Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Personal Mission

So, here are my basic thoughts on having a personal mission. Keep in mind that sometimes I do tend to over-grandize some things and this may be one of them. :-)

In each of the articles listed, somewhere it says that there is a mission only YOU came here to perform.  I do believe that sometimes we (I) get caught up in thinking this is something bigger than where our life is currently leading in regards to our sphere of influence, no matter how small.  The story about President Eyring from when he was younger and the Spirit told him something like, "If you knew who you really were, you would be sad you didn't try harder."  I wonder in my life if I'm not trying hard enough to accomplish and fulfill the promises made before coming to earth.  Am I too selfish? Am I making choices to be places I don't need to be?  Are my desires righteous?

Which leads to my second thought which is that we can't only go on our desires and interests.  Let's say I have an interest in cooking but I'm a horrible cook.  Well, I can practice and practice but it may not be where I need to be putting my time.  That is a minimal example, and I dont' necessarily agree with it but take it anyway.  :-)  As a grander example, let's take President Lincoln.  How many times did he fail before he was elected?  How do we know if the failures are simply distractions from our ultimate goal (being elected) or if it's not something we're supposed to be pursuing and it is thus a distraction from what we should be focussing on?  That's why simply going on wants and desires, talents and gifts can be a little bit confusing for me to understand.  I have to desire to read and study all day!  But if I did that I would definitely be distracted from my #1 mission of being a wife and mother.  :-) 

With that said, I think I, for one, need to be grateful for the places the Lord has led me in my life.  I need to sometimes refocus and realize my mission is in the home, raising & teaching my children.  Sometimes we don't appreciate our smaller sphere of influences.  I have at times felt like Alma, "O, that I were an angel, crying repentance on the housetops."  Maybe we all have those moments, maybe not.  But, I do think that sometimes when we talk about "our personal mission" in church, we do need to think more about what we are doing and ask the Lord if it be right.  Are we truly fulfilling our missions or simply muddling through life? 

Random ramblings, but there you have it! :-)
Kim is great. Requested at my library. Should be able to start reading it sometime in the next week or two.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Okay, I know Kelly hasn't voted but I voted for Kim and so did Kami (I talked to her on the phone today) and Julia said either. So, we have a general enough consensus. Happy reading.

More on Books

Hi again!
I'm going to post more about the "mission" stuff soon, but for now I'll stay focussed on books.

I just saw the 1491 book at the library and thought it looksed quite fascinating as well.  AND I have on my list The Federalist Papers.  So those look great for me!

As for 1st - I'll read either Kim or Crusoe.  LesMis seems a bit much for me right now . . . that might be great for a long summer read or something??  Still very much want to read it however.  :-)

It's fun to have more activity on this group again! 

I haven't gotten to those articles, but I hope to get around to them eventually.

How Capitalism Saved America might be hard to find. Josh had been on paperbackswap waiting list for quite awhile. BUT - he actually has 2 copies. The first one he got was all marked up, and he really hates to have his books pre-marked, so that one is available as a loner. If you guys want to pass it around I can mail it off. With media mail it would be fairly cheap - $2 or so, right?

I've got to get back to my family. I'm at my in-laws right now and poor Grandma might be feeling overwhelmed with all the kids trying to "help" her.
I can be blunt too - - :-)
If you noticed the articles were not TJEd -based. . . Read them and then let's talk about it!  :-)

I love you all too!!


Okay--I checked my library for How Capitalism Saved America and they don't have it, and I checked for Guns, Germs, Steel and they don't have it, and I checked for the Hawkins one and they don't have it. I put Eve and the Choice Made in Eden on hold but it might be awhile.

My point: we're taking a vote on the first book we'll be reading from the books I have in my house. Vote for your #1 choice and your #2 choice.

A) Les Mis
B) Kim
C) Robinson Crusoe

My choice #1 is Kim and my choice #2 is Robinson Crusoe. (I don't want to start Les Mis until after March when I get the next Megan Whalen Turner--I'm weird like that. But, if that is the vote, I'm okay with it!)

Our second book choice will be Eve and the Choice Made in Eden. Hopefully that will give everyone a chance obtain a copy. After that--Guns, Germs, and Steel. I'll have to get my sister to get it from Weber State or something. I'm making it third so we all have ample time to track down a copy.

As for missions--I think it is a bogus idea completely. Our mission is pretty clearly delineated in the scriptures. We came to work out our salvation and help as many people as we can work out their salvation. If we're living like we're supposed to, then we are instruments in God's hands to do whatever he wants us to do. It is no suprise that people pursue various interests and have a desire to pursue a variety of interests. Magnifying our talents is part of what God wants us to do. TJEd's lame-o focus on "personal missions" is just another way they've complicated what was originally a simple and straightforward education philosophy while muddling up doctrine at the same time.

Essentially what Kami said--I'm just super grumpy this morning so I said it straight out. Don't worry, she'll reprimand me and give me a lecture on tact.

I still plan on reading those sources you sent us, though, Ju.

I really love this blog and all you people. Just so you know.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Other books

So I went looking, and I'm really craving some nonficiton. Here's a few others that looked appealing.

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbusby Charles C. Mann
Bones: Discovering the First Americansby Elaine Dewar
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

Umm, yeah, I like history and archaeology. Hee. Hee.

Now I must at least get the laundry done.

My scattered thoughts

Leo said I should take a I am, although pruning my rose bush was pretty therapeutic, I have to say. So here's my thoughts that I managed to gather, in brief.

I regards to the Mountain Meadow Massacre and polygamy, etc. I think you're doing your children a disservice if you don't at least give them some rudimentary knowledge of it. Things come up in weird ways--I first read about the Mountain Meadow Massacre in a Jack London book. It was not a favorable telling of it. Even now, I have a hard time understanding some things, and I just have to keep reminding myself after reading something disturbing of my own personal experiences that keep me grounded in the gospel. Leo's aunt went off on him when he was going to get baptized, and being Leo, he kind of shrugged them all aside, but he did ask me about polygamy, and so I wrote him this long LONG email explaining all this stuff, and in the end he didn't really care that much anyway, and was kind of overwhelmed by my response. So there's definitely a danger of going overboard in explanations too. So this wasn't so brief. But to sum up: It's always better to be informed than ignorant. And I do agree with Andrea on how to teach kids about it.

Secondly, I might not be reading anything for a while, but when I do again, I'll be up for anything you guys mentioned. But I still would like to read these three especially from our old list:

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies / Jared Diamond
**The Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe / Stephen Hawking
Man's Search for Meaning / Viktor E. Frankl

I think that would fall in line with Julia's desire to read five different books on different subjects. Guns, Germs and Steel is history/sociology/anthropology. The Theory of Everything is science. And Man's Search for Meaning, philosophy. Right?

Other than that, I'm up for anything. Although once Megan Whalen Turner's new book is out, all others will be pushed to the side.

Oh, and as far as us having a mission, I have a complicated view on that. I don't really feel any pressure to complete any particular "thing" simply because it may or may not be my mission. I feel really strongly that when we are at least wanting to do right (having the desire to believe like in the seed parable) whether we are succeeding or not, that the Lord will guide us more than we ever expect. However, I think if we are "succeeding" in being righteous, even a little bit (as in the basics that always kill me: praying, personal scripture study), we'll be in an even better position to be led by the Lord to do what he wants, and thus fulfilling our mission even more fully. My patriarchal blessing does fit in well with what I like to persue already, albeit not always with equal success or as high of priority as they should be, so it's not a big deal--basically my husband, kids, family history and temple work, and study the scriptures and remember to pray. And frankly, all your guys' ideas to be better are, I think, the main thing--that means you have the desire and if you keep trying you'll end up where you should be. Anyway, I just read Pres. Uchdorf's talk, The Love of God, and that's pretty much what it said. It gave me a lot of hope anyway, which is the foundation right? Faith, hope...I've still got a long ways to go before charity, but I hope someday I get there. Hee. Hee.

So this wasn't short at all and I was supposed to be washing down walls and painting, and now I just want to go to bed. Ruff. I haven't even got the dishes or laundry done yet. Shame on me.

It's 'cuz you're always right

I thought your opinon was pretty spot on, Andrea (regarding MMM and Polygamy). I think parents avoid talking to their kids about some of these issues because they haven't fully come to grips with it themselves. However, it's our job to talk about the tricky issues.

I got bombarded by all the stereotypical anti-Mormon stuff by one particular kid in high school. Having some idea of appropriate ways to respond, as well as knowing for myself the truth behind his misconceptions, would have helped me immensely. I mean, I knew a lot, but some stuff I was completely clueless about. Oddly enough, I never felt like I could or should talk to my parents about him. Maybe I didn't think my parents would care, or have any useful information. I wish I could remember WHY I didn't talk to them about that kid.
I'd like to have a different kind of relationship with my kids.

On to other topics:
Have you guys read any of David McCullough's books? I liked John Adams (Julia mentioned a biography), but I thought 1776 was fabulous (and easier to read).
Sorry!  I absolutlely agreed with everything you (Andrea) said.  J. has more that personality where it can come up in natural conversation . . . I need to be more rehearsed in what I say . . . and become more knowledgable myself in the contraversial matters of the Church (thus I'm very excited to read your Emmeline book!). 

I would like to read Carry On Mr. Bowditch as well.   Any good biographies???  I'm in the mood for a good biography.  :-[)  Oh, another one from the old list (I think) is Around the World in 80 Days!  But I definitely do not want to read House of Seven Gables again. 

As for the whole mission thing:  What if you have desires and passions that aren't really meant to come to fruition in your life??  Is that possible?  That's why only going on passions and desires doesn't quite work.  What if something you want to do or feel the desire to do doesn't go along with your husband's ideas of what you should do, or what's good for the family?  I KNOW - I tend to overthink things, but I appreciated Kelly's comments thusfar and would like some more discussion!  :-)

Okay, done for now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oh fine

Since you didn't bother to respond to my opinionated response I must assume that you agree with everything I said. Ha!
Julia - good questions about missions. I'd like to know the answers myself! I'll have to think about it more. I've given it some thought.

I kind of thought that your mission could be related to what you are passionate about.

But how do you reconcile that with what your patriarchal blessing says? There is stuff in mine that I'm definitely NOT passionate about - maybe because I don't have time, knowledge/skills, or interest - but it doesn't feel like my "mission" (at this time).

About our reading list. There are some books on the old list that I love and hope you still read them: Little Britches, and Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. But don't put them on the list for my benefit. I've read them. I just love them enough that I want YOU all to if you haven't.

But as for books that I would like to read:
I would love to do Les Mis with you. Lots of fodder for discussion there.
Eve and the Choice made in Eden is a book I've been meaning to read forever
I've been pondering rereading A Tale of Two Cities, so I'm up for that.

I'll have to think more about it later. But mostly I'm just up for anything.
What about The Maltese Falcon? I just started it.  :-)

Another Question

So yesterday in RS we discussed the whole "you have a specific mission" thought/principle/idea.  Whenever I hear that I get all freaked out and analytical about what my mission is here on earth and am I really persuing the right things to fulfill that mission.  One person mentioned that if you have  a desire to do something, you need to act on that desire.  She used the example of cooking and how she can't cook really well, but wants to learn so she needs to act on that desire.  Okay, so I always think grander.  And so my question is: 
How do you know if your desire is really what you should be working toward or if it's just a distraction to keep you from your real purpose?  Articles to read and discuss: 
Understand Who You Are - Robert C. Oakes, BYU devotional
Preparing for your Spiritual Destiny - Neal L. Anderson, CES Fireside Jan 10th, 2010
Patriarchal Blessings - Truman G. Madsen


As for books on the list: I will read Kim.  I liked the ones you chose from my list already.  Anything else you decide.  :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Response to Ju

Some of my favorites off your list that I love but am not really interested in re-reading right now: Tale of Two Cities, Jane Eyre (though I pretty much have it memorized if you want to discuss it sometime), Origin of Species, The Professor and the Madman (seriously, read that one--it is awesome).

Books on your list that I am interested in reading: Robinson Crusoe, Les Mis, How Capitalism Saved America.

Also--Kim by Rudyard Kipling is on my list. I read it and loved it but it has been too long for me to remember much. Anyone interested in that one?

Kami--jump in here anytime.

Kelly--you've posted the books you've read. Are there any you'd like to see on our book list?

Kami and I will put a new list together for the next few months so post any others that you'd like to see on the list.

As for your question--heck yes you should be the one to introduce your children to things like the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Think about how Christine felt to know that she'd made a fool of herself in front of her class, and how things like that can really shake a youth's budding faith. It is like polygamy. Ignoring it, or pretending that it isn't doctrine can lead to huge crises of faith. If you start talking about these things when your children are young, you can guide how they feel about them, so when other people ask about them or criticize the church for them (and people will), then your children are ready with answers they feel comfortable with and are less likely to feel confused/conflicted/upset. I was bothered as a youth (and still feel this way) by how polygamy was swept under the rug like we were ashamed of it. Because if we're ashamed of it then we're ashamed of Joseph Smith and if we're ashamed of Joseph Smith then we are ashamed of the Book of Mormon, and if we're ashamed of that--then we cannot believe. If we can't talk about the Mountain Meadow Massacre then the only people who are talking about it are those who want to diminish our faith. People make mistakes. Joseph Smith made a lot of mistakes. That doesn't diminish his greatness as a prophet or undermine his pivotal role--but our children have to be taught to see it that way.

I want to be the one to teach my children that while the church doctrine is perfect the people aren't, and then use the Mountain Meadows Massacre as a perfect and obvious example of this. Then I want to put it in a historical context for them about the feelings of church members and the fear and how people were responding to fear, not the Spirit. And I'm writing my Emmeline B. Wells book for my daughters whether Deseret Book will ever publish it or not so my children have a springboard for talking about polygamy. We'll talk about options women had and what it meant to be a single mother, or a single woman without educational or employment opportunities. We'll talk about how the whole world believes in polygamy--they just don't want to look at it that way (remarriages after a spouse dies) and how it would be for someone to not have the opportunity for a family. We'll talk and talk and talk about these issues until my children have a firm grounding in what was caused by the time period in which an event took place and what was and is doctrine so that when someone makes an "oh, you're a mormon, how many mothers do you have" comment (and I got loads of them the short time we were in Kentucky), my children will be ready and it won't be a threat to their faith that the church doesn't have a perfect history or easily embraced doctrine.

And that was my very opinionated opinion on that!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I'm finding my schedule needs to be completely revamped because I don't have nearly as much time to read as much as I'd love to do!!  With that said, here are my lastest reads and thoughts on what I want to read, what we can read together.  :-)

I am actually reading the Calpurnia book right now, too.  :-)  I love it!  I'm going to add the Prunella one to my list.  :-)  I just read Scarlett Pimpernel (on the beaches of Hawaii, I might add).  Loved that one, too!  I read Impossible and I thought it was intriguing actually.  I think I just love books that are different than what I normally read, so I found it interesting.  Not a classic by any means, but good enough to read.  Margaret Haddix is my favorite author at the moment.  I just think she's a great storyteller.  I just read Found which was great except then I found out it'd be a time travelling series and didn't want to pursue further.  I also read Just Ella and thought that was a sweet love story. 

So I read something by Rachel DeMille in regards to the question, "How do you do this" (i.e. follow TJEd).  Her response was something like this, "Once you have read five classics in math, five in literature, five in science and five in history, you won't be asking that question anymore. You'll be asking different questions, better questions."  So, that is kind of my goal right now . . . to read 5 classics in each subject.  I would especially love it if we found another math classic like Fermat's Enigma.  That was an excellent read.  :-) 

Books I'd be interested in Reading:
I'd love to read & discuss the Calpurnia Tate book together
Tale of Two Cities
Robinson Crusoe
Jane Eyre
Les Miserables
Shakespeare play (one I haven't read yet)
Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortensen (my hometeacher brought this to my attention a month or so ago - a story about one man's journey to promote peace through the schools in Inida I think??)
The Origin by Irving Stone (fictional novel based on Darwin, I want to read it and watch the upcoming movie)
Darwin's Origin of Species
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind - Kamkwamba
A biography of Martha Washington (any first lady I would love to read about)
5,000 Year Leap - Skousen
How Capitalism Saved America (thanks for the suggestion Kelly!)
The Professor and the Madman - Winschester (this is about an insane man who helped to write the Oxford English Dictionary)
I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better (I need to re-read this one)
Eve and the Choice Made in Eden
There's also a book about Vemeer and the Nazis I'm interested in reading. 

I'll stop there!  See what I mean about not enough time to read?!?!  I know, your lists are equally as long!

Andrea, I appreciated your thoughts on the gospel.  I loved the little phrase to "chant" with your kiddies.  Excellent!  I've been pondering myself on a few topics.  I wrote a lengthy essay on what it means to be excellent and then my laptop broke down . . . I'm hoping to retreive the file so I can tweek it.  I was going to post it here.  Anyway, I've also been intrigued by the word "discernment" and how we can determine what is from God and what is from Satan as we try to allow the Spirit to direct our lives.  I love hearing what others are studying in the gospel just as much (if not more than) as good literature!

Question:  I had an interesting discussion this morning with my parents, sister & J.  We were talking about the Joseph Smith papers books that have come out.  My parents seemed a bit bothered by the information that is coming forth and how it's really shaking the faith of some people.  It led to the discussion that these facts aren't faith-promoting.  What do you think?  I'm also wondering this as well.  My sister, Christine, shared a story with me a little while ago.  She said that in history class in high school they started talking about the Mountain Meadow Massacre.  She stood up and defended the Church saying those things never happened.  Well, come to find out at home that the event really did take place.   She was telling me, in the present, that the youth should know what really happened.  I'm in the middle - - I think they should be able to discuss any topics that may arise at home comfortably, but is it my responsiblity to introduce them to these subjects?  Especially with homeschooling, knowing they're not going to get it in schools & most likely not directly in their own classes at church?  Just food for thought!

Summer????  I still have to get organized for the winter!!  I think I'm going to take a new twist on history.  We've been doing nothing significant in history this year (at least, that's how I've felt).  I'm going to do mini-units on The Wars of America.  I'm feeling that pull to educate my children more on American history, and patriotism.  We just went to Pearl Harbor this week, too, and boarded the battleship Missouri and it was fascinating to me.  I want my children to know what we have fought for thusfar!

Anyway, those are my blurbs, thoughts, and suggestions!  I hope you are all having a lovely January - - despite the gray!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Must Reads

Well, it depends on what you like.

I'm having a hard time choosing my faves. For instance, I did like "Catching Fire". It was too similar to the first one, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it. I'm expecting a lot from the third, and final, book in this series.

Graceling was a different kind of fantasy. My husband and I both really liked it. It does have a scene of premarital sex, but it is tastefully done and not explicit. So I recommend the story, with that caveat.

I thoroughly enjoyed Calpurnia and Petronella. Those are both new this year and they are going to stay on my list of books for my daughters to read.

How Capitalism Saved America is one my my non-fiction faves. The information in it is all available through various other sources, but I like how it's compiled into one, easy-to-read book. If you are remotely interested in American History and/or Economics, this is a must read. I call it the Oprah Antidote. I don't watch Oprah, but I have heard SO much about Denmark ever since her show about other countries. She painted Denmark as this perfect country and managed to leave out a lot of relevant information (which I won't go into). But everyone I've talked to who watched the show thinks we should be more like Denmark (higher taxes, more government care over us).
Yes, I have some firm libertarian views when it comes to economics. My husband is passionate about this stuff, and I find his enthusiasm rubs off on me to some degree.

So those are probably my favorites on my entire list.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kelly, you listed all those books but you didn't tell us which ones we should add to our must read list. I really liked Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George. I've met her in real life. She has red hair.

Loved The Graveyard Book--but then, who didn't.

I haven't read the rest. I tell you, I'm slipping. I hardly read at all anymore. Just not enough hours in the day.

It's good to know you're still around and doing well. I haven't thought about summer. I'm ending school officially the end 20th of June--so I'm doing a pretty long year. The last month we're talking about Mormon pioneers then we're going to Martin's Cove and camping overnight. I think it will be a pretty fun way to end the year.

Can you Ever Have Enough Books?

Hi ladies,

I read Impossible. I wasn't that impressed. One of my friends read it and raved about it. I still can't figure out why she liked it so much.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Elder Eyring's talk. Good stuff. I've been thinking a lot about some areas where I feel inspired to improve. It's funny how you suddenly feel bombarded by a message coming at you from all different directions. I feel like the Lord's been banging on my head saying, "Hello? You wanted to know what to work on? Have I got a list for you. Let's start with this!" But seriously, it feels good to have some direction and a focus for my self-improvement.

I have read War & Peace. I'm not too interested in reading it at the moment. I have also read Les Mis, but wouldn't be opposed to reading that.

I've been doing lots of fiction reading:
The Graveyard Book
The Girl with the Pearl Earring
Catching Fire
The Amulet of Samarkand (recommended to me, but I didn't care for it much)
A slew of Jessica Day George books
To Kill a Mockingbird
How Capitalism Saved America (not fiction, by the way, but very good just the same)
Honey, Pick Another Check-Out Lane (my sister loaned it to me and is in love with couponing because of this book) - another nonfiction, obviously.
Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone (short and sweet - a bit like Patricia Wrede's "The Enchanted Chocolate Pot" book which I also read recently and enjoyed)
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
and a million books by D.E. Stevenson...who, while not great literature, fills a need in my heart for simple stories about good, simple people.

I have also been reading varying books on Early American History with my 6 year old. We're trying out the Beautiful Feet program. So's ok. I don't love it, but it's making life easy for me this year, which is what I needed. My little baby is growing up and life is starting to seem more normal.

I'm SO looking forward to next year when I will have no children in public school. Last year and this year have thrown me for a loop. Our entire family rhythm has been different - partly because of public school schedules (I always have to be home by 3pm if we go anywhere and I can't take off for a 3 day field trip whenever I want), and partly because my kids are growing up and getting involved in more things outside of the home. Sigh.

I realize it's only January, but I'm trying to think about this year's summer study. Last year we did Astronomy and Shakespeare. I learned two things. One: I should only study one subject in depth at a time - particularly during the summer. Two: Shakespeare was an AWESOME topic and that was a great way to study it.
I've been thinking...maybe American History? Always a fave. Or maybe CA State history. We could take trips and visit all the CA History sites around the state. That'd be fun. Do you know what you are doing in the summer?

I've rambled enough and haven't said anything important. Thanks for posting, Andrea. I like hearing what you've been reading. It gives me ideas to put on my library list. And I like when you share things you've been thinking about.

Things I've been reading.

Hello my long-lost book group. Kami is getting moved into her real new home on Saturday and eventually she might regain her sanity, her daughter, and a little time to read and/or blog. Maybe not though--her baby will be here soon.

As for me--I've been reading lots of picture books about China (my children are obsessed) and slavery. We're starting slavery and the Civil War, and while it is not a pretty topic--it is a fascinating one. I'm reading Slave Dancer out loud to my kiddos, and I'm a little worried that it will be too much for Miriam's delicate feelings to handle, but yet I forge ahead. What does that say about me?

I read a book called Impossible. The characters, except the bad guy, were lame. Annoying.

I've mostly been reading a collection of Elder Eyring's talks called, "To Draw Closer to God." So far (and I'm not that far into it) I've found a lot of food for thought. For example, President Eyring (hereafter PE) talked about a man who home taught him when he was the president of Ricks College. The home teacher would bring a notebook and take copious notes during their visits. PE said he was very flattered that the man would care so much about what PE had to say. Then, he went to a meeting at which a primary child spoke and PE was surprised to see that very home teacher taking just as copious of notes from the primary child's talk. The lesson PE learned is that God can speak through anyone to those who have ears to hear. What we need to do is practice listening so we hear what Heavenly Father wants to teach us through any of his servants, no matter how humble. Describing another young deacon who knew how to listen, PE wrote: "He wanted to hear, he knew how, and he had the faith he could." The first step, therefore, is wanting to hear.

Anyway, I think I've found the first few talks interesting because PE was talking about how we need to learn to listen during all of our church meetings because it is up to us to hear what God wants to us to know and he often communicates through his servants. I guess I've been thinking so much about communication coming during scripture study or in the temple, or during a personal prayer, that I hadn't given much thought to the effort I was putting in at church to "hear." PE wrote: "God has said that if we are going to make it home again, we must not only hear his voice privately by our own effort, but also through the voice of His servants."

PE also stressed that you have to pray with "confidence" and "faith." I liked the word confidence because it has really become clear to me lately (through my mother's example during the time of crisis when Ethan said he wasn't going on a mission) that I am, as always, MUCH more like my father than my mother. I figured, Ethan did things he shouldn't do, he wants to play football, the mission dream is over. But mom went the opposite route and refused to give up (much to the annoyance of all us doubting Thomases) and she pled with the Lord. In a real way. And now, Ethan has changed his mind and says he is absolutely going in July. It really is a miracle. We've always called Mom to pray for us when we needed something because we all know her prayers are answered because she has faith like you would not believe (ha, that was funny but I didn't mean it to be). She also has confidence too--that God really can work miracles. It is something my cynical self needed to reminded of. Prayer has power and when we pray to have two-way communication with God more often--it will happen. We can pray for better "ears that hear" and if we mean it, it will happen. Sometimes I forget that.

To end this strange collection of rambling thoughts, I was reading in the new Gospel Principles book and found a great mantra (I actually do chant it in my mind throughout the day to help me refocus on the important things). It was in chapter one in the section talking about how we can come to know God. It said be believing, reading the scriptures, praying and obeying. In other words:
Believe, Read, Pray, Obey
I'm going to teach it to my kids and start our day chanting it. It really sums up everything important for us to be doing in a catchy little way.
I'd love to hear from people. I'm not sure when or if Kami is ready to jump back into this but we both agreed that we need to read War and Peace. Me for the first time, her for the second. I also need to reread Les Mis. I also got a bunch of Winston books for Christmas and they are calling my name. My point--I'm not very excited about our reading list at this point. Anyone interested in War and Peace??