Sunday, September 29, 2013

Why I am Mormon: A Simple Confession.

I have been wanting to write this blog for a really long time.
Every time I think about starting something happens, or I make an excuse, and I never start it.  Or I think that no one really cares either way.  Last week I felt like I really needed to write this again.  So I started writing on paper and then never picked it up again.  Until today.  I felt like I needed to do it again.  So here I am.
A little over a year ago I received a calling in church where I would have the opportunity to teach the youth and more specifically the 12 and 13 year old girls.  I was (and still am) so excited for this assignment and the opportunity to spend time with such a good group of girls.
As I've taught lessons over the last few months I have stumbled on several of them where I don't know if I am quite the right person to be teaching them.  When I was in High School and in Junior High I made plenty of questionable decisions. This blog isn't going to be a confession of all the things I have done wrong in my life. Some of you reading this could probably write that blog for me.  Instead, I would like to write about where I have come from since then.
So why am I a "Mormon."  I have been a Mormon, or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), my whole life.  That is probably the answer that you were expecting.  In fact, I have generations of Mormon blood flowing though my veins.  Some of them gave up everything and risked their lives to be able to call themselves members of this church.  I have always been proud of that heritage and the sacrifices that the pioneers made for me.
 If you would have asked me why I was a Mormon in High School or in Jr. High my answer would have been very different than it is now.  It probably would have had something to do about genealogy or because I was blessed as a infant, found my way to church in primary, and assisted every Sunday in Young Women's.  Or maybe even because I felt like it was right.  So that's why I'm a Mormon.  Right?  Short answer.  Yes.  Kind of.
So here is my little confession.
When I was younger I was taught by many worthy people with strong testimonies and beautiful experiences about the church.  I thought my testimony was strong too, but when I started to be tested I quickly found that it wasn't.  I started doing little things that weren't bad, but they weren't things that church taught.  I was far from a good example of things that the LDS religion, and Jesus Christ, taught and probably wasn't someone that you would have maybe looked at and considered religious.
One day after school I was hanging out with a couple of people I considered friends.  They started to question some of the things that I believe and why I would be a member of that church.  Actually.  I don't think 'question' is quite the right word.  They were mocking and making fun of things that were sacred to me. The worst part is that I let them. I never stood up to them.  Their jokes were inappropriate and grossly offensive to what I believed and to the people that I loved and admired.  Looking back I wish I could have yelled what I know now.  I wish I would have stood up and walked out of the situation and then that I would have lived in a way that I would have never been put in those positions again.  Instead I laughed awkwardly. I laughed.  Ten years later I am still embarrassed that I didn't have the integrity to at least defend the good people I knew in the church.
One good thing did come out of those experiences.  I began to question for myself what I believed.  I started to think about some of the things that were said and pondered if they were what I believed.  Did God exists?  I had been taught in school that scientifically there is enough evidence to prove that He didn't.  Was that true?  Is that what I believed?  Was Joseph Smith a fake?  Was the Book of Mormon just a good novel, or was it something more?  The questions weighed on my mind for weeks.  It was a quite internal battle that I don't remember voicing to anyone.  One thing I had always been taught was how important it is to pray when you have questions if you want to get answers.  Since at this point I didn't even know if God existed  I also didn't know if it was going to work.  I decided to pray anyway.  And...I didn't get an answer.  Or maybe I did since I felt like I needed to keep praying and keep studying.  I kept going to church and kept asking to get some sort of answer if there was a true church.
One night, several weeks later, I knelt and prayed and was filled with love.  Seconds later a thought came into my mind. "I am a child of God."  To me in the moment, that wasn't the answer I was expecting, but at least I knew that God existed which was a huge comfort to my racked soul.  Soon I recognized the feeling that I had in my heart.  It was the same feeling that I have had in church.  One of the first songs children learn in the church is, 'I am a Child of God.'  In the Young Women's program of the church they have a theme that the girls 12-18 stand and say every week.  It starts off by saying, "I am a daughter of God who loves me and I love Him."
I had been taught my whole life in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints that I AM a child of God. It was my answer.  This simple experience testified to my heart and mind that I was in the right church.  It was an experience that was very special and personal to me.  Someone could say, how could I possibly know something is true from just a feeling.  I don't know how else to explain it, and really I don't think there is a way to explain it until you have had the feeling for yourself.  I've heard it compared to trying to explain what salt tastes like.  But I know it is something that anyone that sincerely looks can have and feel. That is exactly what James was trying to teach us in James 1:5.
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upraideth not; and it shall be given him.  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.  For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."
In fact, no message is repeated more in the scriptures then that.  Ask and ye shall receive.  Seek and ye shall find.
After that experience I didn't magically become Miss Molly Mormon.  I continued making some really stupid choices, but I did start to change.  First I changed my friends.  I started thinking more about other people, because they are children of God too.  I changed my way of thinking.  I started to grow up and I am so glad that I did.  I was becoming converted.  For the first time in my life I was confident with who I am.  I was happy.
Soon the idea of serving a mission started to dance in my mind.  I was quick to push it out.  I was far from mission material, but whenever I would least expect it the thought would pop back into my mind.  I was happy and I wanted everyone else to be this kind of happy with me.  I knew that this happiness came from a change that is only possible by believing in a Heavenly Father who loves us and His son that was sent to die for us so that we can change.  That all those stupid choices that we have been made in our lives can be erased and we can move forward.
Do I still make stupid decisions.  Yup.  I still say dumb things.  I still randomly yell at my kids. I still have changing to do.  But I am trying.  I think most people, whether you are a Mormon or not, are trying.
So why am I a Mormon?
I am a Mormon because my beliefs were questioned and I had to find out what I really believed.
I am a Mormon because of the same reason that millions of other members have joined the church since it was restored.
I am a Mormon for the same reason my ancestors sacrificed so much for the truth.
We prayed to a loving Heavenly Father and He sent us the exact answer in the exact way that we needed. We felt it.  We know, and once you really know there isn't anyway to deny it.

This weekend there is a General Conference where all of the members of the LDS church in all parts of the world gather together to listen to a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson.  It's on TV and online, and sometimes it's even on the radio.  I know that if anyone that is reading this is struggling with what they believe or could use a little extra inspiration in their lives and would like to know more about Heavenly Father or about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it is a really great place to start.  Listen with a prayer in your heart asking if it is true, or even if it isn't.  Pay attention to that special feeling that you get in your heart.  That feeling of love.

You can find the best way for you to listen here:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Watch Her Grow - 2 Months Old

Our sweet little Ya-ya has hit her 2 month milestone.
She now weighs 
11 pounds 15 ounces, so almost 12 pounds.
She is also 24 inches long.
She is, as the doctor put it, "proportionality big" for her age.
(80% for both.)
I can't believe how much she has grown in one month.
Look how itsy bitsy she was when she was born...
and look at her now.
She still has the sweetest personality.
Even when I have to cram her into a teeny tiny bathroom sink.
She loves bath time,
and I love admiring her rolls.
She hardly ever cries and when she does
it's just the most feminine cry.
She's really patient with me and not very demanding.
Just in the last week or so she has really started sleeping well.
One night she slept from 12 am until 10 am
...when I finally woke her up to make sure she was okay.
She pretty much skipped over 0-3 month clothes.
I think it has something to do with the fact that I bought her a couple of new outfits in those sizes.
We got her a new little toy.
I wanted to get it for her for Christmas, 
but I realized that if I waited too long she could grow out of it before she even got to use it.
(Yes people, Christmas. It's coming up.)
She kicks it and the piano plays.
But her favorite part is the mirror and the cute little girl looking back at her..
Today she had to pass her little right of passage into 2 month-ness.
We had to go to this horrible little place.
Where she came out with these.
She got three shots.
And...she cried a lot.
All the way out to the car. 
And she has been pretty fussy today.
Especially if anyone moves her poor little legs.

ZZ was really soft trying to make Ya-ya's owies feel better.
She has had some really cute smiles today too.
She is getting where she can control them better and better.
She ALWAYS smiles for daddy.
We love this sweet little baby and are having a blast watching her grow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reaping What They've Sewn

If you know my dad very well, you would know that he is a master gardener.
After a long day of work, he comes home and gardens outside until it is too dark to see what he is doing.
Rota-tilling, planting, weeding, watering, weeding
and eventually enjoying the fruits of his labors.
This year our own little ZZ would anxiously wait for Grandpa to get home to go out and "help" water the garden.

This year my dad grew an extra huge garden.
Bell Peppers, 
Lots and Lots of Tomatoes,
And corn.
Every year my dad contemplates planting corn.
It's just a lot of extra work keeping the weeds from overgrowing the delicate seedlings.

About a month ago my dad walked into the house.
His face was pale.  He somberly asked me if we had had a wind storm.  
I had nodded and said it got kind of crazy.
My dad's corn was just about ready to be harvested.
The windstorm knocked a bunch of it over and broke the stalks.

Luckily a lot of it still survived and were were able to get plenty to stuff our freezer.
We had an awesome FHE  
picking and husking the corn from my dad's garden.
 Yah-Yah and I were there too...
For days afterwards ZZ would ask to go out and take care of the 'trees'.

Sergio has been asking for corn for the last several years to make Argentine humitas.
He spent one of his days off picking, husking, and de-corning cobs.
Then passing it through a blender.
I picked this beaut out of the garden.

ZZ helped me scrub it down.
It was as big as our sink.
I scooped the seeds, peeled it, broke it down, and graded it. 
Then Sergio worked his magic.
We ended up with something that looked like this.
With a little cheese and some ground peppers we were in heaven.
And since Sergio is the one that was in charge, 
and was sure that the recommended serving size wasn't going to be enough, 
we now have enough Humita in our fridge for 1 year of food storage.
It was totally worth it, since he has been craving humita since last fall.
Hopefully he will get his fill and not need any more for a year or so.

Yesterday my mom started on the tomatoes.
With a little more help than she probably wanted. 
ZZ loved helping.
So far mom has made tomato sauce,
a little tomato juice,
and a bunch of cans of spaghetti sauce.
It looks and tastes wonderful.

The lessons that can be learned from having a garden are endless.
I love the 'reap what you sew' lesson.
The choices we make now always have consequences.
Sometimes they are immediate, but usually they take time before we see the results of what we have done.

What kind of a garden am I planting?

What will be my fruits?

What am I doing today that will affect how my children grow and what they will become?

I know from my father's example that it takes an enormous amount of work to make sure that the weeds don't take over what you have planted.

How am I going to protect them from the weeds that are so common today?

Even after everything that we do, there are still circumstances that we are completely out of control of the outcome.  There would have been no way for my dad to protect his corn from the wind.
At the time it seemed like we might not have corn.
A few weeks later he still harvested more than we could possibly eat.

I asked my mom yesterday why she thinks that my dad eats a fresh tomato sandwich every day.
My mom said that they are one his favorite things and he eats them every year.
I agree.  I think they are one of his favorite things.
Not because tomato sandwiches are the very best food ever, as much as there is nothing like having the opportunity to really enjoy what you have spent so much time working for.

Equally important is how will I use the fruits that are already available in my life?
Like my mom has taught me, year after year, you take what you get, you cook it, season it and make the very most of what you have been given to be able to preserve it and later you enjoy it when those fruits are no longer available.
I hope that I can take everything that my parents have taught me, preserve them and pass those things on to my children to use when someday they might not be around or available.
I'm so grateful for my parents and family 
and all they have taught me, 
and for their wonderful parents and family that taught them.
I'm grateful for this years harvest 
and it's not even over yet.
I'm grateful for the farmers who pray 
for their crops in church, 
and the profound impact that their 
faith has on me every year.
I will be forever grateful for the 
lessons that I am learning from 
watching, waiting and working for the fruits of our labors.