Aug 27, 2010

The Green River

Our family went on our yearly annual run down the river a few weeks ago. We have rafted down the Green River off of the Flaming Gorge Dam for the past four years. It is a six mile raft ride and it is pretty mild. But I have this one little fault....okay I have more than one.....I do not like water. I am not a great swimmer and I don't have confidence in myself when I am doing any water sport.

So why would we have a family tradition to go down the river every year? Well, my husband LOVES water. He is one of those people who should have been a fish. He would swim every day if we had a pool. It doesn't matter if it is skiing or swimming, or rafting, or canoeing, or jet ski's, anything in the water and he loves it. So I do what any good wife does. I say yes when he wants to go and do those scary water things.

But I've learned something. Doing hard things gets easier over time. I know, you all know this...DUH! But the first time we ever went down the river I was terrified. We had a 7 yo a 6 yo and two 3 yo's. Everyone else at the river thought we were crazy too to bring so many little kids down the river. We asked one of the young men who was just home from a mission to come with us so he could help us paddle and rescue ME if needed. As we headed off down the river we were the last ones in because they didn't have enough life jackets for all our kids...really no one else had little kids. We hurried past all the other people so we wouldn't be in the water fights....that would probably cause our boat to sink! And we avoided as many rapids as possible at my request. It was so bad that our young man asked if he could get out and sneak in another boat...I'm sure we were taking all of the fun away from him. I could not wait for it to be over!

This last time we waited for the whole group to be in the water with us....we never do that, but we were confident that if we didn't want to get wet that we could get away pretty see we've all learned how to row together now. We also bring our own life's much easier than hopeing your kids jacket will fit. But this year we had many, many kids...even little kids. I was watching and looking at all the families that were there instead of just couples and older teens and I thought...hmmmm mabey we helped with this. Perhaps we helped others to feel like they could do it too. I'm glad about that. I'm glad that others now come as families. We also now take our time. We look for animals, we look at the scenery, we enjoy the rapids and peals of laughter come from the children, we race, we watch the other rafters and the fishermen, we are relaxed. This year at the end I wanted to do it again...lets just haul the boat back up to the dock and go down again.

Things that at one point are hard for us can become easy. We have faith, we trust the process, we know the pitfalls, we avoid the dangers, we come prepared, we enjoy the ride. I am trying to teach myself to feel this way at the point when things are hard for me. To let the stress and the worry and the concern go and just have faith, be patient, go slow, look for the good things around me. For me, this is part of what the Lord wants me to not stressed. Things in life are always hard, or troubling, or scary. But that doesn't mean that I have to be ruled by those emotions. I can be calm and peaceful and give love to others even in the midst of the turbulent rapids. Some of this comes from being prepared, most comes from trusting in the Lord, some comes from having hope that all things work together for good in the end, some comes from knowing that I can learn and become more from any adventure we get swept away in.

One of the boats following us this year was a family of 3. A Dad and his two grown daughters. They each had these neat water guns and they had one target...US. About half way down the river we noticed them. We noticed they were sneaking up on us, we noticed that they would laugh occasionaly, we noticed that gleam in their eye. So we named them Sin....not in a mean way, but we talked about how sin is always following us. It is always right behind us. And even when you think you've paddled so far ahead that it could never catch up to you, there it is again. We would row and row and row and they always seemed to be just out of range. A few times I thought they were really going to get us. At one point after paddling so hard and turning around to find them not so far away I thought that I couldn't give much more. Don't we all feel this way in life. Sometimes I feel like I am living in a way that sin can't touch me...but it can. Sometimes I feel like I am fighting and fighting and not getting ahead. Sometimes I feel like I just want to give up and give in and be like everyone else, it would be so much easier just to get wet.

But, we didn't. We prevailed. We gave it our all and paddled hard for 20 strokes. We were near the end anyway...which doesn't feel like the time to paddle hard, but sometimes that is the most important stretch. The part when your tired, when it's been a long haul, when you think...what if we just don't make it. And then you give one more try, you put your heart back into it, you have faith, you turn to the Lord. He picks up the oar and finishes.

I was thinking about why....why do we not want to get wet so badly....well, most of us anyway. My brother has these funny sayings and one of them is, "once your wet, you stay wet." Maybe that is why. Maybe we are afraid of getting wet and staying wet. I know for me this year I was already pretty wet. I had the front of the boat this year and my loving husband in the back decided that he should steer the boat to get as many rapids head on as he could so I could get as wet as possible. A little way down I figured out his evil plan and started counteracting him, but I was still quite wet. It also rained this year. Not much you can do about hiding or paddling away from that. So why not just let Sin soak us? Why not for once in four years be a "wet" boat. Some of it is the thrill that we can outrun someone with all our little kids. Some of it is the fact that my kids tend to cry when someone drenches them...okay, just the one that is like me :). Some of it is that when we are wet many of us don't have enough body fat to produce enough heat and we get cold. But I really feel like it is a choice. We have chosen not to want to get wet (sorry dear). We like to be in control over our boat, over our "wet-ness". We want to choose. Now someday we (I) may give in and decide we want to get wet, but until we make that decision we want to try as hard as we can to stay out of situations where we know we would get wet.

This is kind of like life as well. Sometimes when we get wet it is easier just to go for it and get really wet. Sometimes when we sin it seems easier just to go on sinning. But it can get pretty cold out there in a canyon when the sun goes behind a cloud and your drenched. Sometimes we didn't know the evil plan that was being plotted in the back of the boat, and we got wet without realizing our errors. Some people even just made the choice...lets be a wet boat, and sin is just something they have chosen to be okay with. But there are always consequences. Sometimes we sink our boat. Sometimes we get hurt due to our fun. Sometimes we get lost and disoriented. Sometimes we feel like we can't keep going to the end. Sometimes we forget that there is a way to get dry again....The Son. (sun)

What a blessing it is to have the sun. When it comes out from beind the canyon wall, when you see it's beauty reflecting off the surface of the green, green water. When it's warmth touches you all the way to your bones. When you dry off and feel good and warm again. I love the sun. I also love The Son. He is all things good. He is safety and warmth to me. He is the way I can overcome when I just didn't make it. What a tremendous blessing is the Son of God.
Ah, the lesson you learn from the Green River.

Path of Happiness

A few days ago my good friend posted a post . I was so excited to try her idea. But as with all things I have to tweek them a little :0 ...make them my own.

I have been pondering lately how to do "heart" work and not just "body" work. What this means to me is that I teach my kids to work on their heart and not just on their outward actions. We all have done service, helped a stressed out mom, or made a casserole out of duty before. And I'm not saying that it is bad. But when we do heart work it FEELS different. It is doing something because I really love you and I'm sorry you've had these difficult days, and I WANT to serve you.

I want my kids to do chores because they love our family, because they want to preserve their mother for future generations :), because they want to serve each other and their parents. I want my kids to see a problem and fix it because they are leaders and they want to help. I want my kids to walk into a room and be inspired who to sit by, who needs their help, what God wants them to do in that room...This is heart work.

So, back to the ladder. I decided I was going to make the ladder, we made a cute little car like Milo's in the Phantom Toolbooth (our current reading) and put a little character of each of us in it and make a ladder from-20 to 200

Then each day as we begin a new our path to happiness we "earn" points collectively for:

getting up on time....getting up early earns us happiness because we seem to have plenty of time
in the day to do all of the things we need and want to do

getting chores done on time....getting chores done on time, or in a timely manner earns us all happiness because none of us wants to clean the kitchen all day long! It helps us be motivated to keep going and doing our best.

helping with family work....working together on a project earns us happiness. We have a clean home to live in.

choosing to learn during choices earns us happiness when we choose to learn, when we choose to spend our time wisely. (Disclaimer....I don't say, "oh, you choose to read today you choose happiness. I ask something like, What did you do during choices time that brought you happiness?...they can get one, or many points depending on what they choose. It makes me happy that they are accountable for the time the spend, as each of us are.)

sacrificing...when someone asks for an extra job, when someone helps someone else with a chore, when someone sees something that needs done and does it that brings lots of happiness...figuratively and actually :)

obedience...when someone obeys promptly we earn happiness. Obedience is the foundation for happiness. We are blessed when we obey.

I also give random bits of happiness when we are feeling happy. Good job helping Bear get dressed. Thanks for answering the phone when I couldn't make it. Thanks for remembering to pick up after yourself. All these things earn us happiness.

Unfortunatly some things take away from happiness.

Disobedience is a big one. No one is happy when we disobey.

Selfishness is another. We loose power when we choose to put ourselves first above God or above others

Bad attitudes is probably our biggest one....not that my kids throw tantrums or are unkind, but even the slightest sign of an unwilling heart can bring so much unhappiness and contention into our home.

It is nice to have a ladder for taking away happiness. I don't have to give a lecture, stand on a soap box, or doll out a punishment. Just a little reminder that we lost some happiness because of a bad attitude, or a lack of obedience.

I do give rewards for earning happiness. When we get to 200 happiness we earn a special outing, a field trip, a dinner out, a special treat.

This system is not for everyone. Hey, it probably won't even be for me in six weeks. But I love that when we choose to use a "chore" system or a "rewards" system it helps if the system has a purpose, has a "why", has a principle behind it. It helps if our system also teaches that we serve, obey, give, bless, and use our own agency to benefit others.

What do you do?

Aug 4, 2010

A New Friend

We've had a sweet little visitor come to our home this past week.

He came on Friday night via a DCFS social worker.
We don't care how he came, only that he came.

He misses his mommy and his daddy. He cries himself to sleep at night, missing them. It is hard to know how to help. I tell him that it is okay that he is sad. That it is okay to miss his mom and dad. I try not to talk too much about where they are or that he cannot see them.

At first he only wants to eat things that have sugar in them. This is a BIG problem at my house. I wonder if he might starve to death before we have him a week. Luckily the bishop's wife decided she wanted to bring us dinner for our new "baby" and she brought lots of bad for you food...pop, jello, and potato chips. All the friends were in heaven. I didn't think it was so great, but since I didn't have to cook dinner I won't complain. It was very sweet of her to be so kind. Today he finally drank a smoothie. one is going to waste away!

He has taken quite a liking to Moo. She is taking the place of his big sister for the time being. She totes him around and reads him stories and changes his diaper...he is 2.

He likes hub. They like to tickle and giggle together. I'm glad when hub comes home and makes him smile.

He sure likes to talk, and talk, and talk. He doesn't stop...seriously! It is fun to have a chatter in the house. We all tend to be a little quieter.

He will be here about 8 months. We found this out today. Guess it's time to bunk the kids beds. Get him on a schedule and work on potty training. I'll have to get the toddler books out again, it has been a while.

I always call my kids friends. I don't call them kids or guys or hey you. I like to refer to them as friends. They are my special friends who I sometimes get to give instructions and teaching to. We are happy to have a new friend join our family for a little while.

Aug 3, 2010

Serving with Joy and Ease

There was a great example in the book Raising Maidens of Virute about a family who takes a journey's to spend the night at another families home and how the family shows them hospitality and makes them feel so welcome.

We talked about some of the things this family did: Smells, Music, Sharing, Food, Cleaning, Extra Special Touches, Offering to serve them, etc.

The we talked about what the girls can do to be more like this in their families.

Heritage Notebook Quote

Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service and character.
William Arthur Ward

I will: (the girls each made a list or a goal of things they would like to do to improve their service to others...their hospitality to others, especially their family)

We talked about how Christ gave service and how Christ was hospitible...he feed the 5000, he washed his disciples feet, he welcomed others to join him, he took time for children. He gave all of himself to others.

Heritage Notebook Quote:
...Cheerfulness will not only carry you over the rough places in life, but will enable you to bring comfort and help to the weak-hearted and will console you in the sad hours.
William Osler

I can: (the girls each made a list or a goal of something that they would like to do to give service to others, like the Savior would)

Hospitality means generously providing care and kindness to whoever is in need
Service is a commonly used term to denote a service which is performed without any expectation of result or award for the person performing it.

What I learned:

I was talking with my kids about this after I read it with my daughter. Did this family just wakeup one morning and decide they were going to give hospitality to others? Did this mom just threaten her kids that they better behave when company was over---or else!? Or did this family just live this way all the time, even when it was just family?

I tend to think it was the latter. If we have good manners in our family, we will have good manners when others come for dinner. If we treat or families in a hospitible way, giving service, taking care of each others needs, putting others before ourselves, then we will naturally do the same with others. If we strive to always have a clean, nice smelling home with soft music playing and delicious smelling cookies in the oven then others will feel this welcome when they visit. It will be serving with Joy and Ease because that will be the way we live.

I do not live this way. I don't make cookies because then I would eat them, I have a hard time keeping up with all the cleaning because there are so many other more enjoyable things to do than scour that bathroom. I have a hard time working on good manners because sometimes that feels like one more thing to give a lecture about. BUT I have really learned this week that I would like to have a family like the one described in the book. I would like to go to my children's home when they are grown and feel the hospitality they give to their children and family and friends. How will they learn unless I set a good example. Luckily I still have time to try harder :)

I also shared with the girls about a time in my life when I was 20 and working as an accountant for a mortgage company. Some of my co-workers were not LDS. One day a friend and I were talking with a young man that had just began working for the company. He asked my friend if she was a "mormon". My friend said yes, and he asked a few questions about the church. Then my friend was teasing him and asked why he didn't ask me if I was "mormon." He said because she screams mormon. My first thought was to be offended....What? I never scream. But then I realized that he could not give me a better compliment. He did not need to ask my what my religion was because he already knew. He knew by the way I lived my life, by my actions and by my words.

This is the way I should live in my family. When others see my family I would like them to know that we are LDS, that we are Christians, that we believe in Jesus Christ and try to live our lives accordingly. I want my family to scream "mormon" because we do and say and show that we believe. It was a good reminder to talk to my kids about what we can do to be more that way. It was fun to have a discussion with these sweet girls about what they can do to be an example of Christ at all times, and in all things, and in all places. Those are not just words, those are beliefs and a way to live our lives each and every day. To serve God and others with Joy and Ease.

Homemade Noodles
2 to 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon canola oil
Place 2 cups flour and salt on a pastry board or in a deep bowl. Make a well in a center of the flour; add eggs and water. Gradually mix with hands or a wooden spoon until well blended.
Gather into a ball and knead on a floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes. If necessary, add remaining flour to keep dough from sticking to surface or hands. Divide the dough into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll each section into a paper-thin rectangle. Dust top of dough with flour to prevent sticking while rolling. Trim the edges and flour both sides of dough.
Roll dough, jelly-roll style. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4-in. slices. Unroll noodles and allow to dry on paper towels before cooking.
To cook, bring salted water to a rapid boil. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the water; drop noodles into water and cook until tender but not soft, about 7-10 minutes. Yield: 10 servings.

Homemade Sauces....Fettuchini

1/2 c real butter

1 pint (2 cups / 16 fl. oz.) heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. garlic powdersalt and pepper - to taste

1 dash cayenne pepper

2/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan OR Romano cheese

-In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter; add cream, garlic powder, and salt and peppers; simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick.-Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheese. Do not heat sauce after cheese has been added.-Serve sauce over hot fettuccine noodles and sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

3T olive oil

3 c chopped onion

1T sugar

3T minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

2 tsp salt

2 tsp dried basil

1-1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

2T balsamic vinegar

2 c chicken broth

6-10 crushed tomatoes
Heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, cook 4 minutes stirring frequently. Add sugar and next 6 ingredients (through thyme), cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar, cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes, bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat 50-60 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Yield: about 12 cups sauce