I put these up on Facebook, but wanted a copy on my blog. They are just a few visuals of quotes that stuck out to me today.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
What a great day! Fabulous talks! So much to think about. So much to discuss! But before I can really spend time processing the depth and importance of what was said, I need to clear my head of some "less spiritual" observations from today's sessions.
I know this will reenforce that I am very shallow, but I will now cling to the words of Elder Scott when he said, "A good sense of humor helps revelation."
• I am surprised that the people sitting on the stand aren't constantly sneezing. With all of those flowers I expect to see the Nasonex bee flying around.
• I have yet to see a camera angle to prove or disprove that there are drink holders on the podium chairs.
• Boldest tie: Elder Uchtdorf. (Of course)
• Favorite tie: Elder Cook. I liked the subtlety of the lavender. Wait, I mean periwinkle. No, wisteria.
• My 10 year-old son thought Elder Baxter sounded like a viking. He's watched "How to Train Your Dragon" too many times. I just kept hearing Craig Ferguson.
• A lot of the Brethren have retained seriously good hair.
• Sister Esplin from the Primary Presidency was seriously color coordinated. Her dress matched the flowers perfectly. Makes sense.
• I wonder what the Pope thinks when he learns he got quoted by an LDS apostle?
• "And it came to pass..." would be translated by today's generation as "Um. OK. So then..."
• Brethren from foreign countries do an amazing job to speak English. But if you listen closely, you'll notice that the longer their talks progress, the stronger the accent becomes. Perhaps that's why they always get assigned the short talks.
• The idea that people on the other side of the veil can see me is slightly disconcerting.
• Who is Elder Archuletta, and why did they wait until the end to show him?
• Praise to the Man is an incredibly powerful experience. Usually. (I'll repent for that one later.)
OK. Now that I have cleared that our of my system. I can prepare for Priesthood session.
Have a great evening!
Labels: General Confeence
Conference Saturday. Hot-diggity! Check in later for a heapin' helpin' of wit and wisdom as I reflect upon what I learned today. I might get to it tonight. Or Tomorrow. Maybe Monday. This stuff don't write itself.
Note; I think that is the first time I have ever typed "hot-diggity!" in my life. Hopefully, I will be able to contain it in the future.
Have a great day, take good notes, feel the Spirit, and learn something.
(Giant beverage consumption during conference is acceptable. Unless you are in the Conference Center. It is a lovely building, but they forgot to install drink holders.)
Labels: General Conference
Friday, March 30, 2012
The words "fair" and "deserve" don't really have much use in our mortal existence. Neither is a realistic hope, nor should it be an expectation. It was never part of the offer. So when life throws us a wicked uppercut, we need to remember:
We signed up for this.
It is true that we are hit with challenges we don't expect. Challenges that from a worldly, short-term view might appear unfair, or undeserved, but that is Man's view, not God's.
More difficult still, is when life takes aim at one of our children. Then I feel the words "fair" and "deserve" burning in my throat as I try to push them down, and remember:
Our kids signed up for this, too.
Then you wish that you could intervene. Please let it be me - not them. Let me take those hits. And in that very moment, maybe, just maybe, we are beginning to understand a fraction of the Atonement.
(Yes, I re-worked it and removed a SSW)
May you enjoy this Conference weekend. I hope you find the answers, the comfort, or the motivation that you are looking for.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wow - that was quick! It is Conference time again. It must be a function of age, but it seems like we just had it six months ago. Last Fall I wrote a post about taking notes to get more out of Conference, and many of you responded positively. I was surprised to see my terrible handwriting pinned on Pinterest. (Here is that post.)
Last year we attended at the Conference Center, and it was a great experience. But the thing that stands out most to me was not a specific talk - and there were many great ones, it was not any of the music - and it was all glorious, it was the Pepto-Bismol flavored dresses that the choir sisters wore.
Just kidding! That was my second favorite thing. My favorite thing was watching the youngest FOML as he dug in and participated in Conference. Let me tell you about him. He is the last of 5 FOMLs. He is the last of 4 boys. He came 5 years later than the next oldest - he is the proverbial "caboose". We like to refer to him a "dessert", because he is so sweet, and the perfect way to finish up. He loves to read, and is quite verbal. (Which is code for "he talks a lot".)
The day before October Conference, we went down to the Lord's University to buy some cinnamon bears and watch BYU beat up on them Aggies. Again. It was lovely. While at the Bookstore, we asked the kids if any of them wanted a notebook to take notes for conference. My youngest was all over that, and he quickly picked out a spiral BYU notebook.
The next day, as we were sitting in the session, I looked over at him and saw him intently listening and writing. As I peaked, I was impressed by how well he was doing. He would listen, and write. This time was different - usually he would sit and copy what my EC was writing. This time, he was on his own.
This morning I asked him if he happened to know where his Conference notebook was from last fall - expecting him to say no. He was back in 15 seconds with his notebook - he already had it out for this weekend.
Did I mention that he just turned 10? Last fall, when he was 9.5, here is how he spent his Conference:
Yeah - I know. There's eight pages of it. Now I'm not showing this to you to brag about my future-Apostle son, but I think there is a point worth mentioning. Over the last couple of weeks we have talked about reverence, and often the comments have been more valuable than the posts. One thing that has come through to me is that a lot of times we don't expect a whole lot out of our children.
Much like my thoughts on reverence, I feel that too much cute stuff for the kids, like worksheets and coloring books etc., shift the focus of Conference to be about entertainment. Every family will vary, but some "Conference traditions" are so over-the-top that mom never hears a word of what is spoken, because she is bustling about providing crafts, food or entertainment. (Mary and Martha, anyone?) It is more important for Mom to get something out of Conference than it is to make Conference an event for the little kids.
Avoid: Knocking back a shot of root beer every time a speaker says "salvation". It is just plain distracting.
Granted, the younger the kids, the harder it is, and the more latitude given, but in our home, if you are old enough to make covenants, you are old enough to watch all of Conference. (When they were younger we focused more on making sure they were just quietly in the room, and more focused whenever the Prophet spoke.)
In case you didn't know - apparently there are Conference sessions on Saturday too! Twice a year. Unlike soccer games which are on Saturday 12 times a year - or twenty. You can teach your kids a lot about priorities on Conference Saturday.
Here are a couple of helps for post-baptism age kids.
1) Go to the dollar store, or Staples and let each kid pick out their own notebook, and maybe a pen. It can be worthwhile to spend more than a buck so it seems like this more than a one-shot deal. Some people like to use their journals for taking notes. Cool.
2) Be excited about Conference, and share your enthusiasm.
3) Put away the distractions - the games - he crafts - the worksheets etc. Turn off the phones.
4) Set an example. If you are cooking, Tweeting, or "Live-blogging" the event, you can't really expect your kids to pay attention either. Or the Spirit.
5) Stay awake. Nothing says "This is not important" like dad's snoring.
6) Remember, the DVR is inspired of God. Use the pause and rewind buttons as needed.
7) Look at your child's notes - and show him yours. Praise.
8) Expect more. You will be amazed at what they can do.
Have a wonderful weekend! I am eagerly awaiting one of the Brethren to discuss the inappropriateness of anonymous blogging.
Or to quote me. ;)
Labels: General Confeence
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
PLEASE DO NOT READ BELOW THIS LINE. IT IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY.
1) A twenty-year research project has shown that children with elevated IQ's have a natural predisposition to cleanliness and order. Chronic untidiness is symptomatic of below average intelligence.
2) Studies show that caffeine is not as harmful or addictive to adults as it is for children, and that adult bio-chemistry makes it possible for adults to quit at any time.
3) Kids who play violent video games more than 4 hours per week have a greater likelihood of moderate to severe acne.
4) 95% of tooth decay comes from super-oxygenated bacteria, resulting from chewing gum or food with an open mouth.
5) People who listen to rap music earn, on average, 60% less than their non-rap listening counterparts. 85% of all youth and adults who cite Eminem as an important influence are unemployed.
6) After more than three hours, airborne bacteria from damp towels can cause severe infections in the lining of the lung.
7) Daily consumption of peanut butter increase the rate of protein absorption, resulting in increased muscle mass.
8) The leading cause of death for boys ages 14-17 is playing Lucha Libre in the living room. Second, is injuries sustained by flipping kitchen towels.
9) Dental surgeons have established a direct link between excessive texting and maxillary overbites in children and young adults. Extreme cases result in uncontrolled drooling and mouth-breathing.
10) Upon request, internet service providers can furnish data to account holders containing complete website histories, Facebook discussions, and video chat recordings, of all traffic on cellular and home networks.
Hang on...you were asked to NOT read this.
But if you did, I need to reenforce that this list is not for public consumption. It is entirely fabricated. I just made up all of this nonsense for a wise purpose. If you must know the reason...it is that I don't feel it is correct to lie to my children. Lying is wrong, and I need to set a good example, and protect my integrity. That is the why I wrote this list. Now, whenever I feel that it might be helpful in my parenting efforts, I can say:
"Just the other day I was online, and I read that... ( ...fill in the blank here... )"
And I won't be lying - because I DID read it. Right here. And now, so did you!
(Note: If you have any information that you could add as a comment that might come in handy, I would be appreciative. Type it in - then I can "read" it. Thanks!)
LDS humor mormon humorist
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Here's my thought: If I could go back in time, I would teach my children a greater love and respect for those who have made their way in life without parents. I am talking about instilling an appreciation for orphans in their hearts.
The opportunities are all around. Opportunities for service, for understanding. I'm sure there is a basis in scripture for this. My children are well acquainted with many orphans, but I never took the time to call attention to it. For example, even at the earliest age, they were watching movies about orphans:
Jungle Book (Mowgli)
As they grew older, they encountered new orphaned heroes:
Famous authors and characters:
Even one of our beloved prophets, Joseph F. Smith, was orphaned at age 13.
I should have made an effort to help my children understand how awesome orphans are. Then, when they reached the age of serious dating, I could have encouraged them to date orphans. Exclusively.
Why date only orphans? Well, we have been taught that those you date are those you marry.
Marry an orphan = no in-laws. That's the epiphany. Brilliant, isn't it?
No in-laws means that the kids never have to spend Christmas with the "other side" of the family. It means that the other grandpa won't be cooler, or richer, or smarter than me. It means that we will have the kids and grandkids to ourselves for the major holidays and events. There will be no competition!
Wait, wait! I know it sounds a tad selfish on my part, but if my kids marry orphans, they will think it's great, too. I remember those days of trying to keep both sets of parents happy - and it seems like we always failed. The young couple will never fight about whose turn it is for this or that. It will also make it so that my sons never have to worry about the Mother-in-law. Their wives will never run and tell all their troubles to their moms, greatly improving their chances for a happy marriage. My daughter will never, ever, hear the painful words "This is good, but I like my mom's cooking better." See? Joy and happiness all around!
Note: I know some of you men will feel compelled to leave a comment about how fabulous your MIL is. Go right ahead - I totally get it - so go for it - it will make great points for you at home. ;)
So you see, it's not just about me, but about trying to spread happiness and joy to the next generation. It may be too late for my older kids, but I've got more. For those of you with younger kids - It's never too early to start. Good luck!
"Hey boys, gather around. Harry Potter Marathon!"
LDS humor Mormon humorist
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Iago. One of the great Disney villains from Aladdin. He would sit on Jafar's shoulder and feed him evil ideas. A few of you might not know that this Iago was not the first. He was the namesake of one of Shakepeare's villains. Arguably one of The Bard's most evil, conniving villains. If you don't know him, you can read about him in the tragedy Othello. He was a stinker.
Iago had attained a position of trust, and used that position of trust to manipulate and control the people around him. His goal? Destroy Othello. His reasons? Revenge and jealousy. His methods? Plant subtle suggestions and questions in the minds of those around him. He would prey on people's insecurities and their weaknesses, and then step back and enjoy the show as things fell apart. He was evil.
Why am I talking about Iago? Because he is the man who came to mind when I was preparing this post. He is the poster-boy for Famacide. What? You don't know the word? It is pronounced "fame-aside", and it means to defamation, slander, or calumny.
Calumny? That one sounds familiar. It is included in what is one of the best paragraphs ever written, from none other than Joseph Smith. We are all familiar with the Wentworth Letters, because that is where the Articles of Faith came from, but so did the following passage - referred to now as "The Standard of Truth". It deserves to be memorized.
"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." (History of the Church 4:540)
Isn't that amazing? The Kingdom is going to move forward - come what may - until God wraps things up. Nobody can stop it.
That doesn't mean they won't try. There are plenty of Iagos out there in the world - inside and outside of the Church - whose goal is famacide. To defame the Church, its doctrines, its leaders and its members. And the adversary is directly involved, whether the various "Iago's" know it or not. That is just the reality of opposition. (I did make mention of this struggle before in another post here.)
It is all around us. Every week there is a new criticism, quote, discovery or angle to play on the public's fears and prejudices against the church. Last week it was racism in the church, the week before it was baptisms for the dead, last month it was polygamist that aren't even Mormon, before that, it was something else. This week there will be something different. Who knows? But stay tuned - it should be interesting. That is just how it is, and how it will continue to be, until the end. As the prophet said: Calumny will defame.
So, given the reality that opposition is here to stay, and that calumny will continue to defame, ask yourselves a few simple questions:
How does it affect me?
Does it make me mad? Does my blood pressure go up when media pundits hype an anti-mormon story? Or misrepresent the Church's teachings or policies? Do I feel irritated when a church member says or does something stupid? Do I get indignant where people professing to be members of faith get up on their soapboxes and push an anti-doctrinal agenda? Do I want to retaliate with scathing comments on blog posts, or mockery? What am I to do? How can I fight back?
Step back, take a breath, remember that the Church will move forward, and ask yourself this question:
Is calumny destroying MY soul? Is famacide causing spiritual suicide? Am I completely forgetting the Savior's counsel to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)
When was the last time I prayed for "Iago"? Has it even crossed my mind? Or was I too busy being offended, or indignant? Do I remember that the people prayed that Alma's rebel son's heart would be softened?
Does it even really affect me at all? Does the guy on TV influence my life? How about that irritating blogger? Does their famacide change the way I worship? Does it change my relationship with Christ? Do the things I read and hear supercede a lifetime of testimony, miracles and blessings?
Calumny doesn't really alter my life at all - unless I let it alter my life for the worse. As the famacide rages around me, it doesn't really need to affect me - and it surely won't stop the Lord's work, or its inevitable conclusion. Yes, their efforts will cause casualties -and that is tragic - but I won't be one of them.
What about when the lies that are told aren't actually lies? What do we call calumny, that is in fact, factual?
History. We call it history. Sometimes the history is so fresh we call it reality.
It can be good, bad, or ugly. Ah, now that's different. History is supposed to reenforce our faith, it is supposed to build, and uplift. But once in a while we find things from long ago, or last month, that do not fit into our desire for a clean historical context.
Yes, some members DID baptize Holocost survivors after being told not to. Repeatedly. Yes, it is true that blacks DID NOT receive the priesthood until 1978. Yes, some brethren DID NOT handle abuse cases correctly. Yes, Brigham Young DID have oodles of wives. Yes, it is true that LDS people with big media platforms DO kick against the pricks. Yes, there will always be "new" old things that come to light. So I ask you again..
How does it affect me?
Does it make me mad when someone brings it up? Am I embarrassed? Do I do my best to deny it, or to stretch a bit to justify it? Do I cling to explanations that have no merit, or basis in fact? Do I fight back? Do I hurriedly write argumentative and accusatory comments on the offending website? Am I willing or eager to shoot the deserving messenger?
Does my response have to be about self-image and pride? Or can I respond with humility, and with love? Can I bless them that curse me?
Stranger still, do I feel compelled to pick up the burden of something someone said, or did, 100 years ago? Or a week ago? Someone that I have never met? Someone from a different time, or culture? Did that burden somehow magically become mine to bear because we belong to the same faith? Do I really believe that I am punished for my own sins?
Is history destroying MY soul? Does it interfere with my road to salvation? Does it make the Church less true to me? Does it make the Atonement less miraculous, and powerful? Does some obscure quote from 100 years ago offset a lifetime of testimony and miracles? What about an article from last week? Or next week?
No. History does not touch me negatively -unless I let it. Unless I let it canker my soul. To let it do that, I would have to let go of my faith, and embrace doubt. I would have to let the adversary exploit those worries, and push and push until he opens a crack - where he can infect. I refuse to let the past - anyone's past - destroy my present, and my future. And to those who would like to see that happen, all I can say is "I love you. It ain't gonna happen. Deal with it. I have."
Nor do I need to walk around in denial. I can be well-informed, and understand how occasionally history and reality can reflect poorly on the Church - but I honestly don't have to care. You're telling me that some church member said some thing in 1920? So what? He did what in 2010? Big deal! As long as that person wasn't me, and the heavens are still open to the prophet, and to me, it's not my problem - and I surely don't feel compelled to justify my life or my faith to a bunch of eager Iagos.
My testimony is not based on history. It is based on revelation.
Right now I could leave this page and go to Google News and type in "Mormon" and find scads of things written with the intention of hurting the Church. Some lies...some truths.
...How will I choose to respond? Isn't that the real challenge?
"The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent..till the purposes of God shall be accomplished."
That's how it's going to wind up. Sorry Iago - you've got nothing for me.
For your viewing pleasure:
What? You thought....? Psych! You should know me better than that by now.
Yes, it is true. I am co-hosting the Family Proclamation Celebration blog event this fall. It may not be a big deal to you, but it is for me, and it is a giant step for MAN-kind. It is true that last year I participated as a contributor and in the blog hop. These are my posts from last year here and here. And probably one of the more important things I have written without help from my 4th grader, here.
September does seem like a ways off, but it will be here quickly. Some of you might have already been asked to contribute a post, or will be. It is a worthwhile, uplifting event. But it is never too soon to get to know the people putting it together. They are:
Montserrat of Chocolate on my Cranium
Jocelyn of We Talk of Christ
Stephanie of Diapers & Divinity
So that's it. That is my announcement. I'm excited about it. I just hope the Brethren don't get mad if I show up at their houses to invite them to write a guest post. Repeatedly.
Have a good Sabbath - regular post to follow this evening.
Labels: Family proclamation
Saturday, March 24, 2012
No post today, but simply a "head's up" that tomorrow I will be posting a vlog. Yes, an actual MMM video. Why the special effort? Because I am making an announcement. No, it's not that. But it is a good thing, so tune in.
Also, I try not to post anything of great significance on Saturday anyway. You, and I, need to have some semblance of a life. So get to it.
Don't forget, tomorrow is the Sabbath.
Friday, March 23, 2012
I woke up this way. Angry. Irritated. Dangerous. And I didn't even go to the midnight showing of the Hunger Games last night.
Maybe it has never happened to you, maybe you are one of those people who pop out of bed every morning all chipper and raving about what a beautiful day it is. If you are one of those people, don't come near me this morning. And don't even think about saying something trite like, "Looks like Mr. Grumpy woke up on the wrong side of the bed today." Because I did. And I will cause you pain.
Strange how the chemical/emotional/body/spirit union can function so well together day in, day out, and then one day you wake up and "Grrr!" Again, I am presupposing that this has ever happened to you. Perhaps not. If so, my bad.
I went through the normal morning routine: Prayer, scriptures, kids, lunches, family scriptures, and the only thing I took away was that I am sick of getting peanut butter on my hands, and that the king had it right in Hamlet when he said,
"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
Yep, I let the "go to" solutions fail me this morning. Kids wouldn't come in for scriptures. We ran out of jelly. I had to literally fill the "Black Bin of Doom". I got in the car to schlep the kids to school, searching for something happy on the radio. Talk radio? Right. Hip Hop? Kill me now. I settled on some old Cure song. Perfect for my mood. My passengers didn't care - they were asleep, drooling with their heads against the window because they went to the midnight movie. Yeah, I was young once.
So here I sit, knowing that I need to get ready to go to work. Just like yesterday. And Wednesday. And Tuesday, etc. I don't see a lot of potential mood elevation there.
Now you are probably saying "I'm so disillusioned! MMM has got ME depressed now." Not my intention. My intention is to ask for your help. Ready? Here's the question:
What do you do to throw off a bad mood? (Based on the assumption that you do try to throw off the bad mood, rather than embrace it and sulk around wearing it, and sharing it with as many others as you can.)
I would love to hear your suggestions. Please let me know your ideas and experiences of how to "turn that frown upside down and smile that frown away." (Can't believe I just typed that - now I feel even worse)
Caution: Don't even think about quoting Abraham Lincoln: "A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be."
Anyone using the term "waaambulance" will be banned from my blog for life, and I will de-friend you on Facebook.
Well, duh! I KNOW that - and I BELIEVE that. But sometimes knowing it doesn't make much difference. It's all in the implementation.
So, bring it. Tell me what to do. But be forewarned...my claws are out.
UPDATE: 90 minutes later -I have found another solution: I whine about my woes, and an army of blog friends come to my rescue with wisdom, wit, and kindness.
Thank you all so much. I am 75% ready to take on the rest of the day, without fear of maiming anyone.
UPDATE #2: Just a quick report on my day: I decided to ditch work this afternoon and take my EC to see a movie about kids killing each other. I found it strangely cathartic, and my bad mood is now gone. Surprised that nobody even suggested it.
LDS humor Mormon humorist
Thursday, March 22, 2012
About an hour ago I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I have a personal rule that if I can't sleep, I will get up after 30 minutes of trying and do something else. Read a book. Watch TV. Read the scriptures. Visit blogs. Putter around the house. Pray. Tonight, I'm typing.
When I was younger, sleep evaded me on a regular basis. I remember spending much of my life staring at the ceiling as hordes of thoughts fought for my attention. Tonight was kind of like that. There are a lot of things in my life that deserve some time and reflection in my brain, but I am pretty busy, and just don't want to think about some of those things. So I do my best just to tamp those thoughts down until "later". On occasion, those neglected thoughts rebel, and fight their way to the forefront - demanding that I give them heed. I guess tonight is "later".
After I got married, the bouts of sleeplessness became fewer and farther between. Not only did I gradually become less high-strung, but my brain became more willing to give me a break at night. I credit my EC with this. She is a lovely, calming presence, and being with her has mellowed me, a bit. Thank heavens! If I had married someone just like me, we would have killed each other by our second anniversary.
So, as I type, I know that she is in the next room sleeping soundly, and it makes me smile. Not just because she is cute when she sleeps (she looks like a little girl sometimes) but because I know that when I decide to go back to bed, she is there waiting. Blissfully unaware that I am even gone. There is such comfort and security in that.
When one of us is traveling without the other, I don't sleep. If I'm the one that's gone, I am restlessly killing time. If I am home, I take on ridiculously difficult projects that keep me up all night - painting rooms, building things, watching lousy movies just to see how they end, etc. That empty bed just doesn't hold my interest.
For the first chunk of our marriage, my EC and I would turn our backs to each other and face the sides of the bed as we slept. Then I noticed a lyric in a John Mellencamp song that said "Sleeping with your back to your loved one, is this all we have learned about happiness?" Not a big deal, right? Nothing too profound, but somehow that line stuck in my head, and I began to wonder... Over the next year or so - it really did take that long - I taught myself to sleep facing the middle of the bed, rather than the edge, so I could hold my sweet wife close as we slept. I consider this simple act of retraining myself to be one of the smartest things I have done. It is also one of my favorite. I adore her.
Too personal? Probably. Sorry dear - it's very late. Or really early. I'll be there in a minute.
(Followup: It is now the next morning, and I just got back from driving carpool. When I got in the car and turned the key, the song that came on the radio was "Check it Out" by John Mellencamp - the EXACT same song I quoted a few hours ago. Really weird, considering the song is 25 years old, and is never on the radio. So strange! (If you want to hear it, here is a YouTube link: http://youtu.be/8qxDBiiVjlQ)
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I was in the local home improvement store last week, looking for ways to improve my home. And by improve, I mean buying paint for yet another Pinewood Derby. Yes, my 12th, and final, Pinewood Derby. I suppose congratulations are in order. We intend on continuing our streak of having very creative, and slow cars. (more here.) However, this post is not intended to be about my glorious history of creating slow, but clever, cars.
As I was walking down the aisle, I came upon a giant stack of black boxes. Big boxes. Big black boxes. More specifically, they were Rubbermaid 32 gallon storage bins, with lids. Until I saw them, I did not even realize I was looking for one. I bought one - not cheap ($30 - lid cost extra) - and took it home.
That evening, I tried to suppress my glee as I unveiled my find to the family. They were much less excited.
You see, we have four boys living in the home, ages 10 to 21. They are wonderful, they are righteous, they are smart, they do the most important things, but they are messy. They just leave stuff around the house. Constantly. My EC and I are getting older, and more tired, and I am getting crankier. We are tired of constantly reminding them.
"Take your shoes to your room"
"Don't leave your socks on the couch"
"Throw your wrapper in the trash"
"Don't just leave that on the floor"
"If you leave that there, the dog's gonna eat it"
I'm sure that you have never uttered such painful difficult phrases - count your blessings.
So I called the family together and showed them THE BLACK BIN. (I warned my EC in advance - always a wise thing to do.) This is what I said:
We are tired of the constant messes in the kitchen, family room, hallways and living room. We are even more tired of asking you to put your things away. So, beginning now, I am using THE BLACK BIN. (Wishing I had some pre-recorded music for effect here)
As you know, I am the first one up in the morning. Starting tomorrow, part of my morning ritual will be to pick up anything that is yours in any room that is not your bedroom, and put it in THE BLACK BIN. This includes clothing, shoes, books, electronics, backpacks, half-full milkshake cups, homework, etc. All of it. THE BLACK BIN will be outside on the back patio.
There will be no announcements, warnings, or second chances. I would suggest that if you can't find something, you look in THE BLACK BIN. I would also encourage you to not leave milkshakes, food or drinks lying around, because they go into THE BLACK BIN as well. Any questions?
There were no questions - just an interesting assortment of shocked and/or bemused expressions.
The next morning, I made my rounds, picked up stuff and dropped it in THE BLACK BIN. Took all of two minutes. When my EC got up, the house was all neat and tidy. I enjoyed it. It has been a week now, and the house is still neat and tidy. And I think my EC loves me more. Best of all, there has not been one conversation about picking things up. It is a "nag-free zone". I think the follow-up will be a weekly "Clean out THE BIN" chore on Saturdays.
2 pairs shoes
1 pair dirty socks
1 missionary journal
1 Nintendo DS charger
and this morning's addition, a comfy quilt.
So far it has worked lie a charm. Less nagging=less contention. They can just quietly resent me. But at least they can do it in a clean house. My EC shouldn't have to be our maid. So far I have resisted my desire to put the dog in THE BLACK BIN.
I have also set a goal that I will not put any of the boys in there, either. (It's a goal, not a promise.)
LDS humor mormon humorist
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
A few months back I wrote about people seeing manifestation of the face of Jesus in the world around them. I acknowledge that my post was
awesome of questionable appropriateness. (You can see it here.) I followed up with another a little later, and that one was even better more questionable. (It can be found here.)
At the time, I was unaware that so many people were having spiritual experiences with food. And by that I DO NOT MEAN how you feel when you eat Red Velvet Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. That is a carnal, sensual experience. Please note the difference.
Yesterday I found that as recently as last week, people have been finding images and symbols in their snack foods. This is not the first, and probably won't be the last "cross in a potato chip".
Now I'm not saying that this is not a cross, but would like to point out that if you turn the chip upside-down, it becomes a Christmas tree - an equally powerful religious symbol.
I do know, from my experience, that if my EC were to find this particular potato chip in a bag, she would not eat it. Not out of spiritual sensitivity, but because she is a "Potato Chip Purist". If a chip has dark edges, or any marks or weird colors, or has been overcooked, she will not eat it. So I do.
In addition, my EC favors potato chips that have been folded over in the cooking process. I'm not sure why - I think it has to do with them being extra crunchy. Either way, I let her eat the folded chips, and I eat the mutant ones. I figure in the eternal scheme of things, it is the least I can do. Right now the preferred chips in our household are the kettle-cooked jalapeno chips. This photo will help you understand how potato chips fit into our eternal companionship:
Where was I? Oh, yeah - People not only see religious symbols in potato chips, but other snack foods as well. Especially Cheetos. Who knew?! I was completely unaware that Cheetos were a frequent source of divine manifestations, or else I would have slowed down and paid more attention as I was shoving them into my mouth.
Here are a few:
Cheeto John the Baptist
Cheeto Jesus Praying
Well, I guess that's where we began, the cross appearing as a snack food. One of these days I will write a serious post about my beliefs concerning the cross. Right now I imagine I need to go repent for something.
Last thought - you might want to pay closer attention as you snack.
LDS humorist mormon humor
Monday, March 19, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
There are two competing views - one is that it is better for me to make modest goals and attempts - and hit the target, than to aim high - and miss. I see some merit in both. If I aim low and hit the target, I gain a sense of accomplishment that can build my confidence. If I am high, I could miss, resulting in failure.
I tend to be more of an "Aim High & Crash & Burn" kind of person. I fail often, sometimes gloriously. I don't have much use for the "Aim Low" theory. Here's why:
If I set a goal that I am going to achieve 90% of whatever I am tasked with, and only achieve 75%, by definition I have failed.
Yet if I set a goal of 50% and achieve it, by definition I have succeeded. But what about that extra 25%? Doesn't that count for something? Shouldn't the fact that I went big and got the extra 25% build more confidence than attaining a smaller goal? My cynical side comes out and says to myself "So you set a wimpy goal and achieved it? Whoop-dee-doo!" I know when I am just phoning it in, and success as an artifice builds no real self-worth.
So, as I am thinking through this stuff this week, my Facebook friend Judi Bona pops up with this quote:
"One of the evils of the world today is not failure but low aim"
President N. Eldon Tanner
I liked it enough that I made a picture of it so all you Pinterest people can do whatever it is you do with things like this.
here - great talk by Elder Derek Cuthbert) I found the poem that may have engendered the idea:
It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goal.
The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.
It is not a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled.
But it is a calamity not to dream.
It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal,
But it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture.
It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars.
But it is a disgrace not to have stars to reach for.
Not failure, but low aim is a sin.
Dr Benjamin Elijah Mays -- 1894-1984
A sin? That is even stronger than a "failure". But it is a nice poem, and gives some justification to my "aim high" strategy, but it is really tough to stay motivated and not get complacent. It is tiring, but necessary. Over the next couple of days, I will post a few more ideas along these lines.
My goal for today is to figure out how I would normally spend my Sabbath, and challenge myself to "do a little more, to be a little better." Because that is more fun and fulfilling anyway, isn't it?
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Note: I remember my father using this story in a talk when I was young. It stayed with me. I looked for it, but the versions I found online were few, and not how I remembered it from 40 years ago - so I re-wrote it. If you are the original author of this story, I apologize, and hope that you rest in peace, because it is really old.
What got me thinking about this story is that every once in a while I get a flurry of comments questioning my intent with a blog post. This concerned is expressed in many different ways, but the basic thought is this: "You are focusing on such small things when there are much more important parts of the gospel that need our attention."
My response is simply this:
"Now you may suppose this is foolishness in me; but behold, I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass... (Alma 37:6)
The Magic GeraniumJoan sat down at the kitchen table. The morning was just beginning, and she was already exhausted. The kids were gone to school, and she was thinking about going back to bed. But that would take more energy than she had. She picked at a partially eaten piece of toast that had been left on the table, and surveyed the room. It was a mess, but she really didn't care. There were plates on the table - some from this morning, most from last night. The sink was full of dishes, the trash can filled to the top.
But the mess wasn't all new. One of cabinets was broken, and the knob on one of the drawers was missing. The curtains were dusty, but thankfully they hid the dirty windows. The more she looked around the room, the better bed was sounding. Or TV. But she knew that she would have to walk past the kid's rooms and the laundry room to get there, and that would only make her feel worse.
Yeah, it was bad. And Joan knew it.
A noise at the front door woke her from her thoughts. She heard the doorbell ring and the sound of some hurried footsteps as they retreated.
Joan just sat there. Probably some salesman. Eventually, her curiosity overpowered her lethargy, and she went to the door. No one was there. As she turned to shut the door, she noticed something on the ground. She picked it up, and looked down the street to see who had left it. The street was quiet.
Joan went back to the kitchen table and sat down with the gift. It was a flower. A geranium in a little clay pot. It was red with a single bloom containing many tiny flowers. Attached was a small note, tied to the pot with a piece of twine. It read:
"This is a Magic Geranium. Please Take Good Care of It."
"Magic. Right.", scoffed Joan. She set the pot in the middle of the messy table, folded her arms, and stared at it.
"Well, do something! Let's see some magic." But the flower just stood in its little pot, in the center of the table. Joan knew there was no magic to be found here, but she was willing to concede that it was a pretty flower - bright, healthy, fresh. The little flower looked out of place on the messy table, so Joan stacked up the dishes on the table and carried them to the sink. She dug out a washcloth and rinsed it out. The least she could do was to wipe off the table to let the little flower be seen without the gunk.
It looked nice. It was good to see the clean table. Joan sat back down and looked at the flower again. Something stirred inside her. The chairs weren't meant to be a clothesline, so she stood up and gathered the clothes hanging from the backs of the chairs, and pushed them in. Much better.
She stood with the armload of laundry looking around where to put them. "Well, since I already have them, I might as well put them straight into the wash." So she did.
Upon returning to the kitchen, she smiled at the flower sitting in the center of the clean table. But the new contrast made her notice how dirty the floor was, - so she grabbed a broom. The impact was dramatic, and a bit embarrassing. Things were beginning to look better, and the stirring now felt a little bit like excitement.
With the table, chairs, and floor finished, the counter and sink looked completely ridiculous. Joan tackled them with an energy she hadn't felt for a while. Before she knew it, she was standing on the counter, taking down the curtains and washing the windows. And so went her morning - and her afternoon.
Joan glanced at the clock and couldn't believe how the time had flown. She hurriedly returned the clean curtains to the windows. As she was climbing down from the counter, she caught her reflection in the clean glass. She was taken aback: She was still in her pajamas, her morning hair hanging in her face. She looked deeply tired - but behind the tired she could see the beginnings of a fire that she thought had gone out long ago. She looked at the clock again and determined that she had time to get cleaned up, and throw one more load of clothes in the washer before the school bus rolled up.
She made it. She sat down at the table, tired - but a good tired. The house was clean and fresh. She felt clean, fresh, and proud. She was proud of herself, and was already making plans for the next day. Joan reached out and pulled the geranium over to her.
"This is a Magic Geranium", she repeated aloud. "Yes, yes it is."
(Oh, oh! One more thing: Alma 32)
Labels: small things