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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

TFOT: What manner of men and women ought ye to be?

Last Sunday for the Teachings for Our Times lesson, I taught on the talk What manner of Men and Women Ought Ye to Be? by Elder Lynn G. Robbins. It was a great reminder of some things I need to be working on. Elder Robbins quotes are in italics, with my thoughts below.

"To be and to do are inseparable. As interdependent doctrines they reinforce and promote each other. Faith inspires one to pray, for example, and prayer in turn strengthens one’s faith.
The Savior often denounced those who did without being—calling them hypocrites: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). To do without to be is hypocrisy, or feigning to be what one is not—a pretender.
Conversely, to be without to do is void, as in “faith, if it hath not works,is dead, being alone” (James 2:17; emphasis added). Be without do really isn’t being—it is self-deception, believing oneself to be good merely because one’s intentions are good.
Do without be—hypocrisy—portrays a false image to others, while bewithout do portrays a false image to oneself."
Throughout this talk, Elder Robbins focuses on being and doing.  We see do without be when people act one way in front of their church friends, for example, but act a different way in front of others not of our faith. Be without do is harder to see- those are the people who are lying to themselves. The example that came to mind for me are the people who say they are religious or spiritual (be) so they don't need to go to church (do). When, in reality, if you really are religious/ spiritual you will act on that by doing- in this example, attending church.
"Many of us create to do lists to remind us of things we want to accomplish. But people rarely have to be lists. Why? To do’s are activities or events that can be checked off the list when done. To be, however, is never done. You can’t earn checkmarks with to be’s."
This part really hit home for me, because I love to make to do lists. As I was preparing for this lesson, I went through my planner to look at past checklists, so I could see: are my to do's helping me become who I want to be? Most of my to do's focused on the temporal, things like cleaning, cooking, buying, etc. It's an interesting thing to ponder: who do I want to be? and what things to I need to do to get there? In a sense, that's a simple question, right? We all know that if we want to be a doctor, we need to go to med school. But to focus on attributes that we want to attain, and then to make those 'do's' help us grow toward our 'be's'... it's not something I have spent as much time contemplating. If I want to be charitable, what am I doing each day to develop that attribute? 
"Because be begets do and is the motive behind do, teaching be will improve behavior more effectively than focusing on do will improve behavior."
That quote can be a little hard to understand on the first read-through. Boyd K. Packer said something similar when he said,"True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will change behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." Elder Robbins uses this thought to help us understand how to be better parents. If we want our children's behavior (do) to change, we should focus on the attributes (be) that is causing that behavior. I tried this as an experiment with my two oldest kids, age 7 and 6. They are both home from school from the summer and spending lots of time together each day. They sometimes get annoyed and fight with each other and then come and tattle to me. Individually, I asked them each to work on an attribute. With my daughter, I talked about patience; with my son, I talked about being a peacemaker. When they weren't getting along, I reminded them about working on those things. The next morning, my kids were up early, and already having some disagreement. I was reading scriptures when my 6 year old came out and started telling me the problem. "What do you think you could do about it?" I asked him. "Well, I remember how you told me about being a peacemaker," he said, "And maybe I could do that, but I don't know how." I had my scriptures open in the New Testament to the part where the Savior is being mocked and ridiculed. I read him a couple verses and we talked about how Jesus was a peacemaker. He went back and worked things out with his sister. Wow! Focusing on 'be' is definitely something I will try to implement more in my own parenting. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Night Biff Stories

"It's Friday! It's Friday! We get a Biff story tonight!"

You know you're on to something when the kids start off the day looking forward to their bedtime story. Biff stories are my husband's creation. Even though the stories are named after Biff, he's the bad guy. As the villian of the Friday night stories, he's always up to no good. Kri, Ky and Tyle (variations on 3 of our kids names) try to be nice to Biff, and sometimes he almost comes around, but like a true villian, he never quite changes his ways.

Because this is a Dad thing, Biff stories have lots of bathroom humor --burping, loudly (and publicly) passing gas, that kind of stuff. And even though I sometimes smile and shake my head, I can't complain too much when I hear the kids laughing and see how much they look forward to those stories from their dad.

Part of the magic of Biff stories is that they include versions of themselves. Kri, Ky and Tyle are the heroes, and since parts of real-life creep into the stories, they can really see themselves in those roles. Kri will forgive Biff for ruining her birthday party, Ky makes a new invention to try to help Biff out, and Tyle is always trying to be friends with Biff.

But probably the real magic of the Biff story is that every Friday night, their Dad creates something special and shares it with them. They get to explore the world, work out problems, learn and grow-- and share it all with their dad.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Luxuries in Mom-Life

If you don't have kids yet, you might be taking for granted the little things in your day that will surely disappear once you have children in your home. Here is a list of things for you to enjoy while you can. If you have kids, and can relate, feel free to add anything I missed in the comment section.

Enjoy it while you can list:

Waking up slowly, not jumping out of bed to the sound of a baby crying. Or someone yelling that they just threw up. Or a toddler who came in to show you he has a bloody nose that is now dripping all over the carpet.

Going to the dentist by yourself. I always say it's almost like a spa day for me if I don't have the kids with me. At my last two cleanings our youngest sat on my lap and played with the dental instruments.

Going to the doctor by yourself. My 6 year old son has even been there for ob-gyn appointments, some of which were also conducted with the baby on my lap.

Having an uninterrupted grown up conversation.

Not having to sweep after every meal. I think more food ends up in the dustpan than in anyone's tummy.

Getting to sit down for more than five minutes in a row.

Going to the bathroom by yourself. I think my kids have some kind of sixth sense for when I am in the bathroom, because as soon as I've been in there for 10 seconds, someone comes and finds me.

Cleaning a room that will actually stay clean.

Not having to flush the toilet before you go to the bathroom because someone else forgot.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Hitchhikers

I never pick up hitchhikers. It's too dangerous, I always have my kids with me, and I can never seem to find a place to pull over, even if I wanted to. And sometimes, there is a part of me that wants to. My dad was always telling stories of how he'd stop to help someone on the way home from work. One time that stands out is when he stopped to help a woman he didn't know, but when they got to talking, he realized it was my 5th grade  best friend Christine's mom. I also remember my mom once stopping to help a stranded family on the side of the road. They told us that they had been praying that someone would help them, and then along came my mom in the 12 passenger Ford Club Wagon van, an answer to prayer.

When I saw a family walking down Highway 60 the other day, I felt for them. What mom wants her 6 year old walking on the side of the highway-  a few miles from any place they could get help? So I picked them up. They had run out of gas;  the gas gauge was broken.  The three of them- the dad, the mom and their son who had just graduated kindergarten that day- were so grateful. I was feeling pretty good. I got our gas can from home, already filled with gas. Because of the median on the 60, I couldn't drive them back to their car without going an additional 40 minute round trip, so I gave them the gas can and the husband said he would walk to the car. All I asked was that they return the gas can for me when they were done.

"Let me give you directions so you remember how to get back to my house," I said.
"That's okay," they told me, "We remember."
Well, I'm just naive enough to think they actually did remember and would be coming back shortly. Our house is close to the gas station; it was hardly out of their way. As time went by, I even went out and looked on the porch- maybe they left it, but didn't knock. But it was never there.

It may come as no surprise to you, but they never did return that gas can.

I am TRYING to forgive them. I keep remembering that part in Les Miserables where the thief steals the candlestick, and when he gets caught, the man who he stole from doesn't turn him in, but says, "you forgot this one," and gives him the other. And it's not like this was something precious to me, it was just a ($15) gas can filled with $4 a gallon gas.
Still. I went out of my way, trusted strangers in my car, drove back and forth to near where their car was, and didn't even ask for them to refill the gas can. And they couldn't drive an extra two minutes from the gas station to my house?

I have asked myself a lot of times since it happened: if I could go back and do it over, would I help them? I still don't know the answer. Would you?

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Blog Inspiration

As a missionary in Taiwan, back in the days before email really took off, we lived for the mail. Unlike now, when the mailbox mostly holds ads and a few bills, back then pretty much all that we got were handwritten letters. News from back home, letters from my missionary (now my husband), and occasionally a package. Sometimes people you aren't as close with write a letter to let you know they are thinking of you. I remember sitting in our Kaoshiung apartment with Sister Gravell, reading our mail. Hers was from a young girl--a neighbor, I think. It was two pages long, back and front, about everything that was on her mind. After sharing all the interesting details of the games she had played and the food she had eaten, she wrote, "There's so much to talk about!" We had a good laugh about that.

But now, so many years later, I realize she was right all along. There are SO many things to talk about! I had a blog devoted to a love of mine- food and nutrition. But there are so many other things to talk about, that when I thought about blogging again, I didn't want to limit myself to just one topic. This is a blog of all the things I want to talk about. I hope you'll talk about them with me!