Friday, January 15, 2021

Am I ready?

Yesterday I found Jane at the table going through her backpack and
 throwing papers into a large pile on the ground. 
She had just taken the final French test of her High School career
and was now purging her backpack.
 She did it!  She GRADUATED from High School!!  
She, like Claire, finished school a semester early and will work full-time 
until the summer when she will attend a study abroad experience in Europe.
(We hope and pray COVID won't shut everything down like last year!).
Claire reports to the (home) MTC and begins her mission
Today she went to the police station to be fingerprinted,
yesterday she had her Visa photos taken, and
she will have her yellow fever immunization on Monday.
Her room is piling up with missionary clothes, suitcases,
manuals, and piles of books.
And I'm in denial.
A few times each week she's been having Zoom Portuguese lessons
with another sister from São Paulo as pre-MTC preparations.
Last night before bed I asked her to give the family prayer
in Portuguese!  She nailed it!  I am so excited and proud of her.
There are some major changes happening in my life.
Am I ready?
I SWEAR it was just yesterday that my family looked like this:

“Brethren [and sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? 
Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren [and sisters]; 
and on, on to the victory! …"

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Servants and Masters

 Yesterday I was on my phone and a terrible horrible ad popped up.
It was disgusting and took my breath away.  I was horrified.
Lottie has a few games she loves to play on my phone. 
 The free downloadable ones that are really stupid but that she loves
and that I let her play in small amounts a few times a day.
Our family is serious about technology safeguards.  
We talk about these family rules 3-4 times a week- we're serious about
keeping our kids protected and helping them make good choices.
I think while Lottie was on this stupid free game she may have clicked on
a stupid ad that pulled my phone into the black abyss of
 very, VERY inappropriate evilness from which I went
to great lengths to terminate from my phone.
I worried Lottie may have at some point seen something offensive.
I sat down with her and together we talked about the evils of technology.  
I also wanted her to know that if she 
had at any point seen anything that made her feel bad--
 it was NOT her fault, and that it was super important that she talk
to me about it.  
She assured me she hadn't seen anything, but I still felt very
shaken and then I was very mad.  I was mad at...well, at Satan and his
minions for ruining everything, taking away children's innocence, 
degrading everyone and everything,
and influencing people to do stupid things.
We talked extensively to the Nies at dinner about all of this nasty business.
We all recommitted to strengthing our technology safeguards, 
and using tighter self-control.  
Today we're taking a break from games and phones and computers.
Today Lottie didn't even ask if she could play on my phone. 
 Instead this afternoon after school she sat down and read the Friend
I was very pleased with that choice.

Christian and I always remind our children that
Technology is our servant, not our master.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Preach, teach, expound, exhort

 Last week Christian ordained Oliver to the office of Priest.
Our family sat in our living room along with our Bishop via Zoom and witnessed
this special ordination of Oliver.
The priesthood is the power and authority of God. 
When a worthy young man turns 16 he may 
be ordained to the office of priest.
Oliver's duty as a Priest is to “preach, teach, expound, exhort,..", and
last Sunday he was able to bless the sacred Sacrament
for our family in our Home Church meeting.

Oliver's baptism day January 2013

Oliver's ordination  January 2017

I love my Ollie boy and the man he is becoming.  
This is a very important step in his progression of becoming
 a God-fearing man, husband, father, provider, and missionary.
I am so proud of Oliver.  He is such a joy!
Oliver's blessing day January 2005

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

God's View

 In 2015, I made a New Year's goal to read the church magazine
the Ensign (now called the Liahona) cover to cover each month. 
 I found that my time spent reading uplifting articles and messages from the
 Prophet and Church leaders was time very well spent. 
There was so much wisdom and inspiration in its pages,
 and heaven knows I need as much of that as I can get.
That goal is still in full-force as I recommitted myself 
this past week to read all the 2021 issues.
In the December 2020 publication, I came across a fabulous article by
Chakell Wardleigh Herbert about making social media boundaries.
For years I've been blogging and on Instagram
and have seen the ups and downs, the good and the bad of social media.
I have been so blessed and inspired by so many wonderful people,
but have also seen the pain and cruelty it spews, too.
I've always strived to be true to myself, my life, my beliefs, and God,
and before every post, I ask myself questions that help direct my reason
for my posting.  All my questions stem from my hope and desire to impress
upon my posterity (who will see my posts someday),
 the importance of God, family values, happiness, 
personal revelation, overcoming hardships, and missionary work.
Is that happening with every post?  No, but I try.
I loved what Chakell writes in her article,
"When you truly realize your identity as a child of heavenly parents,
 what more validation do you need? Knowing your worth brings 
confidence in yourself that can’t be gained anywhere else, 
especially on social media. There is everlasting happiness that comes from
 trusting God’s view above anyone else’s."
I've been pretty consistent with blogging because it's been a wonderful
journal and a place where I can write and
 share photos about my family experiences
 and my dedication and love for the Savior.
But I've backed away from consistently posting on Instagram because
it's a cruel social media world, and I don't need any more confusion and
heartbreak in my life.  Plus, it just takes up way too much of my time.
And I'm learning to put up boundaries.
Chakell writes, "Ultimately, your life belongs to you.
But when you share every piece of it, who then does it belong to?"
All of my inadequacies as a "blogger" come into full view when I receive
 mean comments and e-mails with jabs
 from my spelling to my writing, religious views, family relationships, 
my appearance, my failures, and my children.
After getting messages like that almost daily, somewhere along the way
you start believing them... and sometimes I did.
Hence the boundaries. (And a wonderful husband!).
"Just like everything else in life, we can use social media wisely 
when we give ourselves boundaries. Let’s be honest with ourselves
 and mindful about what we share. And if feelings of emptiness sneak up on us, 
we can make changes. The more we prioritize what really matters, 
share appropriately, and treasure the intimate parts of our lives,
 the less we will have to worry about others’ opinions, [and] potential regrets."

Monday, January 11, 2021

Home Church Week #40 /Charity

 Today after Home Church we went to the funeral service for my friend
Hope's husband, Kevin, who had passed away early last week.
It was a beautiful service held outside on the lawn of their Baptist chapel.
The pastor quoted the Apostle Paul in the Bible:
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: 
now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; 
but the greatest of these is charity."
Kevin's life was an example of charity, the pure love of Christ,
and that example was heard in the talks given 
by his friends and family about the life he led.
My heart aches as I think about Hope without her husband and
her three small children without their father.

Earlier in the morning, I led a discussion with the women
of our congregation in the Relief Society.
Over Zoom, we discussed a beautiful talk by Elder Carlos A. Godoy,
who shares his experiences with angels in his life that have
helped shape his choices on earth. 
I strongly believe in angels on earth and angels who have passed
on who help us, lift us, inspire us, and give us courage and strength.
 I believe Kevin is an angel to Hope and their children.
  What a comforting thought that is!
"The Lord is aware of the challenges you face. He knows you, 
He loves you, and I promise, He will send angels to help you."