When faced with life's challenges,
it is Important to Remember
that although Daniel was saved from the lions,
he was not saved from the Lion's Den.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blog Hop

Today I wanted to do something a little different.  I found this on one of the blogs I follow and thought it would be fun.  I am linking up with other Bloggers today.  Hope you have fun reading from everyone!

A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS.

When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the
exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list.
The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog
to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Mud Puddle

Once upon a time...
There was a mailman who was delivering her route and minding her own business.  She was late and trying to catch up and get back on track.  As she hurried down the street just a little bit faster than she should have.  She was walking along and sorting her mail when.....her foot hit and empty space and she stumbled and fell right into a very large mud puddle.  There she sat, covered with mud from head to toe.  How embarrassing!  She even had to use someone's garden hose to spray some of the mud off of herself so that she could complete her appointed rounds.
Going through life is a lot like walking on a mail route.  They both have their "ups and downs".  Sometimes we can get so caught up in the actual business of living life that we land ourselves in a spiritual "mud puddle".  We become so intent on gaining the things of the world, that we allow our spirits to go into a real downhill slide.  It takes real work and effort to get out of the puddles that we have gotten ourselves into.  I would venture to say that it can be much harder getting out than it was going in.
Still, we can't choose the things that have happened to us before this point in our lives, but we can choose who we become from this moment on.  We can't choose the fact that we are currently in a puddle, but we can choose whether or not we stay there.  We can't choose how our story began, but we have the choice to choose how it ends.
So, no matter where you find yourself, no matter how muddy the trail, you get to choose whether or not you stay there.

Joshua 24:14-15
14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

"One life and one alone we have to live upon the earth.
One life in which to learn so much---to seek and find and prove our worth.
So many dreams there are to dream...so many things to know and do.
So many rosy peaks to climb, so many pathways to pursue.
So waste no time on fruitless quests that get you nowhere in the end.
The good of time is yours to squander or with care to use and spend.
It is folly to postpone good deeds. Tomorrow never comes they say
The future times belong to God, your only chance is now....Today!"


Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Long Road Home

My used to be new and now fixed up bike

The beautiful bike trail that goes all the way through town!
Oh yeah, there are way too many hills!

This morning, thanks to the influence and support of a good friend, I went for a bike ride.  The roads are hilly, the trail is long, and I was out of breath before I ever finished (or even got halfway on) the ride.  However, I kept going.  Probably, a lot slower than I would have liked, still I made it all the way to Bison Ranch and home again.
 Here I have been feeling like a wimp all day!  I thought that I had traveled nearly 5 miles.  I could not believe that a 5 mile bike ride could turn my legs that rubbery!  Tonight when I got home, I took the car out and checked the miles on the trail.  It was 7.5 miles total.  And that does not take into account the up and down on the hills!  I am feeling so excited!  I actually got on my bike and rode 7.5 miles.  My bum is a little (OK, a lot) sore, but I really did it.
This is the half way point!

Here is the important part.  You see, I did not do it alone.  I have started exercising with a friend and she is my sole cheering section on our exercising jaunts.  She knocks on my door at 6:00AM, than sets the pace while we walk on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Today, I finally felt like I was making enough improvement to try the ride.  So, from now on, we will be bike riding on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  I am really serious about this.  I have lost 17 lbs in the past 5 weeks.  I really want to succeed.  For the first time in a very long time, it matters to me.

Living the gospel is a lot like my diet and exercise program.  The road back to our Heavenly Father is a long one!  There are times when we all struggle with living the Gospel.  There are times when we feel like total failures.  When we compare ourselves to others who are all doing better than we are.  That is the time that we need a cheering section.  The advantage of Wards or Churches is that we never need to struggle alone.  If we are having difficulties, we can ask for help and support.  When others are helping us study, or pray, or learn, most of us do just a little bit better.  There are so many programs in the church that are there to help strengthen and guide us.  What is Sunday School for?  What is Relief Society for?  You might be surprised about how many sisters there are with the same struggles as you.
So today, go cheer someone else on in their struggle to be better!  You might just find that the blessings are coming right back to you!   I have found that the journey is easier with a friend.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Rock

Today, you can find me posting over at Mormon Mommy Blogs
I hope that you enjoy my post.  It is a new one and I have not put it on my blog.
Since I already posted once, I thought that I would keep things simple.  This is my all time favorite song.  I especially love this arrangement.   May your day today, be filled with peace.

Today, I want to challenge you to turn always to your Heavenly Father for peace.  He is the only one who can really comfort your heart.  He is the one who can help you to be strong.  He is the one who will lead us home.

The Rock
by Patricia A Pitterle

I stood upon the rock
looking out to sea. 
The waves swirled
and tossed around my feet
pounding mercilessly against
the worn smoothness.
And though, at times,
the water completely covered
the surface of the stone,
when it receded
the rock remained 
firmly embedded in the earth. 

Let me be like this rock
worn smooth through the wind 
and waters of time.
that even when
trials and tribulations pound against me
I will be able to stand firm
in my testimony.
And though, oft times
the afflictions of the world
seem to cover me
will I be firmly embedded
in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And I will gain strength
from Thy spirit.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Trust in His Hand

In the eyes and hearts of so many today, there is an attitude of doubt and fear and hopelessness.  Much of the insecurity of the world has come into our homes, our lives and even our hearts.  Having so many children in my life has taught me many lessons, but the simple lesson of trust is one of the greatest things I have ever learned.
A young child will be quick to take his father or mother's hand when they are afraid.  Children instictively come back to their parents for comfort and security.  They are willing to try new things and they trust that their parents will be their to catch them if they fall.  They like to know that they are safe and protected and loved. 
Watch a little child who is first learning how to walk.  They start by holding on to the hands of their parents.  Then they use the furniture and the walls to get their balance.  Then, finally, they step away.  They are eager to experience new things and places, but they will wonder back and take the hand of the parents just to make sure that mom or dad is still there watching and waiting. 
In a like manner, the Savior has stretched forth His hand to each of us so that we do not have to journey alone.  To those of us who stumble, He is there to steady and strengthen.  But we have to reach out and take His hand.  It is there waiting, but we must do the reaching. 
Heavenly Father wants us to become as little children.  They are so full of trust and love.  They trust us (their parents) to be there for them.  That is what He wants us to learn.  That trust.  The part that says "no matter that I can't see the end of the road, I will trust You to be there for me".  He needs us to be able to say "Nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt!"  And then trust that His way is the right way for us.  The great plan of happiness includes challenging times as well as joyful ones. 
We cannot see the eternities.  We can not see what happened before or what is to happen after.  We can only see during the time that we are here.  We must take the rest on faith.  We must trust that all things will be just as He promised us they would be. 

Elder Scott has counseled: “Trust in God no matter how challenging the circumstance. Your peace of mind, your assurance of answers to vexing problems, your ultimate joy depend upon your trust in Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ” (“The Sustaining Power of Faith in Times of Uncertainty and Testing,” Ensign, May 2003, 78).

Isiah 41:13  For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The no good, horrible, very bad, awful, wish I could have slept through it, day

Oh my, where to start.
I woke up, got dressed, couldn't find my shoes, so I had to wear the ones that cause blisters on my toes.
I went walking three miles with two dogs and a friend.  Of course, it would not have been a walk without being barked at and chased by other dogs.
I missed breakfast.
I went to work, where I never got to work a single piece of mail because I was so busy on the window.
I had a customer who yelled at me because I was not fast enough.
I had a customer who yelled at me because I did not have free packing tape for his parcel.  (We sell it, people).
I stood on my feet for six hours with no break.
I had a customer yell at me because his package was not at my Office.
(I know, I am supposed to be psychic and tell him exactly where I have hidden it).
I missed lunch.
I had to plow through four grievances and write up all the entries into the Labor system so that I could close them out.  (This sounds easy, but is actually tedious and time consuming).
I came home and yelled at the kids because they were playing video games.
My husband did not get the bike fixed for my exercise tomorrow.  (Of course, I forgot to leave him a note reminding him not to forget to fix the bike).
I snarled at my husband.
I missed dinner.
Finally, arriving home, I ate meatloaf (this is on my diet), vegetables (also on the diet) and a banana (cheating).
I am craving anything sweet right now and not even sure if I can manage to say "no" to the chocolate ice cream that is calling my name, no screaming my name loudly through the noise on the television and right over the key board on the computer.  I NEED CHOCOLATE!  With REAL sugar and calories!
DIET is a four letter word!
I have a headache.

I actually can't figure out why the day seems so bad to me.   I don't know why I feel so discouraged.  Does sneaking a banana make you feel bad?  Nothing really serious happened.  My children are well, I was able to go and visit a couple of sick friends who have been in the hospital.  I got my assignments done for the day.  I only had to work until 6:00pm (this is only 1.5 hours longer than I should be working).  I got to go home teaching and was able to really feel the spirit.
Still, here I am gripey and out of sorts and cranky.  

We all have days like this.  The washer brakes, the car needs service, the dog piddles on the floor.   These things happen to all of us from time to time.  Sometimes, I just need to take a deep breath and remember that my Heavenly Father loves me.  He is mindful of me.  He is watching over me.  And than I remember that "this too shall pass away".  And I smile because I know that even diets don't last forever!

In Alma’s day “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it … had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5).

Boyd K. Packer has said, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.
Find happiness in ordinary things, and keep your sense of humor.
Life will not be free from challenges, some of them bitter and hard to bear. We may wish to be spared all the trials of life, but that would be contrary to the great plan of happiness, “for it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Ne. 2:11). This testing is the source of our strength". 
(Liahona, May 2004,  Do Not Fear)

You never see bad days in a photo album, but it is those days that get us from one happy snapshot to the next.  Today is not a snapshot day!

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Today is a wonderful day full of love a laughter.  It is a day to remember how much we appreciate and love our father's, grandfather's and husband's.  To those of you whose father has passed on before, this is a day to feel gratitude for his love and influence in your life.  A day to cherish the memories and relive the sacred, comforting moments of when you were together.  Remember that families are forever.  That there really is an eternal plan and that you are loved.  Please take a moment to remember the men who have had a positive influence in your life.  Whether they are uncles, step-parents, or a close family friend.   We have each had our hearts touched by wonderful men who uplifted, counseled with us and taught us.  Happy Fathers Day to all those who are fathers and have acted as fathers in our lives!

Friday, June 18, 2010


by Patricia A. Pitterle

My book room is filled with books.
Many are old and well worn,
Friends that I have enjoyed throughout my childhood.
Testifying of hands which pick them up
To be read again, and again.

Some are more recently read
And their pages have been creased
Only once or twice.
Still others,
Are used simply as points of interest

And there are yet a few
Whose covers still creak when they are opened
For they, haven't been used at all.
Their lessons and enjoyments
Are still hidden from my view.

People are like my book room.
The books within represent the talents within themselves.
Some are old and well worn
Testifying of much use that has brought joy
into the lives of others.

Some are more recently developed
And have only been used
A few times.
We have not yet discovered the confidence
In our own abilities to use them.

Others are used simply as points of interest,
Few and far between, their depths are still, as yet, unexplored.
Still others have never been used at all.
The benefits and knowledge contained within
Are still hidden from our view.

Each of us is like a book room.
With talents developed
Used, unexplored, And hidden.
It is up to each of us to discover
Those gifts within.

I wrote this many years ago.  I was learning that there was much more to me than I ever thought possible.  Sometimes, it is easy to look at others, see their many talents, and wish that we were just like them.  But Heavenly Father is much wiser than that.  He has given each of us the talents we need to return to Him.  Instead of focusing our attention on the things we don't have, perhaps we should turn our hearts toward discovering what we have been given and finding ways to use it to help others in our lives.  So, take a good look at yourself and discover the talents that He has given you!  What really makes you shine?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Fix It Myself!

I was visiting my son's house not very long ago and enjoying being around all the grandchildren that reside there. (DJ and his wife, Amy, have four children 4 and under).  We were upstairs in their TV room and Jake was pushed into the bookcase by his brother.  It really was an accident.  Both the boys have soft hearts and never like to see each other hurt.  Nevertheless, Cole pushed Jake and Jake hit the bookcase and split his head open.  
I am not sure why I seem to be around when catastrophes happen, but there I was, sitting on the couch and there was Jake, bleeding all down his face and onto his clothes.  
We had the opportunity of playing "catch that boy" as he ran around the room screaming at us, "I fix it myself, I fix it myself!  Don't touch me, I fix it myself!"  
After a lengthy struggle, we finally caught the very wiggly boy and tried to fix his head.  The cut was about an inch long.  That isn't too bad and as much as he was fighting with us, no one wanted to see how he would do in the Emergency room.  I tried a butterfly bandage (there is some benefit to having your grandma be an EMT with a kit bag).  He only ripped that off in less than two (count them) minutes!  So, we tried a regular bandage, and we even tried super glue.  No matter what we did, he had it ripped off and picked out of his head within a few minutes.  
Finally, we just gave in and let him "fix it myself!"  We put vitamin E on it to minimize the scarring and a good antibiotic ointment after he was asleep.  We also tried another butterfly bandage, but alas, he had that off before he got out of bed in the morning.  He curled up on the couch with me an we both slept the night away. (Well, he slept, I was watching him for any signs of concussion).  
After all was said and done, he was just fine, slightly scarred, but otherwise good as new.  

Sometimes, life is a lot like this experience with my grandson Jake.  Things happen to us and instead of turning toward our Father in Heaven, we decide that we are going to 'fix it' ourselves.  Do we get through it?  Most of the time we do, but was that the only way or even the best way to get through the trial?  If Jake would have been calm, we really could have minimized the trauma.  We could have bandaged his wound and comforted his heart.  We could have helped him to heal.  But he was not willing to let us help him. 
So is life.  Trials and hurts come to each of us.  It is part of the experience.  I have found that I have a choice in how difficult I make it.  There have been times when I turned away from the comfort of my Father.  Times when I was insecure, or stubborn, or even angry with Him for allowing whatever my current trial was, to happen to me.   Yet, when I humble myself and turn to Him, I am never left alone.  He comforts the hurt and the pain, and somehow, makes me whole.  

Are there areas of your own life where you are acting just a little bit like my 3-year-old grandson, Jake?  
Are there things that you should be turning over to your Father in Heaven?  
Are there struggles that would be more bearable with Him by your side?
Are you allowing Him to comfort your heart and heal your wounds?  
Or are you set on fixing it all yourself?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Blister

Today, I started walking.  Not that I don't walk every once in a while, but today, I actually took an hour out of my busy morning, (sleep is busy, right???) and walked for an hour.  I KNOW is was uphill both ways!  But, in a strange way, it felt really good to get up out of bed and do something for myself.  In my quest to lose weight and be more healthy, walking just seemed like a natural progression. 
I took Yoda on his leash and we started out on the dirt roads of my country home.  We had to brave the big dogs, (why or why don't some people believe in leashes) and hike through treachorous terrain (ok, so it was only goat thorns and thistles) and run I mean walk, circles around the competition (Ok, so she would have left me in the dust, but what is the fun in admitting that I am sadly, pantingly out of shape).  It was still a wonderful walk. 
I had the opportunity to walk the dog, visit with a friend (when I wasn't having a heart attack from being out of breath) and I actually spent some much needed time on myself.  Now, my next endeavor is to fix the bicycle so that I can ride every other day on a five mile route.  I think that I am CRAZY!  If you don't believe me, just ask the blisters on my toes.  (Oh yeah, that one really hurts!)

I have decided that studying the gospel can be a lot like my new exercising experience.  We are supposed to read and study the scriptures daily.  It is hard work!  There are dozens of things that need and want our attention, especially when we are trying to study.  But we have been given promises that we would receive blessings if we keep this one, simple commandment. 
In my own family, I have noticed that the arguing is much less when we are reading our scriptures regularly.  The entire family is more alert and oriented to the needs of others around us.  I have noticed how gospel teaching moments tend to almost leap off the pages and teach me how to teach those I love the most.  I have noticed how answers to prayer can be found within the pages of my scriptures.  I have noticed how I always learn something that I did not know.  I have noticed how the girls thrive on the attention they get at scripture time.  How they love laying all over the couch, snuggled up against their parents and holding their very first puppy.  I have noticed how my heart fills with love for them and how that simple act carries me through the difficulties that sometimes arise with three girls during the day. 

What have you noticed when you read?  And if you haven't started yet, what is keeping you from doing this?  If you only start one thing this week, make it a daily scripture habit.  It doesn't matter if it is one chapter, or even one verse on a busy day.  As long as you are searching for Him. 

I love the words of modern revelation:
“Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.
For behold, and lo, the Lord is God, and the Spirit beareth record, and the record is true, and the truth abideth forever and ever.” (D&C 1:37–39.)

I can bear my personal testimony to this; that if you will seek Him, you will find Him.  May the Lord bless each of us to feast upon His holy word and to find the strength, understanding, and peace that He has promised. 

What are you waiting for?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jessica's Daily Affirmations

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." - Leo Buscaglia

Everyonce in a while, I think we need to remember to exercise the smallest acts of caring upon ourselves.  We are often our worst critics.  Instead, we should work a little harder on being our best cheering section.  The life we turn around, might just be our own. 
I received this in my email and loved it. Don't you wish that you could feel this way about yourself, everyday?

Sometimes, I think that the best thing we can do is just believe in ourselves. After all, we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father. Therefore, each of us is unique and absolutely amazing.

"Your aspirations are your possibilities. "

~ Samuel Johnson

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Time to Laugh

I know that having fun together can strengthen our families.  Our family is one of the most important things in our life.  It is so important that we do that which will help us develop an eternal family.  Sometimes, I get so caught up in the teaching, that I forget there is more involved that can also bring my family closer together.  I forget to teach them to laugh.  Setting aside time to play and building each other up, is an important part of developing that eternal family.  This is an area that I am constantly struggling in.  You would think that I would be amazing at it considering how many children I have been blessed with, but so much of my time has been taken up with serious things.  I find myself forgetting to have fun.
It says in Ecc. 3:1-8
  1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
  2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
  3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
  4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  5. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  6. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  7. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
So, this is my time to laugh.  This summer I put the girls in the children's theater class at the local community college.  It was a two week, whirlwind of practices, makeup, costumes, songs, and lines.  They performed their finished play on Friday afternoon and evening to a theater full of proud parents, grandparents, and friends.  Here are the pictures of our time to laugh.  The play was Walt Disneys 101 Dalmations!

Miracle was Annita (the person!)

Mikayla was a Poodle!

Anya was my little Chihuahua!  (That is her, in green, last one on the left!) 

They danced, they sang, they fought, they argued, they had a villain, and most important of all, 
they had a wonderful lot of fun!  

Oh yeah!  SISTERHOOD!  Isn't it great!

I don't always manage to do things right, but it this case, I think I succeed in a couple of weeks of amazing memories and fun. May you be just as successful this summer in bringing fun into your families.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

One Choice Away

I heard the most amazing quote today.  It said simply, 
"You are one choice away from changing the rest of your life."

Think about that for a moment.  What could you do just a little (or even a lot) differently today that would completely change your tomorrows?

Today, I found out that a friend of mine was in the hospital with heart problems.  I had so many things planned.  I have so many things that I need to do.  But I dropped all of them to go on a forty five minute drive and stop by the hospital to see my friend.  I arrived to find her in the room all by herself staring at the walls.  Her eyes filled with tears when she saw me.  I held her hand, rubbed her back, and just sat and talked with her for a couple of hours.  I listened, I talked, and I gave her hope and love.
I found out that tomorrow is going to be her 66th year wedding anniversary.  How amazing is that?  It is the one thing that I always wanted in my own life.  To get married one time and be married forever.  To spend my life with one man who loved me and needed me.  I had to give up on that dream, but I can rejoice in my friend's fulfilling of it.  We can all rejoice in the joy that is felt by each one of our sisters.
There are so many good things that need doing.  If we could each just manage to do one thing for someone else, we really could change the world for another.  Today, my sister needed a friend.  She was alone and lonely.  She needed someone to take a little while out of their busy day and spend some time with her.
So today, I have thought a lot about the quote above.  As I visited my friend, I realized what it was that I would really love to change in my world.  Life is so short.  No matter how long it lasts, there are still more things to do and more changes to make.  So, if I could make one choice that would change the rest of my life, I would choose forgiveness.  I would willingly forgive those who have hurt me, left me, misunderstood me, offended me, or blamed me.  I would forgive them and ask them to forgive me for the bad feelings that I have harbored in my heart.  I would beg my Heavenly Father to cleanse me from the sins of anger and ill will.  I would ask Him to fill my heart with peace and love.
Today, I am choosing forgiveness.  I am changing my future.

What choice are you going to make to change your life?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


When  I was a small girl living in rural Arizona, we played outside.  We built forts out of tumbleweeds, and houses out of boxes.  We played cowboys and indians, we climbed trees and we raced through the desert on our bare feet.  We played in the canals near our home and collected shells from the banks and turtles and fish from the water.  I learned very early in my life to avoid the ants.  It seems like the ants were everywhere.  They came in all sizes, from the little black ones to be big red and black carpenter ants, but the ones that we really tried to avoid were the southern (California) fire ants. 
When I was small, probably about 4 or 5 years old, my family went to Globe Arizona to visit relatives.  There were about five of us kids running around outside, when I tripped and fell into a fire ant colony.  Now, if you are lucky enough not to know what these type of ants are, I will be most unhappy to explain it to you.  They bite!  Hard! And they attack when they think you are near their nest.  Obviously, I was a little too close to their nest.  So, they attacked me.  My mom had to take the garden hose to me and scrape the ants off with a piece of plastic while I screamed and cried and sobbed from the pain. 
I don't remember too much about it except that I was miserable.  I swelled up from all the bites, and the worse part was that it made me sick.  My mom had to take me to the doctor and they had to treat me for being allergic to the ant bites.  To this day, I can not get stung by any ant without swelling up and having welts break out all over the area of the bites.  I am also allergic to bees and wasps.  I do not like any of them.  I avoid them all.  If we get ants in the house, my husband has to get rid of them.  The few times that I have tried to help, he saw the welts they cause on me and banished me from the kitchen.  He takes care of any stinging insect and we make very sure that we do everything we can to keep ants of any kind out of the house. 

I think that temptation and sin can be a little like these fire ants.  We can dance around it for years, never knowing or experiencing the danger that we are narrowly avoiding.  We might see the sin, play around it, tolerate it, but never quite partake of it.  Then the time comes when we give in and try things out that aren't good for us.  We allow temptation and sin to come in contact with us.  We allow it to touch our spirits and the good in us reacts to the poison.  We can (and often do) get spiritually sick from sin.  Think about pride, anger, humiliation, embarrassment, and even avoidance of others.  What are those things if they are not our spirits reacting to the results of sin?  Long after the time when we came in contact with it, we can still feel the effects of those choices in our lives. 

Our Heavenly Father has told us to not only avoid the sin, but to also avoid the temptation of it.  When Joseph Smith was at Carthage, he spoke of being innocent of offense toward God and man (D&C 135:4)
He didn't get that clear conscience from doing nothing or from doing his own thing.  He didn't get it from playing around with the ants of sin. 
He got it because he followed the teachings and commandments from God.  If we are also to return to our Heavenly Father with that same conscience, we must stand assertively against sin and keep it from being a part of our own lives. 

We need to strive to avoid the fire ants of sin and temptation and not allow them to come in contact with us.   We need to understand that evil is real and take precautions against it.  We need to understand that we can never partake of temptation without suffering the consequences.  Sin has a bite and sting even worse than that of the fire ants.  For the bite and sting of sin would work to keep us away from our loving Heavenly Father. 
May you realize that He truly does love you!  He has provided a way for you to return to Him. 
May you stand has His witnesses at all times and in all things and in all places. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Forty Dollar Shoes

The kids and I were out shopping (actually window shopping, but it is hard for them to know the difference).  They wanted (maybe even needed) a pair of tennis shoes, but they can also wait until school starts again unless I get them for a super buy in the meantime.  We were looking in a shoe store at the clearance racks and seeing if we could find some that were in the budget and that the girls liked.  It was a buy one get one 50% off sale, so that can be pretty good. 
Anya went roaming off into the store and came back with a pair of $40.00 shoes.  They had bling-bling all over them and were, of course, the ones she set her heart on.  I have a real problem with spending $40.00 on any shoes, (I never even spend that much on the ones I wear) let alone a pair for a nine-year-old that she will out-grow and never out-wear.  I veto-ed the shoes as ones that were too expensive, and she started to cry.  I wrapped my arms around her and told her that we can keep looking and find another pair in the $20.00 range. 
She pushed me away and yelled at me, "You spent four hundred dollars on a camera!  That is the ONLY reason that you can't buy me my shoes!  It is not fair!  You spend money on yourself, but not on me!" 
Hmmm, what do you say to a nine-year-old who says that to you?  I had my feelings hurt a little. 
First, I have waited years to buy the camera and it costs a lot more that $400.00, but there was no way in the world that I was going to tell her that! 
Second, I have learned that when kids lash out at you, it is often better to not say anything rather than try and defend yourself or pacify them. 
And third, I don't believe in giving into a child who throws a tantrum.  All in all, it was not going to be a good day for Anya!

I think that there have been times in my life when I probably behaved a lot like my normally sweet daughter.  There are things that I want and think I need and when I go to Heavenly Father in prayer, the answer can sometimes be a very resounding "NO".   I am even sure that I pout and plead for the things that I think I really want and need.  We can only see this one moment in our lives.  We don't know what went before we came here, and we can't see the time move into eternity.  Like Anya, we can't see the whole picture.  Our Heavenly Father knows all things and He can see the ones that are best for us right now and the ones that can help us become most like Him. 
One of the things that I am sure I need to learn here in this life is to trust my Heavenly Father that He will give me what I need the most.  Part of that trust means that I have to learn to listen to the "NO" as well as to the "yes", and respect the answer that I receive. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Becoming like Him

What do we need to do to become more like Him?  What changes do we need to make? 
In the Book of Mormon, we read in Alma 5:14,
"And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?"

President Ezra Taft Benson taught why it became important for Alma to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than serve as chief judge:  “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. … The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature” (in Ensign, Nov. 1985, 6).

Isn't that amazing?  The world would have us change only our environments, but Christ changes our very nature.  One of my favorite authors is Max Lucado.  He says:  "As we behold Him, we become like Him." Think about that short statement for a moment.  What does that mean to you?  To me, it means that as I admire someone, I become more like them.  When I admire how someone looks, how they cut their hair, wear their makeup, decorate their home or how they mother their children, - don't I slowly change the way I look or the clothes I wear or the things I do to reflect those things that I admire most in others? 
As I admire my Savior, don't I desire to take those attributes that I most admire and make them my own?  Isn't that what I am trying to do with my life? 
I am trying just a little bit harder to live each day just a little more like Him. 

Being in a college choir is a great example of this.  When I first started going to choir, I wasn't actually going to do more than listen and wait while Miracle sang.  The director is the one who started me singing.  The biggest difference between that choir and any other that I have sang in is simple the volume of sound that surrounds you when you are all singing together.  No one is quiet.  No one is reserved.  The sound surrounds you from all sides and makes you sing better than you ever thought you could. 
The first time I heard them, I was startled, but within a few moments, I was inspired.  As the voices swelled around me, I lifted mine.  Did I sing better?  I don't honestly know.  I would sure like to think so! 
But I also know that I couldn't hear myself within all that amazing sound.  Even though I couldn't hear myself, I know for a fact, that I tried harder.  The music that surrounded me, brought out the best in me because it surrounded me, lifted me up, and it mattered.  My heart and soul ached to be a part of something so beautiful.

It this same way, I desire to be more like Jesus.  To look like Him, to be influenced by Him, but most of all, to act like Him.  To have Him change my heart so that I am more like Him from the inside out.  To have Him surround me and to fill me with His Holy Spirit.  To have His power bring out the very best in me. 

Who knows, a few moments surrounded by His influence might just change the way I am. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Doggy Day!

So, my day today has been crazy!  Picture in your mind:  Day after the holiday, Post Office, lines out the door, angry people, pushing, shoving, yelling, and renting boxes.  Yeah, that pretty much describes the day.  No break or time off my feet for over seven hours.
I came home this afternoon and took a "power nap"  this is a half-hour moment that I can use to recharge and feel a little better.  The problem was that I fell asleep on the couch and the puppy got my glasses and used them as his new chew toy.  Sooooo, now the ear pieces are hanging off my head, I have chew marks on the lenses, and I still have to wear them tomorrow at work, because I can't read the addresses without them.
Then, (yep, it didn't end there) Miracle and I made brownies for the combined Relief Society and Young Women meeting tonight.  I hit the brakes and the pan of brownies flew onto the floor, showering both of us with nuts and frosting.
There are currently pieces of nuts all over the inside of my truck.  Luckily, the pan landed right side up, or we would have both been wearing even more of the chocolate frosting (I could think of worse things to be covered in!).  Miracle laughed and yelled out, "five second rule mom!"  I looked over at her and said, "I don't think the women in Relief Society would appreciate that rule".  She looked back at me, and with a smile on her face, she said:  "Mom, it is chocolate!  They are going to love it!  It doesn't matter that it doesn't look pretty!"  Well, relief society is over and the pan is completely empty, so maybe that wonderful young woman has it just a little bit right!
Move over diet!  Tonight, I need a little chocolate!  (and maybe a couple of Excedrine!)

Oh, sure, he looks cute here!  He is really a monster with teeth!  
But don't worry, I am sure that I will forgive him, after my new glasses are paid for!

So today, remember that everyone is overwhelmed every once in awhile.  Everyone has a hard day now and then.  Occasionally, life throws each of us a curve ball that we can't seem to hit, or even chews up our glasses so that we can't see.  No matter how much we are striving for perfection (or perhaps because we are striving), each one of us walks  through thistles and thorns during our earthly existence.  
Those things don't define us, but we are defined by how we go through many of those seemingly small things.  We get to decide how we are going to react to the hard times in life.  Sometimes, they can be really hard, and sometimes they can just be difficult.  But, we still decide how we are going to handle it and what we are going to do to get through it.  We can lash out at others, or we can learn to laugh a little bit at ourselves.  
Sometimes, we just have to have a day like this one and eat a little chocolate and remember one of my very favorite quotes:  "The bible often says, It came to pass.  It never says, it came to stay".