Saturday, January 31, 2009

Double Dipping

I know this is lazy, but I'm posting it anyhow. The pyramid tag of the new year. I've already tagged my TWENTY-FIVE people over on facebook, but if you feel left out you can post 25 things about yourself and tag TWENTY-flippin'-FIVE friends of your own. (Did I mention that I think 25 is a pretty unworkable number of people to tag?) Anyway with no further ado, I give you:

25 Random Things about ME

1. I love to read, write and talk.

2. I love to listen so long as I don't have to wait too long before I get to read, write or talk.

3. I am a poor wait-er. I don't start reading series until they are finished. Harry Potter about killed me.

4. I love teaching.

5. I've got six kids. They are some of the smartest, cutest people I know.
6. I've got a brother in the Army and a sister in the Navy.
7. I wish that Alice from the Brady Bunch or someone very much like her lived with my family.

8. I love poetry.

9. I detest Huckleberry Finn. I own three or four copies of Cliff Notes for Huck because I've never been able to find the previous copy when I have been forced once again to read the greatest American novel.

10. I love Jane Austen. It cracks me up that Mark Twain detested her works. 

11. I love to bake, but hate to cook.

12. When I go to thrift stores, I tend to rearrange their books into more logical order. Atonement doesn't really belong in the religion section. Neither does Paradise.

13. I don't do 13.

14. My bookshelves are a crazy mess.

15. My favorite meal is steak, corn on the cob, tomato soup and baked potatoes. I haven't eaten it in about ten years.

16. Milk is my favorite liquid. Skim. The fattier versions don't get cold enough and feel kind of slimy to me. 

17. Seventeen is my favorite number.

18. I joined the Mormon Church/Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints when I was fifteen years old.

19. My family was really miffed about number 18.

20. I can't swim well, but I love water. I wish I could be in a pool all summer long.

21. I blog at . (But you know that. Did I promise revelations? No I promised double dipping.)
22. I met my husband when I was twenty-two, even though we lived within two miles of each other for the majority of our childhoods.

23. I still don't know my twelve times tables perfectly. And I always have to think about 7x8, 8x6, and 6x7. (I can figure them out, though. Yay me!)

24. I married my husband when I was twenty-four. We just celebrated our seventeenth anniversary.

25. I homeschool my kids. All of them some of the time. Some of them most of the time. They are crazy smart and keep me from succumbing to senility.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weeping Wednesday or Blogging is Cheaper Than Therapy

At the very reasonable request of my oldest, I have taken down my whiny post which was flattering to no one in the family. Thanks for the loves and sympathy. Now pretend you never read it. That works. Right?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Because Won Can Never Overestimate the Use of Good Grammer

I guess it's time to post again since everybody has come and visited now. Except Ray and Elastic who are busy and stressed at the moment. They are excused.

Now, for the rest of you. I give you a visual to please your ever-pendantic chart memes
By the way, the comments at Graphjam may amuse some of the Grammar Nazis among us. Certainly made me simile.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Why Do I Wear Dresses All the Time?

As a pseudo-feminist, I oughta be against the concept of wearing a dress. But I'm not. I like them. A lot.
  1. They are comfy.
  2. They are cooler than pants. If they made dresses with built in air conditioners, I would max out my credit card for one. Especially if it came in purple.
  3. Way back when I was thin, my bottom was round and my waist was tiny. Like 45": 23" Find jeans for that!
  4. I don't have to try and match. Got the top? The bottom comes with it. That way my disorganization doesn't result in nudity.
  5. Only one thing to wash, dry, fold, and put away. Especially now that nylons are so passé.
  6. When I buy dresses at Goodwill I only have to pay for one item to get an entire outfit.
  7. I can lose or gain about 20 lbs without having to buy new clothes.
  8. I can pull it on in about 15 seconds, 35 max. I've always preferred sleep to primping.
  9. They are pretty.
  10. The Yvil sister hates them. It's important that we maintain that polar opposites thing.
Ta-DA! Now you know.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jerry Springer Strikes Again

Well, in an effort to improve my blog traffic I arranged for a little event yesterday. My neighbor lost his mind. Now that doesn't happen every day. Oh, come on! Doesn't that make you want to click over here just a little bit?

It was a dark and stormy morning. [Really, I'm not making that up.] As I was lying down with my baby at nap time, a huge crunch disturbed our peace. The unmistakable crumpling crunchy thud of fiberglass and metal hitting something very solid. I bolted out of bed and ran to the window. Not a thing. Moments later J came running in, "Where's the phone? A van just crashed. In front of the neighbor's house, into their tree."

How fast can a woman dial 911? Pretty darn fast. I reported the accident and ran out to see if anyone needed help. The van had hit the tree alright. Hard. But the airbag had not deployed and there was no one to be seen anywhere.

Curious and concerned, I approached the front door. Much screaming and swearing greeted me. A fight was clearly in progress. I tentatively knocked. As fools rush in where angels fear to tread, I knocked harder.

The door opened and Little T and Baby A peeked out. "Hi Jami. Where's V?" L.T. said as if there wasn't a car wrapped around their tree and lunatic raving in the living room.

"Hi dude. Is your mom here?"

M rounded the corner, calm, resolute. "Hi, Jami."

"Um, are you OK?"


"Um, I called 911. The police are coming. Do you want me to call back?"


"Would you think maybe the kids would like a play date?"

Long pause. "Yeah. Thanks. That's a good idea."

"Hey guys! Wanna come over and play with N and C?"


So over they came. N pulled out her babysitting bag. She was totally prepared for just such a moment. Games, coloring, fun galore. As the festivities were getting under way, a different neighbor came to my door and motioned me outside.

"Jami, the police are here."

"Yeah, I know. I've got the kids."

"They have guns."

"What?" I stepped out further. The police were blocking the roads. Easily a dozen of them were setting up behind the shrubbery in the park, behind the bounce house and tree at the church across the street, on the roof of the house behind the screamer. Shields, bullhorns, and sure enough...guns.

"Oh crap. I've got to tell her." [Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.] I began walking to the screaming house. 

"WALK AWAY FROM THE HOUSE. GO BACK INTO YOUR HOUSES," bullhorned the spastic police officer.

I pondered obeying him as I continued toward the door. This was getting out of control. If I could just tell M what was going on, she could come have a chat and diffuse the situation a bit. What are they going to do: shoot me?

"LADY IN THE PURPLE DRESS! WALK AWAY FROM THE HOUSE. GET OVER HERE NOW!" Geez, he was irritating. I stopped walking.

"LADY IN THE PURPLE DRESS! STOP! GET OVER HERE NOW." Hm. Idiot. He just might shoot me.  I walked over to a calmer more intelligent looking officer. The bullhorn man's head blew off. Something about come here? Jail? Whatever. I was on a mission.

I attempted to gain permission to go over and talk to my friend. How many different ways can an officer say, "HELL NO!"?


I explained to the officer I was standing next to that I wasn't going to go inside, that they were blowing this event way out of proportion. And someone was going to get hurt. [Fools rush in.] The officer informed me that the man had a bow and arrow. I refrained from laughing at him. He told me to go stand back and spoke to Officer Bullhorn who then quieted down. 

I stood back and went over to the female police officer. She found a new way to say, "HELL NO!"

They put somebody new on the bullhorn. "RESIDENTS OF 555 ALPHABET STREET: PLEASE COME OUTSIDE." I suspected at the time that the residents of 555 ABC St couldn't hear him, didn't even know they were there. [This was later confirmed.] So we all went through an hour of "Please come out. No one has committed a crime. We just want to talk to you."

Eventually M came outside. I'm guessing to come see how the kids were doing.  She looked around calmly, said something quietly to the closest officers and went back inside. She came out again about a half hour later.  Whew. I felt better. 

After she finished talking to the police, I called her over. She confirmed that her husband had lost his mind, that she'd been trying to get him help, and that no one would help.  I spoke to her about her school children. I suggested that I pick them up when I got mine and go directly to McDonalds Playplace. Do not pass home, do not mention the situation. Administer french fries. The plan was approved and I went back home. 

As I was crossing the street, "LADY IN THE PURPLE DRESS! GO INSIDE YOUR HOME." Yeah, yeah. I waved and pointed at my house. I'm a goin'.

I checked in on J and N.  They were doing a great babysitting job. The little monkeys had no idea of the chaos reigning in the street. We can't hear street noises in our house. Thank God! When Little T asked what his mom and dad were doing, I told him they were working on getting the car fixed.

I changed clothes. They seemed to have something against my dress. And headed out again. I stayed in my driveway this time.

Another hour. M's father (the screamer's FIL) came out. Relief and tension warred it out within my psyche. Another half-hour of calm bullhorn coaxing. An occasional riffle twitched in the neighborhood shrubs. I began praying. (Not out loud. Do you think I'm insane?) Suddenly it occured to me that perhaps some of my friends were online and would be willing to pray. I went inside and posted a quick request on this blog and one on facebook. I went back out. Five minutes later the screamer "stood down." He came out, hands up, walking backwards. Hands on head. Hand cuffs on. The SWAT team came out of the bushes and off the roofs, and the dozen police cars began to trickle away. 

All before school got out. I confirmed with M that McDonald's was still a good idea, so she could deal with the car, the commitment papers and all that. At that I packed Little T and Baby A into the car, picked up all four of the school kids and went to the golden arches. Yet another justifiable credit card expense. We fiddled around for two hours while I blythely lied through my teeth. [Was it on purpose? I don't know. I didn't see it. Is your dad in the hospital? No. No one was hurt. Were they fighting? Hm. Where's Baby A?]

And then we went home. M took her monkeys inside and explained the whole thing to them. Poor woman. Later that night, because her day had not been quite crappy enough, Little T broke his finger while bouncing in the bounce house at the church across the street. Good times.

Oh and M's birthday is tomorrow. Right. Happy birthday.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Testimony as a Process

Never, never, never begin your talk with a definition; it's boring and makes people zone out. I read this very recently from a very reliable source, several sources actually. But this isn't actually a talk. It's a buffed up, rearranged, blog version of my talk. Did they say never, never, never begin your post with a definition? Nope. So let's start with a definition. Elder Dallin H. Oaks in General Conference April 2008 gave an excellent one:
A testimony of the gospel is a personal witness borne to our souls by the Holy Ghost that certain facts of eternal significance are true and that we know them to be true. Such facts include the nature of the Godhead and our relationship to its three members, the effectiveness of the Atonement, and the reality of the Restoration.
I frequently hear testimonies being compared to plants (seeds, fruit, etc) or to children. Both need nurturing, but just as no two plants, no two children, develop identically, or even have the same needs, the process each person goes through to gain a testimony is unique.

In October 2008, Elder Carlos Gadoys shared an experience he had in Sunday school while he was visiting as a member of the quorum of the seventy. The teacher asked class members to share significant experiences that they had as they formed their testimonies. As everybody related their experiences, he got the feeling that she was expecting him to share his experience. (I must admit that if a Seventy came to my classroom I'd expect the same.) And so he searched his memory banks and searched and searched and was unable to come up with any major experience that had led to the development of his testimony. That was not his conversion experience. Later that day during Sacrament Meeting he gave his more sedately acquired testimony of the truth of the gospel and of the restoration, and of the reality of God, of our Savior. He adds "Sometimes we think that to have a testimony of the Church, we need some great, powerful experience, or a single event which would erase any doubts that we have received an answer or a confirmation."

Do we need to see an angel, feel a huge fire in our bosom, or be knocked to the ground in order to know for sure that God is real, that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith was a prophet? It happens to some people, but those one-time memorable experiences are relatively rare, perhaps not even that useful. Elder Gadoy states that a huge spiritual experience doesn’t necessarily result in faith, pointing to Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon as prime examples. They saw an angel, but the moment the angel was out of their sight the excuses began. No lasting faith resulted from their big experience.

Contrast Alma the younger. He was born a member and was taught by the gospel clearly by his parents and at church (or whatever worked for church for them at that time) and then chose not to follow it and in fact chose to fight against it. His father, as we all know, prayed and prayed for his son to have an undeniable experience, and Alma did receive a memorable angelic visit.
“And as I said unto you, as [Alma and the sons of Mosiah] were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood; And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth” Mosiah 27: 11-12
The angel then delivered his message: Stop trying to destroy the church. It’s God's church. Don't mess with it. It’s not that different from the vision that Laman and Lemuel saw. The difference is the choice Alma made afterward. He believed, but not just because of the angel and not just magically out of the blue. He sought the truth.

As he preached among the Nephites, he explained the process he used to learn if his beliefs were true. In Alma 5: 45-47 we read,
Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?
How does he know? How does he have a testimony? He's about to tell us.
Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.
Fasting and prayer. Those were the tools he used, not just briefly, but many days. The product of using those tools? Spiritual knowledge revealed through the Holy Ghost.

The Book of Mormon doesn't just leave Alma's experiences at that. He dedicated his life to helping people gain testimony. In addition to teaching the Nephites, Alma also went on a mission to the apostate Zoramites. One of the most extended plant analogies we have comes from this portion of his ministry.  He’s teaching people who are not likely to get an angelic visitation (like most of humanity) yet he affirms that they can know with a surety. How? Let's go find out. His sermon is recorded in Alma 32:26-272
Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge. [Notice we cannot know immediately with perfect knowledge.] But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. (Alma 32: 26-27)
He moves into his analogy.
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed...
Let's pretend. You have two peas, one out of a seed packet, the other from a can of peas. You plant those seeds. One of them is a good seed, very likely to grow. Not by itself, true. Still the other seed is guaranteed not to grow. There are seeds that WON’T grow no matter how well we care for them, seeds that are dead, seeds that aren’t true seeds. OK, back to Alma.
...if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
Not a perfect knowledge of everything, not yet.  We must care for the plant our seed brought forth so that we can have fruit, a perfect knowledge of truth, leading to eternal life. 

I have some personal experience in plant care. I love to garden. When it’s cool I’m good with planting and weeding and so forth, but then when it's hot I don’t always get out there and water’s hot out there. As a result my plants tend to do the shrivel thing. Not good, but not the poor seeds' fault. Interestingly, my son J has a different method. He plants and weeds, but also waters. It is amazing how much more fruit he got out of his garden than I got out of mine last year. 

So it is with a testimony. As we continue to care for the knowledge we have and seek more knowledge, it grows. It's not instantaneous. We don’t plant our seeds one day and have a nice bowl of split pea soup on our table the next. It doesn’t go that way. There’s a lot of nurturing that happens. It’s a process.

I asked friends for their thoughts on a testimony. Let me share a truly beautiful thought from one friend. She hadn't always done the textbook things that are "required" for a testimony and she has felt guilty, that perhaps she didn’t even deserve a real testimony. Then she had an insight.
Simply when I live any part of the gospel in any way, shape, or form. I feel good and I feel love. That is my testimony. That the gospel of Christ and his love for us is the way. No matter on what scale (small or large) I live the gospel, I will always feel and know that.
She listed for some things that have contributed to her testimony. She said that when she reads  the Ensign she gets answers to her questions. When she prays she feels God’s love. When she reads the scriptures she feels the truth. When she goes to church and takes the sacrament she feels better. Little seeds developing into plants, finally bearing precious fruit.

As I studied the scriptures, conference talks and spoke to people about testimony, it became clear to me that the path to testimony is as individual as the human soul. The way that I received my knowledge and testimony is unlikely to be the way others receive theirs. Heavenly Father speaks to us through the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost speaks to our spirits in many, many ways.

In Galatians 5:22 where Paul (who , by the way, had his own angel experience and then continued to live righteously) was writing to the Galatians and was talking about the fruit of the Spirit, a list of feelings we can feel when the Spirit is present. (Look, fruit! That whole plant analogy again.)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love [When we pray we feel Heavenly Father’s love, love for each other.], joy [How many of us when we finally understood something that God has been trying to tell us through the scriptures or a talk have felt joy or been in the temple and have been filled with that peace and joy? Oh look peace that’s next!] peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance."
I would add the words of the Lord as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 46: 13-14. "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful." Not everyone will see an angel, not everyone needs to. Burning in the bosom, peace and absolute surety, they aren't for everyone. Sometimes we just believe what someone else has seen. 

My experience hasn't been much like Alma's or Paul's, probably not even much like yours. And that's OK, better than OK; it's what I need. God loves me and communicates to me in a way I can understand.  God loves you too; He will reveal truth to you so that you can understand. Yes,"in his own time and in his own way, and according to his own will", but rest assured that God will teach you the things you seek to know in the language of your soul. This I know.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our Carnelian Anniversary

My favorite number is seventeen. My birthday's on September 17th. Our anniversary is January 17th. And this anniversary is a big one! It's our seventeenth. Our Carnelian Anniversary. (Yes, I did have to look that up.) In honor of the day, here are seventeen tid-bits on the theme of meeting and loving my man.

  1. My love is a gifted musician. Can't really say enough about the music thing, because his talent is so phenomenal and such an intricate part of him.

  2. My man records books. For fun. He's taped Mormon Doctrine a few times. As a Man Thinketh by James Allen many, many times. He's currently moving though the works of Neal A. Maxwell. The dude listens to them while he's at work and in the car, then erases them.

  3. My sweetie changes diapers.

  4. He's a kid magnet. He doesn't do anything at all to attract the little monkeys but they love him.

  5. He's a lifetime member of the John Birch society. Political arguments broke us up several times while we were dating. Politics continued to be a touchy subject for us for the first decade of our marriage, but we finally negotiated a peace treaty. The terms are very snuggly.

  6. The man juggles.

  7. We both grew up in Davis, California a couple blocks away from each other and attended the same schools. My first year in Davis was my third grade year. He's four years older than me, so he'd moved on to the Jr. High. When I got to Jr. High, he'd moved on to the High School. By the time I got to High School, he and his family had moved to Grass Valley. I might have run into him at church but I joined the church when I was a sophomore and his family had already moved.

  8. When I was a kid I used to sing:

    I'm in love with a big blue frog,
    A big blue frog loves me.
    Its not as bad as it appears
    He wears glasses and he's six foot three.
    Well I'm not worried about our kids,
    I know they'll turn out neat.
    They'll be great lookin' 'cause they'll have my face,
    Great swimmers 'cause they'll have his feet!
    Destiny! Kismet! The man is 6'3", he wears glasses, and he has two webbed toes. (He's a normal pinky-beige, however.)

  9. I met my husband after a church dance in the parking lot. His insane friend asked my hot friend to dance. In the parking lot. She answered that there was no music. My music man sang a song for them and they danced right there. I was charmed, so when everyone went out to eat after the parking lot solo, I borrowed his jacket. I was cold, but I had ulterior motives. I was trying to steal it, so I'd have an excuse to call him later. He caught me as we were leaving, so I sheepishly handed it over. Busted. So embarrassing.

  10. When I moved into his ward about six months later, I carefully avoided him. I was dating someone else and my attraction to my future husband was a bit disconcerting.

  11. After I stopped dating the other fellow, I attended a ward family home evening. "Sardines" was the activity that night and I was "it." I chose a nice niche in the shrubbery for my hiding place. As my prey walked by, I gave him a hint. "Psst! In here!" And in he came. Yes! Then he proceeded to pull in the next person that went by. And the next one. And the next one. Hm. There seemed to be a lack of communication going on here.

  12. One day he stopped speaking to me, suddenly, inexplicably. I knew then that he knew The Secret. I liked him. He could tell and was appalled. I was heartbroken. Shortly thereafter, he came into Relief Society to make an announcement. As he turned bright red, tried to become invisible, and was barely able to squeeze out the message, I had a revelation: the man was shy! The man was shy and I'd been clueless. There's only one reason a shy guy stops talking to one of his gal pals. It was all I could do not to stand up, pump my fist into the air and yell "YES!"

  13. Did you really think I was going to write a thirteenth? You know me better than that.

  14. Our first date was a double date. The four of us had been hanging out as a group, but one Sunday, we played Trivial Pursuit, guys against girls. Losers to buy the winners dinner and a round of miniature golf. [BTW, they never stood a chance.] After miniature golf, we drove around in the foothills looking for some sort of astronomical phenomenon that was supposed to be happening. The only phenomenon I saw that night? My shy guy and I set our hands next to each other and our pinkies touched. After about ten minutes of that excitement, he HELD MY HAND!

  15. He kissed me for the first time a few nights later. Then he looked at me and whispered, "Does this mean I get to keep you?"

  16. He spontaneously proposed while I was studying for my Romantic Literature mid-term, abruptly halting my recital of Christibel. I flipped out. (Tend to do that. Perhaps you've noticed.) And made him withdrawal the offer. The next day, I didn't do so well on the exam due to my brain spinning like a top as I pondered my romantic life instead of delightfully morbid, supernatural poetry. A week later, I surprised him by inviting him to resubmit his offer.

  17. We were married in the Oakland Temple on January 17, 1992. For this life and for eternity.

  18. Those doubters who placed cash bets that we wouldn't make it a year lost. Big time.

Friday, January 16, 2009

And Speaking of NieNie

Go read. (By clicking on the blue words. They'll turn grey once you've gone there. And that's OK.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And now the post you have all been waiting for...

OK, so this may not have been the post you were waiting for, but it's one I've been looking forward to!
NieNie's book is ready to buy! Wahoo!

What? You have no idea who Nie-Nie is?
Where have you been? Really.
I'll wait for you.

You back? OK. Anyhow, I wanted to help. I wanted to make something and sell it to help Nie. Or buy something that someone else made to help Nie. But for heaven's sake, I am SO broke and I am SO not talented in the creation department. (Except for making kids which I excel at, but even then I need help.) Then Sue came up with this mighty fine fundraiser book idea!

And then she even chose one of my posts to include! (Don't hold it against the book. Some amazingly funny people made it in too: Finslippy, Eric D. Snider, Rocks in My Dryer, Big Mama, Sweetney, Daring Young Mom, TAMN, Heidi Ashworth, Crash Test Dummy, Shellie from Seriously Shellie, forty-three of us in all.)

Details. All proceeds go to benefit Stephanie and Christian Nielson. It's $19.60 for either paperback or electronic download. And you can

Go buy a copy. You'll laugh. A lot. I promise. What are you still doing here? Waiting for me to say it again? OK.

Buy It Here
(click the big bold words)

Now shoo! Go do something good.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Transcription the New Time-sucker

So...apparently I say um, uh and pause twenty seconds between words on a regular basis. The good news is that it only took fifteen minutes to deliver my talk. The bad news is that I'm only half finished with the transcription. The other bad news is that this gem of mine needs a little cutting and polishing before it will be fit for your discerning eyes.

I always turned my papers in late in college too. As it turns out one of my ancestral family mottos is "SERO SED SERIO" which (I've been told) means "Late but in earnest." It's a motto I live by.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It went well.

Now I am going to take a nap. I'll post the talk later. Much later. Like tomorrow. 'Night, Jon-boy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bring Your Pillows, My Friends

It's looking like my talk will run slightly longer than a session of General Conference. Everyone's good with that, right? Hello? Hello? Where did everybody go?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Input Requested

(Apologies to my non-LDS readers.)

I'm speaking on Sunday. Subject: Testimony as a Process.

I would love to hear any-and-everyone's thoughts on the subject. How did you receive a testimony? What does testimony mean to you? What has challenged your testimony? Do you think there is a universal testimony acquisition process? If your response is too personal to share on the world wide web, please feel free to email me with your thoughts.

I'll post my talk on Sunday. (Although, knowing me, the talk I give will only bear the slightest resemblance to the talk I write.) Thank you, thank you, thank you for your help!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Having Some Blog Design Issues

As in it's kind of ugly around here. I mean I like the stretch. But the colors are dull. Uninspiring. Eh. My kids complain about it. (Yeah, they're mouthy, but they're cute. My blog is mouthy, but ugly.)

So anyway...a really charming blog designer, Erin, is having a blog makeover giveaway. Three lucky winners. I'm feeling the Universe aligning itself for me once more. So go enter yourself! You could win one of the other two make-overs.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Virgin Mary

Mary's Virginity. Every Christmas season I hear the allegation that Latter-day Saints believe our Father in Heaven had sexual intercourse with Mary. Does the idea make your skin crawl? It should! It is an ugly lie about God, the father of us all.

If it were just rabid anti-Mormons spewing their contagion, I'd just roll my eyes and ignore them. However, early last month my daughter's seminary teacher gave his opinion in support of the hideous blasphemy. I'm not holding it against him. He isn't the only misinformed Mormon I've run into. Several friends and a mission companion also have gotten all hung up on the "begotten in the flesh" phrase.

I've heard it too many times. "We just don't know. It does say 'in the flesh.'" We do too know! The scriptures testify again and again Mary was a virgin.

Our confusion and reliance on worldly knowledge isn't surprising. Even Mary herself asked how such a thing was possible seeing as she "knew not a man." She knew how conception normally worked. The Angel didn't give her a technical explanation; he simply told her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:26-38 )

Not surprisingly, Joseph initially believed that Mary had conceived her child the usual way. An angel reassured him that Mary was a virgin, faithful to both Joseph and to the Lord. "The angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." The scriptures then confirm that after their wedding "knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." (Mathew 1:18-25)

Yes, Mormons do believe that Jesus is literally the only begotten in the flesh. We believe that our Savior was the only child ever born whose X chromosome came from a mortal mother, Mary, and whose Y chromosome came from our immortal Heavenly Father. What a glorious heritage, one that enabled him to atone for our sins and to overcome death for all of us!

Yet . . . there’s still that “in the flesh.” We all learned early in life that sexual intercourse is the way Mr. Y. Sperm usually gets to Ms. X. Egg. The only way? Of course not. Virgins can conceive today through in vitro fertilization or through artificial insemination. Our omnipotent, omniscient Heavenly Father has known the beautiful intricacies of creation from the beginning; He certainly understood reproductive technology at the time of conception.

Mary was a virgin, because she had never known anyone. She was a virgin at Jesus' conception. She was a virgin at Jesus' birth. She fulfilled Isiah's prophecy: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14, emphasis added)

After seeing Mary in a vision, the prophet Nephi describes her. "I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. . . most beautiful and fair above all other virgins." An angel then explains the significance of Nephi's vision, "Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh." Nephi continues to describe his vision, "I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms." (1 Nephi 11:13-20) Notice that Nephi still uses the term virgin to describe Mary holding her firstborn.

Alma also testified of Christ's virgin mother and of his miraculous birth. "And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God." (Alma 7:10)

The doctrine is clear. Very few honest seekers of truth remain confused after reading the scriptures, praying and reading the church's very clear statements on the subject. Mary was a virgin. We do not need to squelch our oogie feelings when someone teaches that our Heavenly Father committed incest. The confusion, the I-just-don't-know feeling--all those disconcerting feelings are there to testify to us that we are hearing false doctrine.

Let's not wander into indecent speculation but instead teach the truth. A virgin did indeed conceive and bring forth the son of God, Jesus Christ. Through his atonement, made possible through his divine lineage, we can return to our Father in Heaven pure and clean. The truth is joyous.

Not an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
[I'm leaving comments on, but shall swiftly and emphatically delete any crude comments. Please keep your disagreement reverent. ]

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Day Late

I ain't got no resolutions. Sorry about that.