Showing posts with label choices. Show all posts
Showing posts with label choices. Show all posts

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Coincidence or By Divine Design - Relief Society

            When I'm teaching primary, I'm sitting down.  When I taught RS, I was standing up.  The sisters have decided to put themselves in a circle, which has its benefits.  I thought I might try walking around and pace myself back and forth as I've seen another instructor do - but my voice doesn't seem to carry as loud as hers nor did I have much of a voice on Sunday and so had to stand behind the microphone.

            NONE of the shoes that I wear on Sunday are very comfortable and so my feet hurt as I neared the end of my lesson and later on that night I was experiencing back pain.  I blame the shoes.  I think Roland would blame my weight.  Probably a combination of the two.

            There are posts on either my own or my brother's blog which provide several reference to everything I discussed in my lesson - well almost everything.  

Dear Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke of an occasion when President Thomas S. Monson said to him: “There is a guiding hand above all things. Often when things happen, it’s not by accident. One day, when we look back at the seeming coincidences of our lives, we will realize that perhaps they weren’t so coincidental after all.”

            After I had passed around the photos of my mom and dad found in this post, I shared an experience that Roland and I had while he was a realtor.  He had made appointments for showing clients houses that were still occupied by their owners.  The clients noticed a newly listed house across the street that hadn't been on Roland's agenda because  he hadn't known about it, but as it was also occupied, he might have to make arrangements for another appointment and return at a later date.  As it turned out, the owners were gone and we were able to go inside.

            The interior of the first house seemed to have dark walls in most of its rooms.  No photos on the wall.  Just a couple on a night stand.  I thought it seemed poorly lit. The house across the street was the same exact floor plan except in reverse.  And with brighter walls.  A great big picture of an LDS temple (though I forget which one; the picture was definitely the largest I have seen - exceeding the entire length on the couch) LOTS of photographs and "families are forever" themes. It was roughly 20,000 more than any other house they looked at.  But it's the one that they wanted.  Was it a coinsidence or divine design?

"But remember, He has always used ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things" - Ronald A. Rasband,  Oct 1, 2017

            I'm sure that to most people my dad was as ordinary as they come.  He was a very quiet man which I have mentioned in a post I created  the year that I started my blog. Even though we lived in the same house for over 30 years, talking to dad was often like pulling teeth.  Most of what I had shared with the sisters was second or third hand information from sources other than my dad.  I shared a bit about my dad's upbringing and his not having a testimony of the gospel - or perhaps it was just the church itself that he had strayed from.

            He was quite studios and a very good student.  In 1955 he'd been offered a full scholarship to BYU but had turned it down in order to join the navy - which he loathed.  He had joined the navy chori and had enjoyed that.  The nation was between wars and so he was never involved in active duty.  I don't think he had even left the country, but I could be wrong. Overall he really did not appreciate his time in the service.  Since he didn't talk about it, we can only speculate about what we think it was.  I think he may have found the vulgar language and lack of ethics among many of the sailors to be upsetting.

            I think my dad used Church as an escape from the navy.  One fast and testimony meeting he remembers a girl of about ten years of age (this is one of the few sources I have directly from my dad's own mouth) bore her testimony and said she knew the church was true, and he thought  - "If she can know, I can know."  And he devoted more time into finding God and getting reacquainted with the LDS faith.

          One night he was given permission to go to a Church dance.  There he met my mother.  They were married 14 years later.  They were married in Los Angeles Temple and had their wedding reception in the Church in the photo I had passed around where my father had had his picture taken 12 years before.  I don't know if my dad made the connection.  Probably not. I don't remember having seen the photo until my brother Corey posted it.  Had this all come about by coincidence or by divine design?

"Our lives are like a chessboard, and the Lord moves us from one place to another—if we are responsive to spiritual promptings. Looking back, we can see His hand in our lives" - Ronald A. Rasband,  Oct 1, 2017
              I then asked the sisters:  "How many of you have ever made plans about where your life was headed?  You work so many years of your life to stay on that path toward your goal and all of the sudden there is that fork in the road.  God may nudge you to go one way or perhaps you believe you made that choice on your own.  And one day you look over to where you could have been and compare it to where you are on the road right now and think:  "Hey, wait a minute.  I'm supposed to be over there on that path.  I don't think I like where this path is taking me"

            I asked the sisters if any would like to share an example.  When nobody did, I continued. The next example I shared was about Diane Ellingson. I had breifly mentioned her remarkable triumphant found here.  You can also hear her life story in her own words in a two part video fournd here.

"Sometimes life is hard and seems unfair but you are only defeated when you stop trying." - Diane Ellington Smith

" Most often, our good works are known to only a few. They are, however, recorded in heaven. One day, we will stand as a witness of our whole-souled devotion to works of righteousness." - Ronald A. Rasband,  Oct 1, 2017

            I also shared some examples about how often when we ask for blessings, God will send us the tools we need to acquire that blessing.  I used the example of Princess Merida from Disney/Pixar's "Brave"  here.

            I concluded with a poem Corey had written which could be used to desribe almost every "ordinary" person.  His poem can be found both here and here.

            Other references for my lesson include: 

Ronald A. Rasband
                                        talk found here

                my comments from talk found here


Mom &Dad

                                 great pictures here and here

                      dad's service in navy and awesome tribute by Corey/Cody here



                        trailer for Brave here       

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What price do we pay for the choices we make?

           Each of us has the opportunity to make choices.  We choose to leave the house, transportation, destination, what we eat and so forth.  Often we are presented with obstacles as a result of our choices.  For example, we may have a variety of ways to get from point A to point B - do we want to take the scenic route or something faster.  If we had stayed in one lane could we have avoided the car crash that happens in the next?  What about those that we encounter.  How do our choices effect them?  And what about those things we can't control like the weather or health?  Often the result of our choices makes no difference.  Other times even the smallest decision may change our entire lives.

          I think "The Mountain Between Us" gives us some great illustrations of what our choices may cost.  

By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.

The movie opens with Alex, a journalist, at an airport in Idaho anxious to get to her fiancé in Colorado as her wedding day is near.  Ben, a neurosurgeon, is anxious to return to Baltimore as there is a ten-year-old boy in need of his service.

          All flights have been cancelled due to the weather.  Alex believes that she can overcome this obstacle by hiring a private charter flight.  She gambles on a pilot she's never met.  And while the weather is not a challenge for him personally, there is another factor that neither had even thought to consider.

          Alex, not knowing anything about Ben in addition to not knowing the pilot, asks Ben if he would like to join her on the charter plane to Colorado.  I would think if Ben is unable to get a flight to Baltimore from Idaho due to the weather, it would be likely that Colorado's weather would be similar - but whatever.  No one thinks about that.

          During the course of the movie, Ben and Alex are faced with more obstacles as they climb the snow covered hills of the Unitah Mountains in search of salvation, I thought about what the choice made had cost them - or changed them - because without the experience that only they shared - they would not have evolved from who they were prior to the movie starting to who they became afterward.

          I think the story itself was fictionalized, but I really enjoyed watching the movie and discovering another demonstration of just how much impact our choices may have not just on our lives but those around us.  I'm grateful that the unwise choice Jenna and I had made recently about crossing a fenced path didn't have such a dramatic result.  Funny thing is if we had started the other direction, I wouldn't have crossed it.

 So often when I go to Millsite, it's like I'm seeing it for the first time. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Opportunities, Pros & Cons

            We all make decisions.  Each choice we make has consequences whether good or bad as mentioned in this post

            When we were living in Utah, Jenna had the opportunity of learning Spanish through the dual immersion program.  While some parts of Oregon offer this same program, the particular county we live in doesn’t offer any foreign language until high school.  I really did not wish to pull her out of the program.  She’s no longer learning Spanish at school, but she does have other opportunities here that she did not have in Utah.

            She would not have been enrolled in band while in the sixth grade.  We may not have been able to afford the instrument.  We have the opportunity to do so here. 

            There is only one elective at her school.  We had to do away with crafts in order to keep her in band.  She loves crafts.  She has an opportunity to do crafts at the youth center she attends after school.  In Utah we couldn’t afford the after school activities.  The state of Oregon pays for her after school activity here in Douglas County.  For that, I am very grateful.

            When I post this to my blog, Jenna and her classmates (entire school really) will be at the Memorial Pool for their first-week-of-school celebration.  Can you imagine?  We never did that in Utah.  There was an activity at the end of the year. Certainly not a kick off for Labor Day weekend – which for her starts in less than 20 minutes.  She will then have the next four days off.  So what was the point of starting just four days before?

            There are certainly things that I’ll miss about the opportunities she had in education while we were living in the Granite School District.  I am grateful for the new opportunities that she will have here. 

            It rained yesterday, and though we really do need the rain and it is greatly appreciated, I’m happy that there is enough sunshine for the children to enjoy the pool right now.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Choices We Make

     You ever notice that the choices we make not only affect you but those around you as well?  Take my decisions to leave the majority of my family to move to another state for the sake of my health.  And yet I personally have known others who have said, “I’m not going to leave my family.  Even if the doctor says it’s in my best interest, I won’t give up my children, my grand-children . . .” or what have you.  That’s their choice.
     Some live long lives and are successful with their health choices.  Others continue to hack out their lungs while babysitting grandchildren while their children are at work and end up dying anyway.
     Sometimes it becomes a larger burden for the child (or children) to bury the parent than it would have been if the parent had just moved out of state.  Sometimes it’s easier, realizing the sacrifices that were made by said parent.  Often there are questions with either decision.  Some questions go unanswered or are misunderstood.

     My decision to move has affected Jenna’s education, as she will not be able to continue with in the dual immersion program – not at this time.  I don’t want her to lose what she has been taught and continue with her Spanish.  But foreign language is not even offered until she’s in high school. I hope to be living in a different part of the state by then.

     Our decision to leave Utah so abruptly caused stress for both Tony and Rochelle – who were also facing challenges of imperfect health. Our unorganized chaotic house only added to the stress – I’m sure.

     Mom had a good friend mentioned here and here who had secluded herself from everyone she knew – including her own family.  They all knew that she was sick.  They just didn’t know how sick.  She chose not to tell them because she did not want them to worry.  Though I do understand her choices, I think her decisions made it a lot more difficult on her family members – who knew how opposed Pam was to funerals and thus the family chose not to have one for her.  For me, it seemed symbolic to the end of her life: It felt very empty as if there was no closure. 

         I have learned throughout my life that funerals are for the living – not the deceased. I would actually be a lot more gracious with being honored once I’m deceased as it isn’t something I’m too comfortable with while I am living. I’m not big on hoopla. I didn’t even want a wedding reception. But there were a huge number of people that hoped that I would. And so I had one – for them. It did not take place until after Roland and I had been married for over a month.
     Are the choices we make good or bad?  Do we regret our decisions?  I don’t regret moving to Oregon.  I know that I am breathing better.  My oldest son says I definitely look happier. I am for the most part.  I smile a lot more when I go to church.  I laugh at situations that I can’t control.  I don’t worry.

     I took Jenna to the pool today and while I sat outside waiting for her, I cried for the first time since we've been in Oregon.  I was crying about being so far from my family members.  Jeanie’s having a baby shower this week. Jenna wishes we could go.  I did give shower gifts to my two pregnant girls before I left – but it’s not the same.

     I won’t hear my grand-daughter tell me she wants to go jump on the trampoline or see BJ’s smile light up when he sees me.  It makes my whole day.  I miss playing games with Kayla and Bill or the boys.  I miss their asking, “Where’s dad?”  “Where’s Jenna?”

     Two of my boys actually fought over taking Jenna trick-or-treating last year.  Tony was promised that he would get her this year.  There’s a promise broken.  I’m not sending Jenna back to Utah just to go trick-or-treating.  I think she is getting too old for trick-or-treating anyway.  Although it is easier to get away with when going door-to-door with your three-year-old niece or your five-year-old cousin.

     Corey (who actually posted this same subject and similar title to his blog here which I didn't realize until just before I posted) kept himself closeted for years knowing his decision to come out would not only affect him – but each of his family members.  I think he was scared on how we’d react.  He had already had a taste of what he thought was a bad reaction from me – and it was. 

I had behaved poorly – but not because he said he was gay – but because I had figured out that I had stopped caring about him somewhere along the way and it didn’t matter to me whether he was gay or not because I just didn’t care about him anymore.  (see post here) And that’s what is most upsetting – that I had stopped caring. 

   I am so so grateful that we’ve mended the fences that were built between us and that we are supportive of one another and that he is truly happy.  I love him with all my heart.  I love each of my family members.  It does hurt that I am so far away.
But I can breathe.

      Perhaps it’s selfish of me to prioritize my health over being with them.  Perhaps it seems selfish that I would rather communicate electronically rather than have my children or grandchildren remember me as hacking all the time and eventually gasping for air until I die.

     I don’t particularly want to die alone – but like Pam, I don’t want my children to worry about a funeral as the expense of them coming to Oregon or shipping my body back to Utah seems quite unnecessary.  Bury me quietly and remember me as having more years because I could breathe.  Because really, what good (or fun) am I if I’m constantly gasping for air.  I don’t want my death to be a relief to them.  I’m sure they wouldn’t (or don’t) miss the sounds.

     I’m grateful that I didn’t have to move here by myself but that I do have Roland and Jenna with me.  And as a member of the Church I automatically have a support group in the current ward (church) that I attend. I hope my decisions will bless those here as well as those that are still in Utah (and Nevada) 

     Whether I had stayed in Utah or come to Oregon, my choices would have affected my family either way.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Where is 28 in 2012?

I remember watching a documentary with my mom in 1991.  It was called Age 7 in America.  At least I think that’s what it was called. 

I don’t know who’s responsible for making it.  It looks like it may have been created by Christopher Quinn patterned after an idea done in Britain?  I don’t even recall which network sponsored the program.  Quinn (who also narrated the film) told us that the plan was to follow a number of children from different backgrounds and upbringings and interview them every seven years.

I remember looking for “Age 14 in America” but not finding it.  I don’t know what prompted me to look it up on YouTube this year – but I did find it.  Age 7, age 14 and age 21 (thank you Orletta Crichlow) and watched Up 21and was really quite impressed.

Years ago, when my mom and I had been watching, there were three girls wearing school uniforms.  As they were being interviewed, the one in the middle (Kate) seemed a bit naïve and perhaps a little slower than the other two.  I remember the three talking about babies and that one did not have to be married in order to have a baby.  Kate’s comment implied that a man would still have to be involved.  When the other two said (in unison) “No, you don’t.”  Mom looked at me and said something along the lines of, “I thought the one in the middle didn’t seem as smart as the other two, but now she sounds smarter.” 

I thought the other two were too young to know about artificial insemination, but perhaps that was what was meant by their comment.  But a man is still involved – just not in the natural sense.

Kate was my favorite among all of the children that were interviewed.  After 24 years I had forgotten how many children had been interviewed as I could only remember five.  The three from upper class New York and the two from the poverty stricken housing project in what sounded like a seedy side of Chicago.

The focus was on 14 different children – some grouped and some individually.  There were five girls and nine boys interviewed. This post is my review.  You may wish to watch this without reading my review to form your own opinions.
The background and situation from which you come (or are in) doesn’t define you, but rather your attitude toward how you deal with the given situation.  I find it interesting how some were faced with similar situations took their lives in different directions.

I thought it was interesting, how at 21, Kate said she had watched “7 in America” for the first time when she was eight.  She said she felt ashamed I think of being in her situation when it was obvious that there were others who did not have it so well. 

I hadn’t remembered Luis at all, but was touched by his story. His dad had recently skipped out on them.  Mom was into drugs.  Lewis – at age seven – took upon himself the responsibilities of caring for his younger siblings.  SEVEN!  I can’t even imagine.

I have been so impressed with the choices that Luis made for himself and for his family – always trying to do right by them and sacrificing education and friendships in order to tend to his siblings.  At age 21, Luis was serving in the army.  Grateful for the independence of being away from his family – but still assisting with taking care of them.  He seemed to have such a great attitude despite the challenges that life had dealt.

The other two I remember were Leroy and Kennisha.  They lived in what was known as the Robert Taylor housing project.  It sounded like an area with high crime and poverty.  Leroy had been riding his bike upstairs on the walkway – going back and forth.  The interviewer had asked why he didn’t take it downstairs and explore the outdoors.  His answer was that if he had taken it outside, that someone would just push him off the bike and take it from him. The two had witnessed many crimes with either eyes or ears.  I honestly wondered if they would both be living by age 14.  Happy to see that they are.

Kennisha seemed to have amazing faith as she would pray for things to get better.  At age 7 she was a strong believer in God and that continues.  And life did get better.  By age 7 she had moved to section eight housing.  By 21 an actual house with a lot of family members.  Her goal was to move her daughter to Texas where they will have their own place and Kennisha can actually enjoy some time experiencing solitude.

I highly recommend watching 21.   I’ll end with what I thought were memorable quotes:

“It’s going to get better.”  -  Luis

“Hard working people are overlooked.”  -  Doug

“We control our own destiny as best as we can”   -  Eric

“Predetermined background doesn’t define who I am or how I’ve gotten here.”  - Michael

“There is no emotional diploma.”  -  Alexis

“Everything coming in place.”  -  Kennisha

“Everybody needs love.”  -  Leroy

“Step up to the plate.”  -  Luis

"Things don't always work out like they're suppose to."  -  Kate

“As long as my family love me, I’m okay with that.”  -  Leroy

Monday, January 26, 2015

If you can’t question your religion, Why Are You In It?

         I don’t know if I had met Kelly prior to the being called to serve on the activities committee.  The first activity I remember being involved with was a “food storage/budgeting made-fun activity” Kelly played Betty Barker and I became the emcee who drew the names of contestants and invited them to “come on down”.

         Even then she was struggling with the Church and her family life – desiring to connect the two but feeling torn with her beliefs.  Her husband showed no sign of ever wanting to be involved with the Church or even anybody who belonged to it.  Perhaps Kelly wasn’t even active when they met but gradually came around with a desire for having God and direction in her life – perhaps not necessarily the “Mormon Church”

         That was five years ago.  And she continues to battle with herself and her maintaining a comfortable relationship and self worth which she is not finding in the Church.  I understand.  Perhaps not completely.  But I do understand why she would leave – although she hasn’t withdrawn completely.

         Her husband still gives her no support as far as showing any interest in church or church members.  I didn’t even know what he looked like until the other night when I glanced at him through the window.  He had heard we were coming and made his “get-away” before we were even out of the car.

         Kelly’s last calling had been a counselor in the primary.  Not where she wanted to be, but accepted the calling believing it would keep her on the path to and at that the Church is where she needed to be – until she was asked to create the program for the 2014 “Families are Forever” theme.  That became the straw that broke the camel’s back.  It wasn’t in her heart to create a program that she herself felt discriminated against.

         Actually, I had wondered how the majority felt as many of the primary children are from broken homes, inactive or part member families, many with barriers that seem to prevent the traditional “families are forever” theme. 

         Elenore sat on the stand near the pulpit, to help the children with the lines they might have forgotten. I wondered if the program had been difficult for her as she and her husband had divorced long before I had even met her. She’d gone back to her maiden name rather than identifying herself with her married name.  She has custody of their two children, but he has visitation rights.

         I hadn’t even paid attention to Kelly’s absence as I watched various children get up and recite lines that just didn’t seem to fit in their current living environment.  How many of them believed in the words that they said?  How many struggled through that program?  I did.

         Kelly’s youngest son and Jenna have often played together.  Kelly had told me about sending her son to a water park all summer.  I had been dragging Jenna to Kearns with me last summer.  Perhaps “drag” is not the correct word as she really did enjoy being with her cousins.  But I know she would have loved spending summer at a water park if given the opportunity. 

         I had asked Kelly if Spencer would be returning to the water park this summer and thought I would look into a pass for Jenna.  I thought we had talked just last month, but then she disappeared.

         I was substitute teaching the last three weeks of December.  I think there were five or six names on the role in Jenna’s class, but it was usually just Elenore’s son and Jenna.  Spencer wasn’t there during the three weeks I had taught.  I sent Kelly a message to inquire if she and her family had been out of town for the holidays.  Turns out she is actually attending another church – one that doesn’t push the “Families are Forever” theme.  One that doesn’t make her feel discriminated against.

         I had the same struggles when I was single for so long – not as long as several sisters in the current ward I belong to.  I was married at 39.  There are several sisters in my ward who are much older that have not had opportunity to marry – or perhaps they have and it just didn’t feel right with choice of partner.  I don’t know.  I know that there are several who feel discriminated against when lessons are given on eternal marriage or husband/wives relationships.  It’s hurtful to hear when that very thing doesn’t seem to exist in the earthly future.

         I recently read that divorce is 50/50 but that a marriage needs to be 100/100.  And there are some couples that each give 100% and then there are other couples in which one does all the giving while the other does all the taking.  I can only control what I give, but I cannot control what another might contribute.  Roland contributes 100% - perhaps more.  But not everybody has that.  Not everybody has the support from family members.  Not everybody gives 100%.

         Hannah moved into the ward about a year after we did.  For the longest time I believed that she was a single parent as I never saw her with a spouse.  She was diligent about coming to meetings and activities though it was challenging at times.  It wasn’t known to all that there were struggles, for Hannah wore a smile on her face and pressed on.  One day she announced that there were struggles and coming to church wasn’t easy. Her husband didn’t wish to attend church with her.

         When Asher (her son) got closer to turning eight, he begged his dad to please come back to Church so that he could baptize him.  Thus after eight or nine years of attending Church on her own, Hannah’s husband finally came around.  He is the one who baptized Asher.  Endurance.

         So where is Kelly’s reward when she has seemingly had to endure even longer?  Why are there some whose trials seem to outlast their faith while others seem to be rewarded in just a matter of minutes?  How many of us feel that we have been or are being dealt with unfairly?  For how long must we endure?

         One of my biggest hang-ups in this “pushing family” church is the discrimination that seemingly takes place at the temple.  The sealing ceremony in which only the worthy temple recommends holders can participate.  All loved ones who are not temple recommend holders are allowed to wait in the lobby but cannot witness the special event because they don’t have recommends.  They have been labeled “unworthy” How do you explain that? 

         I was married civilly over three years before I was sealed.  The civil marriage was a lot more personable.  I enjoyed having guests at my wedding that otherwise couldn’t come to see Roland and I exchange vows.  I don’t like to feel excluded because I don’t have a recommend (or didn’t; not when Patrick married.  Not when my cousin married her first husband) and I don’t wish for others to feel that way.

         What does a “Forever Family” mean in my case?  That the boys will go with Roland and their mom?  That Jenna will go with Roland and me?  And what’s to become of Roland’s oldest two girls?  They were born under the covenant?  But do they sense that now?  Do they even know what that means?

         The boys are adults with spouses (soon families) of their own.   How does that work?  Are they always going to reside with us in the hereafter or will they go with their wives’ families?  I don’t think our concept of “Families are forever” will be the same as what we may build up in our minds.  We are required to have faith that it will all work out.  God’s kind and men’s kind are very often not the same.

            Denise shared her testimony after her forty plus years of struggles – though not with the Church.  She had been baptized when she was 19.  The ward bishop had called her into his office to call her as a primary teacher.  But there was a condition that came with accepting the call.  She would have to stop dating her boyfriend.  It wasn’t because even because he wasn’t a member, but apparently the bishop objected to his race.  I don’t know if she saw that as discrimination coming from the Church or just that particular leader.  It wasn’t right that he had told her that.  She left the Church and did not return until over forty years later.

            The elder missionaries showed up on her doorstep shortly after she lost her dad.  She was in a state of depression.  She had answered the door in her pajamas and commented that one elder in particular was dead set about helping her.  She said she needed her dishes done but didn’t have any soap.  The elders dismissed themselves but said they would return.

            When the elders returned, they brought back some dish soap along with a missionary couple.  While the elders did dishes, Denise sat in the other room with the elderly couple and asked about her father.  It was a very good visit and an indication for her to return to the Church in which she had been baptized a member over four decades earlier.

            We all have our trials.  We all have our disappointments.  Endurance is not an easy thing.  For many, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  For many there is no life.  They have given up home.  Some hang on by a thread searching for a glimmer of hope.  May each of us find the strength needed to endure than we may find peace?  That is my hope.