Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Milk - It's What's For Dinner

Maybe you remember Elder Perry's talk about how he used to order milk during cocktail hours when he was in the business world. He says, 
"I spent my career in the department store business. Because I was part of a management team, it was important for me to interact socially with local business organizations. The meetings with most of these organizations always started with a cocktail hour. It was a time to mix and get acquainted with the men who belonged to the organization. I have always felt uncomfortable in these social hours. At first I started asking for a lemon-lime soda. I soon discovered that lemon-lime soda looks like many of the other drinks. I could not build the impression I was a nondrinker with a clear soda in my hands. I tried root beer. It had the same problem.
Finally I decided I had to have a drink that would clearly mark me as a nondrinker. I went to the bartender and requested a glass of milk. The bartender had never had such a request. He went into the kitchen and found a glass of milk for me. Now I had a drink that looked very different from the alcoholic beverages the others were drinking. Suddenly I was the center of attention. There were a lot of jokes made of my drink. My milk was a conversation piece. I met more business leaders that evening than I ever had before at a cocktail hour.
Milk became my drink of choice at the cocktail hours. It soon became common knowledge I was a Mormon. The respect I received really surprised me, as did an interesting event that started to occur. Others soon joined me in a pure milk cocktail!
Dare to be different. Live up to the standards we are taught in the gospel."

I had a similar experience over the weekend at a dinner my husband and I were invited to. 
The night started with a cocktail hour, and since it was an open bar, the alcohol was flowing. Freely. Like Niagra Falls it was flowing freely. Woh. 
Initially I ordered a soda, ginger ale to be specific. It's my favorite and most restaurants just don't have it. It felt like a treat that I could order one that night.
But, like he explains, my awesome ginger ale looks a whole lot like others' drinks, and because no one knew me (though they know my husband well), I wanted to make sure my standards were clear, without question; that I was united with my husband in the standards he has exemplified in the many situations he's had to do so. 
So I walked to the bar and asked the bartender if they had any milk. He happily said yes and jetted away to get some. He brought back a new gallon, minus the glass he'd already filled for me. 
I came back to the small group I'd been chatting with, which included my husband, and what I had in my hand was quickly noticed. One of the women there said something about how now all I needed were some chocolate chip cookies. Hmmm. I'm still not sure if she was being funny and friendly or sort of mocking me. It was a fun evening either way.
Here's my milk. My ginger ale is on the bar behind it and you can see the plenteous selection people could choose from.
It feels good to stand out. It felt good to know that we could drive home later that night and not be putting our lives in jeopardy. It felt good knowing that we'd wake up the next morning feeling just fine, with out any lingering side-effects of the previous night's behavior. It felt good keeping the standards and promises we've committed ourselves to keeping. 
The world would have us believe that our standards are confining, but we know better. They are the purest kind of freedom. Freedom from all sorts of ills and consequences.
Elder Perry sums this up so well, "Sometimes we may feel that people will not be as accepting of us because of the high standards we have set for ourselves. Still, there are things we just don’t do. We have the Word of Wisdom, which helps us to live a healthier life, a type of life that is conducive to our growth and well-being. We have standards, ideals, and a way of living that are the envy of much of the world. I have found that if you live the way you should live, people notice and are impressed with your beliefs and you have an influence on the lives of others."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Look On Their Faces

I stumbled on this picture the other day and it's quickly become a new favorite.

Just LOOK at the expressions on their faces!

This is a picture by David Bowman. You can see more of his work here.

This piece is deeply moving to me.

I have a recurring daydream where I'm able to sit in the Savior's lap. To curl up, actually. He's big enough; I'm small enough. I realize there's some absurdity in the reality of this thought, but it is what it is.

His arms are big and heavy; He wraps them around me and I can feel their warmth and weight pressing on my shoulders and around my body.

There is complete peace and calm. He isn't in any hurry to go anywhere, but is content to just sit with me and hold me. The world seems to stop as we sit together.

I need Him. He loves me.

I long for a moment like this one. In dark hours, it is where my mind goes to find a solution for the relentlessness of life.

He loves all of us, perfectly, right where we are. Because we are His.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

October General Conference Reading Challenge

I decided to create my own 40-day reading challenge for October's General Conference. The one difference I made this time though is to NOT add a date to each day's reading. You're on your own schedule! Just getting back into the messages is the important part. 
I was AMAZED at how my questions were answered throughout the Conference, both because of the words of the messages presented and because of the things the Spirit taught me. Even things I just sort of have rattling around in my head ~ not really even articulated yet ~ were addressed. The Lord is SURELY in the details of our lives!
I hope you felt the Spirit as you watched Conference and continue to be fed and edified as you re-read and re-watch each address. 

Here is the PDF to print and keep handy: 

October 2014 Conference 40-day Challenge.pdf

Monday, June 9, 2014

More Gratitude, Less Gripe

It's an amazingly beautiful day where we live, and as I was driving this morning I wondered if I'd expressed as much appreciation for the fantastic Spring we've enjoyed, as I might express irritation for when the weather's bad.

I try to be careful about complaining about the weather (I've always wondered how tired Heavenly Father must be of hearing our fussing about too hot, too cold, too much wind, and on and on), but surely there are other little things that it's easy to fuss about.

When the clothes aren't quite dry in the dryer.

When one of my teenagers steals my nail polish remover for the gazillionth time.

When that same teenager (or one of her sisters) uses the car but doesn't tell anyone when she gets home that the gas light is on.

Life is good if these are the kinds of things we have to complain about.

I learned a great lesson as we disembarked from a really big boat this past January. That big boat had taken us to some amazing places and we'd spent 7 days being totally spoiled. We'd been in parts of the world where flushing toilets were reserved for tourists and grass was an acceptable roofing product. It made me realize that even on a really bad day, we as Americans have a lot going for us. Just the fact that we can walk into a WalMart or a McDonalds and use the bathroom puts us better off than 80% of the rest of the world.

As we got off that chunk of luxury floating in the water, we were asked to walk down about 50 feet, only to round a rope line and come back that same 50 feet, this time on the other side.

As I got back to the place where people were still coming off the boat, I overheard a guy see the down and back he had to do and with a heavy sigh of total put-outted-ness say, "REALLY??"

Here was the perfect example of what I didn't want to do anymore: Express irritation about the little things.

I was still floating (though not quite as literally as I had been 20 minutes before) from all we'd experienced on our trip and I wondered how this guy could even think to be frustrated by such a minor thing. I don't know anymore about him than what I saw and understand there could have been extenuating circumstances to his response, but it was his reaction that articulated exactly what I wanted to differently when I got home.

Have I succeeded these past months? I'm not completely sure. I still want my nail polish remover to be where I left it the last time I used it and for there to be enough gas to go where I want to go when I get in the car.

But I know my awareness is certainly more with regard to these kinds of little things. And even if it's the second thought, I still might get there faster than I used to.

This morning's drive in the beautiful sunshine brought more articulation to my experience and affirmation from January.

More Gratitude, Less Gripe.

That's it. Pretty simple, really.

Consciously remembering to express gratitude and appreciation for more little, every day things and lay off the griping about the other kinds of little things.

Based on past experiences, I know that having more gratitude in our hearts brings peace and contentment.

What are some of the little things you're seeing today that you might express gratitude for?


Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Didn't Think This Was My Favorite Conference Talk....

Today's "assignment", if you want to call it that, for the 40-day challenge is to pick a favorite Conference talk from October 2013. That in and of itself is a challenge, picking just one, or one that is supposed to be my MOST favorite, when there are so many that are equally fabulous.

I could have easily picked Elder Holland's talk (couldn't we all!), "Like a Broken Vessel". I remember where I was when I heard it as he delivered it that Saturday afternoon. I remember what (else, besides listening) I was doing, and the very physical reaction I had to his words.

But, I went another direction today and landed on Elder Christofferson's talk, "The Moral Force of Women". I remembered it once I began watching it again, just not quite with the detail I remember Elder Holland's talk...

Oh BOY was it a good one. It could very well be my new favorite. If you haven't decided on a talk for today, and are working your way through the challenge, I highly recommend it.

Watch it here:

I love his use of the words "moral force", how morality brings authority and that to have a moral influence as women in particular is vital. 

I love that we as women can cultivate, preserve and protect the moral environment in our homes by what we watch, what we say and what we wear and by what we allow others to do while in our home.  

What stands out to you in Elder Christofferson's talk? I'd love to hear your thoughts.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Genealogy vs. Family History

Do you ever go to your own page on Facebook and just scroll?

Scroll and remember?

Remember as you see and read the pictures you've posted and the comments people've made?

I have been using the "only me" feature for a while, posting things I find in my news feed that I want to keep but don't want to bother everyone else with. Like the lemon brownies recipe or the list of uses for apple cider vinegar. Stuff like that.

I was looking through the last month's or so of posts and came across some comments from around my brother's birthday at the beginning of April.

A friend who knew our parents before we were born commented about her memories of both of our births. This is what she wrote:

 I remember all of the details from yours and [your brother's] births... I looked up to your parents as my "pseudo-brother and sister!" Grandma called me here in Dallas (I was 10 1/2 and in the 5th grade) to tell me that [your mom and dad] a baby boy today ...  I thought she was playing an April Fools joke on me... Lol

On the evening of [your birth], Grandma & Grandpa had taken me and my visiting aunt and uncle to eat dinner at The Summit House on Sandia Crest (which, for the last 30 years, has been High Finance)... Anyhow, while we were eating, we got paged for a phone call. They brought the phone to our table and it was your dad... Maryhelen Elizabeth Evans was born! I was sooooo excited!! 😀 Great memories!! 💕

The year she was talking about was 1975....WAY before cell phones. To have a phone brought to the table is impressive to me. To me it shows how excited my dad was and how important it was to him that he reach these people.

It's these kinds of remembrances that set family history apart from genealogy. Genealogy is the facts: names and dates and places, while family history is just that: the history of your family. Pictures, stories, memories. 

My friend's comment helped me to know better the excitement that not only she felt but also that my dad was feeling the night of my birth. Since I don't remember one single thing about that night myself, it's wonderful to hear a first-hand account from someone other than the principle players.

And maybe, help me love my dad just a little bit more. 

Working to learn as much as we can about our long-ago family will help us know them when we finally meet them. I have lots of questions and lots of hugs to give. I'm sure there are many generations of grandmothers who are watchful over me, and I look forward to spending time with each one of them. 

We can deepen our understanding of who we are by searching out our family history. We will be bettered for all of our efforts. Once again it's evident that the things the Lord asks us to do are really for our benefit. I haven't found one thing he asks that isn't that way. Pretty amazing.

Good luck to you as you start or continue to learn about your family. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

General Conference 40-day Challenge

You may have already started your own 40-day General Conference Challenge, but if not, you can jump in today!

The challenge I'm participating in started last Wednesday (the 16th) with Elder Corbridge's talk on The Prophet Joseph Smith.

You can find the entire 40-day list that I'm following here. But there are others, like this one, that accomplish the same thing, just in a different order.

It has been a wonderful several days, getting to review one talk at a time. Sometimes, I've watched it, then read it, then had it playing in the background, several times throughout the day. It's a wonderful thing to bring the spirit of General Conference back into my home.

Last night I had to play catch up from a busy weekend and turned on Saturday and Sunday's talks. My daughter was nearby cleaning the kitchen and I loved that she came in when each talk was over to ask "which one now?". She was listening, even while doing the dishes.

Today's talk is by Linda S. Reeves and is entitled, "Protection from Pornography -- a Christ-Focused Home". I couldn't help but think that just the exercise of participating in the challenge helps me feel like my home is more Christ-Focused. I'm sure you'll feel that sort of spirit by participating, too.

Find Sister Reeves' talk here. Watch it, read it, do both separately or at the same time. Then come back and tell me what stood out to you.

I loved her quote from President Kimball about spouses (read the talk to find that quote).

I loved how she spoke directly to the youth, including her 13 grandchildren who were in the audience that day.

I loved how she shared her own experience of being a stretched-thin mom, and how she learned where her priorities needed to be, and where ours need to be also. I appreciate her testimony of doing those simple, necessary things in her home and the power that comes from doing them. I can add my testimony to hers of the power of those things ~ daily prayer and scripture study as a family and weekly family home evenings. I feel the same sort of comfort in knowing we're trying to do the things we've been asked to do so that when challenges do come we can call on Heavenly Father with a sense of peace as we've done first what He's asked us to do.

Enjoy this talk, and the others in the challenge. Don't be afraid to jump in today, and don't worry about needing to catch up or that you're behind somehow. You're not. Nothing magical (or terrible) happens on the official end date of the challenge that will take away your ability to see/read any talk. Just go back then and take a few extra days to review the ones that you missed.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

That Thy Days May Be Long

I remember a lesson in Young Women's a few years ago.

There was a sweet girl there this particular day who was a foster daughter of a couple in our ward. It was interesting that whatever our lesson was on during one of her few Sundays with us included something about the fifth commandment. It's the only one of the ten that has a promise attached for keeping it. It's found in Exodus 20:12 and says:

              "Honour thy father and thy mother;
               that thy days may be long upon the land
               which the Lord thy God giveth thee."      

This dear girl was in the foster care system for a reason and I felt these words fall like a lead brick on her poor head.

As we sat listening, I wanted to help her with this principle when it felt obvious she was not seeing much to honour in her parents.

And a thought occurred to me that has recently come to my remembrance.          

It's that it's interesting to me what this doesn't say. It doesn't say to honour our parents if they make good choices.

If they're fun to be around.

If they treat you well.

If  your mom makes you dinner every night (whew - I'd be in trouble here).

If you can count on them.

If they like you.


There are no contingencies here. Only a promise that our days will be long in the land when we honour our parents.

So then what does the word 'honour' mean?

I think that respect is a vital part of what it means to honour.

We show our respect by speaking kindly to and about our parents; We speak kindly when they are in the room and when they are not; We learn from their failures and resist our upbringing by propagating their serious mistakes. We can take negatives and turn them into our own positives.

Nowhere in honouring our parents are we asked to put ourselves in dangerous situations, whether that danger is physical or emotional or spiritual.

Of course not everyone has parents that are hard to honor. But when it's easy, we don't necessarily pay attention to the deeper meaning of what we're asked to do.

I sure wish I knew what happened to that girl. I do know that her time in Young Women's was well spent and that she heard what was taught.

Maybe it's as we get older that we're able to appreciate the promise of this commandment. Even light-heartedly as we realize our days are longer because our parents didn't throttle us when we were teenagers. :)

I believe our in-laws become another set of parents to us, making this commandment applicable to them as well as our own mom and dad.

And the same kind of 'ifs' are missing as we navigate our relationship with them.

What does it mean to you to honour your father and mother?