We're all kinds of crazy!!!

Thursday, April 18

A Call To Christians -- A Challenge to be Informed

Knowledge is Power!

Remember that phrase? It still rings true.

I would like to pose a challenge to all of you.....

I've never been interested in politics. I hate conflict and debate and have no desire to be a part of it. I figured, there are plenty of people who are smarter than me, I'll just let them make the decisions and trust their judgement. And that worked okay for awhile. I was blissfully ignorant. But then I got older and started raising a family. I started recognizing how all of those decisions affect my life every single day, and more importantly, how they affect the lives of every person in this country. And I realized something.....They're getting it wrong.

Those 'smarter' people whom I was allowing to make my decisions for me were making the wrong decisions on my behalf. But I can't even blame them for it, because I'm the one who gave them that power. It was easier than learning, and trying to understand complex issues. It was more comfortable than sharing my views and facing criticism. It allowed me to be complacent.

It was selfish.

There are many people who are just like I was. Who hear the word 'politics' and automatically tune out. I've been there, I know.

We can't do that!

Why not?

Because 'politics' isn't just about Republicans or Democrats (don't even get me started on the two-party system) .... To vote or not to vote .... 'Politics' aren't only important every 2 or 4 years .... 'Politics' is about LIFE.  Your life! .... It's about FREEDOM.  Your freedom! ....It's about LIBERTY.  Your liberty! .... It's about what our country once was, what it is now, and what it will become in the future....  And if you decide that you don't care one bit about 'politics', then you don't care about those things either. Not in the way you should.

I know that those are strong words, and they are not meant to offend. They are meant to open our eyes to what our responsibilities are as citizens of the greatest country in the world.

So, here is my challenge..... I have a video that I would like you to watch. It's basically the United States of America in a nutshell - Where it started and where it has come. If you are willing to put aside 90 minutes of your time to watch a movie (and how many of us can say we never do that?), and accept this challenge, I promise I will not ask you to participate in any other 'political' activities ever again. (Or at least not for awhile, 'wink')

I want to be clear about what I am asking from you. I am not asking you to agree with anything. I'm not trying to force you to believe in anything you're against. This video displays history in our country and people who have contributed to that history. All I want you to do, in this order, is.....

1) Watch it with an OPEN MIND. That sounds simple, but it's really not. We are all preconditioned to certain ideas and feelings that can affect how we assimilate information. Try to push those things aside and just listen without judgement. 

Watch the video by clicking HERE.

2) Decide if it's true.
    Do this while remaining neutral. DON"T think about right wing or left wing, liberal or conservative. Just follow the history and decide for yourself if it is true. If it is not true, it has no relevance. If it is true, go to the next step.

3) Decide if it is right or wrong. Do you think the country has gone the way it should? Or not? Regardless of how you may feel on stand-alone issues (i.e. feminism, abortion, etc.), how do you feel about the direction AS A WHOLE? Be honest with yourself. I'm not going to test you later. If you truly believe that it is right and good then you are now confident in what you believe, you know what it represents, and you are happy. If you think it is wrong, go to the next step.

4) You are now also confident in what you believe, and you know what it represents.  Decide what you, personally, can do to change it. It can be so hard to figure out ways to facilitate change.....especially on a grand scale. My advice is to start with the little things.

*Speak up when you normally wouldn't.
*Write a blog.
*Change your Facebook status.
*Read. Study. Learn. Get informed and become educated so you know more of what you're talking about.
*Stand up for what you believe. Others will see your example and have the courage to do the same.
*Write letters to your local representatives and let them know what you expect from them.

We are only individuals, small and seemingly ineffective. But when single individuals come together for a common goal we gain power as a group.

Things can change.

Friday, October 5

Ode To The Birthday Girl!

 Oh, my sweet Emma! I can't believe how big you've gotten! I love you more than words can say. HAPPY 9TH BIRTHDAY BABY GIRL!!!

This Is Only A Mountain...

I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately..... well, more than a bit actually. Some people thrive in an overwhelming atmosphere, sadly I am not one of those people. I am more likely to just shut down completely. That's how I roll.

I've been listening to a song lately that helps me remember that with faith we can move mountains. Not only do I think about myself when I'm listening to it, but I think about others close to me and some of the things they are going through. I hope this song might be as helpful to them as it is for me.

Tuesday, September 18

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your.....Apple?

Molly is in preschool now. Every afternoon when she gets home I have her pick out a book to read for her reading club. Today she brought me the book Rapunzel. But it wasn't your ordinary Rapunzel. It was a book that her sister, Emma, had made when she was in preschool about 5 years ago. Emma had drawn the pictures and told her teacher what to write in the book. So, this is the book Molly and I read for her reading club today. I wanted to share it with you because it's pretty much hilarious! I wish I could show you the pictures that go with it, but you'll have to use your imagination.

by Emma Shumway

Once upon a time there was Rapunzel.

The wicked witch locked her in a tower.

This is the tower she was locked in. (Insert a big square with a naked stick figure 'laying down' inside.)

The wicked witch gave her an apple.

She was poisoned by the apple.

The wicked witch had another apple that wasn't poisonous.

Rapunzel left her mouth open and the wicked witch woke her up and she told Rapunzel to eat the apple.

And she ate it.

She said that this apple is not poisoned.

The prince came and took away the poisoned apple.

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!" the prince yelled.

They lived happily ever after.

The end.

Friday, August 31

Won't Back Down - Review

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a pre-screening of the movie Won't Back Down. This movie  won't be released into theaters until September 28th. So I thought I would just share my opinion of the movie for anyone who might be interested in checking it out next month.

After seeing the preview I knew this was a movie I wanted to see for one simple reason. It's rated PG. How often these days do we get the opportunity to go see a movie on the big screen that isn't bombarded by swearing, sex, and violence? Ummm...pretty much NEVER. So, I like to take advantage of that opportunity whenever I can. I will let you know, if you are thinking about taking your kids with you, there are one or two minor curse words, as well as some scenes of adults drinking in a bar. Those two things aren't anything I would worry about too much for my kids, but all parents are different, so...there you have it.

The movie is about an elementary school that is failing miserably. The majority of students do not even have basic reading skills by the time they leave the school. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a young, poor mother working two jobs to try to afford a better school for her daughter, who has dyslexia. Viola Davis plays a teacher at the failing school who is also having issues with her son. Together, the two women decide to take on the school board and the teacher's union to make a better school and a better future for their children.

The story was good and the actors were good. I think Maggie Gyllenhaal did a fantastic job with her character. I haven't seen all of her films, but in the ones that I have seen she has never played a character quite like this. She is optimistic, bubbly, and a little quirky while also being involved, serious, and tough. I liked her character a lot. Viola Davis, whom I loved in The Help also did a great job with her character; A teacher who at one time was passionate but got swallowed up by the doom and gloom of a public education bureaucracy, and who is racked by guilt from past choices that might have affected her son's ability to learn and succeed in school. Holly Hunter and Rosie Perez also gave good performances in supporting roles.

I really, really enjoyed this movie. There were parts that made me laugh, there were parts that made me cry, there were parts that made me angry, and there were parts that made me feel all warm and gooey inside. I think if you're looking for a nice feel-good movie that the whole family can enjoy, then this is a great option. I give it two thumbs up!

So, there you have it. I'm not a professional movie reviewer by any means and I'm sure I didn't do this movie justice. Quite frankly, I'm just hoping this review made sense. Here's to good movies!!!

Tuesday, August 28

"Mormon in America"

(*The statements made in this post are my own beliefs and opinions as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.)

This past week there was and interesting program on TV about the Mormon faith; Rock Center with Brian Williams on NBC.

Here is the program in it's entirety if you are interested in watching it.

Overall, I think this story was well done. They did a great job showing the efforts the church puts into helping the poor and the needy. I think they also successfully showed that we Mormons really are just normal people who are quite happy living our faith. I do think there are points where they over-emphasized parts of the religion that really don't matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, or that may seem controversial to the outside world. I also didn't love their interview with Ms. Huntsman, but I'm sure they tweaked a few things. And she is obviously entitled to feel however she wants to about the church. People within the church are still individuals,their understanding of church doctrine and policies can vary and they may feel differently about any number of topics. That is normal and as true in our religion as it is anywhere else in the world.

The only part of the story that I felt really needed to be corrected, at least from my point of view, had to do with the use of one simple word that really makes a HUGE difference when it comes to understanding the beliefs and practices of the LDS church.

The word is EQUALITY.

At one point toward the end of the story Brian Williams states, "...kids grow up in a church where the two genders, male and female, are not equal. That is one tradition among many that has survived despite all of the changes going on in the world outside the church."

I'm sorry to tell you this Mr. Williams, but that statement is WRONG. It may be an accurate way of depicting what some people may think about certain things, but it certainly is not the truth.

Being equal and being the same are two very different things. The church absolutely believes that men and women are equal. We are of the same worth and value to our Heavenly Father and to the world. But, the church also recognizes that men and women are not the same. They never have been...they never will be...and they are not intended to be. Ask any modern-day scientist and they will assure you that men and women are simply 'wired' differently.

As members of the church we understand that men and women are inherently different. They have different strengths and weaknesses.These differences allow us to compliment one another. They allow us to give and take here and there working together and making up for each other where we fall short. This is what makes a thriving family unit possible. We don't need to be the same, and we recognize that, as with all of God's intents, this is for a wise purpose.

I, personally, have no problem with the fact that my husband holds the Priesthood and I do not. And just so you know, those feelings are not at all based upon the fact that I can bear children and my husband cannot. I don't think that makes us 'even'. But the fact is, this is not a competition, as many seem to think it is. The whole issue has been turned into something as silly as "He got more ice cream than I did!" or "He got the bigger half of the cookie!" It seems to me that this fight over who should have 'rights' to holding the Priesthood shows nothing more than a desire for power.

The Priesthood is partly defined in the church as being "the power of God upon the Earth". Anyone, man or woman, who thinks they should have the 'right' to hold the power of God is horribly mislead and arrogant. God chooses whom He will allow to use that power on His behalf. He knows all things and leads and guides us. For us to think that we would know better than He does, that we would know better what is fair and acceptable in regards to this issue is ridiculous!

But even more to the point, is the idea that women somehow miss out on blessings because we do not hold the Priesthood. It is simply not true. Men do not use the Priesthood as a way to bless themselves. The Priesthood is used to bless others. It is a tool for them in their stewardship over their families. It is we, the women and children in a home, who are most blessed by our husbands or sons or brothers holding the Priesthood. One of the main reasons men are given this charge is to help and bless those around them. When we understand that, we can recognized that men having the Priesthood is quite literally a way that God blesses women. It's not about having a 'right', it's not about a selfish desire for power, it's not about bragging rights or being 'higher up the chain of righteousness' or having a 'better' position in the church. The Priesthood was given to bless us and to ease some of life's burdens. To make temporal things eternal. To allow love and relationships to last forever. To bring peace. It is a magnificent gift from God, and He absolutely has the right to decide whom He will allow to use it.

Men and women in the church are absolutely equal. We are both of great worth and have much that we are able to accomplish in this life. But we are not the same. And the fact that we, as members, understand that and are okay with it, does not mean that we are settling for less than we deserve. On the contrary, it allows us to understand our strengths and use them to better our own lives and the lives of our families. And I believe that having that understanding, in general, makes us more successful in this life.

Friday, March 9

Choice and Consequence

I'm gonna go out on limb here and talk about something that is getting a lot of attention in the state of Utah right now.

But before I do that, let me share a little bit with you about what I believe.

I believe that one of the absolute most important lessons we will ever learn in this life, is the correlation between choices and consequences. The greatest gift God has given us is the gift of choice. It is balanced out by consequences. The two always go together...Choice and Consequence. It is something that is repeatedly discussed in my home. It is one of my greatest focuses when it comes to teaching my children. When we make a choice, the following consequences help us to learn. They teach us things about the world, about God, and about ourselves - who we are and who we have the potential to become. They also act as a motivation to make the right choice. The more right choices we make, the happier and better off we will be.

Consequences are an important part of our lives. They serve a purpose. I find that it is becoming a growing trend for people (parents, society, government, etc.) to try to remove consequences from our children in order to "protect" them or to keep them "safe". I think this is incredibly dangerous and stupid.

Let me share an example here. Lets say I tell my daughter that she should not play with matches. I explain to her the dangers involved, how badly it would hurt if she were to burn herself, and that even worse things than hurting herself could happen as a result - like burning the house down. If she chose to play with matches she could affect not only her life, but the lives of others as well.

Her reaction would likely be, "I will NEVER play with matches."

Now lets say I follow up with that conversation by saying...."but, there is a likelihood that you may find some matches someday and you will want to know what it's like to start a fire. Even though I've already told you that you shouldn't play with matches, let me tell you a few things you can do to play with matches more 'safely'." Then I tell her things that may make it less likely for a complete disaster to be the result of her playing with matches, like "Only play with matches in an open space, where you are less likely to catch surrounding objects on fire."

What would her reaction likely be then? Probably something like, "I can see that playing with matches can be dangerous, but I also now know of ways to try to prevent those things from happening. So it's probably not such a big deal if I light a match or two just for fun, as long as I'm being 'safe' about it."

What's just happened here? She is no longer afraid of playing with matches or the possible consequences that could follow because she has been taught to do it 'safely'. The likelihood that she wouldn't worry too much about playing with matches just increased ten-fold. And it did so because the consequences of doing it were just taken away.

So, if I teach my daughter not to play with matches, I don't want anyone else to swoop in and teach her about how she can do it 'safely' if she ever wants to. It diminishes the dangers involved, undermines my teaching as a parent, and makes her more likely to find herself in bad situation.

Get my point?

Okay, so now I will tie this in with what is being talked about in Utah right now. Utah legislation just passed a bill called HB363. This bill states that when it comes to sex education in our schools, our children will be taught from an abstinence-only standpoint. A petition is going around urging the Governor to veto the bill immediately.

As you can imagine, people have many different views on this topic. But the one that I keep hearing over and over again goes something like this, " Let sex education stay and give our students the information they need. Many teens are going to have sex anyway and telling them, 'just don't do it' isn't going to stop them. Give them the knowledge they need to stay safe and avoid STD's and pregnancy." ( I actually got that quote from an online discussion board today.)

I'm sure you can probably see where I'm going with this. In our home we teach our children, or will when they are old enough, that abstinence before marriage is the only option. Obviously they will choose one day whether or not they agree with that, but we will never teach them anything differently. We will teach them the purposes of sex that we believe are dictated by God, not by man. We will teach them of the dangers and consequences that could follow if they abuse that God-given gift, including unplanned pregnancy and STDs. BUT we will not teach them how to avoid those consequences. They will be much more likely not to be concerned about them if they know a way around them. They will be much more likely to make the wrong choice if they can do it without worrying about what may result from that choice.

I want my children to fear those consequences! I want my children to fear God and follow His guidelines! Those are the things that will keep them safe!

So, just as with the matches, if I teach my child that she should not have sex outside of marriage - I demand that no one else (including well-intentioned and educated adults in the school system) swoops in and 'saves' her by teaching her how to have sex without consequences. If she makes the choice to have sex, she will deal with the consequences of that choice, however harsh they may be, because that is how God intends it to be. That is how we learn, grow, and change. It is how we become stronger people. It is how we gain integrity.

Do not steal my daughters innocence! Do not steal her integrity! Do not try to 'save' her by making dangerous things seem more doable and appealing! That is counter-productive. And DO NOT undermine my ability as a parent to decide what is best for my child!

I fully support HB363. I hope it is not vetoed. Saving our children starts in the home, not in our schools.