Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Book Bites: Stowaway

How it Works: Every Tuesday I’ll be sharing a “bite” of a book I’m currently reading. Just a two or three sentences from a page I’ve already read that I feel gives a little insight to the feel of the book or something I found interesting up to that point along with the page that it comes from and the total number of pages in the book. I’ll also share a quick preview opinion of it as a whole to that point. If you want to join in the fun and share your current reads please leave it in the comments or link to your site.


The Book: Stowaway by Karen Hesse

Book Bite: "SATURDAY 9th [New Continent--Lat. 34°44’S] We have come upon islands that the Captain calls the Cavelles. The natives here  did not come near at first, having heard from other natives of our guns. Tupia was able to calm their fears and spent a good time talking with them." (from pg. 143/300)

My Thoughts So Far: I love that it's based on the true story of a young boy who stowed away on Captain Cook's voyage. I think that the journaling style made it a little hard to get into at first and can be frustrating because she only speaks of places and things as the boy would have known them so it's not always clear where they are or what they're looking at. Still there are so many amazing things that took place on their voyage that make it easy to get caught up in the adventure. I think would be fun to base a unit study around this book and I can easily see my 10yr old loving the story. (currently on pg. 204/300)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Musings on Pregnancy and Labor

Hopefully I’ll be able to make sense out of a few of my thoughts with my current muddled baby brain. Just a little longer now before our new little bundle of joy will be here. I’ve been having to juggle between what needs to still be done and what I can actually do without setting myself up for an extra early delivery (something I’d really rather not do!)

There’s so much that I find interesting about pregnancy. The thing that’s been on my mind mostly lately is that I’m heading into that “lovely” time when it has to be preferable to go through the pain of labor and whatever may follow than dealing with the uncomfort of pregnancy any longer. I try not to complain because I know it has its purpose – after all who in their right mind would subject themselves to labor unless it was preferable to the alternative.

I think it was soon after Monkey was born and I was discussing it with someone else the idea that we have a very selective memory when it comes to pain, especially the pain of birth. I said if we didn’t that no one would have ever had more than one child. Although I never wanted to hurt anyone during labor and never yelled all those things that you hear about in labor stories (“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME!?!”) I do remember wanting to smack the nurses for being what I considered artificially supportive and sweet. They kept just telling me how well I was doing even though I was convinced of the very opposite. My mantra at the end was that despite the seeming impossibility of what my body was about it do that women had been doing this for thousands of years and I could too. I’m not sure how well I believed myself either.

As time passed a little I told myself that it wasn’t exactly selective memory because I realized I would never forget how painful it was just that all the pain was swallowed up in the joy and miracle of new life.  As the boys were each born I wondered over the miracle and what followed as well. Why was I willing to do this again? I knew that as amazingly perfect as these new little gifts were, pregnancy, labor, and motherhood were the greatest challenges I had ever experienced and would ever experience in life. Why would I do that to myself? Why would I want to add more to my already overflowing plate? Why was I still listening to those nurses telling me I was a superwoman when I was so full of pain and fear and was sure they were only saying what they said to each new momma to try sound supportive?

Then I realized it’s true, and even though they may say it to each woman who delivers, it doesn’t make it less true. We are super women. What we do is impossibly hard. I wonder now though if that isn’t part of it. No who we are though and no matter the challenge we face – when we have reached the other side we are stronger for it. We no longer have to wonder if we could be that strong, we can say that we were and that we are. Strength is only built or discovered as we face those hardest of hard things. We are designed to find fulfillment in the challenges of life.

So to that I say, it doesn’t matter that those stairs still seem like a mountain or that I can’t see my toes, this challenge too will pass into joy in its own time and its own way and whatever happens I will be the stronger and better for it. I just need to look for the blessings and continue to have faith in myself and the gifts I am given by He who has endured all and loves us all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Book Bites: Diary of Anne Frank

How it Works: Every Tuesday I’ll be sharing a “bite” of a book I’m currently reading. Just a two or three sentences from a page I’ve already read that I feel gives a little insight to the feel of the book or something I found interesting up to that point along with the page that it comes from and the total number of pages in the book. I’ll also share a quick preview opinion of it as a whole to that point. If you want to join in the fun and share your current reads please leave it in the comments or link to your site.

The Diary of a Young Girl 
The Book: The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank (The Definitive Edition); edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler, translated by Susan Massotty

Book Bite: “Every night hundreds of planes pass over Holland on their way to German cities, to sew their bombs on German soil. Every hour hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of people are being killed in Russia and Africa. No one can keep out of the conflict, the entire world is at war, and even though the Allies are doing better, the end is nowhere in sight.” pg 80/338

My Thoughts So Far: I picked this up the other day after realizing that I had somehow never read it before. So far I’m only about nine months into the journal and it’s been interesting to see how going into hiding has affected the chatty 13 year old and her family and hearing her perspective on the Germans and war and life in general during that awful time. It’s hard to conceive of such hatred and sadness and what it would have been like to have to live in those conditions.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Lessons I've Learned from Watching Cars

My boys have both loved the Disney movie Cars. Bear was extremely upset when our copy broke a few months ago so we decided to get him a new copy for part of his Christmas presents. He played and had fun on Christmas with everyone but the day after Christmas he was wanting some time to just relax and asked us if he could watch it.

I have to admit that I have a love hate relationship with electronics in general and vegging out in front of the television especially. I realized though that even with entertainment there’s lots that we can be learning.

So in honor of Bear and Tiger here are some things that I’ve learned from watching Cars:
-       True success comes when we slow down to notice the people and things around us. By all the normal standards and appearances Lighting was successful and therefore should have been happy but he wasn’t. He didn’t really find true and lasting success until he took the time to see beyond himself and slow down and appreciate the simple gifts of life like good friends and a beautiful view.
-       One person serving others in simple ways can make a big difference. When Lightning’s attitude changed he didn’t just make a mental note of it and move on – he found ways to serve and help and boosted the spirit of everyone around him and not only helped them by supporting their businesses but really helped them.
-       If you’ve got extra of something make the most of it. The cars of Radiator Springs may have appeared to have been just sitting around but they spent that time helping each other and developing talents. (After all, who can change a tire as fast as Guido!)
-       The best forms of correction are connected with the wrong and involve thinking a step ahead. Sargent didn’t have to worry about Lightning driving off after he limited the gas that would allow him to do so. Doc didn’t have to race Lightning head on to show him that he had a lot to learn still and give him a little dose of needed humility.
-       Be willing to take advice from those older and wiser – even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. Even after Lightning knew who Doc was he still didn’t fully trust him at first when Doc offered some advice and remained frustrated until he decided to.
-       Don’t be afraid to accept help. One of Lightning’s downfalls that we see was his inability to accept help from others – he was so determined to prove it all on his own he didn’t realize just how much we all need each other. When he finally realized that life if a give and take of receiving and giving help he became the hero.
-       Relax and keep a sense of humor. Mater was the king of this – he never took himself too seriously and just was who he was and it’s why everyone loved him and why he was able to reach out to Lightning when no one else really had.
-       Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself. I love the end song. It’s so true of life (and even scripturally based – whoda thunk!) Lightning McQueen had lost his inner direction, a course that lead to him also losing his physical sense of place and being lost in every sense of the word. Sometimes we find ourselves in similar situations where we just don’t know which way is up or what to do. In truth (although yes he’s a cartoon and no real, but people do the exact same thing) he probably never thought beyond the finish line. As he came to grips with being lost though he was finally able to address the problem and find his way and knew there was more than a trophy that he wanted from life.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What Did Mary Really Know?

We were all snuggled up listening to some Christmas songs on YouTube the other night and Pentatonix’s version of Mary Did You Know came up.  A little bit later Monkey said she wondered how much Mary really did know. It got me thinking and the song has been stuck on replay in my head since.

We know for sure that she knew that by some divine miracle she was going to be the mother of the Son of God. We also know that she must have known her heritage and known that He would also be of her royal bloodline with the right to literally be King of the Jews. Guesses would say that especially as Christ was born and grew and the miracles and testimonies of His divinity continued to multiply she probably felt at various times awe, confusion, excitement, and worry and all range of motherly emotions.  Somedays she likely looked at him as just her child much like any other, sometimes the scriptures tell us there were at least hints of a grand (though probably not completely understood) future yet to come, and other times there was surely overwhelming testimony that she was responsible for mothering the Savior of the World although what that meant exactly was also probably still a bit hazy.

Now I won’t get into all of the deep down questions that could be asked or thought about that, I think there are really lots of interesting questions to ponder in regards to this but I wondered what I could learn from her.

Then it hit me.

I am a modern Mary.

Just hear me out for a minute. We believe that we are all children of God. Not in the same way that Christ was of course, but we each have some of God the Father’s divine nature within us. He is still the Father of our Spirits even if He isn’t the Father of our flesh. He cares about each of us more than we can know and wants us to be like Him.

As such every mother to an extent is just like Mary. We are all given precious little gifts from Heaven that He has entrusted to our care. We, like her, probably have times when understanding who they really are or recognizing their full potential seems hard to grasp. Most of the time we likely look at them with eyes of expected routine and normalcy. Sometimes we get glimpses of their greatness. If we’re lucky every once in a rare while we pause and remember that these are His children with an inner divine power beyond our comprehension.

Most of the time no matter where we are in our thoughts we’re just hoping we don’t mess them up. Here too we can look to Mary. She, like us, was completely human. I’m sure she made mistakes - probably lots of them. Still if we looked to what the scriptures teach us about how she handled it we see that she cherished the moments that came, remained faithful, and kept learning from and loving Christ throughout His life, even as she watched His final minutes of mortality.

We can do the same. We can keep making the most of each moment we have. We can learn from our children and share with them all that we can. Most importantly we can keep loving them through all their ups and downs tests and trials and give them reassurance that come what may we will always by their side to the very best of our abilities.

I’m not sure everything Mary knew or understood but I am thankful for what I can know because of her.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Learning about Marriage from Cindy Lou Who WFL Guest Post

So today I had another fun guest post published on Ramona Zabriskie's Wife for Life Blog. I talk about one of my favorite Christmas movies and the lessons we can learn about love from it and how Cindy Lou Who can help us strengthen our marriages and relationships with those around us. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Ideas for Santa's Helpers

For most of her life Leace never really completely trusted Santa, the Easter Bunny, and especially not the Tooth Fairy (she said that anyone who wasn't your mom or dad coming into your room at night to take your teeth was just creepy). Part of this was probably because we’d been hesitant to completely confirm any of these legends and decided overall to handle it by mostly just avoiding any of the topics of belief. Anyways I still remember the Easter morning she demanded that we fess up the truth about the Easter Bunny and all the rest. We explained that in our house we focus on the spirit of the holidays instead of worrying so much about bunnies and big guys in red. As part of the consolation package that Christmas she got to be Santa’s helper and help fill the stockings.

She did really pretty well with understanding that she wasn’t allowed to ruin the belief of others – until Eddy was about 7. She felt it her big sister obligation to explain everything to him. Thankfully however, whatever she ended up saying he took it well and so that year it was his turn to be Santa’s helper with the stockings.

Last year that left me trying to decide how we would do stockings. I decided that all of the Santa’s helpers would swap and have a set amount of money to fill someone else’s stocking. It was fun and worked out pretty well. It did end up not being so secret by the time Christmas came but overall everyone ended up pretty satisfied on both the giving and receiving end of things.

This year Leace asked if we could change it up a bit. I gave her and Eddy a small amount of money they could spend on every other person in the family for stocking stuffers. Then we headed off to one of Leace’s favorite stores – the Dollar Tree. At first Eddy was a little hesitant but even he realized he could handle the task on his own and they each grabbed a basket and to shopping they went. Both kids really enjoyed being able to go out on their own in the store picking out things for everyone.

I know that everyone likes to do things their own way and I’m sure there’s lots of great ways to handle this (I’d love to hear any ideas that people have!) but I just wanted to share both of these ways since they have been so much fun for us. Seeing them take part in being able to pick out presents for each other has been much more fun than just taking care of it all for them. They not only get the chance to serve but get the rewards of growing up and taking on the good parts of responsibility.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Musings on Gratitude

***Please note that these musings are not intended to be a lecture or sermon. They're definitely not intended as a sign of how "good" I am or as evidence that I've got the craziness of life figured out in the least but are often for my own self as I ponder the person I hope to be. I just hope that maybe by sharing them they might help someone else along the way.***

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life has always had a lot of ups and downs. We all have them. It’s just part of being human. Sometimes we may look around at all the platitudes of perfection that are on social media or the covers of our favorite magazines and wonder why it seems like we’ve unfairly received more than our fair share of the downs though. After all, why can’t we have a fairy godmother come and make everything work out? Wouldn’t that just be so much nicer? I know I’ve spent more than my share of hours wishing for just such a thing.

The thing about wishing for what we don’t have though is that it doesn’t allow us to think of just how blessed we are. One of the memes I saw recently that really struck home said something to the effect of while we’re busy wishing for all the things we wish we had someone else is wishing for the things we have already been blessed with. Definitely something to think about when we start whining about things that really won’t make a difference 5 days from now or even 5 years.

We may never know why things work out the way they do but dwelling on the what might have beens or the way we wish things were only brings us down. If instead we think about the things that we do have to be grateful for we realize that each of us has been given so many amazing gifts that we can’t even really begin to start counting them.

This lesson really hit home for me when someone was discussing how gratitude affects our prayers. They suggested considering how long we usually pray for and then taking that amount of time and trying to write out as many of our blessings as we could think of. When the time was up review the list and then ponder what life would be like if you woke up the next morning with only the things on your list.

I’m definitely not perfect at it, even though I tend to think of myself as a fairly positive person I’ve realized lately just how often I let the bad take control over the good and start in on the whining and complaining and dreamily wishing. Now don’t get me wrong, wishing is fine but we’ve got to be willing to put some action behind it and make it happen. When we start going down those empty negative roads we just end up feeling even more negative and it snowballs on itself but when we stop and intentionally turn ourselves towards gratitude it’s like a whole new world of joy opens up before us.

Like I said, I know we all go through things though and sometimes it really is just ridiculous little stuff but sometimes it’s hard - really hard. As I gain more perspective on life I realize that even in those darkest of moments when I’ve felt like there’s nothing but me and the storm there have been blessings and lots of them– blessings of strength, comfort, friendship, care, and so much more.  I can realize looking back that I really wasn’t as alone as I felt and I know that I wouldn’t change any of those moments because they have taught me so much and helped me become the person I am. If that’s true than when moments of wind and hail come I probably need to focus on the lessons I’m learning and the growth I’m achieving if I want to keep moving forward in the future and trust and have faith that things will continue to work out as I do so. 

I’m so thankful for this time of year when we can all take a little time to ponder our gratitude and allow it to help shape us instead of allowing pride and jealousy destroy the beauty all around us. My wish is that it will help us all find a little more joy and a little more love and realize amidst all the false enticements and notions of "reality" the things that matter most.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Giving Back: Fall Date Night Ideas WFL Guest Post

I am really excited to have the opportunity to guest post on Ramona Zabriskie's WFL Blog today. I love all the seasons and holidays and Thanksgiving always has a special place in my heart. I love that it's the time of year when we think about all the things we're thankful for and for me at least it makes me want to show my gratitude by doing things to help others. Hope you enjoy some of my ideas for planning a date night that is not only fun but allows for gratitude and giving back to others! 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Musings on Symbolism and the Sacrament

Some more quick musings from church yesterday – definitely Gospel according to Deb and more food for thought than anything else. Definitely not thoughts that are intended to represent the church or its doctrine.

While the Sacrament was being blessed and passed I thought of how symbolic it all is at a level I hadn’t appreciated before. The priesthood blessed it and passed it in symbolism of Christ blessing and passing it (which is pretty significant and amazing in itself). In each row though the members passed and shared it among each other.

Isn’t that a beautiful and powerful symbol of how the Lord’s gift of the Atonement works in each of our lives? He is the source of the blessing and sanctifying but we all help share that with each other, sometimes we receive directly from the Holy Spirit but many times that Spirit comes to us through the offerings and service of loved ones, friends, teachers, and others that Heavenly Father has given us. Everyone takes turns receiving and sharing. It’s also done in a very quiet and personal hand to hand and one by one way.

I think that so often it’s too easy to get caught up in the repetition and forget the simple symbolic beauty of so much of our worship. It was a good reminder for me to really think about what’s going on and take some time to ponder what God is trying to teach us.