Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas at the Brown's home

Every year just gets better and better. We had a great Christmas! Here we are, in front of the fireplace, getting ready to open our stockings on Christmas Eve.


Spencer loved all his presents, the car radio and the Nintendo DS Zelda edition, but his true inner child came out when he got his Nerf skeet shooter set.


I loved my presents too. I got lots of great Disney stuff, games and even a cute nightie from my hubby!

The next morning we went over to my sister's house for breakfast  and to my parent's house for an early Christmas dinner.  Then we went and saw National Treasure 2 with some good friends.

Later we went to Adam and Nikki's house and were introduced to a great new game called Blokus.  I think we will definitely be adding it to our collection.  Their daughter Maggie was already in bed, but we had come over a few days before and given her her present.  She loved her barrel of monkeys!

video

Here they are playing their favorite game "Where's your armpit?"


video

I feel so immensely blessed in my life.  We have wonderful family and friends that add to every season throughout the year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mr. Sub Commercial

Oh... my.. gooodness.. this is hilarious! I guess it was an actual commercial in Canada. Those Canucks are funnier than people give them credit for!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A New Favorite Thing



Christmas Carolers! These are the cute kids from the ward who came to serenade us on Wednesday. Watching them giggle and squirm as they tried to remember the words to the songs brought back many fond memories from when I was young.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

mancold

When I saw this video I couldn't stop laughing. It's funny because it's true! My man defies most male stereotypes, but when it comes to getting sick, he is just one of the guys.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My Favorite Things

I adore Christmas. From the day after Thanksgiving until the new year begins, a spirit overtakes me, bringing grins, and songs and a general jubilant feeling to my life. Here are my ten favorite things about the merriest season of the year.

1. Twinkling lights: Sitting in a big comfy chair in front of my Christmas tree and its 1000+ lights brings me to a meditative, dare I say even an enlightened state. I can’t help but think of my blessings that outnumber even the lights on my tree as I reflect upon the last year and dream of the year to come
2. The smell of a Christmas tree: Tempted as I might be by the convenience, this girl doesn’t do fake. Everyday as I enter my home, my spirits lighten and I stop to take an even deeper whiff of Christmas. (and to my sister, I say- No, pine scented air freshener is not the same.
3. Buying presents: I know everyone doesn’t agree with this favorite, but I love buying gifts for other people. It takes me out of the me, me, me mentality I have the rest of the year and allows me to focus on others.
4. Christmas songs on the radio 24/7: For most of the year I listen to talk radio, but at Christmas time, I listen to Christmas music. I even sing along, albeit in my car, with the windows rolled up. I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone else’s Christmas spirit with my singing!
5. Nativity sets: We haven’t found the right one for our home yet, but I love seeing the different shapes, sizes and colors. It tells me that people of all sizes, shapes and colors have felt the Savior’s influence in their lives.
6. Baked goods: Or if I am too lazy or busy to bake, the smell of my sugar cookie candle.
7. Peppermint puffs: Spencer laughs at me every time I head to the mantle to snatch myself one, but these are too good to save just for company
8. Gingerbread houses: Since my fine art skills are lacking, I love to make these with a niece or nephew, so any imperfections can be blamed on them.
9. Christmas at Disneyland: Since I won’t get to see it this year, I will move on before I cry.
10. Family: Around the holidays, family becomes even more dear and precious.

My Tree


Friday, November 16, 2007

Relief Society Lesson #22

My lesson on Sunday is going to be pretty simple. As I was reading the chapter, one paragraph really stood out to me.

"Do you want guidance? Have you prayed to the Lord for inspiration? Do you want to do right or do you want to do what you want to do whether or not it is right? Do you want to do what is best for you in the long run or what seems more desirable for the moment? Have you prayed? How much have you prayed? How did you pray? Have you prayed as did the Savior of the world in Gethsemane or did you ask for what you want regardless of its being proper? Do you say in your prayers: “Thy will be done”? Did you say, “Heavenly Father, if you will inspire and impress me with the right, I will do that right”? Or, did you pray, “Give me what I want or I will take it anyway”? Did you say: “Father in Heaven, I love you, I believe in you, I know you are omniscient. I am honest. I am sincerely desirous of doing right. I know you can see the end from the beginning. You can see the future. You can discern if under this situation I present, I will have peace or turmoil, happiness or sorrow, success or failure. Tell me, please, loved Heavenly Father, and I promise to do what you tell me to do.” Have you prayed that way? Don’t you think it might be wise? Are you courageous enough to pray that prayer?"

It reminds me of Alma 5, which I have always considered as my way to have a PPI with a prophet. I plan on using these questions in the same way. They will basically guide our discussion.

"...all people, if they are worthy enough and close enough to the Lord, can have revelations." SWK

The following questions, given to us by Spencer W. Kimball can help us to receive the revelation that has been promised us.

1. Do you want guidance? This is a very important question to ask of ourselves. How many of you have ever had the pleasure of being lost with someone who absolutely refused to get directions? Or even worse, refused to listen to your directions which you know would get you there? There is an analogy here to our own life. I think that sometimes we are either so busy reacting to life, or we are so sure that we know the way, that we forget to look for the guidance that would help us

2. Have you prayed to the Lord for inspiration? Once we admit that we need guidance, who do we get it from? It is true that Martha Stewart can give guidance to my cooking, and HGTV can help me decorate my home, but only Heavenly Father can guide me to the path that will lead back to him.

3. Do you want to do right or do you want to do what you want to do whether or not it is right? I think this would be a great question to ask ourselves before we pray. How do you think the answer to this question might affect the outcome of your prayer?

4.
Do you want to do what is best for you in the long run or what seems more desirable for the moment? Uhmm... both please? Well, that would be nice, but what about when they conflict?

5.
Have you prayed? How much have you prayed? How did you pray? Here are two quotes from SWK that relate to these questions.

"Having given them their free agency, their Heavenly Father persuades and directs his children, but waits for their upreaching, their prayers, their sincere approach to him. …

The Lord is eager to see their first awakening desires and their beginning efforts to penetrate the darkness. Having granted freedom of decision, he must permit man to grope his way until he reaches for the light. But when man begins to hunger, when his arms begin to reach, when his knees begin to bend and his voice becomes articulate, then and not till then does our Lord push back the horizons, draw back the veil, and make it possible for men to emerge from dim uncertain stumbling to sureness, in heavenly light."

" If one rises from his knees having merely said words, he should fall back on his knees and remain there until he has established communication with the Lord who is very anxious to bless, but having given man his free agency, will not force himself upon that man"
Discuss

6.
Have you prayed as did the Savior of the world in Gethsemane or did you ask for what you want regardless of its being proper? Do you say in your prayers: “Thy will be done”? Do you mean it?

7.
Did you say, “Heavenly Father, if you will inspire and impress me with the right, I will do that right”? Or, did you pray, “Give me what I want or I will take it anyway”? Can someone tell of a time when the right thing you were inspired to was difficult, but you did it anyway and were blessed because of it?

8.
Did you say: “Father in Heaven, I love you, I believe in you, I know you are omniscient. I am honest. I am sincerely desirous of doing right. I know you can see the end from the beginning. You can see the future. You can discern if under this situation I present, I will have peace or turmoil, happiness or sorrow, success or failure. Tell me, please, loved Heavenly Father, and I promise to do what you tell me to do.” Have you prayed that way? Have you? Could you?

9.
Don’t you think it might be wise?


10. Are you courageous enough to pray that prayer? How does that kind of prayer take courage? Where can we get that courage?


This lesson might not work in a ward where the RS women refuse to talk or participate. However, I've noticed that these type of questions tend to some elicit amazing discussion in my relief society. However, I will be sure to be familiar enough with the lesson to refer to quotes from the manual when guided to do so by the spirit and by the discussion. I can't wait to see what we all learn!


Saturday, September 08, 2007

some things just don't need to be said

What was said...

"So when are you due?"
"I'm not pregnant"
"Oh, so did you just have a baby?"
"No."
Awkward silence.

What was heard..
"So you seem somewhat fat, do you have a good reason for that?"
"No."
"But, you are so fat there must be some good reason for it."
"I'm afraid there isn't."
Awkward silence.

Actually, I know I am not fat, but since my last surgery, most of the weight I gained back went straight to my stomach, so I have a little pooch. However, I do not need perfect strangers pointing this out to me. Ever.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

RS Lesson 16 The Sabbath—A Delight

I thought I would post my lesson for RS this week. We actually had a lesson on the Sabbath about two months ago and I noticed that there was a great amount of guilt among the women regarding their Sunday habits. Almost every woman who commented that day prefaced her words with "well, I'm not very good at helping my family keep the Sabbath, but some things we do are..." It seemed like everyone thought that somewhere out in the world there is a perfect mormon family where the kids get up peacefully for church each Sunday and then spend their day singing appropriate songs and reading the scriptures, and they felt incredibly guilty that it wasn't them. I'm hoping to avoid that feeling of guilt in my lesson.

Begin by reading:

Isaiah 58: 13 and 14

13 ¶ If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.


Is there a contradiction when Isaiah tells us to refrain "from doing thy pleasure" on Sunday and also tells us that the Sabbath should be a "delight?"

Read the following quote from the SWK manual:

The Sabbath day is given throughout the generations of man for a perpetual covenant [see Exodus 31:16]. It is a sign between the Lord and his children forever [see Exodus 31:17]. It is a day in which to worship and to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Lord. It is a day on which to surrender every worldly interest and to praise the Lord humbly, for humility is the beginning of exaltation. It is a day not for affliction and burden but for rest and righteous enjoyment. It is a day not for lavish banqueting, but a day of simple meals and spiritual feasting. … It is a day graciously given us by our Heavenly Father. It is a day when animals may be turned out to graze and rest; when the plow may be stored in the barn and other machinery cooled down; a day when employer and employee, master and servant may be free from plowing, digging, toiling. It is a day when the office may be locked and business postponed, and troubles forgotten; a day when man may be temporarily released from that first injunction, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou return unto the ground. …” [See Genesis 3:19.] It is a day when bodies may rest, minds relax, and spirits grow. It is a day when songs may be sung, prayers offered, sermons preached, and testimonies borne, and when man may climb high, almost annihilating time, space, and distance between himself and his Creator.


What does it mean that "It is a day not for affliction and burden but for rest and righteous enjoyment?"

Explain that today we are not going to wallow in guilt for what have or have not been doing to keep the Sabbath Day holy. Instead we are going to look to the future and come up with some concrete ideas for making our Sundays a delight.

Before we can make our Sunday s a delight unto us, we need to know what the purpose of Sunday is .

Have a class member read the following statement by Elder James E. Faust, who was at the time a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Why has God asked us to honor the Sabbath day? The reasons I think are at least threefold. The first has to do with the physical need for rest and renewing. Obviously God, who created us, would know more than we do of the limits of our physical and nervous energy and strength.”

Write Physical renewal in the top left corner of the chalkboard. Then have a second class member continue with Elder Faust’s statement:

“The second reason is, in my opinion, of far greater significance. It has to do with the need for regeneration and the strengthening of our spiritual being. God knows that left completely to our own devices without regular reminders of our spiritual needs, many would degenerate into the preoccupation of satisfying earthly desires and appetites. This need for physical, mental, and spiritual regeneration is met in large measure by faithful observance of the Sabbath day.”

To the right of Physical renewal, write Spiritual strength.

  • • Why is the blessing of spiritual strength more important than the blessing of physical rest and renewal?

Have a third class member read the rest of Elder Faust’s statement:

“The third reason [for honoring the Sabbath day] may be the most important of the three. It has to do with obedience to commandments as an expression of our love for God. Blessed are those who need no reasons other than their love for the Savior to keep his commandments” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 46–47; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35).

To the right of Spiritual strength, write Love for God.

  • • How is reverent observance of the Sabbath day “an expression of our love for God”? Why might this be the most important reason for honoring the Sabbath?


So basically, we need to make sure our Sunday activities fall under one of these three headings.

Read Quote by Pres Hinckley

The Lord wrote concerning the sanctity of the Sabbath when His finger touched the tablets of stone on Sinai: Keep the Sabbath day holy. And that commandment has been reiterated in modern times as set forth in the fifty-ninth section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Let us be a Sabbath-keeping people. Now I do not want to be prudish. I do not want you to lock your children in the house and read the Bible all afternoon to them. Be wise. Be careful. But make that day a day when you can sit down with your families and talk about sacred and good things. "Keep the Sabbath holy," saith the Lord to all people and particularly to this people. (Smithfield/Logan Utah Regional Conference, priesthood leadership session, April 20, 1996.)

Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 559 – 560.)


Divide women into three groups. Give each group a sheet of butcher paper or a poster. Assign one group to come up with specific ideas of activities that can be done with young children to help them keep the Sabbath Day holy.

Assign a second group to come up with ideas for teenagers.

Assign a third group to come up with ideas for how to make their own Sabbath days a delight.

Give the groups as long as they need to come up with substantial lists. Then bring the groups back together and have them share their ideas.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sleep kisses

In honor of two wonder years with the most amazing husband ever...

Five reasons I love Spencer more today than the day we were married.

5. His favorite movie right now is High School Musical and he is unafraid to admit it to the world. You got to love a guy that self confident.
4. He makes me laugh every single day.
3. He "gets" me in a way that surprises and amazes me every day.
2. When I was sick in the hospital, he slept every night for more than a month, on an uncomfortable cot so he wouldn't have to be away from me.
1. Sometimes, at night, he sleep kisses me.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Get thee hence!

It's official. I have started to write my novel. I've been thinking a lot lately about why it has been so hard for me to start writing again despite the fact that I have copious amounts of time in which to do it. I finally came to the realization that my inner editor had become an iron fisted tyrant, keeping me from putting my wonderful ideas on paper.

Don't think I'm vain when I call my ideas wonderful, or I guess you can think I'm vain, but try not to judge me too harshly for it. Every writer must have a healthy amount of vanity, otherwise the rejection slips would be too depressing, and every writer gets rejection slips. Lots of them.

Anyway, every time I try to sit down and write one of my ideas, my inner editor elbows its way past my creative genius and silences every sentence. "That doesn't sound right. You need a better word there. Isn't that misspelled?" Eventually I get so bogged down with the minutiae, that I just give up.

So, for now, I have had to banish my tyrant editor to the outer edges of Mongolia. She'll be allowed back eventually, but not until I've made significant progress on my novel. As I write, I am not worrying about misspelled words, or an awkward sentence here or there. At this point, I am just trying to get down my ideas, my characters, my plot points. I'll go back later to clean up some of the language. It is making a world of difference already.

A thousand words down, only 149,000 to (give or take).

Saturday, June 30, 2007

published!

I just had my short story, Original Audrey, published in Orson Scott Card's online magazine, Intergalactic Medicine Show. Check out this link if you would like to read it. This story has been a labor of love for a long time now. I'm glad it has finally found a home.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Evil in Literature

I need some ideas for books that can be read for a relief society book club. I've gotten in trouble before for suggesting "inappropriate" books. The last book I suggested was "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson. The books deals with the aftermath of a young girl's rape and how she finally finds her voice again.

I think the book does an amazing job of showing how painful high school can be for some teenagers. In fact, although, I've never gone through anything nearly as traumatic as what the protagonist experiences, her feelings of alienation in high school is one that I could relate to. I was hoping that maybe some of the women could read it and then pass it on to their daughters. I though that it could promote some discussions of some very important issues that may go undiscussed among church members.

I wouldn't have had a problem if it had been vetoed because someone had read it and thought it wasn't any good, but to say that it is inappropriate for a church sponsored group really bothers me. I completely disagree that we need to avoid all mention of evil in our reading. Evil exists in our world whether we like it or not. We need to confront it for what it is, and learn how to combat it, not close our eyes to its existence. In my opinion, as long as a book shows evil for what it is, and does not try to glorify it, excuse it, or portray it as good, it can be something we can learn from. After all, isn't that what the scriptures do?

Instead, the books chosen for the book club so far have been ones like "Little House on the Prairie" (an actual choice). I loved that book as a child, but for the book club, I want something with some meat to it. To me, the whole point of the home and family activities, is to allow the women in the ward to move beyond the superficial interaction we have when we meet on Sundays and find real connections with each other.

So, anyway, and book suggestions that won't be vetoed by the RS presidency would be greatly appreciated;


I pledge allegiance to Texas?

Did you know that Texas has its own state pledge" Every morning my student turn to the US flag to say the national pledge of allegiance, and then they turn to the Texas state flag and say "Honor the Texas flag. I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible."

For some reason, I find this funny, odd and a bit pretentious at the same time. I'm not sure why.

let's try this again...

So, I move to Texas, and I immediately stop blogging. Not on purpose, but it does seem to follow my on and off again journal writing habits. But, many years ago I stopped beginning journal entries with apologies for not writing, so I think I'll keep that policy here as well. Instead, I'll just press forward and try again!