Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans

Beautiful story.  It's a very quick read but leaves a deep impact.  Truly a message that makes you stop and think about how you are leading your life, what your priorities are, and where they ought to be.  Yes, it's June and I read The Christmas Box, but it's message is for all year round.  I'm glad I read it, and will read it again in December.

Raising A Daughter: Parents and the Awakening of a Healthy Woman by Jeanne and Don Elium

I have a habit of reading many books at once...and so, I've recently finished a lot of books around the same time.  Raising a Daughter was given to me by a friend.  I was helping her go through her books and since her daughter is now older and she had never read it, she asked if I'd want it.  Why not?  A year later, I began to read.  And then, it took me another year to finish it.  It wasn't bad, really.  But, it didn't keep my attention enough to finish reading it right away.  Nothing new jumped out at me.

I am generally pretty careful about parenting books.  I realize that my value system is different than some of those books I've scanned.  I don't like reading books that disregard a girls' divine qualities and instead try to empower them to be equal to the boys in the world.  It makes me sad and though I want to raise my daughters to be strong and confident, I also want to nurture their nurturing side.  Callie, as tough and rough as she is, is also sweetly tender and kind.  I want her to develop ALL parts of her, not just the side that will be competitive in the board room.  I felt that Raising a Daughter not only recognizes but also addresses some of these divine qualities of women.  I appreciated that.  I was surprised at one chapter that talked about helping our daughters recognize the whisperings of the Spirit and how to help them trust those feelings and promptings.  No, this book is not written by religious authors.  Or, maybe they are, but you would never know.  They keep their writing very secular.  But what they wrote rang very true to my own beliefs and values.

It was a good read.  I didn't walk away with any new knowledge, but it's nice to have a refresher on some of those important parenting...things...stuff...whatever.  Would I recommend it?  Sure.  Will I keep it on my shelves as a parenting reference?  Probably not.  But the cover is super cute.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Her Divinity

Tomorrow I will write about Samantha's birthday, but today, I will write about her.  I just recently finished reading Eve and the Choice Made in Eden.  It was a great book.  I loved it.  It made me think a lot.  And today, as I focus on Samantha, it makes me think about her.

As daughters of Eve, we are born with innate, divine qualities.  We are born daughters, sisters, mothers.  Sheri Dew's talk "Are We Not All Mothers?" is so fantastic.  Read it.  Read it in its entirety.  Sister Dew states, "As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers.  And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation."  It's funny...or sad, maybe...that I never think of Samantha as a mother.  I do, however, think of Callie as a mother.  I talk to her about it.  I look for opportunities to teach her, both by example and by word, what a mother is and the kind of mother she can be.  She talks to me about being a mom one day.  I imagine her a mom with her babies, children, teenagers, and her own adult children.  I see that in her future and I am trying to prepare her for that.

Sammy?  I don't think about that.  That's not a bad thing, I don't think.  Though it may be, it most likely is not in her earthly future to be a mother.  But, she is one isn't she?  She, like I, was born to be a mother.  And so, even if she doesn't have children during this lifetime, she can still mother.  And this whole thing has me thinking about how Samantha is a mother.  About her innate divinity.

Sheri Dew talked about our responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation.  Samantha loves.  She loves without reservation.  And her love makes others not only feel good, but I can't help but believe that her love makes them love more deeply -- that they somehow take what she gives to them, and they pass it on.  A mother does that.  Samantha does that, too.

She leads the rising generation.  Samantha's influence goes beyond our family.  But even if it didn't, she is teaching Callie daily.  She will teach our other children.  In her school and at church, her peers are positively touched by her as they play as peers and friends.  These children are also learning a lesson of service as they help her, are kind to her, and treat her as the child of God that she is.  She doesn't lead in the conventional way...she doesn't stand in front of the room and teach us how to be...rather, she is what we need to be.  She is kind and without guile.  She is leading us all every single day.  A mother leads the rising generation.  Samantha does that, too.

Mothers "teach their children where to find peace and truth and that the power of Jesus Christ is always stronger than the power of the adversary" (Sheri Dew).  I recently talked to my own mom about how they must have done something right because we all turned out pretty well.  I decided that however it was that they did it, we all understood where to turn -- to the Lord.  We learned how to pray, how to get back on the path if we ever strayed, and how to find peace admist pain.  Yes, my own mother taught me those things, but Samantha solidified those lessons.  She has taught me to find peace.  She taught me where to seek truth.  She taught me that the power of Jesus Christ is more powerful than anything else.  And she continues to do so.  A mother does that...and so does Samantha.

One day Samantha will be a mother in the way that many think of motherhood.  One day she will have the opportunity to raise her own children.  It may not be during this lifetime, but until then, she is developing her divine qualities as a mother in the best way she can...and really, I think she may be doing a better job than I'm doing.  It's strange to think of it this way, but I think Samantha and I have been mothering each other for the past six years...and I hope it'll be for many more years to come.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart.  I love you.

Blurry, but happy.
Birthday #4, 2010

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green

I love a beautiful book.  I mean, I love when there's good content too.  But I love pretty books.  I just do.  They make me happy.  I had my own little rule that I would ONLY invest in books that I think are pretty if I have read them and like them.  But I had to change my rule.  I will now buy beautiful books even if I haven't read them IF I consider them a safe classic.  And so, some time back, when Penguin came out with these children's books, I splurged and bought Robin Hood and Peter Pan.  I wanted them all, but one must show some kind of self-control.  No?

So, here I go.  The green one in the middle.  The Adventures of Robin Hood.  A children's classic.  And, it was so fun.  Robin Hood is a classic character for many reasons.  He's been around forever.  Something I learned was that it is believed that Robin Hood was an actual person.  Maybe that's common knowledge, but I didn't know that.

I read what I had expected when I opened the book.  I know the story.  Nevertheless, I loved it.  Sure, I know the story of this  man and how he steals from the rich to help the poor, how he is devoted to King Richard, and loves his Maid Marian.  However, it will still so entertaining.  Quite surprising, however, was at the end when we read of Robin Hood's death.  Oh, now, that was sad for me.  What?  Robin Hood dies?  Well, of course, I suppose.  He's not a super hero, definitely not immortal by any means, but in my mind, he was.  He fights the good fight.  He out fights, out wits, out runs, and out does everyone in just about everything.  So, when he dies, I was shocked!  And sad.

What a fun book.  Callie wants me to read it to her...and one day, I will.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

BYU Football Spring Highlight Film 2012

Remember that whole Thursday's Heroes gig that Sammy had back in March?  Pretty sweat deal.  It's one of our more awesome memories with this little lady.  (And we're pretty stoked to see the team again when they come out here for the San Jose State University game in November.)  Most of these are filmed and aired on the news.  Some are not.  Sammy wasn't on the news, but that didn't matter to us at all.  It was an incredible day and we are filled with tremendous memories.

But today, our friend tipped us off about a new video that just came out.  It's very well done and I daresay even people who claim NOT be to BYU football fans would get excited for the upcoming season.  And, wouldn't you know?  Sammy and I make a small cameo appearance.  Look for us towards the end.  Oh, and our signatures ~ Samantha, Callie, Marcus, and mine ~ are all on that flag you see in the opening shot.  Yes.  We're that cool.  And then, there was this comment on YouTube:

  • Links, nice job. I really liked the girl at the end. Gave it a special touch. Good movement and clarity. You got some good shots and I enjoyed the video. I sent you a side comment to your e-mail. Keep up the good work!
  • Thanks. I loved the girl at the end too! Shows the efforts BYU Football makes to help the community and individuals on a personal level.

 Awww.  That's our little girl.  We have no memory of anyone there with a camera, but we'd have to agree... she gives it a special touch.  What a sweetheart.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, 
we proudly present...
produced by
BYU Football Spring Highlight Film 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

doTERRA Essential Oils for You

I get excited about things.  I just do.  One thing that gets me excited is when I find something that works...something unexpected.  I have stumbled across something that works.  And it's doTERRA Essential Oils.  I've written about it before and since then, I've had a lot of my friends and family ask me about the oils.  They have come to me with specific questions, seeking some advice.  As I've researched their various ailments, and then have recommended an oil or a mixture of them...AND then when they have come back to me and have said, "Wow, that helped," I get really excited.  Really excited.

A friend suggested that I start a facebook page where I can share information.  And so, I started doTERRA Essential Oils for You.  It'll just be on facebook, but I'll continue to share things here as well.  I hope it will be a place where I can share experiences, answer questions, help others find whatever they need or are looking for, and that it will be a place where we can all come together and learn.

These are more than just oils.  There are many oils out there.  Some are even really good.  But what makes doTERRA oils great, is that they are the only company whose array of oils offer 100% Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade quality.  That means there are no fillers.  Nothing but 100% oil from the plant.  The result of the 100% CPTG quality is that in studies, these oils have a greater occurrence of effectiveness.  Soothing, calming, healing, curing.  I've only been using doTERRA for a few months now, but I've been impressed by the results...and as I keep hearing more and more of from my friends, how these oils are helping their family members (children, usually, specifically), I'm so happy that I found these and am able to help others.

Oil.  Who knew?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I remember hearing about this story...about a young man, Chris McCandless, who died in the Alaskan wild...and I remember wanting to read the book.  It wasn't hearing about his death in 1992 that piqued my interested.  No, I was only 12 years old then...playing soccer, being a cheerleader for the basketball team, enjoying my friends and family.  It was in 2007 when Sean Penn directed a movie by the same title.  Yes, at 17 when I was still playing soccer, dancing during basketball's halftime, and still enjoying my friends and family that I was introduced to Chris McCandless's story.  I couldn't imagine leaving everything to live on my own, off of the land like he did.  It just seemed too scary, too...lonely.  And so I was intrigued.  

And in the midst of high school graduation and preparing for college, Into the Wild was just another book on my long list of "to read."

Two weeks ago I was approached by a high school student who needed help with an essay.  The assignment was to write an essay about how Chris McCandless is the perfect existentialist.  I thought it was a pretty heavy topic for a regular high school English class, but I helped him the best I could without reading the book.  I explained existentialism a bit more, tried to clarify it's meaning as he kept getting existentialism and transcendentalism confused...and was again reminded of the fact that I just really needed to read this book.  He left his copy of the book with me to read and return to the library.

Two days later, I began reading.  And I couldn't put it down.  This is the first book in a long time that I enjoyed reading this much.  My student hated the book, frankly.  He was annoyed at McCandless's carelessness and selfishness.  He was annoyed and agitated at the fact that he was willing to throw so much potential away, and to hurt his family in the process.  I understand that point of view.  I truly do.  To me, however, I felt such compassion as I read.  I was sad.  I'm not going to go into all the nitty gritty existentialist stuff here, because, really, that's all debatable if he's the perfect example of one, and I don't want to get into that.  However, I appreciate Chris's search, his quest, and his willingness to sacrifice it all to find...truth?  

I find great comfort and joy in my faith.  It has carried me through some of my darkest and most difficult times.  Chris McCandless believed in God.  I never got the impression that he didn't.  In fact, just before he died, he wrote: “I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God bless you all!”  It was his last entry, August 12, 1992, before his body suffered from starvation.  Reading these pages made me think about my faith, and faith in general.  I'm not really the soul-searching kind of person to the extent that McCandless was.  But I wonder if that is what grounds me...figuratively and literally.  I wonder about those who feel like they understand life, the purpose of it anyway, why people can be jerks sometimes and make horrible choices (even when they are members of our own family like in McCandless's case) ~ maybe those people who can see life through a religious/faith-filled lens don't have the desire to go to such extremes?  I don't know.  I really don't.  What I did feel like I understood though, was his desire for more.  More out of life.  Not the "more" of material wealth or keeping-up-with-the-Jones's, but the real, deep MORE.  And I think he sort of found it.  I hope so anyway.  Otherwise, it's just a really sad story.  I like to think of his life and death as an inspiration to others...even if that inspiration is to stay on the path they are currently on (though he would most likely argue with that statement).  

According to Jon Krakauer, Chris McCandless wasn't an idiot who was wreckless and just wanted an adventure.  And I agree.  (Of course I did read his admittedly biased biography on McCandless.)  There was more than just wander-lust.  It was purposeful.  Living in an abandoned bus, off the land, alone, was purposeful to him.  And I wonder what he would be doing now had he lived, had he been able to cross the river when he had prepared all his gear to come back home, had he brought a good map...and had he not eaten those molded seeds, because it was only after eating some moldy seeds, his body became infected with disease and he could no longer keep nutrition in his already lean body.  He was losing weight.  He was weaker and weaker each day.  And he knew his time was expiring.  And yet, in the last picture found on his Minolta camera, taken only a day or two before death, he is smiling.  I think he had peace, even knowing his fate.  
To me, this picture is especially haunting.

Some hold McCandless on a pedestal, valuing his willingness to give his life to find his purpose or whatnot.  I don't do that.  Though I believe there was a purpose in his ways, I don't accept them to be the right way.  He didn't talk to his parents for 2 years.  He took off and never talked to them.  He carried a grudge, which I believe was fatal.  In his immaturity, he acted in a way that cost him his life.  More questions I had while reading...what would have happened had he talked to his father about his earlier actions...if he had swallowed his own pride, been the bigger man, and addressed the issue instead of running off without a word?  Would he have still gone to Alaska?  Probably.  Nevertheless...these thoughts rack my mind.  In my opinion, he didn't go out there to die or be some kind of hero.  He went out there to find something that was missing in his life...and I think he had every intention on coming back to civilization when he realized he had fulfilled that void.  In fact, there is evidence of that in his journal entries and annotations in the books he brought.  Someone who is planning on living off the land forever...or who is on a suicide mission...doesn't take pictures.

And that is one of the reasons I love the book and I love Chris McCandless.  It made me think, constantly, and I can't stop.  I made me feel such deep compassion for this young man, and it still does.  And, I'm way past the point of rambling I'm afraid... 

In terms of the writing, it was great.  There are a few words that were unnecessary, but in all fairness, they were quotes from interviews.  Krakauer didn't write them in himself, but still...

All in all, it's a tragically good read.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Happiness Is...

Just some rambling thoughts tonight....

I loved teaching.  I absolutely loved it.  The great thing about teaching, in general, is that you can do it all the time.  Right?  Every day there are teaching opportunities.  I teach Sammy.  I teach Callie.  I teach in Primary.  I teach Marcus how to make a grilled cheese! :)  But what I'm referring to is teaching in a classroom.

I didn't teach in the high school very long.  I had 2 good years before I was married, big with child, and then a stay-at-home mom.  It was always my plan to stop teaching when I had kids, but I had no idea how difficult it would be to leave.  I didn't know how much I would love teaching and interacting with those kids.  I love teenagers.  I love English.  I love literature.  I love reading.  I love writing.  I love creativity.  I love words.  I love music and lyrics (as a side note: I also love the movie Music & Lyrics. I happen to think it's hilarious.  You may disagree.  We can still be friends.).  I love poetry.  I love learning.  I love it all and I love combining all those loves together.

So, when I was teaching, I was able to throw myself into that world and mix it all together.  I was teaching juniors in high school about stuff I loved.  Not surprisingly, I learned so much from them.  And what was one of the best parts was when concepts started to click for them...when I could see it in their eyes, or read it on the page...when their pens were working so fast and they didn't want to stop writing to listen to the next set of instructions.  That should have been annoying, but I kind of loved it.

I no longer "teach."  What I have begun to do is tutor.  I enjoy the interaction I get, one on one, with students.  There is a far different energy when you work 1 on 1, but I still love when I see progress.

Tonight, I met with one of my students who struggles with identifying themes.  He's very literal, and so it's difficult for him to extract what the author is getting across.  Tonight, we used Aesop's fables to find the moral, the lesson to be learned, etc.  And he was getting it.  I was getting excited.  And after when he said he was feeling a lot more comfortable with it, I was excited!  We're ready to move on to the next step.  I love helping him and seeing his progress.  I love that!

There are areas in my life, other than teaching, where I can see that something I've done has positively influence change and progress.  As a mother and wife, I get excited when one of the girls does something as a result of something I have taught them.  And I hope that they will be excited when they see that something they have done positively influences me.

Below is a video from Music & Lyrics.  I last saw this movie, ohhh, at least 3 years ago and this song still gets stuck in my head!

Seriously, how can you not think this is fantastic?  ahhhh  Oozing with cheese!


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