Blog post, deconstructed.

That’s a fancy way of saying totally unorganized and random.

Cuisine, deconstructed:

Architecture, deconstructed:

Blog post, deconstructed:

  1. I stained my deck yesterday.  The whole thing.  All by myself.  Do they make trophies for that?
  2. Has anyone out there ever moved somewhere that was on your top 10 list of places you didn’t want to move?  Please advise.  I’m trying to digest a possibility.
  3. You know the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia movie?  I think she and I probably use the the same foundation color.  Does anyone have a recommendation for a (not orange) self-tanner that doesn’t stink?  I hate the smell.
  4. I grew up as a dog lover.  I worked for a breeder and memorized all the different kind of dog breeds.  But I now have no interest in having dog.  Is this a phenomenon of having children?  Also, people who treat dogs like children drive me nuts. (Think kisses, silverware, and baby talk.)
  5. I love House Hunters International on HGTV.  I think I might buy a house in Costa Rica when Matt’s not looking.
  6. I wonder how much I would weigh if I only ate chocolate and potatoes.  Not together, of course.
  7. I cried at Toy Story 3.  I don’t know what that says about me, but I’m pretty sure it’s not “Wow, she’s young and hip.”  Does anybody even say “hip” anymore?  I’m a dork.
  8. I studied Alma 50 this week and got some really cool insights about the importance of making my home a stronghold:  intentional protection, keep the enemy out, actively fight evil, and realize that happiness can exist even in the midst of dangerous threats.  It made a great FHE lesson when the kids drew pictures of what was happening step-by-step in verses 1-6, and then we talked about keeping our home safe (spiritually).
  9. Natalie is a great little errand buddy.  I love my little girl.  Who knew I could have a 3-year-old best friend?
  10. Friends are a wonderful thing.  It’s amazing how a little kindness can make a bad day better in no time at all.

GCBC Week 12: Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul

General Conference Book Club Week 12

In Elder Holland’s talk, “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” he addresses the deadly sin of lust.  I attended this session of General Conference, and it actually brought tears to my eyes when he began to speak because I just felt that it was a topic that Heavenly Father wants his children to better understand.  Of all the “deadly sins,” I think none is more widely peddled and embraced than lust.  Men and women are force-fed titillating images and messages at every turn, and the “enemy of our souls” deceives many with unhealthy attitudes about relationships, expectations, and appropriate standards.  As Elder Ballard pointed out in his conference talk, this same enemy tries to convince women that their power lies in their sensuality and that they deserve “exciting” lives of promiscuous adventure.  Elder Holland states the danger:

“In addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact [lust] has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever.”

When we consider the great power and influence that can come from virtue, it’s no wonder that Satan has chosen lust as one of his central platforms in the campaign for men’s souls.  What principles stand out to you as you study his talk?

Go here to find the media versions of the talk (audio, video, mp3, etc.).  If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club,  click here to learn more about it.

Letting “I wish” go

Sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you planned it out in your mind (or in your journal when you were 13). We make plans, we set goals, we visualize expectations wrapped up in pretty packages and we move forward in life hoping it all plays out that way. But it often doesn’t, and not necessarily by lack of planning or industry. Sometimes life just happens– and it’s bigger than our dreams or plans.

Recently, I’ve been keenly aware that God’s plans for me might be different than my own agenda. He sees opportunity in things that I try to avoid; he sometimes closes the door on things I want and things I think I need. I’m tempted to believe that things are “all messed up” when, really, they are exactly as they should be.

I think part of the problem is measuring our life in things, places, status, location– anything that can be “seen.” But, truly, we would do better Continue reading

Just say no.

I just read this article.  Don’t waste your time on the link, really.  It’s basically about a group that is suing McDonald’s for using toys in their Happy Meals that lure kids in like little marketing drugs.  According to one intelligent group spokesman, it’s almost like having a salesman come door-to-door trying to sell products to your children.

Um, sure it is.  Except that it isn’t at all, since McDonald’s isn’t in your home nor does it visit there.

My favorite part was this claim he made:

“At some point parents get worn down,” Jacobson says. “They don’t always want to be saying no to their children. We feel like an awful lot of parents would be relieved if this one pressure was removed from them.”

Wow. Isn’t it a parent’s job to say no?  A lot?

I am not trying to make any statements about fast food, childhood obesity, or even about the level of stupid some lawsuits have reached; however, Continue reading

GCBC Week 11: Watching with all Perseverance

Watching with All Perseverance by Elder David A. Bednar

Fist of all, I am a slacker. I didn’t even realize until yesterday that I totally forgot to do GCBC last week. So anyway, it’s been a very busy couple of weeks for me and now it’s almost midnight and I have to be at church by 5 a.m. tomorrow to send youth off on a History Trek, so this will be a little thrown together. How’s that for a long list of disclaimers?

This talk by Elder Bednar is fantastic. I love how he always gives very specific, direct, and often repetitive counsel.  Read, watch or listen to it here.

Study it this week and tell us what you learn.

My children didn’t even miss me.

I’m told that when Matt drove home and they saw that my car was not in the garage, Grant said, “YES!,” and then he got out of the car and held his hands up in the air and yelled “FREEDOM!”

Um.

Whatever.  He’ll appreciate me when he’s 24 and I don’t tell the girl he’s dating that he used to wipe boogers on the wall.  A lot.

EFY went well.  I think I’m getting more used to the nerves since I didn’t throw up this time and I only took 3 Excedrin Tension Headache capsules in the two days I taught.  And I didn’t even worry about the evaluation forms they were filling out about my classes.  I had some great experiences and can say that I know some of the youth were able to feel the Spirit and learn new things and set new goals.  So I felt good about that.  One thing that I love about EFY is that it renews my faith in the youth.  They are good and they love the gospel.  They want it.  We never give them as much credit as we should.  I have always loved this quote from J. Reuben Clark and I try to let it guide the way I teach:

“The youth of the Church are hungry for things of the Spirit; they are eager to learn the gospel, and they want it straight, undiluted.  … they want to gain testimonies of their truth; they are not now doubters but inquirers, seekers after truth. … You do not have to sneak up behind this spiritually experienced youth and whisper religion in his ears; you can come right out, face to face, and talk with him.”

Anyway, they’re great, and spending time with them made me feel good.  And of course, sharing my testimony a lot always makes me feel good.

Natalie missed me.  She gave me a hug today and said she was glad I’m back.  She told me later she thought I went to jail.

???

Thank goodness my children don’t do evaluation forms.  There’s just not enough Excedrin for that.

The dawn of summer. I think I’m ready now.

So we went camping in the rain anyway (no plan B, remember?), and it turned out fine. The weather was dry when we left town, and it only ended up raining one afternoon. Luckily I’d packed a lot of “in case it rains” items, so we spent the time reading, playing games, having coloring contests, etc. (Only slightly-snarky side note: Matt spent the time napping.) Otherwise, we hiked, played, toured, and canoed on the river. I will not go into the canoe experience because I have an unnatural fear of rivers and lakes and all of the unseen dangers and probably creepy things lurking in the water that is not transparent. and nightmares of my children being swept away in the current while I pathetically paddle in the wrong direction trying to save them. My stint in the canoe was a tiny bit shorter than the rest of the family. I tried, but I probably should have been medicated first.

I’m headed out today to teach at EFY, which always makes me excited and a little bit on-the-edge-of-throwing-up nervous. (Last year, I actually did.)   I’ve taught two of my talks/classes before, and two are new material, and I’m just hoping no one throws tomatoes at me.

I am now getting a grip on my summer master plan and, when I get back from EFY, I’ll share more of the details with you. (Since I know you’re just sitting on the edge of your seats wondering “Whatever in the world could Stephanie be doing with her days this summer?” I know. The suspense is unbearable.)  It’s an attempt to find a happy balance between scheduled and flexible.

Anyway, in the meantime, I started reading a book by Camille Fronk Olson called Mary, Martha and Me. I’m not too far into it, so I can’t give a full recommendation yet, but I wanted to share a quote I really liked:

“Jesus Christ is the one needful thing.  What does that mean amid chaotic daily agendas and anxious uncertainty for the future?  The world urges us to strictly follow step-by-step formulas to achieve success.  In striking contrast the Savior taught, ‘Come unto me.’  In my life of never-ending responsibilities, I do not need another checklist (derived from scripture or anywhere else) to define the Lord’s role for me.  I need Him.  I do not need competition that scrutinizes my productivity versus another’s efforts to make me a valuable employee; I need His strength., His wisdom, His grace to perform work that will make a difference.

… The message of Mary and Martha is not a generic, black-and-white answer to align me with one or the other of them.  On the contrary, they give me confidence to ask God directly what He wants me –specifically me– to do.”

And, p.s., the summer gods are smiling on me today because it is 7:45 a.m. and my children are still asleep. Yep, you heard right, we passed the threshold of 6 am. Praise be. I just heard beds squeaking upstairs. Party’s over.