Friday, April 29, 2011

Unexpected Kind Words ...

It has been a day of unexpected compliments. Since I have the memory of an amoeba (at least when it comes to things like this ... ) and I tend to use my blogs as part of my journaling, I thought that I'd record them here.


As I was taking my daughters and the neighbor boy to school this morning, he looked at me and said,

"Jaymie, I think that you look like an angel!"

(Would now be the appropriate time to let you know that I have managed to catch a really rotten cold, and today, in all my grubby glory, I look like warmed-over death?)

"Oh-h. Thanks! You're so nice to me." I replied.

"Aw, shucks!!" My little neighbor boy said.


Last Sunday, I had the chance to sing a duet in sacrament meeting. It's the first time that I've done anything like it in this ward. I was really nervous, but it seemed to go smoothly, and the Spirit was there. Today, I received a card in the mail from one of the members of our congregation. She said several nice things, but a couple of them were very surprising to me.

She mentioned my singing and told me that she loved (*okay, she actually underlined that word, but this was the best that I could do.*) hearing me sing. She said that I have a clear, sweet tone. She also said that my voice is "smooth & creamy-sounding." As an English major, I love the luxuriousness of this description. That she applied it to me is icing on the cake.

I do have to say for the record, I have not actually heard my own voice since I've grown up -- other than how it sounds in my own ears (which is no real indication of what one sounds like). Truly, I have no idea how I sound now. So I don't know how accurate the description is, but it was lovely to read anyhow!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blessings in My Life....

* My kids

* Our apartment

* A variety of food to eat

* A surprise pell grant that will allow me to attend school this summer

* The possibility of finishing my schooling a year earlier than I'd thought possible

* A job that I love

* A job that allows me to be home with my own kids

* Opportunities to develop new talents or stretch old, lazy talents

* The blessing of worshiping how, when, and what I may

* Good friends

* My family

* Good examples

* Sunshine

* Flowers

* Good books

* Access to good, uplifting music of many sorts

* My life has a plan; all things will work together for my good and that of my children.

* Chocolate

* A functional car (and a good, kind friend who fixes it when it's not so functional

* Quiet time to think

* A journal to talk out my thoughts (and a couple of blogs that help me with the same thing...)

* A bed of my own...

* Heat and A/C

* Mornings

* Modern medicine

* Days off...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Benchmarks of True Beauty....

I've been reading, "No One Can Take Your Place" by Sheri Dew. I wanted to share something that stood out to me. (I've added the bold print for emphasis...)

"Our husbands, the other men in our families, and the men with whom we serve need and deserve the support only we can give. We have an inner spiritual strength-- divinely endowed, I believe-- that in many instances even sets us apart. Said President James E. Faust to the women of the Church: 'As daughters of God, you cannot imagine the divine potential within each of you. Surely the secret citadel of women's inner strength is spirituality. In this you equal and even surpass men, as you do in faith, morality, and commitment when truly converted to the gospel. You have "more trust in the Lord[and] more hope in his word." (Hymns, no. 131.) This inner spiritual sense seems to give you a certain resilience to cope with sorrow, trouble, and uncertainty" ("What It Means to Be a Daughter of God," 101) As latter-day women of God, we simply must not abdicate our spiritual responsibility. Our faith will preach compelling sermons to our companions and colleagues in the work of the Lord. No amount of time in front of the mirror will make us as attractive as will having the Holy Ghost with us. Our charge is to bless our families and friends and the Church as only a woman of God can-- with virtue, faith, integrity, and constant compassion.

For men, the privilege of being ordained to hold the priesthood is a holy and sacred privilege and an equally grand and imposing responsibility, but not a license to dominate or intimidate. My hope is that latter-day men of God would be unfailingly worthy to exercise this godly power, which is given to men to enable them to render service. From my point of view and from my experience, a man is never more magnificent than when he is guided by the Spirit to honor and act within the bounds of the priesthood he holds."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"It's Not Fair!" Syndrome....

This morning as I was studying my scriptures, I came across this verse:

" ... What is that thou hast testified? Hast thou seen an angel? Why do not angels appear unto us? Behold are not this people as good as thy people?" (Alma chapter 21, verse 5, The Book of Mormon)

As I read this, it occurred to me that by encouraging us to compare ourselves to those around us, the adversary blinds us to the good that is also a part of our lives. In doing this, he prevents us from learning the lessons that life is offering. Whether we are comparing our abilities, our callings, our blessings, or our spiritual experiences, this comparison turns our eyes inward and causes us to become increasingly more self-focused. If we always judge ourselves based on those around us, we will never see ourselves as our Father in Heaven sees us. He tailors all of these factors to us individually, to the person that we are now, and to the person that He knows we may become. It is not based on what is the right fit for our friends, our neighbors, or our nemesis. It is based on what is the right fit for us.

As I was thinking about these things, a good friend shared a talk by Neal A. Maxwell on facebook. It is entitled, "Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity." It is a great talk, but there was a portion that seemed especially to fit what I've been studying, and I wanted to share it here.

"For Jesus, in fact, irony began at His birth. Truly, He suffered the will of the Father 'in all things from the beginning.' (3 Ne. 11:11.) This whole earth became Jesus' footstool(see Acts 7:49), but at Bethlehem there was 'no room ... in the inn' (Luke 2:7) and 'no crib for his bed' (Hymns, 1985, no. 206)

At the end, meek and lowly Jesus partook of the most bitter cup without becoming the least bitter. (See 3 Ne. 11:11; D&C 19:18-19.) The Most Innocent suffered the most. Yet the King of Kings did not break, even when some of His subjects did unto Him "as they listed." (D&C 49:6) Christ's capacity to endure such irony was truly remarkable.

You and I are so much more brittle. For instance, we forget that, by their very nature, tests are unfair."
(Ensign, May 1989)

I'm grateful for the reminder that found me this morning. I'm grateful that tests, and blessings are unfair. While I may occasionally long for some of your blessings, I wouldn't forfeit the ones that I've received to obtain them, and I DEFINITELY don't want to swap trials.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oops! Time for a Shift in my Perspective--

Holidays are rather a big deal to me. Easter is one of my favorites. I won't pretend that I don't like the baskets and colored eggs. Love 'em! What I really love though, is the chance to celebrate the Savior's atonement and resurrection. I love that this holiday is always on a Sunday: the talks, the music, and the chance to worship all make Easter a special day worthy to celebrate the Savior and His love for us.

Most years, I can hardly contain my excitement as Easter approaches. This year has been a bit different. I realized the other day that with everything that has been going on, I haven't taken much time to think about the real reason that I celebrate Easter. I've been going through the motions, getting things done, and just plowing ahead.

I have been counting the weeks until it comes, but this is because I am both singing in church and accompanying the choir for the Easter program. I've been more than a little intimidated about these things, and have been looking forward to emerging on the other side unscathed... or at least off the hook for the next while.

I'm trying to shift my perspective. I'm grateful that I get to be a part of our Easter program. I'm grateful that we have this day to remember the Savior and all He does for us. I'm especially grateful this Easter for the knowledge that through Christ's atonement and resurrection, I will see my grandparents again. I know that He lives. I know that He loves me. I hope that He knows that I love Him.

George Q. Cannon Quote:

"The Saints should always remember that God sees not as man sees; that he does not willingly afflict his children, and that if he requires them to endure present privation and trial, it is that they may escape greater tribulations which would otherwise inevitably overtake them. If He deprives them of any present blessing, it is that he may bestow upon them greater and more glorious ones by and by." (Elder George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star, 3 Oct. 1863, p634)

This is one of my favorite quotes. Do I believe it? You bet! Not only do I believe it because it brings comfort to my life, but because I have seen it in action. I am a better person for the tests and trials that I have been given. They help me to draw nearer to my Savior, and they help me to find my best self--sometimes it takes a few tries, but that's part of the process. I'm grateful for my custom-made trials. I'm grateful that the Lord not only knows me, but that He will never give me a set of trials that I cannot survive. It may take all that I have and a great deal of extra help from Him, but that is how it should be.

Friday, April 22, 2011

That's My Daughter

As she walked out the door, my M grabbed one of our photo books. "I NEED to take this, Mom!" she says. When I followed that up with a question about why she needed to take it, she replied without missing a beat; "To show my friends how cute'iful I look. It's a contraction Mom, between cute and beautiful."

That daughter of mine.... She might torture the words beyond all rules of grammar, but she does it with flair AND knowing full well what she is doing. Makes this English Major's heart swell ...

Dating Advice From a First-Grader....

One of the things that makes me who I am is volunteer work. I don't do it because I have to. I don't do it so that people will think I'm fabulous. (Either they like me or they don't.) I do it because I love it. It makes me feel happy inside. I am very much a people person; volunteering gives me the opportunity to meet that need inside myself. Purely selfish motivation, I assure you...

This year, I've been lucky enough to help three days a week in my first-grader's classroom. Today, one of my daughter's friends approached me with some sage dating advice. (Not green-- although her age may indicate so... Wise, my friends, wise...)

1st Grade Girl: N keeps being so silly. He wants to get a girlfriend. I told him, "N!! You're never going to get a girl like that... by being silly! Girls don't like silly-- unless you tell jokes. Girls like jokes."

Just another reason that I like to volunteer. Tears of joy, people! Tears of joy...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Good, The Old, and The Dead....

While I was sorting through my box of treasures (read: lots and lots of really old papers) my daughters saw some pictures that I drew back when I was in high school. They were shocked.

M (My 9 yr. old): Oh, man! You have sure have your mom's drawing talent. You have some good skills, girl!


While looking through the afore-mentioned papers, my youngest saw something I made when I was in the 1980's in one of my early elementary school classes. With a look of sheer horror on her face, she turned to me.

L (My 7 yr. old): "WHOA!! Mom, you've been alive since the 1900's?!?

(Nothing like a child's honesty to make you feel as old as possible!)

A first-grader that I work with: (Names have been removed to protect the innocent.)

1st Grader: Mrs. --- (Yes, the courtesy title is alive and well. :) Just ask the kids at my school)

Me: What do you need, hon? (No exaggeration... I really am that cheesy, and the first-graders seem to love it!)

1st Grader: I WEALLY need some lotion.

Me: I'm sorry honey! I don't have any lotion at all.

1st Grader: (Heaving a DEEP sigh, stomping one foot, and throwing her hands down at her side ... ) But my belly button has dead skin in it!!!

Last Year's Successes.... And What I've Learned From Them

At a conference that I attended this week, I was asked to write down the successes I've experienced in the last year. The purpose "Learn the lessons life offers."

2010 Successes:

*I found & rented an apartment.

*I was able to feed and clothe my children.

*I went back to college.

*I got my Associate Degree.

*I lost some weight.

*I found a new job (or perhaps it found me.)

*I planted a garden.

*None of it died.

*We actually grew some produce.

*I learned that my best is good enough.

*I remembered how to be happy in my own skin.

*I have become a better mother. (It seems like this one is an endless process so I think that incremental successes should count!)

*My girls are happy and well-adjusted.

*They know that their parents love them.

What worked for me:

*Tithing-- There is no reason that the money should stretch as far as it has. I know that the Lord has blessed me as I've paid my tithing. (Malachi chapter 3, verse 8-11, Holy Bible, KJV)

*Listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost-- I have seen the Lord's hand directing my life and opening a myriad of doors.

*Take things a day at a time-- I try not to get overwhelmed by the big picture. I look at it enough to plan, and then I focus on the small steps in-between that will get me there. It's kind of like the proverbial elephant ...
Chomp, chomp, chomp ...

*See myself as Heavenly Father sees me-- I make a conscious effort not to apologize for things that other people do wrong. I don't need to take their poor choices on my shoulders. Sometimes I am better at this than others, but I'm certainly better than I've been.

*Laugh-- Laugh, laugh, laugh! Take time to find the joy of the moment. I've had to learn to step back and see the moment for what it is-- something magnificent that will never come in quite the same way again. If it's a choice of laugh or cry, I'm learning to choose to laugh. There is much of beauty in this world, including inside myself. I'm learning to choose to see it.

*Prayer-- Talking with a Heavenly Father who loves me keeps me grounded and helps me regain my perspective. Knowing that He can see the big picture even when I can't motivates me to keep walking on the path that He's given me.I may not know my destination, but He does.

* Be willing to listen to others-- I am a better person, and mother, for the examples around me. Good friends who mentor without knowing it help me to reach my potential, and in turn help my children to reach theirs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giggle-girls and Grandma

My grandma loved kids. She especially loved her grandkids & great-grandkids. Tonight was her viewing, and I'll bet she LOVED it. ALL of her grandkids and great-grandkids were there. Everyone was talking and laughing (not disrespectfully, by any means) and just plain enjoying being together. That grandma of mine is such a cheerful person! She loved few things so much as seeing her family together, having fun...

For me, it was a beautiful afternoon and evening. ALL of my siblings were together for the first time in almost a year. All of their families were there too. I didn't realize how much I'd missed that until I had them all together again. I have the best brothers and sister in the world. They've married pretty terrific people as well. We've had our growing pains, but I wouldn't trade ANY of them.

Tonight, we've got two of the cousins sleeping over with my girls. It's so much fun to hear them giggling and having such a good time. One of these cute cousins lives several states away, and we haven't seen her in "TEN months". What a blessing to be able to borrow these fun girls for the night!

I love my family. I'm more thankful than I can say to be a part of it! Heavenly Father blessed me immeasurably when He picked them for my own. My heart is truly full tonight.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Grandma's Example...

Grandma's Applesauce Cookies

1 c. shortening
3 eggs
4 c. flour
1/2 t. soda
1 1/2 c. applesauce
2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. lemon extract
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cloves

Cream shortening and sugar. Add well-beaten eggs, lemon extract & vanilla. In a different bowl, sift dry ingredients together. (I usually just measure and mix them together and they turn out fine.) Add dry ingredients alternately with applesauce (homemade applesauce works fine as well) to the sugar mixture. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased pan. Bake at 375 degrees until lightly browned. (The recipe says 8-10 minutes but it almost always takes about 14 for them to bake enough for me.)

These cookies have been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. Odds are that someone will bring them to nearly every family function or any potluck that is taking place. They are DELICIOUS! It's my grandmother's recipe, which makes it all the more special.

My grandma gave me much more than a fabulous cookie recipe. Because of her choices when she was young, I am who I am today. Because of those choices, my girls are who they are today. When my grandmother was a young mother herself, her husband wasn't a member of our church. This grandma of mine bundled her three children up each week and took them to church anyway. Through her influence, all three of her children were very actively involved in the church. Her husband was eventually baptized, and their family was sealed together in the temple.

It wasn't smooth sailing from there. Although they loved each other very much, my grandpa still stayed home much of the time, and my grandma still took those three kids to church every week. Because of her faithful efforts, all three of her children love the Savior and try to live His gospel. There have been missions and temple marriages.

After a while, there were eight grandchildren who came along. (I'm the oldest daughter of my grandmother's oldest daughter.) Seven out of the eight of us are active members of our church. We grew up hearing the story of how my grandma faithfully taught her children throughout the years. I loved and admired her for her courage, but little did I know how closely my life would parallel hers and how I would need to cling to that example to move through my own challenges faithfully.

Years went by; I became a mother. The Lord blessed me with two little girls. A couple of years after my own temple marriage, when my oldest daughter was one, my husband quit attending church. Things became more difficult, and it was a serious challenge to make it every week myself. But I remembered the example of my grandmother, and I kept going. Every week, I packed up my baby and we went to church. A year later, another sweet baby came, and I hauled them both to church. I hauled M, my oldest, out of heater vents; wrestled, dragged or hauled them like a log out into the foyer if they were being disruptive; and occasionally hid in the bathroom stall and cried by myself for a few minutes until I felt like I could cope again. During this time, I had to rebuild my testimony. My own world had been turned upside-down, but I remembered the example of my grandmother and kept working to build those habits for my own children.

Again more time has passed... Circumstances have changed. There are now twelve great-grandchildren. Almost all of them have followed my grandmother's example as well. Because of her choices, nine out of these twelve kids know their Savior and are learning His gospel.

My grandmother passed away this morning. She has moved on to the next step in her eternal progression. I am grateful that she doesn't have to suffer any more. I am grateful for the memories that I have of her, for the knowledge that someday, I WILL see her again. I'm more grateful than I can say for the foundation that she has given to me and to my daughters. I hope that I can be as faithful as she was, and build, as she did, a foundation for my own posterity.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My Inner Nerd Has Taken Over My Pantry...

Folks, I must admit that I feel driven to share another of my deep, dark secrets with you. I'm about to let you in on my inner nerdiness. Here goes--

Food storage makes my heart happy. (I know, Nerdville, here I come!) Buckets of wheat are a beautiful thing in my world. A pantry stocked to the brim with everyday essentials? Heaven in a closet! Case-lot sales? A frugal shopper's food storage DREAM! For me, food storage is my happy place. (Okay, fine... it's ONE of my happy places.)

While food storage makes my heart happy, knowing how to use it in ways that are both appetizing and healthy just about puts me over the moon.

Well, perhaps that is a SLIGHT exaggeration, but there is something extremely soul-satisfying to be found in acquiring the skills to provide for my family in a tasty, meet-all-the-requirements-of-the-food-pyramid way. Knowing that we can have some variety in our diet even if money is tight or there is (heaven forbid!) some sort of natural disaster or famine is a very appealing thing. Don't get me wrong, beans and rice can be delicious. At the same time, I find very little to draw me to the idea of eating it every single day indefinitely. (Insert squishy eyes and raspberry-blowing here!)

I guess in some ways, it all goes back to that scripture that talks about setting your house in order:

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." (Doctrine and Covenants Section 109, Verse 8)

As I work to build my food storage, I see the hand of God in my life. There have been countless times when our needs have been met because I've tried to listen to the counsel of the prophets and prepare a little bit at a time. In setting aside a bit of food, I am teaching my daughters that it is important to me to follow the counsel of modern-day prophets and apostles. When times are lean, my girls see the blessings that come from doing this. In our food storage, my sweet daughters see the hand of God as He protects us and meets our needs. They find peace in knowing that there is food on hand in case there is ever a need.

Food storage makes my heart happy! I know that the challenge and opportunity we each have to prepare ourselves and our families for whatever comes our way is a blessing that comes from God. As we sacrifice, plan, and act a little bit at a time, we become more like our Father in Heaven. We gain the peace of mind that comes in knowing that we are doing as He would have us do. As has been said, "The Lord helps those who help themselves." I know that He will bless us as we seek to follow this counsel.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Things I Adore.... In no particular order...

* My sweet girls

* Yellow Roses

* Spring

* Fall

* Scripture Study

* The smell of clean laundry

* That feeling that comes when all the bills have been paid

* Reading

* General Conference

* Thinking time

* Writing

* Journals

* Cookbooks

* Blankets

* Fresh produce

* Music

* Random opportunities to help

* Family time

* Words

* Learning

* History

* Documentaries

* Planting things

* My family

* Temples

* Friends

* Blue sky

* Making bread -- the whole process

* I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus

* That each day I can be a little better than the one before

* Dark Chocolate.... Ummm...

* Bookshelves

* Teaching kids to read

* My little car

* Enchiladas

* Laughing

* Hugs from my kids

* Movies

* Good, kind people

* Dancing

* My Savior

* Prayer/talking with my Father in Heaven

* Violets

* A window in my kitchen

Sweet Little Seven Year Old Girl Stories Written Just For Fun....

Story #1:

once opon a time in a beutiful land there lived a cat not an ordenery cat a magickal cat it loved it's friends and family but one day an eviel which cast a spell on the cat that would be mean forever in till a cat prins took her to his castlle and got mereed to her and they did and they lived happly ever after

the End

Story #2:(Names have been changed to protect the innocent...)

once opon a time there was a mother and two girls they had a little aparment the girls names were M and L they loved each other too and inclooeding there friends they cared about each other too.

The End by L