Monday, June 18, 2012

True Story

Today the kids spent literally hours playing outside at a neighbor's in their sprinkler. It was a lovely 70 degrees (by the way I am loving this ND brand of summer). About 6 pm, the wind picked up considerably and the skies went quickly dark indicating that a storm was a'coming. Everyone was shoo'd to their respective homes, and no sooner had I closed the door after my young'uns then it started. It wasn't the rain I expected though. It was hail. Great big one-inch pieces of hail. And it literally pounded out of the sky. I've never been one to be frightened by thunderstorms or hail or anything, but if I were, this sure would have been a doozy. Because I'm not though, and I'm intrigued by storms, I literally stood in awe at the storm door watching it pile up on the ground. It was wild, I tell you.

My kids were shouting all kinds of questions and comments to try and breach the roar of the hail hitting the trailer. They included the following:

Beya (crying): I'm SCARED mom!!!

Novan: Mom, I think it's going to break our house!

Iyov: What IS that mom?

Beya (hysterical): What's going on?? Just what kind of thunderstorm IS this??!!

Novan: But mom, it's summer! There's not supposed to be ice in summer!

Beya: I don't like this mom!!! Come hug me! No mom, stay away from the door. (including hysterical crying)

Keshet (obviously alarmed by the loud noise and yelling) crying.

Novan: Mom! Pick up Keshet! She doesn't like it!

Beya (crying): Moooom! Why does Jesus make thunderstorms like this??? I don't like it! It's too scary!

Woah. The last comment actually caught my attention enough to stop and pay attention to her hysterics. So I decided to take advantage of this teachable moment and began explaining that Jesus doesn't cause crazy weather. I explained how the earth needs to purge itself sometimes, because people don't take care of it and they do bad things that make the earth sad. The earth does this because of people; Jesus has nothing to do with it. But if we're scared, we can pray and Jesus will comfort us. So we did. And we sang a song.

After that, I went to the kitchen sink (the hail had finally abated by then) to wash something, and lo and behold there was a rainbow outside my window. I quickly lifted all the kids up to the window to see it, because it really was the most perfect rainbow I'd ever seen. And it was very barely a double rainbow with another arc forming above it.

I said, "Look guys! Jesus knew you were scared so he sent you a rainbow to tell you not to be scared!"

Impatiently I went outside while it was still raining to get an unblocked view:

It was so big, I couldn't capture the whole arc! After the rain mostly stopped, I called the kids out and they were enthralled. I have never seen a more beautiful rainbow, a perfect arc from horizon to horizon. Beya, as she was running out to get a good view with me said, with so much excitement she could barely contain herself, "A rainbow! A rainbow! Mom I LOVE Jesus!" because she felt SO special knowing that Jesus was thinking about her and had sent her a rainbow to calm her fears.

It was a very spiritual moment. I brought Keshet out to see her namesake, and we talked about the meaning of a rainbow again, and how an arc is a sign of a promise. God promises us that no matter how scary life can be, He will comfort us if we ask Him to. Rainbows will always happen after storms.
I think I cried. Yeah, I did, because it reminded me of why I gave Keshet her name.

And then the kids went to play in the literal river that our street had turned into. Let me tell you, that water was COLD! You can see the ice on the ground still in the picture. It was like we had seen the cycle of life's ups and downs in one day. There is possibly nothing more amazing to me on a daily basis than to see the repetition of cycles, how all things on a macro scale are repeated on a miniscule scale and everything in between. Whew! What an awesome day!

How I Recognize Truth

In my pre-mormon days, Brad was explaining some of the tenets of the gospel. One of those was the Holy Ghost.
OK. I'd heard of that one before. In most other Christian faiths, it's not really seen as an entity, but rather something you gain as an intrinsic part of yourself when you are "born again."
Brad went on to say that after baptism, you receive an ordinance when you are confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and most importantly, you receive the Holy Ghost as your constant companion.

I'll tell you that I found this particular doctrine quite offensive. I believed in Christ after all. I was born again. I already had the Holy Ghost, didn't I?

If you look at the Holy Ghost as some kind of transforming agent, this is going to sound weird. Plus, if you are someone that believes in the Trinity, (ie that God, Christ, and Holy Ghost/Spirit are one-in-the-same), this is probably going to go against everything you believe.
What we believe is that the big three are separate. God is literally God the Father. Christ is literally the son of God, and the Holy Ghost is the bearer of all truth. All separate, but all one in purpose.
Furthermore, Mormons don't think that unless you are a Mormon, you don't have the Holy Ghost. We regularly teach our kids at pre-baptism ages to recognize the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost can and does visit you when you are exposed to anything bearing eternal truth with an open mind and heart. The difference is that at baptism, we are granted the right to have His, (the Holy Ghost's), constant companionship as opposed to occasional visits. Being someone who has only lived a third of her life with promised constant companionship of this particular member of the Godhead (the Holy Ghost), I can attest to the tangibility of this difference.

Like all blessings, this one is predicated on our own actions. God only holds up his end of the deal if we hold up ours. In order to enjoy this right to constant companionship, we must live our lives in a way that would not offend the presence of the Holy Ghost. Consider if Christ came to visit you. Would you really watch that raunchy show you really like to watch on Thursday nights? Or would you do something more spiritual and uplifting with Christ in the room? I would venture to guess, that if you are a follower of Chirst, your answer is pretty clear. You also probably wouldn't wear your daisy duke shorts or string bikini around him either. You wouldn't smoke a cigarette around him and you wouldn't use foul language.

We believe that you should avoid doing anything that might offend God. Because when you do offensive things or partake in things that would offend Him, the Holy Ghost hightails it out of there, and you lose the guidance and promptings He can give you when He's around. We believe that the Holy Ghost is literally God's messenger. When people say God prompted them or God spoke to them, it's really the voice of the Holy Ghost doing His job for God, bearing truth, guiding us, and helping us make the best decisions when we ask for things in humble prayer.

Once I understood the Holy Ghost this way, and it was a while before I wrapped my head around it, I began to be able to recognize His presence. It is often difficult to distinguish His voice as it is often so quiet among the other negative ones in my head or in the world, or among the clamor and rush of daily life. But I've gotten better at it. With every year that passes, I have honed my listening ear and programmed myself to ask for His presence when trials and questions beset me. I've also learned how to invite Him. I've learned that during those times when I don't feel like I can hear Him, I find an activity that will help me put my heart in a place that is able to hear again. Sometimes this is controlling my temper with my kids or husband. Sometimes this is watching a Mormon Message , and sometimes it is listening to or reading a talk from General Conference. Other times I might need to listen to good music or read my scriptures.

Usually I will entreat the Holy Ghost before or after one of these activities with prayer, and He always returns, reminding me that when I allow filth, discordance, or chaos in my life, He has no desire to be around me. And actually, no one wants to be around me when I have allowed myself to succumb to worldly ideas or perceptions. I don't even want to be around myself then.

The constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is the greatest of gifts in this life. Feeling his presence is spiritually addictive, and it is something I wish all could feel. When I am listening to a talk from General Conference that really speaks to me on a particular day, the Holy Ghost can feel almost overwhelming, like a great force that one cannot ignore, physically draining to the point that I feel like I cannot contain it. The Holy Ghost brings tears to the eyes of even the most manly of men.

Sometimes with the pure joy that fills me when His heavy presence is near, I think about the prolific ignorance of so many, and it rubs raw places in my heart wishing that if only they could feel what I do, they would never want for the pleasures that the world tries to offer. Certainly, if I was always doing what I'm supposed to, I'd look back and wonder what took me so long to get to this point where he is always near.

The Holy Ghost is THE reason that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, because in the end, no matter how logical some doctrine may sound, or how perfectly it may fit into our perception of the world, man will always find a way to discredit it with their own brand of logic. It is ONLY through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost that we can recognize truth. And it's not limited to church either. The Holy Ghost is that feeling you feel when you see some magnificent formation in nature, or witness the miracle of birth, or feel touched when you see people being kind and loving to each other. The Holy Ghost will tell you what is truth--what is of God, and where His hands have been.

Unfortunately, life can easily get in our way and drag us down to where we forget Him. We forget what He feels like so easily. This is why we Mormons have so many "restrictions" and "rules" and why our religion so permeates the things we do every week and not just on Sunday. This is why Church is three hours long! We need constant reminders so that we can continue to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

My friends, there is no other congregation I have been part of where I have felt God's presence so strongly. Certainly He is everywhere. Certainly, Mormons don't have the copyright on truth. Truth can be found everywhere. But how else will you know it is truth and thus of God unless he tells you? And how will He tell you if you don't ask? And how will you be able to hear the answer if the things you do make Him not able to be around you? After all, God cannot dwell in unclean places.

It is my solid and unwavering testimony that the Holy Ghost is real, and that wherever truth is, there will He be also. And we can feel Him if our lives reflect our best efforts. He will meet us where we are if we are doing all that we know how to do.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

John 14 (KJV)
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another aComforter, that he may babide with you for ever;
 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
 18 I will not leave you acomfortless: I will bcome to you.

Moroni 10:5 (Book of Mormon)
And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Whine, You Whine, We All Whine...

...For absolutely no reason when we are 5-years old.

Help me. I'm drowning in almost-5-year-old emotional breakdowns!

Was I like this as a 5-year old?
Were you like this as a 5-year old?

Was Novan like this? No!
Well then, it must be a girl thing.

I've also determined that it is not a result of "girlfriend time" as I thought. She does this everyday, any day, friends or no, sleep or no.

It's gotten so bad that I have taken to laughing at her every time she breaks into a barrage of tears because the catalyst for the breakdown is so utterly ridiculous!

Mom: Beya, what do you want for lunch?

Beya (already in a whiny voice): I don't know. What do you have?

Mom: The same thing I have every day.

Beya (contorted face, brink of tears): Like whaaaaaat? Just make something.

Mom: I'll just make you a peanut butter and jelly.

Beya flees the room in tears.

I'm always left after these moments with my jaw hanging open and my eyes blinking to check that my eyesight is in order.

Another example:

Mom: Can you clean up your colored pencils?

Beya (whining): But I don't waaaant to.

Mom sighs heavily, turns to Beya, and gives her "the look."

Beya flees the room crying.

Later conversation, (and by conversation I mean between gulps and tears), reveals her reason for breaking down as, "But I didn't want to!" or with the PB&J, "But I didn't want peanut butter and jelly!"

Can someone explain to me how I can better communicate with her so I don't have these breakdowns? Actually, if someone could just tell me how to communicate with her period, that'd be great!

I think she speaks some language I'm not familiar with. And regular parent-speak such as, "If you're thirsty, you know where the cups are" actually translates to her as something like:

"I hate you, and I feel like killing all puppies and kittens!"

I guess if someone said stuff like that to me all the time I'd flee the room crying too.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

This is North Dakota

I love the above picture. It conveys the endlessness of the landscape so well. Oh I adore the prairie. A picture can only say so much though. Standing here in real life and looking around you with no visual end in sight is a peaceful and freeing feeling. I love North Dakota. I think I wish I could live here forever.
The wondrous sky. I want to look at this sky always. Look up! There is artistry in the clouds!
Our new friends, the Hendersons, (Jake Henderson pictured above driving), who have 20 or so horses that need riding?  I'm in! Above picture is what we like to call a "sofa ride" because hay rides are soooo outdated. ;-) My kids thought it was so cool. (As did my husband, the city slicker)
Pony ride! This is Zane lead by Jen Henderson. (Did you notice the sky in the last two pics? If not, you are not looking!)

WHAT could make a little girl happier than baby animals? Uh, pretty much NOTHING! The Hendersons had bunnies, baby goat (aka kid which you can see in the background), calf, and last but not least, KITTENS! Iyov was equally excited and gave them all kisses. So cute.
I love this place.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ode to Midwives

I've come to believe that the birth of a child is a sacred experience. I wasn't always this way, mostly because birth, and how it should be carried out, never crossed my mind. You just don't think of these things, or care to know about them, until that life is actually growing inside of you.

I remember seeing Novan's first ultrasound at 12 weeks. He was a miniscule peanut then, but for the first time, motherhood became real and tangible to me. I cried for joy as I saw his tiny little body leap and squirm. I fell in love instantly. This is not just the birds and the bees people. The bearing of children is as close to the divine majesty of creation as we'll ever get in this life. It is a beautiful, powerful, and sacred gift. And with that very first mother-child encounter, I wanted him to have the best of everything I could possibly give him.

I wanted him to know every moment of every month of his gestation that I loved him. When he made his appearance into the world, I wanted him to never be separated from my unconditional love. I didn't want him taken away. I wanted him close by me as the bright lights and loud sounds of the world made their first debut in his life. I didn't want him to wonder internally "Where is the person Heavenly Father said would take care of me? Where is mother?" I didn't want his first experience of nursing to be dulled and drugged. I didn't want his small undeveloped brain to be bombarded with anything unnatural. I didn't want our bond to possibly be severed by anesthesia, with epidurals, with weigh-ins, with measuring tapes, with eye ointments and needle pricks, with vaccine chemicals, with bilirubin lights, with nursery stays and unfamiliar arms and heart beats. I didn't want him surgically separated from my uterus. I didn't want him rubbed down with sterile cloths or bathed because he was deemed "dirty" because my body was "unsanitary."

There were a great many things I didn't want to happen. Unfortunately, many of them did. However, were it not for modern medicine, Novan would not be alive today. I am thankful for the gift of technology that enables me to mother Novan. How wonderful that we have advanced so far in our understanding of health that many more can enjoy life who might not have otherwise.

Unfortunately, as a whole, medicine has taken their role too far in ushering in new life. This is not an uncommon phenomenon. Any technological blessing can be taken too far and used in ways that are unhealthy or addictive. And thanks to modern medicine in our country, birth is seen as an ailment rather than a rite of passage. Pregnancy and birth are part of a process and place of transition, if you will, in which new spirits are brought to this earthly life. It is a momentous and holy occasion worth celebrating and experiencing, not sanitizing and controlling.

Satan would have you believe that controlled birth is what God wants. We have pitosin, epidurals and surgical knives; now we can make sure birth is regimented exactly the way we want every time. Satan would have you live in fear of what your own body can do. He would have you believe that there is nothing to be gained from giving birth other than the end result of a baby. He would have you believe that using pitson doesn't make a difference to your child or that dulling your senses during delivery won't change your experience at all or change your psychological state forever. "There's no scientific evidence," you say, "to prove that it's a bad thing." Oh really? Is there 'scientific evidence' of God, himself in a medical journal somewhere? Is there scientific evidence that your baby has a spirit at all? There are so many things we don't understand through the scientific method that we choose to believe in. Why not birth? Why can't we believe that there is more there than what we see?

Thank Heavenly Father for midwives. You women who understand the spirituality of birth are God's chosen birth missionaries engendered with the sensitivity to see more deeply into those beautiful moments of pregnancy and birth and share the gospel of birth and all that it has to offer to mothers and babies. I love you who are 'with women.' Your work is irreplaceable and so needed. Your sacrifices are not in vain.

Thank you, midwives, for sharing the message of the beauty of birth. Thank-you for waking up late at night to attend a women who need you. Thank-you for always using compassion and kindness and gentleness with the women you serve. Thank-you for being educated on women's bodies. Thank-you for believing in my body and the bodies of women everywhere. And to you midwives in NC and the 14 or so states where midwife licensure is unavailable, thank-you for risking your freedom to reach out and be 'with women,' because you revere birth and know how much it matters despite the naysayers constantly beating at your door. I love you and your work so much. My heart goes with you and my prayers for your continued inspiration for the women you serve are never-ending. Your work is of utmost importance, and it is never wasted! One day, truth will abound, and your Father will say, "well done thou good and faithful servant." Well done my sisters, our midwives, our agents of life and protectors of children. You are angels on an errand from God.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Raw Food and a Cute Baby

I only have 4 days left on my raw food reboot. Can I just say that I am jonesing for a big hunk of homemade whole wheat bread? I'm ready to be done. I miss carbs. I miss hot food. I have some thoughts on the whole thing in case you're interested:

1)I'm never going to go raw for good. There are too many good (and healthy) foods you miss out on. Plus, I cannot stand cold soup which, I've found, is big in the raw food realm. It's not that it tastes bad, I guess. There is just something innately wrong with cold soup. And it makes me gag. There's a lot of joy in eating to be missed out on if you are a raw foodist. Like beans and rice, for example, and like the simple joy of putting warm food in your mouth.

2) There's too much eating. It takes a looooong time to eat a raw meal. There is a lot of chewing involved, and you have to eat more often to keep up with needed calories. I do not think I have eaten enough overall, because I lost about 5 pounds. So I have obviously been accruing a calorie deficit. However, I would not say I am malnourished, just in need of those few extra calories I would've gotten if I had included some starchy cooked foods into my diet.

3) Kale is a wonderful green. Where I might have used rice as my food base, I used finely chopped kale. Of all the raw vegetables out there, kale is the most filling because of the incredible amount of fiber it contains. It's tough, yes, but that's what makes it so good for feeling full. If you use a vingear-based dressing on your food, you can really let it sit a while to help the kale get a little softer, and it has a marinating effect. Check out this yummy salad I made:

I know it looks a lot like the last raw recipe I posted but it tastes totally different. And yum! It contains about 2 cups of frozen defrosted peas, 2 cups of finely chopped kale, 1.5 roma tomatoes diced, a little bit of red onion minced, 1 teaspoon of oil, 1Tbs balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. It was soooo good. The only thing that would have made it a perfect meal is a big hunk of whole wheat bread. Or something similar.

4) The other thing that has been a staple for me is tomatoes. I have eaten a LOT of tomatoes. And to prove it, check out this picture I took of the tomato section at Wal-Mart today where I went to get MORE tomatoes:

The produce manager saw me coming and ran for the phone to make a new tomato order, Stat!
Hahaha! Just kidding... this is actually the norm for Williston. There is invariably some section of the produce department that is completely out. The previous time I was there, it was the apple section that was empty. That's how we roll out here.

5) My new favorite snack is sugar snap peas! I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE them! I have been eating them almost every day.

6) I also have gained a love for apples and peanut butter (I know, not raw, but I at least used the non-processed kind).

7) For our anniversary, I got myself a masticating juicer (which I have wanted for a long time) and told Brad it was from him. Don't worry, he bought himself speakers to replace his busted ones in the Prius and told me they were from me. We are just so thoughtful, aren't we?
I have distaste for supplements. I just don't believe in pills in any form even though I begrudgingly take them on occasion. I like the juicing thing, because I see the veggies, and then I drink them and I get a boost of veggie/fruit in concentrated form. I like seeing the process, so I can believe there's actual goodness in the glass. And I prefer juicing to smoothies, although I have done both over this past month. You can get more in the glass with juicing as well as better flavor. You really can't beat having all that fiber in a smoothie though, so I'll probably continue to do both.

I feel good with where I'm at now. I've been forced to experiment with different veggies that I don't normally use. And I've gotten comfortable with incorporating more of them in my meal and mixing ones together that I wouldn't normally. That can really help with getting out of a cooking rut. So we'll see how I ease back into the swing of things next Monday.

One last unrelated but super-cute thing:

I've been waiting for Keshet's eyes to change to some recognizable color, but it would seem that this is going to be her color. The question is, what color are they exactly? I can't tell. This picture shows them pretty accurately so what you see is what you get.
Here's another picture to show you just how dark they are. Iyov's are so light blue and her's look black by comparison.
What's your vote? If she were filling out a driver's license application, what color would she label them?