Friday, January 31, 2014

Grig's Home!

For the first time in a long time, Grig actually has close to a 40-hour week! This is exciting and somewhat sad at the same time.

It's great because Grig and I get a day almost entirely to ourselves (besides Kevin). We have some things we need to get done, so it is exciting that we have a day to actually do them.

It is sad because it means a pay-cut, but we can handle it. We'll might have to alter our budget just a little bit.

I am currently working on learning new anime software using a trial version of toon boom studio. I'm saving up for the real version, but so far it's been fairly easy to figure out how to use it. Hopefully you'll see a marked improvement in my animations soon.

Kevin was pretty excited to see his father this morning. He climbed over, flopped on top of him, and gave him a big hug. It was adorable. Grig woke up to a snuggle from his son.

Kevin hardly ever goes to sleep without nursing. However, the other night, after Grig got home, he and Kevin were snuggling on the couch and I looked over to find that Kevin had fallen asleep on his dad's chest. It was really cute. I might have teared up a bit. It gives me hope that Kevin will eventually sleep in his own bed.

Kevin really loves his daddy. I do too. We are so excited to have a day together!

So, today's blog is a little shorter so I can go spend time with my husband.

I'm sure you understand.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Crazy, Fun Day

Yesterday was kind of a crazy day.

I didn't plan very well. On Sunday, I signed up to have the Sister Missionaries over for dinner. Then, on Monday, I called the pediatric clinic to get Kevin an appointment for his one-year immunizations. I asked them if they had any appointments after 4:00 (so Grig could come). They told me they had one day open. I quickly jumped and grabbed the 4:40 time. That way we could get there in time to fill out paperwork.

As soon as I hung up the phone, the thought hit me...what day did I sign up to have the missionaries over?

I checked my notebook and of course, it was Wednesday.

I spent the next few days praying that things would work out and the missionaries wouldn't want to come over before 6.  Yesterday morning, they called to confirm a time. They told me that they had an appointment at 5:00, so would it be okay if they had dinner at 6:00?

I quickly reassured them that would be perfect!

When Grig got home from work, there was a notice on our door. The manager was upset because people hadn't been picking up their dog poop and the grass on the property looked disgusting. She then added that she might be fining some people's accounts. So, before I left I went out and picked up ALL the dog poop in front of our apartment. That way, I figured, even though most of it wasn't ours (we try to always pick up our poop), she wouldn't even think that it was from our dog.

I don't poop!

After I finished, I went and told her what I'd done. I wasn't trying to make myself look good; I was just trying to avoid a fine. However, she told me that if I hadn't done that, she would have ended up doing it, so she told me to take $25 off of our apartment rent this month. That was really nice of her. I told her some of it was probably ours, but she told me to make sure I took the $25 off. That was a nice blessing.

Then, we ran to take Kevin to his doctor's appointment. The appointment went well. They poked his foot to check his hemoglobin levels, and he didn't even twitch. When she squeezed his foot, he just granted in a manly manner.

Then, the doctor got some pus out of an infected pimple-type thing on Kevin's back and he just shrugged it off.

However, when they stabbed the needles into his thighs, his composure broke. A startled look came across his face and he began to wail. Poor kid. That was a pretty tough thing for him. It exhausted him so much that on our way to pick up the missionaries he fell asleep.

It was a very short nap. We quickly reached our home where I had dinner warming in the oven. They seemed to really like it. I made Sausage Noodle Bake, which is a family favorite. I think it's okay if I share that recipe with you, if you want it.

Sausage Noodle Bake

Recipe By     : My Great-Grandma
Categories    : Main Dishes

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
   1 1/2  cups          any size noodles
   1      pound         bulk sausage
     1/4  cup           chopped onion
   1      can           cream of mushroom soup
     1/3  cup           fine dry bread crumbs
     3/4  cup           evaporated milk
     1/3  cup           water
   1      cup           grated  American cheese
   2      tablespoons   melted butter

Cook noodles until tender and put into buttered casserole dish.  Brown
sausage and add onion.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Mix soup, milk, water and 
cheese. Add to sausage and onion and pour over noodles.  Mix melted butter
and bread crumbs.  Cover the casserole with them.  Bake at 350 for 30

Last night, I actually altered it a little bit. I used way more breadcrumbs, and then, instead of putting butter on it, I sprayed it with cooking spray. It was quicker and tasted great afterward! The missionaries seemed to like it, they both had seconds. We also had bottled peaches and lemonade. Grig went and bought some cookies because I ran out of time and didn't make brownies. I'll have to do that today.

So, that's our crazy day.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Disappointing News

A few months ago, we were in a tight spot.

Grig had just graduated from college and he was seeking employment, preferably in his field of study. The problem is, Grig wants to be an editor or a copywriter. Every available job application that we found in this field required one thing that a brand-new graduate doesn't have.


Grig applied and he applied for job after job.  Even the entry-level positions found more qualified individuals. It was a very stressful and trying time in Grig's life. There is nothing like being a father and being unable to provide for your family. He began to feel bad about himself, and to wonder why nobody wanted him.

After about a month, he branched out and began applying for anything that would take him. After another couple of months, one day, to our joy, a place called him back and wanted him to come interview! We were ecstatic...except we didn't feel very good about this particular job.

We began to pray and we received a very strong answer that Grig wasn't supposed to take this job. He then called the company back and told them he wouldn't be coming in for the interview. That seems stupid right? Why turn down the opportunity for a job when you have nothing?

It is because we trust Heavenly Father.  If he tells us a job won't be good for our family, we listen to him. It turned out, actually, that this particular company had a reputation for being dishonest and swindling their customers.

However, even more important than that, is that we were not supposed to stay in the area that we were living in at the time.

It finally dawned on us, after about three months, that we were asking the wrong questions.  We weren't supposed to be asking "Where are we supposed to work?" Instead, we were supposed to be asking, "Where should Grig get his Master's degree?" Grig wanted to achieve his Master's degree, but we hadn't been focusing on that long-term goal.

On that Sunday we changed the question. On Sunday night, we decided which college we were supposed to go to, and on Monday Grig applied for a job in that city.

Tuesday, the company called asking Grig to come down for an interview and Wednesday he got the job!  Thursday we found an apartment to live in and we packed up that weekend, and moved on Monday of the next week.

Grig has been working at that job ever since while we've been getting residency in our new state.

It was a pretty amazing thing that happened.

Why am I sharing this story with you?  It's because we are facing a similar situation right now. Grig's job usually lays-off half of its work force beginning in February. It's entirely possible that he won't have a job in a month or two.  That is kind of scary for us.

Recently, we applied for a job for the LDS church for Grig to work as an entry-level copywriter.  The job seemed perfect, and we felt very strongly that he should apply for it.  However, yesterday, this job contacted Grig and told him that his application would not be advanced to the next stage.

That was difficult to hear. We had felt good about that job, and we had thought that Grig at least would have the opportunity to prove his abilities as a proofreader.  (They have a grammar test that the applicants are required to take after they make it through the initial sorting.)  Grig does have about two-years of experience as a free-lance editor, and he has an incredible grasp of the English language.

We are pretty disappointed. That would have been a great opportunity for Grig to gain some much needed job experience and possibly get a foot in the door. 

However, even though we are disappointed, we still have faith. If Grig had gotten this job, we would have been required to move again, and we did receive an answer that we are supposed to come here. We don't know what the future holds, but just like the Lord answered our prayers a few months ago, we know that he will guide us and answer our prayers again.

The nice thing is, when the Lord is in charge if one opportunity is missed it is generally because He has a much better opportunity in store for you.

We keep praying and having faith. We have felt peace about this before, and I need to have faith that the Lord will take care of us.

Things are going to work out.  However, if you hear of any entry-level editor/copywriter positions, let us know. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Funny Nap Time Story

Mondays are always hard at our house.  The weekend seriously throws off our schedule, especially Sundays because Kevin seldom gets the nap he needs because we are at church during nap time.

However, yesterday was going pretty well.  Kevin and I woke up at 7:30 a.m.  That was actually sad because I meant to wake up at 3 with Grig, but I couldn't fall asleep Sunday night until after 11.  I have this problem where I can't shut my brain down at night, especially if I'm excited.

I finished our tax returns on Saturday and we found out how much money we were going to get. We realized that with that money we were going to be able to pay off most of our school debt!  We also realized that I could finally buy the computer that I've been saving up for.  That means a vast improvement on our videos and I can actually do some of the family history projects I've been meaning to do.  Also, I've been looking at new animating software besides flash (because it's super expensive and I can't afford it yet) and I was excited to get started on making my movie that I've been planning for ages.

All of these things combined made it so I couldn't sleep.  Creativity is very hard to shut off for me. If it isn't my movie I was thinking about, I think about story plots for my books, or things that I'm going to work on the next day.  I'm getting better and picturing blackness and trying to fade into it to go to sleep, but it is very difficult when I'm excited to make things.

Anyway, we woke up at a good time and we got a lot done in the morning.  Then, Kevin fell asleep. It was a good nap where I worked on creating some things that I wanted to work on. I am trying to improve my landscapes.  Here's what I made yesterday:

Yes, the tree is upside down.  It's meant to be.  I'm experimenting with a word where the roots stick up in the air and the foliage comes up from the ground like grass.  I'm learning to use the programs I already have as well.  I drew this particular one on Photoshop Elements.  Still needs work, but I liked the final product.

So, I'm working on my art, and suddenly I hear this strange sound. It sounds familiar, but I can't place what it is.  I stop what I'm doing and listen. 

Suddenly, I realized what the sound was! It was a little stormtrooper toy we have.  When you push the buttons on the back it says catchy things like, "All units make for that shuttle!" or "Your orders, sir?"  I realized that the last time I had seen that toy, it had been on the bed with the sleeping Kevin.  I quickly walked into the bedroom to see Kevin still sitting on the bed pushing the buttons.

It was pretty funny. That was the only reason I even knew he had woken up.

Also, here is a cute Kevin/Dakota picture for you, just because the two of them are adorable and they are such good friends.

Another funny story for you.  We've recently discovered that Kevin LOVES Puff Cheetos.  The other night, we were having ham sandwiches for dinner, and we were sharing our food (as we always do) with Kevin.  He had a mouth full of ham when he spotted the bag of Cheetos and pointing to it, began to make the noise he makes when he wants something.  I told him, "You can have one after you finish what's in your mouth."

So, Kevin pulled the ham out of his mouth, walked over to Dakota and gave it to her.  She happily ate it and we started laughing because he is such a smart boy!  Then, he came back over and asked for some Cheetos again.  Technically he had finished what was in his mouth, so we gave him one.  It was pretty funny.

Have you had any funny stories with your kids/nieces/nephews/grandchildren?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mormon Monday: Are Mormon Women Oppressed?

When I was flying out to serve my mission for the LDS church, I was the only Sister missionary on a plane with a whole bunch of Elder (young men) missionaries. As I was sitting in the airport, I struck up a conversation with a lady I was sitting near.  She wasn't a member of our church, and she was surprised to find out that I was going to serve a mission.

She told me, "It's so good to see a young woman going out with all these young men.  Someone needs to keep them in-line."

I laughed, but then she asked an interesting question.  She said, "I had heard that women in your church were oppressed by the men.  Is that true?"

I was really surprised by her question.  I quickly told her that it was not.  I had been raised by a loving father who had only ever treated me with respect and love.

Our church does exist under a patriarchal framework, which to some people sounds archaic and oppressive.  However, if you have an understanding of our religion, you would see that for the most part, we have incredible men who have nothing but respect for their wives.

Our leaders teach our husbands and fathers to serve and love the women in their lives.  They are told to honor their fathers and mothers.  Then, when they find someone to marry, they are told "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) 

In "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", fathers are told that "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families." To preside means "to sit in or hold a position of authority."

Mothers, on the other hand, are told, "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  Then, our leaders have told us that, "In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed."

Mothers and fathers are meant to be equal partners in marriage with different roles and responsibilities.  When my husband was looking for a job, I didn't sit back and say, "Providing is your responsibility, good luck!"  Instead, I helped him search for jobs and in some cases filled out part of the application for him.  When he found his job, I try to help him by going to bed on time and getting up and making him lunch (which I haven't actually done much lately.  Whoops).

When we had a baby, my husband didn't say, "Raising children is your responsibility, good luck!"  Likewise, he tries to be very involved in every stage of Kevin's life.We are trying to help each other as equal partners.

My husband holds the priesthood, which means that he has been given the ability to exercise the authority of God in His name.  However, this doesn't mean that my husband is better than me in any way.  Many women actually take offense at the fact that men have been given the priesthood and women don't have it.

I'm going to be honest, this has never bothered me. I'm going to tell you why. You don't have to agree with me, but I'm going to tell you the three reasons why I don't mind not having the priesthood.

#1-Am I lacking anything because I don't hold the priesthood?

The answer is no.  Every blessing that comes with the priesthood is available to me.  When I want a sacred blessing, I ask my husband and he is able to give me a blessing.  In this way, he is actually at a disadvantage because he has to go ask another man if he needs a blessing.  Every blessing of the gospel is available to me regardless of whether or not I hold the priesthood.  The Lord has blessed me more than I can express, and I am so grateful for the things I have been given.  Wouldn't it be ungrateful for me to ask for more?

#2-Is my husband better than me in God's eyes because he has the priesthood?

Again, the answer is a very strong no. The priesthood is huge responsibility.  It has immense consequences if men try to abuse its power.  It is the power of God, and it can only be used when one's will is aligned with God's. It is the same authority that was given to Peter, James, John, and the other disciples of Christ.  This authority is only given to righteous men who have been baptized into Christ's church and are living worthy lives. 

If men try to use this authority to oppress others or rise in power, they lose the authority.  In fact, the Lord addressed this issue specifically.  He says in Doctrine and Covenants 121: 34-44:

 34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
 35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
 36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
 37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
 38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
 39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
 40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
 43 Reproving betimes (immediately) with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
 So, in the Lord's perfect system, those with the priesthood are meant to serve those around them. They aren't meant to dominate, oppress, or try to gratify their pride or ambitions. If members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are treating their wives in an abusive or domineering manner, they are not acting in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are a member of the church and someone in your life is trying to use the fact that they have the priesthood to make themselves more powerful or manipulate you, you can be assured that they are not acting in accordance with God's will, and most likely they have already lost the priesthood that they profess to have.

There are women who may feel that their lives are lacking because they may not have a husband or father in their home, but the men of the church are charged to take care of all the women in the church, not just their own families.  The priesthood blessings are available for anyone who wants to partake in them.  The Lord is no respecter of persons and He will bless you if you only have the courage to ask Him.

#3- How would my life change if I was given the priesthood?

I don't feel like much would change except I would be given a lot more responsibilities, and frankly, I feel like I have enough right now.  My hands are full with my son. I would still try to live my life in the same way, and my husband and I would still treat each other with love and respect.  We  would still talk about the decisions that affect our family together, and we would still pray and ask Heavenly Father what we should do each day.

Grig and I try to be united in all things and to help each other with our different responsibilities.  He has never tried to boss me around or control my life. In fact, I was told recently by the Spirit that I need to be less dominating and let him take more of a lead in our marriage.  Sometimes I can be a bit pushy and forceful. I'm learning to be an equal partner as well.

As we work together to come closer to Heavenly Father and fulfill our God-given roles, we each grow closer to each other and to God.

There is an old triangle that I've been shown in church before.  Here is a diagram someone made of it: 
Basically the idea is, if we are moving closer to God, we are also moving closer to each other. If we continue to work together to do God's will, we will also grow in love and respect for each other.

Are Mormon women oppressed? Not due to the doctrines of our church.  The doctrines of the church clearly teach the women should be respected, listened to, and loved.

Are there oppressive Mormon men? Yes, just as there are abusive and oppressive men (and women) in all facets of society.  The men (and women) who act this way are acting in opposition to the laws we have been given from God.  There are men who try and manipulate their wives and daughters by twisting the doctrine of the church, but I can testify that they will be held accountable before God.

I have never experience abuse of oppression by men in my life.  I know I'm one of the lucky ones and my heart sorrows for those of you who have been injured or hurt.  That is not God's way.  His path is one of hope, healing, and joy.  Turn to him, and you can receive more love and blessings than you could possibly imagine!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Doggie is Not a Horsey

Kevin usually does really well with Dakota.  He'll walk up to her and pat her head and rub it back and forth.  She is equally tolerant of him and his antics.  His favorite game is to grab her tail and have her pull him around the house.  Mostly, she just ignores him and continues on her business.  I haven't heard her yelp from anything that Kevin has done lately.

However, Kevin's favorite game involves doing something that causes the dog some discomfort.

He loves to climb on her back when she's laying down and pretend to ride her. She tolerates it, but she gives me this pathetic look every time it happens, like she is saying, "Save me!"

Save me!

We are trying to teach Kevin that the doggie is not a horsey. You can ride daddies and mommies when they are laying on their stomachs like that (and Kevin loves that too), but you shouldn't ride the poor, ancient, arthritic, thirteen-year-old dogs. 
Dad's version of the game.

He's slowly getting it. Dakota deserves a reward, though.  She puts up with a lot.  Granted, that's pretty much the only downside in living with us, but she and Kevin get along pretty well most of the time.

Kevin is a very sweet little boy.  Even when he is hurting her, he doesn't mean to.  He just wants to play. Dakota doesn't play very much, even with me.  She's never really had much interest in fetching for a long period of time, and now that she's old, she could care less.  Kevin really wants to interact with her, and they're figuring it out as they go.  My job is to act as referee. Dakota understands that if she tolerates Kevin, I'll save her before it gets too bad.
Best game ever.

I'm sure this is just preparation for when we have more children. I'm going to have to save them from Kevin's love, just as I've had to save the dog from his love. Someday he'll have to learn that his younger siblings aren't horsies either. Hopefully, having a dog is good preparation for that. He's already learning to be gentle and sweet, and what those words mean.
Waving as they ride by.

It's still a work in progress, but he's a smart little guy. He'll figure it out. At least he has a very patient teacher.  We're lucky she's such a good dog.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It's Easy to Get Off-Track

So, we are almost done with the month of January, and I a little disappointed to admit that my goals have gotten off-track.

The first week I did great!  I accomplished almost all of my goals every day. 

Then, the next week, we got sick.  Getting sick really threw a chink into my scheduling and planning.  I didn't feel good, so I really didn't feel like exercising, cleaning, or standing up in general. Ultimately, I feel better, but I got out of the habit again. 

Here it is, my new resolve!  I'm starting over again tomorrow with goals in hand.  My new plan is to schedule in the morning and then get to it!  I've been kind of lazy this week, and though I could argue that I'm still recovering from sickness, I'm getting past the point where that is a pertinent excuse.

Today, we got up earlier, but Kevin has been crazy today.  I think he might be teething.  Thus, it makes it difficult to get anything done. 

I'm not giving up though.  This month may be almost over, but the year is still just beginning.

If you've gotten off-track with your goals, join me in beginning anew tomorrow!  This year I am going to make and keep goals.  I was feeling great the other week with how much I was getting done, and I want to continue to enjoy that feeling.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why Do People Hate Meatloaf?

In our home, there is one dinner I make that is loved above all others:


This week, we had a birthday party for my brother-in-law Havelock.  I asked him what meal he wanted me to make, and after he thought about it for a moment, he told me, "Would it be too much trouble if we had meatloaf?"

I told him I'd been expecting him to say that. 

Lately, whenever we have guests over to eat in our home, that is usually what I make them. I made up the recipe myself, and it is quite delicious and moist. If you want to try our version, here it is: 

Emma Tank’s Meatloaf
1 1/2 pounds of hamburger
1 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup corn
1 chopped onion
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup barbeque sauce (or ketchup)

3/4 cup ketchup (or barbeque sauce)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Spray the bread pan with non-stick spray.  Put meatloaf in pan, press down to fill all edges.  Combine topping, pour on top of meatloaf.  Cover all surfaces.  Cook at 375 for 1 hour 25 minutes.

Well, there you have it. Our favorite version of meatloaf. I may have posted it here before, but that's okay.

I've actually never understood the perception that everyone hates meatloaf.  It's always been a favorite of mine. I don't know why so many people seem to loathe having it for dinner. Served with mashed potatoes and cooked carrots, it can be quite delicious. 

However, after looking up meatloaf pictures on google, I found some pretty disgusting looking versions. Maybe that's why people don't like meatloaf.  They just haven't found my version yet. ;)

Let me know how you feel about meatloaf. I really am curious to know why people dislike it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cheating at Practice

When I was a kid, my parents decreed that we should all play the piano.  So, I started when I was four.

I liked being able to play the piano, but I often didn't have the patience or ability to sit still for long periods of time and play the same part over and over....and over...and over.  I became bored very quickly.  This is where I began to cheat.

Due to the fact that we didn't have enough pianos for everyone, sometimes one of us would play the piano and the other would play the keyboard.  The keyboard had this amazing button that allowed you to record what you were playing.  I soon discovered that if I played it through once and recorded it, I could just push play after that and it sounded like I was playing the piece over and over, leaving me free to do whatever I wanted.

My mom had ten children so it was hard for her to keep track of all of us, all the time. So, sometimes I got away with it.

The sad thing is, it didn't really hurt anyone else.  I was just hurting myself.  Today, I still have a hard time drilling.  I get bored easily and have to switch to something else before I go back to a single section.  Variety helps me stay focused.

My piano playing skills are not what they should be for as long as I've been playing. However, I am pretty good at sight-reading. I can sit down at a piece and do a pretty decent job playing it.  Why?  It is because I didn't practice all that much so when I went to my lessons I would often sight-read the pieces for the first time.  Some weeks, my teacher would say, "Wow, that's improved a lot!" I would be very happy, but I wouldn't learn any good moral lessons.

During festival week, I had to ability to quickly memorize my pieces and then play them with feeling.  I often received better scores than my more diligent siblings who actually practiced and spent long hours on their pieces.  Again, though it was advantageous, I wasn't learning any good moral lessons from it.

It took until college for those lessons to become apparent, and even then, it took a while for them to sink in.  I am also a very fast reader with high retention so it was easy for me to procrastinate homework until the last moment. Usually my grades were top-notch as well, so I felt that I could continue to do that forever. 

However, one day I realized that I actually needed to study.  There are no shortcuts to real knowledge.  I remember very few of the songs that I memorized as a child because I didn't memorize it in my long-term memory bank, I only placed it in the short-term one.  Though I am an excellent sight-reader today, I do not have the skills to sit down and practice for hours that I sometimes wish I did. 

Cheating at studying and practicing never really helps you. It only damages the skills that you need in order to focus on a task and keep at it.  Luckily, I have made up for some of the damage I did to myself, but it's hard to see that when you're a child who can't sit still.

Don't cheat at practicing.

Cheaters never prosper because they learn how to take shortcuts.  Shortcuts lead to shoddy work and unimpressed employers.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mormon Monday: Why Do Mormons Pay Tithing?

Tithing is an ancient principle.

It goes back to the law of Moses, and even further past that to Abraham.  (Gen. 14:20 (18–20); Mal. 3:10 (8–10), Nehemiah 10:37)  We believe tithing is an eternal principle as well.

The concept is simple.  God has given us everything.  All he asks is a tenth of our increase in return.  In ancient times, this tenth was usually given in the form of livestock.  The Levites, who did not have a  land of inheritance of their own, would sacrifice part of this offering in a symbolic manner that was to prepare the minds of the Israelites to prepare for Christ, and then the rest was used to feed the Levite families.  None of the sacrifice was wasted and it was treated as a sacred offering.  

Today, we usually use money because that is now how we calculate increase and Christ fulfilled the law of Moses, ending sacrifice by the shedding of animal blood.  Now, instead we are asked to give our hearts to him.  Tithing is a way that we do that.  

Tithing is treated in a very sacred manner by our church.  We do not have a paid clergy.  Thus, tithing doesn't go to line anyone's pocket. The committee who decides how to use the funds are very aware of the widow's mite (meaning that some people have hardly nothing and still do their best to pay tithing).  They carefully and prayerfully consider where the funds from tithing should be used and how best they will build of the Kingdom of God. This money is God's money and should be used as such.  Thus, often the funds go to help build churches and temples in places where the people wouldn't be able to afford to build one otherwise.  Some of the funds go to help latter-day-saint youth with their schooling.  

The heads of our church do not get rich on our tithing.  In fact, they never see a penny of it. 
If you want more information on where our tithes go, here is a link.

However, it is not really a sacrifice for the saints.  The Lord never requires anything of his people without giving them great blessings in return.  As is promised in Malachi 3:10-12:
 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
 11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
There are some pretty awesome blessings there, and I can promise that the Lord never lies.  If He says He will do something, it is going to happen. 

I have experienced the blessings of tithing on numerous occasions.  When Grig and I were married, we decided we didn't want to wait to have children.  We felt very strongly that we weren't supposed to wait.  So, we weren't very surprised when a short time later we found out we were pregnant.  We were both working part-time jobs and going to school full-time, but we felt as though everything was going to be okay.  (Not just okay, we were super thrilled!)

We both paid our tithing each week and tried our best to keep the rest of the commandments.  We carefully saved our money and did our best to be frugal with the rest of it.  

When I gave birth to Kevin, it was a very difficult birth, and I ended up having to have a c-section.  For those of you who don't know, c-sections are quite expensive.  However, somehow in the next two months, we paid off all of our hospital bills.  We did have insurance, but it only covered part of the cost.  I still don't know where the rest of the money came from, but I do know to give credit to my Father in Heaven and I know it was a direct blessing from paying our tithing.  When we follow his commandments, He blesses us. Sometimes we don't recognize the blessings, but they are still there.

Tithing may seem difficult to pay, but it really isn't.  Everything we have is from the Lord anyway, so why would it be a sacrifice to give it back to him?  Especially when he returns it ten-fold?

I know tithing is a principle of the Lord and that He is mindful of our sacrifices.  I have felt the hand of the Lord in my life as I have lived this commandment.  It has brought great blessings to our family.  We are grateful for the law of tithing. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

You Usually Get What You're Expecting....Unless You're Expecting Perfection

I had this set of images come into my head last night.

Two men were sitting in the brush in some foreign country.  They were watching some natives go about their business.  Both men were aware that the natives knew they were there, and they were trying to analyze what the natives were going to do next.

The first man said to the person with him, "They're going to attack!" He quickly pulled out the revolver and prepared himself.

The other man said, "They're friendly.  They won't hurt us." He then sat down by a tree and waited.

At that moment, the natives came through the bushes and attacked the man who had his revolver out.  He ended up being overwhelmed by numbers and killed.

The other man was slowly approached, and he and the natives quickly became friends.

In my mind, the natives had seen the man pull out his gun and deemed him a threat.  He caused his own expectations by preparing for them to be aggressive.

The other man had seen the good in the tribe.  He waited, and the people of the country decided he was not a threat.  His expectations were also fulfilled by his actions.

Why was I thinking about this?

When you meet someone new, a lot of times we decide they are going to be a certain way.  If a friend is introducing you to a new friend and they've told you all sorts of wonderful things about the person, you probably are going to have good expectations for this new friend.  If we are looking for the best in others, we are going to find good things about them.  It is easy to find a quality that you admire or love in another person if that is what you are expecting out of them. 

On the other hand, if the whole office has been gossiping negatively about the new kid, you are likely to have poor expectations when you meet them, and because none of us are perfect, it is also equally easy to find terrible qualities in every person we meet.

When Christ was on the earth, he knew that every person he met was a sinner, but he loved them all anyway.  He was able to past the sin and love the sinner.

This policy of looking for the best in others nearly always works, unless you are looking for perfection.

While I was on my mission for the LDS church, I had a companion who was dealing with some issues when she came to live with me.  She had kind of met me before, and had heard of me, and for some reason she thought that by living with me, all of her problems would be solved.  Things went great for about a week, until she realized that her problems weren't going away and I wasn't perfect.

Therefore, she decided that it must be my fault and she didn't like me anymore.

I loved her though, and that really bothered her.  She could be very hurtful and angry at times, and I couldn't understand why.  It took me a while, but finally I realized that the reason it upset her that I loved her was because she didn't like herself very much.  When you don't like yourself, it's hard to realize that others can love you.  It's also very hard to like others.

Since then, she has dealt wonderfully with the things that were bothering her and has matured into a beautiful, wonderful woman.  She was always wonderful, but I think she has really started to see that now.

Expect the best in others, but don't expect them to solve your problems or to be perfect.  I often find that when others annoy me, it's because they reflect a quality of myself that I don't like very much.  Once I figure that out, it's easy for me to put those petty annoyances aside and enjoy the person in front of me.  The golden rule still lives.  Treat others as you want to be treated.  If you want other to nitpick everything that's wrong with you, by all means, do it to everyone you meet.

However, if you want them to love you as God would, do the same for them.  I have felt a bit of his love that he feels for His children, and I can tell you that the feeling is overwhelming.

The Lord loves each of us more than we can possibly understand.  Life can be rough and bad things can happen, but everything that occurs if for our benefit.  As we grow and learn from each trial, we mature into the beautiful creature that God always intended for us to be.  I wrote a blog a while ago about why bad things happen to good people, if you want to read it, the link is right here.

One of my favorite sayings goes, "The Lord loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way."

The Lord can see the potential in each of us.  I pray that we can also see the potential in each other.  

Kevin fell asleep on Grig's shoulder.  Cute picture!
Try to feel the love that the Lord has for those around you, and I can promise that you will be astonished.  This world is full of wonderful people, including you!