My faith

I'm a Mormon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The case for Santa

A few weeks ago DH told our two-year-old that St. Nick was not real. To say I was mad doesn't begin to cover it. However, after I cooled down and listened to his perspective, I could understand where he was coming from.

First of all, DH never believed in Santa. He never experienced those magical Christmas Eves of waiting and being unable to sleep due to excitement and anticipation. Kids at his school received dozens of presents from the Jolley Old Guy, while he received just a few. I'm grateful that his parents didn't focus on the "getting" of Christmas, because I think that shaped him into the man he is (ie not concerned with material possessions or the "getting.") He's also burdened by the idea of extrinsic rewards. Why would we purposely teach our children to be good just to get a reward? (My argument with that is: isn't the purpose of our lives to be good so we can obtain Eternal Life?)

My one concern was that people would be mad at me if my children told them that Santa wasn't real. I've also pondered the reality of lying to my children about some magical being who lives in an unihabitable tundra with a bunch of elves, and who flies a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Do I really want to tell my children that?

But then there is the flip side: Santa Claus is a great symbol for Jesus Christ. The Savior gave us the greatest gift possible: his life. And then, in a way no one can comprehend, He was resurrected, giving each one of us the power to eventually conquer death. Why WOULDN'T I want to teach my children this symbol of Christ?

Then again, what about all the people in the world who aren't even Christian? Santa obviously doesn't visit them, so that is a major flaw in the logic of Santa (this was made evident to me in an episode of Phineas and Ferb. They were trying to save Christmas and enlisted the help of their friend, Isabella. She said "well, I don't celebrate Christmas, since I'm Jewish. But SURE, I'll help you.")

Another thing that bugs me is how Santa somehow completely distorts the purpose of Christmas. I have yet to see a non-religious Christmas show that even mentions Christ. How can this be? Santa seems to represent the "magic" of Christmas in a way that totally eliminates the miracle of the Virgin Birth and perfect life of God's own Son!

SO many conflicting ideas! What should I do about it?! I am not a Scrooge. I LOVE Christmas! But I HATE the commercialism of it all. I can't accurately relate how disgusted I am by the advertisements, the store displays, and all the other aspects that completely take Christ out of Christmas.

Inside I am conflicted, but this year I've decided on a plan.

First of all, Santa brings ONE present. That is all.

Next, we leave a lot to the imagination. Santa brings one present. We do not tell stories about Santa. We don't talk about Reindeer or the North Pole. Somehow, DD1 has gleaned that information from friends and other sources. But we don't elaborate.

Finally, any time we DO mention Santa, we are sure to explain that Santa brings us a present to remind us that Jesus gave us the best gift at all.

There is a magical quality about Santa. I don't want to take that away from my kids. But, if they ask "Is Santa real?" I'm not going to go to great lengths to convince them. My response will probably be: "What do you think?"

My question for you is this: What do you think?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Struttin' my stuff

I made this. Yeah. I'm that amazing.

*I realized that I probably seem really cocky with my crafting. You have to understand, I've always been the kind of person who thought I couldn't sew. And here I am, making towels and skirts! I hope my little niece will like this skirt! I think I'll make one for my almot 10-year-old sister. (That's right, she was born when I was in high school!)

I wanted to do a tutorial, but I was too lazy to take pictures. Just sew some strips together, hem, and add an elastic waistband! Voila!

Maybe, if I sew another one, I will give step-by-step instructions. And the little flower is SEW easy to make. Ha ha! I'm so punny!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Easy-Peasy Hooded towel

I was going to give instructions for how to make this, but I didn't take pictures and I thought it was too confusing to explain without them. So, just follow this link's instructions. And to make the letters, I printed off the letters for the Rag-quilt letters pattern (google it), cut out from fleece (not easy to cut, by the way) and sewed them on. By the second towel (not pictured) I was better at sewing the letters on. Don't look too closely.

I hope he will like it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

De-lurk day.

When it comes to lurking, I'm a pro. If you're reading this and you have a public blog, I probably follow your blog on Google Reader, and rarely make comments. I'm as guilty as you are of lurking.

BUT, today I'm inviting you over to my blog, leave a comment, and if you can help me out with the question at the end of this post, please do!

De-lurk day begins now (and goes through next Thursday.) Happy Saturday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Commitment to Motherhood

Most of the books and articles I've read about motherhood are from women who, through a great amount of soul-searching and trust in the Lord, grew in to their roles as mothers. Many have had successful careers and found home-making dull by comparison. While I love these faith promoting stories, I recently came across an article, written in the 70's, that more closely parallels my own attitude toward my role as a mother.

Commitment to Motherhood
By LaRee Farrar

My commitment to motherhood began at age four with a rubber doll my father dubbed “Moses.” Moses got a bath every time my baby sister did, and since it was midsummer, bathtime came several times a day. Moses developed large holes. I was crushed. Unfortunately, wartime shortages made him impossible to replace.

My own mother was a college graduate and certified nursery school teacher. When she had to earn money, she conducted a nursery school at home, cleaned other people’s homes because she could take me, a toddler, with her, rented part of our home to another family, bottled our garden produce, and sewed our clothes.

As I went through school, I found enormous pressures against committed motherhood. In junior high, we were required to write term papers on our careers: motherhood and homemaking were not on the list. When a college acquaintance found out I was majoring in clothing and textiles, he asked, “What do you want to be? A seamstress?” During my sophomore year, a young man asked, “What are you doing here? It doesn’t take brains to make babies.” I once knew a professor who wanted a law requiring women graduates to work outside the home for at least five years to repay taxpayers their investment.

In view of these pressures, I was glad my commitment had begun early. I paid careful attention to diet and exercise from my early teens on, because I wanted to provide my future children with healthy bodies.

After my first daughter was born, I returned to my full-time job and found out something else about my commitment as a mother. It had to be full-time. My sitter was very devoted, but we couldn’t tell each other everything we needed to know about my daughter’s development. Five and a half months later I started working half days, but even that part-time commitment was putting priorities in the wrong order for me. When my baby was a year old, I quit work.

When I became a full-time mother, I discovered that my former jobs, even though I enjoyed them, were boring by comparison. They shouldn’t have been. One was in a dress shop where I did all the interior and exterior display, worked in receiving and marking, figured open-to-buys, and did sales work and modeling. On a later job I worked as secretary to an editor and a technical writer, finally doing the editor’s job myself and some artwork and writing.

Yet motherhood was more fulfilling. When working outside the home, I had no control over my immediate environment, which sometimes included profanity, “dirty” jokes, and what I considered low ethical standards. But as a committed, full-time mother I could create an atmosphere of physical and moral beauty within my home, no matter what was outside.

Furthermore, in my job as a full-time mother, I could put all my knowledge to work instead of bits and pieces of it. In fact, my knowledge of history, philosophy, humanities, chemistry, government, economics, and theology was grossly inadequate. My professors never asked me such questions as: “When was God born?” “Where does money come from?” or “What happens when a cake bakes?” But my three-year-old did.

In my job as mother, I discovered that I was often fulfilling one of the most important requirements for a doctoral degree: an original contribution to a field of knowledge. Because each child and each family is different, a complete commitment to motherhood requires that a mother do this repeatedly. Mothers are some of the most interesting people I know.

There is only one commitment that should properly be placed ahead of motherhood, and that is my commitment as a wife. The importance of this commitment became especially clear to me after the birth of our twins when it took all the effort my husband and I could produce just to cope with their basic needs. Fortunately, this situation improved as they grew older, but it made me aware that my commitment to motherhood was best placed in subjection to my commitment as a wife.

Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients:1 cup frozen fruit, thawed a little
1 cup packed fresh spinach
3/4 Cup vanilla almond milk or apple juice
1 TBSP chia seeds (optional, they get kind of gelatinous in water, but I like the texture. Plus, this adds omega 3's and some great nutrients to your smoothie!
1 heaping teaspoon soy protein powder (you can use whey protein powder, but then it wouldn't be vegan.)

Blend it all together. You'll want your fruit slightly thawed so you can blend it easier. The more frozen they are, the thicker your smoothie will be.

I get a big bag of frozen fruit smoothie mix from Walmart that has strawberries, pineapple, peaches, and mango. I think it tastes great. I also get a huge bag of frozen blueberries, they are about $8 each and last me 2+ weeks. I drink these, or similar smoothies about 5 times a week.

You can get soy protein powder from any health food store. It is expensive per pound, but you only need like 1/4 pound to last you a long time. 1 TBSP has 88 grams of protein!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas list

This year I don't have a Christmas wish list. I mean, I got a great deal on the kitchenaid mixer I've been wanting for years, so that is already on it's way. Other than that, I feel like I have everything I want or need. And anything someone could buy me, I could probably buy myself if I really wanted to. Not saying we're rich, but most store-bought gifts don't really mean that much to me.

However, I do have a long long list of things to-do. More accurately, I have a long list of things I want to make!

These are for my nephews. I've already sewed them, I just have to cut out the fleece letters for their names and sew them on.

I've had these on my to-do craft list for a while. For my nieces, I hope they like them. I sew elastic together and tie, instead of using a ribbon. And I do tie it tight, since the elastic has some give.

My oldest niece already received a tutu for her birthday last week, so I'm thinking of making her one of these shirts with some remnant fabric I have, but modifying it as a dress, and making it with a long sleeved shirt. I'll post the result!

I'm desperate to make one of these scarves! How cute is that? I have a few people who I think would enjoy something like this!

My biggest project has to remain a secret, because I am making them for my sisters. But here's my question: what would YOU do with an old wood picture frame? I'd love to hear your ideas, and I can't wait to reveal my own!!

Happy Christmas project completing!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mary DID know!

This poem by Marilyn Arnold is inspiring! I often wonder what Mary thought about when she "took all these things and pondered them in her heart."

I sit here,
2000 years away,
gazing out blinded windows
trying to see--
past the dirtying snow
and the thickening fog
to that moment in Nazareth
when Gabriel came in blinding light
to a young woman
(I was once a young woman)
and said, "Hail thou art
highly favored, the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women."
And then he announced that she
would conceived and bear the Son
of God, the Redeemer of the world--
that God, the Father, would father
her child, and that her child
would be her Lord and God.

Luke says she was "troubled"
and apparently afraid.
Troubled. What a burden of meaning
for a single word.
She had read the prophecies,
she knew a virgin would conceive
and bear the Holy Kind of Israel,
but she could not conceive of the event
nor of herself as that virgin.
"How shall this be, seeing
I know not a man?"

I labor to reconstruct the moment,
to fathom her mind's first incredulous
response to the news. Troubled,
Luke says. Indeed.

Why me? I cannot do this thing
Ah, God, let me sleep and then wake
to discover this a dream,
to find this angel is merely
a strange cast of light.
Insubstantial. Nothing to be heeded.
Let yesterday return, when all my mind
was full only of Joseph and our marriage.
Joseph! Ah, Joseph!
How will I tell him? Will he believe?

And then Gabriel interrupting,
answering her fear and
her stuttering heart:
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
and the power of the Highest shall
overshadow thee....For with God
nothing shall be impossible.

And she, knowing it is so,
knowing she is to be the vessel of
first deliverance, and He of second,
acquiesces, drawing strength from obedience:
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
be it unto me according to thy word."

"And the word was with God, and the
Word was God." And the Word
was with Mary, and then with us.
And is ever with us.
Mary, given to pondering things
in her heart, emerges in strength and surety.
I, pondering things through the dimness
of blinded windows,
take heart in messages from angels
and the new voice of woman transformed,
resounding through centuries of muffled hope:

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of this handmaiden;
for behold, from henceforth
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name."

Friday, December 3, 2010

My favorite Christmas Carol

I'm not sure why this song touches me so deeply. Perhaps, having given birth and looking into the eyes of my newborn, it is powerful to contemplate who's presence that little one came from, and what their earthly mission will be?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.


A few months ago I was perusing the shelves of a local bookstore. I came across the title What the Scriptures Teach Us About Raising a Child. Of course this book caught my eye! An entire book dedicated to Christ-centered parenting? What could be better?

But before I picked up the book, I remembered something I learned in college. I constantly feel blessed to have attended a university that taught faith and academics simultaneously. I specifically remember a lesson in a teacher education class that centered on how to apply the scriptures to teaching. The teacher encouraged us to start at the beginning of the Book of Mormon and study each verse to see what we could glean about teaching. I began a study, and was amazed at what I learned! My study fizzled out before I got very far, but the lesson stayed in the back of my mind.

As I thought about that lesson in regards to this, likely inspiring, book, I realized that even though reading other's interpretation of doctrine and the Gospel can bring enlightenment, it is nothing compared to what the Holy Ghost can teach us when we diligently search God's word.

I myself have been a victim of the "Self-Help" epidemic, as I like to call it. There are millions of books on the market, all dedicated to helping people be better spouses, parents, children, teachers, dieters, personal finance managers, etc. You can find a self-help book on just about any subject you want. But I will never forget a truth taught by President Boyd K Packer, who said "I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior."

Don't get me wrong, I think self-help books have their place. But when we need to change ourselves, we shouldn't turn first to the latest fad, or scientific discovery but to the Savior and His words. He will change our hearts and through His grace, and our efforts, we will become more like him.

So, with all these thoughts in mind, I began. Starting in 1 Nephi chapter one, which my notebook and pen in hand, I poured over each verse, searching for truths that would teach me how to be a parent. I begged the Savior to help me know how to teach the little ones He has entrusted to me. I pleaded for answers and learned things I would never have supposed. From the verse that explained how Lehi pitched his tent next to a river of water, I learned that, as parents, our first priority should be to stay close to the source of Living Water, the Savior. From Nephi's declaration "Let us be faithful," I learned that even when people around me mock my values and efforts to be obedient, I can rely on the Lord, and I can teach my children this.

I have been amazed and comforted at how much love God has for His children. I'm still progressing (slowly), and to be honest, sometimes my efforts to study the entire Book of Mormon seeking to know how to raise my children lags a little. But I have faith that the Lord will teach me what He wants me to know, and the Holy Ghost will testify of the truth of the Book of Mormon as the Word of God.

* I LOVE the illustration on the cover of this book! One of my favorite pictures of Mary and her Son!