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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Missionary opportunity

It's late and I can't sleep. Got lots of stuff running through my mind- so I figured I'd stop tossing in bed and hash out some of my thoughts.

First, want to share a missionary experience I had the other night. It's pretty cool because in our ward we've been talking about missionary work a lot this month and I've been thinking- how am I gonna find opportunities here?! Well, the Lord answers prayers.

Friday night. Jake's on a young men's camp out and I'm at home with the boys. Just got done cleaning up dinner when I hear a knock at the door. Open the door and see a young guy standing there with the "salesman grin". "Great." I think, "Doesn't he see my NEW 'no soliciting' sign?" but I open the door and he says, "I'm not here to sell you security systems or pest control..." and so I start to listen, but then find out he's really selling me a newspaper, now I'm not a fan of papers (they just pile up and I can get my news for free online) but I don't know if its his pitch about coupons that I'll get and how I can just get the weekend paper and blah, blah, blah, but I agree to the free trial (I'm a sucker). Then he pulls out his pad to collect my information and I'm realizing how cold it is and I'm standing there with the door open, and I remember my days as a missionary and so I say, "Why don't you come in to fill that out so you can warm up and I don't get cold?" He's asked me if I'm LDS and is telling me how I can get the Church news with my trial, and so I've assumed he's LDS too- but as the conversation continues I realize he's not. Some how it come up about how there are so many big families around here and he asks, "Why is that? Is it a religious belief or something?"

Okay here it goes. Don't think I've ever been asked this one before:

"Well, we do believe that God commanded us to mulitply and replenish the earth, and so that is part of it. But I think its for our benefit really; children teach us about love, patience, and selflessness in a way nothing else can- and I believe that that's what Heavenly Father wants- is for us to learn those things."

That was the highlight. I was thinking later that there's a lot more to answering that question- the plan of salvation, the Abrahamic covenant, etc- but I feel that this answer was the one the Spirit wanted me to give. I think most of the time missionary work is about giving simple answers people can understand, and having a positive conversation with them that they can feel good about later when they think about Mormons.

The whole conversation was good. He told me that he was from New York and had come out here randomly to live with an aunt and uncle who told him they'd give him free room and board for a year to get him going in school. He said that he grew up AMISH (wouldn't have guessed it since he was total "imu" style and well, you just don't meet many Amish) and explained that in their society when you turn 18 you are free to choose if you want to stay or leave the community. He chose to go live with a protestant uncle for a while and hasn't been home since, although he's hoping to return to visit soon. He's been living here about 2 years now- and the whole conversation just showed me that just because someone lives here in Utah doesn't mean they already know everything about "the Mormons" and a that sometimes they really do want to know more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The right stuff

1. New Kids On The Block. Okay- I have to qualify this one. Yes, I went to the NKOTB concert, and yes it was pretty fun, but mostly funny, and NO I did not pay for the tickets! My friend Becca's brother works for SmithTix, and so when she found out the concert was being held on her friend Lisa's birhtday (who I also know from back home in the Kent Stake) she called her brother- who said of course he could hook her up with 6 free tickets, and suite tickets to boot (he can't always get such deals- but this concert wasn't sold out- surprise, surprise). The boys were such sports to go with us. We all went to dinner first, and then to the concert where The Block performed all their own hits with a few new ones thrown in. It was pretty cheesy- but pretty fun too.

2. Tylenol and NyQuil. I've been fighting a cold the last bit- so these are a couple things I'm very grateful for, along with sleep, vitamin C, and lots of liquids.

3. Family and the holidays. Jake and I decided that after last year we were going to try and do both Thanksgiving and Christmas at home from now on. Mostly because it gets harder and harder to travel as the boys get older, we want them to remember Christmas traditions at our home, and traveling is expensive- especially during the holidays. We weren't quite sure what we were going to do for Thanksgiving- because it looked like it was just going to be the 4 of us- then we found out Dot was coming to town to help Brea with wedding plans (have I listed that as a best thing yet??? That Brea is engaged to Tom and they'll be married Feb 7 in the Mt. Timp temple?) and then with a little this and that it just made sense to invite Jakes sister Leah's family and his brother Ricks family to all join us here. I'm of course nervous to host such a big event, but it will be nice to have all the family around- and its given me an excuse to invest in some good cookware, utencils, decorations etc. Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

3 best things

1. A visit from my girls. My laurels came by last night with cookies and a card. They even sang a little "we miss you" song. I got a little teary. The card was so sweet- with a personal note from each of them. Oh how I love those girls! As a side note though, I've received a new calling as a primary worker working with the valient 10 class. I got to meet my new class last week and will begin teaching this Sunday. I'll admit that primary is very foreign to me, and younger kids kinda scare me (even though I have little ones of my own) but I think it will be a great learning experience for me.

2. Made it through a couple of days without Jake again. Jake left Tuesday morning for St. George on business and got back last night. It was really just one night without him- but we still missed him and are glad he made it back safely and had some good meetings while there.

3. Opportunities for Jake. Jake's new calling as young men's president has him learning and worrying a lot. See, Jake grew up in a tiny branch where he was the young men's program. He really never had all the scouting, and young men or youth activities/programs these kids have. I think this will be a great chance to see how it all works and prepare him for when our boys are teenagers, and at the same time give him a chance to have some of those missed experiences now.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I've been doing some research.

from Clinical/Therapeutic Issues

Gay Parenting Does Affect Children Differently, Study Finds
-- Authors Believe Gay Parents Have "Some Advantages"
Taking issue with 20 years of research conclusions that say there are no differences, two University of California sociologists recently re-examined data from 21 studies on gay parenting dating back to 1980.

The new study by two University of Southern California sociologists says children with lesbian or gay parents show more empathy for social diversity, are less confined by gender stereotypes, and are probably more likely to explore homosexual activity themselves. Writing in recent issue of the American Sociological Review, the authors say that the emotional health of the two sets of children is essentially the same.

Leaders of national gay-affirming groups said they welcomed the article, according to an Associated Press story. "I'm thrilled that they're tackling these issues," said Aimee Gelnaw, executive director of the Family Pride Coalition, who is a lesbian parent raising two children with her partner. "Of course our kids are going to be different," Gelnaw said. "They're growing up in a different social context."

Openness to Gay Relationships
Met With "Elation"

Kate Kendall, head of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, also is raising two children with her partner. "There's only one response to a study that children raised by lesbian and gay parents may be somewhat more likely to reject notions of rigid sexual orientation -- that response has to be elation," Kendall said.

But Amy Desai, a policy analyst with the group Focus on the Family, said the new report is alarming in its suggestions that children of gay parents might be more open to homosexual activity. "Kids do best when they have a married mother and a married father," she said.

A Home With No Dad is Better?

The study's co-author, Judith Stacey, is a professor of contemporary gender studies. In addition to pointing out the gender differences in the two groups of children, she states that there are in fact some advantages to an all-female parental team without Dad living in the home: a female couple tends to be more involved in the children's lives and is in greater harmony in terms of parenting approaches.

Among the findings cited by the authors:


1. Compared to the daughters of heterosexual mothers, the daughters of lesbians more frequently dress, play and behave in ways that do not conform to sex-typed cultural norms. They show greater interest in activities with both masculine and feminine qualities. They have higher aspirations to occupations that are not traditionally female.


2. In terms of aggression and play, sons of lesbians behave in less traditionally masculine ways. They are likely to be more nurturing and affectionate than their counterparts in heterosexual families.


3. One study examined by the researchers indicated that a significantly greater proportion of young adult children raised by lesbians had engaged in a same-sex relationship (six of 25 interviewed) than those raised by a heterosexual mother (none of 20 interviewed).


4. Those raised by lesbian mothers were also more likely to consider a homosexual relationship.


5. Teen-age and young adult girls raised by lesbian mothers appear to be more sexually adventurous and less chaste than girls raised by heterosexual mothers. Sons, on the other hand, were somewhat less sexually adventurous and more chaste than boys raised by heterosexuals.


6. The studies indicate that sexual orientation has no measurable effect on the quality of parent-child relationships or on the mental health of children.


"These studies find no significant differences between children of lesbian and heterosexual mothers in anxiety, depression, self-esteem and numerous other measures of social and psychological adjustment," said the authors.


NARTH"s Joseph Nicolosi offered the following comments: "This paper was authored by a professor of gender studies, so it is not surprisingly that the differences on which she focused have to do with a rejection of gender conformity. Indeed, what she found makes sense -- lesbian mothers tend to have a feminizing effect on their sons, and a masculinizing effect on their daughters.


"But the question is, are these differences healthy? More research is needed to understand how a rejection of conventional gender roles can have not just a healthy and expansive, but also a constricting and negative effect on identity and psychological health.


"And despite what many gender researchers claim, research tells us that the absence of a father in the home is not, on balance, good for families."




(Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Professors Take Issue With Gay-Parenting Research," April 27, 2001, and "Report: Kids of Gays More Empathetic," by David Crary, National Writer, Associated Press)


(linke for this article)

It is difficult to argue this issue without beinging in religious beliefs. I thought the brief points made at the end from a pro-traditional family perspective were interesting. It definetly struck me how many of the findings in this article were portrayed as postive- while I found them very negative.

Ultimatly all the points show that children raised in such an environment will move towards and promote similar lifestyles. While they make it seem that this is a good thing because "The studies indicate that sexual orientation has no measurable effect on the quality of parent-child relationships or on the mental health of children", but the problem is that this promotes a lifestyle mimicking a "family" where if such behaviors persist a family is not permitted. I'm sorry- but it comes down to my Christian faith. There is a reason why man/man and women/women relationships do not result in children. God created it that way. This is Satan's subtle ploy to slow/hault God sending more spirits to this earth to receive bodies. I also believe that Satan knows that if he can get one alternative definition of marriage accepted, that there will soon be many more. If we say that marriage is simply a declaration of love can't a pedifile than say, "Well who cares that I'm 50 and she's only 16. We love each other." Wouldn't incestual crimes come forth and say, "but we love each other!". You may say this is a slippery slope argument- but the fact of the matter is that gay and lesbian behaviors were not long ago recognized as just as wrognful acts as these. When we begin to say, "its their choice" we begin to say that society can impose NO NORMS.

Another interesting article on the studies being done in connection to such topics:

http://www.cga.ct.gov/2002/olrdata/jud/rpt/2002-R-0879.htm

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sobering times

I just had a very sobering conversation with my brother Garrett about politics, specifically the war surrounding proposition 8. Despite all that I've heard and read, I am very grateful for:

1. Hope. Garrett reminded me that the very timely general conference that was held at the beginning of October (and was just sent out in the semi-anual conference report issue of the Ensign) repeatedly emphasized HOPE. Though things get rough- we can continue to hope that truth will prevail.

2. Inspired leaders. Our church leader's responses to this issue are humble, yet powerful, understanding, yet unashamed, loving and inspiring. They are great examples of how to respond under such attacks.

3. The big picture. I'm so thankful that I have a vision of what God's plan is for us- that I know why morals and values are important. Agency WITH accountability have been the two principles that keep coming to my mind over and over. It is not easy to defend moral issues, but a believe that our government asks us to do so because we know that as a majority we CAN choose what will strengthen our society and nation. We must not let the minority disrupt the safety of the majority.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A season of thanks

1. Ashlee's comment. It was a great compliment to hear that Ashlee took the time to read my thoughts on politics. Ashlee, please feel free to read my blog anytime. I've also checked out yours here and there! After you're comment I went back and read what I wrote. It certainly would need a little more thought and editing, but its nice to know someone thinks my thoughts are valid (especially because right now I'm preparing to take the GRE and have been questioning my ability to think and write critically anymore- hanging out at home with a couple kids all day can do that to you). Anyway, I really appreciated the comment.

2. A girls' outing. Tonight Jake and are going to a "black tie" charity event that his business partner Lou bought us all tickets to. I just found out about it Thursday, and so Saturday Becca went shopping with me to try and put together a suitable outfit. Shopping can be exhausting- but it was nice to have a girl with me (and no kids) in order to get it done. I walked away with FABULOUS patten (sp?) leather red shoes, some jewelry, fun hose, and a super cute dress. When putting it on at home I decided it might not be quite dressy enough- so I may just wear the shoes with a black pencil skirt and a silk red top that I already own- but the other stuff will be kept and worn regardless of what I decide.

3. Funny Josh moments at church. There were a couple of good ones yesterday! Dekker was sitting on Jake's lap, and Josh was sitting right next to them during the beginning of sacrament meeting. When Dekker "let one go", Josh snickered and said outloud, "Oops. That was my Dad!" Jake's response? "Josh, I can't believe you'd sell me out like that- and it wasn't even me!" Towards the end of sacrament meeting Josh started wiggling in his seat saying, "Mom, I gotta go pee!" I was trying to move all our stuff to clear a path for us to get out as he repeated this and then finally said, "MOM- I'M DOING THE PEE-PEE DANCE!" I laughed out loud! A lot of the time when Josh has to go, but doesn't want to he'll start dancing around and so we'll ask "Josh- do you need to go to the bathroom? It looks like you're doing the pee-pee dance." But this is the first time Josh has ever made reference to it.

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Last night when I was laying in bed I was thinking of TONS of things I wanted to write in my thank you blog, but alas this morning it seems most of them are escaping me... oh well. Guess that's what I get for not writing them down then.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Voting and a couple other things

1. The right to vote. Election day has come and gone. While the candidate I voted for did not win, it truly has been an historic election year. I do think it is neat that an African American can win a presidential race- I just wish I agreed more with his policies. I do have hope though that he, as an american president, will have our best interest at heart, and I do pray that our government so wisely set up the way it was with its different checks and balances will move out nation in a postive direction. I do not believe in magical "cure alls" or quick fixes, especially when it comes to such giant issues as war, health care, and the economy. I will not blame the adminstration if things are not transformed and perfect immediatly. I will however continue to do my part. To vote and have my voice heard when possible. To act as I feel as an honest moral person should.

Jake and I were talking last night and he was saying how important it is to stay positive as a country, and to support our president. I see his point, and like I said- I will do my best to stay positive and supportive- but I have to say I am somewhat fearful. I'm not fearful of Obama. I am fearful of a what I would call "consumer society" which more and more seems to want to "buy" security and freedom. They say they want good education, and so they tell the government to fix it. They say we need to pay our teachers more, but dont get involved enough to say which teacher really deserve that and trust the government to know better than them how to distribute it. They say we need affordable health care for everyone, and so tell the government to fix it and then go on living unhealthy, overmedicated lives. They do not think about the fact that the money for such programs has to come from somewhere, and so say that at the same time government must cut and lower taxes. They think that by voting for a certain candidate they are "buying" all these promises. They say that these are the "important issues" but when it comes time for them to pay for it they complain. They get upset when dishonesty in politics or Wall Street causes problems- but are we not all responsible for who we put in charge? The kind of people we raise up and then turn a blind eye to what they are doing....

Okay, okay. I'm using the word "they" quite a bit. And that is where the problem all begins. We cannot buy politicians to fix our nation and problems. We elect officials to represent us, not to do it all themeselves. If we are not informed, if we do not pay heed then we are the ones that we must blame. I think its really easy to say that there should be more money in education, that health should cost us less (but still maintain our current lifestyles), and that we should stop spending money to protect this country that provides us with all this stuff, and oh- by the way stop asking me to contribute to the cause (taxes)- and you'd better use any money I do give you wisely even thoug I won't pay that much attention- and if you don't I'll get really upset. Instead let us vote for officials who will protect out land and our people, and really consider what else they can truly do better than we can as individuals or even communities. If we think education is important, why don't we get more involved and pay for what we think is important? If we think that the elderly and poor or unhealthy need affordable care- why don't we reach out to our family and neighbors in such situations and lend them a hand? If we think there should be more honesty on Wall Street why don't we start being more honest with ourselves on what we really can afford? And are we really ready to say we will sit in our own homes and houses and expect protection while not trying to fight for freedoms in lands where ours, or others freedoms are being threatened? Can we really expect to continue to live a life of peace and abundance without having to fight for it once in a while?

These thoughts are extreme I know. I really AM thankful to hear that we had such an historical turn out for voting this year. Perhaps that is a sign that people are willing to stop and listen, to educate themselves and cast their vote. I just PRAY that it is not because people went to the polls thinking that if I vote for the right candidate than I can buy all that I want and not do anything else. If we really want "change" and "hope" than we've got to start with ourselves and stop expecting "the government" to fix things. THE GOVERNMENT REPRESENTS US- WE ARE THE PEOPLE- WE MUST ACTIVELY TAKE PART.

2. Freedom of speech? Thanks for letting me get on my soapbox.

3. The USA. I really am gratefull for the country we live in, I think the freedoms and morals this country were founded on are truly inspired. And I do believe that if we remember our individual responsibilities that we can do great things.

Monday, November 3, 2008

1. Jake is home! Jake left Friday morning to go visit his high school friends in Colorado for the weekend. He tries to do it once a year. This year he decided to go this weekend since the BYU/CSU game was on Saturday. He had a good, safe trip- but the boys and I missed him very much. It's nice to have him home. Even though I'm home most of the day without him, it really is nice to look forward to his company in the evening, and certainly I realize all the more JUST HOW MUCH he helps on the weekends.

2. "Tick or Treat'n". This is what Josh said as he went house to house instead of "Trick or treat" I guess because all day long I'd been asking him if he was excited to go trick or treat'n!

3. Relief Society. Because I was released from young women's I went to Relief Society for the first time in a very long time on Sunday. I have to admit it felt a little strange at first- but the sisters are very kind and it wasn't long before I felt the Spirit and once again part of this great sisterhood.

4. Treats??? We didn't have as many trick or treaters as I'd expected, and of course Dekker and Josh got quite the stash of goods- and so now we have lots of treats around. I'm not quite sure if I should be thankful for these constant temptations- but they sure do taste good!

5. Aunt Trish. She came to help/keep me and the boys company Halloween night, and also came over early on Sunday to help prepare the Sunday meal. Always a good friend and sweetheart!