Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rats in the cellar...

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity about the process of becoming true Christians:

“We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”

I find that it is easy to love someone when I am filled with the Spirit, someone that I sit next to at the Temple for example. But do I really have charity for my fellowman if I only love those who are kind to me? Certainly not.

I love these verses from Matthew 5:

43. "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44. "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45. "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth crain on the just and on the unjust.

46. "For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47. "And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

I also find that it is easy to serve others when their need happens to be something that I have an excess of, or confidence in. But am I a true Christian if I only love and serve others when it is convenient for me? No. There was nothing convenient or easy about the path that the Saviour walked. If I am to be a Christian, as I profess to be, then I must be willing to follow in His footsteps, which sometimes means doing difficult things.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Slow Dance

Slow Dance
by David L. Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask "How are you?", do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.

Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
'cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don't dance so fast,
time is short, the music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it's like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn't a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Temple Blessings

Paul and I joined a monthly Temple babysitting swap with our neighbors and good friends, the Wilsons. We watch their children once each month for them to attend the Temple and they, in turn, watch our children once a month while we attend the Temple. It has now been a few months in this arrangement. It has been such a blessing in my life!

Paul and I had fallen out of the habit of making it to the Temple regularly and rarely attended together even when we did go. Now that we are regularly attending the Temple together I can feel such a difference in our family and our home, and in me personally. We feel happier, stronger, and more united. We feel that we are better prepared to fight off the temptations of the adversary, to avoid the discouragement and stresses of daily living, and to recognize and enjoy the blessings that Heavenly Father has given us.

The Temple helps me to thrive, instead of merely surviving in life. I love the Temple because it allows me opportunities to escape the noise of the outside world and to feel that I am being taught at the foot of the Savior.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

R & R...

The Whiting family week of rest and relaxation continued...

Our family spent this weekend resting and playing at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs resort in north Phoenix. Even though it is only an hour away from our home, we felt like we were worlds away from our daily stresses and responsibilities.

It was Abby's and Holly's first time ever staying in a hotel so, needless to say, they were pretty excited. They loved hanging out together and exploring a new place.

The hotel has 8 pools and at least as many Jacuzzis so we spent almost our entire weekend just enjoying the water and beautiful weather.

Abby took this picture - she was pretty proud to be able to work the camera all by herself. (Please excuse the shiny sunblock look)

The pools had just the right amount of shallow and deep water for the girls to play. They enjoyed being able to walk in and out of the water without any help. There were also waterfalls and fountains for them to splash in while in the pool.

They especially loved bringing their giant crocodile in the pool to ride on. They made a lot of new friends and enjoyed riding around with the other children on the "Crocodile Express". Abby pretended to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid and even planned to marry one of the boys at sunset. Paul and I had a serious talk with her about how she needs to finish, or at least start, school before she gets married. :)

The girls were picking purple flowers to put in their hair when I asked them to smile at the camera. They loved being near the waterfalls and flowers.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and we all left feeling rejuvenated and relaxed and, most importantly - just a little more thankful for the wonderful blessing we call family.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Whiting Family Camping Trip

We went camping on Monday and Tuesday at Cave Springs camp site in Sedona, AZ. It was my first time ever camping (besides Young Women's) and our family's first trip camping together. We had a blast and plan to do it more often! We have more family fun planned today so for now I only have time to post some pictures.

The first few pictures are of us setting the tent up in our kitchen for a trial run. We had dinner and scripture study in the tent. Then there are a few random pictures of Abby making her talent show poster, Holly trying on her new Princess shoes, and Abby on her way to a sleepover at Grandma Whiting's house. Then the last set of pictures are from camping this week. :)

Or you can go to this LINK to see our pictures.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poem from Yesteryear

I came across a poem I wrote on November 23, 1997, which would have made me 15. I remember the night that I wrote it. The words just tumbled out on the page without any effort.

"I don't know what I want and I can't find what I need.
Somewhere deep inside of me is a hunger I can't feed.

I've tried so long and hard to remove all of this pain,
but there isn't enough sunshine to take away the rain.

It seems as though life's loneliness is far too much to bear.
On this Earth peace and happiness are becoming so rare.

But through all this darkness, a glimmer of Hope appears.
The light of Christ shines in my life; My desperate cry He hears.

I want to share this joy I feel with all who seek the truth.
I'll use the Spirit felt in their hearts to serve as my proof.

All the confusion of the World now disappears from mind.
The love and peace I've searched for is no longer hard to find.

Now when I'm all alone and think that no one cares,
I begin to feel His love for I know He hears my prayers."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Learning to Listen...

I just had a very honest and tug-at-my-heart kind of conversation with my 4 year old, Abby. I was finishing some work on the computer and Abby was chattering away in the background. I was talking back with her, but not focusing or paying much attention to what she was saying. Then I realized how distracted I was and how rude I was being to her, so I walked over to where she was playing at her doll house. I sat down in front of her and took her face in my hands and said, "I'm sorry that sometimes I am too busy to listen to you. I am trying to learn how to be a better listener and I'm sorry." Then she just smiled at me and said, "But Mommy, you are being a good listener right now." I laughed, and said, "Yes but I need Heavenly Father to help me better." And she said, "Yes, He will help you and Jesus and the Holy Ghost and Angels. And I will help you because I am your daughter and I always listen to what you say."

I have tender moments like these every day. I am so blessed to have two sweet little girls to spend my days with, who are patient with me and willing to help me be a better person. I learn just as much from them as they learn from me, if not more. They are my little Angels, sent to me from Heavenly Father to remind me of everything that is important in life and to give me the courage to abandon everything that is unimportant.

As part of my goal to listen better, I have removed distractions such as the internet on my phone, facebook, and reading other people's blogs. I want to listen better to my children, my husband, and the Spirit. I have already noticed a huge difference in my life and I am excited to make further changes.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Stay-cation" May 2010

Yes, I know this is super late but here is a slide show with some pictures of the fun we had for our "Stay-cation" in May. We had a blast!

Or you can click on this link: Picture Album

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Slip 'n' Slide

We played on our slip n slide for Family Home Evening a couple of weeks ago. It was a lot of fun! What's summer without some pictures of fun in the water?

The girls couldn't quite make it down the water way on their own so Paul and I gave them a push - you can see Paul's feet in the background because he had just launched Abby.

Believe it or not, in all of my life I had never tried a slip n slide. I was pretty excited about it, but it turns out I'm not great at it. Looks like I'm not cut out to be a baseball player, after all. Sliding in to home base just wouldn't be pretty. I'd probably end up a few feet short and lose the game for the whole team. :)

4th of July

We had a wonderful 4th of July weekend this year. Since the 4th fell on a Sunday we decided to spread the holiday out over the whole weekend. But...My Mom ended up being admitted to the hospital for chest pains and subsequent testing, so our Saturday plans changed a bit and began with a visit to her at Thunderbird Hospital. That was terrible for her because she missed out on our Saturday swim plans at her house, but it was fun for us to get together and visit a bit - my sister, Charissa, and some of her kids (she has 11) visited the hospital at the same time, which was a nice surprise. She lives in Tucson so we weren't expecting to see her there.

My girls love their Grandma, and they enjoyed bringing her some flowers and hugs.

Sunday night we had some friends and family over to our house for dessert and then we headed out to watch the fireworks. We found a park right behind Pacana park, where the fireworks were being fired off. It was the perfect location for us because we avoided the crowds and traffic but still had a great view of the show. We were also close enough to hear all of the booms and bangs that really add to the effect. Thankfully my Mom was feeling better and was able to join us, along with my Dad and sister, Bethany, and her family.

Look at these two love birds! My Mom and Dad enjoyed cuddling while we waited for the fireworks show to begin. No wonder they had 9 children! ;)

As much as I loved the fireworks, I think that my favorite part of that night was before the show when we were all just hanging out on the lawn. We had blankets to lay on, family close by to snuggle and talk with, and a beautiful breezy summer night to enjoy a little star gazing.
It was perfect!

Bethany, Payson, Cody and Kaelyn... Kaelyn really wasn't a fan of the scary bright things in the sky or the loud booming that accompanied them, so they had to leave early. But we loved having them there with us!

We continued the fun on Monday with a BBQ and swimming day with our neighbors and good friends, the Wilsons. We were stuffed with good food and felt blessed with good company. We also let the kids play with some little fourth of July "poppers"...nothing too exciting since everything is illegal in the dusty dry state of Arizona. But we had fun just the same. :)

I cannot end this post without mentioning one of my other favorite moments of this 4th of July - a moment that is much more personal to me. On the morning of Sunday, July 4th I found myself in the same place that I am every other Sunday morning at 9 am - at church. We always begin our meeting with hymns but since it was July 4th we began our meeting by standing and singing the Star Spangled Banner. There is just something so powerful about standing together with fellow Americans, and, in this case, also my brothers and sisters in the Gospel, and singing that patriotic song. I felt moved as I looked around at the congregation, all of us standing and expressing our patriotism and beliefs through the words of that song. I was not the only one with tears in my eyes.

"Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Sports Girl Abby

We decided to sign Abby up for a community sports class this summer. The class was held every Friday morning at 8 am for 7 weeks. Abby loved playing the sports (Soccer, T-Ball, and Basketball) and also loved getting to play with some new friends. Friday was affectionately labeled "Sports Day" this summer and Abby became our "Sports Girl".

The class for Holly's age group filled up too quickly so she missed out this time. But she was a great cheerleader for Abby and enjoyed sitting on the sidelines watching.

Abby got her own little sports shirt to wear each week, which made her feel pretty important and special. I was amazed at how old she looked with her pony tail, running up and down the field. My little girl is growing up and I couldn't be more proud!

It wasn't as important to me that she learned new skills in sports, although it is a great way to develop coordination and movement, but I thought the class would give her good practice listening to another adult giving directions. I think the "coach" (the teenage boy shown in the picture above, named Jesse) spent more time explaining to the kids how to line up and wait for their turn than he did actually teaching any sports skills. It was pretty frustrating for him, but entertaining for us parents. One time he told the kids to line up single file behind a ball. The kids obviously didn't understand what "line up" meant because they all clustered closely together in a huddled circle around the ball. I had to laugh. By the end of the class, though, the kids had learned important skills like lining up, taking turns, good sportsmanship, and trying their best.

One or two of the other children sort of bullied the other kids around. Not intentionally, I don't think, but they just weren't respectful of others feelings and sometimes ran over other kids in their carelessness. I was so proud to watch Abby try her best and do well, but not forget her manners and kindness in the process. She has such a kind and gentle heart. I am thankful that she got to have this fun experience.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I love Kohls...

Abby, Holly and I had a fun shopping trip to Kohls today.
We bought for Abby: 2 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of capris, 2 pairs of shorts, 1 shirt.
For Paul: 2 shirts (he wanted some patriotic ones for Independence Day), 4 neck ties (which he doesn't like but they were $2 each so I'll just use them as gifts).
For me: 4 shirts.
2 boys clip on ties for a friend ($1.40 each!!), 4 stainless steel water bottles, 1 mini doodler (for the girls to use at church or in the car), and 1 Barbie convertible for my niece's birthday.
Grand total after Kohls cash: $80. That's an average of $3.33 per item. And my receipt says I saved $310. Not bad, I'd say. :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Elder Spencer W. Kimball dispelled the notion that idolatry is a sin of the past that must involve some kind of image or figure.

“Idolatry is among the most serious of sins. There are unfortunately millions today who prostrate themselves before images of gold and silver and wood and stone and clay. But the idolatry we are most concerned with here is the conscious worshipping of still other gods. Some are of metal and plush and chrome, of wood and stone and fabrics. They are not in the image of God or of man, but are developed to give man comfort and enjoyment, to satisfy his wants, ambitions, passions and desires. Some are in no physical form at all, but are intangible.

“Many seem to ‘worship’ on an elemental basis—they live to eat and drink. They are like the children of Israel who, though offered the great freedoms associated with national development under God’s personal guidance, could not lift their minds above the ‘flesh pots of Egypt.’ They cannot seem to rise above satisfying their bodily appetites. As Paul put it, their ‘God is their belly.’ ( Phil. 3:19 .)

“Modern idols or false gods can take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path to godhood. What difference does it make that the item concerned is not shaped like an idol? Brigham Young said: ‘I would as soon see a man worshipping a little god made of brass or of wood as to see him worshipping his property.’

“Intangible things make just as ready gods. Degrees and letters and titles can become idols. Many young men decide to attend college when they should be on missions first. The degree, and the wealth and the security which come through it, appear so desirable that the mission takes second place. Some neglect Church service through their college years, feeling to give preference to the secular training and ignoring the spiritual covenants they have made.

“Many people build and furnish a home and buy the automobile first—and then find they ‘cannot afford’ to pay tithing. Whom do they worship? Certainly not the Lord of heaven and earth, for we serve whom we love and give first consideration to the object of our affection and desires. Young married couples who postpone parenthood until their degrees are attained might be shocked if their expressed preference were labeled idolatry.” ( Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 40–41.)

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” ( Matthew 6:21 ).

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Will of God

The will of God will never take you, where the grace of God cannot
keep you, where the arms of God cannot support you, where the riches
of God cannot supply your needs, where the power of God cannot endow

The will of God will never take you, where the Spirit of God cannot
work through you, where the wisdom of God cannot teach you, where the
army of God cannot protect you, where the hands of God cannot mold

The will of God will never take you, where the love of God cannot
enfold you, where the mercies of God cannot sustain you, where the
peace of God cannot calm your fears, where the authority of God cannot
overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you, where the comfort of God cannot
dry your tears, where the Word of God cannot feed you, where the
miracles of God cannot be done for you, where the omnipresence of God
cannot find you.

~Author Unknown

Friday, March 19, 2010

Payson's Baby Blessing

At the beginning of March (I think?) my little nephew Payson was blessed in church. Much of my family was able to be there in attendance to witness the special day for the Raue family (my sister, Bethany's family), and we all enjoyed lunch at Bethany's house afterward. Here are a few pictures I took at Bethany's house that day.

We had a lot of fun just hangin' out and spending time together. It isn't often that we get to have this many of us all together at the same time. Wish I would have gotten some better pictures of the whole gang together.

The "man" of the hour...My adorable nephew Payson. He's already grown so much since this picture was taken.

Cody (Payson's proud Papa), Paul, and my amazing Dad
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Abby's 4th Birthday

Abby turned 4 years old on March 5th (yeah, I am late in posting about it). She asked to have a "Belle" party, which gave her and many of her guests an excuse to play dress up.

Abby requested that we play "red light, green light" at her party, one of her favorite games. It was actually very entertaining to watch the kids, even and maybe especially the older kids, race to the finish line.

Abby loved all of the attention that she got and was so excited to have her cousins and friends come over to party with her.

We had a full house and a lot of fun! Thanks so all of the family and friends that joined us for Abby's special day.
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Feeding the Ducks

For Abby's birthday (yeah, a couple of weeks ago), we took her to the park for a little breakfast picnic. Then we fed the ducks and played at the park. It was a beautiful day!

I was surprised how relaxing it was to sit in the warm sun and watch the silly ducks swim and fight for food. I could've stayed there by the water all day!

Paul had the day off so it was extra special that he was able to join us. I love spending time with my family!

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Clumsy me...

On the morning of Abby's birthday last week, Paul and I took the girls to the park to play. It was just some fun hang out time for my family and I. Paul took the day off, so we were able to take it easy and do some of Abby's favorite things.

The girls were laughing while I chased them around the park, pretending to be "Mommy Monster".

I snatched up Abby and continued chasing them around. It was all fun and games until...

I knocked my head in to a bolt on that ledge (the one that my elbow is resting on). Paul didn't see what happened so he just continued snapping pictures while I stood there holding my forehead. I gotta say...it hurt pretty bad. My eyes went starry, my limbs tingly, and my head throbbed.

Ok, so it looks small but it was enough of a head bump to make me feel nauseous and sore the rest of the day. It turned in to a nasty little bump, too.

But it was Abby's birthday so the fun and games went on. Aside from the bump on the head, it was an awesome day! The weather was beautiful and I was with the ones that I love.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

God's Little Reminders

So, the other night I was getting ready for bed and doing one last sweep through the house - turning off lights and making sure the doors were locked. I was tired and anxious to get to bed. When I got to the door in the laundry room that leads out to the garage, I checked that it was locked and turned to walk up the stairs. But something stopped me. I had this feeling that I needed to open the door and make sure that our garage door was shut.

I almost ignored the feeling and walked up the stairs anyway. After all, we rarely open our garage door and there shouldn't have been any reason for the door to be open. But the feeling persisted so I shrugged and opened the door, fully expecting to find the garage door closed as it almost always was. I was so sure that the garage door was closed, in fact, that I only cracked the door open an inch or two - just enough for me to peek out and see the closed garage door. To my surprise, though, when I looked through the crack in the door I could see straight through the garage and out to my neighbor's porch light across the street. Dumbfounded, I swung the door completely open to see that our garage door was actually open. I pressed the button to close the garage, re-locked the door leading in to the house, and walked up the stairs to go to bed.

This experience was so small and uneventful, but it has had a great impact on me. I have thought about it several times since then and it always brings a smile to my face. I believe that it is no coincidence that on the only night that we forgot to close the garage door, I had a burning feeling within me that I needed to check that it was closed. Checking the garage door was not, at least until that night, a part of my regular nightly routine.

I know that God, through His Holy Spirit, whispered to me to check the garage door that night. I don't know what would have happened had I ignored the feeling and left the garage door open all night - perhaps many of our things would have been stolen or perhaps someone would have found the open garage door as an open invitation to break in to our home during the night. Leaving the garage door open could have had catastrophic results...or, nothing would have happened at all. It really doesn't matter. What does matter to me is that God loves me, little insignificant me, enough to remind me to close the garage door.

On a night, just like any other night, God spoke to me in His simple but miraculous way.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Abby was a huge helper this year! She loved Christmas and wanted to be a part of all of the fun! Holly was so excited about all of the decorations, too. She would clap and laugh whenever she saw a Christmas tree at a store.

Yes, yes I believe in wearing nerdy hats while decorating the Christmas tree. I actually got this hat for Paul last year but he made me wear it - who could blame him?!? lol The hat didn't stay on my head very long either. :-)
Our Christmas tradition is to let each person choose one new ornament for the tree each year. Here is Abby getting excited to put one of her special ornaments from a previous year on the tree - Santa's coat on a miniature hanger. This year Abby chose a dog ornament (she loves dogs!), Holly chose a red London bus (she loves buses!), Paul chose a Santa boating ornament, and I found a cute house ornament.

Paul tried to hide behind the Christmas tree before I took his picture. We had a lot of fun decorating together!

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