Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Response to Ju

Julia,
The answer to your question is so simple. Just have perfect children!

But in all seriousness, Josh and I have this quote hanging on our fridge:

I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase; mutual respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity—the pure love of Christ—will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness.
- Marion G. Romney
Ensign May 1980 "The Book of Mormon"

The whole talk is pretty good, too! This is just the last paragraph. We use it as our family goal.


Otherwise, I really believe that sometimes children will just be children. I actually think my children are nicer to each other than my sisters and I were and I try to remember that when I get frustrated with their bickering. Oh yes, they fight. Are you shocked to hear that? :-)


Andrea - loved your notes from your lesson. It gave me some things to think about.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Response to Ans

That was great! I wish you were one of our RS teachers! We have teachers who basically just read the lesson. grrr . . . This was very refreshing and loved reading it.


I have one question I thought we could discuss: How do you fully keep contention out of the home, making it more like the temple? That is really the one feeling I wish I could incorporate into the home, that lack of contention. Whenever I go to the temple I see those smiling elderly people all willing and able to help. There's a peace there I would love to replicate and it's mostly the sibling rivalry & whatnot that gives me the other not-so-temple-like feelings. :-) Discuss please.


I also gave a talk in church yesterday about agency, more specifically the principle to act and not be acted upon. I would like to add that here, but it's on our other computer, so I'll attach it later.

Don't you just love learning and studying deeper?!

LOL
JULIA

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More temple stuff

Kami and I decided that we could post about whatever we wanted on this blog. So, more about temples from me. I taught the RS lesson today from Elder Christofferson's talk, "The Power of Covenants." Since I don't get to teach Elder Bednar's talk, "Honorably Hold a Name and Standing," or "Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples," by Elder Stevenson, I freely stole from those talks for my lesson as well. Also, I used Mormon Doctrine despite it not being an authoritative text because I wanted to. Don't worry, I told the sisters where I was getting the information so they could choose to take it or leave it.

Basically, I learned a ton while preparing for this lesson. Much of what I read I knew without really knowing it. If that makes sense. First, Elder C started off by talking about what covenants are and I tried to think of all the covenants I have made and what I've promised. I didn't know what all I'd promised. Then I asked Timothy--neither did he. I went to Mormon Doctrine and Elder McConkie really clarified some things for me.

First, he classifies covenants and talks about making a progression of covenants, each one leading you closer to fully taking upon yourself the name of Christ and being sanctified. The first level of covenant is the covenants of salvation which we hear about as the new and everlasting covenant, or law of the gospel, or the article of faith: first principles and ordinances of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost. Those are the primer covenants, so to speak.

Then, you run into the "covenants of conformity." Meaning, you conform (obey) specific commandments and receive specific blessings. Many commandments don't have specific blessings attached, like only having one piercing in your ear, so you reap unspecified blessings for your obedience. However, some commandments have specific blessings. Elder M mentioned the word of wisdom, tithing, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and the United Order (consecration). As you conform to those commandments, God is bound to give you the specific blessings promised, thereby making it a covenant.

Then you reach the covenants of exaltation, which are the covenants for those ready to receive more blessings by being obedient to more covenants. These are, obviously, the temple covenants. Elder M also said that receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood is a covenant of exaltation. I hadn't thought of that one. These covenants allow you to become gods and goddessess and receive all that the Father has.

Elder C stated, "In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. . . . Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, 'the power of godliness' flow into our lives." I thought of it as a spigot--we're in charge of how many blessings we receive by how "exact" our obedience is.

Elder C talked about the types of blessings we get through our obedience to our covenants including: "a continual flow of blessings," "the resources we need to act rather than simply be acted upon" (which I read as increased self-discipline), "greater control over our lives," "greater capacity to . . . work and create," "a steady supply of gifts and help," "the faith necessary to perservere," our "faith expands," "bestowal of divine power," "endowed with power from on high," companionship of the Holy Ghost, and others that didn't stick out at me quite as much. See 1 Nephi 17:3 and D&C 97:8.

Elder Bednar also talked about the blessings of temple ordinances and covenants. He quoted Alma 26: 6: "Yea, they shall not be beaten down by the storm at the last day; yea, neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penentrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds whithersoever the enemy listeth to carry them." Also D&C 109:22: " . . . that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with ty power, and that thy name may be upon them." Also, "Thus, in the ordinances of the holy temple we more completely and fully take upon us the name of Jesus Christ."

Elder Bednar really drove home the point of the importance of the protection afforded by temple covenants when he quoted D&C 109:24-28:

That no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself;
That no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house;
And if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them;
And if they shall smite this people thou wilt smite them; thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all thier enemies.

The part that really struck me, though, was when Elder B said, "I invite you to study repeatedly and ponder prayerfully the implications of these scriptures in your life and for your family."

As we know, our homes are supposed to be sacred like the temples. If we keep our covenants we can claim this protection for our homes. Elder Stevenson said, "Not only can we turn the doors of our homes to the temple, or the house of the Lord; we can make our homes a 'house of the Lord.'" I think sometimes we fail to receive blessings because we don't understand them, or ask for them. In this case the blessings are so clear. We should be praying for this level of protection in our home. Essentially, if we are keeping our covenants, we can prevent Satan from having influence in our home. "That no weapon formed against them shall prosper." All of Satan's temptations are weapons, but in our homes, if we keep our covenants, Satan's weapons will not prosper--and therefore Satan's power will be neutralized in our homes. That's some serious protection promised to us. Elder B said, "The devil despises the purity in and the power of the Lord's house. And the protection available to each of us in and through temple ordinances and covenants stands as a great obstacle to the evil designs of Lucifer."

Elder C also said, "The temple will provide direction for you and your family in a world filled with chaos." He then told us to go on a mental tour of our home (I know you all remember this) and evaluate how closely our homes resemble a temple. Things that stuck out for me include: "Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? . . . do you see uplifting images? . . .. Is the conversation uplifting and without contention? . . . We may be well-advised to consider together, in family council, standards for our homes to keep them sacred and to allow them to be a 'house of the Lord.'"

When I evaluate those three articles together I am struck by how many blessings are promised to us if we keep our covenants, and how our homes can and need to be similar to a temple.

I was also struck by Elder B's call to repentance: "There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple."

Another Book Review

I'm sorry I'm not following the book list right now.
However, at the same time I'm not very sorry because I just read a great book set during the French Revolution era called "The Red Necklace" by Sally Gardner. Now, I was utterly shocked by the ending until I disovered there will be a sequel! Which makes me love the book all the more! This book had magic, mystery, suspense, and a little bit of romance. This was definitely a "neglect your family" book because I was caught from page 1!!

And, I still want you all to read "The Hunger Games" and tell me what you think!! :-)

Sorry, Ans . . . I never got Winston . . . they don't have it at our library and our library is in the process of moving so ordering books is a tad bit tricky these days. :-( Maybe I'll catch up when you're on book 5. :-)

JULIA

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Last of Winston

I loved the book. It was incredible to read what Winston had to say about the war. I'm excited to read the other five in the series. I don't have an essay in mind, but I am going to leave you with some more of my favorite Winston lines.

Winston came up with his own explanation for why Londoners didn't suffer from pandemics during the Blitz due to so many people spending time in such close proximity. The explanation was ridiculous but funny, and then he said: "If this is not scientifically correct, it ought to be."

Winston was very supportive in his remarks about the French generally. Not so the Italians. He frequently told his Admirals that they couldn't just look at how many ships the Italians had and concede defeat. They had to remember that Italians were the ones manning the ships, and therefore the British outnumbered them easily. My favorite derogatory Italian statement though was on page 365. In a memo to General Wavell (in charge of North Africa), Winston was berating him for leaving so many troops in Kenya and for declaring the South African Brigade not well-trained enough for fighting. Winston wrote: "Anyhow, they are certainly good enough to fight Italians." Hilarious.

Pg. 369 is a memo Winston wrote to some of his generals, he wrote: "All water supplies between Mersa Matruh and the Alexandria defences must be rendered 'depotable.'" Then in a footnote he wrote, "This was the wretched word used at this time for 'undrinkable.' I am sorry."

Winston was never fond of defensive warfare. In some history books I've read, the authors claim that Winston wasn't a very good tactician. That might be the case, but from reading Winston's own words the feeling I get is that he was a risk-taker surrounded by people who wanted to play it safe. When he did convince people to take risks, it sometimes turned out brilliantly, and it sometimes didn't. He would shrug and say, "That's war," but others wouldn't let it go so easily. That's my take on it. However, I'm no expert. Yet.

On pgs. 462-463, Winston is explaining the military offensive designed by Wavell (Africa) and his compadres. Winston was very excited. He wrote, "We were all delighted. I purred like six cats. Here was something worth doing."

Pg. 464: More funny snideness directed at the Italians. The admiralty finally, after much urging by Winston, attacked the Italian fleet. It was a huge victory for the British. Winston wrote, "An ironic touch is imparted to the event by the fact that on this very day the Italian Air Force at the express wish of Mussolini had taken part in the air attack on Great Britain. An Italian bomber force, escorted by about sixty fighters attempted to bomb Allied convoys in the Medway. They were intercepted by our fighters, eight bombers and five fighters being shot down. This was their first and last intervention in our domestic affairs. They might have found better employment defending their fleet at Taranto."

Pg. 466: Winston sums up his view of waging war in a note to General Wavell, "As we told you the other day, we shall stand by you and Wilson in any well-conceived action irrespective of result, because no one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it."

Pg. 470: Winston on the election to a third term of President Roosevelt. "Still, it was with profound anxiety that I awaited the result [of the election]. No newcomer into power could possess or soon acquire the knowledge and experience of Franklin Roosevelt. None could equal his commanding gifts."

474: Winston on finance. "From the time I formed the new Government and Sir Kingsley Wood became Chancellor of the Exchequer we followed a simpler plan, namely, to order everything we possibly could [of war materials and weapons] and leave future financial problems on the lap of the Eternal Gods. Fighting for life and presently alone under ceaseless bombardment, with invasion glaring upon us, it would have been false economy and misdirected prudence to worry too much about what would happen when our dollars ran out."

Pg. 484: Winston on lend-lease (the policy that allowed America to give for an undetermined length of time everything possible to Britain to facilitate in the fighting). " . . . the most unsordid act in the history of any nation."

Pg. 497: On the fact that Hitler was a crack-pot. The Russian ambassador to Germany in response to a lengthy meeting with Hitler: "Molotov replied that he had followed the arguments of the Fuehrer with interest and that he was in agreement with everything that he had understood."

In summary, this book was fantastically written and documented. Winston is the man--whether leading the British Empire or writing history, his genius is evident.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Temple Part 2

I wasn't able to go to the last temple fireside but my friend had asked for a copy of his powerpoint presentation, so this is basically word for word what's on there, plus pictures. Sweet, eh?

Ancient Temple Typology:

•The temple is the architectural embodiment of the cosmic mountain or universe.

The form of the Buddhist mandala is architectonic, the square section being the platform upon which sits a circular temple. The square represents material space with gateways at the four quarters of the earth, while the circle focuses upon its timeless center (See picture above.)
Michelangelo's preliminary plan for San Giovanni de' Fiorentini (1559) follows the ancient tradition of the centralized temple plan. The symbolic relationship between square and circle is that of the human and the divine. The integration of the two is a metaphor for equilibrium between earth and heaven. (see picture above.)

The cosmic mountain represents the primordial hillock, the place which first emerged from the waters that covered the earth during the creative process.

The temple is often associated with the waters of life which flow from a spring within the building itself—or rather the temple is viewed as incorporating within itself such a spring, or as having been built upon the spring.

The reason that such springs exist in temples is that they were perceived as the primeval waters of creation. The temple is thus founded upon and stands in contact with the waters of creation. These waters carry the dual symbolism of the chaotic waters that were organized during the creation and of the life-giving, saving nature of the waters of life.

•The temple is built on separate, sacral, set-apart space.

•The temple is oriented toward the four world regions or cardinal directions, and to various celestial bodies such as the polar star.

-As such, it is or can be an astronomical observatory, the main purpose of which is to assist the temple priests in regulating the ritual calendar. The earthly temple is also seen as a copy or counterpart of a heavenly model.

•Temples, in their architectonic orientation, express the idea of a successive ascension toward heaven. It was constructed of three, five, or seven levels or stages.

-Monumental staircases led to the upper levels, where smaller temples stood. The basic ritual pattern is that the worshippers ascended the staircase to the top, the deity descended from heaven, and the two met in the highest level.

The plan and measurements of the temple are revealed by God to the king or prophet, and the plan must be carefully carried out.

The temple is the central, organizing, unifying institution in ancient Near Eastern society.

•Inside the temple, images of deities as well as kings, temple priests, ad worshipers are washed, anointed, clothed, fed, enthroned, and symbolically initiated into the presence of Deity, and thus into eternal life. Seasonally dramas depicting heavenly wars, victories over evil, creation of the cosmos, cities, temples and social order.

-Sacred marriages are also carried out seasonally.

•The temple is associated with the realm of the dead, the underworld, the afterlife, the grave. The unifying features here are the rites and worship of ancestors. The unifying principle between temple and tomb is resurrection. The temple is the link between this world and the next.

•Sacral, communal meals are carried out in connection with temple ritual, often at the conclusion of or during a covenant ceremony.

God's word is revealed in the temple, usually in the holy of holies, to priests or prophets attached to the temple or to the religious system that it represents

The temple is a place of sacrifice.

The temple and its ritual are enshrouded in secrecy.
And that's all for tonight, because I have much else I have to get done. There is another section I have and I'll try to post it soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A MUST READ!

I just finished an excellent book.
THE HUNGER GAMES by SUZANNE COLLINS

Anyone read this yet? If not, I recommend it and would LOVE to talk about it. :-)
There's a sequel coming out in Sept. I think, too, so should be good, good, good!

I would say this book reminds me of Ender's Game (if I need to compare it to anything).

Read it! It's great!

JULIA

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Random

A couple years ago I watched part of the movie "Yes", in which everything is in iambic pentameter. It was neat to watch something contemporary written that way. Anyway, I don't recommend it really, it was all about affairs and what not. But here's one quote that sums up the theme of the movie.

Cleaner: And, in the end, it simply isn't worth / Your while to try and clean your life away. / You can't. For, everything you do or say / Is there, forever. It leaves evidence. / In fact it's really only common sense; / There's no such thing as nothing, not at all. / It may be really very, very small / But it's still there. In fact I think I'd guess / That "no" does not exist. There's only "yes".

Reading Shakespeare reminded me of it.

Hamlet

I know I'm a little behind but I finally finished Hamlet. I didn't like it nearly as much as I liked Macbeth. But it is always a pleasure to read Shakespeare. The words are just so well put together, and so clever. I love just the rhythm and how they sound together. That being said, Hamlet reminded me of Oedipus Rex--completely lame--where the characters have no real control of their destiny and die stupid deaths. Anyway, I'm going to be completely brief because I have loads of things to do, but here are a couple of my favorite lines.

Ham: Is this the prologue, or the posy of a ring?
Oph: 'Tis brief, my lord.
Ham: As a woman's love.

Hee. Hee. (However, that annoyed me too. Hamlet was so cruel to Ophelia when it was really his mother that had made a poor choice, and he based all women off of her.)

Ham: I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things that it were better my mother had not born me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them it, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth? We are arrant knaves, all: believe none of us.

I just love it--every thought is so beautifully said.

Anyway, I really do have to get going. But I was surprised reading Hamlet, how many quotes and snippets are everywhere else in our culture, even besides my father's oft misquoted lines.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More of my love affair with Winston

Their Finest Hour continues to captivate. I absolutely love that Winston includes so many documents--it makes me feel that I am really in the moment. Kami pointed out to me that I might like the documents because I'm a historian. Point taken. Still, I can't imagine anyone not enjoying feeling like he's at Winston's elbow as Winston tries to fortify his island and outguess Hitler.

On top of the documents, you get Winston's casually brilliant turn of phrase peppered throughout. I'm including some of my favorites (so far) here, for your enjoyment.

Pg. 115: Churchill's remarking on Italy's joining the war on Hitler's side. He says, "The rush for the spoils had begun. But Mussolini was not the only hungry animal seeking prey. To join the Jackal came the Bear." The Bear being, obviously, Russia.

Pg. 125: "Never has a great nation been so naked before her foes." Churchill was commenting on how under-armed Britain was following Dunkirk. He called it the "dark side" of Dunkirk, meaning that while boats were able to evacuate men, they were not able to evacuate weapons and so the British army was essentially hamstringed.

Pg. 126: "I see only one way through now, to wit, that Hitler should attack this country, and in so doing, break his air weapon." Churchill displaying his uncanny grasp of the future.

Pg. 132: "I displayed the smiling countenance and confident air which are thought suitable when things are very bad . . .." Churchill smiled??? When?? This is, without question, the most hard to swallow statement Churchill has made thus far.

Pg. 134: "On this I said that I was not a military expert, but that my technical advisors were of the opinion that the best method of dealing with German invasion on the island of Britain was to drown as many as possible on the way over and knock the others on the head as they crawled ashore."

Pg. 143: "I had always hankered for the name 'Home Guard.'"

Pg. 144: Churchill explains that his commanding officers asked if they could fire a practice round of ammo to teach their novice troops how to use certain weapons. Churchill replied that the ammunition could not be spared. That is how hard up the British were for ammunition and weapons immediately following the fall of France.

Pg. 147: Churchill is explaining how the press will report certain eventualities of the war. He indicated that air raids were never to be headlined and treated as "ordinary routine." It is interesting because I've learned quite a bit about American propaganda, but I've never studied British propaganda. It appears they handled everything in the generally accepted understated British fashion. Makes sense.

Pg. 161: I didn't realize that President Roosevelt was facing his third presidential election when the Battle of the Bulge was underway. FDR was extremely committed to the war years before public opinion started to shift in that direction. In many respects, Pearl Harbor was a relief for him. I hadn't realized that the election forced him to damper support efforts, rather than simply Congressional opinion. Now I am curious what Congress itself was thinking, separate from its constituencies.

Pg. 206: After the fall of France, Britain was forced to eliminate the threat of the French navy. It sunk several ships and commandered others. In the process, several Frenchmen were killed. Churchill records this story: "In a village near Toulon dwelt two peasant families, each of whom had lost their sailor son by British fire at Oran. A funeral service was arranged to which all their neighbours sought to go. Both families requested that the Union Jack should lie upon the coffins side by side with the Tricolour, and their wishes were respectfully observed. In this we may see how the comprehending spirit of single folk touches the sublime."

Pg. 254: "A very careful study was made of the moon and the tides." I read this sentence and giggled. Taken out of context it sounds like the British had given up all hope and turned to some sort of voodoo astrology. That's what first came to my mind when I read it. Then I remembered that England is an island and the British the naval kings. Tides are important for people on boats.

Pg. 254-255: "One could not help being inwardly excited alike by the atmosphere and the evidence of Hitler's intentions which streamed in upon us. There were, indeed, some who, on purely technical grounds , and for the sake of the effect the total defeat and destruction of his [Hitler] expedition would have on the general war, were quite content to see him try." That is pure Churchill. Guaranteed he was one of those who wished, secretly, to see Hitler try to invade England.

Pg. 255: "Certainly those who knew most were the least scared." Churchill on the feelings in England in the face of an invasion by the Germans.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Their Finest Hour, Installment One

As I'm sure Kami could have guessed, I have so much to say already about the book and I am only 1/5 of the way through it, that I decided to proceed with an installment system. Forgive me my vulgar language while I say: Winston is THE MAN.

The book (the second of his complete history of WWII) starts just as Winston is finally made Prime Minister, is in the process of reforming the government ministries, and on the eve of the disastrous Battle of the Bulge. He starts his book by expressing his great joy at finally being in charge. He states, "But power in a national crisis, when a man believes he knows what orders should be given, is a blessing. In any sphere of action there can be no comparison between the positions of number one and number two, three, or four." So true. This resonates with me because I like to be in charge. When I would return from Enrichment committe meetings Timothy would ask, "Were you a good Indian?" I'm much more comfortable as chief. My desire to be in charge, however, lacked the acute dismay of watching those above me completely ignore threats to my country's very existence. Chamberlain carefully led Britain down a path that could only result in catastrophe. Winston was frustrated and despondent during the years leading to the war--knowing what was going to happen but absolutely unable to stop it.

No wonder he took the reins with a sigh of relief and exultation.

Another major point of the first few chapters of the book is Winston's careful changing of the guard--so to speak. In that bizarre British way, everyone had to be shifted between all the critical posts. We frequently hear about Winston as the British bulldog, and how unchanging he was in his opinions, but we don't hear as often about Winston as politician. To be as successful as he was, he had to compromise. This is often overlooked. I enjoyed reading about the delicate maneuvering that took place as war loomed only days away. If Winston really wanted a person in a position, he got him. However, the positions he cared about less he balanced between the three parties in a political dance that demonstrated his political prowess.

Reading about the Battle of the Bulge was frustrating--so many chances to stop Hitler lost to poor planning and hubris. The evacuation at Dunkirk--what can you say about so much bravery, compassion, loyalty, and selflessness?

Reading about WWII from Winston's own pen has proved every bit as fascinating and enjoyable as I expected. I reiterate: Winston is THE MAN.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Refined Home

I finally read the article too. Thanks, it was great!!! Several things popped into my head and I thought I'd comment really quick.

First of all, two random stories: I dated this guy Grant in college (okay, the only guy I dated besides my husband) and I liked him and had fun with him and his sisters, but I dumped him because he wasn't "refined" (at least not that I had noticed). Okay, that might sound really rude, but seriously, their house (him and a brother and two sisters bought a house together) was decorated with Kurt Cobain posters and all of them dressed skaterish for lack of a better description. Anyway, that was literally the main reason I stopped dating him, because I wanted my home more cultured than that.

Second random story, when Leo and I went on our first date, we went to a movie theater, then we came home and rented another movie and started to watch it. Leo picked it, and I don't remember if it was rated R or not, I don't think so, but it was really crude--oh it was, There's Something About Mary--I think anyway. I hate movies like that, but I was being rather "nice" about it because well, I liked Leo. Leo could tell I really didn't enjoy it though, and he kept apologizing to me and then HE finally turned it off. Then he called me the next day to apologize. Yeah, that's when I knew I REALLY, REALLY liked Leo.

One thing I LOVE about Leo, is that he'll go to almost any cultural event with me and enjoy as much or more than me. It's so nice to have a husband that appreciates music and dance. It's one of my favorite things about him. It makes me want to kiss him just thinking about it. Too bad he doesn't get home till tomorrow. Sigh.

The other thing I wanted to say was that I felt rather guilty reading about Andrea's Summer of Service, because what I had planned was my summer of soaking up Chicago. Rather selfish, but now I feel a little less guilty. Besides, when else will we have the chance to see so many world-class entertainment for practically free? I plan on taking my kids to a ballet, opera, some classical music concerts, Berstein concert, Moroccan, Colombian, Korean, Spanish, Celtic and other world music shows, a Chines play, Cirque Shanghai (that's Leo's and Isabel's birthday present--who needs more toys???!!!? Shh... nobody tell Leo) , and I might try to go with Leo to Fiddler on the Roof with Topol (the guy who plays the main character in the movie is reprising his role for the last time) but I don't know yet if we can afford the cheap seats. Hmmm.... Also, the Children's Immigration Museum and Mexican Art museum, and a couple other things like that. Anyway, you get the idea. It's going to be crazy busy, but I so want to expose my children to stuff like this while I can for the cost of $14 parking and gas. Maybe we'll burn out, well see.

Anyway, none of this was enlightening in any way whatsoever. Once I read over the article with Leo maybe I'll have something to add to the conversation rather than just talking about myself, which he said not to do in the article. Oops.

Oh, I do have one comment about art. I swore since I was about 12 yrs old that I would not have the typical Mormon home with what I considered lame decorations. I wanted "real" art. The I heard a talk in General Conference about decorating our homes with pictures of Christ, etc, and I repented. But I still plan someday when I have more wall space to put up REALLY GOOD paintings. Not saying Greg Olsen isn't a really good painter, but I think just like our libraries have literary classics besides church books, I want my home to art works of substance other than the lastest trend decor from Deseret Book. Okay, that sounds really snootty, lo siento. I really better quit writing now before I stick my foot in my mouth farther. Chao.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Response to Kelly & Andrea

Read my first post first . . .


I loved what both of you wrote!
First Andrea:
There is a lot of cheating and booze drinking that goes on in country music too. Stinks, doesn't it!? However, have you heard Josh Turner? Amazing! And his songs are always great, clean and wholesome (at least all of the ones I've heard!).

I loved what you said about appearance, too. I have not taught this principle to the chlidren very well. I honestly only do the girls' hair if we are going somewhere! I need to make it a daily habit in the morning so we're always ready for anything and so they learn to make themselves look good. Homeschooling does that to me! :-)

Loved what you said about classical music, too, and listening in the car. Often that is our travelling, road trip music (along with the Sound of Music sountrack!).

Kelly:
I loved your mealtime idea, I didn't even think of that! There is one lady in our ward who would actually serve courses to her children occasionally, so they could learn that refinement! And the table was always set neatly, especially on Sundays. I remember when we first moved here one elderly lady was telling us how the wind used to blow so hard, and there was so much dust that she would just have to serve the meals in pots so she could cover the food with a lid. J. said to me afterwards, "We always serve our meals in the pots!" I think this would minimize teaching manners in a more critical tone as well.

Since reading this talk I've been planning on playing classical or piano music just before J. gets home. When he gest home it's always so crazy because we're all hungry! We usually have the table set, things picked up and dinner ready, but I think a bit of that calming music might prepare us all for a more refined discussion at the table too (and we'll get in our classical music listening time!). :-)

I think there's a lot to be said about the computer as well, more so than the TV (for us anyway). It is amazing how much time one can spend on the computer. I'm good at monitoring my children on time, but J. and I could spend hours just "working" on the computer. Is the time I spend well-spent? Am I only doing the worthwhile things or just passing time? These are the questions we ask ourselves because time ZIPS by when online!

Speaking of which . . . J. is out of town thsi week and almost ALL of the books I had on hold came in at the library today . . . which means I've got a LOT of reading to do! I was hoping to watch Le Mis (Netflix instant play) but now I've got all these books. What do I have?

The Graveyard Book
Hunger Games
The Princess if the Midnight Ball
The House of Sixty Fathers
The Blue Sword
Angels and Demons
Hitler Youth

and some books about learning styles and whatnot. Plus, I'm currently reading "The Good Earth" (I suggest this as a book discussion book!), I'm gaining a great fascination with Chinese culture and literature!

You guys are great!!

Our Refined Heavenly Home

I am going to post my thoughts before I read Andrea's and Kelly's because I do not want to be biased. :-)

My thoughts went many different directions, actually, when reading this article. In order:
1) Is this for real? (especially regarding the "Awesome" statement . . . I'll get to that later)
2) It reminded me of the "Mothers Who Know" talk
3) This is really sifting the wheat from the chaff!
4) Amazing! Wonderful! What can I take from this?

I had to download and read the original, long version of the talk because there were some things I wanted to clarify and some things I wanted more information about. I'm so glad I did this!

The first part about the language and using words like "Awesome" startled me because I tell my kids they are awesome and their actions are awesome all the time. Not overly much like some, but I do use those words. Therefore, it was comforting to read his original wording, "We would be disappointed if God had to us 'awesome' or other exaggerated phrases in every paragraph." He continues, "We will thrill to hear exalted beings express their sublime thoughts in perfectly chosen words." This must be something I need to work on because I cringed just a little. Some people just aren't as eloquent! Some people are not English majors! I agree, we do need to work on our language. For me, I work on the tone of the home. With what tone do I speak to my children and to my husband. With what tone do I encourage my children to speak in one to another. That to me is more important than perfectly thought out words. Thus he says, "Refinement in speech is more than polished elocution. It results from purity of thought and sincerity of expression." If we have purityof thought, we will have purity of language.

"There are those who always speak of themselves . . . There are those who always speak of others . . . There are thsoe who speak of stirring ideas, compelling books, and inspiring doctrine. These are the few who make their mark in the world. The subjects discussed in heaven are not trifling or mundane." I have to say I agree with this mostly. I believe there are some who discuss stirring ideas only and thus become boring or not "in tune" socially with those around them (I know a couple of such individuals). However, maybe those individuals are those who talk about those ideas in the form of really talking about themselves and their knowledge on such topics. That could be true, didn't think about that! I would agree that in heaven we will not discuss trivial matters, which is a stirring thought for what we discuss in our homes & at the dinner table.

On the subject of literature, I loved it all! Loved this quote: "[Education] has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." I personally feel that the computer has detracted much from the value of literally holding a book and reading words on pages. The internet is a great and vast source of information, but there are many books that go unread becuase of this.

I remember a quote by Elder Haight in which he said a home needs only three things: a piano, good books, and love. I am always inspired by the prophets and apostles for when they speak you know they are well-read in classical literature and poetry. I have a horrible memory. I don't remember much of what I read. I couldn't believe the story of President David O. McKay skim reading at least two books before 6am! Wow! "Whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effecxt on you. Therefore, choose only entertainment and media that uplift you." We are to learn out of the best books! So, what books do you have by your bedside? :-)

However, I do have to say one thing here . . . I don't like re-reading books. I think I follow the 10-year plan C.S. Lewis mentioned, though, so I guess I'm okay! :-)

Elder Callister's section on music was also a bit iffy for me, so when I read President Brigham Young's quote, "There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to heaven." I was a bit comforted. I think there is a time and place for all genres of music. Still, I wonder, because the music I listen to while cleaning the house doesn't seem like heaven-appropriate music. Will we really listen to Crazy Frog?!?! :-) I think the key here was to be sure not to omit good music from our homes. I want my kids to know classical & boroque, 60's & 80's, good songs from today. I want them to appreciate the hymns and learn to love them. J's father has said for a long time that the love of music is a spiritual trait. I agree.

I also enjoyed the story of the young boy seeking out an eternal mate and was encouraged to watch the young women in cultural arts settings. Again, do our children have the appreciation for the arts?

I couldn't help but think of Dr. Laura when reading about personal appearance and giving attention to our looks! I like the word "attentiveness" that he uses. I don't think I look bad, I try to look my best, but I can't spend money on myself in this area. Cheap makeup is fine, but anything beyond that I feel guilty. I've been thinking a lot about this with aging and how I would like to prevent those inevitable wrinkles from showing up too soon! :-) I loved this quote, "Every man has the right to be married to a woman who makes herslef as beautiful as she can . . . A husband should hurry home because of the angel who awaits him, and that angel should be watching the clock awaiting his arrival." Wow! So tender! How many times have I been watching the clock for J. in frustration that he's not home yet? Am I really the angel he has the right to come home to? Or am I waiting to pass the buck, so to speak? There is much to be said about appearance, and taking the time for ourselves to be beautiful (although, I am not going to start ironing my money!). :-) This can also go along with making the appearance of our homes, places of refinement. It's okay to make your homes beautiful! I always marvel at how much thought goes into beautifying the temple. No detail is forgotten!

My latest quote for vinyl lettering . . . "Don't Lose Your Vision." I want my kids to see this every day. I want them to know they are truly spirit sons and daughters of God! I want them to feel this and by creating a refined home it is more possible for them to do so.

Overall, excellent talk! More of a kick in the pants for me than anything, but a great reminder for who we need to become!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Refined Heavenly Home

Fabulous!! Wonderful!! Awesome!!! Incredible!!!

I couldn't resist. I read the whole BYU speech that Julia posted the link to, and it made me laugh when he talked about refraining from using all those over-the-top adjectives. I can think of several members (especially missionaries) who seem to talk like that all the time.

So some of my thoughts on the article:

I definitely came away desiring to create a more cultured, refined home. I can think of things we are doing well, and areas in which we could improve. Without really realizing it, I have been feeling prompted to create more of this type of atmosphere in our home through our home-school. I've been wanting to incorporate more exposure to good music, fine art, and poetry into our home. I've also been weeding through our books and trying to remove those that we wouldn't consider "classics" for us. "Out of the best books" has been my focus there.

I grew up in a home wherein we had a refined eating atmosphere that I have not recreated to the same extent. My mom always had a properly set table with linen napkins and everything. I'm more of the throw a few dishes out and grab the cups on our way to the table sort of cook right now. I never remember to have the table set before the meal is ready. I'd like to improve in that area. I think it encourages polite manners and appropriate conversation.

I thought the phrase "Heaven blushes" was such an interesting way to get an idea across. I wouldn't want to be the cause of that blush.

What did you think about the wife beautifying herself before her husband comes home? Was that in the Ensign article too? I can imagine some women having issues with that.

I USED to try to have the house picked up before Josh walked in the door - mostly to make it look like I accomplished something that day. Around 4pm I would have the kids help with a general clean-up before we started cooking dinner. That way if he came home early or late, things were usually in a more organized state. I should be sure to keep doing that.

I've also been trying to look nice in general so that I don't feel frumpy - and so that Josh can see the best me, not only when company is coming but most days. It's hard work, especially in the new baby phase. And I have to give myself a little slack some days. (Speaking of new baby - she is 3 months old today!)

Like you, Andrea, we don't have TV in our home. There are still plenty of opportunities to exposure to popular culture through movies and internet. We still have to be choosy. There are certain shows that, no matter how popular they are with friends and family, I still choose not to spend my time on. Either I don't like the content, or I realize that I have limited time and for me that is not a good use of my time.
I also don't think my kids are missing out on anything by not getting regular doses of Sponge-Bob or Dora the Explorer. (Although, Josh seems to make sure they are all up to date with Star Wars, GI Joe, Spiderman, and other things that he loved as a kid...still loves).

Very timely article. As the world gets more slovenly it will take more effort to create a refined home, but obviously it's a necessary thing. We have to practice living a heavenly life on earth, in order to be prepared to live it in heaven.