It really made me laugh last week, when I received three FB updates within seconds of each other spreading the glad tidings that P. Diddy had quoted L. Tom Perry on Twitter. I just had to laugh. I mean, wow, the world pays members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a little attention and we get all psyched.
But then this afternoon, I opened up (on my phone) to this week's Young Women Lesson that I have been assigned to teach called "The Ability to Succeed," and the first quote was none other than the L. Tom Perry one that P. Diddy quoted,"One of the greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves."
I was taken aback. Has P. Diddy been reading the Young Women manual? Is that where he caught wind of this awesome quote by L. Tom Perry? Does he have LDS.org bookmarked or is P. Diddy stalking me?? ;)
I've been around fame before, and like most of you, I understand how fads and popularity work. As they say on Project Runway, "One day you're in, the next you're out."
And when its not "cool" (in the politically correct sense), once again, to be a Mormon, I still will be.
And that, my friends, is "how to succeed."
PS - Diddy, you asked today on Twitter what I was doing for New Year's Eve, well, I'm going to Jacquie Daniel's house along with the Youth of our ward, and we are going to party like it's 1999, or 1959 depending on which crowd you were running around with in 1999. No really, we are. We're gonna drink some 7up, eat some pigs in a blanket, and watch some G or PG-rated movies! Awesome, I know!
Right about now, many of us are setting goals for the coming year. As this time of year has neared, I have toyed with the idea of beating myself up with the fact that I set ONE goal for myself last year, and I didn't meet it. Technically, I test-drove the goal (of only buying used items) for the first three months of the year, and then discarded it when I realized that it wasn't moving me closer to the real purpose of that goal, which was to simplify and consume less...I realized I was actually consuming more!
I don't count that as a failure. I learned some good lessons through my attempt to accomplish that goal...and by knowing when it was time to give that goal up.
This has got me thinking about what a shame it is that many of us automatically move to setting goals again, without pausing to recognize what we have actually done right during the previous year...whether we planned ahead to do those things...or not.
Wouldn't it be great if we all set goals backwards? Here's how it would work. Instead of listing all of the ways that we failed to accomplish last year's goals, we make a list of all of the things that we actually did right during 2011.
Here is my list. Yours might be too personal to post on your own blog, but I still encourage you to do this for yourself in a journal or something.
Write 12 things that you did right in 2011. (i.e. weakness you overcame, a renegade closet that you cleaned out, a fear that you faced.) Then re-read it and let the good things that you accomplished in 2011 just sink in, before you move on to the great expectations of 2012. So here goes...
If you tried to tune in to my blog earlier today, or at any time previous to this moment...this is probably what you saw and heard...tone and bars. (Ah, the sweet sound of tone and bars! Brings back such good memories of working in television! ;)
No actually, that is what I would have liked for you to find instead of the incredibly disturbing message that made people think that I'd deleted my own blog! Blah!
I remember hearing that ear-piercing noise as a kid watching my favorite cartoon, followed by the intriguing monotone message, "This has been a test of your Emergency Broadcast System." Oh, the Emergency Broadcasters...The good that you do...I can only imagine.
Growing up my mom and grandmother took a special interest in the people of the Old Testament. So, we always celebrated on the first night of Hanukkah with a special traditional Hanukkah meal.
I remember with fondness, lighting the little menorah that my Mom made out of cardboard and tin foil with Life Saver candies as "candle holders". We ate potato latkes with applesauce and then donuts for dessert! The best part was playing dreidel and using M&Ms as the "gelt". During all of this my parents taught us what Hanukkah commemorates. The word Hanukkah actually means dedication...as in the re-dedication of the temple in ancient Israel.
Yesterday, I pulled out a box of menorahs and dreidels that had belonged to my Grandmother. She absolutely loved Jewish traditions and even made a trek to the Holy Land. Inside the box, which I only recently received from my mom, there were newspaper clippings about Hanukkah, notes about the holiday in her own hand-writing, definitions that she had typed up, and other precious items. I used her beloved collection to teach my children about Hanukkah, and I felt that she must have been pleased.
It's been a rocky December.
And as I type this, I have a raging headache.
Today, my car, full of groceries, broke down and had to be towed.
But even in the daily tremors of life there is a quiet, peaceful stability for people who believe in, look for, and remember the miracles that have been performed by the Lord in their behalf. I hope to always be counted as one of those people.
Celebrating Hanukkah is just one way that I choose to commemorate the miracles that I have experienced in my own life. And there have been many!
PS - I woefully neglected to mention (I blame the headache!) that we also attended a wonderful Hanukkah Party at my neighbor Edye's house that night...It was awesome!
Thanks again, Edye, for including us in your family's celebration! It was very cool.
I am proud of my Scarlett who performed beautifully as the Angel Gabriel in her preschool Christmas pageant!
From her pedestal she said loud, clear, and enthusiastically:
"Don't be afraid...Go to the town of Bethlehem!"
Scarlett played head angel very well, and I was surprised to see that she had the only speaking part in the program, aside from Pastor Gregory who did the narration.
Her teachers told me that they pulled names out of a hat to decide parts, and when they pulled Scarlett's name to play Gabriel, they said, "We know she can do it!!" They practiced with her a lot, but never had any doubt that she would perform the part well.
I am so happy for Scarlett!
I know that it will be a special childhood memory for her...
as it was a special memory for me as her mother.
I only wish my camera was in video mode when she delivered her line.
No matter...I'm still proud as proud could be of my little girl...who is not so little anymore!
PS - Thank goodness my friend Kimberly got this video!
The elves at our house have been very busy...as I'm sure they've been busy at your house too. Papa Elf (Steve) just finished making a new bed for Guy. We recently rearranged sleeping quarters, and Guy ended up with the short straw, so he needed a new bed! Steve put a lot of love into making that bed for Guy. I am so glad I married such a handy and thoughtful man.
Guy dyed some beautiful silk scarves with kool-aid for the girls' Christmas gifts. (Thanks to my friend Jenn for showing us how!) It was fun and easy!
Autumn made some chocolates for her siblings. I am sewing nightgowns. Scarlett is getting ready for her preschool Christmas pageant. She is going to be an angel and gets to say "Fear not! Go to the town of Bethlehem!!" (*Correction from Scarlett...She is "the Head Angel"...the angel Gabriel...the only angel with a name! A star is born...)
I still have an art apron, a cooking apron, and a puppet show curtain to sew. How many days until Christmas?
Thanks for all of your kind words of empathy yesterday and your advice. I really appreciated it. I am feeling a little better, just had to ride that emotional rodeo that comes with our calling as women, and I am happy to say that I didn't get bucked off...not just yet! :)
I know God has things all under control and that he knows best. And I know he is right, deep down inside. I am just slow at coming around to his way of thinking sometimes.
I will say that he has given me ample opportunity to accept his perspective. Recently, I had been praying for the knowledge that I am on the right path in life--that I am where I should be at this point.
Within days of asking this question, I was called to a new calling at church. During that weekend, I was approached by no less than four people and told that they had a strong confirmation that I was supposed to be in that calling. And when I was set apart, the person speaking said, "You are in the right place right now in your life and in the lives of these girls."
Does God still speak? Yes He does.
Does he care about the details of our lives? Certainly.
Does the Master of the Universe pause to answer the question of his little child?
Just as the Savior of the world came to earth under such humble and unusual circumstances, walking dusty roads, suffering all temptations, trials, and persecutions, so are we here to experience life and to learn to become like Him, sometimes in some of the most unexpected or unorthodox ways. I am so thankful for this amazing opportunity to be alive in mortality, in the thick of all of these unique and important experiences.
As much as I like to say that "this life is not a dress rehearsal," it really is a time given to us to prepare to meet God and to ready ourselves for the blessings and privileges that he has waiting for each of us in his eternal realm.
And this understanding is the beautiful gift that I have been given this Christmas.
Last week, I read a post by my friend Carrie about how she interviewed her children and used their answers for their family's Christmas newsletter. I thought it would be fun to do the same thing! Our interviews weren't nearly as hilarious, but there was one question that I really enjoyed hearing the answers to (even though I was kind of hesitant to ask.)
After asking what each child thought the other children did during their day at school, I asked the question: What does Mommy like to do during the day at home?
Here's what my kids said:
Guy: “Mommy likes to snuggle, tickle, and giggle…bake, and smack our bums!”
gingerbread cookies and houses.”
Autumn: “Like sharing
Yup...that sounds about right! I'll take a cookie and a good bum to smack any day!
OOh, here comes one now...gotta go!
PS - Also, I know it's not right, but please...someone BUY ME THIS T-SHIRT!(Marissa Trefethen, you know you want to get it for me!)
This was a tough couple of days for me as I struggled internally with the realization that another month has passed, and I am not expecting another baby. I am not pregnant, although I thought maybe I might be...however I think that every month.
And Christmas is the season of babies and children and every conversation seems to remind me that I might not ever have more children. And that is hard for me right now.
My conscious self is constantly battling my emotional self.
I want to prove to myself that I trust God and his plan for me by not feeling sad.
But that is so much easier said than done.
I want to cherish my three beautiful babies and know that they are enough, but I am only human. And my children are so wonderful that they just make me want to have more!
Right now, my reflex is to turn my attention away from Mary and her beautiful baby, but I am forcing myself instead to focus on her and let her example help me in my current situation.
When the angel came to tell Mary that she was expecting, and that the child she would bear would be the Son of God, what was her response?
"Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word,"
I can't imagine that hearing "you're pregnant" would have been completely welcome news to a young woman who was not yet married, just as the news "you're not pregnant" isn't really welcome news for a married woman like me who loves children and would really like to have more.
But my response can still be "be it unto me according to they word," and I can still find joy in being his handmaid and serving him in whatever capacity he deems appropriate for me.
Every day now, I am praying for that peace and for that declaration to be enough to calm my troubled heart. I know that the Lord is aware of how I am feeling, and I know he has his purposes and his plans for me...plans that have never steered me wrong in the past.
It should come as no surprise that I love traditions.
In my family growing up, we had many wonderful traditions, thanks to my mom and dad, and my grandma who lived just down the street from us. Their love of tradition and family made my childhood lovely and memorable. For them, love was truly spelled T-I-M-E. Through our traditions, my parents taught us that family and the things that we do together matter more than material possessions. And because of that, we never felt that we lacked...and still don't.
***Today, I am sharing one of my favorite family Christmas traditions over at Someone In Mind. You'll never guess WHEN we open our Christmas gifts and what we always do BEFORE we open them! It's a tradition that doesn't require you to buy anything extra and takes very little time! So be sure to check it out!***
Here at home today, the girls and I are learning about Christmas traditions from around the world using this coloring book. There a so many wonderful customs in other countries that honor the Christ-child during Christmas.
For instance in the Alsace region of France, a girl representing the Christ Child, or Christkind, wears a long, white dress and a crown of gold paper and lighted candles. In one hand she carries a plate of cookies and in the other a silver bell. She is followed by Hans Trapp, dressed in a bearskin and carrying threatening "rods". He is looking for naughty children, who are only saved by the intercession of the Christkind.
The traditions that we mere mortals come up with the celebrate Christ at Christmas are just delightful and sometimes downright funny. And each one is a little different. I love that too.
Scarlett decided she wanted to cut out the coloring pages and glue them onto popsicle sticks to create puppets. She is going to put on a puppet show for our family at FHE tonight to teach them about the traditions that we learned about today.
First of all: Happy Birthday to my Mother-in-law Christie!
Second: I am so happy to have completed a special writing assignment that was sort of stressing me out this week. I am so excited about this. You don't even know.
When I wrote my Christmas Chill Pill post earlier this week, I was not stressed about Christmas so much as I was about having a very quick turn-around deadline to meet, right in the middle of Christmas...and I wanted it to be great! I turned it in early, so I could move on to the many other jobs I've got to complete in the next seven days...including making the 20 gingerbread houses that you see pictured above. (No I didn't do it alone!) Now lets just keep our fingers crossed that they like what I wrote.
And third, I really hate to end the beautiful discussion that is going on in the comment section of yesterday's post about being believing, but I did say I'd announce the WINNERS today, so here we go.
Thanks to all of you who shared and commented this week.
I thought it would be fun to do a bunch of giveaways this week as a thank you to for reading and commenting all year long and to give exposure to some shops that I really love. Thanks to each one of you! I appreciate the support that you give me here on my blog and the testimonies that you share.
If you were selected to win one of the prizes below, please email me your name and address at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you didn't win...Well, there's always next week... :)
"I testify to you this day that the time will come when every man, woman, and child will look into the Savior's loving eyes. On that day, we will know with a surety the worth of our decision to straightway follow Him."
--Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Follow Me", Ensign, May 2002