Friday, April 30, 2010

The Heart

A year ago when asked to give a talk in stake conference I went through and read most of the scriptures listed under "heart" in the Bible Dictionary to prepare myself.  Ever since then, the heart has been a central focus of mine as well - - for myself and especially for one of my children who tends to lean more toward the hard-heartedness side of things (she's come a very long way in the past several months!)  I just reposted my talk on a different blog here  (a work in progress, by the way).

But, in response to Andrea, this book has been on my list for quite sometime.  You simply encouraged me to put it higher on the list.  :-)  Thank you!!

I loved the part about how scriptures never leave you discouraged whereas other sources can disappoint you.  I think modern technology (blogging, facebook, etc.) has brought in more of that disctraction and keeps us from looking at the true source of  self worth.  I know when I get in my more addicted phases of looking at others' blogs I get rather down on myself and feel more like a failure than amazing (which you all know I am!).  :-)  Sister Beck said something kind of similar in her last conference talk.  She said, "When you are doing your best,you will have disappointments but you will not be disappointed in yourself."  I loved that! 

The other part I liked from your post, Ans, was the idea of "reporting" to someone.  I've always believed in the return and report method of the Church.  We need to report our Visiting Teaching for a reason . . . not only for numbers.  People usually excercise better when they have a "buddy."  Weight Watchers has a lot of success becuase there is that accountabillity to someone.  This brings to mind Elder Bednar's two talks on prayer from last year and how we talk to God about the things we plan to work on in the morning and then at night we report to Him on how well we did, making the command to "pray always" more relevent in our lives.  Very good stuff!

Now, you did write: "The more I give to my children, the more I have to give."  I understand what you meant, but for me it's a little different.  I HAVE to give to myself thing in the morning (mostly in regards to that relationship with my Heavenly Father) before I can give very much to my children.  If I don't give to msyelf first, filling my bucket then I think about when I can give to msyelf all the rest of the day.  Not really, but I'm a bit more edgey I guess.  Only when I feel filled can I unselfishly give to them . . . even all day if need be.  Anyway, just a thought.

Thanks for posting though, great thoughts to ponder on!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jared Diamond's book GGS

Finally finished with this book - I hate it when I take too long to read a book and in this case I was out of town for two weeks and I read half before I left and half when I got back so it's all a little mixed up in my mind.

I paged through the section in the back entitled "Further Readings".  This guy put a LOT of thought and study into this book.  I suppose it's a little presumptious for me to read his book and then say whether he's right or wrong, but I'm going to do it anyway.

In general, I agreed with his theory.  I thought it was fairly well-researched and his supporting evidence backed up his claims.  He mentions several times that he gives us only a very generalized overview of the history of humanity.   Obviously not every factor that contributed throughout history to the development of civilization could be included, so I thought he chose well what he did include.  My personal favorite parts included the information regarding the geographic availability of domesticatable plants and animals.  Who knew that Africa had all those animals that can't be domesticated!  Who knew that resource-rich America had so few plants that lent themselves well to farming.  I had always wondered why Zebras weren't being used as plow animals.  Now I know!

I find it completely, and indeed quite likely, that the Lord created the earth this way in order to fulfill His own grand purposes.  Who am I to say that He couldn't or didn't?  :-)  Not that it means that everything is pre-drafted.  But somethings were just going to be no matter what.  Wouldn't it be awesome to see the progression of humanity from a Godly perspective?  Honestly, this book made me more excited to go back (in some celestial day) and watch the entire show from beginning to end.

The argument that Diamond is reinforcing a Euro-centric view is just full of crap.  I thought he was working really hard to make a case for the rest of the world.  He explained quite thoroughly that it wasn't lack of brain-power (as racist people have assumed in the past) that stopped non-caucasion civilizations from developing as quickly.  It was just the sad fact that they didn't win the geography lottery.  He mentions culture briefly, and I'm sure that does come into play, but it is a topic for a separate book.  If you've ever read "Exodus" (Leon Uris) the idea that one reason the Jews succeeded in making Israel blossom over the past 50 years (where the Palestinians have lived for eons and done nothing to improve) is because of a culture of hard-work.  And if you love history and haven't read "Exodus" and "The Haj", well, you just have it.  :-)

My feelings on the whole - interesting book.  I skimmed parts that seemed to drag.  I thought he was pretty spot-on with his theory, and am now a little more enlightened about history than I was before!  Two thumbs up.

A Heart Like His

I just finished reading A Heart Like His by Virginia Hinckley Pearce (yes, she's President Hinckley's daughter). It was awesome. Very, very awesome.

Remember how my whole goal this year is to develop a stronger relationship with my Heavenly Father and by doing that, learn to love others better. It is sort of circular, of course. The more I learn to love those around me better--by treating them better and praying for them more and becoming less selfish--the more I will feel Heavenly Father's love. The more I feel Heavenly Father's love, the more I'll want to spread that love around and serve His other children.

That's the plan.

Sometimes I forget the plan and yell at my children.

But I am trying.

This book was very helpful. It is very much centered around my goal as the whole premise of the book is that a group of RS sisters wanted to try a "heart-softening" experiment to see how it would affect them and their relationships. VP said, "We were experimenting with principles, in the tradition of Alma.. . . As a committee, we outlined a plan: to simply be more aware of the condition of our hearts, and with this awareness, crack them open a bit wider. We agreed to do this during encounters that would present themselves in the natural flow of our lives."

So the rules of the experiment were as follows: "1) To be more aware of the condition of our hearts and with that awareness to keep them more open toward others.

2) To do this in the normal course of our lives . . . our lives were not to be filled with more things to do!

3) Notice the Spirit, and be willing to come together and honestly report what happened or hadn't happened."

I really liked the idea of this experiment as it is really what I'm trying to do, only formalized and put into concrete terms. I also liked that the women were very clear that this wasn't an added burden or item on a to-do list. VP described it as being very conscious of why we do things, or the state of our heart when we do things. She encouraged visualizing your heart as you made decisions and then taking a second to "feel" whether your heart was shrunken and hidden or close to the surface and open. For example, when you see someone at the store that you think you should know but can't remember the name. Do you hastily switch aisles to avoid the embarrassment/awkwardness of the meeting or do you say hello and ask whether or not you know the person. The more we're willing to do things outside of our comfort zone that could lead to a positive interaction with another person, that's open heart behavior.

In the book was a chapter about red flags--or, in other words, the things that habitually prevent us from having an open heart. VP and I have a red flag in common. She wrote: "Experimenting with an open heart taught me that one of my personal red flags, one of the things that would help me recognize that perhaps my heart might need checking, is when I feel I can't attend to someone because I'm too busy. Bad habit. And that's all it is, I have discovered. Because an open heart isn't really as much a matter of time as it is a matter of being present, available, and open to whomever is in my physical space at any given moment." I thought that was pretty profound. Think about that with parenting. I am constantly saying, in essence, "leave me alone" to my children. I am always so busy with the running of the house that I push my children aside. All. The. Time. I recognize that you can't spend every waking moment focused on your children, but I'm pretty sure you can be more present. More in the moment with them. I think you can do that and still get everything else done.

VP told this great story about her mother. They were trying on coats at the last of several stores and both Marjorie and Virginia were tired. The coat Sister Hinckley liked was too long, so an in-store seamstress was pinning it for her (what store would this be????). While the coat was getting pinned, Sister Hinckley coaxed the seamstress into telling her all about herself, while Virginia sat in the corner thinking about all the things she still had to do that night. When it was time to leave Virginia noticed that the seamstress and her mother were both smiling, cheerful, and fairly energetic while she, herself, felt even more grumpy and tired. Her conclusion: "Opening one's heart creates energy. Closing one's heart depletes energy." I think that can be applied to mothering as well. The more I give to my children, the more I have to give. The days where I start out a little grumpy and selfish always go downhill fast. Very fast.

Here's some more thoughts: "An open heart looks outward. A closed heart looks inward."

"Observe the physical/emotional/spiritual response of your heart, independent of your words or actions. Awareness is the key."

"Take the initiative to get outside yourself and express an interest in those you encounter. Pray for the courage to do so."

"Pay attention to spiritual confirmations. Is the Spirit working in this? Do you feel confirmations of comfort, peace, and happiness? Are the seeds beginning to swell?"

1 Nephi 11:22-23: "Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things. And he spake unto me, saying: yea, and the most joyous to the soul."

VP posed the question: "Are you feeling the love of God--that He loves you, personally?" I think that is the big question. I think the more we tap into that feeling of being loved by our Heavenly Father, the more we relax, feel less guilty, worry less about to-do lists and more about people. Also, the more we are able to let go of others expectations and criticisms to embrace ourselves as valuable.

Ways VP feels love from God: 1) help from others; 2) beauty of nature; 3) the sriptures, words of the prophets, the Holy Ghost personalizing messages just for her.

"One of the remarkable qualities about God's love for us is that not only do we experience it as validating and affirming, but it also produces growth and change in us. It literally moves us forward, toward Him and our own eventual exaltation. It is a sculpting, correcting, and purposeful kind of love."

VP made one really excellent point. She said that reading about other people, or talking to other people, sometimes left her discouraged. She felt criticisms and she felt like she wasn't doing enough. However, the scriptures never left her discouraged. The scriptures are full of promises that Heavenly Father wants us to succeed, that He loves us, that He gave us His son, that He'll do everything He can to help if we will turn to Him. The scriptures don't make comparisons. The worth of ALL souls is great in the sight of God.

Toward the end of the book, VP talked about the importance of reporting your changing behavior, to yourself at the very least, but also to others. She talked about the Hawthorne Effect. In essence, the Hawthorne Effect is that people change their behaviors when they know they are being watched. It drives researchers crazy, apparently. Therefore, if we report to someone--ourselves, a spouses, friends, God--our behavior will change more quickly. "Being aware enough to count and report our experiences is a dynamic and positive process." She quoted Plato, "The life which is unexamined is not worth living."

She ended with this and I will too. "In the definition of Conversion, the Bible Dictionary says that conversion 'denotes changing one's views, in a conscious acceptance of the will of God (Acts 3:19). If followed by continued faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism in water for the remission of sins, and the reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, conversion will become complete, and will change a natural man into a sanctified, born again, purified person--a new creature in Christ Jesus (see 2 Cor. 5:17).'"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guns, Germs and Steel . . . I read it!

Okay - I only read half, BUT that was much more than I thought I was going to read and I mostly only stopped because it was due at the library today.  :-) 

I kind of have the opposite view of Kami, in that the first 100 pages were quite fascinating to me.  Then I just got tired of him dragging on and on and on . . . my reading slowed down.  I really wanted to get to the last few chapters, they looked interesting to me (I can't remember what they were about though, because the book is now at the library). 

Two thoughts only:  1) The whole birthing babies and baby-spacing history was rather interesting to me.  The part where it was about hunter-gatherers not being able to have babies too close together while farmers could then have them closer.  2)  I also never realized there was such a rift between the two groups.  Makes sense, I guess.  Random question:  Would Adam and Eve be considered hunter-gatherers or farmers?  :-) 

One last thought:  It makes sense he would mention New Guinea much more than other countries because that is where he lived or studied or something.  He mentioned that that particular nation fascinated him . . . and we usually tend to write about our passions.

Right now my passion is sleep!  As you can already tell by my very unintelligable (sp?) writing, it's past my bedtime.  Overall, I am glad that I read what I read of the book and am very ready to move on to something better!



Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Hi, Kayli.

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Oh no, a crazy lunatic has hacked into this blog!!!
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More skin care stuff

Kelly, the author self-identified as dry and sensitive skin. She uses Terralina Gentle Cleanser (which I've never heard of but is very pricey) and Aveeno Active Naturals Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer, SPF 30. She also uses St. Ives Elements Protective Cleanser with SPF 10 in the shower in the hopes her hubby will use it and get even a little sun protection. She also likes Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Body Mist, SPF 45 for when she's outside for something like the beach, and she likes Nia 24 (never heard of it).

She also gives a long and detailed lecture about where to put sunscreen and to ALWAYS have on lip balm with sunscreen and sunglasses. She says lots of cancers start in our nails so put sunscreen on your hands and feet including the nails. She also strongly recommends yearly all-over skin checks with a dermatologist. I've wanted to do that for years because I am so high risk, but . . . money. And the weirdness of literally being checked everywhere on your body. But, it is a priority for this year.

Oh--she also really likes Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 because it doesn't sting if you get it in your eyes.

Make sure you're wearing sunblock that blocks both kinds of rays.

Did I answer all your questions? I'm thinking of switching moisturizers because of the sunscreen element, but I hardly use any sunscreen--so I probably wouldn't get enough sunscreen. I've been using Neutrogena 50 every day under my make-up but even that makes my face feel greasy by the end of the day. Grr. Even after reading all her stuff I'm not sure what sunscreen to use.

Sorry for the randomness. Have a good day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guns Germs and Steel by Kami

I feel I’m failing as to coming up with a decent post, let alone essay. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to respond to all of your commentaries with something a little more lucid and thoughtful because as I’ve mentioned before, I really did enjoy reading Guns, Germs and Steel. To be up front on the negative however, I found it more than a bit redundant (was it just me or did he talk about New Guinea more than any other place on the planet?) and sometimes more than a little dull (honestly, plant domestication really isn’t that interesting—to me anyway). Once past plant domestication and the size of seed grains though, I thought the chapters dealing with diseases, writing systems, and innovation were especially fascinating. Even if you totally disagree with all of Diamond’s theories, I think the information in those chapters makes the book worth reading. So to those of you still reading—keep going, it gets better.

For instance, who knew that when syphilis was first recorded in 1495 in Europe that it caused flesh to fall off of people’s faces and killed within a few months and then by 1546 the symptoms had changed to what we are now familiar with, making it easier for the disease to spread? Or that Japan was introduced to guns by the Portuguese in 1543, and by 1600 they owned more and better guns than any country in the world but because of pressure from the Samurai class they completely abandoned them again? Or that steel was manufactured in sub-Saharan Africa 2000 yrs. before Bessamer furnaces were used in America or Europe to manufacture it. These are the type of factoids I live for. And the book is full of them—most in support of Diamond’s theories, and some as he points out, the obligatory exception to the rule.

And now to the beef of the matter: What do I think of Jared Diamond’s theory that human civilizations have ended up where they are today because of resources available to them thousands of years ago and geography? Well, to be honest, he convinced me—but only as a general blueprint. I know in a few places I read online, some anthropologists and historians were up in arms with his book because it over simplified and was fatalistic. I agree with those points too, but I hardly think of them as negatives. Really, is there any other way to have a unified theory on the development of human civilizations without being over simplistic? I doubt it. No matter what, there’s going to be exceptions and cases of the extreme that don’t fit, however, it’s a generalized theory and overall it works very well. As for being fatalistic, I think I have a little too much belief in “manifest destiny” or “prophecy” for most modern readers and that basically interprets into fatalism anyway, at least in this sense. Perhaps I wasn’t very clear in that last sentence, I just think that in the scriptures, especially in the Book of Mormon, there’s a lot of promises and prophecies linked to “promised lands” and those determine much of our human history. In essence, I think God works through science—not against it or insensible to it—to bring about many of His plans, and much of what the author describes makes logical sense to me and I see no reason why the Lord couldn’t have used strategically placed resources and geography to accomplish His ends. I mean, the Lord created the earth right? So why not create it in a manner that will further His purposes?

In typing this though, it rankles me that people might think from my choice of the words “manifest destiny” that I shrug off or think it of no consequence what has happened to native people in colonial lands, or worse that I feel some sort of superiority myself or as a people. I don’t. It’s certainly a sticky topic though to try to discuss PC-ly, isn’t it—when you consider how Joshua was commanded to kill off all the former people of the land of Canaan and how the Book of Mormon says people will not be allowed to possess the Promised Lands of the Americas if they are unrighteous?

None of this was meant to be the focus of my post however; I simply had religion on the brain from all our discussions on the Eve book. My point that became lost several paragraphs ago, was that I think his theories are correct but only as a blueprint. They are more than logical and seem frankly obvious when overviewed from his perspective, but…BUT I still believe human factors play a huge role, especially once societies reach a statehood level. The author poses some questions regarding this issue in the afterward of the book:

“Did a linguistic or cultural factor account for the otherwise puzzling failure of complex Andean civilizations to develop writing? Was there anything in about India’s environment predisposing toward rigid socioeconomic castes, with grave consequences for the development of technology in India? Was there anything about the Chinese environment predisposing toward Confucian philosophy and cultural conservatism, which may also have profoundly affected history? Why was proselytizing religion (Christianity and Islam) a driving force for colonization and conquest among Europeans and West Asians but not among Chinese?…. What about the effects of idiosyncratic individual people?…Hitler, Alexander the Great, Augustus, Buddha, Christ, Lenin, Martin Luther, the Inca emperor Pachacuti,, Mohammed, William the Conqueror, and the Zulu king Shaka, to name a few. To what extent did each really change events, as opposed to “just” happening to be the right person in the right place at the right time?”

Those are the questions I find the most fascinating of the entire book—the ones related to culture and the role humans play in determining their own history. Yet when discussing cultural factors for accepting innovation, the author simply sweeps all of it aside, and states that on any continent at any given time there’s bound to be native societies open to innovation, hence negating (for his purposes) any need to figure out why some societies are open to it and others aren’t. And yes, for his overarching theory I suppose it isn’t necessary to know WHY, but for me who believes that humans vastly influence their own destiny it is a very pertinent question.

And I don’t have any answer to it either. Or to his other questions. I really wish I did, but I don’t. In his book, Diamond states two opposing views about individual people influencing history: one, that history is written by GREAT people, and two, that individual people just manage to be at the right place at the right time. I think that many are called and few are chosen.

However to defend my point of view that humans definitely do have an impact on the course of history, I’ll use one of his examples. When discussing why Europe conquered China and not the reverse, he states that he believes that Europe’s disunity allowed more for more opportunities for people to seek acceptance of their innovations elsewhere, or as in the case with Colombus, funding from elsewhere. Europe in 14th century had 1,000 independent statelets, 500 in AD 1500, 25 in 1980s, now back to 40 when the author wrote the book. In China on the other hand, it was so unified that if the Emperor said no, there was no other king to go to. He lists the Cultural Revolution of 1960’s China as a recent example of where it’s so unified that a few people can negatively affect the progress of the whole nation (all schools were closed for five years). As a past example, hundreds of Chinese treasure ships 400 ft long, with total crews of 28,000, were exploring as far away as Africa in 1405-1433 (they could have beat Colombus to the punch—heck, they could have hit Europe and we all might have been speaking Chinese now), but because of disagreements between two parties all ship building was banned (the losing side had supported the ships) and the sailors had no one else to ask for funding. Anyway, that’s all very fascinating, but my point is, that was a human decision. They could have decided to continue to support exploration and that might have had huge effects on the course of history.

Then again, I suppose the author could say in response to my argument that I’m looking at too short a time period, whereas he’s looking over the courses of thousands of years, I’m looking at mere hundreds. In fact he mentions how nations with a history of statehood are now rising (China, India etc.); it’s countries with no history of statehood that are still faring the worst in the world. Again in the short run (my mere hundreds of years), Diamond lists another perfect example of how much humans DO affect history. In discussing why some why some countries are rich and others not given similar enviroments, he answers that human institutions are responsible. Examples of these being: S Korea vs N Korea, Haiti vs Dominican Republic, East vs West Germany.

To sum up, I’ve yet to come up with a reasonable argument to Diamond when taking into account thousands of years, but that may be because I’m really rather tired, but I do believe humans are at the heart of our history however much environment played a role in providing advantages to crop production and innovation . And with that, good night. Perhaps one of you may be able to clarify things a bit more for me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

BYU newspaper

My husband, being thoughtful and nice, brought home a copy of the BYU newspaper for me with a list from the religious department's favorite religious books outside of the scriptures. I thought I'd post it here incase anyone else was interested. Bear in mind that it's just a surveyed list.

1. Jesus the Christ --James E. Talmage
2. All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience -- Neal A. Maxwell
3. Spencer W. Kimball, Twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints --Edward and Andrew Kimball
4. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith -- Bruce R. McConkie
5. Miracle of Forgiveness-- Spencer W. Kimball
6. The Broken Heart-- Bruce C Hafen
7. Multiple C.S. Lewis's books (Mere Christianity was shown)
8. Believing Christ -- Steven Robinson
9. Ode to Intimations of Immortality-- William Wordsworth
10. The Life of Heber C. Kimball-- Orson F. Whitney

Other books mentioned included:
  • Anna Karenina-Leo Tolstoy
  • The Chronicles of Narnia--CS Lewis
  • The Life of Christ-- Frederic W Farrar
  • Man's Search for Meaning--Viktor Frankl
  • O Jerusalem!--Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
  • And There Was Light--Jacques Lusseyran
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek--Annie Dillard
  • The Gate of Heaven--Mark B. Brown
  • The Cost of Discipleship--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Yearning for the Living God--F. Enzio Busche

Don't have a Catchy Title

Why isn't Drawing Closer to God on our reading list?  :-)

Also, I'm reading GGS right now and it's pretty interesting . . . I just went to the library to get the Federalist Papers.  Is there a difference between Federalist Papers and The Essential Federalist???  I couldn't find just the Papers, so elighten me please.

Other Random Books

Kelly, I'm not ignoring your comment--I'll find the info and post it for you tonight.

Right now, though, I want to sum up my thoughts on Henry B. Eyring's book To Draw Closer to God. There, I reposted the title for all you lazies who didn't want to hunt through old posts.

This book is amazing. I highly recommend. Here are some more of my favorite thoughts.

"The good works that really matter require the help of heaven" pg. 95.

"But the actions Alma commends to us are to ask for what we need and to return thanks. Please don't think of that as a routine command to say your prayers. Oh, it is much more than that. If you pray, if you talk to God, if you plead for the help you need, and if you thank him not only for the help but for the patience and gentleness that comes from not receiving all you desire right away--or perhaps ever--I promise you that you will draw closer to him" pg. 97.

"To God, we are all infants." I'm not sure why that gives me such a sense of calm and peace. Maybe because I don't expect my infants to do more than they are developmentally able, so this thought reassures me that I won't be judged based on anything but what I am capable of today.

"God's gifts are sufficient to help us overcome every sin and weakness if we will but turn to Him for help," President Benson, quoted by PE.

"Instead of thinking of yourself primarily as someone who is seeking purification, think of yourself as someone who is trying to find out who around you needs your help. Pray that way and then reach out. When you act under such inspiration, it will have a sanctifying effect on you" pg. 110.

There was one story that really touched me. PE was talking about his father, the famed Henry Eyring, and described the incredible pain H.E. was in during his last few months of cancer. One family member was assigned to sit with H.E. during the nights to offer whatever comfort he or she could. However, one night, for some reason, there was a space of time where nobody was in the room. H.E. managed to push himself out of bed and onto his knees (which must have caused him severe pain), and prayed. "He pled with God to know why he was suffering so. And the next morning he said, with quiet firmness, 'I know why now. God needs brave sons.'"

I think, when I read this story, that God needs brave daughters as well. I feel such a strong confirmation of this idea, but I'm a little scared about the ways we might be asked to be brave. Forgiving ourselves for our shortcomings as mothers and staying another day instead of leaving? It doesn't do to dwell on it. What does matter is that we try our best to be brave.

PE wrote a whole section on being less selfish that I also found very bracing. "Of all the times I have felt the promptings of the Spirit, they have come most forcefully and most surely when I was asking Heavenly Father what he would have do for someone whom I love and who I knew had a need" pg. 124.

Mormon 1:8, "And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren . . .." Same idea. Less selfishness, more unselfishness.

"Forget yourself and go to work." Take a minute and apply that to motherhood. It seems like everything we do is unselfish, but is our attitude one of selflessness or selishness? It makes all the difference in our happiness level, I think.

"You will testify to them, as I now testify to you, that the effect of sincere prayer and of careful scripture study is to always feel an urging to do things" pg. 151. Kami and I have talked about the value of guilt in helping you want to do more--be better. However, I don't think the urge to do something is equivalent to the heavy guilt of where we've gone wrong.

"Because our Father loves his children, he will not leave us to guess about what matters most in this life concerning where our attention could bring happiness or our indifference bring sadness" pg. 157.

"We may have to pray with faith to know what we are to do and we must pray with determination to obey, but we can know what to do, and be sure that the way has been prepared for us by the Lord" pg. 159.

"What could make it more likely that people in a family would love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and obey the law? It is not simply teaching them the gospel. It is in their hearing the word of God and then trying it in faith" pg. 169. This made me think that we need to issue more challenges to our children so they can test the word.

And that's it. There were a lot more that I wrote down for me, but those were my favorite. Let's review. This year, Andrea is trying to develop a closer relationship with her Heavenly Father because President Uchtdorf reminded her that loving God and others are the two most important commandments. President Uchtdorf also claimed that those who develop a stronger/better/closer relationship with Heavenly Father will feel more love and that love will spread out around them and they will develop more loving relationships with others. In his book, President Eyring reminded Andrea that God has plenty of wimps, he needs a brave daughter who doesn't feel self-pity in her chosen vocation of motherhood, but rather feels joy and peace in her calling. Andrea should remember that calling on the Lord with confidence has power and that she can overcome any failing, even her temper, with the help of the Lord if she REALLY BELIEVES that Heavenly Father can help her do it. Andrea also needs to remember to be more aware of promptings of the Spirit and to pray for direction for herself and her family. She also needs to remember to ease up a little on herself and remember that, "To God, we are all infants."

Anything stick out to you?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lots of Random things about Unassigned Books

I've been reading Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin by Ellen Marmur, MD, because I like that kind of thing.

It wasn't as fun as books about homemade food masks (honey + milk is my favorite), but it did have a lot of information that is revolutionary--to me, anyway.

First, homemade food masks are USELESS. Why, oh why, did I read this book?? You have no idea how much enjoyment I got from mixing up an oatmeal/honey, or avocado/oatmeal, or milk, or bunches of other things, masks. As they aren't harmful to your skin, I could still make them, but a lot of the fun will be gone now that I know they don't do anything.

Except milk. According to the doctor (according to herself she's the Chief of Dermatologic and Cosmetic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York), milk is a natural exfoliator so if you want to stop using chemicals, using milk once or twice a week for normal to oily skin would be sufficient exfoliation. Just swipe it on, leave for three to four minutes, and rinse off. Awesome, because I already do that. My skin is too sensitive for scrubs. And yes, I do love all this girly stuff. I'm very much a Fancy Nancy at heart.

Other revelations--all facials are bunk. There is no such thing as "deep cleaning" your pores as the dermis effectively blocks outside particles and the skin is constantly renewing so the deep part of your skin doesn't need cleaned. The best part of facials, according to doc, is the massage as it stimulates something or other that leads to something or other and makes your face look brighter. Or something. What I got from it--facials, waste of money skin-care speaking, facial massages good.

Other revelation--the number one problem people have with their skin is OVER WASHING it. And, well, over doing it in every category. She claims that she only rinses her face with cold water in the mornings and applies a tiny bit of moisturizer if her face feels tight. Usually she doesn't moisturize in the morning. At night, she washes her face with a face cleaner and washrag, applies moisturizer as she feels her face needs, and that's it. She doesn't use toner at all because with all the chemicals and cleaning agents in face cleaners, there is nothing left for the toner to remove. She says the only use she could possibly envisage for toner is for someone with oily skin using it in the morning instead of washing her face. Who knew???

She says the less we put on our faces the better so use a good cleanser with a good moisturizer and that's about it for basic maintenance.

She also said the only anti-aging cream known to work is SUNSCREEN. She goes on and on about this during all the chapters and she devotes one whole chapter to just this. Yes, I am feeling guilty. Yes, I know I should put on sunscreen right after my moisturizer and right before my make-up. Yes, I've been doing it faithfully since reading this book. That's all I have to say about that.

Here's the best part--she gave us a quick list of things to look for and avoid in our products if we have certain tendencies in our skin (don't say you have an oily skin type, she will disapprove--all skin has stages of dryness, sensitivity, and oilyness--the important thing is keeping track of what our skin needs are today).

If your skin is generally oily or acne-prone look for: sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocyl isethionate, cocmidopropyl betaine, disodium cocamphodiacetate. Active ingredients: salicyclic acid, benzoyl peroxide. AVOID: emolliants such as shea butter, mineral oil, lanolin, petrolatum, paraffin, beeswax, squalene, oils, alkyl benzoate, silicones, palmitates (ethylhexyl, isopropyl, and cetyl palmitates), acrylate polymers (in sunscreen), titanium dioxide, zinc oxide. So, basically, I shouldn't be using cetaphil. Grr. Now to find a different cleanser I like as well.

If anyone wants the generally dry or generally sensitive lists, let me know and I'll post them. FYI: I thought cetaphil was an extremely gentle product to use but it is actually more in the medium range. Also, she listed some natural products that she thought were good if you're into that thing. She said it didn't matter so much in skin care because all the synthetic stuff is the same stuff as natural (acid is acid whether it is produced or extracted from citrus). Don't kill the messenger--I'm just telling you what she said.

Pleasant dreams and beautiful skin to all my lovely book club friends.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Random things I found interesting in GGS

(In talking about why some animals are able to be domesticated.) “In contrast, members of most solitary territorial animal species cannot be herded. They do not tolerate each other, they do not imprint on humans, and they are not instinctively submissive. Who ever saw a line of cats (solitary and territorial in the wild) following a human or allowing themselves to be herded by a human?”

“Had Africa’s rhinos and hippos been domesticated and ridden, they would not only have fed armies but also have provided an unstoppable cavalry to cut through the ranks of European horsemen. Rhino-mounted Bantu shock troops could have over-thrown the Roman Empire. It never happened.”

I love the idea that instead of “Necessity is the mother of invention,” he believes that “many or most of inventions were developed by people driven by curiosity or by a love of tinkering, in the absence of any initial demand for the product they had in mind.” I think that is a much better fit to human behavior—I think we are hardwired to explore and wish to learn.

Other random tidbit, I never knew Sequoyah wasn’t literate when he invented the Cherokee language alphabet. I always assumed he could read English. He actually just saw writing and thought it was a good idea and so invented his own system of writing. That’s incredible.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Guns, Germs and Steel

Questions to think about while reading Guns, Germs and Steel:

1)Some people argue that Diamond’s book actually reinforces a European-centric view of history rather than opposite, as the author claims to do. Which do you think is correct?

2)It’s been argued that Diamond presents a very fatalistic view of history, “geographic determinism,” with little influence by humans—would you agree with that?

3) According to Diamond, societies beget statehood because they offer (or control) 4 things: 1. disarm populace, arm elite 2. redistribute tribute in popular ways 3. curb violence 4. construct ideology or religion. (These are in essence how the elite stay in power in a state, and also why the general populace accepts their position.) Would you agree that these are all that statehood offers?

4)Other criticisms include that little or no attention is paid to religion or culture in the development of societies. What affect does religion and/or other cultural factors have on long-term developments of civilizations?

5)And given that we certainly couldn’t discuss this without a religious perspective ourselves, how do you feel his analysis fits with our beliefs of human history and development? (Evolution from apes is an apparent disagreement).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I just picked up the Eve book.