Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lead Kindly Light

I love Sunday and I love going to church. Like most people, there might be mornings I feel like sleeping in on Sunday morning, but for the most part I really look forward to the Sabbath.

This Sunday was the reason I enjoy church. Sacrament meeting was so good. I think it is really important to have spiritual sacrament meetings because that is often where investigators or less actives come to dip their proverbial toe in the water. It was a High Council Sunday and we got to hear from a woman in our ward as well as a HC guy from Bayfield.

It was really great for me. Sis Ash talked about Charity and told a story about a couple talking at breakfast. Each morning the wife would look out her window at her neighbor's laundry hanging on the line. She would always comment on her poor cleaning skills and note how dirty the sheets still were. The husband always just listened. One morning, as she looked out the window, she told her husband in a surprised voice that it looked like her neighbor must have finally learned how to properly wash as the sheets were actually clean this morning. The husband then told his wife that he had gotten up very early this morning, and cleaned their windows. She talked about how we all need to be more loving and give one another the benefit of the doubt.

Then the High Councilman spoke and talked about obedience and accepting callings. He read a statement that a Calling is not just an Invitation. He talked about how important it is to always accept a calling when it comes. So true, so good.

I really felt the Spirit in the meeting and I was so grateful I went! I have really let a lot of stresses get the best of me lately and i needed to get grounded again and remember what matters. I felt spiritually fed and uplifted.

We went to sing the closing song and it was the Hymn, 'Lead Kindly Light.' It is one that we don't sing very often, but I liked that we were singing it because it has an interesting Alto part. I have to admit that I don't have the words memorized as I do to many hymns, and frankly I didn't even know what the song was about exactly. Until this Sunday.

Lead, Kindly Light


31243, Hymns, Lead, Kindly Light, no. 97

1. Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

2. I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

There is one more verst, but the first two were important to me and by the third I was too choked up to sing anyway.

Today this hymn was for me. In my life I always, as the second verse says, loved to choose and see my path. But one step, right now, needs to be enough for me.

I don't know why exactly the words hit me so powerfully today, but they did. I felt the truth of those words and I know that when I have been prideful, I am less likely to let the Lord lead me one step at a time.

This is a lesson that I seem to need to be reminded of because at different times in my life, I have been able to go one day at a time. I remember when I went to BYU, I decided to go there kind of last minute because it just felt right. I got to Provo a few days before class started and my brother let me stay at his house. I didn't have a job, but I heard about a resturant and knew that was where I would work. I went in and applied for the job and was hired (it was the only place I applied). A few days later, classes started and i still didn't have a place to live. But I wasn't worried about it because I had an idea that I would just buy someone else's contract cheap when they went home early (I had done this at Rick's College before). I was at my brand new job and was talking to another girl. She told me where she was living (Liberty Square) and i told her that is the complex I was going to live in, but I didn't have a contract or room yet. She told me her roommate just decided to move back home and wanted to sell her contract. Bingo! And it was perfect! Perfect roommates, perfect ward, perfect everything! And it all just came together, like I knew it would.

So I know that it can be done. I can let Light Kindly Lead me. I just forget sometimes.

I am so grateful for church!! It puts us in a place where the Spirit can whisper to us the things we need to know. And right now I could use some good tips! :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Splitting Up

I have been a parent now for over 14 years. It started out with 1 kid, then another, and another, and another, and (yes, I'm almost done typing 'another') another.


5 kids. Just like that.

All different. All individuals.

And all wanting to do something fun!

Alas, I am only 1. And I can only be one place at a time.

For the majority of my parenting life, when I went places, I just took all of my kids along. We were quite a mob. In fact, this phenomenon of traveling in a pack is where my blog name originated. Well, actually, it was named after our email address which begins 'bigGtribe'. So ya, My Big G Life is about our Big G Tribe. But I digress. Back to my mob mentality parenting style.

When one of the kids needed to be somewhere, we all pretty much came along. By the time our youngest Jebb was born, Gabe, our oldest, was only 9. This was still too young for me to leave him to babysit without worrying about social services harassing me. So... we needed groceries, everyone loaded up and hung off the Walmart cart while I stocked up. If I had a kid in an activity like sports or swim lessons, or even a doctor's appointment, we all got to ride along and either participate, cheer, or endure. All of us. Together. You get the idea. And let's be honest, because of this fact, we didn't get out much.

So now, as seems to be the trend in my life lately, there is a shift. A change. I now have kids that can tend younger siblings while I run one of the BigG Tribe somewhere. I can even send a child to an activity without me being there at all. I still have 5 kids with different interests but I no longer have to keep them all within my view at all times.

And it's kinda weird. But good. By splitting up, everyone is obviously much more likely to be able to pursue their own interest.

And so they are.

This was another Saturday when our gang was going in many different directions. While I wasn't there with them, I did send cameras.

Gabe had the opportunity to attend a snowmobile clinic. Without me. In fact, he rode up to the clinic with people he had never met (it was our accountant and her husband). Gabe was a little unsure of that idea, but the lure of the snowy mountains pushed him out the door. He actually took 2 pictures of himself (maybe me telling him that this would be his last snowmobile trip EVER if he didn't get pictures pursueded him). Our accountant said that she got some pictures and would email them, but until then:

Elise was invited to go skiing with her friend from school again this Saturday. Last time she went, she only took pictures of their dog. I told her I needed some shots of humans, preferably of her. She came through for me. Although there are not slope side pics, there are these lovely shots of their drive up to the mountain. She did take another picture of the dog as well.

Jackson had a basketball game in the middle of the afternoon and Seth actually opted to go to that. Seth spent the morning working with Jackson on dribbling and shooting (which I thought was very cool), and he wanted to go cheer for J's newly enhanced skills. Jebb (how I love that kid) of course wants to go where I go on the weekends. :) We enjoyed cheering for Jackson and Seth agreed that he seemed to have improved a lot from last week.

With half of the day still left, John and I decided to head to Farmington and hit Sam's Club. Seth and the little guys stayed home and visited Grandma Kristine. Not very exciting information for a blog post, but I mention it to illustrate the point that the bigG Tribe was far flung from one another.

While I am really glad that all of our kids are getting to the age when they can spread their wings, I still haven't made the complete mental shift to embrace our new apart-ness. I kinda miss us traveling as a mob. Everyone reported that they had a terrific day. Gabe said that learning to snowmobile from a professional was 'the best day of his life.' John and I continued our coupledom and drove up together to pick Elise up from DMR. We had a hard time getting her to come home as she too was having a really fun time... without us. The other kids reported that their day was terrific as well... even with us gone.

So our lives continue to change and the BigGTribe continues to grow. And while I miss moving as a mass, I think it's a good thing.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Seth is 13!

Another teenager in the house! Wow! Today is Seth's 13th birthday and he had a busy one. Seth is on the 'A' team for middle school basketball and today was the big rivalry game against the only other middle school in town. He has worked really hard this year and is very glad to have made A Team. They let all of the students out to watch it and Seth was very nervous/excited for the game. It turned out to be a very close game and because he is only a 7th grader, he didn't play a ton. But when he did, he hustled! Here he (#4) is passing the ball to big bro Gabe(#13).

Several girls at the school made posters to cheer on the players. After the game, two cute, giggling girls brought this over to Seth to keep.

After the game, we met up with Grandma and Hank for dinner. The Birthday Boy picked Denny's. :)

We had a really great dinner and then it was time to head home. The day flew by and we didn't open presents or have cake. Seth has decided to go on a ski trip with John for his birthday which makes it really easy for me, but fairly anti-climactic for all of us partiers.

I am so grateful for Seth. He is growing into a great young man. He has made a lot of good choices that have been sometimes hard regarding friends and social stuff. Seth is a very loyal person and is a true friend. He takes his church and priesthood responsibilities very serious. He always looks out for his younger brothers and I am proud of the young man he is becoming! Happy Birthday Seth!

Monday, January 24, 2011

High School On the Horizon

Tonight we took Gabe to the high school orientation for next year's Freshman. Gabe is going to be in HIGH SCHOOL next year!!! I am a little freaked out. ;) Gabe is now taller than me and laughs at me and pats my head. Punk. Of course, he does this in a nice way, but I still think it is weird sometimes that I have a kid that old (until I look at my gray roots, then it is much more believable). I also must say that it is a good thing I am in Young Women's right now or we would have missed this night. A few of the YW were participating in it and mentioned it yesterday at church. I told them to text me the times for it since Gabe hadn't told me about it. By the way, while I still shun phones for the most part, I do enjoy texting now and then. ;)

Walking around the HS, I recalled my own HS days and how lost I always was! Why do I have no sense of direction--and that is not just something that came on in old age--I have never had it!! Luckily I don't have to navigate halls at DHS. It was fun to see Gabe chatting it up with his friends. I think he is a pretty good kid so far...! I think he will do just fine in HS. I still have several more months to get used to the idea that I have a kid that old!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Young Helen Keller

Tonight when we were eating dinner, I looked over at Jebb and noticed he was picking up his cheesy rice with his fingers. I pointed it out and encouraged him to use a fork. Jackson, between bites, said, "Jebb is eating like the young Helen Keller. She would walk around and eat with her fingers off of other people's plates."

"That's right Jackson. How did you learn about Helen Keller?"

"I have no clue." Chew. Chew. "Although I did read a book about her."

I never have a clue what goes on in Jackson's little brain but I like it when info squeaks out.

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.

---Helen Keller

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Weekend

This weekend the BigG Tribe was going in a lot of different directions. On Friday night, John took Gabe and Seth up to the annual Boy Scout winter campout known as The Klondike. Jackson and Jebb spent the night with Grandma, which left Elise and I to fend for ourselves. I think we did alright as we managed to get pedicures and eat fajitas together at our favorite Mexican resturant.

Saturday morning, John had returned and we got Elise to a Destination Imagination workshop in the morning. While I have traditionally been a hater of DI, I think Elise will have a good experience this year with her new school and new team-or at least I am telling myself that. ;)

With the three big kids gone, and J&J still at Grandma's our house was eerily quiet. I have been super sentimental lately about he little guys. I love having lots of kids and I really love having little ones. They are noisy especially in the morning, but I love their little footsteps. I love that they do everything with gusto and enthusiasm. When they returned mid-morning from Grandma's, they burst in the door with a hearty "We're HOME!!"

Earlier in the week I was sick in bed and J&J got out of the shower and brought me the camera so I could take their picture. Here they are.

They were laughing together the whole time. They are best friends and I hope they remember that as they grow older. I tell Gabe and Seth all the time that they used to be just like J&J when they were young, as they have had a tough time getting along lately.

They did antler's behind each other, only Jebb wasn't quite tall enough for it to work on Jackson.

So ya, loving this age and loving that these two have each other. Moving on.

In the afternoon we took Jackson to his first Rec-league basketball game. I think he enjoyed it although just like my other boys at this age, he seemed a bit distracted. He was pretty attentive the first half, but had a tough time remaining engaged as the game wore on. At this age, the coach is actually out on the floor with them helping them remember the rules. I will have to remember to thank his coach profusely as it seemed exhausting herding all of those 1st and 2nd graders up and down the court. Jackson gets in inbound pass and turns to take the ball down
John tries some friendly encouragement and I curse my camera
Jackson's twin from our ward was on the opposite team.

Tonight we went to a surprise party for our friend Toni. Her husband put it together and while she seemed pleasantly surprised I couldn't help but think that I would really, really NOT want my husband to do that for my birthday. Especially my next one, when I turn 40 and he might be tempted to do something crazy. I prefer travel. Anywhere would be fine. Foreign would be especially nice.

Deep breathe and lots of showers and ironing, and we will be off to church in the morning. With each of us going in different directions, I am so grateful for church as it grounds us all for the week ahead!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Braces Off!

Today Gabe got his braces off! Jebb and I took him there this afternoon (Jebb is home sorta sick). I warned Gabe that I planned on taking pictures, but that didn't make him any more excited about it! Going in...

They write the names of all the kids who are getting their braces off that day on the door! Yeah Gabe! He later told me he didn't notice it until we were leaving! :)

After taking off his braces, they took molds of his new smile. This took some time and Jebb was lacking patience. Luckily, the girl doing the molds was terrific and she had Jebb do a mold of his hand while he waited. He liked the green gloves too.

As we left the office, I made Gabe take one more picture with his new pearly whites. He kinda squinted in the sun, and you really can't see his teeth... darn it!

Luckily, John met us for lunch and I made Gabe be in one more shot! You can see here how nice his teeth look! He has had braces on since 5th grade apparently! Wow! I think he looks great and he says that his teeth feel slimy! :) Congratulations Gabe!

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day 2011

To honor the late Martin Luther King, we get a day off of school. After getting the house nice and clean (I am SUCH a drag!) the family kinda split up. Elise went to her friend Afton's house, the little guys stayed home with me (I am sick), and John took Gabe and Seth snowmobiling. Since I couldn't come, I sent along my friend the camera with strict instructions to take some shots!

It looks like they had a good time. Knowing how they ride, it is probably good the pictures 'don't do it justice!' I might be freaked out. :) I am glad everyone managed to have a little fun this weekend.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Elise Goes Skiing

Elise has been at a new school this year and while it has been a really great thing, it has been challenging on some days. Elise is a friendly person and has met several really great new friends. There is a good group of kids in her grade and there seems to be several really nice girls. Today she went skiing with her friend Jenna up at DMR. She was pretty nervous because she has only ever been skiing with our family or the Mann clan. She got picked up in the morning by Jenna's fam (Jenna is an only child so she was excited to have E come along) and I sent a camera with her. I asked her to take lots of pics so I could see what she did.

When she got home tonight, I looked at the camera and there was a picture of Jenna's dog. And that's it. So I am not going to post any pictures of a strange dog in the snow, but I will say that Elise had a great time. Apparently their family has a condo on the mountain which is next door to the condo of another girl in their 5th grade class. So the girls all had a great time. This was Elise's first time skiing this season and she said that she was pretty timid her first couple of runs before finally warming up. I am so glad she went even though she was nervous. I think it is good for her to work through those kinds of feelings. She is growing up really fast and I need to remember to enjoy our time together because I think it won't be long before she will want to be out on her own every weekend! :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Should I Be Concerned

This afternoon I had the opportunity to speak about the 9/12-Tea Party movement here in Durango. Wendy (the Bayfield leader) and I were asked to come and talk at Leadership La Plata. I had never heard of the group, but it is apparently an organization that takes applications from community members, then puts those accepted through a multi month program to teach them about the inner workings of our County. It is coupled with leadership skill training, hopefully turning out future community volunteers and leaders. Sounds nice. Wendy and I both agreed to talk and take questions for an hour and I was looking forward to sharing with a group that was at the very least intellectually curious.

This last Tuesday, we had a Tea Party meeting and the gal that had invited us was there to meet me. She told me that she was glad to have me coming, but wanted to give me a heads up that this might not be an exactly receptive audience. OK. While I wasn't overly concerned, I was certainly interested to see how this afternoon would go. On Thursday they sent me the group's itinerary for all of Friday. I could see that they would be spending the day learning about things like water issues and the gas industry's impact on the county. I was wishing I could have attended those earlier speakers and I hoped that our little presentation would be interesting for them.

When Wendy and I arrived, we got to hear the closing remarks and a few questions asked of the speaker we were to follow. It was pertaining to the natural gas industry and I found it very interesting. Well we were up, and we took our seats at the head of the room. The facilitator for the group stood up to introduce us and reminded the class about a previous class where they learned about the importance of being polite and civil. It went something like, "...even if you don't agree, remember these are our guests and it is important to treat them with respect..."

Uh, ya. That to me was kind of a big red flag and I asked the class if I should be concerned that the facilitator had to remind them to be nice?? The facilitator laughed a little and looked kind of uncomfortable but smiling. Weird. So we went ahead and talked. Wendy went first, and the great thing about her is how her passion and sincerity shine through. We both talked about a need to return to the ideals of our Founding Fathers. I decided to talk about how this is truly a grassroots effort whose goal it to educate voters so they can make their own informed choices. I talked about my belief that there should be a more limited Federal Gov't and expressed the idea that closer government is better government and States should be doing more of what Fed. govt is now doing. Blah Blah Blah

Then we opened it up for questions. The first was from a girl I'll call 'angry lesbian.' She asked if Alabama passed a law that outlawed black people from marrying would I be OK with that since I support State's rights. I referred to the idea that there are God given rights (as stated in the D of I) of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness and that it would be the federal governments role to ensure those rights, so no, I didn't think Alabama could pass such a law. There was some debate amongst the students about civil rights and gay rights. The a.l. was obviously very upset that some states laws were not what she wanted to see. This was followed by another person asking about the separation of church and state which led to people in the group commenting on public prayer. There was certainly the feeling that our group was just a bunch of religious zealots. Oh boy.

We managed to bring it back around and I spoke specifically about how this was not a religious or social movement I was involved with, but a movement that came about because people thought the Federal Government had grown too large and too indebted to continue on it's current course. We talked a little more about the role of government, then it was time to wrap it up.

There was a black gentleman in the class that asked the teacher if he could please have the floor before we finished up. He said, pointing to his skin, that this was the color he was on the day he was born and this is the color he would be on the day he would die. He could not take off his skin. He experienced every day what it meant to be looked at as a 'black man.' He then asked everyone not to equate race with sexual orientation because race was something you could not ever hide. Angry lesbian disagreed and said that when she walked into a bar holding hands with her girlfriend, she got the same kind of negative looks he did. And yes, she sounded angry whereas the black guy did not. He simply said, well, you can let go, I cannot take off my skin. It was just a really powerful and thought provoking few minutes where we heard from a man who can never have a choice of putting his skin color on or off display. I felt respect for what he said and understood that I did not know what it was like to feel how he did. He said that to him, the struggle for equality based on race as compared to sexual orientation was different. While he recognized there was a struggle there, he did not see them as the same because skin color can never just fly under the radar.

He then went on to tell the class that he worked for the Fed gov't as a translator in Japanese and Russian and had seen first hand how terrible it is when a government is too big with too much power. He assured us that this is not something we should want. I wanted to run over and high five him or something, but I just smiled and nodded my thanks for his comments. All of them. He ended the class so well and I was so glad he was there. It really got me thinking and I like that.

We got up to leave and the girls that originally invited us followed us out into the hall. They were very happy and thanked us for coming. They apologized for having us walk into an ambush to talk, but they said it went way better than they had imagined it would. I laughed out loud and said that she hadn't framed it quite like that before we started talking, but maybe that was a good thing! :) It is not pleasant to feel 'ambushed' but I think I'm glad I didn't know before because I just would have been nervous. I am glad I went and that we were able to answer some questions and hopefully dispel some wrong ideas (although I think a lot of people just enjoy holding on to their ideas so they can continue to be angry). I certainly enjoy hearing different points of view and hopefully learning from them. While it is certainly easier talking to a sympathetic crowd, it is good to stretch my own brain now and then! :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Four Down

This morning I took Jebb to the dentist to get some fillings. At our last cleaning appointment (which happened to be Jebb's first) we learned that he had...wait for it... TEN cavities!!! Yes, Ten! 10! Dies. 7+3. One more than 9 and 9 more than 1!!!

Having never gotten a filling, he was very excited especially since the dentist had promised 1 toy per filling. Yesterday he started asking more detailed questions. Jackson was in the room and tried to explain the gas. Jebb started bawling because he did not want to be 'knocked out.' John quickly explained that it is called 'laughing gas' and Jebb seemed to feel a little better. Jackson assured him the toys were really good.

So today, Jebb went in to have 4 of the 10 cavities filled. (There are 4 on each side between molars and 2 in the front teeth. We will not be filling the front teeth as they should fall out before it is an issue. Or, I guess they might just rot out of his head...)

He liked the glasses and clown nose that delivered the gas.

After it was all over he was a little groggy and puffy-cheeked. This is his smile with his new toys. You can see one side is numb.

Overall the dentist said he did really well which is great, because we have another appointment in 2 weeks for the 4 on the other side!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

They Swore an Oath

This morning I took the opportunity to go down to the courthouse to see all of the newly elected candidates take their Oath of Office. While each varied somewhat in the wording, all of them swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I liked thinking that this was happening all over the country. Not only that, but every elected official has, upon taking office, sworn to uphold the Constitution. I like that.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Obedience Brings Happiness

Today our family had the opportunity to speak in church. Our Bishop called last week and assigned the three word topic, 'Obedience brings happiness'. We discussed it at FHE with the family and encouraged our whole family to study and work on their talks all week. I felt like we had a good jump on things and I have to say that as a parent, I couldn't think of a better topic for our kids to be assigned to speak on! It brought me happiness knowing my kids would be pondering obedience! :).

I too worked on my talk off and on throughout the week. I read Ensign articles and scriptures found in the topical guide under 'obedience'. One evening during the week I decided to do some new fangled online searches of the assigned topic. At I entered my 3 words into the search. I looked at the results, chuckled to myself a little bit, then retyped my search: Obedience brings happiness. I got the same results.

There was nothing.

No scriptures, no articles, no lessons, and no General Conference quotes containing those three words. Well, let me clarify that. There were certainly many results for each of those words individually, but nowhere could I find those three words as a phrase.

This got me thinking the obvious question, "Does obedience bring happiness?" Or was there more to it? Of course by this time I had been on the computer too long and my kids were home from school, so I was left to ponder it a little more. The next morning after everyone was off to school, I tried googling my three word assigned topic. This time it brought up this article which essentially suggested that obedience brings happiness, but only when LOVE is there. This concept resonated with me and I printed out the article and read it a few more times as the week went on. Of course I continued to try to treasure up obedience stuff for the next few days, but my thoughts kept returning to this article.

I had many chances to ponder the topic as I helped my kids hone and refine their own talks. It was fun to see what stories or scriptures each of them settled on. Elise had a Gen Conf talk wherein she found a paragraph she liked. I wasn't sure it was totally meshing with the rest of her talk, but she insisted she liked it and decided to use it as her concluding statement for her talk. It was enjoyable to see which scripture stories my kids each chose to share. While I suggested many Old Testament examples, the boys all went with Book of Mormon stories and Elise went with the story of Daniel.

Sunday morning arrived and while I was happy knowing the kids were ready, I still felt unsettled. As I typically do for talks, I had about 4-5 hours of material prepared. ;) As I sit in the meeting, my mind usually settles on an outline that I can go with. But today...unsettled. I tried to focus on the matters at hand. Announcements, hymns, and of course, the Sacrament. And then, we were up. It was time.

Jebb went first and I got to help him tell about Helaman and his 2000 obedient sons. I got a huge kick out of Jackson. He decided to talk about how happy the people were after Christ came to visit. He introduced his topic, then read from his Book of Mormon Reader, then told us what it meant. For some reason I just loved that he was not just reading the whole thing off of a paper. He seemed like he was fine, but when he sat down by me, he said, "I was so nervous, I think I almost turned white!". I nearly laughed out loud because Jackson seemed cool as a cucumber. Elise delivered her talk (and I had to respect her for sticking with the paragraph I questioned, especially when the visiting High Councilman approached her after the meeting to get the name of the article the quote was from). Then it was Seth and Gabe, both of whom spoke about the life of Nephi.

And then it was my turn. Only, I hadn't quite settled on my outline. Would I elaborate on Joseph of Egypt, Noah, Naaman, stories from Church History or the Book of Mormon? I decided to just go with what came to mind. I related the fact that did not yield specific results for our assigned topic. I then shared a story from my mission. This was a story that came to mind over and over all week, but I had dismissed it because I didn't want to send the wrong message and I prefaced this to the congregation. I'll share it here.

It was transfer time in our mission and I was moving to a new area. Because our mission was so large, I only went part way before stopping at a Sister Missionaries' apartment for the night. I was tired as it was close to 10:30 at night and I had been dropped off by a member at this apartment. I was excited to stay the night with this particular companionship as I had previously served with both of them and loved them both dearly. They were great missionaries. At this time in our mission, there was an article going around about 'Binding the Lord'. To summarize, missionaries would be as absolutely obedient in every possible facet of mission life as they possibly could be. By following all the letters of the mission law, missionaries hoped in essence to bind the Lord to bless them and their area of labor. This is based on the scripture in the D&C which says "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say...". It was considered a good thing to commit to being SO obedient to the mission rules (and of course obedience on a mission IS a GREAT thing). As I said before, it was almost 10:30 when I arrived, which happens to be bedtime according to the white mission handbook. These Sisters, whom I loved and served with, let me into their apartment, said a brief hello, then hurried back to their room so they could wrap up their planning for the next day before that magic time on the clock. They flipped off their light and hopped in bed, and I sat alone in the living room at 10:31. No blanket, no pillow, alone on the couch. I quietly popped my head in their door to ask if there were any extra blankets in the apartment and one of the sisters directed me in a few words to try the coat closet (I think she was hesitant to speak after 10:30). I got my blanket out and went to sleep, but the whole experience left a deep and lasting impression on me.

I knew obedience was important, I enjoy very much keeping the letter of the law and feeling obedient myself. I respected that these sisters
took on the whole 'bind' concept. And yet, I did not feel at all happy. In fact I felt kinda sad.

And then I was done speaking. Oh, just kidding. :) I then read a scripture from I Corinthians, chapter 13:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

What Paul was saying here is that we can be obedient, but without Charity or Love, it is meaningless. Love makes the difference. All commandments can be rolled into just two--Love God and Love your Neighbor. Every other law should be bringing us to those two things.

You can see why that story might be a little sketchy to tell, especiallly if it were to a bunch of missionaries or something. I am not trying to say that obedience is bad, only that the Letter of the law should never supercede the Spirit. Then, as we learn from Lehi's dream, we should press forward on the path in obediene to the word of God. Then we will partake of that white fruit they talk about in 1 Nephi. The fruit makes us happy, and what is the fruit? It is the LOVE of God.

So does obedience bring happiness? Should our Bishop have assigned us this topic? Yes, and Yes. I know we are meant to be happy in this life (Joseph Smith taught that it is the object and design of our existence) and by being obedient, we will feel and show the Love of God. And that will make us Happy!

So ya, obedience brings happiness even if doesn't totally agree with the letter of that statement, I am sure it agrees with the spirit of it.

After the rest hymn my dear husband had a very few minutes left. Before the meeting he of course joked that he never has to prepare a talk when we speak together because I take all the time. And I guess he was right again. ;) It is always a good experience to speak in church and I am glad we are done doing it for a while.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Principal's Pride Award

Today I received a phone call from the school. It was the Principal calling to tell me that Jebb was in her office for earning a Principal's Pride award. For good deeds or good behavior children can earn what are called Silver Bulldogs. They are small cards with the child's name and behavior. They are given out by teachers at the school and are fairly random. Once a student has collected 10 of the SB's, they can take them to the Principal's office and turn them in for a PP award. The student gets a call home and a lunch with the Principal.

Today Jebb finally earned his 10th SB and turned them in for his PP. Elise and Jackson have both earned this positive reward earlier in the year and Jebb was really excited to have finally earned his. He would have earned his earlier in the year as well, only I didn't know then how the program worked exactly. He would bring home the Silver Bulldog cards to show me. I would read his 'Listened in class' or 'Worked hard in PE' aloud to him, give him a hug and some praise, then promptly throw the card in the trash and send him on his way. He nor I realized that the school did not keep track of the number of cards earned. I just assumed that someone was keeping a tally...somewhere other than my trash can.

Elise set us straight several months into the year and Jebb started collecting the cards in a special pocket in his backpack. We have talked about him earning that 10th SB for over a week now, and I guess it finally happened. After all the waiting and trying extra hard to be good, he was SO excited to make that phone call from the Principal's office today. I told him when he got home we would take a picture! Way to go Jebb (and Jackson and Elise! :))

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Power of Chocolate

Yesterday I received an email from a sweet friend of mine, Cherie. She had taken her dad the night before to Denver unexpectedly for some serious health problems he had. She had only the clothes on her back and needed to return home to Cortez. Cherie's was at the Durango hospital and she would be flying into the airport and wondered if I could pick her up and take her to her car. Of course I was glad to comply, but felt rather useless to do much else. I adore Cherie and her parents too. I was so sad to hear that her dad was still having health problems as I knew he had surgery months before.

Sometimes it is really hard to see people going through hard things. I am not a medical specialist, shoot, I am not even neighbor that could bring in meals or something! I wasn't sure what to do, but I had the whole evening to ponder it before I needed to go to the airport. Of course I prayed for their family, and that was good. But I still felt like I needed a more tangible offering for when my tired friend stepped off the plane.

I settled on chocolate. There is something magical about it's creamy brown goodness that is quite amazing. I know that by bringing chocolate, I wasn't really fixing anything. But there is something about a good chunk of chocolate that just seems to make bad stuff more bearable. And I guess I should just add that there is even research that says chocolate is good for you. Chocolate has been shown to lower your blood pressure and ward off depression by releasing endorphins and has even been shown to lower bad cholesterol! Not only that, but if you get the right chocolate, it tastes just OH SO GOOD!

So tonight I am counting my blessings. I am grateful for friends, for good health, and for chocolate! Until I get my medical license and am able to offer help that way, I will just have to help out by knowing where to buy Rocky Mountain Mints! And of course, I can keep praying for my friend's family. I know Heavenly Father loves us and watches over us and the cocoa bean is just further evidence of that! :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Monday Afternoon

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for a lot of years now. With all of my kiddos in school, my life has been weirdly different. I have to admit I have not had an easy time transitioning. I feel like I should be more (for lack of a better word) productive than I am. I am not even sure what I mean by this, but it seems like getting the house clean and the laundry done aren't enough.

It's really quite strange to be in his place because it took me a good 10 or 11 years to get to the point where I felt like getting the house clean and the laundry done were enough. I used to feel like I was terribly nonproductive because, lets be honest, as the mom of young kids, there were days when I could hardly manage a shower!! But I did grow into the idea that my role was to be at home taking care of things. And the things I spent my days doing weren't the kinds of things that are measured in productivity. And it was good for me. So it seems like now that I reached a place of contentment in my 'role', the 'role' has again shifted. And the idea of doing something more productive has again returned to visit.

I guess I could work on improving myself by learning Spanish or taking a music class. Or else I could create something like a quilt or invent something I could sell on an infomercial. Or I could volunteer more at either the school or some civic organization. Those would all be good things that I think I would enjoy. And maybe I will do some or all of those things in the future.

So what have I settled on now that I have more free time? Well, I have become more involved in Politics. I know, I know--whoopee. exciting. thrilling. Sometimes I am not sure myself why this is the case, but I have, and I think that I kinda like it for the most part. :).

This afternoon I sat for 3 hours with a committee of citizens that is reviewing language in a Future Land Use Plan proposal. It is tedious and frustrating, but I am actually enjoying it in a tediously frustrating kind of way. I am finding it very intellectually stimulating. There are lots of smart, expert type people on the committee so it is enjoyable hearing them discuss different ideas from their particular field of expertise. I like it too when I feel like I actually have something to say now and then. I applied to be added to the committee (I guess a few original folks droped out) and didn't really think I would be selected as a couple of dozen applied. I guess they were looking for varied viewpoints and I was the only stay-at-home gravel pit owner that dabbles in land development hoping for the spot. ;)

I am also still very involved in our local Tea Party-9/12 organization and that is likely the real reason I am now on the Land Use Plan committee. I am also becoming quite involved in our local Republican Party. I have had the opportunity to speak at a few functions and they have asked me to run for Secretary of the county's central committee (I think they must want to keep their eye on me). I do have to admit that I am really enjoying learning about the political processes that goes on. I have also been able to meet some nice people in the community that I would otherwise probably never cross paths with. I am quite astonished at all the boards and committees and groups that are around! I like to see people getting involved in things they care about, no matter what that is.

But I am still trying to figure out just how involved I should be. I still have my home and family as my #1, and I want to be sure that is always the clear priority. Lots of my meetings are like this one--in the afternoon or evening. I suppose striking the right balance in things is a lifelong pursuit more than just one scheduling solution. I hope I can manage it well as i continue to figure out the new 'normal' for this mom.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Eve 2010

Winter has most certainly arrived around the BigG home! Lots of snow and now COLD, COLD weather. Leading up to New Years, this is the kind of weather that makes my party maker go a little weak in the knees. Now, although I know that if read too closely, that sentence really didn't work...but I am going with it. It is typically our tradition to have a New Year's Eve get together. But...weak kneed. That's the state of my party planning self when it gets cold and icy on our road. And I'm not going to lie--I am the primary driving force of most things 'party' around here. Although John does enjoy a nice shin dig, he seems to have a better memory when considering the work and preparation such revelry create.

I tested the waters to see if people already had big plans going on or if they'd be up for a get together. My extended feelers weren't giving me a definitive answer all the way up to the 30th. And by then I was thinking how lame I am always throwing it all together at the last minute. But then I talked to a couple of ladies and they helped me find that tipping point which pushed me into full on 'We gotta get ready for a party!' mode.

And so we did.

Cleaning. Cooking. Clearing (of snow).

I am not exagerating when I say that it was FRIGID outside! But my champ of a husband stepped up to the task and onto the tractor. I, dutiful wife that I am, even brought him a cup of hot chocolate to encourage him to stay out in the cold to bring my plan to fruition. Once again, John get's the Great Sport of a Husband Award!

For the last little while in our lives I have become aware of a shift. We are no longer the family with 5 little kids. We are now the family with a couple of teens, a tween, and a couple of little guys who learn too much from their older siblings. So this year I tried to shift accordingly with our New Years plans.

We invited other families with YM/YW aged kids to come over. You know, it's funny, but they are pretty much the same crowd that we used to call when we invited other families with little kids. I guess families are growing up all over these days. ;) I continue to be impressed with the people we know. Not only were they able to bring their fun selves and all of the kiddos, they all managed to bring SO much yummy food that we could have stayed for days and never have eaten it all!

This year was a little unusual compared to past years. Typically there are people indoors as well as outdoors. We have a fire going out in the fire pit, but this year not too many of us ventured out. The fact that our low was somewhere around -15 might have had something to do with it. Although, it might have just been all of the good food and fun people found indoors that kept us all from venturing out. The kids got the wii going...
(P.S. the reason I really put this pic in is because of fun Lanae in the back with the green coat! heehee)

And we all got into the New Year's spirit. I was going to make some kind of joke about us all being 'party animals,' but I will refrain.

I tried to get a few games going. I am all about the social interaction in the teen year thing. This is everyone doing the hand slap game. I thought I was so cool and original with my games but several of the kids said they'd done these things at EFY. I joked with a couple of my friends that maybe we would play suck-and-blow (a kissing game using a credit card) cuz they probably didn't play THAT at EFY. But I went with 'Do you love your neighbor' (an innocent chair trading game) instead.

One thing I am sad I didn't get together was some sort of photo booth thing. I would love to have had a photo of everyone, but I was running around and didn't get very many pics taken. Anyhoo.

As midnight drew near (that is midnight on the East Coast AKA 10pm mountain time), John did some fireworks for us. With the insane cold, no one minded that it was an abbreviated version of years past. Loved it!

When it came time for the countdown to the New Year, I did something a little different this year. I was certainly inspired by the marketing of my local Walmart. I passed a display with lots of plastic champagne type glasses and I bought a bunch. I also go some Raspberry Lemonade for the midnight toast. Even John mentioned that it seemed somewhat worldly to drink a toast at the New Year, and I admit the thought crossed my mind. Maybe next year I'll get a disco ball to drop, but this year I enjoyed throwing back the slushy stuff (I had left it outside and it froze somewhat) while welcoming 2011!!

Of course because it was only really 10pm, that left time for the pinata, bebe! All the kids got in a few good swats and collected a few treats.

Most families with little kids bundled up and headed out. The older kid crowd went downstairs for a movie while John and I hung out upstairs. We talked and laughed and cleaned up a little. We talked about the past year and the year to come. I almost think that was my favorite time of the whole night. Have I mentioned how cool I thought it was that he spent the afternoon outside plowing for this? :) When the movie finished up at 1am (yes, that IS mountain time) we stuck a candle in a cutie (one of those little oranges) and sang Happy Birthday to our friend Mikayla who is a New Years baby. One of the kids took everyone home and we were left with a quiet house.

I am really glad we had a New Year's party! It is nice to get together when it's hard to get out. I am grateful for the good year that we have had and I have a good feeling about 2011!! Happy New Year!!!