Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Flinging Chicken Drumsticks

This Sunday morning I knew I had to make it to church.  I spend two hours out of the three hour service assigned to teaching the two year old children. The awesome responsibility of teaching these little ones about Jesus and reverence falls to me and my three comrades.  We have a set structure and order and have learned to work with each other in a way that creates unity like almost no other calling in life.  But this week I was sick and spent in body, mind and spirit.  I felt I had nothing to give, but duty beckoned so I ingested far too much vitamin C to be decent along with a cocktail of cough syrup and Tylenol and headed out the door.

God knows when we can't take anymore and I have often seen His almighty hand snatch me away from oncoming stress.  He often uses His servants to do this work and today help came in the form of my associate Aaron Nymeyer who labors with me and acts as a grandfather figure to our mutual charges.  We were shorthanded and mercifully only about half of our little ones attended.  As we progressed into our play time and scattered various toys about the room I sat down feeling tired but knowing I was in the right place.  Then Aaron went to work. 

Little Mason in the goodness of his heart came to feed Brother Nymeyer a delicately cooked plastic chicken drumstick.  I am not sure how the idea entered his head but this good man of God saw fit to tell our little buddy that he hated chicken and proceeded to fling said drumstick across the room.  Mason erupted into a fit of giggling and ran to fetch the drumstick and offer it to his teacher again. 

Brother Nymeyer: "Mason, how many times do I have to tell you?!?!  I.  HATE. CHICKEN!!" and fling went the drumstick. 

This continued and the other little people joined in the game until there was nothing left for me to do but sit on a chair and laugh hysterically.  We often say that laughter is the best medicine.  I have to admit that it certainly doesn't hurt. 

Did I still fulfill my other duties later in music time and the like.  Of course.  But we were all more cheerful for having been spiritually uplifted by our comrades' antics and I made it through.  God is over all and knows what He is about.  He knows each one of us and knows how to help us make it through the trials we face.  He may not take it away, but He just might send a miracle in the form of flying plastic drumsticks to make our loads a little lighter.

We apologized in advance to the parents for any chicken throwing that might transpire later at the dinner table.  I hope our resident chicken flinger isn't suddenly reassigned elsewhere....

Dead Bug on my Pillow

Sleep slowly dissipated from my teenage eyes and my mind softly drifted from the warm, protective dreamland I’d enjoyed into the beautiful Arizona morning sun.  I remember feeling the cheerfulness our resident star rendered those who fell under her jurisdiction.  As my eyes came into focus they suddenly widened in horror and I jerked upward, fully awake now and breathing hard. 

Lying on my pillow not twelve inches from my face lay a kissing bug – a venomous bloodsucker to which I am horridly allergic and which I had learned to fear for the pain its bite creates in my body.  Its feet skyward and body quite rigid, I realized that it had been making a beeline to bite my happily dreaming skin when suddenly death had taken it.  You may imagine the prayers of gratitude that rushed out of me and how, after many years, that experience and the reality of God’s protective power have never quite left me. 

Sometimes life flings us upside down and we find ourselves facing greater trials than we had ever dreamed or thought we could handle.  I find myself in the middle of one of those at present in fact.  But truly God is at the helm and nothing can touch us without His consent.  He knows what He is about in our lives, and no matter how close danger may prove it cannot reach us without His approval and without a divine purpose.  Sometimes trouble will reach us in spite of all the prayer and righteous living we can muster.  That is okay.  It’s part of His plan and one day we will see that every moment of pain will prove for our good. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Your Moment to be Happy

Every month members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have the opportunity to step up to the pulpit and share a brief testimony and declaration of faith with the congregation.  Today was one such day and I felt much impressed that the Lord would have me share a message with those around me.  I feel to share it again to my gentle readers.
This morning I found myself physically ill from stress and indeed for days have been taking vitamins and resting as much as possible to stave off fever and worse symptoms than I already enjoy.  Nevertheless, I stood at the pulpit and bore my witness that this gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is a gospel of happiness and peace.  We often look forward to eternity as a thing which begins after this lifetime but in truth our eternity is now and this moment we have a choice to be happy.  No matter what is happening in our lives, we can be happy now. We do not have to procrastinate our joy until everything is going perfectly in our lives - now is our moment of happiness.  I bore my testimony that I not only know that God exists, but through prayer and staying close to Him through both heartache and blessings, I have come to better know Him.  The Savior Jesus Christ is my confidante and the best friend that any of us will ever have. 
I know that no matter what is happening in our lives, no matter what difficulties swirl around us, we can choose to be happy.  Not when trials abate, but right now.  May all of us find joy and peace in our lives right now, this moment and always.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis and Mormon Deaths

Sitting in my favorite sushi hangout today I listlessly gazed at the truly beautiful sight of Pope Francis visiting the United States.  He wore a brilliant smile as myriads surrounded him, thronging toward their beloved leader and righteous example.  As it sometimes does, I felt happy for the general situation, but a little dismayed that the media pays little attention to my own spiritual leader on earth, LDS prophet Thomas S. Monson.  He stands at the head of a glorious international church, over 15 million strong.  But as I continued pondering the comparison in my head, I came to conclusion that proved rather more calming and peaceful than any prideful competition can ever offer.
I'm glad Pope Francis is here.  I welcome him with open arms as it were and with gratitude that we both worship the Lord Jesus Christ. Now is not the time to bicker about relatively small differences.  Our society has in many ways turned its back on God and this surely proves an ideal time to join hands across denominations and point our crumbling country back to the Lord.  If he can bring a little more reverence to the United States at large, a little more happiness, a little more faith, then I support his efforts completely.  But I'm also grateful the Pope is here for another reason, and one no less dear to my heart. 
We members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints often strive to be foremost in leading people to Christ.  We hold high standards and often find ourselves examples of righteousness in our communities.  But we too are human and yesterday one of our very beloved apostles and one of my personal favorites named Richard G. Scott was taken home to meet our Lord.  I know he meant a great deal to the worldwide church and earlier today tears poured down my face in thinking that I would never receive another masterful sermon from his compassionate and considerate heart.  I have many times found myself struggling with a problem or question, only to watch the live broadcast of our general leaders and discover an answer in one of Elder Scott's talks.  He has proven the third apostle we have lost in less than six months and we do not fill the vacancies until our worldwide conference next weekend.  The other two apostles were no less beloved and one, Boyd K. Packer, was nothing short of a legend.  Our Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is at present a quorum of the nine, as my children call it.  I am grateful for Pope Francis's visit because it comes most opportunely.  I am grateful for the attention it will grab, the hearts it will soften and the fact that it will add a measure of light to the nation so that we Mormons can have a moment to ourselves to grieve, and then as always, in faith, to look ahead toward the future. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Real Friends

A delightful encounter with a beautiful lady this morning inspires me to sit and type out various thoughts today.  Granted, today's post may prove rather more personal than instructive, but I find it a good practice to count one's blessings and bask in their glow. 
My dear lady gym rat friend is one of the most physically gorgeous women I have ever known.  The first time I saw her I immediately thought "supermodel" and "one of THOSE girls who know how sexy they are."  I was surprised beyond belief to find as our friendship grew stronger that she found herself captive in the fullest belief that I proved far sexier than her.  We argue about it sometimes.  For example,
Her: "You are so totally hot!  I get intimidated watching you in dance classes because you are so sexy!"
Me: "Oh, you're the gorgeous one!  I am surprised to hear you say that because I often feel like I am not attractive enough."
Her: (Matter of factly) "Well, that's because you're crazy."
Me:  "Aaaaawwwww!!! Thank you!  That's so sweet!!"  (Women clearly have bizarre methods of communication.)
Not long ago another woman who often behaves quite sweetly to my face but treats me far from respectfully behind my back continually entreated a mutual acquaintance to treat me disrespectfully.  I heard through the grapevine that she believed that I wasn't a real woman because I would not sleep with a certain man she wanted me to embrace, and on those grounds argued that I ought not receive the respect of a human being or a daughter of God.  This led to some quite indecent behaviors against me later.  When I heard her accusation of my not being a real woman I laughed hysterically and posted that "joke" on facebook.  My dear gym rat lady friend approached me about that today.
Her: "That post you wrote on Facebook about someone not thinking you're a real woman?!?!  Seriously, you could be covered from head to toe and still exude sensuality.  Some people are just naturally sexy and you are one of them!"
I am grateful today for real friends.  I am grateful for good, sweet appreciative people that God has introduced into my life.  I am grateful for ladies who tell me to my face that I am worth something in their eyes.  I strive to always maintain a healthy level of self love appropriate to a daughter of the Highest, but after all, sometimes we all need to lovingly be told that we're crazy.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Joseph of Egypt Wears Bunny Slippers

It's true!  I overheard the entire account this morning from a most reliable source. 
My children often despise Sabbath Day observance because in my view it means no shopping, no parties, no sports, no videos or music save those that are religiously oriented and the like.  But stick to your guns and things turn out for the best.  We found a way around the boredom.
Personally, I have always loved the Sabbath even as a youngster.  One day per week I do not have to care whether the windows are clean, the silverware polished or the laundry folded.  I can take that day to meditate, read scriptures, write in my journal, serve others, and pray.  My kids don't get the same thrill.  Until now.
My brilliant autistic daughter discovered the potential for delight in taking the characters from the Bible and Book of Mormon and creating her own wild versions of the events that transpire.  I have heard many stories from the famed "Book of Mormon Academy" in which people from the Book of Mormon find themselves teenagers and face similar trials within the walls of a school as they do in the original text.  For example, a villainous murderer named Gadianton in the Book of Mormon becomes a teenage bully who frightens the other kids.  Any person who dies in the Book of Mormon is "expelled" from Book of Mormon Academy. 
This morning both my children opened up PowerPoint and went to work creating a story of a baseball game between the twelve sons of Israel.  It proves an interesting concept - who's to say the brothers didn't play games once in a while?  They add details that just might be true but simply don't find descriptions in sacred text.  Maybe the twelve boys had food fights once in a while?  Maybe one of Joseph's favorite hobbies was dancing.  We don't know for certain that it wasn't.  Perhaps Daniel snuggled up with the lions in the den and fell asleep.  We've discussed this together. 
Traditions and ideas like this cement scriptural texts and lessons in children's minds.  This morning my son needed to know all the names of Jacob's twelve sons.  Both my daughter and I ranted them off from memory.  It makes the scriptures come to life, and after all, we can't really prove that Abraham as a young child didn't actually fling pita bread at his enemies and run.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Natural Curves

I think that deep down, we all want a fairy tale, happily ever after romance.  We want something eternal, for we ourselves prove divine.  We want to be loved for ourselves and also have the blissful freedom to love our companion fully and without reservation. 
Romance is under fire in this world.
I think to a great extent we as a society have forgotten how to love humanly.  I have of late made something of an involuntary study of how people in our world generally view sex and particularly the feminine body.  We all know that Barbie dolls are toxic to little girls' self image.  I don't know if we also recognize that super heroines, comic book heroines, and the like often find themselves with the same DNA as Jessica Rabbit, but the images present themselves to males and females alike, destroying healthy mentalities and producing impossible and dangerous demands on women while they destroy like a malignant cancer healthy expectations in men.
I have known women who have had cosmetic surgery.  I have known a few of them, actually.  One of particular interest was a lovely lady, beautiful in so many ways, but uncomfortable because having children had changed her body and she wanted to feel more at ease in her own skin.  Her husband loved her and wanted her to stay as she was, but she couldn't stand it.  Not having the same trial myself (pregnancy didn't injure me much) I cannot judge her, but I saw that after she endured this rather intense surgery and received an impeccable figure, she ended up getting into a bit of romantic trouble with other men, which desperately jeopardized her marriage.  I do not blame her or the surgery, but I attribute it to a mentality that disallowed her to accept herself as she was. 
And while we may recognize the dangers of this mentality and wish to deter from it, we often fall into it ourselves.  Walking through a ladies' section of any clothing store, one finds an absurd display of push up bras, extreme push up bras, and the like, urging the idea that women are simply unattractive and undesirable as they are.  They don these unabashedly and then wonder why there are no men out there who are committed to them or love them through and through.  Honestly, if you aren't going to look like yourself, and insist on changing yourself, how can he love the real you?
I have had many people through the years, both men and women, relatives, friends, and the like openly mock me for being human and having a natural woman's body.  Weird.  If they knew how many men I have had to turn down over the years they might sing a different tune, but whatever.  The point is that I have no intention of changing who I am to suit anyone else's ideals.  God handed me the physique that I have and personally I love it.  I eat healthily, exercise, and recognize that this is what God intended me to be.  If a man doesn't think I am attractive enough, it is of no importance, because if he doesn't want me enough, he is clearly not my soul mate and thus is hardly invited into my bedroom, anyway.   

Fiercely Married

I love my lady friends.  I really do.  I want what is best for them and to that end I felt remarkably saddened this week to hear a woman about whom I care very much publicly joke about wanting to meet a certain male celebrity, and fantasizing about him falling in love with her.  She proceeded about this verbal business not twenty feet from her husband, who "jokingly" shook his head at her absurdity and cast his eyes downward. 
What else was he to do?
Granted, this might prove an extreme incident.  Perhaps their marriage proved such that language of this nature merely acted as a harmless, humorous game.  Surely said celebrity would never truly choose a simple commoner so it is perfectly fine to secretly indulge the hope, right?  But let's plow through this concept at a higher magnification. 
I don't know about you, but I have ever only known one way to treat a significant other.  My heart and my conscience only work one way and that is to devote everything to that object of my attention.  My earliest consciousness has been captive to the idea that if one chooses to commit oneself to a spouse, all other bets are off.  No other member of the opposite gender exists in a romantic manner.  I might extend compassion, human charity and the like to someone else as required by Christian law, but romantically my mind shuts down in regard to other men when it hits commitment zone.  I don't know about you, but I would not necessarily hope and pray for a relationship in which the man to whom I have given my all jokes about flirting with or checking out other women.  I can't imagine that such is anyone's ideal romantic situation.  It boggles my mind to think that anyone would actually want to be subject to such treatment.
We find ourselves in a world and society that finds marriage crumbling around every corner.  We find the concept of "happily ever after" a hazy, strange blur from the indefinite, Disney tinted past and the general reality is that relationships find themselves mangled with astonishing swiftness.  Do we want to spend the rest of our lives in breaking up and searching again for the one or would we be happier putting our all into what God has already given us?  Fantasizing about people other than our spouses hardly strengthens our current situations, and joking about it, whether around a spouse or not, seems an obvious way of asking for trouble. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Judging Fat People at the Gym

If I have heard it once I have heard it many times over.  Wonderful people have often expressed their insecurity in walking into a gym because they are presently overweight.  They fear that others will judge them, and they wonder how they can possibly become friends with or gain the human respect of all those beautiful people already comfortable within the world of weights, cardio, and yoga.  So they hide themselves away in their living rooms in worry and in doubt.

I have excellent news!  You are allowed to walk through those coveted doors.  I give you permission.  Let me tell you a secret about those muscle clad beautiful people.  Every single one of them is there because they know that they have room to improve.  Most of the gym rats I know, strutting their stuff like supermodels, were once overweight and out of shape.  We understand the struggle better than you might think.  We understand because we have been there.  Every single person who frequents the gym has at one point, and probably often, looked in the mirror and found things they want to change.  That is why we go!  And here's another secret.  We aren't as intimidating as we sometimes look.  Since we know the fight and we are also human beings who crave donuts, we often seek to help each other, encourage each other, and teach each other.  We share fitness tips.  We smile at strangers when they fall to their knees panting, because we have done it too.  Fitness instructors often greet a class with, "You actually got up and made it to the gym!  You have done something awesome already!" I would invite you to search YouTube for "Barre lower body shred."  It is a challenging workout and note how the instructor speaks.  You will hear things like, "Just do your best", "this is a challenging workout and you are going to get through it" and "you're going to feel that sense of accomplishment.  There's nothing like it."  We are each others' cheerleaders and you will find that those most accomplished gym junkies will also be some of the most encouraging people you will ever know.  We know that it's hard and when an obese person walks through the door, we get excited and happy for them.  It's like they have converted to the (almost) religion to which we proscribe.  They have found and accepted something that is very important to us and we are generally very excited to share it.  

How would it be if a man bleeding to death looked at a hospital and said to himself, "I can't go in there.  They know all about being healthy and I am clearly not." did he expect to get any better without walking in and asking for help?   My point exactly.  And should you run into a bad apple or two who look at you wrongly, it may be either your imagination or due to the fact that they themselves are as yet too insecure to be kind.  Honestly, when you are surrounded by instructors who believe in you and many others who are willing to cheer you on, who cares about that kind of person's negative opinion of you, anyway?

Happy sweating!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Can't Buy Me Love

I grew up rich.  That's just the long and the short of it.  As a young child my family lived in rather diminished conditions but at the tender age of eleven we moved into the lap of luxury and have enjoyed the fruits thereof ever since.  

Some days ago a friend and I sat chatting and the conversation turned toward some rather stressful events in my life.  This well meaning, kind person lightly suggested that I move out of my present small home and into an eight thousand square foot mansion on three acres in the foothills that could be at my disposal if I needed it, further suggesting that my children could join the ranks of ritzy, rich kids in that area and grow up learning Broadway show tunes from various role models there.

Poor soul.  He didn't know what he was asking.

Allow me to describe the haven my little ones currently call "school".  We find standing at the head a principal by the name of Dr. Abrams.  I have often wondered why an amazing educator like that spends his days in a public school when he would be the toast of the town in any pedagogical circle he chose.  Far be it from me to bring that to his attention, of course.  I will simply close my silly mouth and prove grateful that my children have him.  In a world where traditional values are coming unglued, Dr. Abrams fearlessly dares to mention God within those walls, teaching American history and the virtues that made our country great.  He instills integrity, respect, decency and the like in his little charges, and unlike any principal I have ever seen, knows each child by name and gets to know their circumstances to a surprising degree.  

Arizona is one of the worst states in the Union in terms of bullying.  My wealthy elementary school was rife with it.  One lesson the teachers never instilled but I learned exceptionally well was that the brand of your jeans mattered.  At least, it mattered in the foothills.  It doesn't matter here.  Bullying isn't tolerated in Ironwood Elementary.  We work together as a team and I often see parents who do not know one another greet each other with a smile.  Fathers often come to school as WatchDogs and help provide the direction and discipline children need in order to grow up well and happily.  Our parents volunteer more than in most elementary schools, and teachers my children had two years ago will often still greet them enthusiastically and by name in the halls.  

Leave an oasis of peace, stability, morality and strength for a bully ridden, money dripping, cold, unfeeling hole of misery?  I think not.  I have traveled through Europe and the Holy Land, I have studied various languages, I hold a degree in English Education, I enjoy attending a good opera when time permits, I can quote Shakespeare in my sleep and I do not need any other adult to teach my children how to appreciate The Sound of Music and Camelot.  And having enjoyed first class treatment all over Meso America, including the exquisite ruins and beaches near Cancun has taught me that a mansion and a social status isn't enough to sacrifice the greater things in life, because for all the fun it can offer, there are some things that money just can't buy.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"You're Praying for HER?!?!?!"

Two people I love very much recently fell into a tiff that nearly ended in a physical brawl.  The argument was that the guy was generally extremely kind to the girl and treated her like gold.  She was not a bad person by any stretch but she was perhaps thoughtless and certainly did not enjoy obeying the golden rule.  This had continued for quite some time until the guy, succumbing to various other stresses in his life and finally feeling her thoughtlessness for him again, he snapped and literally started screaming in her face.  He had lost it and as he screamed all her haughtiness vanished and fearful tears took its place.  After a moment I pulled him away from her and tried to act as peacemaker.

The first thing I do in such situations is pray.  They both heard me plead with God for wisdom and also that peace might reside where chaos had been.  I prayed that the man's feelings would mend and that he would feel the peace of the Lord in his life.  Then I prayed for the girl, who was still shaking with uncontrollable sobs.  I asked that the Lord give her peace and hold her in His arms.  After the prayer, the guy turned to me in anger, "You're praying for HER?!?!?!" My response was that I knew he was hurt and that his feelings were valid, but also I could see that she was afraid and also hurt.  My prayer for her did not diminish in any way my concern for him or the idea that he had had to deal with her rudeness far too much.  It was just that I could see both people as human beings who were feeling horrible at that particular moment. 

Sometimes we feel obligated to choose sides in an argument, or to hate one person in order to support another.  I do not believe that God feels that way or wants us to give ourselves to anger or hatred.  He loves all His children.  He can see from everyone's perspective.  He wants everyone to be happy.  Does that mean that those who abuse others should go unpunished?  No.  In fact I waited for a moment for the guy to have his say before breaking it up because in some ways he really was justified in his anger.  I let it go because I felt that perhaps she needed to understand the effects of her actions and understand that this person had feelings that she had repeatedly injured.  I trusted that the momentary fear would lead her to treat him better in the future.  But then I stepped in as a peacemaker and prayed - yes - for both. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Courage Under Fire

We all experience life changing moments - some good and some exquisitely painful.  I have been facing just such a course altering situation which has been quite difficult and I can only trust in my God will prove eventually for the progression of all involved.  At these junctures, the stress level escalates and we find ourselves more vulnerable than usual to a great many things.  These are the times that try men's souls and often the pressure will induce us to turn to alcohol, drugs, and other vices that sabotage our peace and even sometimes our futures.  

So how do we face such situations and come out conqueror?  Prayer is the best tool we have and as to those things for which we do not feel we have immediate help from heaven, the key is always perspective.  As a friend reminded me, "This too shall pass."  But while we find ourselves in the midst, light seems to diminish and totter precariously in an open thrashing sea in what seems like a very unfit vessel.  All things seem dark and we lose our sense of direction.  But some things can hold us steady.  Firstly, know thyself.  We all have our weaknesses, and these tend to come out more powerfully when we find ourselves under stress.  Some of us may prove compulsive eaters - I promise you do not need that second doughnut to weather this storm.  In fact, you really didn't need the first one.  Giving in to our weaknesses at such a time does not fix our problems - it creates more of them.  We eat the pan of brownies, then feel guilty about it, which can lead to depression and self doubt to say nothing of the health issues involved.  My own weakness tends to be brutal self analysis.  All of a sudden I look terribly fat, terribly thin, completely out of shape, too muscular to be feminine - you get the drift.  In truth I look no different than I did a month ago (perhaps a little better toned) but my mind is in a whirl and for the moment the perceptions are distorted.  Breathe, have patience, and trust your better judgement.  We need accept the fact that our minds are under pressure and our worst vices will surface.  I believe God does this that we may know ourselves better and be able to weed out more fully those aspects of our characters that do not become sons and daughters of God. Use this as a gift from the Almighty to become more like Him.  Remember that He is in control and has a plan for you. 

Another terribly important key to survival in desperate times to be honest with yourself. Recognize that this is a difficult situation.  Do not try to make light of it.  Look at the situation and understand that you will do your best, but that right now you are in a bomb shelter of sorts.  And just as you would in a bomb shelter, understand that now is probably not the time to overstretch yourself unwisely.  You may not have much time, but you have time to breathe deeply and express gratitude for all the things your body does for you every day without your even asking.  Talking things out is oftimes helpful, but continually whining or grinding one's teeth in anger accomplishes absolutely nothing. 

May the Lord bless you in your times of trial and need.  My heartfelt compassion reaches out to you in your sorrows.  God is over all.  He knows what you suffer and knows intimately every tear you shed.  There is a purpose.  Hold true and use this time to your advantage.  And always remember to pray.  Blessings and love. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Children and Trauma

It seems this topic has followed me of late and beckons my placing thoughts to the page.  I find more and more how little most adults comprehend how to handle children who suffer difficult trials in their lives, and I feel impressed to offer my own experience to those who may be looking for answers within the walls of their own homes.  This is generally not a topic I would choose to cover on the Sabbath, but when the Lord commands, I always strive to obey.

My own children have grown to eight and nine years old quite familiar with the effects of post traumatic stress and have seen their mother fall under pseudo seizures due to trauma and panic, but until recently they gratefully have not had much experience with traumatic situations in their own lives.  But our situation has proven chaotic and painful of late and I have become the one to stand fast and keep my little ones from suffering the same fate that I have known for nearly a decade.  As a brief explanation, some role models they had and in whom they trusted proved themselves most painfully untrustworthy and used their authority to emotionally injure them.  Both children were devastated but my son more particularly.  His little world fell apart and the pain was quite evident.  My brain quickly scrolled and I braced myself for what I knew would transpire but he himself did not.  Sure enough, his behavior turned irrational, angry and disrespectful.  One evening while we had a visitor his behavior turned beyond anything recognizable for no apparent reason and he stormed off to his room.  Our well meaning visitor tried to force him to behave and lay down the law, certainly believing that a boy needed a firm hand in such a situation.  Josh's behavior worsened and I was left in the living room with a huffing visitor and a stony faced eight year old hiding in his closet. 

"That boy needs more discipline." My guest determined.

I stifled an eye roll and calmly entered his room with a prayer in my heart. 


No answer.  I could tell by his features that he felt ready to snap again and for a moment I could see the potential for teenage hoodlum written on my precious little one's face.  I knelt down.  He clearly knew he had been wrong and expected a tongue lashing.  

"I just wanted to say that I'm sorry." I told him.

He softened and looked up at me in surprise.  

"I know you have been hurting.  I am sorry this happened to you.  I know this isn't your fault.  I know that it isn't fair and what you have had to go through isn't right.  You should never have had to go through this.  You are a good boy and..." here I pulled his limp, soft little frame into my lap and gave utterance to what I knew must have been repeatedly playing in his heart, "It's not fair.  It's not fair.  It's not fair."  

He wasn't fighting anymore.  He was just laying in my embrace, letting mommy's tears for his pain wash away the hurt in his spirit.  I rocked him and repeated "It's not fair."  

At long last he said, "Why doesn't anyone else understand?"  

"It doesn't matter, Josh.  I understand."  

I asked him to tell me how he was feeling.  He knew I would accept anything he said without question and opened up.  I watched him through the next few days cry, break down on the floor in random fits of emotional anguish, and have a few more severely disrespectful break downs, which I handled in the same way and which ended to the same effect.  Now he has learned to find greater strength in himself, more confidence and trust in his God, and is happily burying himself in schoolwork, scouting, and asked me to sign him up to be on a special karate team in his dojo.  What might have ended in juvenile delinquency is hopefully resulting in a heightened determination to follow the Lord and to be a good boy.  

I think we as adults often have a terrible misconception that we are the only ones who understand stress.  I see far too often parents who believe that their children are only creatures of the parents' creation and forget that they are eternal beings who have feelings just as keen as our own.  And in particularly stressful moments we need to remember that because we are older it is our responsibility to throw off our own conceit and pride, come down to the dust to let them scream and storm at us and take with patience and the understanding that love truly conquers all and that charity never faileth. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Arresting the Gay Haters

This morning while grabbing a couple of gallons of milk from the local grocery store I felt a hankering for whole wheat bagels.  I snagged a container of low fat cream cheese and headed to the bakery section with a smile on my face and a promise in my heart, only to find that said bakery section failed to carry my favorite whole wheat bagels.  Everything bagels they had, blueberry bagels they touted but not my particular whole wheat.  I pouted but then thought "Hey, I can go to another store and get them later.  No biggie."  I returned the cream cheese to its shelf, bought the milk, and left.  

The news broadcast at the gym later proclaimed the arrest of yet another person who refused to participate in homosexual weddings.  This, people, is a shame and horror to the name of sanity!  We are America!  We have become great through capitalism!  And I do not understand why we do not have various brand new wedding coordinating companies ready to jump into action to seize upon a brand new and unexplored market.  Why do we not see young, intelligent business people who do not care either way about the marriage question announcing specials on homosexual and heterosexual wedding packages, ready to serve up a full blown, out of this world homosexual or heterosexual reception at a lovely profit to themselves?  And if they exist, why are those specializing in traditional marriages finding themselves behind bars?  Honestly, a woman may call up a med spa and ask if they offer laser hair removal.  If the receptions says, "No, I'm sorry, we don't offer that service" does the woman get offended and threaten to sue?  No.  She says, "Okay, thanks anyway.  I'll try somewhere else."  And she hangs up, secretly thinking that said med spa just isn't cool enough for her business, anyway.  I can just see a scenario of policeman surrounding a little hole in the wall bakery because the proprietor refused to offer apple fritters.  Seriously?  

I know that many on the left may feel quite a grudge against anything that would treat capitalism with kindness and gratitude, but the situation we have at present proves one of absolute tyranny.  It isn't enough that homosexuals have the right to marry, but everyone else now has to agree with them or be arrested?  Isn't that fundamentally opposed to the idea of tolerance?  I do not see how any self respecting Democrat can possibly agree with arresting someone because of their belief or ideas.  Doesn't it go against everything the left tries to teach?  Capitalism may seem a dirty business to some, but honestly, it is the best answer to hatred, grudges, and prejudice we have.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Life has a way of bringing one to one's knees and lately I have been found my shins bruised so to speak with the blessings in disguise and learning experiences the Lord has afforded me.  Each day has proven a tremendous soul stretching work out and I know only too well that my children and I will be discussing these days twenty years hence.  The temple beckoned in the midst of this turmoil and I answered its call.  And that is where I received the answers and inspiration that color today's post.
We often enter the temple searching for external help, miracles, or for barriers before us to vanish.  I found myself in need of all these things and yet the answer that relentlessly pounded through my mind and spirit proved the last thing I felt I needed.  The name Michelle means "she who is like the Lord" and this reminder returned repeatedly throughout my two hour experience within those sweet and sacred walls.  I felt much impressed to remember the meaning of my name and to look for my name in the scriptures.  Well, anyone knows that Michelle does not exist in the Holy Writ, but, aha!  the name Michael most certainly does.  It may or may not prove a surprise that the names Michael and Michelle are one and the same, other than the fact that the one proves masculine with its counterpart feminine.  The answer that I needed to study, pursue, and better understand the name of Michael as used in the Bible came so powerfully that I literally could not think of anything else.  Indeed, I would not find myself penning this at all were it not that the impression has returned repeatedly since my visit inside the Lord's house.  Michael the archangel proves a royal personage, a source of strength, a protector, and a vanquisher of Satan.  I am told that the Catholic faith considers him a defender of the human family, and Mormonism certainly considers his role as patriarch of supreme importance.  This, I feel, is the idea and attitude the Lord would have me pursue.
Is there a point that one might consider in one's own life from this experience?  Absolutely.  When we are down to our last and are looking for a hero to rescue us, we might do well to look inside.  It may in fact be that the answer already lies there and our decision to humble ourselves to our knees and turn inward may prove exactly what the Lord knows we need most.