Sunday, August 02, 2015

my favorite calling

since november of last year and for about a year while we still lived in simpsonville, my calling(or assigned responsibility) at church has been as the 4th sunday teaching for our times teacher. it's been one of my favorite callings ever. if i'm being honest, i'm a bit selfish because it allows me to attend relief society and sunday school and i can volunteer to fill in in primary but i also don't have to worry about most non-sabbath calling requirements besides preparing a lesson each month. the other reason it's my favorite is because i get to really ponder and learn. thinking deeply about spiritual things is a welcome respite from my regularly scheduled program.

The overarching lesson that i have learned is that EACH and EVERY lesson has had some sort of mention about our need to sustain our leaders and  follow the prophet and not have a a limited view of the Gospel. Once we start to think that Church leadership should be infallible, we start to become more critical of them and we start to have a spiritual downfall. the more i have studied the messages of the prophets, the more i have learned that there are many flaws in each of them but that they were always trying their best to please God. i know that there is a place for me in the gospel because i continually and without fail make mistakes but that the Lord still wants me here. His church is truly a place for imperfect people who are striving to do more. 

a short list of favorite talks i've prepared lessons from and a few fantastic quotes:

 "Lord, is it I?" by Dieter F. Utchdorf
(the lesson that has helped me the most) 

"I wonder what each of us would do if we were asked that question by the Savior. Would we look at those around us and say in our hearts, “He’s probably talking about Brother Johnson. I’ve always wondered about him,” or “I’m glad Brother Brown is here. He really needs to hear this message”? Or would we, like those disciples of old, look inward and ask that penetrating question: “Is it I?”
In these simple words, “Lord, is it I?” lies the beginning of wisdom and the pathway to personal conversion and lasting change.”

 "Come Join With Us" by president dieter f. utchdorf

“As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and as one who has seen firsthand the councils and workings of this Church, I bear solemn witness that no decision of significance affecting this Church or its members is ever made without earnestly seeking the inspiration, guidance, and approbation of our Eternal Father. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. God will not allow His Church to drift from its appointed course or fail to fulfill its divine destiny.”

Joseph Smith by elder neil andersen

i found this first quote from a friend on facebook and it really inspired me to immerse myself in study of the life of Joseph Smith. i started to read, Rough Stone Rolling, by richard lyman bushman, which i am still wading through, and i even got out my violin and practiced and learned a new arrangement of the song, "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" which i performed in relief society before my lesson. it was actually fun. being a stay at home mom, while infinitely important, sometimes results in my brain feeling less than elastic. reading something that required thought and working on music was a nice mental exercise

"I am suggesting that we can be simultaneously more confident, candid, and studious in our approach to Church history and more faithful, hopeful, and charitable, too. A study of Church history will help us avoid the myth of prophetic infallibility on the one hand and, on the other, help us view past leaders more charitably. Similarly, a careful study of Church history will keep us from portraying this or that question as “settled” when there is not apostolic unity on the particular topic, but we’ll also be better able to see what (or more properly, Who) stands at the center of our faith, this restored Church. And, significantly, we’ll find it difficult to seriously study Church history without a deepened sense of humility"- spencer fluhman

“Each believer needs a spiritual confirmation of the divine mission and character of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is true for every generation. Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God.” -Elder Andersen

Loving others and living with differences by Dallin H. Oaks

“We are to live in the world but not be of the world. We must live in the world because, as Jesus taught in a parable, His kingdom is “like leaven,” whose function is to raise the whole mass by its influence (see Luke 13:21;Matthew 13:33; see also 1 Corinthians 5:6–8). His followers cannot do that if they associate only with those who share their beliefs and practices. But the Savior also taught that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.” (see John 14:15).

Marriage: Watch and Learn by L. Whitney Clayton
(probably my 2nd favorite lesson, worth multiple reads and rereads no matter if you're married or not)

 "Successful eternal marriages are built on the foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and adherence to His teachings. I have observed that couples who have made their marriages priceless practice the patterns of faith: they attend sacrament and other meetings every week, hold family home evening, pray and study the scriptures together and as individuals, and pay an honest tithing. Their mutual quest is to be obedient and good. They do not consider the commandments to be a buffet from which they can pick and choose only the most appealing offerings."

"Repentance. I have learned that happy marriages rely on the gift of repentance. It is an essential element in every good marital relationship. Spouses who regularly conduct honest self-examination and promptly take needed steps to repent and improve experience a healing balm in their marriages. Repentance helps restore and maintain harmony and peace."

           (heidi thoughts- Self-examination- does this involve any form of accusation? I’ve said some things that I’ve felt needed to be addressed, but I can say whole heartedly, that without spiritual reflection and honesty and kindness, I’m just nagging or picking fights.)

Stay in the boat and Hold On! by M. Russell Ballard

“President Brigham Young commonly employed “the Old Ship Zion” as a metaphor for The Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints.
He said on one occasion: “We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard. ‘I am not going to stay here,’ says one; ‘I don’t believe this is the “Ship Zion.”’ ‘But we are in the midst of the ocean.’ ‘I don’t care, I am not going to stay here.’ Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the ‘Old Ship Zion,’ let us stay in it. On another occasion, President Young said that he also worried about people losing their way when they were being blessed—when life was good: “It is in calm weather, when the old ship of Zion is sailing with a gentle breeze, [and] when all is quiet on deck, that some of the brethren want to go out in the whaling boats to have … a swim, and some get drowned, others drifted away, and others again get back to the ship. Let us stick to the old ship and she will carry us [safely] into the harbor; you need not be concerned.”

The Parable of the Sower by Dallin H. Oaks

“Another potential destroyer of spiritual roots—accelerated by current technology but not unique to it—is the keyhole view of the gospel or the Church. This limited view focuses on a particular doctrine or practice or perceived deficiency in a leader and ignores the grand panorama of the gospel plan and the personal and communal fruits of its harvest. President Gordon B. Hinckley gave a vivid description of one aspect of this keyhole view. He told a BYU audience about political commentators “aflame with indignation” at a then-recent news event. “With studied art they poured out the sour vinegar of invective and anger. … Surely,” he concluded, “this is the age and place of the gifted pickle sucker.”1 In contrast, to be securely rooted in the gospel, we must be moderate and measured in criticism and seek always for the broader view of the majestic work of God.”

Thursday, July 23, 2015

1 birthday, 1 baptism, 1 baby blessing, 1 bum

the birthday!
scarlett turned 8 and we lived it up for weeks!

scarlett's twin cousin came to visit and we hit up the american girl doll story. i wish i could say the cost was worth the smiles, but i'd really like a child who smiles about cheap stuff too. 

scarlett also gave a talk the week before her birthday, complete with purple hair.

then we went back to the american girl doll story for another go round. scarlett still thinks it okay to match her mom. 

scarlett's butterfly, darth vader, red velvet with brownie layer and fudge frosting birthday cake:

baptism food prep crew:
they were utterly unhelpful, especially the pirate on the end.

first shot of the bum next to our new refrigerator! hurray for being old!

the night of scarlett's baptism was the typical chaos that i've come expect from anything that i've put a lot of time and effort into planning. first, i set up all of the food tables next to the serving area in relief society room. after i was nearly done, the couple that heads up the addiction recovery group said that had just started using the relief society room THAT NIGHT for their group and that i needed to move all my stuff. i had a split second to decide how i wanted to react. the regular heidi wanted to say, "tough tacos, you guys move. there are two other large rooms in this chapel that have outside entrances including the one you used up until this week. i've been signed up for this room for MONTHS." and the heidi that is trying to be a better person all the time even if i am in the right said, "okay, i'll just move all my stuff to the gym. we'll make this work." and in that moment is should have been translated because that's way better than i've ever been before. 

second, grandma and uncle steve's flights were delayed and so instead of having them miss everything we ate all the refreshments first and by then grandma and steve had arrived. 

one of the biggest surprises was the arrival of my dear friend, julie and her family, from simpsonville! it was especially great because julie is a worker and she jumped right in and helped me move all my stuff from the relief society room!

i'm so proud of scarlett and her choice to be baptized. scarlett chooses the right and i'm thankful for that.

the third drama of the night was this little girl that couldn't keep her dress on all night. athena blythe hated the dress choice that i made for her and she spent most of the evening disrobed or trying to disrobe. she did meet a major potty training milestone that night at the church so i guess all the public nudity was worth it.

in other news, we went swimming the next day. 

and that night were fireworks,

finally, the baby blessing on sunday. i couldn't ask for a better weekend.

i was hoping at least one of these pictures would work for a christmas card photo, but we are consistently ridiculous.

 typical athena blythe

finally, my dear sister. she's my wingman. she helped me get everything done.

sisters are great!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

more stories about vomit (and poop!)

dear sister heather texted me a few weeks ago on a sunday morning and said, you should drive down to tampa while uncle dan is taking the young men to scout camp next week. and i said, YES! normally, i say no. because i am no fun. i say no because i have too many kids. i say no because we are very busy with mundane tasks here. i say no because thomas has work. i say no because i am terrible at staying awake while riding in the car. those things are all still true, and yet i said yes! i took my balls out of my purse and walked up to the plate and decided i was going to hit a home run! i kissed thomas goodbye and loaded up the kids, snacks and DVD players.
we left on saturday and the kids were remarkably well behaved in the car trip down. i said several prayers concerning gas, tires and bathroom breaks and everything went swimmingly. we stopped at a chik-fil-a in tifton, georgia for lunch and bathrooms and that was our only potty stop, which is great considering how many bladders i was dealing with. 
i was especially proud of myself for driving more than 7 hours solo. that is not my thing. i had a 6 pack of diet dr pepper and a jumbo bag of jumbo sour patch kids and i sang "jesus, take the wheel" a few times in my head. and then i listened to journey's greatest hits on repeat. 

the first night in all our natural beauty:
we laughed until the wee hours and looked at houses we can't afford in cities we didn't live in on

 our sunday evening walk:

since reagan loves to be the keeper of the schedule, he had aunt heather put one together for him. needless to say, by about 2, the schedule was shot.

 monday, we hit the beach. did you know that there are no waves on the western shores of florida?

it was so beautiful and fun. someday i want to go back and just people watch. there was even a mom there wearing thong bikini and playing with her kids. it wasn't me.

blythe wasn't that keen on the ocean at first. but she soon made a BIG splash by wandering off and getting lost more than a few times. at one point she was gone for around 10 minutes and we had to employ help from people around us to find her. a lady found her all the way down the beach trying to climb some rocks. it was a long, frantic 10 minutes. after that, we left the beach because my nerves were shot.

on the way home, we solved all our problems with ice cream.

an unexpected morning visitor:

the next day we went to adventure island water park. we got a baby sitter for the babies and loaded up the big kids. i was REALLLLLY looking forward to this day with no babies under foot. what i learned is that blythe is still a baby. within the first 5 minutes of arriving at the water park, blythe got lost and was NOT wearing her puddle jumper. she was so lost that i had to have security called in to help locate her. i kept thinking over and over, this is how blythe dies, this is how blythe dies. she had been gone about 10 minutes when security located her at the complete opposite side of the water park trying to get in line for the big water slides. having blythe get lost twice in two days meant there were a lot of tersely worded demand prayers being offered. when i finally saw her with secuirty i almost fell down the stairs with relief. i wanted to strangle/hug her for the rest of her life. 
after the blythe's breach of security, heather and i kept our eyes on her like a hawk. we took all the kids to the wave pool and showed them the joys of artificial waves. blythe loved it so much that she drank half the pool and then vomited it back up on my hair and down her suit and inside my suit. i had to rush her to the bathroom to assess the damage where i discovered the world's worst case of swim diaper diarrhea. both our suits were beyond repair and i was in a fighting mood from all the rude comments from passersby in the bathroom. for the LOVE, i'm cleaning up with two worst bodily fluids off my baby and my own person and you think a very loud and distasteful "EWWW" is helping? i'll show you, "EW"! so, after one glorious hour at adventure island, i killed the party and we left. and then blythe threw up some more in the car. back at heather's i took a loooong shower and removed more vomit chunks from inside my suit. i couldn't cry at that point. i was beyond. now all i can do is laugh about it. 
this is the one picture i took from our day at adventure island:

in true beck sister style, the next few days consisted of making fun of ourselves. we took ridiculous pictures of ourselves dancing making fun of each other's terrible dancing and thought up "recipes" that people would never want to recreate. 
behold, day old pancakes with chocolate chips.

it also rained quite a bit one day...

and we were trapped inside so we laughed about that too.

but now i know that the $25 jumbo platter of chik-fil-a nuggest will feed two adults and 6 children and the playplace is just engaging enough, if not sanitary enough.

this is where we're staying next time. there will be a lot less luggage.

i'm so glad that i took the kids on this trip. it was so fun and i feel like i proved to myself that i can do ANYTHING! and by anything, i mean clean up barf in one more state. it wasn't a picture perfect, blogworthy or instagram-worthy trip with posed pictures and perfect outfits. i actually wore the same outfit all 6 days if i wasn't wearing my swimsuit and i only wore makeup once! herschel was the perfect baby, scarlett and reagan were great helpers and loved playing with june(or junior) and baby gwen. blythe wasn't a complete pill, though a pill may have helped her in a few situations. we took the kids to all sorts of places including church, which was no small thing and a specialty boutique called target, so that the kids could pick florida souvenirs. scarlett picked out a couple of strings of lights to decorate her room. we cooked and made desserts and homemade cafe rio and played uno until late at night and swam and got TWO different lectures from perfect strangers who were questioning our parenting abilities. it was the perfect vacation for sisters who just wanted to see each other. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

the end of (school) days

 we're done with 2nd and 3rd grade. school let out on thursday after several absolutely grueling days of movie watching and the cleaning out of desks. why they even went to school the last week is because i needed to get as much done as possible before i have to start taking 4 kids with me to the grocery store. otherwise they could have stayed home that week and cleaned their rooms and done chores for as much as they were doing at school.

scarlett had a great year. she absolutely loved school and she had cried several times over missing her teacher, all while still seeing her every day. according to scarlett, one of her biggest accomplishments is crossing the monkey bars. i think her biggest accomplishment was learning to go out of her way to be a friend. she struggled for the first few months with her shyness and only spent time with reagan on the playground. when reagan transferred to another school, i had to coach her every day on what to do to approach people to make friends. it was really hard for her to be in a completely new environment with nothing familiar, but we practiced multiple conversation scenarios and she kept at it and became completely comfortable with talking to new children. being a friend is such an important skill. few things aggravate me more than a person who has a terrible social experience because they depend on others to talk to them. 
scarlett also learned to make her own breakfast, completely unaided. except for the cleaning up part. but i think kids who clean up after themselves is an urban legend. 

reagan also had a great year and after he transferred to his new school program, he really did well in school. we are still working to decipher his alternative learning methods, but we're making a lot of progress. homework was often a marathon of pain, but after the wailing and gnashing of teeth, he could accomplish the task in about 20 minutes. sounds like some adults i know.  when i asked him about his favorite thing from this year, his answer is always, i hope there are girls in my class next year. ladies man, indeed. 

 things i won't miss: driving an hour each morning and each afternoon in order to do the car line at two schools in two different towns. 

i also won't miss being stuck in car line and driving home behind this dipstick:
all us carline moms are WAY impressed at him revving his engine when he was behind us and then driving at breakneck speed to each stop sign on the way home. so cool. so. cool. i feel bad for his kid.

both my kids are going to miss seeing this bicycle memorial on the side of the road somewhere in between reagan and scarlett's schools. a bicyclist was killed on that stretch of road and my kids were morbidly fascinated by it. a close 2nd place of interesting was seeing a house with goats and miniature ponies in the yard and thirdly was when i caught the green light at the top of a hill and i was get enough speed to gas my engine and catch air, leaving behind our stomachs and all safety precautions. simple pleasures. next year's drop off with take less than 10 minutes so i'm not sure what i will do to entertain them. 

school school. what will we do without you? probably a whole lot of nothing.