Wednesday, February 11, 2015

If the Crown Fits . . . . . .

 
Nothing says Valentine's Day like your husband buying you a new crown.   I say new crown because he already bought me about 1400 of them over the years.  It's not even Valentine's Day yet, but I am getting a new crown and it's pretty expensive so please don't feel jealous.  It's the same color as the others, but it's a little smaller and more dainty.  It has been ordered and will be here in about 10 days.  I'm so excited.....

Well, that is how I talk myself into being happy about  getting a tooth crowned.  And, truth be told, I don't have 1400 crowns to wear upon my head, but I do have several (lost count) crowned teeth that are worth way more than $1400.  I have to try to be happy about it and see how funny it actually is or I will cry.  We could have gone to Europe a few times for the money we have spent on my teeth throughout the years.  I am  just grateful we have dental insurance or it would have been much worse. 


Don't be jealous about my crowns.  I know it's human nature to be jealous of something someone else has, and now that you know I have so many crowns, I don't want you to start wishing you had crowns, too.  Because I promise you really don't want to have crowns.  They're not any fun to get or pay for or floss around.   And you can't eat caramel corn and Jolly Ranchers any more. 

Today is Wednesday and this all began on Monday.  When I intend to get a new crown, I get serious!  I went for a regular dental cleaning.  I was enjoying the nitrous oxide (laughing gas) that I have to get even for a cleaning because my teeth are so sensitive, when even through the thick fog of being stoned, I could feel horrible pain.  Yikes!  When the cleaning was done I asked the girl what would have caused that pain, but she didn't know.  "The doctor will come in now and take a look now," is what she told me. 

The doctor looked at the x-rays, which didn't show anything.  He put on his binocular glasses and head lamp to take a closer look.  "You have an old crown here, that someone else did, that doesn't fit properly.  It looks like there is some decay here around the bottom of the crown that is causing the pain.  You have two choices.  We can do a patch and fill where we drill out what we can, going under the crown and just patch it like a regular filling, but I can't guarantee I can get all of the decay that might be under the crown.  That costs about $30.  Or, we can cut the crown off, get it all cleaned out, and give you a new crown, which will cost about $430 (insurance helps)." 

Well, I have had so many misadventures with my teeth that I have learned there is no point in taking any shortcuts.  It's best to do it right the first time.  Speaking of which, it would have been nice if the other dentist would have done it right the first time his own little self so I wouldn't be facing this now, but that was a long time ago.  I told the doctor, "I always tell my kids to do things right the first time or they will have to go back and do it right later on, so let's do it right.  Please make me a new crown."  See, that is the way to get a new crown.  Just declare that you want it and 10 days later, it comes delivered to your dentist to be fit just for you.  LOL. 

The appointment for the crown was fast tracked so I could have it fitted before an upcoming surgery.  So, that was today.  I spent almost 2 hours in the chair.  Again, I was really enjoying the bliss of semi-consciousness under the nitrous when I heard the doctor say, "well, you certainly made the right choice.  There is a lot of decay here that I didn't even expect over here in the back," and all the way about, above, according to, across, after, against, along, among, around, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, and now I'm tired of writing so many prepositions, but you get the idea.   "I couldn't possibly have gotten it all without taking the crown off."  He told me he cleaned it all up, put medicine on the nerve that was now exposed, and would seal it up temporarily while I waited for my permanent new and lovely, expensive crown. 

I'm glad this happened.  It isn't fun to open your wallet to a $430 expense you didn't plan on, but I'm glad I could get this fixed before it became a worse problem, which the dentist said it would have become.  It would eventually have led to total tooth loss, probably an implant, and a lot more money.  I'm glad I chose to get it fixed right the first time. 

It makes me think about the little things in my life that I don't even know are creeping in.  Working their way in where there is the slightest opening, that I might not even know is there.  For 15 or so years I though this crown was doing its job of protecting the tooth.  But because it didn't fit properly, not covering the entire tooth area, decay was able to begin and do its damage, slowly, but surely.  I think this could represent anything that we don't want in our lives.  Influences of bad media, bad friends, negative people, or anything else that has the power to slowly eat away at the root of our soul, our faith, our love. 

This helps me see that I have to be very careful about preventing negative influences from eating away at my spirit.  I have always been good at flossing and brushing and taking care of my teeth, but it doesn't do any good if the crown doesn't fit.  It wasn't my fault that this happened to my tooth, but it still happened and I have to deal with it now.  I can blame the old dentist, or I can move happily along and be grateful I'm not going to lose my entire tooth.  I like to look at hardships and negative forces the same way.  And, I'll admit, it has taken me a long time to have this outlook.  It isn't the product of youth, at least not for me.  It has come as I have gotten older.  There are things that happen to us that are beyond our control.  But most things can be cleaned up, repaired, replaced, or forgotten.  The reason this is so is because we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes up the difference, after all that we can do.  We have to do our part first, but then He steps in and makes up the difference.  We need to be obedient, like brushing and flossing and keeping our dental appointments, and then the atonement helps us.  I could not fix this problem myself.  I needed my dentist's help.  So, we made a decision together to move forward with a new crown, and the health of my mouth will be restored.  Just like I can get a newly crowned tooth, I can repent and forgive and receive a newly crowned soul. 

I love to think about daily things and the way they pertain to my faith.  I'm a visual learner and a figurative learner so I think God gives me these lessons so I can grow my faith by learning this way.  I'm going to work harder at making sure my crown fits.  When I say crown, I mean my faith, my belief in Jesus Christ, my covenants.  All those things that help protect me from the evil influences all around me.  I'm going to be making sure it's on really nice and tight.  If decay slips in, the Dentist will come to the rescue and help me fix the problem.  I just want you all to know that I really know this is true because it has happened to me in my life many times.  Not just going to the real dentist, but trusting the real Healer, my Savior, Jesus Christ. 

I want to wear the crown promised me one day if I am obedient and worthy, to live with God again, with my family.  I know it is possible because that is what God has promised.   I'm going to be more serious about looking out for silent spiritual stalkers and invaders that want me to fail, and defeat them before they have a chance.   I don't want anything coming between me and my eternal reward.  No black decay allowed under my crown, silently eroding away at my faith!  Gross!  I will be committed to do everything I can to prevent it, but if it comes without me inviting it, I know there is still hope and it can be drilled away and repaired. 

Go check your crown! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

There Is No Place Like Home-----So Make It A Good One



My favorite movie is "The Wizard of Oz."  Always has been and always will be.  I love the colors and the music, the characters and the story.  I really love Dorothy's red shoes.  I love the idea that she wants so badly to get back home to Kansas.  I guess this is because she loved her home, so naturally she would want to go back to it and her family.  When I was a kid, I always thought she was kind of weird to want to leave Oz and her fun new friends to return to the dreary dust bowl days of Kansas, in black and white.  Why live in black and white when you can live your life in Technicolor?  With a soundtrack.  And Glinda the Good Witch to look out for you? 

As my children continue down their paths to total independence from my husband and me, I hope they never feel about us the way I feel about my parents.  Look, I understand that no parent is perfect, because I'm not.  This post is not to condemn anyone.  These are just my thoughts, about my life.  It is my blog, you know.  I am writing this with an open heart and a positive outlook.  I own who I am and I don't blame anyone for anything.  But life could have been better for me if I had had what I think I desperately needed from them and didn't get.  It also would have been less painful if I had not had done to me the things that did happen. 

Here are the very most important things I learned in the home I grew up in, in no particular order of importance. 

1.  I know  how to sew.  I was 10 when my mom  started a 4-H club for me and my friends.  We learned how to sew and bake and babysit.  The best for me was learning how to sew.  I won blue ribbons at the 4-H competitions.  I still use, on a regular basis, the things I learned in that little club.  I can hem my husband's pants, or sew on a button that will never come off again.  I can cut out a pattern and follow it.  I know how to make adjustments for my height.  I have made all of the window coverings and decorative pillows in our home.  I made a lot of dresses for my daughter when she was young and plenty more for myself as the years have gone on.  I enjoy sewing.  It's cathartic for me.  I hate to unpick a seam, but I know that if I'm careful and precise, I won't have to unpick the seam.  Winning those blue ribbons for my hand stitching and machine sewing instilled confidence in me that I can sew and so I'm not afraid of it.  Over the years I have taught myself how to do more difficult things.  I even joined with other mothers in the neighborhood when our daughters were 10 and formed a 4-H club for them where we taught them to sew.  My daughter has her own machine now.  So, it continues on to her. 

2.  I know now that I like onions, fish, peppers, spicy food, ethnic food and runny eggs.  I have learned this on my own because we didn't eat these things at home.  My mom geared our meals to her tastes and because she didn't like fish, we never, ever ate it.  Not once.  Unless we were camping and someone else prepared it outside.  It was never prepared in our home.  I could have been  a picky eater, but I'm not.  I love food.  There are only two things I won't eat:  mayo and butter/margarine.  I also can't do wet or soggy bread of any sort.  I also don't really enjoy milk.  It's funny because these are things my mom really seemed to like.  Do I hate mayo because my mom put so much of it on a tuna sandwich that it seeped out of the bread?  Probably.  I also learned that I didn't want my children to be limited by my tastes.  I wanted them to like or dislike things for themselves.  I put mayo on their sandwiches, and cringed if I even got it on my hands, but I didn't make mayo unavailable to them.  This has blessed my family because my children are the most non-picky eaters on the planet.  They constantly surprise even their friends by exclaiming how much they love Indian food. 

3.a.  I learned, on my own, as an adult, that wearing tasteful eyeliner and eye shadow does not make me look like a hooker.  And wearing lipstick does not actually bleach your lips.  My mom always told me that if I started wearing lipstick I would always have to because it bleaches the natural color from your lips.  Nope!  Not true.  I keep wearing lipstick because I can, because the pop of color makes me happy and my days more fun, and because, if I'm going to wear lip balm anyway, why not make it more colorful? 

3.b.  And, for that matter, jeans are a girl's best friend, and the softer and more faded the better.  The cherry on top is when they are flare-legged.  Jeans are all I wear unless it's church and then I wear a dress.  I wear dressy pants when it's appropriate, but my life calls for jeans.  I have more pairs than I need, but I know why.  Because it was frowned upon to wear them at my house.  My Levi 501's were taken away from me once because "they weren't very ladylike."  I had an extra pair that nobody knew about that I kept in my backpack and changed into and out of at school.  Now that I can wear jeans everyday and own as many pairs as I wish, is there any reason I would wear anything else? 

4.  I learned how to iron.  I can iron the prettiest shirts you have ever seen.  I can make those collars nice and crisp and make anything look like it is brand new.  Thanks, mom.  I do appreciate so much having to iron dad's shirts because it taught me how to do it right.  I hate ironing, but I can make the iron sing. 

5.  I learned how to play the piano.  I know it was a huge sacrifice to pay for lessons and drive me to lessons.  I know I should have practiced more and been more appreciative of it then, but I appreciate it now.  I still don't play as much as I would like to, but I can play.  I enjoy few things as much as being alone in my house, playing the piano.  I wish I could play by ear like my husband and write music like he does.  I have to have music and I have to practice a lot.  But the fact that I can do that, that I can go buy a piece of music and then sit down and learn it, is huge to me. 

6.  I know how to bottle fruit and vegetables.  I sure hated September when I was growing up and it was time to can peaches and pears and freeze corn and beans.  But I know how to do it and I have done it.  I will admit that I only make salsa and grape juice, because that is what my family inhales.  I can buy peaches and pears during the case lot sale cheaper than I can bottle them.  Do they taste as good?  No way!  But it's the way I have chosen to do things in my house.  But, who knows.  Maybe this year I will bottle peaches and pears.  The point is that I hated it when I was young, but I appreciate it now. 

7.  I learned how to identify plants and flowers on hikes with my dad.  It's a simple thing, really, but I still get very excited whenever I see Indian Paintbrush and Penstemon.  Last year, we drove up to Snow Basin for a wedding reception in May.  The mountainside was completely drenched with blue Penstemon.  It made me so happy.  I have fond memories of my dad suddenly pulling the car over and jumping out, running down the road and hiking up the hill.  He would pull out his pocket knife and dig the plants out by the root and put them in old Wonder Bread bags.  Then the bags would go into his metal plant box that was strapped onto his back with a canvas strap.  He was always spotting some plant or flower that he needed in his herbarium at the university where he still teaches Botany to this day.  I loved that my dad was a botanist.  Nobody else had a dad that was a botanist. 

8.  I learned how to take care of babies.  I am the oldest of six kids that were pretty spread out.  I was 16 when the youngest was born.  I am very comfortable with diapering, feeding, changing, tending, and playing with little ones.  I love it.  Somehow it was a miracle that when we brought our son home from the hospital after the miracle of becoming first-time parents, I knew what to do.  Granted, I had never breastfed before, and I'm not going to say I wasn't terrified, but it all worked out and I seemed to naturally know what to do.  Even though it was just me and my baby and my husband.  My mother did not come to help me.  No one did.  But I figured it out by myself, with my husband's help, and I'm grateful. 

9.  I  learned how to be myself.  I know my mother hated my individuality.  I know she wished I wanted to be like the other kids in the way I dressed and that I had similar interests as other girls.  But I had no desire to be a cheerleader or on the drill team.  I wanted to debate and do public speaking and draw and paint and do science experiments.  I wanted to read deep books and discuss them.  I wanted to be the rebel in the sense that I wore things no one else was wearing.  Not that my clothes were bizarre or anything.  I just didn't want the same exact stuff that everyone else had.  And I didn't.  I'm glad that I didn't let my mom talk me into being someone I wasn't and that even though it caused tension between us, I stayed true to myself.  You don't have to graduate from an art program to be an artist, but I learned that I should have stayed in art school because it made me happy.  My mom really did not know what was best for me.  I promised myself that whatever my kids wanted to be when they grew up, I would support and nurture. 

10.  I learned how to trust myself.  Something very deep inside me told me that the things I heard all the time at home were not true for me.  I knew that I was worthy of respect and love and happiness, but that I would have to wait to make it for myself and live somewhere else before that could happen.  It was hard to wait for that, to let it come to me, to have to make it for myself, but I felt deeply connected to God and knew he was really my ultimate father, my Heavenly Father, and I chose to trust Him instead.  And I'm grateful. 

11.  I learned that just because there are 8 people in a family, it doesn't mean you're all the same.   My siblings and parents share a lot of common tastes and traits.  But we are not the same.  Not by a long shot.  And I don't want to be the same and I'm sure they don't either.  I know that my children are different, even though they have a lot in common, they are different people with different personalities.  That is to be celebrated and not condemned. 

12.  I learned that a marriage and family cannot last forever if you treat them with disrespect and don't keep your promises.  My parents separated when I was around 16 or 17.  It was awful.  Then they got back together and it was worse.  They finally divorced when I was 21, after I was married.  It was a very difficult time for me.  They had been married 20+ years and now were throwing it away.   But guess what?  It was not a surprise.  We all knew for years that it was coming.  Because of the way they treated each other, and the way they treated us.  From this I learned that if you want something to last forever, you had better treat it differently.  

13.  I learned that I was not important to my family or parents.  Maybe technically I was, but they didn't really care about me, I don't think they ever did, and I'm pretty sure they still don't.  It's alright though, because I vowed to myself that that would never happen in my family with my husband and children.  And it hasn't.  From my parents I learned all the ways not to be a parent.  I learned all the things not to do or say to a child.  So I thank them, from the bottom of my heart.  My desire to be a rebel against my family has blessed my own family in countless ways.  I have never, ever, ever, uttered the heinous words, "I hate you," to my children or husband.  I have never beat them.  I have never lied to them.  So, mom and dad, thank you for your arms-length relationship with me because it gave me the best relationships with my own family and husband.  It has made us even closer.

14.  I learned that it's okay to go to church alone because you don't go to church for the people, or your family.  You go to church for Jesus Christ.  There sure were a lot of weeks that I went to church alone or with a few siblings.  I didn't like going alone, but I knew I wanted to be there and if I had to go independently, then that is what I did.  I knew in the very depths of my soul, even at a young age, that I was going to worship and I could do that alone.  I could do it alone because my salvation is an independent thing.  It doesn't matter what other people are doing, it only matters what I am doing.  My personal relationship with God and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  This has blessed me in so many ways throughout the years.  When there have been rough patches in my life where I didn't feel like I fit into a congregation, I always continued to go to church.  There are no perfect people, anywhere.  Not in any church, not any place.  If you are looking for perfect people, you won't find them.  There is only one person who is perfect and that is Christ.  We all get offended from time to time, or feel alone some days, or even have hardships that are private to us.  None of these are reasons to stay away from worshipping God. 

I think I understand why Dorothy was anxious to return home to Kansas, to the land of black and white.  There are things we have to learn that we can only learn at home, where things are, or at least should be, black and white.  Then we take those things and venture out on our own, into the land of Technicolor, and make our own choices.  We can be limited by the things we learned at home, or we can be set free by them.  I believe it is our choice.  We can squeeze out the best there is from our experience and add our own sugar and water to make a wonderful punch.  Or we can look at the few little drops and feel sorry for ourselves.  If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of juice that comes from your childhood, then bottle it up and take care of it so you can pass it down to your family. 

I am not like Dorothy.  I love my red shoes, but I don't want to go back to Kansas.  For me, Kansas was hard and I'm glad it's behind me.  I much prefer my Technicolor world with my husband and my kids, with my own choices and my own decisions.  I appreciate all that I learned in Kansas, I really do.  It is what made me who I am and that's a good thing.  But the love that has come to me and the happiness that is mine now is much more bright and beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined, so why would I want to go back?  I don't.  One foot in front of the other, every day, and everything will be alright.  That is what I say to myself.  And it works. 





There Is No Place Like Home-----So Make It A Good One



My favorite movie is "The Wizard of Oz."  Always has been and always will be.  I love the colors and the music, the characters and the story.  I really love Dorothy's red shoes.  I love the idea that she wants so badly to get back home to Kansas.  I guess this is because she loved her home, so naturally she would want to go back to it and her family.  When I was a kid, I always thought she was kind of weird to want to leave Oz and her fun new friends to return to the dreary dust bowl days of Kansas, in black and white.  Why live in black and white when you can live your life in Technicolor?  With a soundtrack.  And Glinda the Good Witch to look out for you? 

As my children continue down their paths to total independence from my husband and me, I hope they never feel about us the way I feel about my parents.  Look, I understand that no parent is perfect, because I'm not.  This post is not to condemn anyone.  These are just my thoughts, about my life.  It is my blog, you know.  I am writing this with an open heart and a positive outlook.  I own who I am and I don't blame anyone for anything.  But life could have been better for me if I had had what I think I desperately needed from them and didn't get.  It also would have been less painful if I had not had done to me the things that did happen. 

Here are the very most important things I learned in the home I grew up in, in no particular order of importance. 

1.  I know  how to sew.  I was 10 when my mom  started a 4-H club for me and my friends.  We learned how to sew and bake and babysit.  The best for me was learning how to sew.  I won blue ribbons at the 4-H competitions.  I still use, on a regular basis, the things I learned in that little club.  I can hem my husband's pants, or sew on a button that will never come off again.  I can cut out a pattern and follow it.  I know how to make adjustments for my height.  I have made all of the window coverings and decorative pillows in our home.  I made a lot of dresses for my daughter when she was young and plenty more for myself as the years have gone on.  I enjoy sewing.  It's cathartic for me.  I hate to unpick a seam, but I know that if I'm careful and precise, I won't have to unpick the seam.  Winning those blue ribbons for my hand stitching and machine sewing instilled confidence in me that I can sew and so I'm not afraid of it.  Over the years I have taught myself how to do more difficult things.  I even joined with other mothers in the neighborhood when our daughters were 10 and formed a 4-H club for them where we taught them to sew.  My daughter has her own machine now.  So, it continues on to her. 

2.  I know now that I like onions, fish, peppers, spicy food, ethnic food and runny eggs.  I have learned this on my own because we didn't eat these things at home.  My mom geared our meals to her tastes and because she didn't like fish, we never, ever ate it.  Not once.  Unless we were camping and someone else prepared it outside.  It was never prepared in our home.  I could have been  a picky eater, but I'm not.  I love food.  There are only two things I won't eat:  mayo and butter/margarine.  I also can't do wet or soggy bread of any sort.  I also don't really enjoy milk.  It's funny because these are things my mom really seemed to like.  Do I hate mayo because my mom put so much of it on a tuna sandwich that it seeped out of the bread?  Probably.  I also learned that I didn't want my children to be limited by my tastes.  I wanted them to like or dislike things for themselves.  I put mayo on their sandwiches, and cringed if I even got it on my hands, but I didn't make mayo unavailable to them.  This has blessed my family because my children are the most non-picky eaters on the planet.  They constantly surprise even their friends by exclaiming how much they love Indian food. 

3.a.  I learned, on my own, as an adult, that wearing tasteful eyeliner and eye shadow does not make me look like a hooker.  And wearing lipstick does not actually bleach your lips.  My mom always told me that if I started wearing lipstick I would always have to because it bleaches the natural color from your lips.  Nope!  Not true.  I keep wearing lipstick because I can, because the pop of color makes me happy and my days more fun, and because, if I'm going to wear lip balm anyway, why not make it more colorful? 

3.b.  And, for that matter, jeans are a girl's best friend, and the softer and more faded the better.  The cherry on top is when they are flare-legged.  Jeans are all I wear unless it's church and then I wear a dress.  I wear dressy pants when it's appropriate, but my life calls for jeans.  I have more pairs than I need, but I know why.  Because it was frowned upon to wear them at my house.  My Levi 501's were taken away from me once because "they weren't very ladylike."  I had an extra pair that nobody knew about that I kept in my backpack and changed into and out of at school.  Now that I can wear jeans everyday and own as many pairs as I wish, is there any reason I would wear anything else? 

4.  I learned how to iron.  I can iron the prettiest shirts you have ever seen.  I can make those collars nice and crisp and make anything look like it is brand new.  Thanks, mom.  I do appreciate so much having to iron dad's shirts because it taught me how to do it right.  I hate ironing, but I can make the iron sing. 

5.  I learned how to play the piano.  I know it was a huge sacrifice to pay for lessons and drive me to lessons.  I know I should have practiced more and been more appreciative of it then, but I appreciate it now.  I still don't play as much as I would like to, but I can play.  I enjoy few things as much as being alone in my house, playing the piano.  I wish I could play by ear like my husband and write music like he does.  I have to have music and I have to practice a lot.  But the fact that I can do that, that I can go buy a piece of music and then sit down and learn it, is huge to me. 

6.  I know how to bottle fruit and vegetables.  I sure hated September when I was growing up and it was time to can peaches and pears and freeze corn and beans.  But I know how to do it and I have done it.  I will admit that I only make salsa and grape juice, because that is what my family inhales.  I can buy peaches and pears during the case lot sale cheaper than I can bottle them.  Do they taste as good?  No way!  But it's the way I have chosen to do things in my house.  But, who knows.  Maybe this year I will bottle peaches and pears.  The point is that I hated it when I was young, but I appreciate it now. 

7.  I learned how to identify plants and flowers on hikes with my dad.  It's a simple thing, really, but I still get very excited whenever I see Indian Paintbrush and Penstemon.  Last year, we drove up to Snow Basin for a wedding reception in May.  The mountainside was completely drenched with blue Penstemon.  It made me so happy.  I have fond memories of my dad suddenly pulling the car over and jumping out, running down the road and hiking up the hill.  He would pull out his pocket knife and dig the plants out by the root and put them in old Wonder Bread bags.  Then the bags would go into his metal plant box that was strapped onto his back with a canvas strap.  He was always spotting some plant or flower that he needed in his herbarium at the university where he still teaches Botany to this day.  I loved that my dad was a botanist.  Nobody else had a dad that was a botanist. 

8.  I learned how to take care of babies.  I am the oldest of six kids that were pretty spread out.  I was 16 when the youngest was born.  I am very comfortable with diapering, feeding, changing, tending, and playing with little ones.  I love it.  Somehow it was a miracle that when we brought our son home from the hospital after the miracle of becoming first-time parents, I knew what to do.  Granted, I had never breastfed before, and I'm not going to say I wasn't terrified, but it all worked out and I seemed to naturally know what to do.  Even though it was just me and my baby and my husband.  My mother did not come to help me.  No one did.  But I figured it out by myself, with my husband's help, and I'm grateful. 

9.  I  learned how to be myself.  I know my mother hated my individuality.  I know she wished I wanted to be like the other kids in the way I dressed and that I had similar interests as other girls.  But I had no desire to be a cheerleader or on the drill team.  I wanted to debate and do public speaking and draw and paint and do science experiments.  I wanted to read deep books and discuss them.  I wanted to be the rebel in the sense that I wore things no one else was wearing.  Not that my clothes were bizarre or anything.  I just didn't want the same exact stuff that everyone else had.  And I didn't.  I'm glad that I didn't let my mom talk me into being someone I wasn't and that even though it caused tension between us, I stayed true to myself.  You don't have to graduate from an art program to be an artist, but I learned that I should have stayed in art school because it made me happy.  My mom really did not know what was best for me.  I promised myself that whatever my kids wanted to be when they grew up, I would support and nurture. 

10.  I learned how to trust myself.  Something very deep inside me told me that the things I heard all the time at home were not true for me.  I knew that I was worthy of respect and love and happiness, but that I would have to wait to make it for myself and live somewhere else before that could happen.  It was hard to wait for that, to let it come to me, to have to make it for myself, but I felt deeply connected to God and knew he was really my ultimate father, my Heavenly Father, and I chose to trust Him instead.  And I'm grateful. 

11.  I learned that just because there are 8 people in a family, it doesn't mean you're all the same.   My siblings and parents share a lot of common tastes and traits.  But we are not the same.  Not by a long shot.  And I don't want to be the same and I'm sure they don't either.  I know that my children are different, even though they have a lot in common, they are different people with different personalities.  That is to be celebrated and not condemned. 

12.  I learned that a marriage and family cannot last forever if you treat them with disrespect and don't keep your promises.  My parents separated when I was around 16 or 17.  It was awful.  Then they got back together and it was worse.  They finally divorced when I was 21, after I was married.  It was a very difficult time for me.  They had been married 20+ years and now were throwing it away.   But guess what?  It was not a surprise.  We all knew for years that it was coming.  Because of the way they treated each other, and the way they treated us.  From this I learned that if you want something to last forever, you had better treat it differently.  

13.  I learned that I was not important to my family or parents.  Maybe technically I was, but they didn't really care about me, I don't think they ever did, and I'm pretty sure they still don't.  It's alright though, because I vowed to myself that that would never happen in my family with my husband and children.  And it hasn't.  From my parents I learned all the ways not to be a parent.  I learned all the things not to do or say to a child.  So I thank them, from the bottom of my heart.  My desire to be a rebel against my family has blessed my own family in countless ways.  I have never, ever, ever, uttered the heinous words, "I hate you," to my children or husband.  I have never beat them.  I have never lied to them.  So, mom and dad, thank you for your arms-length relationship with me because it gave me the best relationships with my own family and husband.  It has made us even closer.

14.  I learned that it's okay to go to church alone because you don't go to church for the people, or your family.  You go to church for Jesus Christ.  There sure were a lot of weeks that I went to church alone or with a few siblings.  I didn't like going alone, but I knew I wanted to be there and if I had to go independently, then that is what I did.  I knew in the very depths of my soul, even at a young age, that I was going to worship and I could do that alone.  I could do it alone because my salvation is an independent thing.  It doesn't matter what other people are doing, it only matters what I am doing.  My personal relationship with God and my Savior, Jesus Christ.  This has blessed me in so many ways throughout the years.  When there have been rough patches in my life where I didn't feel like I fit into a congregation, I always continued to go to church.  There are no perfect people, anywhere.  Not in any church, not any place.  If you are looking for perfect people, you won't find them.  There is only one person who is perfect and that is Christ.  We all get offended from time to time, or feel alone some days, or even have hardships that are private to us.  None of these are reasons to stay away from worshipping God. 

I think I understand why Dorothy was anxious to return home to Kansas, to the land of black and white.  There are things we have to learn that we can only learn at home, where things are, or at least should be, black and white.  Then we take those things and venture out on our own, into the land of Technicolor, and make our own choices.  We can be limited by the things we learned at home, or we can be set free by them.  I believe it is our choice.  We can squeeze out the best there is from our experience and add our own sugar and water to make a wonderful punch.  Or we can look at the few little drops and feel sorry for ourselves.  If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of juice that comes from your childhood, then bottle it up and take care of it so you can pass it down to your family. 

I am not like Dorothy.  I love my red shoes, but I don't want to go back to Kansas.  For me, Kansas was hard and I'm glad it's behind me.  I much prefer my Technicolor world with my husband and my kids, with my own choices and my own decisions.  I appreciate all that I learned in Kansas, I really do.  It is what made me who I am and that's a good thing.  But the love that has come to me and the happiness that is mine now is much more bright and beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined, so why would I want to go back?  I don't.  One foot in front of the other, every day, and everything will be alright.  That is what I say to myself.  And it works. 





Monday, February 2, 2015

Fifty Grades of Clay



I don't know about you, but I liked getting good grades in school.  I like grade-A beef.  When we got a new roof after the wind storm of 2011, we got the highest grade shingles.  I like high-grade tires and leather shoes of a high grade.  Our kids like getting A's and freak out at the thought of a B.  Truth is, everything is better when it is of a higher quality, or higher grade.  Think of cotton sheets, lipstick, and even paper towels. 

I guess there is a way to tell the higher quality cashmere from the lesser quality cashmere.  For lay people like me, it's because the higher the grade, the softer it is, and the less likely it is to pill.   I can tell if clothing is well made, just by turning the garment inside out and inspecting the seams, looking at how the buttons are sewn on, and how the hem has been done.  Was the fabric cut on the bias when it shouldn't have been?  The workmanship of a garment is important to the function of the garment and the value of the garment.  If it is made poorly, it will fit badly, maybe hang the wrong way, and won't last.  I don't like wasting money on cheap clothes because they tend to fall apart and make me feel like I just flushed money down the toilet. 

This weekend I took my daughter dress shopping.  We had heard about a boutique selling modest, lady-like dresses for a good price and so we were excited.  Then we found out the dresses on sale were seconds, or had some sort of flaw.  Dresses normally around $150 were $28.  I was suddenly suspicious.  We had just driven 30 minutes for this sale and now I had to inspect every seam and buttonhole?  We each found a few dresses and tried them on.  There were several women there, waiting for a turn in the two dressing rooms they had, speaking loudly outside the curtain, being quite rude, I thought, and seeming to rush me as I labored to try on these dresses.  I kind of felt pressured to get at least one, since I had driven all that way.  I quickly narrowed it to two.  The others had flaws that were obvious to the eye and so I left them on the hangers.  I was excited to find two dresses that looked like they were constructed without any major flaws.  Would it justify $28?  My daughter also found two dresses that looked gorgeous on her and we decided to get them and go home so my girlie could go skiing. 

The next day, yesterday, I wore my  new black dress to church.  It was horrible.  As soon as I sat down I could see the problem.  The dress was not cut out properly and so it hung strangely.  It also had a decorative placket on the bodice that was sewn onto the dress in a weird way and on my body, it quickly became all bunched up and looked ridiculous.  This had not been apparent until I was sitting down.  When I try things on before buying, I always sit down and make sure things look good from that angle, that things aren't too short, and don't become odd or scary in a chair.  The dressing room did not have any chairs so I could not do this.  Needless to say, I obsessed with the stupid dress for three hours at church, silently debating to myself whether or not I should go home and change.  I also obsessed about how I could possibly fix it myself, or should I just throw it in the trash when I got home?  Not a good way to spend church.  I was angry with myself for breaking my rule of buying cheap clothing.  It never satisfies.  I would rather have fewer things of a higher quality, than a closetful of trendy pieces of, well, I am going to say it---crap.

This morning, like I always do after our kids and my husband have left for school and work, I turned on the Today Show as background noise while doing the breakfast dishes, starting the laundry, and going over my calendar.  To my horror, all the excitement during that half hour was centered on a new movie, based on a book, that is set to open Valentine's Day weekend, which is in less than 2 weeks.  The immoral story, "Fifty Shades of Grey."  I will say right now that I have not read these books and will not see the movie.  I have higher standards than that.  The books have been called "mommy porn."  I'm a mommy, but I don't watch or read porn.  Apparently, we live in a sick, messed-up world if this book sold as many copies as Natalie Morales said.  We're also ready to be struck down as a nation if it's true that sales of rope and cable ties skyrocketed after this book came out.  Really, people?!  And, if we listen to the Today Show hosts, they are leading the way in being completely and honestly un-embarrassed to admit that, not only have they read the books, but are eagerly awaiting the opening of the movie.  ????  I'm really glad I don't look to those morning hosts as my heroes or inspiration to the way I lead my life, seeing as they always seem to disappoint. 

I will just say it.  I am sick and tired of marriage, true love, fidelity, chastity, virtue, and family being made to look provincial and outdated.  I am so darn tired of Hollywood telling people what is cool and fashionable.  I'm bone tired of the attacks on the family and marriage and how it is only so very rarely that a movie actually portrays a man and woman as being happily married, with children.  Just because the rest of the world has it all screwed up, doesn't mean we have to listen!  Just because other people are reading "mommy porn" and buying ropes doesn't mean we have to!  I don't know about you, but ropes and cable ties don't exactly sound like love to me.  It sounds terrifyingly scary!  It pretty much screams, r-a-p-e!    Kind of like a murder scene without the murder?  Kind of like, hell on earth?  I will even say that if my husband came home with rope and cable ties, I would run out the front door and call 911!

Love, true love, is chaste.  It is virtuous.  It is NOT filthy, degrading, scary, dark, or twisted.  It is beautiful, lovely, joyful, warm, safe, and heavenly.  I am so grateful that God has given us the ability to express ourselves physically to our spouses.  I think we need to remember that the whole purpose of sex is to make a family and keep a family.  When we get married, it is a serious, forever commitment:  to begin a family, centered on Christ.  This requires us to put off desires and physical appetites and try to become more like God.  We are taught that "the natural man is an enemy to God" (Mosiah 3:19).  We can't become like God, or have hope to live with Him again, if we act like a bunch of animals.  Marriage is ordained of God.  The family is ordained of God.  The power used to create such a family and a marriage is ordained of God.  It is God-given power to create.  It is not to be wielded carelessly, with rope and cable ties, with anyone you think looks "hot."  It is to be used to bind  husband and wife together, to make us closer, to help us express beautiful love and trust, respect and caring, for each other, and no one else.  Marriage is to last forever, between two people.  And, sometimes because of age or illness, injury, or accident, two people who really love each other can no longer express their love in this physical way, but it doesn't mean they don't love each other.  Maybe in those circumstances, a couple's love becomes even more holy because it is all about the spiritual and emotional connections.  This worldly, stupid ideal that monogamy isn't humanly possible, or two people can't possibly be together for a lifetime, or we all grow and change and need to experience different people, is nothing but a giant pile of CRAP! 

The family is falling apart.  Marriage is out of style.  I wonder why.  Because people are listening to this garbage instead of listening to God.  I don't care what your faith is---if you are a person of faith, you know I'm right.  God doesn't want it this way!  In fact, I know it makes Him sad to see his children act this way.  He wants desperately for us to be happy and He knows that the best way we can be happy is to belong to a FAMILY, with a mother and a father who are married, who are committed to each other, and each other only, for FOREVER, and thereby are committed to their children, made with the beautiful God-given power of procreation, for FOREVER.  There is safety in this!  Children are happier and feel safer and are more successful when they come from this kind of a home.  Couples are able to overcome hardship and trials together when they are bound to each other in this way.  If people of faith would stand up, together, and say, I am not going to participate in this garbage being thrown at me by ignorant, rebellious, self-important famous people!  I am going to listen to God and his servants.  I am going to take my cues from the scriptures, from the teachings of the prophets, and not from "the world."  There is power in numbers, people.  We need to stand up for what is right and true and chaste and benevolent.   

Please do not be tempted to see this horrible movie.  And if you have read these filthy books and subscribed to their ideas of "love," throw them in the trash where they belong and pick up the word of God instead.  Or, if you don't want to read the scriptures, read something else, that is clean.  There are plenty of clean, wholesome works of literature to read.  If you would like a list of my favorites, I will be happy to give recommendations.  The point is this.  There are plenty of things in this world that are "lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy, and of good report," so let us "seek after these things."  We don't have to follow the world's standard to be happy, or cool, or popular.  I think the best thing we could do as people of faith is to openly, unapologetically stand up to all that is disrespectful of marriage and family. 

In Isaiah 64:8 it says:  "But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." 

What this says to me is this:  God loves us all.  He made us, in fact.  We are created in His image.  We are his masterpieces.  His creations.  He is proud of us and loves us all.  We are all different and beautiful in unique ways.  But, we are made in the image of God.  That means we are God-like, that we are god-ly, that we have potential to be like God.  But, we also have been given our agency, to choose, to decide.  This is a wonderful blessing, but we have a responsibility--yes, a responsibility, to use it wisely.  I really don't believe God gave us agency without hope that we would use it to try to become like Him.  We have our agency to make choices, but we must live with the consequences of those choices. 

My question to us is this:  What grade of clay will I choose to be?  Will I be moldable and teachable?  Will I refuse to yield to what God asks me to be, what He needs me to be, and crack and shatter all over the floor?  Will I be humble enough to do what He has asked me to do so that I can become the lovely, glorious vase with a gentle shape and a beautiful color?  The world wants to tell us what we should be, but that is not in harmony with what God has already promised us WE ALREADY ARE.  We can have all the blessings He waits so eagerly to give us, if, we choose to be humble enough to let Him shape us and mold us.  We do this by being obedient to His laws instead of listening to the counsel of men. 

The reason I am so concerned about the impact this book and movie are having on our culture is this:  If every person of faith was doing what they knew to be right, this book would not have sold so many copies and it would not be anticipating making so much money at the box office.  Maybe you can keep your bishop or pastor from knowing you read the books, or maybe you're excited about the movie and will tell everyone on social media.  The truth is that God knows if you read those books in secret or on the subway.  And he cried if you did.  Because he wants something better for you than the crap in those stories.  He wants you to feel loved and respected, safe and clean, whole and cherished, beautiful and angelic.  And you can NEVER feel like that while tied up with rope and cable ties, even if it's only in your imagination.  Not ever.  Let us choose to be a higher grade of clay.  It is by our choices that we make ourselves a lower grade of clay. 

I unpicked the black dress and will attempt today to fix it.  I'm not sure if I can or not.  I will see.  But, it wasn't worth the $28.  I already own beautiful, well-made, high-grade dresses and I didn't need another one.  It isn't worth the headache it has caused to save a little money on a dress.  Next time I am tempted to buy something of lower grade, I will remember one can never cut corners and expect excellent results.  Because I know who I am.  I am a daughter of a King, who is God, and because of this royal heritage, I cannot afford to participate in anything that will cheapen me or His legacy.  I have made promises to Him, to my husband and children, and I want to keep them.  I need to be a higher grade of clay, the glorious, ultimate form of clay possible, because that is how He made me.  If I take His hand and follow his plan, I can be Fifty times the highest Grade of Clay.  That is my goal.  What is yours?

As a reminder, I love the quote from Billy Graham:  "My home is in heaven.  I'm just traveling through this world."