Thursday, January 27, 2011

BLACK and WHITE















 


Young Women's! One of my favorite places to be.

I was asked to speak by my cute friend Dawn at her ward's New Beginnings. Dawn and I went to school together, and though we knew who each other was, we didn't really associate much together mainly because she was a year older than me. But she is Laker! Yay! And I couldn't turn down a fellow Laker. We actually got to know each other better on Facebook and I have gained a great admiration for her and her upbeat attitude. When she asked me, I was very surprised, but felt it was something I was supposed to do. The way it came about was very interesting and so I felt it was to be and so I said, "Sure, I'd be honored to!" Besides, I love to speak to Young Women's groups!

I am the mother of five sons and therefore the only female in my home. When you live in the testosterone zone any opportunity to be in a room laced with estrogen is something you jump at! Besides, after spending five years in Young Women's and just being released a couple months ago, I have been having withdrawals, and so I was very excited to be able to spend time with more Young Women! I LOVE YW! I am already very sad I won't be going to Girl's Camp this summer. I am still trying to talk the Bishop into giving me a camp calling such as "Candy Wrapper Cleaner Upper" or "Bug Patrol", anything just so I can go! I'd even settle for "Prank Monitor" - that alone shows how desperate I am because I am the prank queen. By the way, there is a serious need for a candy wrapper cleaner upper and I would be willing to be the one. Just sayin'...

This is Dawn





















Dawn asked me I wanted to bring my own bio or just have her come up with something. I told her to just have at it, as my bio seems so stiff. BIG mistake. I had forgotten she reads my blog and so she knew where to go to get lots of interesting "stuff" on me. Actually she kept it very tame and so I was grateful for that! ~lol~ She told them I was a blogger (as is she) and that we both needed photos so we could blog about it. I am sure I wouldn't be doing this post if wasn't for that pressure! Thanks Dawn. I need a push once in a while to end my blogging slacker-ish-ness! She did a great job but when she told them (through her tears) that I was a collector of Pennies From Heaven, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get up and speak after that.

A picture of me with those darling girls! They were all the sweetest things! I fell in love with each of them the minute I walked in.






























They made me have withdrawals even more!

Very cute BLACK and WHITE themed decorations and refreshments.









They gave me a very cute jar that says, "We Believe" filled with DOVE CHOCOLATE! She knows me well.
I had a great time and I am so grateful I was given this opportunity. The BLACK and WHITE theme made me dig deep for what I was going to say to them, but it all came together and I learned much more than I taught.


Below are some excerpts from my talk. It's long, so you can skip it. It's really only on here for me.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love tonight's theme of BLACK and WHITE. My youngest son was looking over my shoulder the other night when I sat down to put some of my thoughts for tonight on paper and after he noticed the title, he said, "Black and white? Are you going to talk to them about black and white people?" I just laughed and said, "No, of course not silly!" But actually, that is exactly what I am going to talk to you about. Now don't panic, not in the racial sense, but in the sense that we are all either black or white in the choices we make.

In a world that has cloudy morals and divisions between right and wrong, the Lord’s standards are clear. There are no gray areas. We don’t say we believe in being kind of honest. Or we believe in doing good to MOST men and only if we aren't tired and don't have other plans. The 13 Articles of Faith make it clear what we believe. They start out WE BELIEVE, not We Believe "most of the time". The difference between righteousness and wickedness is “black and white.”

But the world does not see things as black and white. There is so much confusion- so much gray. The world no longer knows what is right and wrong, or good and evil. It is getting really messed up out there and unfortunately many of us are being pulled into its gray-ness. Right and wrong are not gray... they are BLACK and WHITE. BUT our understanding of what is right and wrong can at times be gray. Luckily we have been given a Prophet who does know and through him we too can know.

But we will still have times in our life when it is not always going to be easy to know what is black/white or right/wrong or good/evil. Some things will continue to be gray in our minds until we learn how to tell. But there is a way. It is a gift we were all given after we were baptized. The gift of the Holy Ghost. But it still isn't that simple. We still need to learn how to hear the spirit. I find it very interesting that after Jesus was baptized he was led by the spirit to go up into the wilderness in order to commune with God. When Joseph Smith needed to be alone and pray and ponder he went into a grove of trees. Moses went up on a mountain. I can relate to them because I love to go up on the mountain behind my home (usually when I am on a run) and sit on a rock and just think and be still. I love that I am away from all the worldly distractions. Well, with the exception of rattle snakes and mountain lions! I call it my Rock of Salvation. I also find it interesting that even back in Jesus' time and Joseph Smith's and Moses....when they needed to hear the spirit -even way back then- they too went into the wilderness. It seems odd in some ways because they didn't have to escape from TV, cell phones, I-pods, computers, radio, and all the electronic distractions we have today. Hmm... WHAT did they need to escape from? Maybe for them it was bleating sheep (sheep can be loud ☺), the sound of the broom sweeping the tent, a rock grinding wheat, or maybe people used to sing a lot back then since they didn't have radios and I-pods. ☺ Whatever it was, they needed to escape from it.

We too, need to escape into our wildernesses in order to hear the spirit. When the spirit wants to talk to us, He does not want to be interrupted or ignored. Can you blame him? Do you like to be ignored when you think you have something important to say? I know for me personally when the spirit wants me to listen it seems to always be at 3 or 4 a.m.! I guess He is pretty sure that at that hour, he won't be ignored and will have my full attention. It seems when I hear the spirit (and I should say FEEL the spirit because many times we don't hear it - it's more of a feeling- a thought, even though I have had times in my life where I actually did hear it - undeniably heard it), it seems to be when I have escaped into my own wildernesses OR when it can almost capture me and make me listen. Which it won't ever do by the way. The spirit will never force itself upon us. We have our free agency to listen or to not. I want to share with you a time when I undeniably heard the spirit speak to me. (I am not including this experience here for reasons of my own).
There is another thing in each of our lives that many of us find challenging. I am speaking of the temptation to be negative. I think this is one of Satan's greatest tools. There is the power of being POSITIVE (WHITE) and the great temptation to be NEGATIVE (BLACK). We are surrounded each day by things that we see or things that happen to us that can really pull us down and make us feel anything BUT positive. How many of you like to be around some one that is negative all the time? NO ONE DOES! But what about that person who finds a way to look for the positive in each situation? We love being around them! They lift us instead of pulling us down. If a room is completely black (negative), all it takes is just one little strike of a tiny match to bring in light. Light is always more powerful than darkness. Same as positive and negative people.

Read from high school JOURNAL - cheerleading/chicken pox/junior prom story.

Now looking back, that was one of the most devastating things that happened to me up to that point in my young life. It was heartbreaking. Even so, at that time I could see that Heavenly Father had His hand in it and I choose to be on board with His plan (which could be the WHITE instead of my own - the BLACK) and because of that, my life went according to His plan. I ended up getting a scholarship to be the Majorette at Weber State which was not something I ever would have done had I made cheerleader. I could have become a real bitter person from this experience. I even did a couple of times...I remember thinking that when the cheerleaders went on a trip I was hoping their bus would crash and one of them would no longer be able to cheer due to some kind of a leg injury and since I was an alternate I would then take her place! Yikes! BLACK! BLACK! BLACK! ö I didn't let that thought linger, I promise! And even though I was disappointed in missing my Jr. Prom, I tried to be grateful that at least I didn't have to go with the boy that asked me! I wanted to go more because of the dance, not really to be with him. Oh, I can't even believe I am admitting all this. Remember this was a VERY long time ago! I have matured since!

GRATEFUL is the key word here.

What if I offered you a magic potion that would make you happier, healthier, more optimistic and almost eliminate negative thinking and tell you that it would cost nothing nor be labor intensive, would you be interested? Of course you would! Unfortunately, I don't have a potion for you, but each of us has something even better than a potion that will do all of those things and more...it will change your BLACK NEGATIVITY into WHITE positivity.

What is this magical thing?

Gratitude.

There is a power in gratitude. A real power. By focusing on "what you've GOT" (white) instead of "what you've NOT" (black) you can tap into this power. I have learned that something as simple as just being grateful for what you have, rather than focusing on what you don't, has an incredible, almost magical power of creating instant happiness. One of the fastest ways to improve your mood or outlook is to count your blessings. When challenging trials or problems come into your life, being grateful for the situation in some way - even when you don't like anything about it- allows you to get through it with a more optimistic attitude. It really is true that every dark cloud has a silver lining. Or in tonight's case - every BLACK cloud has WHITE lining.

But more importantly, there is now evidence from recent scientific studies that show counting your blessings is very beneficial to your health! Research conducted at the University of California at Davis and the University of Miami, shows that people who consciously remind themselves everyday of the things they are grateful for show marked improvements in mental health and some aspects of physical health. In one study the participants kept a gratitude journal and listed each day four or five things for which they were grateful--even if it was just a beautiful day. “In just two to three weeks,” they found, “they reported being happier.” “With gratitude, there is virtually no down side,” And there’s a major upside: “Most grateful people have low rates of depression and negative moods—but high self-esteem.” There was evidence that gratitude is related to reduced risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, bulimia nervosa, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence, and drug use/dependence. And an increase in better relationships."

Wow, wouldn't it be great to go to the doctor and ask for a pill that would do all that? Sadly, there isn't one. But, you have the power to do it by choosing to be grateful.

~GRATITUDE JOURNAL~ Five to thrive!

Writing just five things down each day that you are grateful for, can change you as a person. But remember being grateful is a CHOICE. Even though there is usually a downside to each situation, there is also a positive side. The one you choose to focus on is up to you. When something happens, either good or bad, pause for a moment, think it through, and then choose how you can feel grateful about it. BLACK or WHITE. The more you choose gratitude, the happier you will be, mainly because you won't be obsessing over the negatives anymore. You can learn to use gratitude to transform your life.

Most of us tend to be in the habit of negative thinking. When we experience something painful or hard it tends to throw us into a negative state of mind. We then experience feelings of anger, disappointment, hurt, resentment, etc., never realizing that it doesn't have to be that way! We allow ourselves to stay in our negative frame of mind, which ultimately means we are allowing our experiences to choose our mind-set. Not consciously choosing our mind-set, is a choice in and of itself. If we want gratitude to influence our lives then we need to choose it. It's not an automatic response. It is a conscious choice that we must make many times each day. Instead of allowing outside circumstances to determine your attitude, stop and tell yourself, "I choose to be grateful for_______." Then allow yourself to feel grateful.

And please, don't keep your gratitude to yourself! When you are feeling gratitude or thankful for certain people in your life, be brave enough to tell them. One of the great tragedies in life is that, too often, we just don't know what we mean to others. When you feel appreciation towards others, tell them!

All of this is true and has now even been scientifically proven, but I don't need science to tell me because I have experienced it myself and I know there is a real power in this simple little thing of just being grateful. In fact, I think it is one of those secrets to happiness that everyone has been searching for forever.

Dealing with losing my precious son was not an easy thing, but whenever I get very sad and start to miss him, or feel like maybe life isn't fair, I STOP and think about how terribly grateful I am that I had 17 wonderful years with him! What a huge blessing!!! I have a plaque in my home that says, "THERE IS ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS something to be grateful for" And it's true there is!

You can only have one thought at a time, and if you are thinking what you appreciate and thinking what you are grateful for, you can't be thinking about resentments or frustrations. You cannot be thinking BLACK and WHITE at same time."Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend ... when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present-love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure -- the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth." ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

I want to end with my testimony of the value and worth that is inside each one of you. I know that it is so hard to live in this world where the world bases its view of a women's worth on beauty, weight, fashion, and money. It seems we as women can never measure up to the world's standards because those standards of what we "should" look like, do, and be are impossible to achieve. I am glad that some celebrity's are coming out and finally saying that what you see on the cover of that magazine is not them. It is an image of what the editor wanted them to be and so it is photo-shopped, air-brushed, and doctored all up to basically make the rest of us feel inadequate. It's NOT real. It is gray and blurry and hazy. It not based on a women's true worth but what someone else has decided it should be. So do we listen to the world's standards or to our Heavenly Fathers? He does not base your worth on anything other than who you really are. You came with it. You have always had it. You don't have to look or dress or do or become a certain way to "earn" it. You already have it. There is NOTHING you can to do that will take it away. NOTHING.

I have a $20 bill here. How many of you would want this IF I was willing to just give it away? Okay so pretty much all of you. Okay, NOW how many want it? How about now? Has the worth of the $20 changed just because it has been torn or dirty or stepped on? Not one bit. Not even by one penny. It is STILL WORTH $20! It will always be worth $20. No matter what, it's value will not change no matter how beat up it becomes and niether will yours. Your worth will not- CANNOT change. It is what it is. It is a gift from Heavenly Father. You are HIS literal daughter. He loves you. And he wants you to love you too.

One of my favorite quotes is: "YOU ARE ENOUGH, YOU HAVE ENOUGH, YOU DO ENOUGH."

YOU are enough! THAT is PURE WHITE! It is RIGHT. The world tells you that you will NEVER be enough. That is PITCH BLACK. And it is WRONG.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
~Marianne WilliamsonIn closing I want to leave you with some challenges.

*I challenge you to "go into your own wilderness" so you can listen to the spirit. Find a place, a spot where you can HEAR and then LISTEN.
*I challenge you to focus on the positive and choose to be GRATEUL and start a Gratitude Journal TODAY.
*I challenge you to remember who you are and that your worth will not change no matter what. Get rid of the BLACK and focus on the WHITE!
*And lastly, remember you are loved by your Father in Heaven very, very much! That is as black and white as it gets!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ah...Family Pictures!

Family pictures...

What else can make you feel more alive as a mother than a professional shoot of family pictures? Or at the same time make you want to put to death several family members you gave birth too? Okay, so I am exaggerating a bit - (at least that's what I'll say in print) - but as ANY mother will attest to, family pictures are one of thee most stressful things in Momdom. For young moms they are right up there with a phone call from the principal, or finding out your mother in law is coming to stay for a week, or learning that the toddler just flushed dad's cell phone down the toilet. For us more seasoned moms, it should get easier, but trust me, it doesn't. When the kids get older you have less control on what they wear, if they will show up on time (OR at all!), trying to make everyone's schedule work with the photographers, how they fix their hair (or don't), and what color it will be that day.

For this shoot, the most stressful part was weather related. We actually found a day that we could get Skyler here from SLC and Bryce here from Orem. There just was NO other day. It was not one of those warm fuzzy moments when we heard it was predicted to rain ALL day!
The problem was we wanted a fall picture with fall leaves in it and it was supposed to snow the next week and the leaves would be long gone.

The day we choose was IT!

I was going to cancel because I really did not want to make both boys make the long drives "just in case" only to have them get here and have to turn back. BUT, Dave said to just go for it. He had faith we would be able to do it. So I went with his decision full steam ahead. And this was after it had rained all night and was still raining at 9 a.m. that day! But I had a feeling too that maybe we could pull this off. About 10:30 a.m. it stopped raining for about 20 minutes, but then started back up again. Then at noon it stopped again for a brief spell. The photographer called and said that even though we were scheduled to do it at 2 pm, to meet her there NOW! Luckily everyone had arrived, so we did. Once we got there we had exactly a 30 minute pocket of time when the rain totally let up! It was a miracle because the exact moment we were done, it started to rain, and then snow, and then BLIZZARD! Whew! What a relief! And I am not talking about the weather. I am talking about the fact that we got it done! It is a great feeling to know you have captured that time and history of your family.

As I have gotten older, I still get stressed out about the photos, but nothing like I used to. I used to have to make sure every little thing was perfect. Now I realize that in 10 years, just having the photo is what is perfect. It doesn't really matter how well we match or if someone has a huge zit (usually me!), or even if someone's eyes are closed. At least you have the record of that exact moment in time!

Okay, I am going to say it. I LOVE family pictures! Maybe tongue in cheek, but I said it!


















Dave was taking these while we were waiting.






























Beautiful setting!









Okay, here's the professional ones...
















We took the boys out to eat after in the pouring rain!









































After that McKay had a football tournament that he still had to play in even though it was a blizzard! We were so lucky to get those pictures!!!!!







































Speaking of family pictures - here is one we had taken of Dave's extended family in the summer.




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