Friday, September 30, 2011

You Will Not Believe It!

This past Sunday, during Relief Society meeting, we had a wonderful lesson on "The Spirit of Revelation." There were quite a few interpretations that the women shared. One was, "From God's lips to our ears." 

We are not always in a frame of mind to hear that still small voice, so the Lord in His mercy allows us to receive needed revelations in many other ways. In seeking direction and guidance to life's questions it may come as a thought, pure inspiration, a memory, recognition of truth, a vision, or even visiting with a friend or a new acquaintance. Revelation doesn't always come when we want it. Sometimes it is delayed and comes instead - when we need it and not necessarily because we asked!

That is the beauty of revelation, it is "personal" revelation from God, something my faith believes in. He is mindful of us every day. The question for me as is - am I listening?

Our teacher this Sunday, Carolyn, is an elementary school principal. She shared two powerful examples of revelation that I will share here. Each has a message that touched my heart.

A member of Carolyn's office staff is an incredible woman. Regularly, when coming in to work, she would say, "You won't believe what happened to me!" A short while ago she came in and said, "You won't believe what happened to me. I received this incredible revelation at church!", and shared the experience she had as the sacrament was passed to the congregation.

                                       

A 14-year old young man was passing the sacrament for the first time. Most young men in my Church are given thisresponsibility at age 12, but due to some emotional issues, this young man's opportunity to pass the sacrament had been postponed. During this particular meeting, all went well until he came to this pew where this woman was sitting. Accidently, he dropped the sacrament tray that had the cups with water in them. The cups fell out, the water went everywhere. Quietly, the nearby deacons gathered up the spilled cups and tray. Reverently, it was refilled with new cups and water and passed to those in the pew. 

To hear about this incident, one might think - "how embarrassing for that young man," and move on with your thoughts. But for this woman, Carolyn's friend, watching this accident happen, she received a "revelation." She told Carolyn, "It wasn't about the spilled water - it was that there was enough water for everyone." - I will let you think about that one.

Carolyn then went on to share that this story did not end there. About six weeks later, Carolyn's friend had realized that this young man had not attended church since the incident happened. She felt impressed to visit the young man's home - to tell his mother about the "revelation," she had received that day, and how grateful she was for this young man's part of her greater understanding of the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

After Carolyn's friend shared her gratitude with this mother, the mother then proceeded to share what had transpired her son returned  home from Church on that fateful Sunday. He had been so traumatized by the accident that he had to be admitted into the hospital. The mother continued by explaining that her son had returned home the previous day. This mother, receiving her own inspiration, asked if Carolyn's friend would share the story with her son, which she did. The friend expressed her gratitude for him being there that day and allowing the Spirit to reveal and testify to her of the power of the Atonement.

The following Sunday this young man came back to church. He sat down beside Carolyn's friend and held her hand throughout the meeting. 

When this woman came to school the next day, she said, "You won't believe it, I witnessed a miracle, but I was the only one who saw it!" Revelations - they are personal.

The second example Carolyn shared was of a Russian nesting Babushka doll, like the one I have pictured here. She took us through an exercise of taking each doll out - and labeling the different layers with the things we have going on in our lives - such as work, family, personal issues, health, finances, etc. She finally arrived at the last doll which she identified as our spirit - and then made this observation. "When the Lord desires to speak to us through the Spirit - personal revelation - He sure does have to go through a lot of layers to get our attention."


We then went through the exercise again, of putting the dolls - or layers - back together. But this time the layers were personal prayer in the morning, personal prayer in the evening, scripture study, serving others, etc. The objective was to help us visually see that when we re-purpose the layers of our life - we will be able to receive personal revelation again.

Then you can say, "You won't believe what happened to me!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dinner at my house

Tomorrow night we are playing host for a ward progressive dinner - or something like that. Different families in our congregation have been divided up in hopes that we can get to know one another better. We have some lovely people coming to our home. This is what we are having for dinner.

Menu:
Aussie Chicken
Steamed Veggies
Baked Potatoes
Green Salad with Dressing 
Rolls
Drink 

My husband is requesting that the liquid refreshment be a "stiff drink" - I rolled my eyes. He is thinking something like Martinelli's, with a high level of carbonation or a very potent lemonade!

Last night I had some ladies from my ward over for a meeting. One, who is around my age asked if I really did cook dinner every night.

Is it becoming a lost art? From all the food blogs and the popularity of Food Network,  you would think EVERYONE cooks. All the time. But they don't - they just secretly wish someone would cook for them.


The real question should be - do you like to cook dinner every night? Do you?

Last night I had my husband prepare some soup. He has made this before, many times, so I was surprised that it had a funny taste. He caught me making faces and came clean. He wasn't paying attention to the measurements and put in 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons of dried basil. Yes, that would make it taste - different. However, he said that he  realized his mistake and quickly scooped out the excess ingredients. 


Since I have been home from NYC - where I didn't cook anything for 51 days - I have cooked every meal here at home for the last three months - with the exception of possibly five - when my husband BBQ-ued.

I am a believer in family meals, like I am a believer in family prayers, family games and family projects. I am also a believer that when I say "dinner at my house" family and friends will come knowing that they will be fed something delicious.



Friday, July 15, 2011

Are Mothers Invisible?

This is one of those stories that someone sent to me - that just needs repeating. During the summertime, moms are under-appreciated for all the time they spend raising and nuturing children. This is just a reminder to hang in there. Your "PayDay" will come.

I'm invisible. 
 
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" 

Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. 
 
I'm invisible. 
 
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? 
 
Some days I'm not a pair of hands;
I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?"  
I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?"
I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please." 
 
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going ... she's going... she's gone! 
 
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. 
 
I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. 
 
I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees." 
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: 
 
No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. 
 
These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. 
 
The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman 
carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." 
 
And the workman replied, "Because God sees." 
 
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of 
kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become." 
 
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. 
 
The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. 
 
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Button-Pushers Are Coming


It is summer time.
That means children are home.

All day.

Fortunately, or unfortunately
(depends on how you look at it),
I no longer have kids at home.
But my children do.

All day.

And my grandchildren are very good.
At knowing which buttons to push. 
That drive their parents crazy!

All day.

The "button-pushers" will be coming.
Soon.
To my house.
The question - will they push my buttons?
Or does Grandma know how.
To reverse the practice - of pushing their buttons.

All Day?


Saturday, May 28, 2011

BBBbbbe Incredible!

OK - I don't know who wrote this, and I copied this from my cousin, Kip's, newsletter - who got it from our Aunt Alberta. So Aunt Alberta - if you know the author of this, please email me or put the info in the comment section and I will make the changes. And as Kip did, I am taking liberty to change a few things!!

One annoying trait that society in general heaps on our heads  is  the consistent  and constant haranguing  of how you should be. Be nice, be happy, be smart, be clean, be on time. Some people want you to be different; others encourage you to be the same as everyone else. We should be productive and never be lazy. We all want to be interesting and to be fun. A boy scout is expected to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, brave, and so on. Even the army tells you to "be all that you can be." 

These expectations aren't bad, because they help us to strive to keep improving. The danger is that this word "be" is at the very heart of who we are. When we are told how to be, our very being is therefore challenged…as if we are not good enough. This tends to wear away at our self worth until we don't feel that we will ever be good enough. We need to be taught instead, that we are beings of infinite worth--no matter what you choose to be or not be at any moment in time. Out of 7 billion people in the world, lets face it, you are one of a kind. No one else has the combination of thoughts, physical attributes, creative ideas, and abilities that is uniquely you. Your very present you is a result of chemical, electrical,  and biological processes that are united with an actual spiritual being that gives you life.  This is  nothing short of miraculous. 
Your mind is capable of storing, sorting, instantly recalling, and evaluating billions of bits of information--more than any computer on the planet. You can train your body and your mind to synchronize perfectly in order to perform amazing feats, anything from climbing a mountain to playing the piano to sending a text message or painting a masterpiece. You can reason and dream and create new ideas, and coupled with this spiritual you, in short, your value is immeasurable and with the right choices nothing will be impossible to you. The value of making correct choices cannot be underestimated.

With this in mind, please don't ever let the daily grind and endless expectations of life make you feel depressed or worthless. Take time every day to celebrate you. Set aside expectations or conditions and simply revel in the joy of your existence--just be.

With all of the things you are expected to be, it's a good idea to set them aside once in a while to just be…just celebrate the fact that you exist and have infinite worth. In other words ...Stop and smell the roses as well as enjoy the beauty that surrounds you daily and then choose. 

I myself would rather smell the roses even if they have thorns. When looking for the negative and the ugly things in the world - it will be easy to find them. But if your attitude is to BE around all that is BEautiful, it will surely come in simple wondrous moments.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Out of Town Till July

If you wondered why I havne't posted anything, it is because I am in NYC for my internship. Head on over to www.annbytesthebigapple.blogspot.com  if you want to know what is happening in my life right now.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Six Month Check-up


Every six months my church has General Conference. It is a time when we hear counsel from our Church leaders, including our Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. The first weekend in April and October, two, two-hour sessions are held on both Saturday and Sunday.

They are wonderful weekends in which the Spirit of the Lord nourishes my heart and soul through the words of inspired men and women who speak to us.

Every time I am reminded of my purpose on earth, and that we are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father who is mindful of us. I am encouraged as I listen and contemplate areas in my life that need course corrections. As our Prophets speak of Jesus Christ our Savior, the Spirit testifies to me that what they proclaim is true. I feel blessed with this knowledge.

I feel peace and joy in listening and learning how to follow and become more like my Savior. I look forward to filling my spiritual reservoir.

There is a children's hymn that we sing called Follow the Prophet. This is the last verse and chorus line, maybe it will resonate with you and you will want to listen to a Prophet too:


Now we have a world where people are confused.
If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news.
We can get direction all along our way,
If we heed the prophets—follow what they say.

Chorus
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; don’t go astray.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; he knows the way.


Words and music: Duane E. Hiatt, b. 1937. © 1989 IRI


Friday, March 25, 2011

". . . as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings"


Today when I woke up, the skies were dark and stormy. The affairs of the world have been dark and stormy too. The first thing I wanted to do was call my children, to tell them I love them, to reassure myself that they are OK. But more than anything I wanted to gather them together under my wings, to protect them from the bruising realities of life. When my children turned 18 – they wanted to leave and venture out into the world. At the time I was OK with that. They needed those experiences which would help define who they are.

But now, I want them home, with all their baggage and dependents in tow. I want to protect them and shield them from the realities that cause pain and suffering. I want them to feel safe.

In the scriptures we read often the Savior using the analogy of gathering His people as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings. It was especially powerful to me when reading in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 10: 1-6, as the Savior speaks to the people in the America’s after His resurrection - promising to gather His people as a hen gathers her chickens - to be nourished and protected.

Because the world is dark and stormy, I want to remind my children that if they cannot gather under my wings, they can always seek after our Savior. He loves you even more, and I will meet you there, under his wings, to be nourished and strengthened with His love.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Melting Pot


This past week I have been printing out papers and collateral pieces that I have written in preparation for graduation. I have to assemble them into a "learning portfolio" that is turned into the Communications Department in which they use for accreditation purposes.

When I read over past papers that I have written, I think to myself , "This is quite good!" For some reason it shocks me that I had such control over the words in conveying a message. At the conclusion of a paper I wrote on "Diversity in the Media," during my first semester back at school, I still feel satisfied at these thoughts:

“Many refer to our nation as a melting pot of different people and nationalities.  Yet, the reality is that the majority of people have not “melted” or assimilated into one flavor, they have retained their sense of identity.  With truthful representation and active contributions to media content, minorities can honorably continue to enrich our country’s legacy. 

Rather than become a melting pot, why not empty our pockets of color into the pot, so that we can easily identify each diverse color and people, and appreciate how it flavors our nation.”

Today, I am writing two more papers on diversity - on how the Internet impacts cultures and individual identity and the benefits of diversity in the Public Relations industry. After all I have read, my conclusion in that first research paper three years ago is still true. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter Semester Classes

This semester I have four classes; Print Publishing, International Communications, Accounting 200 and my Communications Capstone class.

Print Publishing is turning out to be my fun class. I get to be creative with Adobe CS5 InDesign. I had to learn it last semester for my Communications Writing and Production class. But here we are learning the principles of good design. OK, I will be a little snotty here - I already know the principles of good design, I am just learning to articulate and fine tune them better with this program. My instructor is only 22 yrs. old, and it is hard to keep up with her in class some days. Thank goodness for free tutoring sessions during her office times. Well worth it!

Anyway, the final assignment is a book project. My sister has written some history on my parents, so I will be using that text and pictures to put together something for my family. I thought of doing my cookbook, but having to reformat 150+ pages seems a little daunting to me at this time. That will be a project for over the summer - when I am through with school :)

For my International Comms. class we read this book consisting of academic papers on various international communication issues, and also have to read the NY Times about world news for our weekly quizzes. We have a group presentation once a week on different world problems, such as Emergence of China. Threat or promise?; International abuse of women; Propaganda, etc.. My week is coming up soon. I was assigned, "Illegal Immigration. What to do?" My classmate is from Japan. We decided to narrow our discussion because it is huge! I spoke with our professor yesterday about what we were planning, and he informed me that this was the hottest topic. He likes robust discussions!

I do like numbers, and I do like them to add up and balance. However, remembering what name to give a journal entry does confuse me most times. I thought this class would be a piece of cake. Not so. I am doing a little better in my quizzes - now it is a matter of remembering all that I have learned for my next exam. However, I do remember what a FIFO and LIFO are.

Then there is my capstone class. I love going to class. There are some students who have had the same teacher for four of the required classes for PR. She is an incredible teacher, and I am fortunate to have had her for one of them. But I like the variety of these instructors different teaching stylses. I think it adds balance to what you are learning. The client we have, Singular Humanitarian Experience is interesting. My group has a good idea as to how we are going to form and present our campaign. We have just finished our research, and now we will be working hard to finish up the campaign and collateral pieces - I can already tell it is going to be crunch work before the end of March.

I am phasing out of my job on campus these next few weeks. After 3 months, they finally were able to hire someone. It has been a bit stressful this past month, feeling guilty that I wasn't in the lab when I was needed. But they knew it would be a hit-and-a-miss with my schedule. I started doing some PR work with an agency this semester, to get experience, but because of my campus job I haven't been able to give the time needed to do the work they have for me. It has been frustrating. Next week will be better.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Carpenter


An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer-contractor of his plans to leave the house-building industry and live a more leisurely life with his wife, while enjoying his extended family.

He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by. The contractor was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but in time it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work, the employer came to inspect the house. He handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."

The carpenter was shocked! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

So it is with us. We build our lives, a day at a time, often putting less than our best into the building. Then with a shock we realize we have to live in the house we have built. If we could do it over, we'd do it much differently. But we cannot go back.

You are the carpenter. Each day you hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall. "Life is a do-it-yourself project," someone has said. Your attitudes and the choices you make today, build the "house" you live in tomorrow. 

Build wisely!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Singular Experience

Tonight, my whole house smells like White Chicken Chili. Though I really like this chili, right now it is a little too much. I need more candles – or some system for food odor eaters in our home.

Why does my home smell like this? Tonight my Communication Capstone class conducted a focus group study. We had no budget, so we decided as a group that we would feed our participants as an incentive. They all came – so it must have worked! I volunteered to make White Chicken Chili – two crockpots worth. I was going to make some yummy cornbread muffins, but I got off to a late start this morning so it didn’t happen!

Our focus group study or discussion was with single LDS professionals. We had a great group of people that participated. For our research we got some great insights and learned about the needs for singles as well as understand how we can assist our client, Singular Humanitarian Experience, in reaching their audience of LDS singles. 

 As we concluded and asked if there were any more questions – it was asked if they could get my recipe. So here it is for you to cut and paste!

BEST-EVER WHITE CHICKEN CHILI                                                                        
2 TBSP. Vegetable oil
1 lb. ground chicken or turkey, or 2 large chicken breasts, cubed**
2 small onions, finely chopped
6 cloves of minced garlic
1 – 3 tsp. cumin
1 TBSP. dried oregano leaves
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers (opt.)
1 tsp. each, salt and cracked peppercorns (to taste)
1 can (28 oz.) chopped tomatoes, including liquid
2 cups chicken broth
3 – 15 oz. cans of drained white beans – or a variety of beans (black, pinto, white cannellini, kidney)
2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise, or chopped
1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 - 4 ½ oz. can diced mild green chilies

1.      In a skillet, heat 1 TBSP. oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until it is no longer pink.  Remove with a slotted spoon to slow cooker.  Drain and discard liquid.
2.      Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining oil to pan.  Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened.  Add garlic, cumin, oregano, jalapeno peppers, salt and pepper and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring until liquid is reduced by one third, about 5 minutes.
3.      Add beans to slow cooker and pour tomato mixture over them.  Stir to combine.  Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours, until mixture is hot and bubbling. 
4.      Stir in green pepper and green chilies.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 20 to 30 minutes, until pepper is tender. Ladle into bowls and top with cheese, sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro and avocado.

** In a hurry? Omit cooking chicken in step #1, by either using 2 cans of chicken meat or chicken meat from a rotisserie roasted chicken. 


Sunday, January 23, 2011

It is BYO_ Night!



I think it is time for another BYO_ Night.
(BYO_ means Bring your own spoon, fork, plate, bowl...)

What do you think?

Does Saturday night work, January 29th?

Or should I make it a Cinnamon Roll Sunday?

That would be Sunday night, January 30th.

Willing to take suggestions on what to prepare.

But you have to make a comment.

Also, letting me know if you are coming would be helpful.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

ROUTINE=POWER

On Sunday, the theme for our church meeting was on making goals and working through them. Those that spoke did an excellent job. But one quote that was shared has taken root in my thoughts this week.

“That which is not routine
has no power.”

As I have thought about this, I have seen the truth of these words. Because of school, I have let slip even further the routines that bring me closer to my Heavenly Father - temple attendance, reading my scriptures and personal prayers – and even further – kneeling at the end of the day to express my gratitude! 

For many of us, the reminders of what and where we need to be come subtly, but are we really listening? I keep hearing, but am I listening and more importantly - doing? The Lord has truly blessed my life and I have become negligent in doing simple things that He asks us to do. Hopefully this year I can get back to finding those routines that will afford me the power to do the hard things in life I am asked to do.