasting one thing, shaking another.  She was having a wonderful time, so interested in every item, though holding her attention for only a minute or two.  That’s the way it was of course, until, she found the lollypop.  Then it was just her and the lollypop.  Every little piece of paper with the corners now missing, every diaper changing accessory, every squeaky toy or rattle was forgotten……jackpot!

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The person who coined the phrase “it’s as easy as taking candy from a baby”, never took candy from this baby, boy did she ever yell at me!  And it was actually easier to feed her her liquid peaches if I just relented and let her hold the lollypop in her hand.  She wouldn’t let it go, it was what she had dug so hard for and she was not going to just give it up after all that hard work.

It was a funny but simple illustration of how each of us endures one thing or another, good and bad experiences along the path of life, searching for the one thing that is going to carry us through.  And when we find it, that is what we cling to. 

President Eyring gave a talk recently at the First Presidency Christmas Devotional where he used the scriptural phrase, “lay hold upon every good thing.”  Even though I’m sure the rest of his talk was wonderful, everything else seemed to fade except for that statement.  And the word that jumped out at me more than anything was EVERY.

Lately, with the news being anything but positive, and so much deceit and treachery on the world stage, it really becomes important for us to focus on the things that matter most, and what will give us lasting happiness. 

The 13th Article of Faith states, “if there is anything lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”  Are we seeking out the good in life?  Do we keep a spirit of gratitude in our hearts?  Do we express it?

Perhaps that’s why Job was able to keep going when he had so little going for him.  He had boils, all his stuff was gone, his family were gone.  And yet he still praised God.  Why?  Because he had eternal perspective, and his testimony of Christ carried him through.  He knew that if he remained faithful, that in the end, it would all be okay. 

So I’m going to try and do something I haven’t done before, and that is to keep a gratitude journal.  At the end of each day, I will write one thing I am grateful for that day.  And hopefully, during the day I will keep an attitude of gratitude in my heart for EVERY thing that is good.  For there really is so much.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Because I don’t blog as much as I should….

Life comes at you fast – this seems to be our theme song lately…and although there is much that can be found to complain about in the economy and shifting values in the world, there is also so much to be grateful for and happy about. The weather has grown cold, but the cheery, bright colors of the leaves bring a sense of warmth. They lie on the ground in great big piles – begging Luke to jump in them!

This Summer began with a trip down to California to visit the Arnott Grandparents and have a little reunion of sorts. After a grueling trip on the airplane and an eternity in Los Angeles rush hour traffic, Andrew’s parents’ farm seemed almost like an oasis in the desert! It was fun to swim in the pool and run around in the open space. Grandpa Arnott gave us a tour by tractor of the farm including the illusive San Andreas Fault Line. There is definitely something mysterious out there that makes the grapefruit taste AMAZING! We had a talent show where Luke recited a book he has learned about “opposites” – very sweet for a little boy who although knows a lot of words, really doesn’t talk very much. We spent a day at the beach with the cousins, digging big holes in the sand and playing in the waves. Emily and the grandparents enjoyed a nice nap in the sunshine.

In September, the kids and I flew to Colorado to spend time with the Mackrory Grandparents. It was tough to be a single parent on the plane and then on holiday, but so fun to be with them and enjoy being outside in the sunshine again. Luke was especially excited about their big clock, which chimes on the hour, their big TV, and the “chitty, chitty, bang, bang” car in the garage. He spent most of his time while we visited, playing with the collection of toy cars that has accumulated over the years. Come to think of it, that’s the same thing he did in California with the Arnott car collection…

Emily has grown so much in the last few months, weighing almost 18 pounds and crawling all over – mostly following her big brother around, much to his dislike. She adores him and wants to be a part of everything he’s doing – he would much rather she just leave him and his toys alone and can’t resist rolling on top of her wrestling style while mommy anxiously yelps and runs to Emily’s rescue. Much to her mommy’s delight, she is already showing signs that she loves to dance. She will wiggle and bob up and down, kicking her legs excitedly when she hears a rhythm or tune! She has also turned out to be a great eater, preferring veggies over fruit even! She has just sprouted two of her front bottom teeth and shows them off proudly all the time with her big smile. She is the happiest baby I have ever known, laughing and giggling at the slightest thing. She really is such a blessing in our home.

Luke recently gave up taking naps during the day and because he’s an early riser, mommy now puts in 13 hour days. That is unless I go for a drive around noon and the little man drops off in the back seat! He has also mastered counting to 10 and his alphabet. He loves books and will request the same book over and over until he can recite it back to us using words we had no idea he knew.

Andrew’s remote control airplane has provided us with several fun outings as a family recently. Luke gets so excited to say “GO!” and watch it take off, running to greet it when it lands. One of his side projects, involving protecting identity on the internet has taken him to San Jose for a conference. There have been a couple of big names adopt his method including the US Government! Although it’s hard to understand, never mind explain fully, what it’s all about, it is great to see him getting recognition and opportunities offered him, given all his hard work.

I participated in the Stake Musical Production in October. It was called, “A Tribute to Broadway,” showcasing dancing and singing from shows like Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Annie, and several Disney shows. I was privileged to be the only solo dancer in the show, with two numbers which I was able to choreograph myself. The one piece was from Little Women, and the other from Beauty and the Beast (so I got to dress up like Belle). It was challenging and took some intense practicing to pull off, given that I really haven’t been dancing in over 5 years! In the end it was a huge success and the realization of a lifelong dream for me.

Unfortunately, a few hours before opening night, I began showing signs of the flu but popped some pills, and went ahead anyway with my performance. – 3 shows that weekend. I got home Saturday night and my fever began – later to learn that I had the dreaded, media hyped, SWINE flu! Emily got it a few days later but with quick medical help she got over it very quickly and thankfully her symptoms were mild. Andrew got sick for a couple days and Luke, amazingly enough, was spared! I still have a residual cough which is making it difficult to sing to Luke which we both find frustrating.

This Halloween I made Emily a blue puppy costume so that she could be “Blue” – a dog from a well loved television show. Luke went as the dog’s owner, Steve - together they solve mysteries! The costume took me a long time and a lot of chopping and changing as I was modifying a sheep pattern.

At the end of the month we will make the journey (which at that time of the year, really IS a journey) to Utah for a Mackrory reunion. Since Andrew’s sister lives there we will also be able to visit with the Arnott side for a little while. Jared has organized a few days at a huge multifamily size cabin in the mountains. It has an indoor playground for the kids, and includes snow shoeing and lots of other amenities. We will also welcome a new cousin into our extended family in December, as Andrew and KaraLynne Mackrory have another baby – we wait to see if it’s a girl cousin or a boy cousin…

We look forward to next year and the wonderful things it will bring. Luke and Emily will turn 3 and 1 respectively. We are currently planning a trip to Hawaii in May, when Andrew’s mom and sister will be watching the kids – hello second honeymoon! Hopefully when we get back we’ll have a shot at selling our home, but for now, we plan to stay here at least until then, perhaps longer, with the sad state of the real estate market.

As the year draws to a close, and the Christmas Season approaches we are reminded of the things in life that really matter. We are grateful for our children, who help us stay physically fit and mentally young. We draw strength from our testimony of the Gospel, and know that the Lord will provide for our needs if we remember Him in everything we do. We love you all and appreciate the joy you bring to our lives. Have a wonderful Christmas and a joyous New Year!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Clue! A Clue!

With each child you have, you commit to way more than the day to day feeding, clothing, changing etc.  Oh yes…now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE being a mom, wouldn’t trade it for the world, but when I find myself staying up super late and spending an entire Saturday (when I’m still not over the swine flu), sewing a puppy costume, I start to wonder….did I really sign up for ALL of this?

Okay, so maybe I’m a glutton for punishment because there are plenty of good costumes out there for purchase, I really didn’t have to make one, but I did.  Now let’s just be clear on this though, it’s not just a run of the mill puppy costume, this is a very special, super duper, BLUE’S CLUES puppy costume.

I adapted a sheep costume and had to trim a ton off, modify here, tweek there (ever tried pinning a seam on a baby that really has no interest in staying put – FUN!) and there you have it.  Luke only required a green striped polo shirt to accompany some khaki pants and he played the role of Steve (handy-dandy notebook included!). 

By the end of the night, Emily was still not sure what this was all about, and Luke finally figured out that it’s actually fun to knock on doors and say “Trick or Treat” rather than bury yourself between dad’s knees.  And Mom, well, I was glad that I signed up for this too – I mean hey, no responsible parent is going to let their kid eat that whole bucket of Halloween candy…

Happy Halloween Folks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

6 things parents can do to ensure their children will be happy, healthy and substance free

6 things parents can do to ensure their children will be happy, healthy and substance free
  1. Have dinner with your kids 5 nights a week or more. 
  2. Take them to religious services once a week.
  3. Checking your kids' homework 4 nights a week or more.
  4. Demand honesty from your children on Friday and Saturday nights about what they're doing.
  5. Take them on a week long vacaton.  Put away your blackberry and focus on your kids.
  6. Participate in a team sport.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Daddy

Today my Dad turns 60 and so I was thinking of the things that he has taught me in the 27 years of those 60 that I have been around.  Some of them are funny, some of them are serious, but all of them are important.  I love my dad, and I don’t know exactly all the reasons, but I love him, and I will keep on loving him over and over….

  • When possible, buy in BULK – and while we’re on the subject of money, don’t miss an opportunity to earn points, cashback, or a discount (it is probably those genes that give me a thrill whenever I use a coupon).
  • Take care of other people’s stuff.  Return stuff you borrow in the same or better condition than when you borrowed it.  My dad told me recently that if you can’t afford to part with something, you shouldn’t lend it out, that way if you don’t get it back it won’t hurt the relationship.  Having said that though, my dad is incredibly generous with the stuff he lends people.
  • READ – my dad LOVES books, he’s always reading something, either history related or Gospel related.  He loves to learn.
  • Be honest – I’m a horrible liar and maybe it’s because I didn’t get a whole lot of practice growing up.  I just couldn’t lie to my dad, mostly because I knew it was one of the rare times when my dad would use the word “hate.”  He “hates” dishonesty.
  • Help little old ladies – it is quite common for my dad to see older ladies and run over to lend them a hand.  I only hope that he will keep doing that even when he feels old himself – don’t worry dad, you’ve got lots of good years left ;)
  • Zurbits always help you feel better – they just do, ‘nough said.
  • If you feel the urge, BURST into song – and use signposts you pass as inspiration! – I remember many a family trip when we would sing along to some song like “all the people on the left?  A wam bam boogie!  All the people on the right?  A boogaloo!” For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about I pity you :)  (I think it might be a song from the 50’s…or 60’s…or one of those eras when music was actually talent!)
  • Say please and thank you – Do you want something?  YES please, or NO thankyou.  None of this “sure” nonsense :) 
  • Get a good parking spot.
  • Food is important – I was SO sad for my dad when he was diagnosed with diabetes because he LOVES good sweet stuff more than anyone else I know.  He never misses an opportunity to tell me what he had for breakfast, what he’s eating right now, and what mom made last night for dinner.  He just loves his food. 
  • If you can’t solve a problem, quit worrying about it – I think one of the reasons why my dad has always been a valued employee is that he is VERY good at solving problems.  And those that he can’t solve, he doesn’t worry about, well, at least he doesn’t let on that he’s worrying about them.
  • Avoid throwing up for as long as you can :) Then again, give dad as much notice as possible if you need him to pull over….
  • Do your family history – my dad teaches this one by example, he is a great historian and has really worked hard to make sure that his ancestors are found, accounted for, and that they have their temple work done.  What’s nice is I know he loves it and that it’s important to him, but he doesn’t get on a “family history soapbox” :)
  • See the world!  I loved hearing all about the places my dad would go on business because while he was there he would go off and see what there was to see.  He always brought home a nic-nak or two.  And then of course I would ask him to tell me about all the different meals he had.

He makes great biltong, does an awesome barbecue, and gives wonderful hugs.  Our son, Luke has the second name Mitchell after my dad.  I love that name and I love who it comes from.  In a week I get to take the two kids back to visit the Mackrory grandparents and we are all SO excited.  It’s going to be really fun.

My wish for my dad is that he can find a way to retire soon.  He would really like to retire and pretty much the main reason he can’t is because he and my mom have started over 3 times in their life together to give their kids a better future in a new country.  Thanks to both of you, and to my dad for working so very hard so Mom could stay home with us.  I owe so much of who I am and what I have to you!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Obama calls Congress to pass the public commuter bill

President Barack Obama addressed Congress over the weekend in an emergency meeting about the need to push through a public commuter bill.  The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) recently published some alarming statistics regarding automobile drivers over the next ten years:

  • 80% of Americans will lose the use of their car due to mechanical failure, collision, or collection agencies from dealers who didn’t get reimbursed in the Cash for Clunkers programs. 
  • 50% of Americans will be involved in an auto accident.
  • 20% of those in an auto accident will sustain serious or fatal injuries.

“We cannot allow Americans to be without transportation, and we absolutely cannot leave the problem of serious car accidents unresolved,” Obama said.  “Millions suffer serious or fatal injuries in car accidents every year.  Cars produce green house gas emissions that are killing our planet.  It would be un-American to not take precautions to ensure the safety of our people and the earth.  All cars are inherently dangerous and I’m signing an executive order for their immediate nationwide recall.”

Citizens will be required to exchange their cars for life-time passes on a new national public transit system.  Those currently without cars will be able to apply for these same passes at a reduced rate or free depending on their qualifications.  The transit system will be primarily made up of electric buses, but subways and other soon to be announced advanced systems will be built in metro areas.

Obama promises this new public transit system will be implemented without adding to the national debt. “We will hold our public transit employees accountable with how they spend the allotted money.  Buses will not be purchased or active unless there is sufficient documentation to justify the expense to keep costs down.”  Republicans and democrats see this as a bi-partisan effort and are quickly signing on.  Funding will come by raising taxes on cigarettes as the only remaining source of carbon emissions in the nation, and by cracking down on tax fraud.

Some experts warn that efforts to keep costs down will leave some would-be commuters without transportation that they need. “Particularly in the rural areas, some people may have trouble finding a bus route that meets their needs,” Dr. Rabbizter from Harvard on a Hill said. “But even in metro areas, a late or broken down bus will result in some people getting to work late, or even missing an important appointment altogether.  And in peak times even an on-time bus won’t get you there because it will be full.  People will never be guaranteed a seat on a bus, even one they ride regularly.”  Obama expects that patriotic citizens such as employers and doctors will be understanding regarding the unexpected delays that can occur in their employees or patients arrivals to appointments.

The nationwide public transit system is expected to create about 30,000 new government jobs—a welcome opportunity in this economic downturn.  But Bill Trapp, owner of Grey Hound, expects to have to lay off at least 5,000 employees as the public switches to the new public transit system for its subsidized prices, and says other private busing companies will likely have to do the same.  “I don’t know how we’ll compete long term,” Trapp said. “How can a private company make a profit when competing with tax-payer subsidized transportation?”

Even existing local public transportation provided by cities are wondering what this national transit will mean for their existing capital and employees.  Several thousand cities across the U.S. already provide subsidized public transportation for their residents, but Obama can only offer these cities a “cash for clunker-buses” program: “Existing buses simply are not safe enough; not green enough.  We must do everything possible to protect the safety of commuters, and to protect our environment.  Existing local city government employees who drive and service buses will be given the opportunity to keep their jobs—just working on U.S. government buses instead of local ones, although some may have to relocate to take advantage of this offer.”

Government Motors (GM), formerly known as General Motors but renamed when recently acquired by the United States, will be used to manufacture the new buses and provide their service.  Straheli Feihf, Obama’s new transportation czar, assures us that having exactly one manufacturer of all buses, and without competition for automobiles, will guarantee the safest, greenest, most efficient, and cheapest transportation.  “The law of economies of scale tells us that if just one entity produces all the automobiles for a nation, the result will be more efficiency than would be possible in a free market system.”

“I think it’s great,” said a Washington state resident regarding the new plan.  “It’s safer, greener, and free transportation for virtually everyone.  Now if only they could do this for health care.”

(yes, of course this is a parody ;)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Straight Gratitude Month

Warning: This post is not politically correct, but is based on personal faith.  If the title offends you, please consider finding something else to read.  But this post is written with good and loving intentions.

In response to President Obama’s recent proclamation that June 2009 is LGBT Pride month, let’s make July 2009 “Straight Gratitude Month”.  We celebrate the habitually straight and those who have found their “straight gene” later in life.

What this post isn’t about

This post isn’t about discrimination or prejudice.  It’s about a moral belief that we are God’s children, and that God has a plan for us.  That plan includes that a man and a woman should be married as a couple and raise children that know & love their Heavenly Father so they can all return to live with Him someday.  We all have agency, and each have our challenges in life.  Most individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, have sexual urges that must be kept within the bounds the Lord has set.  For individuals who cannot marry (whether they are LGBT or straight), God requires sexual abstinence.  For those that do marry, He requires complete fidelity.  The Lord’s Law of Chastity is found throughout scripture and the Lord does not change his commandments based on political or social pressure.  God will not hold us accountable for natural feelings we cannot control, but we will have to answer to Him for how we choose to act based on those feelings. 

Those who cannot marry (whatever their reason, be it sexual orientation or anything else) deserve our love and compassion.  Theirs is a heavy cross to bear.  They do not deserve to be ridiculed or treated badly or with less preference in any way on account of their sexual orientation. 

Taking a stand

While we must treat LGBT as God’s children, which they are, we are not bound to endorse or actively support a LGBT lifestyle.  They may choose their lifestyle because God has granted all of us agency just as straight-oriented people can choose their own lifestyle.  But some LGBT overstep their bounds when they ask/demand special preferential treatment based on their sexual orientation, insist on teaching our children in public and even private schools that their lifestyle is acceptable and even that children should experiment to “discover their true orientation.”

I think that most LGBT do not realize that behind all their “rights” movements that they participate in with good intentions lies an evil force with a very carefully laid plan to abuse the freedoms this country and much of the world holds dear by using it to force morally-driven people to accept and embrace LGBT lifestyles in the name of tolerance. 

Beware that the greatest danger of the LGBT agenda may be to our children, who in schools are being increasingly bombarded with an education tilted toward promoting LGBT behavior.  Much of this is done in the name of tolerance or of preventing hardship for children who may have these tendencies.  But pure tolerance, respect and kindness can be taught in many ways besides promoting the behavior.  And perhaps the scariest part of this is that much of this is being done to our children without our knowledge or consent.  And if you thought you had the right to keep your child out of class for a day, better not blink, because some states are already taking away parental rights to keep kids home on days when gay-ed is being taught – if you happen to hear about it in advance anyway.

Vice is a monster of such frightful mien,
As to be hated is but to be seen.
Yet seen too oft, familiar with his face,
First we endure, then pity, then embrace.
  – Alexander Pope (1688-1744)

God, who knows the end from the beginning, has warned us that these times would come through his holy prophets in The Family: A Proclamation to the World (1995) and in Isaiah 5:20 (~750 B.C.).

So what is “Straight Gratitude Month”?

Through the Lord’s prophets we are counseled to beware of pride.  So instead of calling this Straight Pride Month, I’d like to call this Straight Gratitude Month, out of respect for the struggles LGBT have to deal with while holding true to our belief that God designed families to be started with a man and a woman.  We are grateful to be straight because it means following this one commandment of God’s (of many commandments of course) isn’t as much of a struggle in life as it could be.

We will show our gratitude for our straight sexual orientation by wearing a blue shirt if you’re male and a pink shirt if you’re a female each day of the month of July.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Non-smoker awareness week

This week we consider the non-smokers of the world.  Non-smokers have a lot to put up with. 

Second hand smoke is deadly, smelly, very annoying, and can even make non-smokers “carriers” of the horrible smell to other people.  The smoke stains walls and butts burn carpets,

What’s with just dropping your cigarette on the ground or out your car window?!  Hello?! That’s littering. While not all smokers do this, many do.  Even if you don’t respect your own body enough to quit smoking, don’t disrespect our community for the rest of us to clean up your cigarette butts.  Pet owners carry doggie-bags to pick up after their pet.  Maybe smokers should carry fireproof butt-bags to extinguish and transport their cigarette butts.

It seems that most smokers don’t respect the laws that are supposed to protect the rest of us like, staying 20 feet away from bus stop enclosures and from building entrances. 

If you smoke outside your office building at work, take several deep breaths of fresh air before coming inside.  Heck, go for a short jog first and air out all your clothes.  Then take the stairs instead of the elevator.  It’s horrid for a non-smoker when they step into an empty elevator and can smell the remains of the last smoker to occupy that confined space.

Celebration instructions: Find some clean air and breath deeply.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

“It was my Father”

It was my father, holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, who holding me as just a small babe, gave me a name and a blessing. He would give me many more blessings in my life. When I was sick, before my first day of school, and the night before I got married…

I grew up in South Africa, my dad had several names at that time in my life, he was daddy to 5 children, 4 boys and one little princess. He was Master, to the gardener who would come every Thursday, who he would (unlike a lot of others in the country) treat like he would a family friend. He played several major roles when we were children, some of which he still fills now…

He was a Friend

The priesthood manual a few years ago quoted a story written in 1955 by Bryant S. Hinckley. It is as follows:

‘Three hundred twenty-six school children of a district near Indianapolis were asked to write anonymously just what each thought of his father.

‘The teacher hoped that the reading of the essays might attract the fathers to attend at least one meeting of the Parent-Teacher’s Association.

‘It did.

‘They came in $400 cars and $4,000 cars. Bank president, laborer, professional man, clerk, Salesman, meter reader, farmer, utility magnate, merchant, baker, tailor, manufacturer, and contractor, every man with a definite estimate of himself in terms of money, skill, and righteousness. …

‘The president picked at random from another stack of papers. “I like my daddy,” she read from each. The reasons were many: He built my doll house, took me coasting, taught me to shoot, helps me with my schoolwork, takes me to the park, gave me a pig to fatten and sell. Scores of essays could be reduced to “I like my daddy. He plays with me.” ’

“Not one child mentioned his family house, car, neighborhood, food or clothing.

“The fathers went into the meeting from many walks of life. They came out in two classes: companions to their children or strangers to their children.

“No man is too rich or too poor to play with his children.” (The Savior the Priesthood and You, Melchizedek Priesthood Manual, 1973–74, p. 226.)

As children, we went from playing “this is the way the cowboy rides’ on his knee to being hoisted off his shoulders in the pool. At one point I thought he had complete control over the windshield wipers just by raising and lowering his hands – my dad was magic – He would keep the atmosphere cheery by making up silly songs in the car using the street signs we past as inspiration. He was fun.

My dad knew when to have fun, but he also took his role as father seriously. Walking through the busy and dangerous streets of Johannesburg he would always hold my hand and keep me close to him. He was at many times in that country, the Physical Protector.

Well, one night my dad’s role became much more serious…it was a night I will never forget. Someone broke into our house with a loud crash of breaking glass, my dad ran down the hall way to scare off the intruder and protect his family. He had not been asleep, knowing something was wrong. He could have very easily been shot that night. After that he would walk around the house with a huge flashlight before bedtime, making sure everything was okay.

As a major step to further protect us physically, my dad gave up his lifetime of savings and almost everything he had to move my family to New Zealand. At this time in his life he carried several different names, he was at one time, Bishop, at another time Stake President, but he had other roles that he played as the head of our family…

He was Leader of the home -

The Family Proclamation says:

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.

Through all his busyness in his Church Callings in which he served well, he made a point of turning on the answering machine when he got home from work on Monday night and gathering us in for Family Home Evening. He presided in our home but was never over bearing or abusive of that responsibility. He was our Priesthood leader, giving blessings before the school year and making sure we were doing the important things such as seminary, and going to Church, but also taking an interest in the other things we chose to do. Because of the increasing immorality in New Zealand, he became very much …

Our Spiritual Protector

President A. Theodore Tuttle
Of the First Council of the Seventy said

“The father is the protector of the home. He guards it against the intrusion of evil from without. Formerly he protected his home with weapons and shuttered windows. Today the task is more complex. Barred doors and windows protect only against the intrusion of a corporeal creature. It is not an easy thing to protect one’s family against intrusions of evil into the minds and spirits of family members. These influences can and do flow freely into the home. Satan can subtly beguile the children of men in ways we have already mentioned in this conference. He need not break down the door.”

He dropped me off at a party that I shouldn’t have gone to, and let me know that if I needed to be picked up, he would be there as soon as he could. He came right when I called him and as we drove home he resisted the temptation to lecture me or remind me why I shouldn’t have gone in the first place, I just knew he was pleased that I had left, and we had a good talk, just like a dad and a daughter would, like we always did.

New Zealand is a beautiful place, but its society is very permissive, and for the most part, the youth are not strong in the Gospel. We struggled to find friends who shared our values, and so to give us more choice for temple marriage and a spiritually safer society, my dad moved our family to the United States. He again gave up so much to offer us more.

Since moving here, my father’s dreams for his family have come true. Father-in-law and grandpa are among his names now. It has been during these last few years that I have truly seen some of these other roles shine in him. I have been able to talk and relate to him on an adult level, and see my dad not as an impervious hero, but as a human being just like me with faults and weaknesses, but nonetheless a character that I still look up to in so many ways.

He is a Teacher –

“Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. …

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:25, 28).

He always took opportunities to teach us things that were spiritual, but also just about how things worked, whether at Family Home Evening, during a trip in the car, he taught me how to change a tire, change the oil, we loved working on things together, he taught me a lot about computers especially as he helped me edit my school papers on MS Word.

He is an Example -

Elder Robert D. Hales said in a talk entitled, “How will our Children Remember us” how important it is that we set a good example to our children. We all know that a good example will speak louder than a good lecture. He talked about the example his father set for him of a loving husband to his mother, a worthy and active Priesthood holder, and a man of good character and morals.

As I was preparing for this talk, I remembered a journal entry I made a few years previous that recorded the great example my dad is to me,

Almost 2 months ago, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. When the nurse first told him, he said “okay, well, that’s not a big deal, we can deal with that.” She was so taken back, she though he wasn’t taking the news seriously.

But my dad is like that, he’s so practical, realistic, and firm and consistent with what his beliefs are. Last week he had surgery to remove the cancer and so far it looks good, but there’s still some tests they need to run to make sure he’s in the clear.

Tonight my dad said he thought about dying, and he’d come to terms with the fact that if it was his time to go that was fine and he wasn’t worried about it because he had a clear conscious, and if it wasn’t his time to go then, he didn’t have to worry anyway.

He talked to me about faith and that his experience of having this cancer really proved to himself that he did have faith. He felt it, and knew it. It sounded like he was glad, because he had truly learnt something. What a strength and example he is of faith to me. He bore his testimony through the pain of recovery and I found a new love for my dad. He sounded humbled but strong, firmly grounded in his testimony of faith, the Atonement and the plan of happiness. I love my dad, I’m so glad everything’s going to be okay, either way.

I feel like knowing my father, has taught me and helped me to know my Heavenly Father more.

Elder Robert D. Hales said:

“The calling of father or mother is sacred and carries with it great significance. One of the greatest privileges and responsibilities given to us is that of being a parent—helping to bring to earth a child of God and having the sacred responsibility to love, care, and guide children back to our Heavenly Father. In many ways earthly parents represent their Heavenly Father in the process of nurturing, loving, caring, and teaching children. Children naturally look to their parents to learn of the characteristics of their Heavenly Father. After they come to love, respect, and have confidence in their earthly parents, they often unknowingly develop the same feelings towards their Heavenly Father.”

Although my name has changed recently to now bear the name of my husband, I still have first two names my father gave me when he blessed me so long ago.

At times in my life, my dad has had many different names, in the Church, in the work place, and in the community. But he has always just had one name to me, and that name carries with it memories of singing silly songs in the car, of holding my hand so I didn’t get lost, of hugging me as I entered the Celestial room for the first time and telling me that I’d made it. It is a name that to me means honesty, hard work and persistence, and a loving husband and father. He has been my priesthood leader, my physical and spiritual protector, and still is my teacher, my friend and a good example to me in so many ways.

I know a name a glorious name,

Dearer than any other…

Listen I’ll wisper that name to you,

It is the name of Father…

Father so noble and brave and true

I love you, I love you,

Father so noble and brave and true,

I love you.

There’s no doubt in my mind that as one of my father’s children, no matter what, we always knew we were important to him.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sobriety Awareness Week

We dedicate this week to those who do not partake of alcohol.

Cost to Society

How many millions of dollars per year to non-drinkers pay in taxes to support emergency and health services for people who do stupid things while under the influence. 

Managers

We encourage employers who control the budget for morale events to consider those of their employees who do not drink alcohol.  How many more morale events can be scheduled for the next fiscal year if alcohol were not served at these events?  Or perhaps other treats can be served as well so that non-drinkers won’t feel excluded.

It may be that drinkers would willingly give up the alcohol at morale events in exchange for more exciting events (buy out a movie theatre or visit an amusement park).

Drinking neighbors and coworkers

Those who drink may not realize how bad alcohol smells on their breath to a non-drinker.  Drinkers, take a step back when talking to your neighbor, please.  No, you don’t have to be stone drunk to have intoxicating breath. :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

10 Things I love About Luke

He’s compassionate – Maybe it was to make up for throwing a kitchen towel at me when I woke up that morning, or maybe he was just being nice, the other day, he got up from his nap and brought me a muffin to greet me from mine.  The next day he offered Andrew one, so I think he’s starting to think about the sharing thing. 

He’s observant – he notices the smallest things, from a little bug on the sidewalk to a helicopter far away…to a piece of junk on the carpet – Okay time to vacuum!  (I’m just glad that he’s graduated from tasting those small objects to handing them off to me.)

He’s brave – NO FEAR – and sometimes it would be nice if he had just a little.  He goes on the highest slide at the playground, and when he gets to the bottom he’ll turn around and just walk on up.  He’ll balance on top of a high wall, I mean, it’s amazing we haven’t had any injuries yet.  Oh, and the next one goes with this….

He’s tough – the nurse at the pediatrician said she’d never had anyone smile after getting a shot – well, that’s Luke for you.  That kid has a high pain threshold - he didn’t get that from his mother!

He loves animals – especially the ones with tails.  Everything from the meowing, barking, chirping kind, to the ones you cuddle up with at night – some of those have tails but they are the “taggie” kind.  He just loves being followed by a cat, or dancing around with the little puppy next door – they really aren’t that different – two year olds and pets….

He likes to pretend – his favorite “friend” is a soft toy of Eeyore.  He’ll make Eeyore fold arms for prayers, he shares his potty treats with him – and he’ll wait a while before discretely eating them for him – and sometimes he even joins in ring-a-round-the rosie or helps Luke build a tower.

He’s polite – He’s figured out that mom has a harder time declining his requests if he asks nicely, and he is very good at saying thank you…next goal:teaching him that it’s best to not fill your mouth to maximum capacity :)

He’s a great eater – I know that if Luke is not too interested in what I made for dinner, I can always default to tomatoes, frozen peas or green beans, or fruit.  He even likes raw broccoli!

He such a boy! So although he’s not big on meat and potatoes (see previous trait) he loves anything with wheels and/or an engine.  He' gets so sad if I go out in the car and we pass by the freeway onramp, because it means he won’t see any big rigs, or buses.  He absolutely LOVES dirt, oh, and girls.  We were at a concert a while back and in the silence of the audience he calls out “GIRL!” when he noticed the orchestra consisting of several young girls.  Everywhere we go, we hear, “bus!” “truck!” or “girl!”

He loves books – He just started saying “book” and “read.”  Several times a day I’ll sit down and read to him.  He gets really excited when he can fill in the words he knows to a story he’s heard many times before.  In fact, to get him to stay on the potty when we were training I would read him book after book after book – he’ll still reach for the Reader’s Digest sometimes when he thinks he’s going to be a while in the “little room.”

I wanted to write this post because lately Luke has been very good, but also very good at being two.  I have moments when I have so much more respect for anyone who has done battle with the will of a two year old.  They are such little people with such big wills, but also big hearts.  As I wrote this list it helped me recall all the reasons why I just love that kid, and you know, no matter how many tantrums he has or how many times I have to say no – I ALWAYS will.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I’m Proud to be an American

It has been my observation that it is only those who are very patriotic that feel that their country has lost its appeal to outsiders before it really has.  Yes America (as we know and love it) is in decline and the things that we hold dear and sacred as its citizens are becoming threatened.  However, there is much of the outside world that is yet to achieve those freedoms and the amazing opportunities that are available here.  America is still worth "running" for, just ask all those guys down south who daily risk their lives to cross the border... 

When I stood and said the pledge of allegiance at my citizenship ceremony there was something inside of me that wept for joy.  I was so "proud to be an American".  It seemed strange to me to sense that not everyone in that room or in this country shared my feelings of patriotism.  Heck, I'm not even sure if our President feels privileged to put his hand over his heart in gratitude to our Founders.   I sat there and cried as Lee Greenwood sang the familiar tune that became a regular radio favorite after that infamous day in September.  It's a shame that it takes an awful event to remind us that we're proud to be American and of our duty to uphold it's ideals.  And yet, in classrooms across the country that pledge is now absent from the schedule. 

One of the main reasons why I am determined to home school is because I want our children to be patriotic. (Even though at this time, with a two year old asserting his power at every opportune moment, I wonder at the sanity of that decision :))  I want them to say the pledge of allegiance, I want them to study the values upon which this country was founded and the lives and morals of the founding fathers.  To know that these men feared God and desired not only to be free themselves, but to make that gift available to all.  They fought for, lived, and died, for the freedom that is the backbone of this country. 

Sadly, I think that modern America has gradually come to misunderstand freedom as the "freedom" to do as you please without regard for others rights and without an acknowledgement of consequences.  We take on debts we can't pay and want a bail out as soon as reality threatens our greed.  We take the lives of innocent children in the name of "freedom of choice" and we teach our children that as long as you are expressing yourself anything goes.  But freedom is not that superficial.  It is rooted in discipline, accountability, and the obedience to and fear of God. 

"America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great" (commonly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville).  I want to assure you that from a former foreigner's point of view there is still so much good about it.  But it is up to us, those who want to uphold the principles of it's founding, to teach the next generation what makes it good.  I am confident that even if we see democracy crumble and this nation fall in our lifetimes, the spirit of America, that spirit of freedom, liberty, and justice will stay alive in the hearts of children whose parents were true patriots and taught their children well.  It is up to us as individuals, parents, and families to uphold those values and freedoms and keep America free.

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"A person is a person, no matter how small..."

This week (hopefully) we will welcome to our family a little girl.  We don't know what she looks like yet, how much she weighs (hopefully not as much as her brother did...ouch!), or what she will accomplish in her life.  However, we do know one thing for sure...she is a daughter of God and has something to offer this world no one else can.  Even though we don't yet know her, we love her, and are so happy she will be joining us.  

I only hope we can teach her that same love for life.  In this world, so many people are confused about who they are and how to treat others, what is right, and what is wrong.  Society's values are really messed up, and will only get worse unless we make a stand in our communities, schools, and families.  Wise words come to mind when I think about having a daughter "when you save a girl, you save a generation."  

This world is a wonderful place, but it's also a tough one, can you blame her for staying inside as long as she possibly can?  Even though this pregnancy has been hard on my body, I am grateful that I can have a child.  It is a priviledge and an honor to help give someone life.  There are too many people in the world who do not see it as such, and yet so many others who long for the opportunity to have a child and cannot.  I found this video in my email and felt like it hit the nail on the head.  Everyone should watch this, and think about how they can make a difference....

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Freedom of Choice Act kills people!

I'm writing to let you know about a terrible piece of legislation called "The Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA).

FOCA would establish the right to abortion as a fundamental right (like the right to free speech) and wipe away every restriction on abortion nationwide.

It will eradicate state and federal abortion laws that the majority of Americans support and prevent states from enacting similar protective measures in the future.

Please read the expert analysis by Americans United for Life (AUL) and sign the Fight FOCA petition at:
http://www.FightFOCA.com

Thank you!