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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two weeks of catch-up! But not ketchup.

Last week can basically be summed up as "sickies".  I was sick Saturday, as you know.  Sunday we were magically all healthily.  Then BJ got sick Monday late morning, so took the rest of the day off work.  He took a nap, then spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch.  The poor guy is the favorite parent, so as soon as the girls realized he was there, they had to be with him.  They spent every possible moment by/on him.  It was adorable, and BJ handled it well.  Thank goodness.  Because turns out that taking care of a sick husband while in early pregnancy (especially when still recovering from my own sickness) doesn't lend itself well to also constantly pulling chillins' off Daddy.

We both went to bed early out of sheer exhaustion.  And then Kessa woke up crying.  Trying to give BJ more sleep, I got up with her.  While she coughed and coughed and threw up clear mucus.  Oh great.  I finally get BJ better, he'll go back to work, and I'm going to have to deal with a sick preschooler.  And honestly, I didn't know if I could do it.  It was bad enough being sick and wondering all the time if I needed to be in the bathroom or not.  I didn't how how I'd do it with such low energy with a 4-year old.  I went to bed miserable that night.  Oh, and she had a low-grade fever. Which neither BJ nor I had.  Which confused me a little.  And disheartened me.  So we kept her home from school, even though she was acting fine the next day.  In hindsight, she just got a bad cold and probably would have been fine.  Thankfully she didn't ever get the stomach bug BJ and I got.  But colds, of course, last forever.  She's still got a minor cough, but it's almost gone.

But a few days later, Abby got the same cold.  A little worse off, even.  After the Primary program, I brought her home to sleep.  She was falling asleep there and I figured we could both use a nap.  So we did.  She spent the entirety of the day either napping or cuddling on my shoulder.  It was pretty pathetic.  Poor girl.  A day or two later she completely lost her voice.  Which is one of those moments that you feel awful about laughing.  But it was also hilarious.  So we laughed.  For almost a week she took 2-3 naps per day.  And long ones too.  1.5-2 hour naps.  One morning she woke up so early that she was down for her first nap at 8:30 am.  Just as I was finally getting out of bed.  She's almost out of that and back to one nap a day.  Though that one nap is often a little longer than normal.  And she's still got a pretty yucky barking cough.  But hopefully it'll get better soon like Kessa's did.

BJ appreciation dinner
So, I keep telling you how BJ is the best husband ever, right?  And how you need to find someone to live up to his example?  Well, one day I was crockpotting a chicken bacon alfredo dish (freezer meal) and saw some Martinelli's at the store and thought, "I should do a special dinner to thank BJ for all he does!"  Kessa got into it, too, and we had a lot of fun.  We bought some artisan bread.  We googled how to fold napkins.  We pulled out some candles for the table.  Kessa and I made a puzzle out of a picture of BJ and the girls.  And we had it all ready when he got home from work.  He was rather surprised.  And it was awesome.  And he totally deserved it, because he's the best ever.  And to prove it, he still did dishes.  :D

Primary Program
Kessa's primary program was last Sunday.  After last year's fiasco of Kessa being so confused about what she was supposed to do, we practiced with her constantly.  Her part was "I am a child of God; I can make choices."  She got very good at saying it slowly and clearly.  (Not in a baby voice, thank goodness.)  Just before the Saturday practice I practiced with her waiting in line, then climbing on the stool to the microphone and speaking her part into it (and not eating the microphone) about 6 times.  We talked about where she was sitting and how she could see us while she was up there.  What we didn't talk enough about was how many people were in the audience.

The poor girl ran up there on Sunday, sat down, and burst into tears.  She had a front row seat (like, they put the little chairs right in front on the stand) and as she explained it later, "I was scared.  I've never had so many people at one of my programs!"  Poor girl is used to a max of parents and siblings of 5-14 families.  Instead she got a chapel and an open gym.  BJ ended up sitting up there with her for the first half, then she wanted me.  So he came back down.  But of course I happened to be busy trying to write a card to the Primary about how awesome they did, so I couldn't go up.  So her teacher bribed her with two suckers if she could be happy.  Which made everything better.

The funny part is that when it came her turn to say her part, she was totally composed, brave, and did exactly what we'd practiced.  So we did do some good!

Watch Kolter
We watched my nephew, Kolter, last Saturday so my brother could take the rest of his family to the BYU-ISU game in the freezing cold snowy rain.  Sounds like a good time, huh?  Kolter slept for 2-3 hours of it, but when he and Abby were both awake, she adored him.  "Koh-tuh!  Koh-tuh!"  She would follow him around and try to play with him.  She just loved him.  I love when my kids get along with their cousins.  Even if most of their closest-age-wise cousins are boys.  And even if my girls are girly girls.  (I'm not kidding.  This morning Abby woke up, gave BJ her binkie, pointed to her closet and said, "Dresses!  Dresses!"  Then picked what dress she wanted to wear to church today.  GIRLY GIRL!)  I hope it lasts for a long time.

Nick and Chelsea for dinner
We invited Nick and Chelsea for dinner last Sunday so Nick could help me make an amazing spreadsheet.  Of course, I was feeling sick, so I wasn't much help, nor did I understand half of what he did.  I still haven't looked at it.  Probably because my brain always feels so muddled.  But the girls got to play with Chelsea and sometimes Nick, so that made it all worth it.  They just love Chelsea so much.

Midwife appointment
I had my first midwife appointment last week.  I'm currently 12 weeks along.  I ended up going with my previous midwife, largely because if I'm going to travel, I might as well use someone I'm familiar with and travel to a city where I can multitask my trip.  Plus, they hired a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife.  A midwife who is also a nurse.  And usually only work in the hospital because they can make more money there.) and are talking about moving to Lehi.  Which all came out to me when I was still struggling to figure out who I should go with.  It seemed like good timing.

We got to hear the baby's heartbeat!  There really is a baby in there!  Not just some sort of benign tumor that replicates the symptoms of pregnancy!  Haha.  Kessa thought it was incredible.  Her eyes were huge.  It was adorable.  And then Heather (the midwife) used the doppler so we could hear Kessa's heartbeat.  I thought that was really sweet of her.  Kessa thought that was pretty great, too.

Joy School
It was my turn to teach Joy School again.  It went better than last time, because I had more energy.  Not a lot, but I didn't teach from the couch, which was nice.  It was a really fun and awesome week of lessons, too.  They're the intro lessons for The Joy of Service and Sharing.

So the first day we focused on Serving.  We drew each other pictures, we served each other snacks, the "secret elves" (aka the girls) cleaned up toys after free play time while I "took a nap" (though, to be honest, it was really hard to keep myself from actually falling asleep).  Then I asked BJ to come help with Abby (who, to be fair, was being incredibly cranky) and while he was upstairs, we all snuck down and secretly cleaned up a big mess the girls had made down there.  (This may or may not have been pre-planned.  Not the mess, but to have BJ come upstairs so we could secretly clean his office.)  Then we went across the street and picked up leaves from a neighbor's yard and put them in a garbage sack.  With our hands.  Because the thought of giving these 3- and 4-year olds rakes was a little unnerving to me.  How great a day is that?

The second day was more focused on Sharing.  They brought show and tell to share.  I shared some stories with them and a special snack.  For free play time I brought out play dough and they had to share the cookie cutters, rolling pin, and butter knife.  And it was really hard at first, but they got really good at, "May I please have the flower cutter?"  "Not yet, but you can when I'm done with it."  It was adorable and warmed all those little cockles in my heart.  And we turned the idea into sharing ourselves.  We read The Giving Tree and how the tree gave of herself and it how it made her happy.  And basically showed how when we give of ourselves, we're doing service.  And we learned yesterday that service makes us happy!  So sharing ourselves makes us happy too!

All of this is the lead in to the Christmas program we'll be doing first at the retirement community in our ward, then for family members.  They'll sing songs and act out the Nativity story while a mom narrates, then they'll give the elderly a present (probably cards they colored) and a hug.  Then for the family one, we're charging admission of a can of food.  Then the girls get to give the food to a food bank.

Joy School is the coolest idea ever!!!

Bridal shower
One of my best friends over the years, Taralyn, is engaged.  Hooray!  I've lived with her 5 times, including China, and I just love her to death.  Her bridal shower was Saturday, so Kessa and I went down to it.  Poor Kessa.  I told her there might be a couple of games.  I think she was thinking more along the lines of Candyland than "Guess the age of the bride in these pictures."  But there was yummy cake and fruit, so she was mostly placated.  And then we played, "Make a wedding dress for the bride out of toilet paper."  And all of Taralyn's nieces jumped at the chance to do it.  So it was mostly girls 11 and under.  So, of course, Kessa wanted in the fun.  But, of course, she ended up too shy to do it without me.  So we grabbed a roll of TP and sat on the sidelines making accessories.  We made a bouquet, a wedding band, and a necklace.  Kessa thought it was the greatest thing ever.  By the end of the shower she didn't want to go home.  But I think that's mostly because she wanted more cake as I got her out of there by reminding her that we'd have pie after dinner.

Goddard Thanksgiving
Why would we have pie?  Because dinner was the Goddard Thanksgiving dinner!  Hooray!  It was fun, as always.  Uncle Richard has been serving a humanitarian mission assembling wheelchairs in 3rd world countries, so he took some time to tell us about that.  Typical Uncle Richard stories.  Full of laughter and tears.  :)  (But good tears.)  Your cousin, Brieanne, has a 2-year old girl who turned out to be the perfect playmate for our girls.  She is 6 months older than Abby, but she's Kessa's size.  I'm not kidding.  She wears 4T.  So both girls felt totally comfortable with her and the three spent the evening running around and playing.  I tried really hard to get a picture of them together, but it just didn't happen.  We're hoping to try again at the Christmas party.  Because it's seriously hilarious.

Talk - Spirit of Christ
I got to give another talk today.  Aren't you jealous? (You made a cameo appearance this time.)  My topic was "The Spirit of Christ." It was another talk with a high councilman, this time in my own ward.  It was fun to watch the girls from the stand.  They would get big grins on their faces whenever we made eye contact.  It was great.  My favorite compliment afterwards was something like, "Hey Tianna, Elder Oaks called and wants you to speak for him at General Conference."  (Or something similar.  It was noisy and he was a few people away.)  But I had two older people come up to the stand right afterwards and give me the most heartfelt thanks and praise for my talk that made me feel so good inside.  And a little guilty.  Because  honestly, I didn't start writing it until last night.

I've been thinking about it for two weeks, but really just had no idea where to go with it.  Like, is this the Spirit of Christmas?  Christ's actual spirit?  The Holy Ghost?  It wasn't until I sat down yesterday and started searching that I really started to figure out more what it meant.  And even then I felt like I was learning some brand new doctrine.  Which was hard!  Because I didn't feel qualified at all to teach something that I still didn't really understand.  I went to the Thanksgiving dinner a little worried because I knew we'd stay late and I had only written two paragraphs that I didn't like at all.  But BJ and I had some good discussion about it, and then I had a short conversation with your dad about it, and then BJ and I outlined what I wanted to talk about on the drive home, so I was able to type it all up in an hour or two.  Then I woke up early to add some more, do some editing, and practice it to make sure timing was right and to make sure I didn't have to just read it all.  It felt very rushed to me.  I can't tell you the number of times that I told BJ, "I wish I hadn't procrastinated this talk for so long!  I need more time!"  But last night I prayed, "I know I haven't put the work into this that I should have, but please don't let my lack of preparation adversely affect what the congregation learns.  Please help the spirit tell them what I should have been saying.  And apparently it worked!  Because I really don't think that what I said deserved the comments I got. :)

Fourth Sunday dinner
Well, we technically cancelled 4th Sunday dinner because we had the Goddard Thanksgiving yesterday.  But we're moochers, and I was tired, and your parents had lots of leftovers, so we went up anyway.  Two thanksgiving dinners in a row!  I noticed today that my belly is starting to show.  But I'm honestly not sure if that's my pregnant belly or my two-Thanksgiving-dinners-in-a-row baby.  Food babies for the win!  :)

Also, your mom is going to start taking over your blog for me.  I'm just so bad at getting it published in time.  And I feel bad for family members who try to keep up with you regularly.  And your mom is Super Woman, so I know she'll be more timely.  Once she figures out the technology portion of it, anyway.  :D  She did post your last two tonight.  And I wrote a list for her to follow.  So hopefully when she blogs your email tomorrow she'll do great.  :D  Also, I think she's having more fun coming up with nyms than I did.  I love your mom.  She's great.

I've been trying to read to the girls more often.  We got 5 of the My First Little House books from the library, which are a simplified, illustrated version of the Little House on the Prairie series (from the same author).  They've both loved them.  To read all 5 takes about 20 minutes and both girls will sit on my lap the whole time.  We've started to talk about how Laura and Mary were helpers to their Ma and lately, between that and the Joy School lessons, Kessa keeps asking if she can help doing things.  She's been loving it.  Hooray!  Let's keep it up.  (But not things like cleaning up messes.  She wants to help with cooking and drying dishes, etc.  Not her normal chores.)  

20 things about me
There's been this Facebook thing going around where someone tells you X number of things about themselves and if you like their status, you're given a number to do the same.  I hated it because I loved reading them, and wanted to like them, but I couldn't like everyone's or everyone would give me a number!  But one night I had a hard time falling asleep because my brain kept thinking of things I'd put on my list, so the next day I just made my own list of 20 things.  I thought I'd share you so you could maybe learn more about me.  :)

  1. I used to collect autographs from anyone and everyone. It’s how I met my missionary (who is not my husband) when I was a Freshman in high school. I have very few famous people, but I do have the real Coach Boone from Remember the Titans, one of the Miss America’s (or Miss USA? I don’t remember), and one of the Idaho governor’s. I also have no idea where my autograph collection is. I have at least 1k, maybe 2k, autographs.
  2. My missionary broke up with me at his homecoming. I thought I’d be devastated. Instead I felt incredible peace, and we stayed friends.
  3. Speaking of ex-boyfriends, I tend to stay friends with my exes. Or at least on good terms. One ex was our mortgage officer when we bought our condo (until he was deployed to Afghanistan) and another ex has provided several art pieces in our house and still comes to our house for games or to visit on occasion.
  4. I’ve lived in two cities in Idaho, 4 in Utah, Urumuqi, China and Jerusalem.
  5. My address in China included the line, “In the middle of Wu Chang Highway.” And that was pretty darn descriptive.
  6. I was technically (and completely jokingly) engaged to BJ before I ever went on a date with him. My engagement ring from that shattered just days before we broke up for the first time.
  7. I didn’t serve a mission in part because I was scared of proselytizing and in part because I simply didn’t want to. I did start filling out my papers twice, though. I just never could bring myself to finish them.
  8. I went through the temple without going on a mission or being engaged. I just wanted to.
  9. I’m kind of a hippy/crunchy/naturalist/whatever word you want to use kind of person. I don’t like to take medicine unless I have to (but then I will). But if a natural remedy will work, I will opt for it every time. I garden and would love to heirloom garden. I birthed Abby at home. On purpose. And am planning on a home birth with this one, too.
  10. I’m driven by emotion at times, but mostly I’m driven by logic.
  11. I played the trombone for 6 years. I still find myself trying to remember the positions for my part when I hear Sleigh Bells (which remains my favorite Christmas song) and any pep band songs, like Summertime Blues and Eye of the Tiger. I still even remember their page numbers. (63 and I think 31, respectively.) I also want to start playing Jingle Bells every time it starts snowing. (Thanks, Mr. Bennett.)
  12. I could have printed off transcripts with the following majors declared: General Education, Computer Science, Nursing, General Education: Nursing, General Education: Health and Education, Communications, Open Major, Anthropology, Theater and Media Arts, Marriage Family and Home Development, Audiology and Speech Language Pathology, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. That’s 12 majors, folks. But I didn’t necessarily choose nor even take classes in all of those majors.
  13. I can’t remember all the boys I’ve kissed. I counted 9 I can remember, but I’m pretty sure it’s actually in the low double digits. Does that make me a bad person? (Note: I thought of one more later, but I still think I'm missing maybe 2.)
  14. I gain my energy from social situations, but I don’t feel like I’m an extrovert. I think I’m somewhere in between extrovert and introvert. Many people don’t believe that I can actually be quite shy.
  15. Halloween is my least favorite holiday. I hate the glorification of violence, gluttony and immodesty. My stomach churns the entire month of October when I see pictures on Facebook and Pinterest of gore. But I don’t want to offend, so I don’t usually say anything publicly lest someone think I’m directing it at them specifically. Relatedly: I hate, hate, hate, the zombie craze.
  16. I have taken classes in French, Norwegian, Spanish, Mandarin, and Biblical Hebrew. I definitely learn languages better when they’re not written in Romanized letters. I can’t speak/read almost anything in any of those languages, though. I’m the most saddened by the Biblical Hebrew.
  17. I taught myself to not be a picky eater. I still don’t like shrimp. I only tolerate celery. And I still find myself reverting to my childhood tendency to look at something and decide I don’t like it before I’ve even tasted it. And then I have to force myself to give it a real chance.
  18. I almost choked to death on the fumes of cinnamon flavoring as a wee babe. I haven’t liked the taste of cinnamon candy since, though I’ve learned to tolerate it.
  19. My sister once let me try to crawl out of a 2nd story window without a screen and my brother tried to suffocate me with a pillow. Both times I was saved by my mother. I wasn’t a popular baby. They’ve both since assured me that they like me now.
  20. I’ve always harbored a desire to write a book, but I probably never will because I’m afraid of being judged. If I ever did, it would either be a YA fictional romance based loosely on my own dating experiences, an older children’s book based on a dream I once had, or Bible Stories told in modern English. I probably won’t do the first because it’s about real people and it’s too easy to read bad things into stuff like that. I probably won’t do the last, though it’s the one I’m most interested in, because I’m afraid I’d get things doctrinally wrong and be judged by smarter people than I. Which leaves the second, but I don’t remember the details and am too lazy to figure out how to fill the logical holes I already see in it.
  • Me: What does Abby say?
    Abby: [considers] Ruff, ruff!
    *Note: This girl is obsessed with dogs.  Every time she sees one, real or stuffed, she yells, "Doggy!  Ruff! Ruff!"  It's adorable and scares me greatly for the future.  I don't want a dog!
  • When Kessa talks about higher or lower notes, she calls them lighter or darker.
  • Kessa: And Daddy, if you ever feel like you don't have anyone to love, you can always love us!
  • Kessa: Next time you try to die a lot, before you even die, you should look and find this necklace because it has lots and lots of hearts on it to show you how much I love you.
  • Abby dropped her binkie on the floor. BJ lowered her so she could pick it up. The following commentary followed. “I dropped it! I got it! I did it! I found it! See it?” Seriously. She says so many things lately. It’s adorable.

Talk: The Spirit of Christ

I am speaking today about the spirit of Christ, often referred to as the light of Christ. The spirit of Christ is a gift from our Father in Heaven. In Moroni 7:19 we learn,

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man [which is to say, mankind. So men and women], that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

There are two things I’d like to pull from this scripture and discuss today. First, the spirit of Christ is given to us that we may know good from evil. Second, the spirit of Christ is given to every man.

Let’s discuss the first topic. The spirit of Christ is given to us that we may know good from evil. Sounds a little like Jiminy Cricket, doesn’t it? Well, we’re not each given a cricket to help us know good from evil, but we are given a conscience. That is one of the main functions of the Spirit of Christ—it is our conscience.

So what? Why do we care? Why am I up here telling you all that you have a conscience? I hope you all already know that. So, how can knowing that you have the Spirit of Christ, to know good from evil, be applicable to your life? Why is this topic worthy of a sacrament talk?

In Doctrine and Covenants 93:38-39 we read:

Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.

When we are born, all of us are innocent. We have perfect access to the spirit of Christ to know right from wrong. But as we grow and as we start to disobey, we allow Satan access to come and take away that light and truth. He slowly removes our access with every disobedient choice we make.

It’s easiest to think of sin in terms of murder, adultery, abuse and other big sins. We also think of sin in terms of lesser offenses such as not reading scriptures, not paying tithing, being mean to your brothers or sisters, etc. But we can sin in even smaller ways. James 4:17 teaches, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

How many times have you thought, “I know I should be doing X, but I just don’t want to?” I know I think it all the time. “I know I should clean up dinner, but I really just want to go read my book.” I know it is right, to keep my house a house of order; the scriptures teach me so. But far too often, despite knowing what is right, my natural man kicks in and I instead choose to be lazy.

Daniel K. Judd wrote an article for the Liahona about the Spirit of Christ. In there he discusses this concept of sin as knowing to do good and not doing it. He tells a story that describes it well.

My wife had asked if I would rock our baby Rachel to sleep. I knew I should, but I really wanted to watch the football game. I quickly settled on a compromise: I could take the baby into my room, watch the football game on the portable television, and rock her to sleep at the same time. A real win-win situation! I would miss the color screen, but what a small price to pay for being a good dad!
The problem came after about two minutes of watching the game. Rachel began to fuss. The thought came to my mind that if I turned the television off, walked with her, and sang to her, she might be soothed. I knew it was the right thing to do, but did I do it? No, I spent the next 30 minutes struggling to watch the game and rock Rachel, all the while resenting the fact that I couldn’t do what I wanted to!
While it is a little uncomfortable to admit, when I didn’t get up and walk with my child, I went against that which I knew was right, and that, in a word, is sin.

With every disobedient choice we make, whether it’s disobedience to a commandment or to our conscience, which is the spirit of Christ, we allow Satan to remove that light from our lives. If we want to bring ourselves back to that easy access of knowing right from wrong, we have to again start listening and doing those things we know to be right. Justification is our enemy. In Bro. Judd’s story, he justified his actions. He listed his justifications as (1) I’ve been working with difficult situations all day, so I need some time to myself; (2) My wife is much better suited to deal with babies than I am, and she should be doing this; (3) My wife doesn’t appreciate all I do, so it’s really unfair she would have me do this; and (4) I’m so tired; I need to sit down and relax. I’m sure all of those justifications seemed fair and just to him. But it did him no good. He still chose to disobey what he knew to be right, he started to distance himself from the light of Christ, and in so doing, started to drive a wedge between himself, his wife, and his duties as a father.

President Spencer W. Kimball stated: “There are many causes for human suffering—including war, disease, and poverty—and the suffering that proceeds from each of these is very real, but I would not be true to my trust if I did not say that the most persistent cause of human suffering, that suffering which causes the deepest pain, is sin—the violation of the commandments given to us by God. … If any of us wish to have more precise prescriptions for ourselves in terms of what we can do to have more abundant lives, all we usually need to do is to consult our conscience.”

Now have I depressed you all? I know I’d be thinking, “Well, shoot. Now I know I’m not perfect. I make choices like that every day. There’s no way I’ll ever make it back.” That is not the end of the story. Do not forget that our Father is a loving god whose work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. He provides ample opportunity to fix our mistakes, to do better, to repent. This is the whole point of the Plan of Salvation! Every time we choose to instead do what we know to be right, we work our way back. When we keep our sacrament covenants and repent of our sins, they are washed clean. Big sins and little.

But there are those who feel their sins cannot be wiped away so easily. Perhaps they feel they are so far removed from the spirit of Christ, because of their own choices and actions, that there is no way back. This is not true. No matter how far buried the spirit of Christ is in you, it is still there. Let’s look at King Lamoni as an example. You remember the story? Ammon goes on a mission to the Lamanites, gets captured, ends up a servant to the king and cuts off the arms of the bandits who are trying to kill the king’s sheep. Prior to Ammon’s arrival, the bandits usually managed to steal the sheep and the king would kill his servants for allowing the sheep to be stolen.

We usually focus on Ammon in this story. Let’s focus on King Lamoni instead. He had been raised his entire life by wicked men who had taught him that, as king, “whatsoever he did was right.” So if he killed his servants, then it was right. No biggie. But when Ammon cut off all the arms of the enemy bandits, Lamoni’s long-buried conscience kicked in. Alma 18:5 says, “Notwithstanding [King Lamoni and his father] believed in a Great Spirit, they supposed that whatsoever they did was right; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in slaying his servants.”

Despite a lifetime of distancing himself from the Spirit of Christ, believing himself to be right in whatever choices he made, the Spirit of Christ was still inside of him. As the story continues and as Lamoni allows himself to act according to his conscience, he progresses closer and closer until he is prepared to be baptized and receive the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.

If Lamoni, who slew untold numbers of servants simply because they displeased him, could repent and find his way back to recognizing the Spirit of Christ, then surely every one of us can as well. We are never too far gone.

On that same note, no one else is ever too far gone. Too often we judge other people’s future actions based on their past and pass judgment that they are past help. We believe that someone who has left the church clearly knew what they left and thus what’s the point of even trying to help them? We judge the homeless man out by Walmart. We judge everywhere we look.

One day I had a conversation with a non-LDS friend of mine on Facebook. His view was that all Muslims are evil. Why? Because they aren’t Christian. There is clearly no hope for them, he thought. This concept blew my mind. God will not punish his children simply because they never had the opportunity to learn. That’s why we have temple work—to give those people the opportunity to accept the gospel. We also send our missionaries all over the world, to bring people to Christ. Currently my sister-in-law is serving her mission in Cambodia where the majority of the people are Buddhist. We do not believe the Cambodian people to be without hope simply because they were born into a different religion.

This brings me to my second point. Why is it important to know that the Spirit of Christ is given to every person? Because it is important to know that everyone has the capability to know right from wrong. Everyone has the opportunity to be enlightened. My friend doesn’t understand this. Because he doesn’t understand, it is easy for him to pass judgment and to believe that non-Christians are simply evil. We cannot afford to pass that judgment on anyone. The first presidency is focused on Hastening the Work of Salvation. That is impossible to do if we do not understand that the Spirit of Christ is given to all men.

Throughout history we have seen non-Christians and non-LDS people alike enlightened through the spirit of Christ. In 1978 the First Presidency stated that great religious leaders “such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as the philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light … to enlighten whole nations.” Isn’t it interesting that God would choose to enlighten an entire non-Christian nation? Perhaps they were not ready for the entire truth, but they were ready for a portion. Why did he enlighten these men? Because He loved their people so much to want to give them more. Because he knew that because they had the spirit of Christ, they were capable of learning the truth and deciphering it from the lies in the world.

It’s not just religious leaders that God enlightens through the spirit of Christ, but also leaders, philosophers, scientists, artists, etc. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “Those who make these discoveries are inspired of God or they would never make them. The Lord gave inspiration to Edison, to Franklin, to Morse, to Whitney and to all of the inventors and discoverers, and through their inspiration they obtained the necessary knowledge and were able to manufacture and invent as they have done for the benefit of the world. Without the help of the Lord they would have been just as helpless as the people were in other ages.”

We, as confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are entitled to the constant companionship of the Spirit. But everyone in the entire world, past, present and future, is given the spirit of Christ, which prepares people to first receive the temporary witness of the Holy Ghost, and then the constant companionship. We need to stop judging people by their past and instead believe in their potential. Instead of judging based on what we see or think we see, we need to always give the benefit of the doubt, no matter their actions, no matter their religion, because they still have the spirit of Christ and there is always hope.

I testify that each of us has the spirit of Christ, that God loves every single one of us. I testify that there is always hope, no matter our situation in life, or the lives of others. I testify that we alone allow ourselves to be distanced from that gift of the spirit of Christ through sin, but through repentance and obedience can be brought back to enlightenment. And I do so in the name…

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cast Your Burden on the Lord

So, quite awhile ago I said I'd put the talk I gave at our Primary appreciation dinner on here.  One of my presidents has also asked for it.  I finally got around to putting my final edits into the digital copy instead of just my written copy, so here it is!

Very first, before anything else, I want to thank every single one of you for accepting your calling.  The call to serve with the children is one of the most sacred callings in the church.  Christ made a special effort to be with the children and to teach us how special they are.  You are the elite.  You are the ones who first teach these children in an official setting.  Outside of the home, you are the first organization to teach these impressionable minds.  And children *are* impressionable.  The scriptures teach us to “teach our children the way they should go and they will not depart from it.”  You are part of that initial imprint.  So thank you for being willing to take that burden on your shoulders.

Sometimes that burden feels a little overwhelming, though, doesn’t it?  In the last 2 months we have trained three of the eight primary presidencies in our stake.  I left each training feeling like we shoved a firehose down your throats and turned it on high.  There is just so much to do in Primary.  Tell me, if you had to make a list of responsibilities of Primary presidencies and music leaders, what would be on your list?

You all feel the burden.  We, as a new stake presidency, have added to it as we’ve been trying to set up our presidency and figure out what we want for our stake.  My goal tonight is to reverse that.  I want to help make your calling easier.  Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it?  :)  Now, I’m not going to take away any of your responsibilities, your meetings, or your accountability.  Rather, I hope to give you some ideas as to how to make the burden feel lighter.  

In Mosiah the Lord tells the people of Lamoni who were in bondage,  “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.  And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage.” 

My goal tonight is to teach you some strategies that you can implement to lessen the burdens on your backs, even while you’re still in this calling. You don’t need to count down the days until you are released to lower your stress level, to be able to focus on your family again, or to feel at peace.  Absolutely not!  The Lord wants all of those things for you right now! 

Draw tree trunk.  Write “Make your calling easier” on the trunk.

I want to talk about some ways to lighten your burden.  This list is not all-inclusive, but it is the list I feel I should talk to you about tonight.

First, cast your burden on the Lord.  We read this in many ways in the scriptures.  For example, Psalms 55:22 states, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”  Or in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Does it feel that way to you?  You have Christ’s burden on you right now.  Does it feel light?  Are you allowing him to lighten it?  It also begs the question how does one cast their burden on the Lord?  Good question!  Sadly, I don’t think I can answer it for you.  I think this is one of those things that is personalized for everyone.  Until you find your method, however, I suggest you start simple.  Pray and ask the Lord to take your burden.  And don’t wait until it’s weighing you down so much that it’s a choice between removing it or being crushed.  As soon as it starts weighing you down, ask for help!  You don’t have to be the tough guy, proving that you can do it.  It’s foolish to ignore such a valuable resource because of pride.

This past week has been a very stressful week in the personal lives of my presidency.  Everything seemed to go horribly wrong, all at the same time. I remember praying to God and asking, “Why this week, Father?  Of all weeks, why this one?”  The answer I got back was perfect.  “You want to teach them to give their burdens to me. To not be stressed about their callings, even when their life outside their calling is pressing down on them.  How can you teach that without learning it yourself?”

I was humbled.  I knew He was right.  So I prepared this presentation in between doing decorations, canning, planning Joy School, and everything else a wife and mother has to do.  Whenever I felt myself starting to get overwhelmed, I stopped, took a moment to collect myself, and tried to remember something from one of that talks or scriptures I had read.  When it was really bad, I would just repeat “cast your burden on the Lord” over and over again.  The other evening was a tough one. My kids had been whining and crying for two hours, despite my best efforts, and I was trying to make dinner one-handed so I could hold my toddler.  BJ came home from work and immediately jumped in to help, but my nerves were already shot.  I went into the pantry to get something just as my 4-year old started whining.  Again. I did the only thing I could think of.  I shut the pantry door.  With myself inside.  I leaned my head up against the door, trying to block out all sound, and just repeated, “cast your burden on the Lord” to myself until I felt myself calming down and my mind started to clear.  I said a quick and fervent prayer and asked Him to take my burden or to strengthen me.  I was given some simple revelation on what I could do, so I left the pantry and did it.  My situation didn’t immediately become perfect, but it got better.  But most importantly, I felt better. My kids still had their whiny moments and I still had a long to do list, but I no longer felt overwhelmed.  And that was a miracle.

If you cast your burden on the Lord, your calling will be easier.

Second, Don’t murmur

Our minds are fascinating things.  The more we dwell on something in our mind, the more our actions and behaviors reflect that.  Whether for good or ill.  The more you murmur about your burden, the heavier the burden will get.  By dwelling on it, by putting thought to word, you are basically giving your brain permission to accept the bad and make it worse.  On the flip side, when you focus on the good instead, your brain accepts that and will continue to find more and more good.  Murmuring will only make our burdens heavier.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said in the October 1989 conference, “A basic cause of murmuring is that too many of us seem to expect that life will flow ever smoothly, featuring an unbroken chain of green lights with empty parking places just in front of our destinations!”  

If life were that easy, what would we gain?  What would we learn?  What would we prove to ourselves and to God?  We must have trials; it is part of the Plan of Salvation!  Why then, should we murmur about them?

E. Maxwell also says, “Murmuring can also be noisy enough that it drowns out the various spiritual signals to us, signals which tell us in some cases to quit soaking ourselves indulgently in the hot tubs of self-pity! Murmuring over the weight of our crosses not only takes energy otherwise needed to carry them but might cause another to put down his cross altogether.

Do not murmur about your burdens, and your calling will be easier.

Third, Look to leaders for comfort and encouragement
When I was a ward Primary president, I was shoved in without any training.  The bishop called me into his office Sunday morning and sustained me in sacrament 15 minutes later.  I never saw the previous Primary president after that.  And the one before her had likewise moved.  I had no one to give me the baton; I just had to pick it up and run with it, hoping I was going in the right direction.  The previous counselors helped some, but they had only been in for a few months themselves.  So I turned to the stake Primary president.  I was constantly emailing or calling her with questions.  Many times she didn’t know the answer, so she would research them for me.  Many times she had the advice for me that I needed to hear.  She was my pillar.

We want to be that pillar of strength for you as well.  When you have questions, burdens, worries, please call us.  We want to give you comfort and encouragement to get through your moments of weakness.  That is our job.

If you look to your leaders for comfort and encouragement, your calling will be easier.

Fourth, make good sacrifices, not bad ones.

Easing burdens does not mean removing them, right?  That means that we will still have to make sacrifices. But if we allow the Lord to lift our burdens, the bite of sacrifice will not be so bitter.  However, sometimes we seem to think that the sheer quantity of sacrifices we make determines how well we are magnifying our calling.  This is not true!  The quality of our sacrifices are far more important than the quantity of them.

Pres. Uchtdorf spoke at the general RS meeting in 2011.  His talk, Forget Me Not, is one of my favorites.  Part of it applies perfectly here. I’m just going to read that section as he says it far better than I could:

Forget not the difference between a good sacrifice and a foolish sacrifice.

An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of far greater worth.

Giving up a little sleep to help a child who is having a nightmare is a good sacrifice. We all know this. Staying up all night, jeopardizing our own health, to make the perfect accessory for a daughter’s Sunday outfit may not be such a good sacrifice.

Dedicating some of our time to studying the scriptures or preparing to teach a lesson is a good sacrifice. Spending many hours stitching the title of the lesson into homemade pot holders for each member of your class perhaps may not be.

Every person and situation is different, and a good sacrifice in one instance might be a foolish sacrifice in another.

How can we tell the difference for our own situation? We can ask ourselves, “Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?” There are so many good things to do, but we can’t do all of them. Our Heavenly Father is most pleased when we sacrifice something good for something far greater with an eternal perspective. Sometimes, that may even mean nurturing small but beautiful forget-me-not flowers instead of a large garden of exotic blooms.

Make good sacrifices and abandon the foolish ones.  Your calling will be easier.

Fifth, Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses

Have you ever had the experience of watching someone else teach, whether it’s singing time or sharing time, and thinking, “Wow.  I just don’t even compare to them”?  Maybe they’re the person who has props and games for every song and you just don’t have time or talent to make or think up all of those ideas.  Or maybe they’re the person who can keep even the Sunbeams‘ attention while they bear their testimony and you think, “I can’t even keep the Sunbeams‘ attention during a game!”    

Do not compare your weaknesses to the strengths of someone else.  Instead, find what your strengths are and capitalize on them.  If your strength is in being crafty and making props, do it!  If your strength is in having the energy to bound across the room and teach through energy, awesome!  Children thrive on having a variety of teaching styles.  Just because you teach differently than someone else doesn’t mean it’s bad. There is surely some child who is learning better with your teaching style.  Always strive to improve and try new things, but in the end, if you work to discover your strengths and utilize them in your calling, your burden will be lightened.  To top it off, the children will learn more when you are in your element.

My strength is in story telling.  I especially love learning the the history, culture, and language behind Old Testament stories.  So utilizing my strengths, I am now going to teach you a short scripture story, as an example of how you can teach and engage people by only using yourself as a prop.  

Let’s read 2 Kings 2:23-24.  “And he [Elijah] went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.  And he turned back and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

This is one of those stories that gets laughed about because it seems so ridiculous.  So, some little children come out, tell a guy that he’s bald, so he sets two bears to eat them.  Ummm… what?!

Let’s get some back story.  A few chapters prior to this, Elijah took Elisha out to the wilderness.  Elijah was taken up in a chariot of fire, or in other words, was translated, but as he ascended to heaven, his cloak fell from him and landed on Elisha.  This was symbolic.  Elijah’s coat, probably made from animal skins, represented his prophetic mantle.  When people saw it, they knew he was the prophet.  When the mantle fell from Elijah, who was being translated, to Elisha, it indicated that Elisha would replace him as prophet.

When Elisha returned from the wilderness, he came across the city of X.  Let’s talk about their back story.  Some time before, their well became rancid.  The water was not safe to drink.  Water, however, is essential, so they had to travel some distance to fill up barrels of water and bring them back.  It took a significant amount of the day, and was physically taxing.  So the young men of the city made a business out of transporting water.  Side note: if you read the foot notes, they aren’t little children, but rather are young men.  Probably as old as mid-twenties.  We’re not talking about 6-year olds here.

So, back to Elisha.  He came out of the wilderness and into this city.  The people saw his cloak and recognized him as the prophet.  They told him about the water, having faith that he could make it right.  And he did.  He healed the water.  Everyone rejoiced at this great miracle.  Or rather, most everyone did.  There was, however, one group of young men who were rather perturbed about the whole ordeal.  In a matter of moments, Elisha put at least 42 young men out of business.  They were not well pleased.

So let’s read that scripture again with that back store in mind.  “And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children (remember, young men) out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. (Or, in other words, go away!  You are bald, or rather, hair-less.  Or, in modern terms, You are not the prophet. You don’t have the right to act like one.  We deny that you are the prophet.)  

 And he turned back and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.  (He wasn’t cursing 5-year olds for calling him bald.  He was cursing young adults for mocking the priesthood and the prophet of God for their own gain.) Does that story make more sense to you now?  Can you learn something from it now?

That was my strength.  What are your strengths?  If you focus on teaching using your strengths, your calling will be easier.

Sixth, enjoy the ride

Once again, Pres. Uchtdorf says this better than I could.  This is from his October 2012 conference talk, Of Regrets and Resolutions.

My wife, Harriet, and I love riding our bicycles. It is wonderful to get out and enjoy the beauties of nature. We have certain routes we like to bike, but we don’t pay too much attention to how far we go or how fast we travel in comparison with other riders.

However, occasionally I think we should be a bit more competitive. I even think we could get a better time or ride at a higher speed if only we pushed ourselves a little more. And then sometimes I even make the big mistake of mentioning this idea to my wonderful wife.

Her typical reaction to my suggestions of this nature is always very kind, very clear, and very direct. She smiles and says, “Dieter, it’s not a race; it’s a journey. Enjoy the moment.”

How right she is!

Sometimes in life we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey. I don’t go cycling with my wife because I’m excited about finishing. I go because the experience of being with her is sweet and enjoyable.

Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?

Do we listen to beautiful music waiting for the final note to fade before we allow ourselves to truly enjoy it? No. We listen and connect to the variations of melody, rhythm, and harmony throughout the composition.

Do we say our prayers with only the “amen” or the end in mind? Of course not. We pray to be close to our Heavenly Father, to receive His Spirit and feel His love.

We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.”

Please do not think to yourself, “I will be happy when I’m finally released.”  Find happiness today.  Right now.  In the middle of your stressful moments, take a moment to stop and ponder what is good right now.  Find your happiness in every moment.  Do not wait until a future moment, because inevitably you will get to that future moment only to find another stressful situation waiting for you.  But if you can enjoy the ride instead of focusing only on the destination, if you can bloom where you are planted, you will find that your calling is easier.

And lastly, Give Thanks

Let’s go back to the story of Alma’s people.  Their burdens were eased and then, eventually, lifted.  Did they murmur and say, “About time!  I’m so glad I’m done with that”?  No, they “poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful to them.”

We need to give thanks to God for his mercy.  Which means we need to constantly be on the lookout for the tender mercies he is bestowing upon us.  Look for the good in your situation, then give thanks to God for it.  The more you thank him, the more he will give you.  When you give thanks to God, your calling becomes easier.


Sisters, the Lord wants you to be happy.  “Men are that they might have joy.”  He wants you to take his yoke upon you, for his burden is light.  And when your burdens become heavy, he wants you to cast your burdens upon him so that he can ease your burdens so that you won’t even feel them whilst you carry them.  In the name of Jesus Chris, Amen.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Being Thankful and Sick

Jessa ~

How are you?  Did the typhoon affect you at all?  We saw that it was heading for Vietnam, but appeared would miss Cambodia.  But I assume you still got more rain and such.  Are you all flooded?  My friend's brother was in the worst-hit part of the Philippines and didn't have any method of contact for about a day or so (I don't know the details) but I was scared for them and couldn't fathom how they must feel.  So just stay safe, ok?  Promise... promise!  (Like in Up!)

Kessa is on yet another potty chart.  This one is longer and she can move back and forth depending on accidents.  And I'm trying to let her decide when to go potty, to hopefully encourage her to make good decisions.  Ugh.  But so far she's made two of the milestones, so hopefully she gets better.  The first reward was to go rock climbing.  She's been begging for it ever since we took her to Trafalga last time.  So this week we went.  She was nervous at first, but the first thing BJ did was show her how the harness would keep her from falling.  (They had those tension ropes, so she really just couldn't fall.)  That took away her nervousness, but then she had so much fun ... rappelling? that she never really climbed very high.  Go up a couple of holds, fall back down.  In good news, she had a blast and really wants to go back.  Abby and I watched a little, then wandered around the arcade at Trafalga.

We made another Thankful Tree this year.  This time my neighbor and friend, Claudia, designed and cut it out for me.  Someday I'll be brave enough to do one myself.  Maybe.  Anyway, it's fun and whimsical and I like it.  Kessa loves to write things on the leaves and hang them up.  She probably does a couple every day.  It helps that she has some idea of spelling now, but is frustrating when she says, "Mom, what says "aw" and I have to say, "What are you trying to spell?" Because in her mind all vowels only say two things.  But in reality, English doesn't work that way.  It frustrates me sometimes, though it hasn't seemed to affect her yet.

Shawn and Sarah volunteered to babysit Friday night.  We weren't sure what we'd do.  We wanted to go to the temple (there's a new movie, but we haven't seen it yet because every time we go, either we or the babysitter gets sick!) but I wasn't sure I was up to sitting vertically, watching a movie (screen time makes me nauseated lately), without escape for 2 hours.  But the later in the day it got, the better I felt, so we decided to just do it.

Holy cow, such a busy night.  We knew the Timp temple was closing for 2 weeks for cleaning, but it didn't occur to us that it would be extra busy.  First we ate dinner there, then we got dressed and went up.  We got to the temple at 6:50 and watched them walk to the 7:00 session.  The chapel was full for the 7:30 session.  They directed us to wait in a wedding waiting room for a later session.  Such uncomfortable chairs (BJ liked them.  I did not.) without even scriptures to read.  They finally moved us into the chapel and told us that there were live endowments at 8, so family needed to move to the front.  Then they told us that they'd have to move the 8:00 session to 8:15 and the first 5 rows would make it into that one.  Then the rest of the rows would make it into the 9:00 session.  Guess what row we were on.  Yup, row 6.  [sigh]  At this point I was like, "Maybe you should go get your phone and text Shawn to tell him we'll be late."  We'd told them we'd probably be back at 10.  But we didn't and then they moved the 8:15 back to 8, then decided they could fit 10 more people and we were first in line.  Switching from 9:00 to 8:00 so suddenly made me feel like I'd won the lottery or something.  Hah!

We ended up getting home closer to 11 and I was exhausted, but I survived!  We joked with Sarah and Shawn that we feared the girls would have gotten sick while we were gone as a bug had been going around and it always happened when we went to the temple.  But they assured us the girls were fine and did great.  And Jessa, they cleaned my house!  (I'm sure it was Sarah's doing.  I love her already.)  Let me tell you.  I typically have a less-than-perfect house, but lately it's been in a constant state of mess except when BJ finds time between work, dinner, dishes, and kids to also clean.  It wasn't horrible when they came, but I was a little embarrassed.  And they cleaned it!  It was so nice to come home to.

And then that night Abby woke up at 12:30 throwing up.  And BJ had to clean it all up himself, because when I went to help, I saw the throw up and wanted to puke myself.  So I went back to bed. But Abby thought it was play time.  So BJ gave her a bath and let her play then put her to bed.  Repeat again at 2:30.  Then at 3 Kessa woke up with a nightmare, so I took care of that one.  Then at 6 I woke up to throw up.  Serves us right for going to the temple and not giving Satan notice to make us all sick beforehand!  :)

In good news, Abby bounced right back.  Even at 12:45 when she was covered with puke and sitting on my bathroom floor, she was smiling and jabbering and just as happy as could be.  She dry heaved a little Saturday after her nap, but otherwise was as happy as a clam.  I, on the other hand, wasn't nearly so lucky.  I'll spare you the details, but let's just say I was absolutely miserable all day.  I thought I spent a lot of time on the couch with pregnancy, but I was wrong.  I spent all day on the couch or my bed, only getting up to be sick in the bathroom or the once that I made it to the table for a very small sampling of dinner.  By last night my hips huuuuuurt.  I pray I'm never a bedridden pregnant lady.  One day made my hips hurt.  I can't lay on my belly or back when big and pregnant.  And my tailbone wouldn't let me recline in a chair for long.  I'd be horrible.  No one would want to be around me.  Hah!

Yesterday was bad enough.  One time I just moaned, "I don't feel well!" and Kessa came over, rubbed my hair and kindly said, "Mommy, don't whine, ok?" Poor BJ.  As if he hasn't had his life sucked away from him already... he had to completely dedicate his day to playing Mr. Mom and Nurse.  I feel so bad for him.  I'm not sure how I'll make it up yet, but I need to.  He's just so good!  He made a fort with the girls that evening.  I laughed at the pictures.  Apparently it's more fun to sit on the fort to watch TV?  He asked me, "So doesn't that make it a fortnight?"  Bahaha.  But my response was, "It sure felt like one to me!"

Remember the game Myst?  Well, the creators are making a new game called Obduction, which has a lot of the same game-play ideas, but is in a different universe or something.  They're funding it on Kickstarter.  BJ really wants it to succeed.  Like, a lot.  It's on track to succeed, but it's not there yet.  It closes on Thursday, so we'll see.  In order to help it out, he offered his programming services, up to 20 hours/month, at half price.  Money payable to the Obduction Kickstarter.  I think he's filled up 2 months so far.  Yesterday he was planning on programming for 6 hours.  I don't know if he got any in at all.  So hopefully we can get to bed at a reasonable hour, sleep well all night (ahem, kids, take note!), so he can get up early and program before work.

Don't worry, though, today I woke up feeling ten billion times better.  I'm still pregnant-sick, but not stomach bug-sick.  And I was so hungry today.  I guess a tiny bowl of Cheerios, a half a slice of toast and 15 small bites of chicken noodle soup yesterday weren't sufficient?  But even then, when I did eat, I couldn't eat much.  Pregnancy is so much fun!  Haha.  Don't let me deter you from getting pregnant someday.  :)

Anyway, that's about all my news this week.  So let's move on to funny things instead.

Is 22 months too early for a kid to start asking Why?
I was going through old notes on my phone today and found this gem. I honestly have no recollection of the context. It makes too much sense to just be kids playing (even with dictation), but there is definitely some kids playing in there.

It's be like using dfgggghhbgbbnhfgkjjkkpkjfdddsssvuHermeneutics as a breakfast cereal. That doesn't even make sense. Yes it does, tdckjhjit probably has lots of prudence and fiber.gsfmjxcmn g


  • Kessa: If you throw up and your hands get full, then keep it in your mouth so it doesn't spill. That's what I did the other night.
  • I gave Kessa three choices of chores. Kessa: Oh putting away the dominoes! That's by far the littlest chore!
  • The girls are jumping on the tramp. After a couple, “Be carefuls!” from me, Kessa yelled back, “Mom, stop looking over here!”
  • Me: you're turning into a well-mannered girl.
    Kessa: That's because of you guys!
    Daaaawwwww. Warm fuzzies.
  • Kessa: Giraffes can't breathe because only pink and red tongues can breathe and giraffes have black tongues.
  • Kessa: Know what I’m mad about?
    BJ: What?
    Kessa: That I’m always [hiccup] having hiccups!

<3 Tianna and Co.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halloween and baptisms

Jessa ~

Daylight Savings ended last night.  Oy.  It's only 8, but it feels like 9.  And I'm tired.  We even had both girls in bed by 7:30.  But they were exhausted by then.  I could totally take a nap now, too.  Haha.  But I can always take a nap.  Always.

Let's see.  Where did we leave off last week...

Tuesday was the 100 Years of Scouting in the church broadcast.  I was asked to help with an activity. Mostly I delegated then bought 32 dozen donuts.  Spending $100 on just donuts was kind of fun.  Haha.  The broadcast was fun.  It was (so I heard) the biggest production the Church has put on since the Olympics.  If you get a chance to watch it, I think you might enjoy it?  I wouldn't go out of your way, though.   They did a really fun thing at the beginning where they asked everyone to pull out their phone and text BSA to a certain number so they could count how many people watched the broadcast.  I just checked and they're over 2 million viewers thus far.  I thought it was a cool use of technology.

Halloween was fun.  Having Kessa in two schools really dragged it out.  She had the Joy School party the week before.  Preschool party Wednesday, then our trunk or treat that night.  Then Thursday was Halloween.  We went up to your parents, as is becoming tradition, and Teresa and Steven (Stephen? I don't know) took the girls out trick or treating on the motorized couch.  That was fun.  Your parents played Dominion with us while they manned the door.  That night we gathered up all the candy the girls got from all the parties, let them pick out their favorites (well, Kessa picked out Abby's), then went to bed.  While they slept, the Switch Witch came and traded their candy for a new Legos Duplos set (with a horse and a goat!) and a play necklace/bracelet/ring set.  (I gave Kessa the choice of buying her candy or doing Switch Witch and she chose the latter.  Theoretically we're donating the candy, but so far it's just sitting in a cupboard, being eaten by BJ.)  It mostly went over well, once Kessa got over the disappointment of having to share the toys with Abby.  Turns out, she really wanted the jewelry, too.  Well, had I known I could have saved $12, thankyouverymuch! But now that she's over it, she's had a lot of fun building with her new Legos.  And Abby loves to walk around with the necklace saying, "Brace-wet!"

My big thing this week was stake baptisms.  Now, to start, I want to say that these are my favorite part of my calling.  But I was really nervous about this one for a few reasons.  1) Early mornings and I aren't friends right now.  Nor is extended amounts of energy.  And this required my energy from 7:30 am - 12:30 pm.  2) It was our biggest baptism day yet.  19 baptisms!  So we split into two sessions: 9 am and 11 am.  3) My entire presidency was out of town/country.  1st C was in China, adopting a daughter (who is adorable).  2nd C was in Washington at her granddaughter's baptism.  Sec was running the St. George marathon.  They were all such good things!  Of course I told them all I'd be fine.  And I would be.  Because God loves me and he loves baptisms.  It would all work out.  We have font coordinators who fill the font, do laundry, etc.  So this month I asked them if they'd be willing to do a bunch more.  And they're awesome, so they readily agreed and were my saving grace for both health and sanity.

Jessa.  It was Insane.  And utter chaos.  Administratively, anyway.  I have never run into so many problems.  The main ones?  We ran out of baptismal clothing.  Apparently someone used some and hadn't brought it all back.  Plus, we share the building and clothes with another stake (who thankfully only had 5 baptisms).  We ended up stealing clothes from them, then sending a bunch of clothes home with BJ after the first session for him to do a fast wash on, then replaced the other stake's clothes before they got there.  (I had permission from them to do this.)  We also had water temperature issues.  We were afraid of scalding their skin off and overcorrected and made it a little too cold.  So we had to keep draining some and adding more hot water between sessions.  [sigh]  The copy machine also was possessed and Bro. Royer (the font guy) ended up copying something like 200+ programs one at a time.  AND one of the songs was spelled wrong (Baptizm.  Really?) so I had to figure out how to fix that.  (I just blacked out the title.  lol.)  And then all the little things I'm used to.  Chairs not set up as much as I'd like.  The cord coming unplugged without my knowledge and freaking out in a panic because my movie wasn't playing and the entire chapel and overflow were waiting on me and watching me panic.  You know, the usual hiccups.

BUT, I had so many people praying for me.  Several people told me that day or on Facebook that they had been praying for me.  Awww.  And I had been praying for myself for weeks for this day.  And BJ gave me a blessing Friday night (since I'd leave before he woke up Saturday).  Jessa, that was the first time in weeks I didn't throw up/dry heave.  (And sadly that didn't stick around.)  I had the energy to jump every hurdle and overcome every obstacle.  The grandma of one of the boys that got baptized is in my ward.  In RS today I talked about the chaos in baptisms and how prayer was able to help me overcome.  The grandma pulled me aside after church and said, "Tianna, I had no idea how many things went wrong yesterday.  From my perspective, everything ran smoothly and was done beautifully.  I was impressed at how great everything was."  I'm surprised I didn't break out in tears of gratitude right then.  Because she was right.  Administratively, it was chaos.  But once baptisms got started, it was one of the smoothest baptisms we've had.  And the spirit was so strong.  And I felt great!  (Until the end when stress and hunger got the better of me.  So I came home, begged BJ to make me lunch, then took a long nap.)

Translation: Jessa? I really want to get baptized.  I love you.  I love shows.  (She started to say that she loves shows about Jesus, but got that far and then realized she just loves all shows.) She wrote this to you while I was at baptisms and she was sad that she didn't get to watch them.  I'll have to take her next month.  So she wrote you a letter and drew you a picture instead. Oh, and those circles between the question marks after your name? "Those are the dots that are there when you're writing something on the computer!" (The '…' that shows up when someone is typing you a chat message.)

Speaking of baptism, our lesson in Sunday School was on missionary work.  I wrote this in my journal during it:

Missionary work isn't just about conversion. Missionary work is about teaching and warning the world. God will not judge us by the choices another makes, but about our willingness to share the gospel. The scriptures say, “until the bell is sounded in every ear.” (Or something like that.) Not until every ear hears or accepts it. Just until it has been sounded.


  • Kessa: Do you know why I don't like trucks? Because they make yucky smoke that comes out and makes our earth dirty!  (She was very upset about this and proceeded to tell me how trucks weren't being nice and how we had to have dirty air because of them.  I credit this whole conversation to Joy School's, The Joy of the Earth

Huh.  Apparently there was only one.  So, to make up for it...

Random posts from Facebook!
I was laying on the couch with my eyes closed (massive headache today) when Abby put a stuffed horse up next to my face and said, "Mommy. Sleeping." I thought it was cute so I kept my eyes closed as she kept piling things in front of, on, and around my face all while commenting that I was sleeping.

And then I opened my eyes to find a pile of wet and/or dirty dishrags and bibs all over my head. And a stuffed horse. It was Disgusting.

You know the Royal "we"? Well, BJ and I have discovered the Marriage "we". It means the other spouse.

Me: Can we go make dinner now? I'm going to die.
BJ: Do you mean the marriage we?
Me: I do. Yes.

BJ is now making stroganoff for dinner. #besthusbandever
Oh my goodness. Chaos ensues when two great things fight against each other.

Good thing #1: Guided Access. BJ enabled it on my phone with a simple passcode so Abby could play an app without constantly getting out of it. (Note: I was unaware of this or of what the passcode was.)
Good thing #2: Find my iPhone. When I can't find my iPhone I can make it play a beeping noise (even if it's on silent!) so long as it has battery. It has saved me many a time when kids get ahold of my phone.

I couldn't find my phone. I enacted Find my iPhone. It starts beeping. Loudly. I found my phone between couch cushions. I quickly discover that Guided Access was enabled, so I couldn't leave the app to turn off the beeping. It asked for a passcode. I assumed it was my phone passcode. It didn't work. Then made me wait 10 seconds to try again. Figuring I just entered it wrong, I waited, re-entered it, and it was still wrong. This time I had to wait 45 seconds to try again. ALL WITH THE STUPID THING BEEPING LOUDLY AT ME! I couldn't turn off my phone. I couldn't silence it. I couldn't turn down the volume. BJ yelled the passcode down the stairs (he was putting Kessa to bed), so I sat on the phone to at least muffle the beeping until I was finally able to enter the correct passcode and turn the stupid noise off.

And now there is blissful silence...

And now, answering questions from old emails that I'm finally getting to.

"But really, what about you? Name options yet? Gender options yet? Haha, meaning, preference? Is it going to be another girl? Am I going to get as sick as you?"  As usual, we're waiting on thinking about names until we know a gender.  I'm not sure what I think about gender.  For a long time after Abby was born I was convinced I was going to have a boy next.  Now I'm a little scared of having a boy (I'm used to and like my calm, sweet girls!) and really have no gut instincts either way.  As for you getting sick?  It'd be better to look at how sick your mom got.  Genetics play a part  But your best bet is just to be healthy before you get pregnant so your body isn't trying to get rid of so many toxins.

"Can I talk to your stomach over skype on Christmas, so it recognizes my voice? When I'm pregnant will you be my guide?" So, does that mean you're Skyping instead of calling?  And yes, of course you can.  :)  And YES! I would love to be your guide when you're pregnant.  Especially if I can come to your labor, too.  (But don't feel obligated.  Some women much prefer to labor alone.  And that's ok.)  But you know me.  I'm a birth junkie.  Of course I'll tell you everything I know/think all along the way.  ;)

And now, early bedtime for me!

Love and hugs,
~ Tianna and Co.

PS - a couple of videos for those who can watch them:

1. Kessa loves to sing the Joy School song that goes, "Oh boy!  I've got joy!  I do, I do!"  Abby has been picking up words.  Tonight she stood on her chair and sang as loud and high as she could "Oh boy!  I Kessa!  Oooooh boy!"

2. A 30-ish second mashup of Thriller and When the Saints Go Marching In.