Monday, July 31, 2006

My Hubbie Rocks!

About 2 months ago Elliott suprised me with a copy of the new Pride and Prejudice DVD. Today I came home and he had ordered me a brochure about trips you can set up to go and see all the beautiful estates and country where the film was made. Click here to order your own copy of the movie map... Shall we plan a grown-ups only trip in a couple of years?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Per Leslie's Request

Here is my talk... (minus the ad-libbing I did)

When my sister-in-law Katie was 7 years old, her father was called to be a mission president in Louisiana. He was 41, and had his own law practice that he was running. He had 6 children, ranging in age from 17 to 3 years old, and another that was born while they were serving. The call to serve came at a time that meant a great sacrifice to their family, to leave their friends and job, and travel to Louisiana to run the mission there.

However, Katie’s parents had faith that the Lord would bless them if they made the sacrifices necessary to fulfill this calling. Their family grew closer together as they had to rely on each other for friendship in a new area. The family was able to grow spiritually because of the service that the family rendered to the missionaries and people in that area. And there are many blessings that the family knows they have received that are unseen.

I cannot imagine the sacrifice of uprooting a young family, leaving a successful law practice and going to an area where there were few members to serve as the mission president. It would have been easy for their family to make excuses. And yet, when called, there was no question that they would go and serve for the Lord.

Often, the spirit of God whispers to us at the most inconvenient times. A neighbor’s need, for example, becomes clear to us just when we set ourselves about what seems to be a much more pressing task. Occasionally, the Lord will give us a church calling that just does not seem to fit with the other demands on our time, or with what we see ourselves capable of. Sometimes, personal circumstances seem to prevent us from placing everything we have on the altar of personal consecration. We may say to ourselves, “If I can just take care of a few things, then I will be ready to help,” or “I have so little to give, surely the Lord must be mistaken.” We may not try to physically flee like Jonah did, but our response may be the same nonetheless.

In 3 Nephi 17 we read how Christ had been teaching the people, and announced that he was going to leave them until the next day. Verse 4 says, “But now I go unto the Father and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel…” However, in the next verse continues with “And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.” Christ had compassion on the people, and put his plans to leave and go visit the other tribes of Israel on hold. Instead, he took the time to bless the sick among them, to bless their children, and to administer the sacrament to the people. He was not concerned with getting on with his business, but knew that the Nephites needed him to stay a little longer.

Are we willing to follow Christ’s example and change our plans to bless the lives of others. Those of us who have been baptized have agreed to do this. We have agreed to take the name of Christ upon us, and by so doing we must follow the example he set.

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other… the more we follow the teachings of the Master, the more enlarged our perspective becomes. We see many more possibilities for service than we would have seen without this magnification. There is great security in spirituality, and we cannot have spirituality with out service!”

The spirituality that President Kimball talks about is a wonderful blessing that comes from serving, but to receive it, it is necessary for us to take a personal inventory of the reasons we serve.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks gave a conference address in 1984 that discussed the various reasons people may serve. He said, “
People serve on another for different reasons, and some reasons are better than others. Perhaps none of us serves in every capacity all the time for a single reason. Since we are imperfect beings, most of us probably serve for a combination of reasons, and the combinations may be different from time to time as we grow spiritually. But we should all strive to serve for the reasons that are highest and best.”

Elder Oaks gave examples of motivation people may have when they serve, such as hope for an earthly reward (such as praise, honor or riches), fear of Godly punishment, or a sense of loyalty or duty. However, Elder Oaks suggested there are two higher motivations we should strive to have.

One such higher motivation is the hope of an eternal reward. Service for this reason necessarily involves faith in God, and in the fulfillment of his prophecies. The scriptures use eternal reward as a means of motivation. For example, in Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 The Lord said, “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”

The last motive Elder Oaks discusses is what he calls, “the highest reason of all. In it’s relationship to service, it is what the scriptures call “a more excellent way.”

Elder Oaks is talking about Charity, or the Pure love of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, the apostle Paul expands on the importance of Charity. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all the mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity never faileth.”

If our service is to truly be effective, it must be accomplished because we love God and we love his children, and we desire to bring God’s love to those who need it.
This is a high standard… to have our service motivated by only the pure love of Christ. If we have difficulty, we are counseled in Moroni 7:48 to “…pray unto the father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his son, Jesus Christ.”

When Elliott and I were living in Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to be in the same ward as my cousin Natalie. We became very good friends over the 3 years that we lived near each other. During that time, Elliott was working on getting his MBA, and also running a company he started with a couple of other guys. Although I was not working outside the home, I was stressed as I tried to care for a newborn and her two rambunctious brothers, along with teaching Gospel Doctrine and leading the Ward Choir each week. It’s true, I don’t handle stress well!
Natalie was a true example of Christ-like love.. Even though she was suffering from painful endometriosis at the time, she would have the boys and I over for dinner all the time, she would watch the kids for me so I could take a shower, and she even cleaned my house for me a couple of times. She did these things because she saw the need, and loved me enough to have a desire to serve me. I think I kept my sanity thanks to her help.

Luckily, the Lord has blessed us all with various talents. We are able to serve in the capacities he calls us to through the talents he has given us, and will continue to bless us with.

Former General Relief Society President Mary Ellen Smoot said, “Truly, we may each be an instrument in the hands of God. Happily, we need not all be the same kind of instrument. Just as the instruments in an orchestra differ in size, shape, and sound, we too are different from one another. We have different talents and inclinations, but just as the French horn cannot duplicate the sound of the piccolo, neither is it necessary for us to all serve the Lord in the same way. Our privilege and our responsibility as daughters of God and as sisters of Relief Society, then, is to become the most effective instruments we can be.”

Likewise, Elder Neal Maxwell said, “I know the celestial criteria measure service, not status; the use of our talents, not the relative size of our talent inventories. We, more than others, should carry jumper and tow cables not only in our cars, but in our hearts, by which means we can send the needed boost or charge of encouragement or added momentum to mortal neighbors. The significance of our service does not depend on its scale. We may feel underused, underwhelmed, and underappreciated, even as we ironically ignore unused opportunities for service which are all about us. Frequently, we busily search for group service projects, which are surely needed and commendable, when quiet, personal service is also urgently needed. There are so many times when genuine human service means giving graciously our little grain of sand, placing it reverently to build the beach of brotherhood. We get no receipt, and our little grain of sand carries no brand; its identity is lost, except to the Lord.”

May I challenge each of us to look at our motivations in serving our fellow men. May we pray to Heavenly Father that he will give us the strength to answer the calls he gives us to serve, whether through a church calling or the whisperings of the spirit. May we try to make our motivation one of the love of God and his children as we serve those around us.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Woman- Of Infinite Worth

I just got called to give a talk in church on Sunday. In looking at various conference articles at the lds.org website, I found this great talk by Elder Russell M. Nelson called "Woman - of Infinite Worth" from Conference of October 1989. I am not sure how to link it... but maybe you can find it by doing a search on the site.
One of my favorite parts:
Of course, there are times when a woman’s ability to endure is taxed to the limit. A teacher may have had enough of childish pranks, or a mother might be heard to say she’s “ready to resign.” She could become discouraged, especially if comparing herself unrealistically to others or focusing on what she is to do instead of on what she is to be.
Her self-esteem cannot be based on physical features, possession or lack of a particular talent, or comparative quantities of anything. Her self-esteem is earned by individual righteousness and a close relationship with God. Her outward glow is generated by goodness within. And her patience is much more apparent than any imperfection. (See
D&C 67:13.)
Sweet serenity is found in fervent prayer. Then, we forget ourselves and remember the reaching hands of the Savior, who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (
Matt. 11:28.) As our burdens are shared with Him, they do become lighter.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Fairy Godmother

In the ongoing effort to get Emma to use the toilet, we bought her some wings from Gymboree, and this fairy princess hat and wand, which she will get after various stages of dryness. Emma got to wear them while we were grocery shopping this afternoon, and every time we passed a woman, she waved her wand and turned the woman into a princess. It was very enamoring. I am not so sure if the men she turned into frogs were quite as happy with their luck!

On a side note... have you all been to Gymboree lately? They have so much adorable new stuff. I bought Sophie a cute little red toile dress today, and had to restrain my self from buying anything else... but the new cherry line for little girls is to die for. I told Elliott I could have dropped $1000 easily (but of course, I didn't!)

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Karate Kid(s)

This article reminded me that the boys have been begging for "kung fu" lessons for some time now. I called and signed them up after reading this. We get 3 trial classes for $15 so the Master can check out their physical conditioning (ha, ha, ha). Then, if the boys are enjoying themselves, we will sign them up for regular sessions, and they will each get a free uniform... When I told Ethan I had signed him up, he asked if he could just do the karate at home. I said I thought it would be better to wait and do it at the TKD studio. But the next thing I heard from the basement was him asking Andrew if he wanted to do karate. Hmmm... I haven't heard any crying yet, I guess that is a good thing!
Stay tuned for pics!

To market, to market...

I really hate grocery shopping. I might enjoy it more if I went to one of the more expensive, somewhat smaller, all around nicer stores, but I am trying to save my growing family a few bucks... so I go to the big, all encompassing Meijer store. They sell practically everything there (including clothes, household stuff, you name it, they got it!), except for one or two things on my list. Which means I will have to go to another grocery store if I want to be able to complete the meals I bought food for.
Did I mention it is completely storming outside right now... as in my plants all look like they will be uprooted any moment, and the rain is almost completely sideways? Yeah, maybe shrimp salad without the bread will be okay afterall!
I feel like I haven't done anything today... maybe that is why I am Miss Negativity in this post. Well, I may not have done anything, but the boys cleaned the whole basement! Yeah for bribery!
Hmmm... I think I need to get out more. Anyone else having a day?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Man Purse

Every time we have a new baby we get a new diaper bag... they only seem to last through one child. The great debate each time is to not get something that Elliott will be embarrased to carry around, so we generally stick with a basic black bag. Last time we got a great bag from Babystyle, but it was a little boring.
Sorry Babe, but this time I want to go a little more exciting... I mean, it's our last baby, so why not live a little, right?
I think I will go with Vera Bradley bag this time. These are my new favorite purses... I have an apple green garment bag for temple clothes, and recently got a small messenger type purse ("the hipster", in bermuda blue) for everyday use.
These purses are so cute... the only problem is choosing a color!

What color& do you like best?

Inspiration

My calling in the church is one where I am required to pray about giving other people callings. I never realized how difficult it is. Not the praying part, but the part where I receive inspiration that I believe someone should be called to a particular calling, but that person seems to have many burdens already, and I don't necessarily want to give him/her more to do. Plus, sometimes people like their current callings... why do I have to be the one who is the conduit that ruins their happiness? Luckily, the Lord usually lets people grow to love their callings, as I have with mine.
I was quite happy minding my own business as a Sunday School teacher (12/13 year olds) until I was called to be the primary president. Having never served in either a presidency or the Primary previously, I was quite daunted by the task. There have been many bumps in the road... sometimes my inspiration doesn't match up to the bishoprics, and I bring quite a few of my own prejudices to the table too. It can be hard to decipher between my ideas and the Lord's ideas. Often, we get a calling filled, only to have to refill it a couple of months down the road.
But I really am grateful for the calling. I have learned a lot in the past year and a half... and I really appreciate people in the ward so much more now... both for the work they do in the church to help it run smoothly, and all the subbing they do in Primary.

What's for Dinner, Part II

After blowing way more money at the grocery store than I expected, in spite of having a list, I am ready to go for several more meals.
Tonight: Shrimp Salad - Before you say there is no way your children will eat shrimp, try it out. My kids, and several other children we know, love shrimp. My kids like it sauteed with pasta, or in this yummy salad.
1 head lettuce
1 tomato
1 head broccoli
several mushrooms, sliced
handful mung bean sprouts (optional)
1 4 oz. can medium size deveined shrimp
shredded colby jack cheese
Buttermilk dressing (recipe to follow) - yes, I do make my own!

tear the lettuce, chop the tomato and broccoli, and combine with mushrooms, shrimp and cheese. Serve with Buttermilk dressing

Buttermilk Dressing:
Mix 1 c. buttermilk with 1 Tbs dried parsley, 2 tsp. minced onion, and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder. Stir in 1 c. mayonaise, and mix until well blended and smooth. Makes 2 cups.

Another summertime favorite, which is so easy to prepare, is greek salad. There are many verions of this, but mine is quite simple. I usually serve this with french bread rolls, and some kind of fruit, like watermelon. *Warning* My kids don't really like this!
Chop and combine two cucumbers and 3 tomatoes with 1/2 a red onion, sliced. Add one can whole black olives, and crumble in about 1/4 c. feta cheese (or to your taste).

Another super healthy and easy summertime dish is brown rice and black bean salad. Not only is it very pretty, but this dish is super healthy, and if you ever feel unenergetic, this salad will give you quite a boost. Plus, the left overs are always delicious the next day, served at room temperature. This is a whole meal in itself!
Cook 1 c. brown rice according to package directions (if you have never cooked brown rice before, this takes about an hour).

Chop the folowing veggies and combine together:
1/2 red onion, 2-3 stalks celery, 1 red bell pepper, a handfull of parsley and cilantro. Combine with 1 c. corn kernels and 1 can black beans (I think I usually use about 3/4 of the can).
Whisk together the following:
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. seasoned rice vinegar (I have also used red wine vinegar for this)
2 tsp. soy sauce
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp. italian seasoning (dried herbs)
1 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. white sugar
Pour the dressing over the veggies and let it sit for a few minutes, stirring everynow and then to make sure the veggies are coated.
Serve the vegetables over the rice.

Bon Appetit!

What's for Dinner

I know this has been mentioned in the past, but Elliott was instant messaging with Leslie last night, and she wanted ideas for dinner, so I thought I would post some ideas and recipes.

Last night we had Enchiladas. I like them, since I grew up eating them, but Julianne will have to tell you if they are acceptable to the Parker pallet! These are quite simple to make.
Saute 1 lb. ground beef with minced dried onion (I think I used about 2 tsp.) and about 1.4 tsp. garlic powder. Add 1 can olives, sliced, at the end of sauteeing (I use the larger size can of whole olives, and then slice them up. Set this aside in a bowl with 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
Breifly saute 15-20 corn tortillas in oil to soften them up. Roll the enchilada filling into the tortillas, and place side by side in a greased baking dish (I ended up using a 9x13 and an 8x8 dish).
Combine a 10 oz. can red enchilada sauce and a 15 oz. can tomato sauce, and pour over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle more shredded cheese over the top.
Bake at 350 deg. for 10-12 minutes.

I have several more recipes to share, that don't involve too much cooking (better for the summer heat), but I am off to the grocery store at the moment. Wish me luck, I am taking all 3 kids! :-)

Mass Murder and other musings...

I would like to publicly respond to Elliott's post about our little pink hairless guests by saying that it was extremely hard for me to go out and chop their heads off, but it seemed to be the most humane thing, especially considering Elliott had poured fertilizer on them, pulled the grass back, and was waiting for them to either be roasted by the sun, or eaten alive by birds.
When he first told me about the animals, I thought there was a litter of about 5 or 6. I was grateful when I went out to look and saw there were only 2. I started praying to HF that he would make them die fast, and that prayer became more fervent when they were mewing at me as I started hacking away. I wish I could say it took one clean stroke, but I wasn't that lucky... I am still having flashbacks... it was extremely traumatic!
Anyway, let me just say that I am not a mass murderer, I was just trying to be humane... and I don't recommend the method. Next time we will just let them live and dig up the yard!