September 2008


Do you like how that rhymed?

I thought it would be good to talk about Prop 8.  I’m glad that we live here in California during this push for an amendment.  It is hugely important!  It will be good to see just where people stand after the ballots are in, and even better if we can persuade and gain some people over to understand the importance of traditional marriage.  Every person matters.

First, I’ll tell you how things are going with us.  Our stake president has been doing his part traveling to each ward to speak.  Our bishops have donation goals, such as, our ward’s which was $11,000.  We’re asked to donate 4 Saturdays walking our neighborhoods with registered voter information/surveys.  We knock on a door, wearing a “Vote 2008” pin, and ask, “Are you Hein Le?” for example.  “Hi, I”m Holly J. and these are my children :), and I live on M. Circle near your neighborhood.  We’re walking precincts for the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.  Are you familiar with this proposition regarding traditional marriage?

At this point people who are FOR preserving marriage between a man and a woman wonder if I am.  They raise one eyebrow and say, “what side of the campaign are you on again?”  Their face looks like how I feel each time I worry that the whole world is against me.  No one likes to disagree openly with the person on their doorstep, so they are really relieved when they realize we are against legalization of same-sex marriage.  Some people can never figure the wording out so they just say, “Umm, I’m just old-fashioned, and don’t like that with 2 men together or 2 women.”  I can reassure them that is exactly what we are hoping they would say.

After we find out how they stand, definitely Yes, probably Yes, Undecided, probably No, and definitely No, we ask if their spouse would agree with them, or other registered voters in their household.  We’ll answer questions or offer information.  Finally, if they are a YES we ask if they would be willing to contribute by volunteering in any way or by displaying a yard sign.  We circle the correct code number reflecting their answers on our sheet, encourage them to inform their family and friends about the issue, and then move to the next house.  If they are a NO, we tell them we respect that, thank them for their time, and then move on to the next house, with not a few eyebrows raised or strained expressions from our children.  BTW, the NOs seem very confident in their views, most often because they are aware that their views are the most popular these days, I think, and then next most often because they are closely connected to someone making homosexual choices and the issue, on the surface, seems like an issue of tolerance and equality.  They don’t waste time shutting the door, giving me the feeling that I must be cold and unfeeling towards the helpless.  OR, the NOs don’t want to “impose their beliefs on others,” yet they don’t think of the myriad “impositions” those believing otherwise will make on them if the Prop fails.

The confident Yeses who are involved in the effort are always refreshing to talk to.  Some confident ones still won’t accept a yard sign, though, for fear of drawing attention to themselves, hate acts against them or just for fear of associating themselves with someone their employers or landlords would not approve of.

Calling prospective voters using the same sheets is very ineffective, though we still do it some nights.  You reach about 1 in 10 people, or fewer.  This is wear my belief “that every person matters” is tested!  The questions here are, do you block your number for their caller id by using *67, or do you not?  Do you address them by their name–since we know it–and possibly freak them out, or do you not?  In my opinion, I like the forthright approach.  I will more often answer the phone to an unfamiliar name out of curiosity than I will to a “blocked call.”  Then, I feel that addressing them by their name gives the call a little authority vs. a feeling that their money will be solicited.  Mostly, it’s hard for me to get to “calling” either because of background noise or the sense of futility you feel when you’re done!

WHAT IS THE ISSUE THEN?

My friend, Ciana, and I talk about this quite a bit.  I’ll echo some of what she tells me, too.  She and I are in different wards here in Stockton, but in the same stake.  Ciana’s husband is in the bishopric in her ward.  They hold Family Home Evenings every Monday for their ward members to come celebrate the work they did the previous week, and then to pump them up for the next week!  She feels that since her ward is struggling with numbers and with finances that this is the kind of support that is needed.  She knows members of the church who are even offended that the church is so involved with the effort.  Why, I want to know.  Is it just because it makes us more “peculiar” and some people are tired of that?  Would this just be a case of moral ineptness?  1. What do you think about this stand coming from a church member?

I also think, from my own experience as a LDS, that minorities feel defensive no matter what.  I went through somewhat of an identity crisis when we moved to Colorado from Utah.  Believe it or not, there is a big difference living away from Utah overseas, and living outside of Utah in the U.S. Until we get practice and experience defending our beliefs we are open to letting our emotions get the best of us.  2. So remember, we are not the minority in wanting to preserve marriage, so we can be confident.  What do we respond when others say we are imposing our views on the world?

3. What will really happen to church’s freedoms if the proposition fails? I can’t imagine it could get so bad as all that–since the majority of citizens in the U.S. oppose same-sex marriage–in the short term, but after the course of decades, just like when divorce was made much easier for women in the latter part of 1960s, the prevalence will rise.

In the book of Helaman the Nephites relied on their own strength, and so were “left to their own strength” by the Lord.  “They became weak, because of their transgression,” their lands were taken and owned by the Lamanites for quite awhile, and this all happened in the space of a few short years.  They lived in fear of the Lamanites, they were indecisive about their war strategy, and ended up having to put all their forces just to maintain what they had.  Their laws being corrupt is mentioned.  Nothing prospered.  Most of our laws are just, aren’t they?  4. What corrupt laws do we have?

These are some questions I have.

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(This is Jenny)  Remember how we were talking about how we like to know if certain behavioirs/thoughts are normal?  Here’s one that I’ve been wondering about.  After a very full day  I climb in my bed and almost feel giddy.  I feel such joy to be done for the day and to have the night’s rest ahead of me.  I even often look forward to bedtime (both the kids’ and my own).  Do you have feelings like that?  Do I “love” sleep too much?  Maybe it’s because it’s a precious and scarce commodity that makes it more valuable.

Do you ever consider how much time we, as humans, spend sleeping?  It’s a whole lot of time.  Why do you think Heavenly Father would create us to need so much “down-time”?  Why couldn’t we do our rejenerating in 2-3 hours?  Can you imagine how much more we could get done in a day?  In the next life I suppose we won’t need sleep which means we will have plenty of time, actually… literally endless time.

This is Rachel:

Her birth was a beautiful, oh-so-natural experience.  Much like a veteran marathoner would egg on a friend to give it a try, Jenny persuaded me to try giving birth naturally.  Results: I liked it.  Thanks, Jenny!

You know, babies are so helpless.  You set them down and they can’t even exert their will to crawl away.  If their face gets covered they don’t even know enough to pull it off so they can catch a good breath of air or see what is going on around them, the little darlings.  I think that in matters of importance, Heavenly Father is our rescuer, and He alone.  When He gives us a trial, honestly, we aren’t going anywhere until He deems us done with it–or until he comes back to where He placed us, removes the cloth from our eyes and picks us up for a cuddle.

A child learning to swim could be held at arm’s length, firmly around the waist by their father, yet feel horrified that their feet can’t feel the ground.  Calmly, their father tells them over and over, “It’s OK.  It’s OK.  Not only is the ground just inches under your feet, but I’ve got you!”  The father can’t make the child understand that they’re safe, nor understand the big picture while the child is feeling so much fear.  The child must start to trust and listen to his words.  The only reason we would trust in the Lord and give our burdens to Him is if we have had rewarding experiences with Him.  Now this part is up to us.  When we get to know our Savior and Redeemer will we ever feel lonely, snubbed, accused, manipulated, burdened, or brushed aside as we can in some of our earthly relationships?  Emphatically, NO!

Now this next example will sound like the story about giving up the plastic pearls so Daddy can give you the real pearls.  Rachel, the irrestible baby she is, was playing “dolly” and went to get the dolly blanket.  She pulled up on the corner, but it wouldn’t come!  Why wouldn’t it come?  Hmmm.  Try again.  She pulled again, but the fluffy blanket her dolly needed was no nearer to her than when she first tried!  Ah, the answer!  She was standing right in the middle of the blanket!

All things testify of Christ!  How many stories do we tell ourselves about how we’re justified in a troubled relationship that we have?  About how someone needs to learn a lesson, about how somebody is so defiant, or about how somebody doesn’t care?  Almost invariably, we are standing on that blanket.

Our ego, or natural man, is too strong and powerful to ever discount that we have it in our dealings.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

It is a gift straight from the Lord to be able to understand, with mercy, why another behaved the way they did.  It’s another gift to mercifully see ourselves, when we tend to be self-condemning.  A joyful message!  Our relationships hurt partly because of us, but joy, this means the solution is in us also!


Know Your Own Heart

Published by Nancy Ann September 11th, 2008 in Practical Christian Living

When it comes to understanding our own hearts, we are in deep water. It’s easy to assume we can read other people’s hearts and motives, and we may even think we have a grip on our own, but the truth is, man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. We attribute the best of motives to our own actions, but seldom give others the benefit of a doubt.

For example, if we have spoken unkindly to someone, we can spend the next several hours (days, months, years) telling ourselves a story over and over about how we really said (or did) the right thing. We tell ourselves that they really deserved it, that we had pure motives, that it was right, right, right. But the problem is, if it was really right, we would have forgotten all about it long ago. If we had told the truth, we would not be patting ourselves on the back all day about it. If we lied, we keep repeating the whole scenario over in our minds, justifying our behavior, excusing the lie, and sooner or later we may even convince ourselves of it.

But God sees the heart and even when we tell Him the story over and over with our little spin on it, He is never won over to our perspective.  The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, and we ought not argue with Him. When the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts with something like, “That was unkind,” the proper response is, “Right. I’ll take care of it right away.” Then that chapter can be closed appropriately. The problem is when we answer instead with something like, “But she needed to hear that. I was only exercising my spiritual gift of rebuke. It was good that I said that. It was not unkind. It was really the loving thing to do.” And as we retell the story to ourselves, we may embellish it freely, bestowing evil motives on the other person and attributing sacrificial motives to ourselves.

As the years roll by and these things are not attended to, it’s no wonder our hearts get hard, and the unkindness accumulates until it’s a big gunky mess. Far better to humble ourselves day by day than be humbled by the Living God who sees all.

Melissa, my four-year old, is one who steps on or in things.  Whatever she is doing or saying is almost always accompanied by a background of feet placement.  If she’s lying on her back watching TV or in her bed, her feet are on the wall or on the back of the couch.  If she’s standing next to me, telling me something or standing next to the computer chair watching the kids play a game she is standing on (or in) the nearest book, drawer, puzzle box, or bag of something.  The times when it is aggravating is when she flattens a box, or is about to break something valuable.

I’m sure you understand the feeling.  It’s the same feeling you have when your child is clearing their plate and doesn’t realize that the plate has dropped to an angle incapable of retaining crumbs and noodles or whatever.  It’s the same feeling you have when your child is about to wipe grimy breakfast hands on their clean school shirt or their hair is about to slip into the milk of their cereal bowl.  You find your voice is accelerating in a jerky pattern, “Ah…Ah…ah.ah.ah.ah.STOP!  The cute kids, they’re just trying to make it in this mean old world.

At least its not turret’s syndrome, although any repetetive motion or vocalization qualifies as turrets.  Scott is seeing someone with Turret’s once a week, though I don’t have details on the resolution of the child’s problem.  The treatment is very similar, though, for thumb-sucking and other unconscious behaviors.

My neighbor right across the street has a 15-year old son and he has been coming to Young Men’s with Scott these last several weeks.  Since his family all leaves to go to Taekwondo together, he comes over at about 5:00, eats dinner with us, and then goes with Scott to Mutual at 7:00.  So our relationship has been getting a little better.  He relaxes more around us now and seems to enjoy himself.  (Who wouldn’t when you’re practically on lock-down terms with your mother, FYI)

Our friend likes the youth in our ward, and they welcome him very well.  For this reason, when he came to church with us for the first time this last week 🙂 he stood up at the end of all the testimonies, some of them youth testimonies, and spoke himself.

Wow, he had been feeling the spirit.  He shed tears right off the bat.  He confessed that he had done a lot of things he was not proud of…he had hurt people…especially his mother…and then he sat down again.  I wished his mother could have heard him…and maybe someday soon she will!

How true it is that Christ loved us first, and his love “sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of men,” and also is “the most joyous to the soul.”  BTW, thanks, Dad, for planting those words in my mind!

Is it true that a whole host of gaping errors and neglect can be pacified–even forgotten–by our men if we simply bake well?  According to Amelia Bedelia, the character in many children’s books, this is definitely true.  A.B., in Amelia Bedelia and the Baby, reads the “To Do” list left to her by the baby’s parents.  Instead of caring for the baby by giving her a bottle, lying her down for a nap, taking her out for some sunshine, and protecting her clothes from food by applying a bib, Amelia Bedelia, through a series of misunderstandings, either neglects to do these things, or does them herself without baby involvement!

I could site mistake after embarrassing mistake where Amelia Bedelia does nothing short of bringing the house down, and when the responsible party(s) returns home to see what progress has been made, they have devastation before their eyes.  In every case Amelia Bedelia is about to meet her doom and banishment, when suddenly a bite of her afternoon’s baked goody finds its way into the irate person’s mouth…

What happens then?!  All is forgiven, Amelia Bedelia is pronounced a wonder and a blessing, and the harrowing day full of messy experiences is cast into a postive light, A.B. is invited back the next time, and then everyone goes home.

As for my experiences with my husband at times when I have been a goob (refer to my personal glossary), and even with other men that happen to be around, you bake something, and you’re a hero!  Does something magic happen inside of us when they eat a home-baked delicacy?  Further, you take or send a pan of cinnamon rolls or what-have-you to work with your husband, and can you deny that the result is almost a pay-raise?  OK, you can blow the whistle on my exaggeration, but at least you have to admit that your husband’s achievements suddenly are more genius than they were, his office a new stop-off, and you find that you’re invited to the next colleague’s party?  Are we nourished–by sugar and butter and flour we combine in different ways and then bake in our oven, mind you–on a level we can only theorize about?

In life we must all find our own answers, but I believe that the hand that rocks the cradle is not only the one that rules the world, but the hand that spreads the batter, is also the hand that squelches the squealers.  I, for one, could use a power this amazingly mind-numbing, yet so easy to wield.

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