Tuesday, March 30, 2010

...And that's why they used to use grape juice in the sacrament

I really want my kids to understand that Easter is not about a bunny or candy or pretty clothes. So, all this week we're doing little crafts and activities that teach about Easter, the Atonement, and the Sacrament. Today we made placemats with the Easter story on them, like so (I put these images in contact paper to make them water/dinner proof). The idea is that we can talk about the story while we eat for the rest of the week. Jacob had a lesson on Easter in Primary already, so he's not entirely ignorant of the purpose of the holiday. He pointed out the frame with Jesus hanging on the cross, and told me, "That's Jesus. The bad men gave him a crown of thorns and put him on that cross so he would die." He paused and wrapped it up with, "The sign over him says 'King of the Juice.' Mom, why would they say He was 'King of the Juice?' What kind of juice?"

How do you explain ethnicity to a six-year-old? Also, huge points for me for not laughing right out loud.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth...or at the very least the Telestial Kingdom.

In Relief Society on Sunday, I sat with a bestie and sang the hymn, "Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth." One reason she is a bestie is that when we saw the title of the hymn, we looked at each other and snorted. We were united in our cynicism lightly seasoned with scorn.

Now, I know its generally a bad idea to scoff at the hymns of Zion, but really--mothers of young children should not sing this song anytime during the three-hour block. At a weekly meeting where our children are not present, or maybe the yearly women's conference, sure. It's hard to sing "brightly" that home can be a heaven on earth when you are planning what you are going to do to your children to punish them when you get there. By the time we got to "Parents teach and lead the way, Children honor and obey," we were both practically vibrating with suppressed laughter. I have at least two family nights a month on obedience--that's how good my kids are at it. I swear, if I have to teach one more lesson on obedience, I may just give in and go get some President Packer glasses and complete the transformation.

Because I was busy being a cynic, I missed that the last verse actually chronicles my daily life. "Praying daily in our home we'll feel His love divine." I do pray daily. A lot of that is because if I don't pray daily and often I will snap and someone is going to have to call protective services. "Searching scriptures faithfully we'll nourish heart and mind." My mind needs a lot of nourishment. When your only companions are tiny people with limited conversational skills, sometimes you begin to feel that your brain has melted and is pouring out your ear. Time spent in the scriptures reminds me that I am a woman of purpose, destiny even. Plus, it stimulates my brain and helps me feel my steel trap isn't getting rusty. "Singing hymns of faith...." I sing hymns all the time. I listen to hymns all the time, especially between the hours of 3 and 5 pm. This is the time of day I am most likely to come unglued. Hymns keep me together.

Can home be a heaven on earth? Of course it can. I'm pretty sure mine was close to heaven the other night when we all played "Simon Says" and "Duck, Duck, GOOSE!" the other day in the living room. Kory thought "Simon Says" was a little impersonal so he says, "Kory says..." Jake laughed the whole time. Raena was in heaven. Nobody got mad. Nobody got impatient. Maybe that's the key: Prayer, Scriptures, Hymns, "Simon Says."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today, I like snowboarding

I love the scenes in "The Singles Ward" where the cute little preemie played by Kirby Heyborne is relating his favorite Mormon Myths--who is, who isn't a member, did Elvis take the discussions, Steve Martin's CTR ring, all that dumb stuff. Now, some celebrities really are LDS, though it seems to be a good Mormon, and an entertainer, you pretty much have to be a convert (Aaron Eckhart v Rick Schroeder, Kathryn Heigl v Gladys Knight). If you google "mormon" you'll get lots of hits, most of which make me want to throw things. Antis, ex-mos, polygamists, crazies....it's disheartening to say the least. But not today. Today if you google "mormon" you'll find Torah Bright. Torah won the Olympic gold medal in women's snowboarding last night. She's not LDS the way Eliza Dushku and Amy Adams are LDS--she's LDS the way you are. In this interview with an Australian media outlet, she does a fantastic job sharing her love of her sport and truths about her faith. Today, I'm proud to have someone in the spotlight who represents us well.
Torah, Torah, Torah, indeed!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Um, service hurts sometimes

As promised, here is the full story of my daily act of service: volunteering in Jake's kindergarten class.

I had arranged a babysitter for this morning a week ago--or so I thought. After a morning full of phone calls (no less than 4 plus a text message) and never getting in contact with my friend, I took my chances and just showed up at her house.

No one there.

So, I started going through my address book, looking for someone to take my littles at the last minute. I got lucky, and Brittany changed her plans for me (THANK YOU BOWENS!) I hurried over to their house, dropped my kids off and ran out the door. As I was running, I remembered a valuable lesson--in the winter, its best to assume there is ice under the snow. I remembered this as I was momentarily airborne, suspended in dread and disbelief in the air outside the Bowen home. When I hit the ground with my back, and followed that up with a resounding WHACK on the back of my head, all I could think of came out my mouth, "auauaghghh (groan) I'm thirty!" I picked myself off, and hobbled to my car to continue on my breathless journey to the elementary school.

At the school, I realized that my whole backside was wet. I hadn't noticed before cause of the pain. Oh well, too late now. I proceeded to help with the class, sitting on the floor for an hour. Not smart. My hips are not all they should be, and they hurt a lot by the end of the hour.

Service is good, and seeing how happy Jake was to see me in his class made it all worth it--but my elbow hurts, and my hips hurt and I have a severely sprained dignity. Thankfully, all my service endeavors for tomorrow are indoors. I'll probably burn myself instead.

Month of service, week one

A good friend committed to doing a month of service in January, and when she wrote her last post on her project, she challenged her readers to do the same in February. Well, I love a challenge, so I have taken on this project for myself!

Monday: A friend in the ward is battling cancer right now, and I didn't see her in church on Sunday. I gave her a call to check on her and see if she was feeling alright or needed any help. We had a good chat. She amazes me with her attitude and her faith.

Tuesday: I had planned to watch a friend's kids today, but that fell through. Instead, I took a look at how long my kids watch tv every day, and decided that I was missing oppurtunities to spend time with them. Jake will be in First Grade next year, which means he'll get on the bus at seven and come home at four. I'll be with him only four of his waking hours! My boy is starting to slip away from me, and I'll feel awful if I waste the time I have with him. So, we colored, and played with clay, and made cookies.

Wednesday: I play with a group of ladies known as "Little Monkey Mamas." We hadn't had an activity in months, and I figured everyone else was a stir crazy as me, so I planned and carried out an acitivity. It was a huge success, and we had a lot of fun!

Thursday: Yesterday was lame. I had intended to count my girls' night out with a couple of friends for my service, but I don't know if that counts. I guess it does, if offering your love and support and friendship while eating high-calorie food counts as service. I hope it does.

Friday: Today I'm going to help with a party in Jake's class. I'll let you know how that goes.

Saturday: Big cooking day! One of my girls on my VT beat is having a baby on Monday (at the latest!) so I'm making some meatballs and chili to freeze and take over to her so she can use them at her pleasure!

I like helping others. I really want to live a life that matters. Serving others is the best way I can think of to do that!

Of history and priorities

I've been meaning to post this for forever, and just haven't gotten around to doing it. But, now I will delight you with the story I've been keeping to myself.

For the Martin Luther King holiday, Jake did a project at school that involved listening to a brief history of MLK's life and accomplishments and coloring a small booklet about him. When Jake gets home from school, I go through the contents of his backpack with him and talk about his day. When I pulled out the book o' King, I asked Jake, "Who is this?"

"I don't know. Some brown guy my teacher was talking about."

"Oh. *giggling quietly* What did you learn about him?"

"Well, my teacher said he had a dream, but it wasn't about dinosaurs. I asked."

I had to leave the room, I was laughing so hard.

"I have a dream, sometimes when I've had a rough day, that a T-Rex chases me over the green fields of Mississippi. I catch him and ride him all the way to Mobile, Alabama, where he can really do some damage."

How white are we?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Some musings I had to let out of my soul.

I've been thinking about redemption a great deal this week. My lesson tomorrow is on the Fall of Adam, and that necessarily means its also about the Atonement. Both the Fall and the Atonement are essential components of "The Great Plan of Redemption." Without the Fall we would need no redemption, as we would never have had the chance to do anything that needed redeeming. The Fall caused us to need redemption from death--we cause ourselves to need redemption from sin. We are redeemed for both that which we are culpable for, and that over which we have no control. I think this is true of more than just death and hell. You see, I have spent my adult life trying to overcome the destructive and self-defeating habits and attitudes I was taught in my broken home. There are things that I have done for which I desperately need redemption. There are things over which I had no control that shaped and formed who I was and how I lived that I need to be redeemed for as well. I am redeemed--from all the things, whether I am guilty or not, that keep me from coming back to God. That redemption comes through no work or act of will of my own, but through the selfless, eternal, and infinite sacrifice of a perfect Savior. He helps me change. He makes me better. He teaches me that I have power to "act and not to be acted upon." I take that power and choose to be more than what comes naturally.
With all this thought of redemption, I have been touced all week by how it has shaped me into something that, while wildly imperfect, is far more than I could ever hope to be alone. As I am redeemed, my heart yearns to offer redemption. To save as I was saved. To rescue a soul from itself. I know of ways that I can reach out, and I pray my eyes can be opened to see where there is need, and not let my fear block the way to my action. How else can I show how truly grateful I am? How else will He ever know that as He did everything for me, I would do everything for Him?