The rest of the stories…

In the last month or so, there have been a few items that I’ve thrown out there for your advice and input, so I wanted to let you know how it’s all turned out.

1.  Appliances. Remember you all had 1,000 different opinions about the must-have items and features in my up-and-coming appliance collection?  Well, today is delivery day and I am so excited.  I rented appliances for almost a month– partially to give myself time to pick out what I wanted, and partially because I was afraid all this short-sale title-transfer business at the new house might not work itself out and we’d find ourselves out on the street with our brand-new appliances.  (We’ve been paying rent in the meantime, but the title was finally all cleared and we now have an official closing date to own the house.)  Anyway, go here if you even care about the final purchases.  I started to post it all, but then I felt dumb because it might come across as bragging or something  (Hey, wow, look at my awesome new fridge!), but I thought some of you might be curious about what I finally decided.  If I did not buy your very favorite item in the whole world, I hope you’ll forgive me.  I do have a budget, you know.

2.  Grant’s school. I had to channel the “mother lion” inside of me so I could hold my ground when I met with Grant’s principal and teacher. The kid is a year ahead of their curriculum and it has been a struggle to figure out what’s going to help him have a good learning experience.  My biggest fear is that he would become lazy and lose the attitude that he has to work and try when he goes to school.  We ended up with 3 options: clearance from the principal to (1) move him into another classroom with a teacher who’s much more equipped for “enrichment” or (2) have him tested to skip a grade, which he’d probably pass, but I’m just not sure about it, OR (3) put him in a brand-new charter school that just opened last week, but it feels kind of like a gamble because there’s no history or reputation to rely on.  We discussed all our options with Grant and let him pray about it. He chose to go to the charter school and started there on Monday. I’m still pretty nervous about it all, since the school is so new and still seems pretty unorganized. When I expressed my apprehension, he got frustrated with me: “Mom, God said (the charter school) will be fine.”  I figure that I need to let it play itself out, if for no other reason, to let him know we honor the answers he gets to his prayers.  Hopefully it will all work out okay. I guess the worse case scenario is he could learn nothing new this year, but then he’d at least be on schedule again for 3rd grade. Maybe. 🙂  By the way, I left Clark in his first grade class where he already was because he has a good teacher and seems to be doing well.

3.  The move in general. It’s gone much better than I feared.  Our neighborhood is nice, the neighbors are kind, the views out my windows are lovely, and the gospel is still true and all.  Things like Facebook and the phone have let me stay in touch with people I love and miss, and I’m beginning to feel more confident that I’ll be able to form some new friendships here.  The Lord has blessed us so much through this transition that I keep looking over my shoulder waiting for something terrible to happen, but I need to let it go and just be grateful.  This past weekend, we were able to attend a Regional Conference where Sister Beck, Elder Holland, and President Packer all spoke.  You can’t complain about opportunities like that.  (By the way, Sister Beck basically told young moms to stop spending so much time on the computer and to turn our attention to our children.  She reminded us –who am I kidding?  She reminded me— that the computer is simply a tool, just like a dishwasher or washing machine, and should not be a distraction.  It was one of those aha! moments for me– rebuking enough to be a little uncomfortable, but encouraging enough that I felt inspired by the counsel.)  Anyway, life is good at the moment and we’re starting to fall into routines and feel comfortable on our new journey.  There’s been stress, yes, but I know we’ve been blessed.

It is human nature, I suppose, to seek elsewhere for our happiness. Pursuit of career goals, wealth, and material rewards can cloud our perspective and often leads to a lack of appreciation for the bounteous blessings of our present circumstances. It is precarious to dwell on why we have not been given more. It is, however, beneficial and humbling to dwell on why we have been given so much. An old proverb states, “The greater wealth is contentment with a little.”

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philip. 4:11).

Alma instructed his son Helaman, giving him counsel that all fathers should teach their children: “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day” (Alma 37:37). Alma says, “Let thy heart be full of thanks unto God.” The Lord desires that we give thanks. In Thessalonians we read, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18).

… We should constantly strive to increase our gratitude. Gratitude may be increased by constantly reflecting on our blessings and giving thanks for them in our daily prayers.”  ~Steven E. Snow, “Gratitude,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 49–51

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GCBC Week 21: Developing Good Judgment and Not Judging Others

General Conference Book Club Week 21:
I know someone who was offended at church by a closed-minded comment made during Sunday School.  The comment was not directed at her, but it was still thoughtless, and it stung.  We probably all know (or have been) someone in a similar situation.  Since we are not perfect and all have need of a Savior, we often forget to be more like Him, not only in the things we say, but also in forgiving the things we hear.Elder Elder Gregory A. Schwitzer of the Seventy gave his talk, Developing Good Judgment and Not Judging Others, during the last session of the most recent General Conference.  He made some great points about judgment that made me realize several areas where I could improve.  For example:

“We may often find ourselves making quick judgments about people, which can change or redefine our relationships with them. Often incorrect judgments are made because of limited information or because we do not see beyond that which is immediately in front of us.”

“Good judgment is needed not only in understanding people but also in facing decisions that often lead us to or away from our Heavenly Father.”

What insights did you gain as you studied this talk?

Only TWO weeks left before another round of conference.  Is anyone as excited as I am?

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.

The lioness at the gate

Did you know that I used to live in China?  I did.  (See the lovely Great Wall behind us?)  Matt and I spent one summer in Beijing when we were still newlyweds. He had an internship at a software company, and I taught English classes at a small Canadian university.  It was certainly all an adventure, but this was before we ever had children, so I was a little naive about what “adventure” really meant.  (You’ve never had a real adventure unless you’ve tried to go somewhere with 3 small children in tow.)  🙂  Anyway, one of the most popular historical/tourist spots in Beijing is the Forbidden City:

“The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five hundred years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government.”  (Thanks, Wikipedia.)

Here I am at the Forbidden City.  I’ll have you know that my denim overalls and cassette walkman were very fashionable at the time. (The walkman thing was actually rented for an audio tour.)

At the main entrance to the Forbidden City, this is what you see.  It is called the Gate of Supreme Harmony:

According to this travel website,

The gate is guarded by a couple of bronze lions which aimed to show imperial dignity. The west one is male, with its front right paw resting on a ball, symbolizing imperial power extended worldwide.

The lioness on the east side has its front left paw on a lion cub, indicating a prosperously growing family and the never-ending secession of the imperial lineage.

Cool, huh?

Wait.  This gets cooler.

At the last Women’s Conference, Sister Julie Beck gave an amazing talk.  This is what she said:

“I have said lately that women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her. For example, if the lioness at the gate believes in the law of tithing, tithing will be paid in that family. If that family has a humble little portion of ten pesos coming in, that lioness will safeguard the one peso if tithing is important to her. If that lioness at the gate knows about renewing her baptismal covenants with God, she will be in sacrament meeting on Sunday, and she will prepare her children to be there. They will be washed, cleaned, combed, and taught about that meeting and what happens there. It isn’t a casual event, but it is serious to her, and it will be serious to them. The lioness at the gate ensures that temple worship is taken care of in the family. She encourages that participation. She cares about seeking after her ancestors. If the lioness at the gate knows about and understands missions, missionaries, and the mission of the house of Israel, she will prepare future missionaries to go out from that home. It is very difficult to get a lion cub away from a lioness who doesn’t believe in missions, but if the lioness believes in a mission, she will devote her life to preparing the cub to go out and serve the Lord. That’s how important she is. Service happens if she cares about it.

Sisters, you are each like the lioness at the gate. This means that there has to be some prioritizing. I was taught years ago that when our priorities are out of order, we lose power. If we need power and influence to carry out our mission, then our priorities have to be straight.”

She then goes on to suggest ways to establish those priorities and protect our families as we should.  I love the concept.  I want to get statues like that for my front door just to remind me.  Motherhood? That, my friends, is dignity, power, lineage, and prosperity.  And let’s not forget adventure.

I can totally make that face.  Just ask my kids.

p.s. I’m guest posting over here today about (gasp!) family planning.  Check it out, and enter in the giveaways there while you’re at it.

GCBC Week 20: All Things Work Together for Good

General Conference Book Club, Week 20:

“All Things Work Together for Good” by Elder James B. Martino of the Seventy

When we are in the midst of challenges, it is difficult to see the purpose in our struggles.  We sometimes fear that the trial is bigger than our ability to bear it.  Even Joseph Smith, in a dark time during his imprisonment, cried out to the Lord, “O God, where art thou?” (D&C 121:1), to which he received this reassurance:  “… Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”

In this conference talk, Elder Martino testifies:

“Our trials come in many forms, but each will allow us to become more like the Savior as we learn to recognize the good that comes from each experience. As we understand this doctrine, we gain greater assurance of our Father’s love. We may never know in this life why we face what we do, but we can feel confident that we can grow from the experience.”

What insights do you gain about facing trials as you study this 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.

Stuff that matters, starring you.

First of all, thank you to all of you who made such kind comments on my recent post.  You said some great things that made me think, and you definitely made me feel loved and appreciated.  You made me feel better. Thank you.

I wanted to make sure that you knew about this little month-long festival going on over at Chocolate on my Cranium (click on the button):

This month marks the 15th anniversary of “The Family:  A Proclamation to the World,” which is even more powerful now than the day it was announced.  It’s a benchmark of truth and doctrine.

“Why do we have this proclamation on the family now? Because the family is under attack. All across the world families are falling apart. The place to begin to improve society is in the home. Children do, for the most part, what they are taught. We are trying to make the world better by making the family stronger” ~ President Gordon B. Hinckley

Anyway, there are bucketloads of posts going on over there about different points of the proclamation, as well as blog hops and giveaways galore.  You’ll definitely want to spend some time there this month.  (And if you’re still on the fence about it, okay, I’ll tell you.  I’m guest posting there next week.  At least show up that day.)

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And in case you’re looking for more good stuff to read, I also wanted to honor some of my favorite posts in the last little while (and by little while, I really mean all summer.  It’s been a little busy around here. Give me a break.)  Let’s hand out a few Post-It Awards, shall we?

Winners –or anyone else who cares– click on the award for more info.

Posts that somehow inspired me, listed by post first, then the name of the blog:

For This Child I Prayed from I’m (Not) Crazy Mommy

Passing the Bridge of Sighs from Blog Segullah by Annie

Presence in Mothering from Mormon Mommy Blogs by InkMom (ooh, that’s two!)

learning every day from Hughes News

What I learned about being a mother by watching my husband be father. from You’re Pretty too.

Blessings from Write Stuff

whirring and spinning from a*may*zing

parenting from Confessions of a cookie addict

What (I Think) Women Want: To Husbands from Mormon Mommy Blogs by Braden Bell

Outside perspective from Mommy Snark

Lasts from Overstuffed

BLIND BY CHOICE from Becoming LDS

Go visit them and leave a little comment there; I bet it would make them smile today.  I’m sure there were many more great posts, so don’t feel bad if you had a masterpiece you think I left off the list.  In fact, feel free to paste your favorite post from this summer in the comments.  I’d love to read it.  Really.  This list here is just simply a case of the days I was not too lazy to actually click the little star button in Google Reader.

You people rock.  Yes you do.  (I did not say that in an annoying voice.  Trust me.)