Doug and I had an uneventful Halloween. Actually, it was a great day at school. My class was good. We made applesauce from real apples and stewed them in the crockpot all day. It smelled delicious! The kids got to do centers all morning. In the afternoon, they went to the computer lab and then did an art project before we ate our applesauce and popcorn. After school, Doug and I went grocery shopping at Publix. They had set up stations in six or eight places throughout the supermarket where kids could trick-or-treat the regular cashiers. It was fun watching! After dinner, we went to Lowes. We picked up some materials that we needed for Saturday. The store was nearly empty...which made it nice for shoppers like us! Brianna went to a party where they made glow in the dark pillowcases and caramel chocolate covered apples. Here are some pictures of some cute faces at our ward trunk-or-treat last week !
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
One day they decided to be tourists and took pictures from the Sears Tower which is probably the tallest building the in the world, if you count only habitable space and measure from the sidewalk level of the main entrance to the structural top of building (excluding flagpoles and spires). It was built in 1974.
He didn't have a camera, but took these pictures with his cell phone. Personally, I am glad to have missed that adventure since I am not a fan of heights. Not only is it 1450 feet and 7 inches tall from the street level, but it sways in the wind.
He ordered this for dessert at Smith and Wollensky's. He says he at half for dinner and half for breakfast the next day.
They made a side trip to Shelbyville, Michigan. I guess they weren't cold enough in Chicago.
Apparently when Aislinn was in utero she either started to develop an extra kidney OR part of her kidney died and her body made another one to compensate. That is how she got an extra ureter. It is connected to a dead kidney. When she was in diapers it was no problem, but now that she has been potty trained the urine backs up into the extra ureter and I am not sure if the infection goes into the bad kidney or not but it certainly goes into the extra ureter. Anyway, now they know the problem. She will be in the hospital for at least another day while the antibiotics do their thing. She will stay on antibiotics for a couple of weeks and then she will have surgery to remove all the extra bits, which will require another two day hospital stay but they can do it laproscopically. Aislinn is feeling a little better this afternoon. And coincidentally...so are Chris and Melody!
Doug: Did you go to Stephanie Paxton's baby shower.
Debbie: Yes. It was at my house.
Gail Berge made these cute little sailboats out of peppers!
Mary made fruit skewers, Roxanne brought chicken kabobs and Frances broughtpizza.
Stephanie opened the presents!
We are looking forward to meeting baby Lochlan!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
I love it when all the beds are occupied at my house. I don't love the reason that they are occupied tonight. My friend Melody and her husband are spending the night in the hospital with their little girl. The kids enjoyed exploring the house and then went to sleep. Prayers for Aislinn are still needed.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I spent Thursday and Friday working on my assigned Sacrament meeting talk. I was asked to speak about Sister Dalton's talk in conference entitled " Return to Virtue." The financial analogy seemed a little stretched and it was certainly out of my comfort range. But I felt prompted to use it. Tricia gave me some constructive help, for which I was grateful. After I gave the talk, the next speaker was Brother Wise, who spoke about tithing. I realized then, that my piece was part of one great whole. I felt very blessed to have been a part of that wonderful spiritual experience.
Although my husband has been involved in the world of finance our entire married life, perhaps there are some in this congregation today, like myself, that know more about the economics of our country and global economics now than they did just one month ago. Recently, after checking my computer before bedtime, I remember feeling comforted than the markets were up again in South Korea and Japan. Sadly, that wasn’t yesterday, but the thing is---that I had never previously considered those places would/could have any possible impact on my life. Rising technology has allowed our environment to be characterized as a global one. Our global economy gave businesses the ability to market products and services globally. Literally all over the world, commitments are made with the expectation of a worthwhile result called “the return”.
Returns are payment or distributions. For example: Wages are the return to labor—I teach school at Round Lake Elementary and a sum of money is deposited into my bank account twice a month in return for my services. But I also work in my garden and the return to that labor is the herbs I use in my kitchen or more often the soul comfort that it brings me.
Sister Dalton’s talk from the Sunday morning session of conference is entitled “A Return to Virtue.” For a minute I am going to compare similar investments with largely different returns.
As the stake scripture study program has recently concluded the reading of the Book of Mormon, we have been reminded again and again in the tragic winding up scenes, of investments on the battle field. The return they were seeking? More power, more land, less work. In Ether we read these disturbing words about the battle: And it came to pass that when they were all gathered together, every one to the army which he would, with their wives and their children—both men, women and children being armed with weapons of war, having shields, and breastplates and head-plates, and being clothed after the manner of war—they did march forth one against another to battle; and they fought all that day, and conquered not. And it came to pass that they slept upon their swords that night, and on the morrow they fought again, and they contended in their might with their swords and with their shields. The people fought until every person was destroyed with the exception of the prophet Ether who testified that all the words of the Lord had been fulfilled.
The Lord promised Joseph Smith a return on his investment restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ and translating the Book of Mormon. In spite of the fact that Joseph Smith said, “I am at this time persecuted the worst of any man on the earth, as well as this people, … all our sacred rights are trampled under the feet of the mob.” The Lord promised, “the ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name… the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel, and authority and blessings…and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever.”
We all hope for positive returns on our investments. While the return on my financial investments is dependant on the role of others, the return on my spiritual investments is entirely up to me. It will in large part be determined by mental and spiritual effort. I recently posted on my personal blog site a few of the immediate returns on my investment watching conference including that we need to be positive through stress because the best is yet to come. However, the real gains will come over time as I strive to live the principles taught and fulfill the mission that Heavenly Father has for me.
I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that even with my very best effort, it is not possible without a Rescuer. This bailout plan among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints is known as the plan of salvation.
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 authorized the purchase of distressed assets for up to $700 billion. The bailout plan was said to be vital “to prevent further erosion of confidence”. Ultimately, a 451 page document was enacted into law. The plan of salvation is a simple plan. It is recorded as a six page document in Preach My Gospel but can be summed up in a few sentences. God’s whole purpose—His work and His glory—is to enable each of us to enjoy all His blessings. Jesus Christ is central to God’s plan, purchasing our distressed assets, if you will. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth as His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.
Infinite virtue…Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtus means strength. Studying more about it I learned that it is considered “strength or courage; bravery; daring; spirit; valor”. It is an active quality or power. In Mark chapter 5 we read this story. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
31 And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 32 And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. 34 And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole;
Luke gives us further enlightenment in chapter 6 verse 19. “and the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. I think we are part of that multitude. And our eternal progression depends on how we use the Savior’s gift and our agency. Confidence comes when we are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost as we “return to virtue”. It might be better said “return with virtue” as virtue is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions.” Sister Dalton says “thousands of small decisions and actions”, but probably it is more like millions.
I see virtuous young men worthy to bless the Sacrament. I see virtuous young women living their standards amidst a tidal wave of opposition. I see virtuous moms teaching their children to be honest, true, chaste and benevolent. I see virtuous dads honoring the Priesthood and supporting their families. I see virtuous children obeying their parents and choosing the right. In fact, one of the definitions of virtue is the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. But it can also be said that it is any admirable quality. Sister Dalton stated that virtue is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards and quoted President Monson when he counseled: “You be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow.”
At a recent training I was reminded that “I am an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ and nothing else.” The words to an oft sung LDS Hymn come to mind, “More holiness give me.” More faith in my Savior, More sense of his care. More fit for the kingdom, More used would I be, More blessed and holy—More, Savior, like thee.
Now is the time to invest our effort to become more fit for the kingdom. My friend owns some sports malls in Utah. She told me once that many people pay money to join their fitness clubs. They get the card and they never show up to the mall. As if they could get fit by carrying around the card. The return on their financial investment is nothing because to realize a return there needs to be a physical commitment as well.
The Jaredites prepared with weapons of war, shields, breastplates and headplates. But they could not realize a satisfactory return. Sadly, the spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed;
We are baptized and attend church, but we also need to gain our very own testimony. Our personal training program can come from instructions found in the scriptures, from personal revelation as a result of prayer, from guidance by the Brethren and numerous other avenues. Alma, one of our spiritual advisors gives us this counsel about bad investments. I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
There is an interesting story in the Old Testament about King David (the same who slew Goliath.) In his later years he wants to build a house for the Lord. We are told in the scriptures that he wanted it to be “exceeding magnifical of fame and of glory throughout all countries” and that David prepared abundantly for it before his death. But even more importantly he called together all of the important people in Israel and said “now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.”
The temple is the reason for everything we do in the church--Temple ordinances, sacred covenants and the promise of eternal life together as families. I love these words from the dedicatory prayer of our temple in Orlando:
Bless all who shall enter its portals … Grant unto them a greater understanding of things divine and things eternal. Bless them with joy in the service which they give. May the generations of the families of thy sons and daughters be joined in unbroken linkage that thy divine purposes may be brought to pass concerning the immortality and eternal life of thy children. We pray that all who covenant with thee in the sacred endowment service will stand ever true to their promises.
The prayer continues with these words about the youth: Bless the youth who will be baptized for the dead. May this sacred service instill in their minds a greater understanding of thy divine plan, and a stronger resolution to live worthy of every blessing which eventually may become available to them in this thy holy house.
This Wednesday the youth of our ward will again go to the Temple to perform baptisms and confirmations. Their actions show that they are setting their hearts and their souls in seeking the Lord. I am thankful for this wonderful blessing that will strengthen them.
Our individual assets are unique. In the DC we are counseled: that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold. Over time as our wise investments mature we will be blessed with the rewards of the Spirit. Moroni is one of the many prophets that remind us that every good gift cometh of Christ.
I am comforted to know that we belong to a global church. President Hunter said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ, which gospel we teach and the ordinances of which we perform, is a global faith with an all-embracing message. It is neither confined nor partial nor subject to history or fashion. Its essence is universally and eternally true. Its message is for all the world, restored in these latter days to meet the fundamental needs of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people on the earth. It has been established again as it was in the beginning—to build brotherhood, to preserve truth, and to save souls. Ours is a world religion, not simply because its members are now found throughout the world, but chiefly because it has a comprehensive and inclusive message based upon the acceptance of all truth, restored to meet the needs of all mankind.”
In spite of the economic panic all over the world, we can be blessed with the peace the Gospel brings knowing that all that the Father hath is ours. Hearken diligently unto Him, and remember the words which He has spoken; come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted.
I testify that the wages of our virtuous choices will strengthen and enable us as we make our investmests in time and eternity. God so loved the world,that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. May we all return to live with Them.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Do you ever have one of those days when
- you have a disagreement with someone you love
- a project that you have spent hours and hours on--and are nearly finished with--seems doomed to failure
And so you have
a big loud sobbing cry
- you get a business phone call and the person on the other end is totally tactless delivering their bad news
- something is left out of place and you run into it and you are limping around the house
knowing that it IS
going to hurt just as much tomorrow
- you have to get ready to go out even though you are emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausted