Friday, September 24, 2010

A Princess in Gold Cloth, Rags and Tatters, or Both?

Today is September 24. For once, I don't have anything on my mental calendar for this date. It's just a regular Friday and I'm happy to have one. Erica is at a cross country meet, Greg and Steven are on a camp out, and the rest of the family is chillin' at home. Soccer is almost over and a blank night on the calendar might actually be looming on the horizon. Better not blink!

A friend and her children are coming to visit UT this weekend and I can't wait to see her. It's been a couple of years. We've been friends for just about as long as we didn't know each other. We've stayed in contact for all the time and miles- and a good portion of that pre-email and Facebook. At times as far away as opposite ends of the country and then as close as the same town. We have children the same ages, almost exactly. Our girls are both graduating and heading off to college next year. How crazy is that?! We have snapshots of the two of them next to each other in their infant carriers and now they'll be leaving their respective coops together. It doesn't seem to matter where we are or how long it's been, we pick up right where we left off. Everyone needs friends like that.

This weekend, and the last month, has had me thinking, though. I still have cleaning that hasn't gotten done, baking I need to do, tomorrow will be a crazy day with activities and the Relief Society Broadcast. Sunday will be it's own kind of busy. I've even been a bit under the weather today and enjoyed a forced day of rest. Then there's all the background pushings and pulling on time and energy that never seem to go away. Sometimes one starts to feel a little put-upon. After all, I have plans and dreams for my life and I seem to be diverted from them frequently. My life is certainly not the hardship that I sometimes make it out to be, but the selfish part of me wants to know why my life can't go as I want it to. I'm trying to be a good person, doesn't that count for anything?

Right about now is when I'm given a gentle reminder of what's what. As an "assignment" for a wellness activity we're participating in through Greg's work I re-read the book "A Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett this week. I read it years ago and remembered the gist of the story, but was delighted by all the details I'd forgotten, and now better appreciate somehow as an adult than I did as a child.

The main character, Sara Crewe was raised by a loving father in India until she was sent to a boarding school in London. For a couple of years she lived as a princess, but was never a mean or proud girl. She befriended those around her and tried to make her world a better place. Her father died both suddenly and penniless. Sara is only kept from being turned out into the street by the fact that she is a bright girl and the headmistress plans to force her to work until she'd old enough to become a teacher at the school. She spends the next two years living in unloved squalor, doing every imaginable horrid chore, and being treated as less than human sometimes. Sara has a vivid imagination and decides, there's the key- she decides- to live her life as if she was a princess. She refuses to lower her behavior to match those around her. She shares what she has with those who need it, which most of the time means all she has to offer are her imagination and her friendship. It drives the headmistress crazy to see a girl who should obviously be in disgrace carry herself as one who is of noble birth.

"What ever comes," she said, "cannot alter one thing. If I am a princess in rags and tatters, I can be a princess inside. It would be easy to be a princess if I were dressed in cloth of gold, but it is a great deal more of a triumph to be one all the time when no one knows it."... This was not a new thought, but quite an old one by this time. It had consoled her through many a bitter day, and she had gone about the house with an expression in her face which Miss Minchin could not understand and which was a source of great annoyance to her, as it seemed as if the child were mentally living a life which held her above the rest of the world. It was as if she scarcely heard the rude and acid things said to her; or, if she heard them, did not care for them at all. "

In the end, what is rightfully hers is returned. She hadn't lived a life that deserved punishment before, but she faced a pretty sore trial none-the-less. Her experiences, however, combined to make her an even better person than she already was.

It reminded me of Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk at the last Young Women broadcast.

"Today I want to draw your attention to something very significant, very extraordinary. On the first page of your Young Women Personal Progress book, you will find these words: “You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Father, prepared to come to the earth at this particular time for a sacred and glorious purpose.”1

"Sisters, those words are true! They are not made up in a fairy tale! Isn’t it remarkable to know that our eternal Heavenly Father knows you, hears you, watches over you, and loves you with an infinite love? In fact, His love for you is so great that He has granted you this earthly life as a precious gift of “once upon a time,” complete with your own true story of adventure, trial, and opportunities for greatness, nobility, courage, and love. And, most glorious of all, He offers you a gift beyond price and comprehension. Heavenly Father offers to you the greatest gift of all—eternal life—and the opportunity and infinite blessing of your own “happily ever after.”

"But such a blessing does not come without a price. It is not given simply because you desire it. It comes only through understanding who you are and what you must become in order to be worthy of such a gift."

"In each of these stories, Cinderella, Belle, and the miller’s daughter have to experience sadness and trial before they can reach their “happily ever after.” Think about it. Has there ever been a person who did not have to go through his or her own dark valley of temptation, trial, and sorrow?"

"Sandwiched between their “once upon a time” and “happily ever after,” they all had to experience great adversity."

"My dear young sisters, you need to know that you will experience your own adversity. None is exempt. You will suffer, be tempted, and make mistakes. You will learn for yourself what every heroine has learned: through overcoming challenges come growth and strength."

"It is your reaction to adversity, not the adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop."

"As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I leave you my blessing and give you a promise that as you accept and live the values and principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, “[you] will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.”10 And the day will come when you turn the final pages of your own glorious story; there you will read and experience the fulfillment of those blessed and wonderful words: “And they lived happily ever after.”

Whether dressed as a princess in cloth of gold or the rags of a beggar, we choose our reactions to the situations in which we are placed. Some situations are the result of our own actions and some are not. It doesn't really matter. What we do with each one determines how we travel through them and the outcome each provides. It is easy to be happy, kind and charitable when things go "right". It's a little more difficult to do the same when things go "wrong". But, like Sara said, it's more of a triumph to do and be the princess we really are inside at those times. Trials are not given to punish, but to bless us and help us live up to the potential we have as children of God. The rewards are there and will be given to those who really want them. The choice is up to each of us.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Band post, again

Sorry if this is too repetitive. I'm trying to learn something new and you get to share in my experimenting. Have a great weekend!

Timpview High Marching Band

This is the band performance we went to last night. Let me know if you can pick out Spencer. He's the one in the white shirt, blue pants, has a plume on his hat, and is carrying/playing a trumpet. He spends a lot of time on the right side 35-45 yard line. For the 2 seconds that they spell out THS he is the person closest to the camera on the left leg of the H. Enjoy.

Timpview High Band

Oh, I've never posted something by sharing it from an email. Hope it works.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

10 minutes

Ok, we have 10 minutes until we have to be out the door for soccer and a band performance. I'm skipping dinner tonight. I have officially run out of time. I canned 19 quarts of pears and a couple of quarts of peaches today. Then Erica called and needed me to pick her up at school unexpectedly. So, I drove to school instead of showering. When we got home I showered instead of making dinner. Believe me, it's kinder to humanity that I showered and didn't make dinner instead of the other way around. The kids are thrilled because I said they could make their own breakfast for dinner. I have no idea why that is so appealing, but it is.

Now I find myself with 7 minutes to spare. Still no time to make dinner, but time for a few random thoughts. All of which just left my head...

First- if you have children in elementary school or younger and you're trying to delude yourself into thinking that life will slow down when they get to high school and can drive themselves everywhere and not need nap times and rigid schedules, stop. It is a fallacy. Reality is going to slap you hard in the face. Practice now to schedule out huge blocks of time so you won't miss them later. Also, practice just getting in the car and driving from one point to another all over town for a couple of hours now so that in a few years the seat is already molded around your derriere. Ask a neighbor what the good radio stations are and just set your controls there now. It will save a lot of headache when no one can find the songs they want. I never set mine before and they went to randomness or static. Not any more. You could also check into automatic pilot functions for places like the schools and soccer fields. That will give you a few extra minutes to just think when you're on the one-way portion of the trip that has no one else in the car.

This is not a complaint session. For the most part, the drives are a good time to visit with your child or listen to their conversations and stay up on their lives. Just one night in September I'd like to all be home at once. Maybe I'd even make dinner for such a special occasion.

Oops, over on time. See ya later!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Thanks, Thanks, and Thanks

“God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs”
Spencer W. Kimball (“Small Acts of Service,” Ensign, Dec. 1974, 5).

And sometimes he meets our wants. And sometimes it's in ways we wouldn't necessarily have chosen.

This week has been a great example. The screen door on our house has needed to have the screen replaced since we moved in. (That would be over two years ago, in case you've lost count!) Every morning I look at it and think how terrible it looks. Then I remind myself I don't have time to take it off it's hinges and replace it, so I walk on through and do my best to ignore it. I think Heavenly Father got tired of my silent wishes. This week the screws on the lower hinge pulled out of the frame. Twice. I now dreaded going through the door because we really didn't have time to fix it until today and it now sounded terrible as the bottom dragged across the porch. And, if I thought the screen had looked bad before, well swinging in every possible direction from only the top hinge wasn't doing anything to improve my opinion of the situation.

Enter today and my sweet husband. He spent the better part of the day working on the frame and hinges. I spent the better part of an hour on the screen. He wins the prize for doing the most work, hands down. End result is that we have an unblemished screen on a door that not only is hung properly, but now closes all the way by itself, no scraping sound effects included. Bonus!

Or, how about that food storage we're always working to build? Some days it seems like we aren't getting anywhere. Nearly a year ago we signed up for Sunday papers to get coupons. I hadn't had a ton of success over the summer and was considering canceling the paper. This week Macey's had Libby's canned veggies on sale for 3 cans for $1. That was a great price I hadn't seen in a long time, so I ad matched it at Wal-mart and bought 2 dozen cans. Then, on Sunday, both the Parade magazine and one of the coupon inserts had coupons for $1 off three cans. Well, they were still on sale for $.33 each at Maceys so off I went and bought 33 cans for something like $.34- I still had to pay sales tax. New printable coupons for $1 off 3 cans of Libby's veggies came out the day after the sale went off. Drat. Figures! At least I'd gotten what I could. I'd just save those coupons and hope for another sale before they expired. Greg brought home a copy of the Daily Universe from work later in the week. Macey's ran a one page ad that included 3/$1 Libbys veggies extended until Friday at the Provo store only. So, happy, cheap date night, we went and bought 24 more cans for $.25 total. The shelf is full and the wallet's not totally empty.

And, sticking with the finance theme, Erica was in the market for a Homecoming dress. She'd been asked by a nice guy from school and was looking forward to a fun evening. She and I have looked a bit for dresses, but not found anything. Someone mentioned yesterday that Penneys had dresses on sale- and clearance prices at that. We headed over there this morning. Lo and behold, the second one she tries on looks great and is modest. It also has a clearance price tag for $27. Mom and daughter are both very happy! Upon checkout, it rings up at $13.97 for a with-tax total of $14.91. Even happier! Less than an hour of shopping, a cute dress, and a fabulous price. Who could ask for more?

Now, none of those things mentioned above are needs in the sense that we were going to die if we didn't have them. A screen does allow us to enjoy the cool breezes while keeping the bugs out of the house. We are counseled to have food storage and there have been times when we've really needed it, so we do our best to be obedient. Homecoming isn't a required event, but it sure is a fun date and a memorable part of high school. (However, if you agree to go to the dance, you do need to wear clothes. That one is an absolute must.) Wants they all were on some level- verbalized or not. I like to think that Heavenly Father was watching over us this week and through many different people, most of whom have no idea who we are, gave us little gifts to lift our spirits and brighten our journey here on earth. None was big or grandiose, just something small to let us know He's up there and aware of us and our needs. I know that I'll be saying silent thank-yous every morning on my way out the screen door, each time I open a can of vegetables, and as I smile and wave Erica out the door to the dance. And, those are just three of the reasons today I have to say thanks.