Sunday, October 12, 2014

In the Kingdom of God the Real You is More Precious Than Rubies. - Elder Holland

I was in charge of the Young Women (Church group of ages 12-18 girls) activity this week. I've never been in charge of a church youth activity before. It was scary. I knew I wanted to do something about body image, but I didn't know what. I spent about three months preparing for this activity. 

First, this is why I did what I did: Our society is sick. Our society does not view a woman as a person, and that is so ingrained in us that even women don't see each other as people. We don't even see ourselves as a person.  An example: boys are taught to use their bodies. Girls are taught to "improve" their bodies. That was what I wanted to change.

In our culture women are trained to believe that it's socially inappropriate to love their own bodies. We're taught, instead, to bond with each other over our hatred of our bodies. It reads like a script: A friend starts complaining about "feeling fat," we tell her she isn't fat, and then find some part of our own body to complain about.

Similarly, when we're complimented on our looks, we're taught to "be modest" and say "Oh, this old thing?!" or "Oh, no, I really wish I had your..."

This means, as women, we spend a lot of time with other women picking apart our bodies, piece by piece. We may compliment each other, but we don't compliment ourselves. When was the last time you said something positive about your body out loud? When was the last time you thought something positive about your body?

What a problem! Turning to the church, I found answers ! I found three talks, one by Elder Holland, one by Sister Tanner, and the new talk given at Women's conference by Sister Marriot. With that, and inspiration from this blog, I did this:

First, I emailed the mother's of the Young Women, told them we would be having an activity about the body, said gave them this quote: "A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem." Naomi Wolf

I then asked them this:  With that in mind, I'm asking you to do one thing  1) Within hearing of your daughters, say something like "I love my body" or "my body is amazing" or something to that effect.

The girls arrived at a leader's house and sat in a circle in the backyard around an unlit fire-pit. Each girl was given a clipboard that had a blank piece of paper, and an envelope. They were instructed to write their name on the envelop:

They were then told to pass their clipboard to the girl on their right. Now, each girl held someone else's paper. On that paper, they were told to write something they liked about that person's body. (Shrieks, giggles, questions about clarification. This is a CHURCH activity after all). After one minute, they passed the clipboard to their right, and did it again. After four or five passes, they were told that when they finished writing, they were to take the piece of paper, fold it up, put it in the envelope and seal it. Once they turned over the envelope they saw this:
When all the envelopes were sealed, they handed the envelope back to the person whose name was on it. At this point, a leader lit a match and stuck it in the fire-pit, which was ready to burst into a bonfire. 

While she was doing that, I said this: 
 In your hands you hold what others think of your body; Other’s opinion on what is solely yours. Burn them. Throw them into the fire. (and they did!) 

It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter at all what anyone else thinks about your body. Your body is God’s sacred creation. He made it as a gift for you, not for anyone else. When it comes to your body, there are only two opinions that matter at all: Yours, and God’s. All other opinions should be burned. Burned out of your speech and burned out of your thoughts. 

I then gave a short talk. I pulled heavily from Sister Tanner's talk from above. 
In the premortal realm we learned that the body was part of God’s great plan of happiness for us. We “shouted for joy” (Job 38:7) to be part of this plan. You, (insert names of a few of the girls) shouted for joy when you learned you would receive that body. 

 Why were we so excited? We understood eternal truths about our bodies. We knew that our bodies would be in the image of God. We knew that our bodies would house our spirits. Joseph Smith taught: “We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the Celestial Kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body.” 

Satan learned these same eternal truths about the body. His punishment is that he does not have one. Therefore he tries to do everything he can to get us to abuse or misuse our precious gift. He has filled the world with lies and deceptions about the body. He seduces women to despise their bodies. He entices the world to regard the body merely as an object. 

The attention we give to our outward appearance can become an obsession for some. Sometimes there is a selfish excess of exercising, dieting, makeovers, and spending money on the latest fashions (see Alma 1:27). Susan Tanner says: I am troubled by the practice of extreme makeovers. Happiness comes from accepting the bodies we have been given as divine gifts and enhancing our natural attributes, not from remaking our bodies after the image of the world. The Lord wants us to be made over—but in His image, not in the image of the world, by receiving His image in our countenances (see Alma 5:14, 19). 

(1 Cor. 3:16–17). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? What would happen if we truly treated our bodies as temples? I want you all to think about how the world would be different if we all treated our bodies as the Temples they truly are. Would we make fun of another’s body? Would we starve our bodies? Would we look in the mirror and pick out things we don’t like about our bodies? I don’t think so. I think the result would be a dramatic increase in kindness, both to ourselves and others. There would be a great increase in observing and understanding of the Word of Wisdom, and a similar decrease in the problems of dieting and abuse. \

Now, I want you to take another piece of paper, and once again write your name at the top. I want you to think back to when you shouted for joy in the premortal life. I want you to think about God making a body just for you, a wonderful and unique gift made special just for you. On your piece of paper, I want you to write down five things you like about your own body. 

The paper I handed them had a quote from For The Strength Of The Youth on the bottom:"Your body is God’s sacred creation. Respect it as a gift from God, and do not defile it in any way." 

I was really worried the girls would struggle with this part. I had decided beforehand to be firm, and insist they could write five things.  

I had done this activity with the Young Women leaders a few weeks earlier. They gave a lot of feedback. We decided that after the girls were done writing, every leader would stand up and say one thing they loved about their bodiy and why. This part was amazing! We have some incredible leaders and they really did a good job of showing that it's ok to say good things about your own body! After they were done, I said one thing I loved about my body and why, and then announced that each girl would, in turn, stand up and read her list. She needed to say five things she loves about her body and why. 

I was expecting more opposition, but because the leaders had done such a great job showing how to do it, there was very little protest. A lot of the girls had kept writing while the leaders were talking, being reminded of other things they liked about their body, or realizing that they had permission to lie a certain feature, or to write down a certain feature. There were only two girls that struggled, which blew me away. I thought most of them would struggle (probably because I struggled with this so much). 

When they were done, I gave them a handout that had this quote: 
Placed around the world, temples have their own unique look and design on the outside, but inside they all contain the same eternal light, purpose, and truth. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 we read, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” We too as daughters of God have been placed all around the world, like temples, and we each have our own unique look and outward design, like temples. We also have a spiritual light within us, like temples. This spiritual light is a reflection of the Savior’s light. Others will be attracted to this brightness. - Neil F Marriot 

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Meet The Mormons

I suggest a trip to the movies this weekend:

Net Proceeds from the movie are donated to the Red Cross.

Here is more information about the movie,

Let's all go see it!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Or Maybe If a Guy was Walking Along and He Tripped, and He Hit his Head on a Rock and He Wasn't Dead, But You Knew He Was Going to Die, I Could Probably Start Eating Him. But If He Woke Up I'd Stop, cuz I Figure, Hey, That's Normal Human Etiquette and I'm Not Crossing That Line for Anybody

Yesterday I was driving to a friends house with Ash and Alexa in the backseat.

"Mama!" Ash said, thinking of something else to say. "Did you know some, some people eat...people without knives or forks?"

I paused, not quite sure what she was saying. Ash is speaking in the typical five-year-old dialect, where there are long pauses in the middle of sentences and sometimes she starts the sentence over again in the middle of the sentence. Most of the time it's not hard to understand, but in this case the wording made a difference.  Was she talking about cannibals or poor table manners? "Um...what?"

"Did you know some people, people without knives or forks?"

"Some people eat without knives or forks?"

"Yes! They eat people without knives or forks!"

I paused again, trying to decipher what she was trying to say, at the same time wondering where in the world this was coming from.  "People eat people?"

"Without knives or forks."

"People eat without knives or forks?"

"People eat PEOPLE without knives or forks/"

"Are you saying people eat other people? Humans eating humans?"

"Yes. Did you know that?"

"Uh...."   I would like to remind everyone that my daughter is five years and two weeks old. "Who told you that?"

"Maile told me. She said people eat people without knives or forks."

Ah, the influence of an older cousin. So, in a car, driving to a friend's house, I got to have a conversation with my five year old about cannibalism. And how it's wrong. And we don't eat people. Not with forks and knives, not without forks and knives. It's an important conversation to have with your children?

Friday, September 19, 2014

I've Heard It Both Ways

Two weeks ago, on the 8th of September, Alexa and I picked Ash up from school and drove to an appointment with a speech therapist. Ash just needs a few sessions to clear up her pronunciation. Because this was out first appointment, and I didn't know how long it would take to pick up Ash from school and then drive out to the appointment, we arrived about thirty minutes early. We checked in and sat down to wait.

After twenty minutes, my phone rang. As soon as I picked it up and heard the "hello" on the other end, I knew something was very wrong. It was our dear friend, Amy calling. Her mother, our Bubba, had had a seizure or a stoke and had been taken to the hospital by ambulance. Amy was calling to tell me that the last thing her mother said to her was for her to call me and ask for a blessing. I talked to her for a few minutes, said I would send Drek over to the hospital for the blessing, and I would be right there to pick Amy up and take her back to our house.

I apologized to the women at the front desk and told them I had to cancel my appointment. I then packed Ash and Sera back into the car, all while trying to call Drek, who wasn't answering his phone. I then called Bubba's home teacher, and explained to him what had happened. I asked him if he and Drek could go to the hospital and give Bubba a blessing. He said he would jump in the car right then and pick Drek up on his way.

Once again I called Drek, who didn't answer. I then started the car and started to drive home. Ash asked why we were going home and why she wasn't going to her speech therapy. I explained that Bubba was sick and an ambulance had taken her to the hospital and we needed to go pick up Amy, right after we stopped off at home and explained to Daddy that he had two seconds to change clothes before Bubba's home teacher picked him up and took him to the hospital to give Bubba a blessing. Ash asked a few questions about Bubba, and I kept driving while answering them.

My phone rang. Glancing at the caller ID I saw that it was not Drek, but my wonderful sister. I answered, and in a sleepy voice she said "Hi. I'm sorry your friend is sick."

I paused, mind reeling, trying to figure out what my sister was talking about. Had I posted something about a sick friend? Not in the five minutes since I found out about Bubba, surely.


"Your friend that went to the hospital today. I'm sorry."

Holy guacamole beans, my sister is psychic.  "Wow. I just found out myself. How did you know that?"

My sister laughed. "You  called me just now. I heard you telling Ash. Did you not mean to call me?"

Mystery solved.  In the meantime, Drek had still not answered his phone. He was busy working away, when there was a knock on the door. He answered, and was surprised to find Bubba's home teacher standing there, in a suit and tie, asking if he was ready to go to the hospital. Naturally, Drek thought I had crashed the car and his whole family was in the hospital trying to get a hold of him.

I turned down the road just a minute later, saw Bubba's home teacher was already there, turned around and picked up Amy. Three minutes later we were pulling on to our driveway, just as Drek, in a suit and tie, was getting into the car with Bubba's home teacher, still trying to understand what had happened.

But everything has turned out ok. Bubba is out of the hospital. She is recovering well thus far, I don't actually have a psychic sister, although sometimes she can read my mind, and Drek has taken to answering his phone the first time I call.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

And Over Here, We Have the Cafeteria, Where We Were Mauled by Snakes.

This evening I was on our desktop computer and talking to Drek at the same time, who was standing to the side. Suddenly Drek froze, then very calmly said "how about you back away from the..." 

I had already pushed off of the desk and my rolling office chair was halfway across the room. I was sure there was some giant spider. 

But it wasn't. Drek, out of the corner of his eye, had seen one of the computer cables move. And keep moving. He grabbed some kitchen tongs, I grabbed a bucket and a few minutes later: 


We decided it was a baby gopher snake. Non-venomous, and they don't even bite. besides, this one was just a baby and the poor thing was so scared! We took him out and put him in our raspberry bushes, where I'm hoping he will live up to his name and eat gophers. Or, until he's a bit bigger, maybe he'll eat giant spiders. I'd keep in the house if he promised to eat the spiders. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

We Broker Her Heart. Now She knows We Won't Always Be There For Her. That's Good, Right?

In the very, very early hours of Wednesday morning, Drek decided that all of Alexa's sleeping problems are my fault. His decision was still firm Wednesday night, so he banished me to the front room to sleep on the couch, while he stayed in the bedroom and promised all of Alexa's night-time wakings would be gone in a week. He says his method isn't cry-it out, because Alexa will be a pack-and-play next to his bed and he will occasionally pat her back.

So I pushed the two couches together, snuggled up under a blanket and went to sleep. I slept until two in the morning, when I woke up from a horrible nightmare involving spiders. It was then that it clicked where I was sleeping: on the two couches where, just few months ago, I found several spider nest attached to the bottom. I was sleeping on the very same couch where, two years ago, I almost touched a gigantic wolf spider perched on the cushion. I was sleeping a few feet away from the space on the floor where, last month,  Drek found another gigantic wolf spider, and in tracking him down, found dozens of spider nests in our computer cords.

I am an arachnophobe. Sometimes I pretend I'm not, but at two in the morning, after a nightmare about spiders, my true fears surface and I find myself terrified. I freaked out over tickle, every shadow, every movement. I turned on the light and searched for spiders, sure they were everywhere, just out of sight. I turned the light back off and then hid under my blanket, sure they were sneaking in and crawling over my legs. I tried to sing myself songs to keep my mind from visualizing my nightmare, I tried clearing my head of any thoughts so I could fall asleep. Finally, at around five in the morning, I was able to doze off.

Thursday I was able to clean every inch of the floor, couches and walls with a rag soaked in peppermint oil. I washed my blanket with peppermint oil and will probably bathe in the stuff from now on. Thursday night I slept much better.

Drek reported that Alexa did, too; Which is very good, because after that I can't handle thinking about a tiny baby, all alone in a pack-and-play, thinking there is something very scary in every shadow, in every tickle, in every sound, and crying out for mama to come save her so she can fall asleep safely in her arms, only to have her never come, leaving that tiny baby alone to cry in terror. After going through a night in terror myself, I just can't handle the thought of Alexa going through any of that. She may not be an infant anymore, but at 16 months she's way too small  to get up the next day and clean the pack-and-play with something she knows will keep the scary things away. I guess that's why Drek thinks I am the problem.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Charity Never Faileth

I've been a Visiting Teacher to a women named Hazel for thee years (A visiting teacher is a calling in my church. As a visiting teacher I am assigned other women to visit every month, see if they or their families need anything, spiritually or temporally,  to pray for them and to leave them with a little spiritual message).  Some months I will drop off a message and a treat at her doorstep, most months I will invite her to a church activity, but I have never met her.  She does not come to church. She does not come to activities. She doesn't really want me coming over to visit her because she is so busy, but she does want a visiting teacher and after I left a few treats and messages on her doorstep for several months in a row, she texted me! We've been exchanging texts ever since.

Saturday we our Stake's July Jubilee, which, as far as I can tell, is our Stake's way of celebrating Pioneer Day. In any case, if you only to one Stake Activity all year, it should be the July Jubilee. Face painting, snowcones, and firetruck rides. Of course I texted Hazel to let her know about the even, and once again invited her to come, and once again repeated that I would love to see her.

IT WORKED! She came. She texted me right as the event started that her family was on its way. Having no idea what she looked I asked a person who did know her (her Home Teacher) to point her out. I didn't have to worry. As sson as she got there she found the bishop's wife and told her she was looking for her visiting teacher who she was so excited to finally meet. The bishop'd wife pointed me out and we finally met! After three years we finally met!

The next day, she texted me that she hoped she would see me at church sometime.

So THERE! Proof that visiting teaching actually works. And proof that if you don't have a testimony of an aspect of the gospel (for example, how for the last ten years I've thought visiting teaching is a waste of time) you simply have to obey, and you'll get a testimony.  Just another real life example of how trusting God is the way to bring yourself and other to happiness. Happiness and face painting, snowcones, and firetruck rides.