30 November 2015

# A Savior Is Born

For family home evening tonight, we explored www.christmas.mormon.org and watched the two videos there.

Then we used their printables and hashtagged ourselves to post online.

Then Mack asked if we could do Secret Santa that night.  We agreed that we could so the Hubba was putting all the names in the santa hat and we were discussing whether or not Baboo was participating.  I said to put her name in and I would draw for her (she was at FHE with her ward).  And just then we got a phone call from her and she was asking if we were doing Secret Santas tonight because if we were, she wanted to make sure we put her name in!

27 November 2015

Feelin' the pressure

Approximately a year and a half ago, Wiyah had only hours left on her deadline to accept admissions at a university.  She was choosing between two.  #1 Was her dream school as far as the academics and program went.  It was the absolute perfect match for what she wanted to study.  It was also extremely expensive and even though she got a huge scholarship, it wasn't nearly enough.  Culturally, this school would be difficult for her because there aren't very many women there  (they recently hit 25%) and much, much fewer LDS students.  It's in a super small town with limited activities and opportunities.  #2 Was actually another great school that she would have loved to attend but they didn't have the program she wanted to go into at all.  She would probably receive a regents scholarship to that school and between that and financial aid, she would probably just have to pay for housing and books.  It's a much bigger university where she would have a better social life.

Making the decision with just minutes to go on the deadine was tortuous.  She was so frustrated and didn't know what to do.  

I encouraged her to follow her dream, even though she didn't know how she would pay for it, and choose #1.  If things didn't work out, she could most likely still get accepted later to #2 (although she would no longer have a scholarship, it would still be cheaper).   I told her to have faith that it would all work out.

Well, now she's on her mission and it's time to start thinking about the fall.  Tuition down payment is due.  Housing down payment is due after that.  She is so far away from being able to pay for her first semester.  It's time to start applying for as many scholarships as possible.  Except she is a missionary, so it's me who's searching and organizing and applying for her.  And trying to fund that much of an education is a full time job!

I feel overwhelmed and I also responsible because I encouraged her to make this choice.  And now that I'm the one who has to fulfill the promise and do the work, my faith is totally faltering.  How on earth can she possibly pay for this school?  But it's her dream school and she got in and she got a scholarship.  I want her to at least have one year there.  Surely there is a way...

26 November 2015


Yesterday, one of my Primary kids brought by a plate of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies with a note that said "Thanks for being a great teacher."  Last night for dessert, I gave everyone a cookie.  This morning they were still sitting on the table...

Mack:  So mom, those cookies ain't gonna eat themselves...

Pumpkin cookies are the perfect post-breakfast dessert on Thanksgiving morning!


For the entire month of November we have only been expressing gratitude and thankfulness in our family prayers.   We would not ask for anything.  The Hubba has coined the term "Thanker".   It's been an interesting.  At first, it seemed difficult for everyone to pray without asking for things.  A prayer is different when you are only thanking.  For one thing, it tends to be shorter.  Much shorter.  At least it was for us in the beginning.

But Mack and Wink especially found lots of things to be grateful for.  I have loved listening to Wink's prayers because that girl can go OFF on all the things she is thankful for.  Hers is a very thorough prayer that actually reminds me of the dedicatory prayer for the Conference Center.  I remember when President Hinckley asked a blessing on the parking structure.  Wink's prayers are like that.

For my part, I found that thanking only was very unsatisfying actually.  Thankers felt to me like reading a laundry list of things I should be grateful for.  And I say "should" because in order to make the prayer feel longer, I would say things that I should be grateful for, whether or not I actually felt it.  Anyway, it took a little getting used to but what I ended up doing has improved my prayers.

I used my prayer time to talk to God.

I know, crazy right?  But every time I would automatically start to ask for a blessing, I would stop myself and express what I was feeling.  So in a regular prayer I might say something like "Please bless JJ while he is on his mission that he might have courage and peace and wisdom and be led by the spirit."  But since I couldn't ask for anything in my prayer, I would say something like, "We are grateful JJ is on a mission and for all the missionaries and leaders he is working worth and their willingness to serve with him and teach him.  It's hard being separated from him and we miss him a lot, especially Wink and Pink.  But we know it's important for him to make this sacrifice and to serve thee.  We're grateful for JJ's hard work to earn money before he left and for his great letters home where he expresses his testimony and all the things he is doing and learning.  It's a comfort to us when we miss him and a great example to all of us, especially his younger siblings."

Maybe this is how everybody talks to God anyway.  But I have always struggled with prayer.  It's so sad, I know.  I remember seeing a quote one time that was just beautiful.  The internet says it was by Martin Luther.  "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing."  I love that.  For whatever reason, praying is just really hard for me.  I want it to be more like breathing.  Anyway, the point is that these thankers have helped with that.  And I'm thankful for that!

25 November 2015

When God Asks Us To Do Something "Immoral"

*Disclaimer:  I'm in a rush to get started on pre-Thanksgiving makings nevertheless I feel like writing.  So the compromise is that I'm not actually going to look up any of my scriptural references.  I'm basically just going on memory here.

This is something I have thought about so much over the years.  There have been times in the past when I have been tested and seeing as how we are in the last days and they keep getting last-er, I imagine that there will be more difficult times ahead and I want to see them for what they are and be prepared.  I need much bigger and stronger faith than I currently have.

So, take a look at Abraham.  We all know the story.  God asks him to sacrifice Isaac.  The unfortunate part of this story is that I already know the ending.  And so I think I know the story.  But I don't think I really have a clue.  Because this story is more than just about a man being asked to sacrifice his son.  It's more than just a story about a future patriarch who was a given a promise that this very son would be the fulfillment of the promise made to him of having seed without number.  Before Abraham was Abraham, back when he was just Abram.  If you go way back to the beginning of his story, we remember that he was a boy in his father's house in Ur.

Abram's fathers had completely turned from righteousness, but somehow despite his upbringing, Abram was a follower of righteousness.  And in Ur they were sacrificing children to their false gods.  In fact, the priests tried to get Abram to sacrifice him as well.  So he fled.  I love the scripture that says "It was needful for me to obtain another place of residence."

Abram saw that wickedness.  He knew it to be wicked and to be contrary to what he new of righteousness and I believe that was because he was a student of the scriptures.  Anyway, just before he was to be sacrificed, he sees a vision and his bands are loosed.

So what gets me about the story of Abraham and Isaac is the anguish and soul-searching that Abraham must have had to go through when that SAME GOD tells him to sacrifice his own son.  From his experience before, he knows that sacrificing children to gods is wrong.  And now his very God is asking him to do it.  I imagine how that must have offended his sensibilities and sense of justice and mercy.  He must have been utterly confused.  How could his God want him to sacrifice his child?

Of course we all make ourselves feel better about the story because it was just a test!  God would never REALLY want us to sacrifice a child he just wanted Abraham to be willing.  It makes us feel better because it wasn't "real".  But it was real to Abraham.

There are other examples in the scriptures where it's not "just a test".  Let's take the age-old example of Nephi and Laban.  God really did tell Nephi to kill Laban.  The same God who also commanded "Thou shalt not kill."  Really?  God wants us to kill people who stand in our way?  I mean we can spin that scriptural story in so many ways!  Or another example of spin is in the Old Testament times when  the armies of Israel are conquering lands and God commands that they kill all men, women,  and children.  Think of how you feel about wicked King Herod sending out the order to kill all the male children under the age of 2 to be sure to get Jesus in the mix.  It's horrifying.  It's cruel.  We can't imagine what that must have been like for all those mothers and families.  But it's the same God who just told Saul to kill all the babies of the Amalekites.  Wipe them out!  Did God really just ask His people to wipe out an entire culture of non-believers?

Anyway, the point is that it's a little easier and more removed to look back at these stories and not realize just how dramatic and divisive and difficult these things are that people were being asked to do!  BY GOD!  And sometimes, like in the case of Laban, there are clear reasons given.  I love the way that the Spirit walks Nephi through and teaches him.  But sometimes the explanation is not given.  Sometimes it's only the commandment that is given.

I wonder if I can obey God's commandment when it flies in the face of everything I know to be just and true.  What, exactly, is my faith grounded in?  How can I even know the difference between wickedness (killing children) and obedience (killing children)?  The only thing I can think of is that I need to be more intimately acquainted with the workings of the Spirit of God.  I need to know how he speaks to me and what those promptings look like and feel like.  I need recognize and feel the Hand of God in my life and to know and be known by Jesus Christ.  That's the difference.  And I'm trying to cultivate the desire in me to follow my God when others are offended by Him, when I am almost offended by him and what he requires at my hand. Humility and Meekness are absolutely required, too.  Because I cannot afford to think that, when presented with my part in the plan, I know better than God.  Right now I'm at the point where when I'm given something I don't understand, I try and frame it in a way that fits what I know to be true about God.  And so far that hasn't let me down.  But in these last-er days, as times become more and more tumultuous and as the Church moves farther and farther away from the world, I need to be more decisive than that.  I need to know God so well that whatever he asks of me I will immediately do, not because I'm blindly obedient or because I understand its purpose, but because I know the voice of my Shepherd.


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