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.

Here is a snapshot that represents the course my life has taken:

You may think that this is just a nice family picture in just another creative pose, but there is more to this than meets the eye if we compare it to life in general.

First, we are zig-zagging, you get it. 🙂

Second, at the time Melissa (the vivacous girl in the very front) was born, the way I felt inside, she has expressed just masterfully.  To explain, among other things, Christine, the next oldest, was 2 years old and I found myself constantly frustrated with her unique (for my family, anyway) curiosity!  I felt completely lost as to how to maintain a patient attitude and a warm and natural love for her.  If I hadn’t let my Savior make a remarkable change in my attitude at that point, thanks be to Him, I think I would be an angry person today.  I realized that I wasn’t going to change her nature and that I had to allow for it in my house and in my heart!  I really needed that!  Thanks, Christine, for asking that of me!

My 30-year old, beautiful friend, who is my Primary president (I’m her second counselor), asked me how I felt about being married so young.  I told her that I love that I have 5 kids now, and knew it was what I wanted all the while, but that for the first five years probably I allowed much too much contention.  I wish that could have been different.  I felt happy for the most part and able to unwind at the end of each day, but didn’t “address my stress” during the day very well!  Now, did I need to just jump in the fray and learn as I go, as I was taught to growing up?  What about how I didn’t know much about what I was doing?

My friend feels like she needed the first several years of her marriage to get some things out of her system–some selfishness, according to her, before she became a mother. Now I see her as a mother and I feel that the competence she’s gained over these last years in a more professional world has helped her approach motherhood in a very aware way.

Whatever we have chosen, I feel that there are mercies that come from the Lord (part of the law of opposition)! I thank Him for the positives in every situation!  Even if we have certain regrets (mine include contention), I am just really glad that we get to choose in the first place so that it holds meaning to us once we have it.  We would never feel the need to change our course if we didn’t know with a surety that our actions got us to where we are.

Motherhood: And now thanks must go out to all who have been apart of me choosing to become a mother early and often!  I adore my children, what I’ve learned, and what my future looks like!  My own mother and dad: Hoorah!  My husband’s parents: Bravo!  My undaunted husband, Scott: Wow!  My brave older sister, Jenny!  Whoo-whoo!  And Heavenly Father’s teachings!  Halleluiah!  Go, mothers!

Now, let’s go and get last night’s dinner unstuck from the floor and go to sleep tonight knowing that we are too blessed to be stressed!  Go to it, soldiers!  Love ya!

I’m very proud of the header picture here on the site with the pink sunset and the green trees off to the right.  We took that picture in July in southern Oregon at the end of the coolest camping trip ever!

Mom and Rachel

Mom and Rachel

Now, the camping trip we just returned from yesterday was not quite the “destination” any forms of life are looking for.  In fact, not even mosquitoes and flies live there!  Lake Camanche is northeast of Stockton and ne’er has man seen a dirtier, hotter place than this.  Thankfully we had awesome company (Jeanette and Alan) and a muddy lake we played in.

Scott praised me and said, “if you can enjoy yourself at Lake Camanche then you’re a real camper…you’ve come SO far!”  I think to myself, Why do we have this drive to be good campers?  Why does the subject seem to draw a line in the sand and separate the men and the mice, the winners and the whiners?

Of course there are reasons you shouldn’t or couldn’t go camping as a family.  I appreciate those.  But this is one reason I like camping: As good as I am in my daily life at doing laundry :), online shopping J/K, keeping the house up, and using all my appliances and computer, etc., It all gets taken away when you go camping.  What do you have left?  You.  You and your husband.  You and your children.  If I’m not caring, patient, and cheerful then, then I am not caring, patient, and cheerful enough!  I guess I like that I’ve learned a happy freedom camping over the last 10 years that I didn’t have before!  Thanks Scott, I really needed that.

The reasons we DON’T like camping are obvious. 🙂  I am interested to know why you LIKE camping?