General Conference Book Club Week 21: Elder Oaks

(Countdown to General Conference:  5 weeks!  Yay.)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke during the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference.  His talk was called Love and Law.” Elder Oaks was a lawyer by profession and eventually a Supreme Court Judge at the state level.  His entire career was dependent upon the understanding of and the application of law.

Although I had been taught about the Atonement my entire life, and had even served a mission and taught Gospel Doctrine in several wards, I did not realize that I grossly misunderstood the role of the Atonement until I attended a seminar in which the teacher carefully laid out the delicate balance between justice and mercy.  As I begin to understand the demands of each, and the urgent need for a perfect mediator, the Atonement came into focus for me.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ answers the demands of law and satisfies the requests of mercy.  In this talk by Elder Oaks, he outlines how important the role of law is in the gospel of Jesus Christ and how His love gives us access to mercy at a cost far less than its real worth.

The love of God does not supersede His laws and His commandments, and the effect of God’s laws and commandments does not diminish the purpose and effect of His love.

You can read the talk here, or watch it here, or listen to it here.  I invite you to study the talk with me and share what you learn about law and love and justice and mercy and you.  Elder Oaks declares that these principles can guide us in the teaching of our children;  What helpful patterns do you see that you can apply as a parent?

(If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book club, click here to learn more.)

Friday Favorites

Time to share some bloggy love.  This round I wanted to celebrate some of the great things people have done that I’ve read about on their blogs recently.

Without further ado, the Post-It winners are (click on their names to see their celebrated post):

Molly and Lara both made the same coolest Valentines card idea ever.  Next year, post it BEFORE Valentine’s day so that those of us with a vaccum in our brain in the place where creativity should be will have an option besides the cards we bought at the store that say things like “Valentine, I’m racing to wish you a speedy Valentine’s Day.”

Sue has the world’s best giveaway going on:  a netbook laptop!  But her blog’s always worth reading anyway.

Speaking of the best, DeNae went public this week to prove that she has the sexiest legs in the blogosphere.  And she does.  She also tried to prove she has the messiest house.  *snort*  She doesn’t.

There are places in my house that make me want to run away (like my entryway and my laundry room).  Some people look at places in their house and get creative and industrious.  Poppy took an empty corner and created a kids’ desk area.  Julie managed to make a roomy and sleek laundry area.  Oh the jealousy.

Ramona ran a half-marathon and looked like a rock star doing it.  Inspiring.

Mary survived the dreadful task of weaning her children from the family bed.  It’s a good thing too, since they were about to start high school and all.  (She’s hilarious.  You’ll love her.)

Stacy wrote a great poem that any of us who are winter weary can relate to.  And to think that I probably only have about 3 months of winter left around here . . .  (sob).

And Terresa wrote one of the best posts I’ve ever read that captures both the joy and trial of parenthood.

Oh, and I can’t forget to congratulate Kristina on her new hernia.  Nice work, KP.

Congrats to all of these ladies who make the blogworld a great place to be.  (The “rules” for winners are here.)

One more thing to share:

Some music is just POWERFUL.  And if you can watch this video without feeling a swell in your heart, then you are cold and dead inside:

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!  I’m having a JAM party (Jane Austen Marathon)— it will be awesome.  Of COURSE you’re invited.  🙂

My favorite comma

Matt tried to give me a pep talk this morning in our bathroom before he left for work.  (I think I looked as tired as I felt.)  “You can do it.  Be a laundry demon!  You’re a super mom.  You’re awesome.”  I looked at him out of the side of my eyes and said, “Go walk from here to the kitchen and look all around you the whole way.  Imagine everything you see is your job to take care of today, and then tell me how awesome it feels.”  He smiled.  He knows.

I started thinking about Sister Beck’s recent talk (I already blogged about it some) about the doctrine of the family, and her expressed concern that the youth are not confident about forming families.  I thought about how mornings like mine, and kitchens like mine, might be the reason for some of their apprehension.  I get it.  It’s daunting.  It’s certainly not convenient or easy.  But my mind kept reflecting on Sister Beck’s affirmation that the business of family is a “faith-based work” and that Heavenly Father helps us to do it.  We can’t do family, or anything that really matters, without his help.  We need faith; We have to believe it matters and we have to believe He’ll help us.  And He does.  I’ve marveled recently that despite my February funk (my lazy eye), He has not left me comfortless.  I can think of times that I know He stepped in and saved the day as an answer to weak, mumbled, random prayers.  He has blessed me when I have not endeavored to deserve His blessings.  I think this is why:

Faith is a gift, you know.  And like all spiritual gifts, we have access to it when we want it and seek it, or even simply hope for it.  There’s a scripture that I love in the Doctrine and Covenants section 46 because it uses my favorite comma in the scriptures— a comma that brings blessings within my reach by qualifying a statement that seems otherwise impossible.  In this section, the Lord encourages us to develop spiritual gifts.  He mentions many of them (such as testimony, Spirit, faith, wisdom and miracles), and then He says about these gifts— I’ll highlight the part with my favorite comma—

For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me . . .

Even when we are in a funk, even when we know there is more we should be doing but just can’t quite get it all together, God knows our hearts, our desires, knows that we seek to love Him and keep all his commandments, and He blesses us with gifts we feel we don’t deserve.  He gives us faith to continue doing the important work we do.  Whether we recognize those gifts or not, they are still gifts and they keep us going.  We do the faith-based work of family because God blesses us with the faith we need when he knows we want to do what’s right.

So I’m off to see what the “laundry demon” in me can do, with a little help of course.  Maybe God will give me the gift to not notice the kitchen while I’m on my way.

General Conference Book Club Week 20: Elder Watson

Elder Kent D. Watson gave a fantastic talk called “Being Temperate in All Things” in the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference.  It is a short talk, but a fresh and powerful message.  I don’t think I’d ever given the word temperance much thought before, but I will now.

“Security for our families comes from learning self-control, avoiding the excesses of this world, and being temperate in all things. Peace of mind comes from strengthened faith in Jesus Christ. Happiness comes from being diligent in keeping covenants made at baptism and in the holy temples of the Lord.”

Study the talk and let me know what temperance means to you— in your life.  You can read it, or watch it, or listen.  Countdown to next General Conference (and springtime) is on . . .

The best-laid plans

For three days, I have had ONE goal: change the sheets on my bed. Have you ever had those kind of days when even your “let’s-not-be-too-demanding-on-ourselves” goals overreach your ability to get them done? I was so confident that yesterday I would actually get my bed stripped and re-made that I cut my kids toenails on my bed. Last night after they were asleep, I watched a recorded episode of American Idol to let my mind decompress for a little while, and then gathered up all my courage to tackle the magnificent task at hand. I knew Matt would think it strange to arouse him from his reading to change the sheets, but I was determined that it should finally be done.

I walked into the room to see him snoring on the bed with his book across his chest. Oh good grief.

And now here it is, almost 6 pm the next day, and all I’ve done is strip the bed. (And you need not point out that any rational person would be washing sheets instead of blogging. If I were of sound mind, this post would not even be necessary.)

Oh, and I’m fasting today for the care of a loved one, but I kept forgetting I was fasting. I took a bite of Clark’s ravioli, and a sip of Grant’s Sierra Mist, and both times bristled and reprimanded myself upon remembering my fast. I can only hope that God can look at my ransacked home and unmade beds and accept my pseudo-fast on the grounds that their neglect is in part due to trying to tend to others’ needs.

I just hope I don’t have to sleep in toenails again tonight.

“I can’t see that!”

The last few days have been more involved in the world of medicine than I might have chosen.  Among other things, Natalie managed to get another urinary tract infection while taking a 90-day supply of preventative antibiotics.  We’ll see what the next round of procedures will bring, but all indications say it may include anesthesia.

I force her to take regular potty breaks, and she wants me to hang out with her in the bathroom, so I do.  As I stood in the doorway today, looking at her lovely blue eyes and kissable rosy cheeks, I smiled.

“Natalie, you’re really pretty.”

“I can’t see it.”

“You have a pretty face and a cute new shirt and pretty black flower in your hair, and you look pretty.”

She rolled her little eyes around in their sockets trying to see her own face and hair.

“I can’t see that!”

“I know, but I can.  And you’re pretty.”

And I thought how true that is for all of us.  We are lovely— living lives of service, adorned with sacrifice and affection— but our eyes don’t spin around that far, and we don’t see how beautiful we are.

Something inside me tells me that somewhere a Heavenly parent smiles on me in much the same way and reassures, “You can’t see it, but I can.”

When a parent overlooks shortcomings and just sees the goodness in someone, I believe it’s a small dose of how God sees all of us who are trying to love Him and serve Him:

Genesis 6: 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

What better thing to see reflected back in someone’s eyes than grace, especially coming from the eyes of someone you love and are trying so hard to please?

Jeremiah 1: 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee.

Prov. 5: 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings.

Doctrine and Covenants 124:1 (This was spoken to a prophet, but I believe it can be applied to us in our own realms and responsibilities.) “I am well pleased with your offering and acknowledgments, which you have made; for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth.”
Come to think of it, it seems like the absolute best place for us to ever see ourselves clearly is in the grace-laden reflection of God’s eyes.  After all, no matter how hard we try to make our own eyes see things, we’re much better off with the help of the One who sees things as they really are, and … things as they really will be”  (Jacob 4:13).  I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel pretty.

Momsensical Mad Libs Mania

Thanks to those of you who played along with Friday’s Mad Libs post.  (Yes, even impatient AmberWaves. :))  Here’s the text you can use to plug in all your answers.

Job posting: Motherhood

WANTED:  One (1) lady to work full time as mother in a (2) household.  Job duties include:

Doing laundry (3) for at least (4) people in a washing machine the size of a (5).

Coming up with something to cook for dinner every night even when you only have (6) in your cupboards.

Cleaning the house until the floor’s so clean you could (7) on it.

Bathing and dressing children.  (Experience working with (8) is very helpful.)

Creating and maintaining a discipline plan to ensure that children (9) (10).

You don’t have to do it all alone.  You could also make a (11) chore chart and sit back and watch while the children (12).

You should probably be paid about $(13) an hour for this work, but you’ll do it for free since it makes your heart say “(14).”

(15) people need not apply.

Oh, and remember that in heaven, you’ll get lots and lots of (16).

Just for fun, I picked some of my favorite answers among all of your entries and put together a communal job posting that brings a smile to my face.  I linked each term to the clever lady who provided it.

Job posting: Motherhood

WANTED:  One ridonkulous lady to work full time as mother in a primal household.  Job duties include:

Doing laundry wistfully for at least 47* people in a washing machine the size of a tractor.

Coming up with something to cook for dinner every night even when you only have garlic, almond extract and brown sugar in your cupboards.

Cleaning the house until the floor’s so clean you could germinate on it.

Bathing and dressing children.  (Experience working with sea lions* is very helpful.)

Creating and maintaining a discipline plan to ensure that the children bemoan, tease and howl cheerfully.

You don’t have to do it all alone.  You could also make a polka-dotted chore chart and sit back and watch while the children laugh.

You should probably be paid about $99 an hour for this work, but you’ll do it for free since it makes your heart say “Whoa, Nelly!

Beautiful people need not apply.

Oh, and remember that in heaven, you’ll get lots and lots of babies.

(*Thanks to Jan and Atzimba for their clever answers even though I didn’t have a blog link for them.)

So, what do you think?  Would it be fun to do it again sometime?