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Because she is a mother

I was reading in the Book of Mormon one morning this week and read about how Nephi watered his pillow with tears, praying over his people, and how he knows that “the Lord will consecrate [his] prayers for the gain of [his] people. And the words which [he has] written in weakness will be made strong unto them” (2 Nephi 33:4).

That part about the Lord helping turn his weakness into something that will bless his people reminded me of a line from “Because She is a Mother” that I love:

When you have come to the Lord in meekness and lowliness of heart and, as one mother said, “pounded on the doors of heaven to ask for, to plead for, to demand guidance and wisdom and help for this wondrous task,” that door is thrown open to provide you the influence and the help of all eternity. Claim the promises of the Savior of the world. Ask for the healing balm of the Atonement for whatever may be troubling you or your children. Know that in faith things will be made right in spite of you, or more correctly, because of you.

These words have brought me a lot of encouragement and comfort since I heard them in April 1997. I am so grateful for living prophets and apostles who are inspired to know to say just what we as mothers need and yearn to hear: that our efforts do and will bless our children’s lives.

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What IS that smell?

PUSH cleaner

One of our upstairs toilets overflowed the other day. In a big way. The toilets in this home have given us lots of experience, shall we say?, ever since we moved in. Simply life.

The overflow went into the carpet on the floor adjoining the little bathroom, and although someone cleaned it up well, I went into the bathroom two days later and the room did not smell good. I knew the room was clean–it had been scrubbed down with bleach–so I wondered where the smell was coming from. Not the toilet (check). Not the garbage (check). Not the floor (check). It’s such a small room, I knew there wasn’t anything else to check!

Then it dawned on me: the carpet next to the tile.

Yep.

So I went to our cleaning supplies cupboard and got a product that I would recommend: Betco Green Earth PUSH Drain Maintainer Floor Cleaner & Spotter. We got a gallon jug of this years ago from a cleaning supply place, and it has served us through many a bodily fluid/matter carpet and clothing mess. The enzymes in the cleaner consume the organic matter. It is very effective. You have to clean up the carpet (or upholstery, etc.) the best you can first, then spray the PUSH onto it so that it is sufficiently saturated (not soaking, but well sprayed), and then leave it. Follow the directions on the bottle after that.

Good stuff.

It’s nice to be able to take care of messes with a minimum of expense, since with people around, there is going to be sickness and accidents and overflowing toilets sometimes.

We don’t anticipate janitorial services being such a part of life when nurturing others, but it certainly grows our gratitude for our mothers and fathers (or other kind nurturers, including janitors) who cleaned up after us when we needed help. More gratitude is a good thing!

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snow angelsThis week I got to play with my friend’s 5 year old and 18-month old as my friend is recovering from her recent C-section. (I had a C-section once upon a time, and so I was so happy to get to help her!) After the warm spring 70’s weather, we had a blustery day which blew in a big snowstorm. The plump flakes fell thickly the morning of my visit, and the lawn was already covered with several inches of famous Utah powder.

“Let’s build an igloo!” the 5 year old chirped. Of course! My morning was free to spend as they dictated. We bundled up and stepped out into the white. 15 minutes into our igloo building, my little friend walked over to a fresh canvas of snow and fell down backwards, to make a snow angel. I realized I had not yet–after the entire winter–made a single snow angel.

And so I walked over and followed his lead.

Such fun!

Why, I wondered, as a young mother, did I not join my children outside to make snow angels more? I would have had so much more fun!

I imagine that’s part of the gift of being grandparents someday: to appreciate and enjoy children (perhaps) even more than we did as parents.

You are never too young to learn, never too old to change.” Hand me the snow gloves!

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Such lovely words

Gay-Neck

Last night I finally finished reading Gay-Neck: The Story of a Pigeon to Anna. What an adventure! We felt as if we had watched this young man and his bird climb the Himalayas, hike through jungle, survive wild animal attacks, sleep in trees, help save the Allies from the Germans, and dine with Tibetan priests. All in one book!

Adventure aside, the prose was just so lovely! Listen:

The Himalayas in the spring are unique. The ground glittered with white violets, interspersed with raspberries already ripening here and there in the hot moist gorges where the ferns were spreading their large arms as if to embrace the white hills lying like precious stones on the indigo-blue throat of the sky.” (p.168)

Or:

What a relief it was to be there among men who lived above the battle of our everyday life!…Ghond and I went to the dining-room where the lamas were waiting for us. The room looked like a colonnade of ebony whose capitals were decorated with dragons of gold. The teak-wood beams, grown quite dark through many centuries, were carved into broad clear lotus designs, as delicate as jasmine but as stong as metal. On the floor of red sandstone, orange-robed monks were seated in silent prayer…” (p.170)

And one last taste:

Below, a [water] buffalo’s bellowing unlocked the insect voices one by one, tearing into shreds and tatters the stillness of the evening. An owl hooted near by, making Gay-Neck snuggle closely to my heart under my tunic. Suddenly the Himalayan Doël, a night-bird, very much like the nightingale, flung abroad its magic song. Like a silver flute blown by a God, trill upon trill, cadenza upon cadenza, spilled its torrential peace that rushed like rain down the boughs of the trees, dripping over their rude barks to the floor of the jungle, then through their very roots into the heart of the earth.” (p.183)

This kind of delicious literature reminds me of some other books who were so pretty to read aloud to children:

Linnets and ValeriansLinnets and Valerians

Peter PanPeter Pan

The Reluctant Dragon

Reluctant Dragon

 

As I said to my dear friend Darla B. yesterday, after she had given us a terrific tour of  library, when my children are all grown, I will have to volunteer to read at the library until I have some grandchildren to read to, or even when I have grandchildren to read to. Reading aloud beautiful literature to children is one of the sweetest pleasures of life! Especially when the words come “trippingly on the tongue” as they do in these books.

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April scripture memorization

Scripture memorization on bathroom door Our scripture memorization for this month includes 3 Nephi 12:44-45 and two quotes from Joseph Smith about love and kindness. We still review our yearly scripture (Matthew 26:21-22). The poem and quote on the side are Peter and Anna’s school class memorizations for this month (Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” and Statue of Liberty quote).

These quotes are on the inside bathroom door, which location lends itself to quick reviews several times a day!

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Her first clothing purchase

Anna's dress

We were shopping for Easter dresses the week before last when Anna spied this dress at the outlet store where we were. “Please, Mom, please!” she pled.

“You already have your Easter dress!” I reminded her.

“What if I pay for it myself?” she implored.

We checked how much the dress would be with the sale price and the coupon. It was just the right price, and she had saved enough in her bank account to pay for it.

She could not be happier! She wore the dress at least half of Spring break, and she looks totally adorable in it, with her cute white cap sleeve shirt under.

I am reminded of a certain child a couple of decades ago who saved her babysitting dollars for fabric to sew dresses and to purchase that first pair of jeans from a little boutique on University Avenue–a strange new brand from Paris called “Guess”– pegged jeans with zippers at the ankles that cost an outrageous amount. I was determined to buy them. And wear them on the first day of seventh grade in my new hometown with my little polo shirt, navy blue cardi, and a narrow satin ribbon tied on top of my head.

Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  Oh dear.

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Swiftly flow the years

coding class…And the hours, days, and weeks! Like an inner tube ride down the river. With something happening in each child’s life each day and then cumulatively in the family, I am always thinking of what I’d like to write–so many moments I wish I could capture to preserve! But then it’s time for dinner, and then Family Night, and then a bedtime story and a paper that needs to be signed, an essay that needs to be reviewed and a student council interview prepared for.

Time to write about it all? Not so much. Now I understand my great-grandmothers’ lengthy journals that I yearn to read: they are in their brains!

PIcnic salad dinner

So which Golden Moments should I highlight? So hard to choose. Remembering sunny memories from Spring Break? The fun company and conversation of the cousins’ dinner? Water pouring down through the kitchen ceiling right before we left for that dinner? Doing French Fair interview prep at the junior high? Sitting in on the computer coding class after school with Peter? Going on the fabulous Activity Day’s library tour and learning about special glue they use to fix books? Eating a delicious simple dinner prepared with daughters outside on the picnic table? Tasting Elder Livi’s passionfruit lollipops from Peru for FHE and hearing his recorded insights? Sharing a funny quote with my daughter? Hearing a daughter share why she wants to have the opportunity to lead at her school?

I don’t know. Guess I’ll just leave it at that and go to bed. It’s late. It’s been late for the last month and I need to get a little more sleep.

Good night.

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Oh, how I want to be…

woman who washed jesus' feet and Simon
Happy Easter!

Here are my feelings/ideas/quotes* from general conference this morning:

President Monson: He is looking older and more frail, but his spirit is absolutely not. Boy, I love this incredible man!! He is tall in stature but HUGE in spirit! I wish I could be like him! The story about the missionary who didn’t want to go back to his mission: I can relate. Not because of my mission, but the feelings of frustration with others. It is somehow one of my failings. I can relate to the story about the other missionary he didn’t know who came to answer the prayer that he offered in the temple–WHILE he was praying! I remember how my first trip to the temple was similar, when my prayer was answered by the temple president coming into the celestial room to be the answer to my prayer, in the exact moment I needed it.Sister Wixom

Sister Rosemary Wixom: We all will have experiences like the young mother in Sister Wixom’s talk had. I know that I have. The feeling I had during this talk was one of great understanding from heaven for how we feel during those times of doubt and trying to understand our challenges and navigate our way to finding the Savior during them. Sister Wixom’s words resonated SO strongly in my heart: “Oh, how I want to be like those surrounding this young mother.”

Elder José A. Teixeira: Good guidelines for online use are definitely helpful for me! I can feel the drag of spending too much time on the computer some days. I’ve been trying to figure out the balance. These tips will be helpful: Checking the church website, joining the church social media updates for reminders of what really matters, and taking some time away from mobile devices.

Elder Gérald Caussé: I want to take our children to see the beautiful places in Utah that we haven’t yet visited! If we don’t, it will be like living in Paris for 22 years and never visiting the Eiffel Tower! I especially want to visit each of the temples. I especially want my children to be able to sense that the Savior stands beside me daily because they feel the Spirit when they are with me, just like the talk from yesterday that talked about teaching our children to be able to hear the music in their minds, not just the steps of the dance. I think fasting like President Eyring described yesterday morning can help me get there. Lane and the children and God can help us figure out some fun vacation trips to beautiful Utah destinations.

Having new eyes while reading the scriptures: “The real — of the journey is not in seeking new destinations, but in having new eyes.”   “The gospel is a fountain of knowledge that never runs dry.”

Our amazement should be rooted in the plain, simple doctrines.

CHERISH the gift of the Holy Ghost: Having the Spirit each day nourish my spirit is like watering my flower garden. Without it, my testimony can wither and die.

“Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!” Amen.

Elder Brent Nielson: How to respond to those who have lost their way: His sister, Susan, gave her permission for sharing her story of abandoning her faith. What a loving, brave thing to do, particularly when millions of people are listening. Thank you, Susan! They figuratively “let her go” and never stopped loving her. They reached out in genuine love to her and her children and grandchildren. This talk made me weep. “We watch, we pray, and we wait for the Lord’s hand to be revealed.” Hearing the parable of the prodigal son in a new way. I have had that experience. I am frequently lost and need to be found. I’m grateful that the Lord has helped me recognize this on a number of occasions, particularly with regards to how I have treated unkindly my own immediate and extended family. Lane said to me, “I’ll always be there to love watch and wait with you.” I’m so grateful for my husband.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Rock climbing in the canyon. Cramping muscles and feelings of panic. Trying to jump vertically (!!!) to grab the overhanging ledge.

“Then I leapt.” “Hanging there with nothing to hang onto.” Feeling his hands slip! “then suddenly, like a lightning strike in a summer storm, two hands shot out above the cliff…My faithful little brother had not gone looking for the tree branch…He had never moved an inch. He had simply waited, silently, almost breathlessly….When I did, he grabbed me. He held me, and he refused to let me fall. Those strong brotherly arms saved my life that day as I dangled helplessly above what surely would have been certain death.”

Easter Sunday: For special remembrance of brotherly hands and arms that reached into the abyss of death to save us from our sins.

Weeping again. I have felt the Lord’s outreach to me when I felt like I would fall and could not see the bottom of the pit to which I thought I was headed.

“We cannot fully comprehend the atonement of Christ.” There is no way to truly celebrate Christmas or Easter without understanding the fall of Adam and Eve.

I love that he said he doesn’t understand what happened on this earth before the garden of Eden and the creation of Adam and Eve. This reminds me of the struggle that many Godly members have had to try to understand the connection between evolution and creation in trying to understand how those pieces fit together.

“The entire human race in freefall….Is that what life was meant to be? Is this the grand finale of human existence?” THIS ENTIRE QUOTE! I can’t wait to reread this words! To memorize it!

Oh, I wish we didn’t have streaming pauses. I mean, we’re so blessed to have these live internet streams, but I wish there were never any interruptions! Missed all the rest of Elder Holland’s talk when the streaming stopped and wouldn’t refresh despite reloading the page a couple times, etc. Opposition in all things!

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “God loves us perfectly.” I love the scripture he quoted! in Romans about the height and depth of the love of Christ. One of my favorites. Gotta have my family memorize it.

“Grace unlocks the gates of heaven.” I love the doctrine of grace! I need it everyday! “We cannot earn our way into heaven.” “We need more than an unlocked gate. We need to enter through this gate.” Change of heart: born of God, becoming his sons and daughters.

“Grace opens the windows of heaven.” God pours out blessings of power and strength “It is by God’s amazing grace that His children can overcome the undercurrents and quicksand of the deceiver.” “Indeed, it is by the grace of God…that weak things can become strong.” Grace bestows temporal blessings. “His grace refines us. His grace helps us become our best selves.” Simon was a good man: did the checklist (paid tithing, went to synagogue). Simon didn’t like the sinner woman’s washing the Lord’s feet with her tears. Jesus asked Simon, “Which of them [the debtors] will love him most?” “To whom little is forgiven loveth little.” Which of these two people are we like? Both! But definitely MORE like Simon.

When we pray, is it to confess our faults, plead for God’s mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing grace we receive.

“Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience.” Analogy of buying an airline ticket and then thinking we own the airline. Love the airplane analogy. He got it in. ☺

Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? GOD FORBID. “Brothers and sisters, we obey the commandments of God out of love for Him.”

WOW.

Obedience comes as a natural outgrowth for the goodness of God. This gratitude will merge our good works with God’s grace.

We are not saved BECAUSE of all that we can do. Do any of us do ALL that we can do? Does God wait for us to bless us until we have done ALL that we can do?  This is a clarifying section here. I want to go back and study to remember.

“When I think of what Jesus did” to provide grace to us so that we can return to His presence, I feel like shouting praises! Amen.

I pray that we will show our gratitude for the infinite grace by our obedience.

MoTab Choir:  “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Love it, love it, love it.

This morning’s session was all about CHRIST, his saving power, and how we can reach out to love and lift others. I felt the calm, peaceful reassurance that what I heard is true. I have more to learn, to understand, and totally lots to learn to be and do.

*I’ll need to go back to verify my quotes once the transcripts/video transcripts are out.☺

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Peru FHE refreshmentsFriday I got an awesome text: Hi Liz. My name is [D. H.] I served in your son’s mission in Peru. He sent me with a package to give to you guys. When would be a good time to drop it off at your house?

We were so excited! We told him to come over soon, and asked if he had time to answer some questions and tell us about the mission. He willingly obliged!

This kind young man had just gotten home 3 days before from his mission, and he had hand carried this package of hot chocolate and passionfruit lollipops, along with some FHE instructions and a letter from Elder Livi. I was so delighted! We spent over an hour asking him questions about the mission–about pensionistas, laundry, living conditions, weather, companions, the mission president, and anything else we could think of! He had been Elder Livi’s zone leader and had enjoyed working with him. He was the missionary who, along with his companion, knocked on the door of the family that Elder Livi mentioned so joyfully in his last letter–his new pension that he sang about. This family was baptized over a year ago and were sealed in the temple this past December!

FHE lesson notes from Elder Livi

These are the FHE lesson plan notes that he sent for our family for his month. (He sent more than one, because he wanted to!) I can’t wait to get the recordings that go with it! The package delivery couldn’t have been timed better, since his lesson was supposed to be this coming Monday. We’re so grateful to this kind friend who carried it all the way home and personally delivered it to us!! It will be SO fun to have our son and brother “here” with us for family night!

In the letter that Elder Livi sent along with the package, there was a letter to Eliza. I get to share some of that letter (with Eliza’s permission):

So yes, I have eggs, oil, butter, milk, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and soda, all that stuff. What I lack is normal kitchen appliances and sepcial ingredients like ovens and microwaves and blenders and pumpkin and spices and stuff. Bulit I also lack time to cook. Plus there’s no kitchen in my ‘house.’ (I don’t have a house; I live in a little room big enough for bunk beds and two desks and a dresser.) Also, no one has fridges, and the water is unsanitary (non potable). You have to boil it. Or buy bottled water to use. I’m sure you can kinda get the feel for why we eat what we do (rice, potatoes, boiled chicken, eggs…more potatoes, rice) when you imagine the kitchen. Just a little propane stove, that’s it. Half the time there isn’t even a sink! Rough stuff.

“But it doesn’t matter what the kitchen is like. (I’ve found ways to cook up some mean grub.) What really matters is Loving Others and Living with Differences (see Family Night talk). It’s OK not to have real food for two years. There’s something much more important that I’m doing than just cooking for people. I’m [teaching principles that will help change] people’s lives. It’s ok that [things are they way they are]; they are children of God who need the gospel, and I’m supposed to give it to them….So it all works out.”

He also writes,

So here’s a funny story. My companion really wants to learn English so we set a goal to only speak English in the room (no Spanish). He really doesn’t know anything (he’s learning a lot), so he always says funny stuff….He asked me, ‘Can I cook you for soup?’ (If I wanted soup that day). He asked me, ‘Can I boil the toilet?’ (Toilet is ‘inodoro’ in Spanish, but here they sometimes say ‘the water’ instead. He got confused on the translation).

“We are having so much fun learning English! He just laughs the whole time. I do, too.”

I just love hearing that he is having such a good time and that he is learning what really matters. And that he wanted to be a part of our FHEs this year!!!

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He spoke my language! (Keep practicing)

Every talk that I have heard so far during conference has been inspired and inspiring, but the talk I heard not many minutes ago by a leader whose name I don’t know yet (I missed seeing it on the screen) really seemed to be speaking my language. He talked about “Hearing the music” in our homes. The metaphor he gave about learning ourselves and teaching our children to “hear the music of the gospel” and not simply teaching them the dance steps is, as you know, what I feel passionate about, and what I so desire to learn to do! He used all kinds of music metaphors that really spoke to me, those musical terms being the concepts I discuss with children in my home and at the school week after week.

My favorite quote? When he said something like, What do we do when the music of the gospel isn’t being played harmoniously?

KEEP PRACTICING.

That is the hopeful catchphrase of the day for me. Keep practicing.

When that talk transcript is out, I want to read it again. Along with ALL of these awesome conference talks!!

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