Friday, February 28, 2014

Caring Too Much

I was talking to Grig the other day about a part of myself that has always kind of been interesting to me.

I have a hard time getting close to people. The other day, when Kevin was really sick I was having horrible thoughts about waking up to find him not breathing. Most people would avoid thinking about it, but I have two parts of my brain. The logical part not only thinks about things like that, but asks the question, "What would you do?" When I get into that mindset, the emotional side of my brain shuts down and I am able to think of how events would unfold in a very practical way and how I would deal with it.

Later on, when the emotional side kicked back in, I was horrified at the thought and I wasn't able to sleep very good because I had to keep checking on him. He's fine and is no longer sick, but the way I reacted gave me food for thought.

My greatest recurring nightmare when I was growing up was my family dying and leaving me alone. I would wake up sobbing from dreams like that, and it would hurt a lot. I loved my family very deeply, but sometimes I subconsciously began to separate myself from them in preparation of the moment when they would leave me. This isn't necessarily healthy and makes me seem a bit distant at times. For a long time, I wondered why I didn't have more friends or why it didn't bother me so much when people moved away. I wondered what was wrong with me.

I finally realized that it isn't that I don't care about people. It is that I care too much. It is so painful for me to have someone leave my life that before it even begins happening, I start to emotionally separate from them.

When I was a kid, I once read a note that a girl had written about me. I thought we were pretty good friends, but one day, without meaning to, I glanced over and saw that she had something written in her notebook. I wasn't trying to pry, but I caught a glimpse of my name and I couldn't help myself. To another friend she had written: "Emma (meaning me) is such a jerk. She says mean things all the time and then says she's joking, but I know she's not."

That really hurt my feelings. It really hurt me that someone I thought loved me and understood me would not only misunderstand me, but then they would talk badly about me to another person I thought was my friend.

Granted, I was not a perfect child. I did make jokes and say I was kidding all the time. However, in our family, sometimes teasing is a sign of affection. I really was trying to be a good friend. When I said I was kidding, I REALLY was kidding. I tried to pick inoffensive things to tease people about, but evidently I wasn't doing a good job because I had hurt someone else's feeling. Which made me feel even worse.

That, and a few other betrayals of friendship, made me decide that I could be friends with myself. I like myself and understood myself. Myself and I could hang out and have a good time without other people. I didn't understand what had happened to all the other kids at my school. Some of them that I thought I was close to suddenly turned into different people. Only now do I realize they were all trying to figure out who they were and what they were becoming. It's a hard time for kids, but I needed someone who would love me no matter what and would appreciate the things that I did for them.

This can be a very useful mental ability. I know that if something were to happen to my family, this part of my brain would take over and I would be able to survive until I could recover emotionally. I just worry about the emotional recovery part.

On my mission, I had a companion that I knew was going to be transferred to another area. We were very close, and the thought of her leaving (albeit only a short distance away) was extremely painful for me. So, the logical part of my brain kicked in and told me that it would be easier if I just didn't care so much. Without meaning to, I began to withdraw from that friendship. She caught me at it, and we put a stop to it. We continue to be great friends to this day.

It took me years to pull my heart out of the box I had stuffed it into. College helped a lot, and the mission helped even more. I had the sacred experience on my mission of feeling a little bit of what Heavenly Father feels for his children. It was so powerful I felt like my  chest was going to explode with love, and I knew that was only a small portion of our Father's love. If Heavenly Father loves us all that much, why can't we love ourselves and each other?

I now have a best friend who loves me. He understands me better than anyone and tolerates my inadequacies while helping me improve. I can tell him anything and he listens without judgement. We are working together to be better people, and I'm so grateful that my Heavenly Father led me to my wonderful husband.

Sometimes, my heart still tries to pull back and separate myself from my family. It tries to protect me from being hurt, but I'm slowly learning how to let go of that fear. I want to be emotionally close to my husband and son, but if I allow the fear to pull me away I may not feel as much pain when we are separated, but I will also miss many joyous opportunities when we are together.

It's okay to feel pain. Pain helps you know that you are alive and have something to care about. Withdrawing from society or from those who love you may shield you from that pain, but it is not worth the cost. Love is a wonderful feeling that can bring unbridled joy into your life. It can be risky, but we grow as we experience opposition. If I had never felt pain from betrayal, would I truly value the love that I have now?

I don't think so.

Caring too much is a good thing. Don't let people beat it out of you. You're going to find someone who can treasure all the love you can give and when that happens, you'll be glad you never gave up.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why I'm Afraid of Hornets

I love animals.

All animals.

I'm not just saying that. In general, if it is alive, I like it. That includes bugs, snakes, and other creepy-crawly things. I am fascinated with all forms of animal life that God has put on the earth. Wolves are my favorite, but I get excited when I see any animal. On my mission, I made people laugh when I wrote in one of my letters, "The Lord answered my prayers today. We ran into a tarantula on the way home!"

Which is why it is so funny that hornets frighten me.

They don't just scare me, they literally make me dance. In fact, my family calls it "The Bee Dance." Which is funny, because bees don't really scare me.

In fact, I like bees. They are useful and if they sting you, they die. Yes, maybe their sting caused me some pain, but they usually don't sting without reason. When they do sting, they give their lives in the effort of protecting their hive.

Hornets (or yellow-jackets), on the other hand, don't. A hornet can sting as much as it wants without causing any harm to itself. They are aggressive and fearless.

I've always wanted to know the reason behind things. If my parents told me to do something, I would ask, "Why?" I wasn't trying to be rebellious, I really wanted to know. If I understood the reason, then it was much easier for me to follow the command (though I'm sure this drove my parents crazy sometimes). I love finding out how things work and why people do the things they do. This is why hornets seem so terrifying to me.

My first bad experience was in middle school. Up to that point, I didn't have an issue with hornets. However, one day, as I walked home with some siblings and friends, we stopped to talk for a moment. I decided to sit down on the grass and rest while our conversation was going on.

One second later, I jumped up. Pain had erupted from my backside and I looked down to see a hornet struggling to get up from where I had been sitting. I took off running for home as fast as I could with my friends calling after me, "What happened?"

"I sat on a hornet!" I yelled back. This experience, though painful, left me cautious but not frightened. There had been a reason behind the attack, and so I understood where the insect was coming from.

However, when I was in junior high I had an entirely different experience.

I was painting the side of a building. I knew there were hornet nests close, but I was pretty far away from any of them. I wasn't threatening their nest and I was going about my own business.

Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain shoot through my left elbow. I looked down to see a yellow-jacket emptying its toxin into my elbow. I began to yell and dance. My paint tray flew and I'm sure it was a hilarious sight.

That really started my horror of hornets. I couldn't see any reason behind the attack, and when there isn't a reason, the creature becomes unpredictable. From that time on, I began to fear the insect. If one flew toward me I would run. If one settled down on a surface near me, I would move. If one was crawling up my sleeve, I would panic. If I was holding the base of a ladder for my father and one began to fly at my face, I would dance.

Even looking at this picture makes me shudder a bit. 
My father wasn't very happy about the last one, but he lived through it. However, it could be detrimental to my work. I had a hard time working hard when hornets were even in the vicinity. I couldn't focus on the task at hand, I was too busy worrying about when the next attack might come. I had to keep my eyes trained on them at all times in case they charged me.

I'm getting over my fear a bit. Now I can remain still for a while when a yellow and black winged-death is zooming around me. However, if they come too close, I will still run. Their sting may not be that significant (to me), but I can't help it. The fear is still there.

Sometimes when I watch the news, I see people do terrible things, and I can't understand why. In some cases, I don't want to know why. When those events occur, I feel fear. I fear for our world and our society and the fear is made greater because I just don't understand why someone would do something like that.

However, the opposite of fear is faith. The hornets in our world can sting for a brief time, but that is as far as their power goes. The pain they cause my be significant and unexpected, but the Lord can heal all wounds. If we have faith and trust, fear can disappear. We can know that regardless of what happens in this life, the Lord will bring us comfort and peace.

Hornets (both the bug and the people kind) can be terrifying. However, if I live my life in fear, waiting for the next sting to occur, I'll never get anything done. We can't live our lives and find joy in the moment when we're waiting for the next terrible thing to unexpectedly occur. Bad things will happen, hornets will sting, and people will make terrible choices, but if we have faith, the fear will disappear and we will live happy and joyful lives.

Maybe there is a reason for hornets after all.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Family Videos

With my new computer has come a new project.

A while ago, I decided I was going to convert my family's entire VHS collection of family videos to DVD. Luckily, my grandpa had a VCR converter I could borrow. It was a challenging project. I ran into a bunch of snags that at times frustrated me.

First of all, I didn't have a TV. My grandparents again helped me out by loaning me a tiny pink TV that connected to the VCR, but it was so old that though it allowed me to watch the VHSs as they were playing, it didn't hook up to the newer converter or allow me to watch the finished DVDs on the converter. So, I basically was working blind. Though I could see the video as it was playing, I didn't know if it was actually being written to the DVDs and I had to wait to find out until I could visit my parents and hook up the converter to their TV, finalize the discs, and then watch them. After I finally figured out how to hook up the converter correctly, I then had to have the VHSs running constantly.

In order to converter a VHS to a DVD you basically have to play the whole thing while the DVD is recording. My family had over a hundred VHSs and most had at least two hours of footage. The actual converting process took me well over two hundred hours.

It actually ended up taking longer because at one point I took the converter to my parents' home to finalize the DVDs (you couldn't watch them on a regular machine until they had been finalized.) However, when I took the machine back to my house, I hooked the chords from the machine to the converter incorrectly. So, I did hours of DVDs that had nothing on them. I ended up having to start those ones over completely. That was very frustrating.

Then, once I'd finished the DVDs, I tried to start working on the videos by uploading them to my computer on Adobe Premier. However, it didn't take much footage before my computer began crashing. I decided I would have to wait until I had a better computer.

Over the last couple of days I have been downloading the videos from the DVDs to the computer. I finished that part of the project last night.

However, as I went to bed, I couldn't go to sleep. My head was buzzing with too many ideas and I ended up having to come back out and start working on the video files. I was pleased to see that we have video footage starting from 1985 when my oldest brother was born. I don't think I'd ever seen this footage before. It was awfully cute, but it was even more adorable to see my parents in their role as new parents. They were so cute and at one point my dad got super embarrassed. I don't know as I've ever seen him be super embarrassed before.

Again, we have to thank my grandpa (the same one who built me this computer) for having the extremely advanced technology at the time to record these events. Most people didn't even have the opportunity to do so at that time.

I had to laugh because at one point in the video, my teenage aunt comes walking out with a boom box on her shoulder. It was such old technology, but you could tell she felt awesome as she jammed out to the monster she was carrying.

It's been a fun project. Yes, it's been frustrating at times, but it's been a lot of fun to watch the videos. I'm so grateful that my parents took so much footage and that the VHSs survived until now. That's why I felt so driven to complete this project. Grig told me that their VHSs deteriorated and didn't live very long. I didn't want to lose this priceless footage.

Projects are fun, and Kevin likes watching the videos too.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fun with the Family and Riding Dinosaurs

We had a great time this weekend. Grig, Kevin, Dakota, and I were able to travel to visit with my parents. They hadn't seen Kevin in around two months, so they were pretty excited for us to come visit.

There was just one problem.

Kevin was pretty sick.

The night before we left, Kevin got a really high fever, which made things complicated because I was supposed to go with the missionaries to teach a lesson and I had an appointment with the DMV to get a new driver's license. My grandparents were going to watch Kevin, but my grandpa is susceptible to catching colds, so I asked the missionaries if they could find someone else. They said they could, and so I stayed home that morning with Kevin. I asked my parents if they still wanted us to come, and my mother assured me that they had already been exposed to sick babies.

I was able to go to the DMV while Kevin played with his grandma in the car. I finished in about 45 minutes, and then Kevin and I headed home. I cleaned the house so it would look nice when we got back. Grig returned from work a few minutes later, and we packed quickly and left as soon as we could. We reached my parents' home at about 10:15 p.m. and though I wanted to talk to them, they had school the next day, so we went to bed.

Kevin didn't sleep well that night, or the next, or the next. He kept coughing and waking himself up. He would gag when he would try to nurse and sometimes the coughing would be so intense that it would cause him to throw-up all over me. That aspect of the weekend wasn't much fun, but other than that we had a great time.

Friday we relaxed and Kevin played with some of his cousins. Everyone assured us that they had already been exposed to sickness so it was fine. Kevin wasn't his normal happy self, but he still did quite well. For a sick baby, he was quite cheerful.

Dakota mostly spent the days relaxing and having a wonderful snooze. At my mother's home she isn't allowed in the kitchen, but that doesn't stop her from being as close to us as she possibly can.

Saturday, we went and picked up my new computer from my grandpa's shop. It is amazing. That's actually what I'm typing on right now. We've been saving up to buy it for a long time, and finally we were able to afford it. I want to do a lot of video editing on it, and my grandpa custom-made it to my specifications. It has 16 gigabytes of ram and a terabyte of hard-drive.
New computer
It runs like a dream. Programs that used to take ten minutes to load on my laptop now are open instantly. I love it! We were also able to visit with Kevin's (paternal) Great-Grandparents.

After we returned from that exciting journey, we went to my father's school and played in the indoor playground they have there. They also had a ball-pit, and the kids had a great time playing in that. Kevin really liked it at first, and I thought he might enjoy being tossed into the balls. At any other time, he probably would have, but since he wasn't feeling well it scared him. So, I jumped in with him and he felt better after that. He and his cousins had a great time!

While they were playing, my siblings and I played basketball. I sank around four three-point shots. I was doing pretty well. I forget how much I like basketball. We didn't play soccer this time, but there's always next time.

After the school, we returned to my parents' home, and talked for a while. It was nice to spend time with my family. We have plans to visit Grig's parents this summer as well. We're just trying to figure out when (and saving up for a plane ride).

Kevin found a dinosaur while we were there and decided that he needed to ride it. It wasn't very big, but we found it hilarious. He would carefully place it on the floor, and then try to settle himself on its back. It didn't work too well.
Riding the dinosaur

Sunday, we went to church with the family and Kevin actually took a nap through part of it, so that was good. We ate dinner with them, and then we packed up to leave. As we were about to leave, Grig was holding Kevin and Kevin just fell asleep on his shoulder. I was worried that he would wake up when we put him in the car, but my fears were luckily unfounded. On our way out of town, we stopped by my cousin's house who had just had a baby and by my brother's to say farewell. Kevin slept through both stops and all the way through the three hour drive after that. He awoke briefly when we got home, but after we went to bed, he quickly fell back asleep. He was feeling much better yesterday.

We had an amazing trip. We really enjoyed seeing everyone!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mormon Monday: Mortality; Part 3 of the Plan of Salvation

Here's the other parts to this discussion.

The fall had two consequences. The first was death of the body or physical death. The second was separation from God or spiritual death. Adam's fall caused all men to experience physical death, but we are not responsible for his sins, and Adam's fall did not cause us to sin. It opened the door so that we could be mortal and make mistakes, but each sin that we do is our own responsibility.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. Adam's trangression may have caused death to come into the world, but he didn't make us sin. We are responsible and accountable for the decisions we make in this life. However, every time we sin, we draw further and further away from God. There is no way for us to remove the stains on our souls. Even if we try not to do it again, we are imperfect, and only perfect creatures can enter the presence of the Lord.

So, how then shall we return to our Father in Heaven?

It is through our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

As was planned from the beginning, Christ came into this world. Born of a mortal mother and an immortal father, he was the only one capable of being perfect in this life. His paternal heritage gave him the ability to completely resist temptation and choose not to sin, while his maternal heritage gave him the ability to die a physical death.

Due to this, he was able to come and be the perfect sacrifice. Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I like to liken this to two scenarios.

You are in a boat and someone pushed you into the water. You can't swim and you begin to drown. Someone jumps in and pulls you out. He would then be your savior. You didn't have to do anything for him to save you, he just did it because he loves you. It wasn't your fault you fell into the water, and so you didn't have to do anything in order for him to save you.

This is likened to physical death. It is due to Adam and Eve's decision that death entered this world, and so, regardless of the choices you make in this life, Christ will save you from physical death. Eventually, everyone who's lived on this earth will be resurrected from physical death. Their bodies will be restored to their spirits, except they will be given perfect bodies, incapable of death. This is how Christ is our Savior.

1 Corinthians 15: 22
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Now the second scenario. You receive a incredible coupon in the mail. If you take it to the store, it will help you to purchase several items that you need for free! However, if you just allow that coupon to sit in a drawer, it won't help you. It is only when you do something yourself and take it to the store that it will save you money. We call this redeeming a coupon.

I compare this to spiritual death. Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross so that we could repent of our sins and become clean again. However, we are required to do somethings in order for this redemption to occur. God has given us an incredible gift, the gift of choice. He will never force anyone to do anything, because we need to learn the difference between good and evil by our own decisions and choose which we will follow. So, in this case, Christ is the Redeemer. If we come to him, and do what He has asked of us, we can be redeemed from our sins. Mosiah 3:7-10 says:

 And lo, he shall asuffer btemptations, and pain of body, chunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can dsuffer, except it be unto death; for behold, eblood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his fanguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. And he shall be called aJesus bChrist, the cSon of God, thedFather of heaven and earth, the eCreator of all things from the beginning; and his fmother shall be called Mary. And lo, he cometh unto his own, that asalvation might come unto the children of men even through bfaith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath acdevil, and shall dscourge him, and shall ecrucify him. 10 And he shall arise the bthird day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to cjudge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
What does Christ ask of us in order that He can judge us to be righteous?

We call this the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It can be stated very simply, as it is in the following Articles of Faith:
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second,Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
These ordinances and principles are commandments. They are requirements for eternal life. Christ himself said in John 3:5:
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God
 After you have done these commandments, you must also endure to the end. Faith is not a one-time occurrence, it is something we must have our entire lives. We also need to continually repent. Baptism does occur one time, but by taking the holy sacrament that the Lord instituted, we can continue to renew our covenants and be clean. Finally, after we are baptized, if it is done under the proper authority by one who received the priesthood from the Lord, you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost from someone of the same authority.

These are incredible promises and commandments. The Lord does require of us to obey these few simple commandments, and as we do, we will have our sins remitted.

Through Christ, the effects of Adam's transgression can be taken away from us and we can become clean enough to enter the presence of the Lord. This mortal life is a time to prepare to meet God. (Alma 34:32)
It does have difficulties, but with the aid of our Savior, we can survive and concur both physical and spiritual death.

I testify that whatever happens, our Savior knows what we are going through and He is there with his arms outstretched waiting for us to come to Him. As we keep the commandments He has given us, and become more like Him, we will be able to enter the presence of our Heavenly Father and return to live with Him again. This life is a place for joy and hope. The Lord wants us to be happy and if we obey and worship Him, we will be filled with incomparable joy!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Living Far from Grandparents

This weekend, we are visiting my family. Grig is back to an almost normal work week, so he now works four days, and then gets three days off. We decided it was a good opportunity to go and visit my family since we haven't seen them in almost two months (except via skype).

Grig's family lives on the east coast. We are in the western United States. It is very hard to go and visit Kevin's paternal grandparents very often because we don't have much money or time. They have a similar problem, and though we try to skype at least once a week, it isn't the same.

I wonder sometimes if grandchildren who frequently skype think their grandparents think their grandparents live in the computer. It would be interesting to know what babies really think.

Anyway, we drove the three hours to visit my parents, and when we got there, we weren't sure how Kevin would react. It's been a while since he's seen them in person, after all. He's also a little sick, so that coupled with stranger-danger might make his wary of his extended family.

Our fears were unfounded. With typical Kevin-type acceptance, he quickly became comfortable with the real versions of one of his skype grandparents. He let them hold him and snuggle him.

We wish we could go visit the other grandparents on the east coast more, and we're trying to plan a trip there this summer. We had a great time last year, and Kevin should be even more interactive this year. Grig is excited to take him out into the woods.

We are so blessed to have wonderful grandparents for our son. We are sad that we can't visit more often, but we are grateful for modern technology that allows us to visit with them even when we are far away. I don't know if I'll post a video tomorrow.  We're kind of on vacation, so we'll see!

We love you all!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Random Encounters

I briefly mentioned before how we made some new friends at the library. We went there to pick up books and while we were looking, Kevin made friends with a little boy around his own age. They were having such a great time, that both Grig and I thought that maybe we should get their number and have them over for a playdate.

However, we decided that might sound creepy, so we didn't do it. We left and went out to eat. Then, about an hour later, we went to Sam's Club and ran into them again. Deciding that was too much of a coincidence, we got their number.

A few weeks later, we had them over for dinner. We had a great time, and their baby and Kevin got along great.

Just a couple weeks ago, Grig was at Walmart, and he ran into another young couple. He started talking to them, and they ended up exchanging phone numbers. Last night, we had them over for dinner. Their son was super cute, and he and Kevin had a wonderful time. He really liked Dakota too. She's a really good dog and sometimes I take her for granted.

When I'm having a stressful day, she can tell. She gets a little stressed out too. It's nothing major, but she'll start panting more than she usually does. When I'm already stressed out, that sound can get on my nerves. However, I was reminded last night, that she could be jumping or barking when she's excited instead of just breathing heavily. Sometimes, I need to chill.

Anyway, these encounters seem really random, but Kevin gets along with these kids so well that I can't help but think that they were 'fated' to meet, or that perhaps they knew each other before this life and they were really good friends. I'm not sure, but we had a lot of fun last night.

After they left however, Kevin started getting a fever. Hopefully we didn't give them anything. He got super hot during the night, and so around 12:30 a.m. we gave him some Tylenol. He wouldn't go back to sleep for a while, but even though I was exhausted, he was super cute. He was telling me a story about a dinosaur (I think, there was a lot of roaring involved) and he just kept babbling about it. I couldn't help but laugh.

After that, he slept better and cooled down, which was a relief.

Have you ever had any random encounters you felt like were predestined? Or people that once you get to know them, you feel like you've always known them?

That's the fun part of life, right?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Missing School

I've almost been out of school for a full year. That's quite strange for me.

Some children, especially lately, seem to abhor school. They long for summer vacation and when it ends they groan in reluctance as they're forced to trudge back to the dreariness of the prison called school.

(That was a good sentence. Congratulatory pat on my own back.)

I've never understood that. I was always excited for school. When I was younger, they used to post the class listings on the front door of the school as summer was coming to a close. I eagerly anticipated when my teacher would be chosen, and I remember riding my bike to the school every day during summer so that I could to read my name and my class over and over.

We only lived a block from the school, but still! I was excited for school. I loved learning and I loved my teachers. The social aspect wasn't always fun for me, but it didn't really matter either. I excelled at my classes because I enjoyed it so much.

When I graduated, I immediately entered into a study-abroad semester that took me to the east coast of the United States. I immediately loved college. The other students were a ton of fun and I became part of a group of very close friends.

We actually met during a painting class. We were drawing some historic buildings and we struck up a conversation. Soon we were laughing and talking so loudly that we were bothering some of the other students. We tried to quiet down, but we were having a great time.

I spent the majority of the semester in their company and the time flew by. I began college the spring of 2006 and continued with only a small year and a half break for an LDS mission until the spring of 2013.  I could have had a Master's by then, but my mission caused some serious reflection and I decided to change from an Animal Science Major to a Teacher's Eduction Major. I love animals and kids, but the killing (or putting them 'to sleep') aspect of being a veterinarian didn't appeal to me.

Continuing school did. I wouldn't mind spending the rest of my life in a classroom. I love seeing kids' eyes light up when they figure out something new, and I love learning new things myself. However, after we were married and I found myself pregnant, I had a decision to make, and it was a very easy decision for us.

When I was a baby, my mother was working and trying to rear three children while my father was going to school. It was hard, especially with a baby like me. I was an absolute fountain after I nursed, and I wouldn't nap unless I was being held.

My mother and Father weren't sure what to do, until President Benson spoke up in conference and said the following words:

Brethren of the priesthood, I continue to emphasize the importance of mothers staying home to nurture, care for, and train their children in the principles of righteousness.
As I travel throughout the Church, I feel that the great majority of Latter-day Saint mothers earnestly want to follow this counsel. But we know that sometimes the mother works outside of the home at the encouragement, or even insistence, of her husband. It is he who wants the items of convenience that the extra income can buy. Not only will the family suffer in such instances, brethren, but your own spiritual growth and progression will be hampered. I say to all of you, the Lord has charged men with the responsibility to provide for their families in such a way that the wife is allowed to fulfill her role as mother in the home.
At these words my mother and father decided that my mom needed to stay home to be with their three children. It was hard, and they were very poor, but they were able to get by as they followed the counsel of the prophet.

Though my school was hiring new teachers and I was on the top of the list because I had been student teaching there, I wanted more than anything to be a stay-at-home mother. My own mother had told me this story many times and so Grig and I prayed about it and asked the Lord what we should do.

We felt very strongly that I should stay home. I was grateful, because I couldn't imagine allowing anyone else, including my family, to raise my son. I wanted to be there when he took his first steps, said his first words, and learned to be excited about nature and animals. I wanted to be there when he climbed on his first chair and fell off for the first time. I wanted to be the one to comfort him when he was sad or sick, and the one that he laughed and told his first joke to.

So, I finished my degree and then I left the world of jobs behind me. Being a stay-at-home mother has been everything that I dreamed. Sure it's hard sometimes and sometimes I miss school and helping my husband monetarily, but Kevin is worth it to us, and the Lord has provided as we followed his commands.

However, after having worked so hard to earn my teacher's certificate, I am not planning on letting it expire. I am excited because I have to take some college credit before I renew it, and that means that I get to continue learning and going to school. I'll probably end up doing online classes.

Once the kids are out of the house, I plan on becoming a teacher again, but for now, I'm being a different sort of teacher. I do miss school sometmes, but I'm learning an awful lot in the school of how to be a good mom. Kevin is a great teacher, and the classroom never ends.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Follow Up to Last Week's Disappointing News

So, for those of your who read the disappointing news from a few weeks ago and about our car problems from last week, will remember that things were not looking very good for the Tank family.

We've had a bunch of blessings since then, but I didn't want to write about them until everything finished (so I didn't count my blessings before they hatched). I'm glad I waited though. I can't even describe my gratitude for the things that have occurred.

So, first of all, on our car.

I told you about how we needed a new catalytic converter and it was going to be mega-bucks. They were looking at about $700 plus, just for the part itself. We asked if they could get a used one, and they said it was illegal to do so. Then, we told them that we wanted to wait to repair the rest until our tax returns came. They told us that it would be cheaper for us to replace the front display while they already had it open. So, that day we just had them fix our check engine light, which ended up needing our whole front lights display replaced too. It took a couple days to get our car back (which was okay. They just had to order new parts that hadn't arrived yet).

They were very kind and as we went to pick up our car, they informed us that they had found a catalytic converter that was only $225. We were amazed! They didn't have to do that, but the blessings continued to come.

We got our tax return the next week, so we took the car in last friday. They replaced the thermostat, our catalytic converter, and all of our brake pads. We were expecting it to take a couple days, but they called us at 4:00 p.m. and told us our car was done. Amazed we went to pick it up. The total price?


I don't think we're going to be going to any other car repair shop from now on.

After that, we stopped quickly and replaced our front tires at Les Schwab, because they had treated us so well the time before. They had a special sale going on front tires as well.

At the end of the day, we spent only $75 over the thousand we were hoping for. It was a miracle! I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for saving us so much money and guiding us to an honest place.

Then, Saturday morning we took our car back to the place where we'd gotten the safety inspection. If you bring it back within 15 days, you don't have to pay to have the inspection again. Saturday was the 15th day. We quickly passed safety, and aside from a small hiccup with emisions (where we had to drive the car around a bit before the new parts would engage,) we passed emissions as well.  Last week I cried from frustration. This week I nearly cried in gratitude. Grig and I had a special gratitude fast Sunday morning.

The other good news is that Grig found out that his job is planning on keeping ALL of the full-time employees if they can. He may not need to look for another job after all! That is very exciting news. We've had some amazing things happen.

Havelock, Grig's brother who lives with us, has been looking to move into his own apartment. WE thought he'd found one last week, and we were excited for him, but sad he was going to be moving. However, he found out afterward that they had signed him up for a fall contract, not an immediate contract. So, he's still looking, but that's okay, because we like having him here.

Thank you for your suggestions and prayers for our family and Grig's job. We appreciate it and have seen the Lord's hand in our lives. We can't believe how much he loves us and how much money we were allowed to save.

So, faith does pay off. Even when it seems that things are looking awful, keep believing. Later, you'll look back and realize how many blessings you've really received! The Lord's timing is perfect, and as you try to follow his commandments and do what is right, you will receive the promised blessings.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mormon Monday: The Fall and the Theory of Evolution; Part 2 of The Plan of Salvation

Last Monday, I talked about the Premortal Life. I had intended last week to share what we Mormons call "The Plan of Salvation", but after teaching about it at church that Sunday, I decided there is far too much information to put all in one blog post. So, for the next few weeks, I'm going to share a little bit of the plan at a time.

Here's all the other parts:

So, this will be part 2 of The Plan of Salvation.

This actually is an awesomely timed blog, because a friend of mine just recently asked a question that I hope this blog will answer.

Most of the Christian world views The Fall of Adam and Eve as a tragic incident, if they believe that it occurred at all. They blame Adam and Eve for the fact that we have trials and our lives are hard. I've heard people say that if it wasn't for Adam and Eve, we would all be in the Garden of Eden still, living in paradise.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we view The Fall in an entirely different light. We view it as a integral part of our progression.

In the Garden, Adam and Eve were told that they could eat of any tree,
Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
That seems kind of contrary of God, doesn't it? Why would He put a tree in the Garden that would potentially doom his children. Wouldn't it have been better, if He truly was a loving Father to just leave the tree out of the Garden? Wouldn't everyone have been happy then?

There is actually a very logical reason that God placed the tree in the Garden.

This life is based upon choice. In order to experience joy, Adam and Eve had to experience sorrow. However in my person opinion, God is a perfect God who can only create perfection. Our doctrine states that in order for Adam and Eve to become capable of sinning, they had to choose to have the ability to sin. God could create a perfect tree that would change Adam and Eve into mortals, but He wouldn't make them imperfect himself. He knew that was necessary for them to learn and grow, but they had to choose to sin.

Adam and Eve, if they had not partaken of the tree would have lived forever in the Garden, knowing neither good or evil, sorrow or joy. You can't understand joy without experiencing sorrow. If Adam and Eve had never taken of the fruit, we would never have been born. As much as people want to believe that we would have all been living in paradise together, it was only after Adam and Eve left the Garden that they were able to have children and bring more souls into this mortal and fallen world.

God knew that The Fall was going to occur long before it happened. That is why He allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve. He also already had a plan in place to fix the mistakes that Adam was going to make. He had already chosen a Savior before the world was even created. 1 Corinthians 15: 22 says:
22 For as in aAdam all bdie, even so in cChrist shall all be made dalive.
We believe that Eve knew full well the choice that she was making and that she felt it was necessary in order for her to progress and for her children to exist. In fact, we honor Eve for her foresight. Yes, Satan did deceive her, but like always, the Father of Lies word's were falsehoods mixed with truth.

 We believe that the Fall truly did occur. We believe that Adam caused death, both physical and spiritual to come into this world. In next Monday's blog, I'll address the way that we can overcome the affects of the fall. We believe that Adam and Eve are our first parents and that they were created directly by God. Before the Fall they were innocent and there was no death on this Earth. The Fall affected all life on earth as well as the earth itself.

So, what about the theory of Evolution? What does LDS doctrine say about that?

Well, rather than answer that myself, I'm going to let you read from the writings of our leaders. The link to the manual where this information is found is here.

"In the world another theory of how things began is popularly held and widely taught. This theory, that of organic evolution, was generally developed from the writings of Charles Darwin. It puts forth different ideas concerning how life began and where man came from. In relation to this theory, the following statements should help you understand what the Church teaches about the Creation and the origin of man.
“It is held by some that Adam was not the first man upon this earth, and that the original human being was a development from lower orders of the animal creation. These, however, are the theories of men. The word of the Lord declares that Adam was ‘the first man of all men’ (Moses 1:34), and we are therefore in duty bound to regard him as the primal parent of our race. It was shown to the brother of Jared that all men were created in the beginning after the image of God; and whether we take this to mean the spirit or the body, or both, it commits us to the same conclusion: Man began life as a human being, in the likeness of our heavenly Father.” (First Presidency [Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, Anthon H. Lund], in Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:205.)
“Any theory that leaves out God as a personal, purposeful Being, and accepts chance as a first cause, cannot be accepted by Latter-day Saints. … That man and the whole of creation came by chance is unthinkable. It is equally unthinkable that if man came into being by the will and power of God, the divine creative power is limited to one process dimly sensed by mortal man.” (Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1:155.)
“I am grateful that in the midst of the confusion of our Father’s children there has been given to the members of this great organization a sure knowledge of the origin of man, that we came from the spirit world where our spirits were begotten by our Father in heaven, that he formed our first parents from the dust of the earth, and that their spirits were placed in their bodies, and that man came, not as some have believed, not as some have preferred to believe, from some of the lower walks of life, but our ancestors were those beings who lived in the courts of heaven. We came not from some menial order of life, but our ancestor is God our heavenly Father.” (George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1925, p. 33.)
“Of course, I think those people who hold to the view that man has come up through all these ages from the scum of the sea through billions of years do not believe in Adam. Honestly I do not know how they can, and I am going to show you that they do not. There are some who attempt to do it but they are inconsistent—absolutely inconsistent, because that doctrine is so incompatible, so utterly out of harmony, with the revelations of the Lord that a man just cannot believe in both.
“… I say most emphatically, you cannot believe in this theory of the origin of man, and at the same time accept the plan of salvation as set forth by the Lord our God. You must choose the one and reject the other, for they are in direct conflict and there is a gulf separating them which is so great that it cannot be bridged, no matter how much one may try to do so. …
“… Then Adam, and by that I mean the first man, was not capable of sin. He could not transgress, and by doing so bring death into the world; for, according to this theory, death had always been in the world. If, therefore, there was no fall, there was no need of an atonement, hence the coming into the world of the Son of God as the Savior of the world is a contradiction, a thing impossible. Are you prepared to believe such a thing as that?” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:141–42.)
(2-19) But what of the scientific evidence that supposedly contradicts these statements? Isn’t the evidence that all life evolved from a common source overwhelming? Harold G. Coffin, Professor of Paleontology and Research at the Geoscience Research Institute, Andrews University in Michigan, presented one scientist’s view of how life began. The following excerpts are from a pamphlet on the Creation written by Dr. Coffin.
“The time has come for a fresh look at the evidence Charles Darwin used to support his evolutionary theory, along with the great mass of new scientific information. Those who have the courage to penetrate through the haze of assumptions which surrounds the question of the origin of life will discover that science presents substantial evidence that creation best explains the origin of life. Four considerations lead to this conclusion.
“1.Life is unique.
 "2.Complex animals appeared suddenly.
 "3.Change in the past has been limited.
 “4.Change in the present is limited.
“Anyone interested in truth must seriously consider these points. The challenge they present to the theory of evolution has led many intelligent and honest men of science now living to reevaluate their beliefs about the origin of life.” (Coffin, Creation: The Evidence from Science, p. [1].)"

The article goes on to talk more about this, but you can follow the link at the top of the quotations if you want to read more.

Now back to me. Here's my question for you. Science itself states that they can never know anything perfectly. At best they can be 99.9% sure of something. However, if you were able to travel back in time and see for yourself if Adam and Eve really existed and you found out they did, wouldn't that knowledge be more definite than any scientific theory?

I know that God has been there and He knows everything that has occurred throughout the history of mankind. If you believe in God, and God says that Adam and Eve were the first parents of our race and all life began in a state of perfection where death did not exist, doesn't that trump anything that science has to say? Science doesn't really KNOW about anything. They're just guessing based upon what they find.

I believe that God uses true laws of science to accomplishes great things. However, there are many things that we, as humans with imperfect understanding, still do not comprehend. God could tell us how He had accomplished everything and why there are so many unexplained mysteries on our planet, but then where would faith come in? Things that occur without scientific explanation (that we can understand) are called miracles, and I testify that miracles do still occur in our day.

Ask yourself this. Do you believe in God and that He is all-knowing? If you answer yes, then trust him. Tolerate man's theories, but don't let them challenge your faith. Pray and seek guidance for yourself about questions you have. God will answer your prayers and bring you peace. Instead of turning to man and your own speculations, turn to the source of all knowledge.

I know that you will have increased understanding and your faith will be strengthened.

God lives, and He has a plan for this life. The Fall was necessary, and I'm so grateful for it. Without it, I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have the opportunity to go through this life and learn and grow to become like my Heavenly Father. I testify that we are His spirit children, and like all children, we can become like our Father. Christ is the center of the Plan of Salvation, and through Him, all mankind can be saved.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Car is in the Shop and Other Random Things

Well, today is a momentous day for our family. Earlier this week, we received our federal tax return and we immediately called the repair shop and tried to schedule an appointment. We wanted to take the car in on Thursday so hopefully it would be done before the weekend. However, their first opening was today, so we woke up relatively early (okay, late compared to normal) and took the car in.

My kind grandparents were nice enough to follow us in their car, and drive us back home afterward. We are excited to have all of this over with. There have already been some remarkable miracles that we've experienced, but I don't want to count my blessings before they've occurred, so I'm going to tell you about everything after it's over.

Not having a car is really inconvenient, but luckily we have a great bus system where we live, and it is fairly easy to get around, if a little time-consuming.

I am going to give the dog a bath today. She's starting to be a little stinky.

Also, I wanted to let you know that currently, my goals are going great. I had to adjust a few to more realistic levels, but I've been feeling really good about how things are going.

This week, Kevin and I have started dancing for exercise. I'm kind of super self-conscious about how I look when I exercise, so I prefer to do it in the privacy of my home. Dancing around while carrying a baby is pretty good exercise though. My thighs are sore today. That must mean that I'm actually working out. When Kevin gets bored of dancing to Tangled music, I'll do leg-lifts with him on my legs, or we'll play some indoor soccer. Either way we're moving around.

My writing has been going excellent as well. I adjusted my goal from five pages a day to 1/2 an hour a day. I'm not accomplishing five pages, but I'm getting in a little writing at a time. That is progress, no matter how small. I'm really liking where my story is headed right now. It keeps surprising me.

How can your own story surprise you? Well, sometimes, I meet characters and I realize, "Wow, you're kind of a jerk!" or "Huh, you're really interesting." I basically know where the story is headed, it's a rewrite after all, but it is morphing into a completely different creature, even while the basic story line stays the same.

Scripture reading is going great, and also my no technology time. I have changed that to be two hours in the morning where the computer CAN NOT be on. It's not that we are on the computer the rest of the day, it is simply for those two hours, we cannot even go near it. It's been great, actually. I get a lot more done, and Kevin and I have had more time to play. I really like it, and think it is going to be a mainstay of my day's activities from now on. Sometimes it's good to remember what really matters, and that I am stronger than my urge to constantly be plugged in.

Life is pretty good right now!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sexual Intimacy Within Marriage is OKAY!

Before I begin writing this post, I want to make something very clear. I am just a regular wife. I am not really qualified to talk about this topic except in that context. In fact, some people may find it odd that I am writing about this at all, since I couldn't even say the word 'sex' until after high school.

However, I feel that we have a very real problem in our society and I wanted to address it briefly.

What do you think of when you hear the word 'sex'?

If you're like most people, degrading or immoral images may flash through your mind from movies you've seen or from the most recent Miley Cyrus scandal. Unfortunately, that is not what is supposed to happen.

The media portrays intimacy as something that is casual, evil ,or demeaning..Very few stand up for the sacredness of the act, and it's not necessarily because they don't care. It's simply uncomfortable to talk about, so we often avoid discussing it at all. Though the act itself is very sacred, it is important that we understand something very important:

The more that we act uncomfortable around the subject and tell our children not to do it, the more likely they are to feel uncomfortable and sinful about the subject themselves, even after they are married.

I recently read a book called Last Child in the Woods. This is a fantastic book about what the author calls nature deficit disorder. Basically, our children are not getting out into nature enough. However, during one chapter, the author brought up a very interesting thought. Richard Louv pointed out that showing children the destruction of nature in the classroom might make them want to protect it, but it also associates nature with negative emotions. Children then become afraid of nature and unwilling to actually get close to it because all they associate it with is destruction and death. These images of trees being cut down and animals being slaughtered don't bring children a love and a desire to go forth in nature and become close to it, instead those feelings cause children to stay as far away as possible and only care about it in a humanitarian way.,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Intimacy, unfortunately, has been handled in the same way.

When we talk to young men and young women at church, we usually tell them, "Don't make out! Don't have sex until you're married! Abstinence is important!"

Those these are true principles, the way we are saying them is a negative one. Everyone's so busy telling us that intimacy is bad before marriage that we come to associate intimacy with negative feelings. The problem is, those feelings don't go away once your married. It is hard to comprehend that something is 'wrong' before you married, and then once you're married it is magically okay. Before I was married, I was terrified of being intimate with my spouse. Here are some things that helped me get over that.

When Grig and I were engaged, someone recommended a book to us. This book handles the subject of sexual intimacy in marriage in a respectful and sacred manner, while quoting from (Latter-day Saint) prophets and apostles, as well as the scriptures and other Christian psychologists. We only read the first three chapters before we were married, because the first three chapters are about developing a testimony of intimacy. The other chapter are better read after you're married.

This book is called And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage Through Sexual Fulfillment.  This book addressed this specific issue I'm talking about. In fact, it called it "The Good-Girl Syndrome."


Many married women (and some men) have a very difficult time being intimate after marriage without feeling feelings of guilt or shame. They can't relax and enjoy the experience, because a part of them is saying that it's wrong and that they are doing something bad.

This is a terrible tragedy. The author of this book pointed out that many marriages end because of sexual unfulfillment. Even if one of the spouses is enjoying the experience, that sensation doesn't last. Sexual Intimacy is meant to be pleasurable and fulfilling for both husband and wife. If one side of the marriage is not involved, it is not a good experience for either person.

If you are experiencing this in your life, I want you to know that you don't have to stay in that negative place. God made man (and women) to have joy. Sexual intimacy within the bounds of marriage can bring greater joy than it is possible to imagine. God commanded Adam and Eve "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." This is an appropriate and sacred relationship. Intimacy is a wonderful thing that can repair wounds between a husband and wife and help them become one flesh.

Outside of marriage, those relationships become hollow because intimacy is about becoming one. It is meant to bring children and love into a family. When it is done outside the proper bounds of marriage, it is an ultimately unsatisfying because it only lasts for a few moments. Those who were meant to become one instead are uncommitted to the relationship. You cannot form one being out of two individuals who refuse to be tied together or who are afraid to commit because they might be hurt. Or out of individuals who are 'just doing it to have a good time.' It is meant to be so much more than that.

Within the bounds of marriage, intimacy become a unifying force. Outside, it becomes destructive.

I had a Bishop before I was married who told me that it is okay to have sex after you're married just to have sex. He told me that I would be surprised how many young women thought you could only be intimate if you were trying to have a baby.

If you are struggling with intimacy in your marriage, I have some suggestions for you. Even if your intimate life is wonderful, working on these things won't hurt you. Again, I am no professional and I don't really have all that much experience, but I can tell you three things that have helped us in our marriage.

1- Find out for yourself that intimacy is divinely appointed. Bring the Lord into your marriage and into your intimate life. I know that sounds weird, but I promise it will help. Intimacy is a sacred thing, and the Lord should always be part of sacred things.

The LDS church handbook says:
Married couples should also understand that sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for the purpose of procreation, but also as a way of expressing love and strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife.
Research the subject prayerfully and seek guidance from the Lord. He wants you to be happy, and He will guide you in the way that will strengthen you and your marriage. He does care that you are being fulfilled in your marriage and that you and your spouse are growing closer together.

Here are a couple talks that may help you develop that testimony.

They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage

Intimacy in Marriage

Also, the book I mentioned about could help. It helped me out. Here's the link again:

2 - Discuss the topic openly, lovingly, and prayerfully with your spouse.

You aren't in this marriage alone. Your spouse may be struggling with similar feelings and they need to understand how you feel. As you discuss the matter together, you can grow closer and find that your love can reach new heights. If you decide you need greater help, counsel with your Bishop or someone you trust who may be able to guide you to a reliable marriage counselor with similar values to you and your husband. Both you and your spouse's feelings need to be considered.

3- Remember that intimacy is about making both you and YOUR SPOUSE feel good. 

Like everything in marriage, when we approach it from a selfish perspective, it isn't going to work. True intimacy involves doing it together with the other person in mind. As people put aside their own personal feelings and focus on their spouse, they will find that the experience becomes more enjoyable. 

Marriages are strengthened as we serve and love one another. Neither spouse should have to feel like a sexual object, but likewise, neither spouse should have to feel bad about wanting to do something sanctioned by the Lord. Work on your testimony together and try to understand your spouse's perspective.

Finally, talk to your children openly and respectfully when they have questions about the subject. If you feel awkward and uncomfortable, your children are going to feel awkward and uncomfortable. To help parents teach and educate their children on the subject of sex, the church has published a manual called A Parent's Guide. It's free, and I'm sure it would be helpful for you, regardless of your faith.

Hopefully this helps somebody.

I know that intimacy within marriage is divinely appointed. It can be a pleasurable, wonderful, and sacred experience! The Lord often asks us to fast from things until the time is right. Abstinence before marriage is like fasting before a meal. You get great blessings for waiting, and the food always tastes better when you finish your fast. Eating isn't wrong, but there are times when it is appropriate to wait, and it is totally possible to do so. The Lord will bless you in your efforts and provide a way for you to accomplish His commandments and to find joy as you do so.