Thursday, November 5, 2009

the human experience

My morning perusing of blogs was most heartwarming and spiritually uplifting when I read Stephanie Nielson's (better known as Nie Nie) blog post. She is such a strength and example of faith and perseverance. All I could think as she shared her experiences was there is something about her new outward appearance that to me allows her inward beauty and faith glow even brighter than before (as far as I can tell since I only know her through her blogging bc (before crash) and ac (after crash). It was just what I needed to make today the best day it can be and do the things that will help me to have that faith and that perseverance.

Just as Stephanie describes choosing to come back, to wake from her coma and to experience life with her family despite all the trials that laid ahead, we each chose as spirits in our pre-mortal life with God to come to this earth and experience life with physical bodies that are subject to death (and injury) so that we can experience the full measure of joy and happiness that God has in store for us. Elder Bednar, an apostle of Jesus Christ, shared the following at a recent Church Educational System Fireside (to read the entire EXCELLENT talk, go here):

"In 'The Family: A Proclamation to the World,' the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles declare that as spirit sons and daughters of God we 'accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize [our] divine destiny as heirs of eternal life' (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102; or Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49). Please note the primary importance of obtaining a physical body in the process of progressing toward our divine destiny.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught with clarity the importance of our physical bodies:

'We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body. The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man, and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine, showing that he would prefer a swine’s body to having none. All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.'

Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal estate. President Boyd K. Packer has taught, 'Our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character.' Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the classroom of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, 'according to the flesh' (see 1 Nephi 19:6; Alma 7:12–13)."

To read Stephanie's post, go here.

For those who know me, physical interaction with others can be a challenge. I struggle with confidence in myself and with a desire and willingness to create meaningful relationships outside my immediate family (I struggle with that at times too). Sometimes it feels borderline agoraphobic. This talk about Elder Bednar has left me humbled and deeply pondering my true purpose here on earth and how I can better serve my Heavenly Father as a mortal with a physical body. You might find it ironic or even hypocritical that I am blogging about this talk (you will have to read to understand why) but I think there is a balance in all things (Elder Bednar agrees too). For example, Stephanie's post brought the spirit of faith and fortitude into my day when I wanted so badly to waste away my day. Just like a friend's innocent post regarding her bad mood prompted me to visit and say hello (something I'm sure did more for me and my "mood" than it did for her). I think in these examples online interactions motivated and led to physical action and interaction--uplifting of spirits and souls.

Despite my rationalization of my blogging and facebooking obsession (admitting is the first step to freedom right?), absolutely nothing will compare with physical relationships with which there is, "laughing and crying together, creating rich and enduring bonds of emotional intimacy, feeling the warm tender hug of an eternal companion or the sincerity in the eyes of another person as testimony is shared--all of these things experienced as they really are through the instrument of our physical body..."(Elder Bednar's talk).

So, today I will love, today I will serve, today I will rejoice in God's plan of happiness, today I will rejoice in the human experience.

Temple Treasures and a Map

Temple Treasures

Recently we went with a family in our ward to the Sacramento Temple so that they could see it together as a family. It was a fun and spiritual day for us. It is amazing to see children experience the temple. In August we had the privilege of attending the sealing of another dear family in our ward, the husband and wife to their 3 beautiful daughters. It was breathtaking to see the children walk into the room. To find out more about eternal families and sealing ordinances, go here.

Back to the first family, the Myers. This visit was especially dear to us because we have home taught and visit taught this family since we moved to Orland. These children helped me to overcome my fears of motherhood (yes Amy if you ever read this believe it or not, they did)! It has helped me to realize that raising children is a process and the way by which Heavenly Father molds and shapes us to be more patient, loving, considerate, and Christ-like people. I was so afraid that my weaknesses would keep me from being a good mother, but the innocence and love in these kids eyes melted my heart. They are precious jewels (and yes they still have their "ugh" moments I will attest).

I thought I'd share a few pictures from our day. I can't wait for the day they go as a family to be sealed!

That's our baby Gavin with Amy. He loves the temple. We've had to take him with us every time we go each month and so he is becoming quite familiar with the temple--love it!

As part of their first temple experience, I wanted to have a way for the family to learn more about the temple since there is no visitor's center at the Sacramento Temple and also to keep the kids entertained. Well, the young kids didn't have a clue about the treasure hunt, but I think it worked out pretty good for their older son. If you like the idea I suggest drawing up a map of your own with your local temple. I am definitely no artist and this was done way too late at night, but it did the trick. I didn't do this but if I use this again, I'll find objects to symbolize (since that's so much of what the temple is about--symbolism) the different "treasures" of the temple. For example, when we talked about the temple recommend I showed them my passport and compared the need to prove I am a citizen of this country when I want to leave or come back to the US to the need to prove I am keeping God's commandments he asks me to enter His house. I thought of white cotton balls to symbol being dressed in white and we talked about our baptismal experiences. I have another document with the specifics I taught them on each stop. If you want it, send me a message with your email and I can email it to you.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pepperoni Pineapple Pizza and McKenzie MDT

A Few of our Favorite Things...

Two things are on my mind right now...pepperoni and pineapple pizza and McKenzie MDT. Well, they're probably on Ryan's mind more than they are mine. They may seem like the two most random things and yet this weekend we celebrate them. Say what? Yes, this weekend is the anniversary of two of the most life-altering experiences for us. It was this weekend last year that Ryan flew to Seattle to take the McKenzie MDT Credential Exam (and passed) and it is the weekend one of his buddies he met through the program introduced him to pepperoni and pineapple pizza. So, celebrate with us and if you haven't experienced either go here and get yourself some pepperoni and pineapple pizza, IMMEDIATELY!! You won't regret either of them, especially the pepperoni and pineapple pizza! Yum-eeeee!

Beware of Pirates!

Beware of Pirates!!!!!

This year we decided to get involved in our ward's halloween party. So, I signed us up for a trick or treat room. It was stressful thinking about what I'd do, but luckily it came together and for some young ones was even a little too scary!

Shiver me timbers!

Hang 'im from the yardarm!

Gavin a.k.a. Jolly Roger (he only made a short appearance because was exhausted from a day of hardly any naps--he fell asleep between bites of cereal for dinner. In fact, he was fussy in this picture that's why we only got one picture and its blurry. He was also being overtaken by the overabundance of cobwebs I used to decorate the room. Lesson learned...)

Pirate's Booty!

All in all, we had a fun time. I had fun decorating the room although I was pressed for time. It wouldn't have turned out had it been for my mother-in-law's stash of halloween decor. It was perfect!!! Thank you Janice for all your years of doing church parties and decorating. Its sure making life easier for me! I'm already thinking of a theme for next year's room! I can't wait to have halloween parties at our house for the kids. I want to do that instead of them focusing on trick-or-treating.

Happy Halloween! Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!