Sep 29, 2015

My First Essay As A Grown Up.

So as many of you know I have decided it is finally time to get a college degree. I mean I can't live with my parents forever....can I? I need you all to indulge me and print out my first essay and put it on your fridge...maybe add a sticker to it :) I am a little bit proud of this essay. I got 100% and my teacher made a  one word comment on it..."impressive". I think he is being generous. I was most likely the last paper he graded. His kids had probably all been up all night sick. His wife was sad because he missed their anniversary, and it's possible he was mad at the college since they asked him to do an online class....not a real class....but nevertheless I am taking the 100% and the comment to boost me up :) 

So here is my essay for you to enjoy. Feel free to rip it apart :) It was for my religion class so be is religious and probably why it was graded so much easier than a English class essay :) It is important for you to note that their are no smiley faces and no ellipses in this essay...a herculean feat for me.

What is an affliction? The dictionary tells us that affliction means “a state of pain, distress, or grief; misery.” Some of the words that are synonymous with the word affliction are, mishap, trouble, tribulation, calamity, catastrophe and disaster. In the very first chapter and first verse of The Book of Mormon Nephi says that he has, “seen many afflictions in the course of his days”. I have read that sentence countless times but today the footnote next to the word affliction caught my attention and I looked down and noticed that it said, “ TG Affliction: Blessing; God, gifts of.” It caused me to stop and wonder. Is an affliction a blessing and a gift of God?

I started my search by looking up all the scriptures in the topical guide about affliction. I discovered that from the first scripture listed, which was Exodus 3:7 where the Lord tells Moses that he has, “surely seen the affliction of his people which are in Egypt”, all the way to the last scripture listed, which was Doctrine and Covenants 121:7 where the Lord assures Joseph Smith that if he should be “cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee, if thou be cast in the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy, if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son that all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good,” the pattern is clear, affliction refines us, and causes us to turn to God. Anything that turns us to God is surely a blessing.

Jonah had an affliction. He was in the, “fishes belly” for three days and three nights until in Jonah chapter 2 verse 2 when he, “cries by reason of his affliction” to Heavenly Father. He tells the Lord that he has remembered him and all that he has done for him. Jonah’s affliction helped him to get some perspective on the choices he had made and after he recognizes it and prays the “Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out on dry land”.

Joseph of Egypt had afflictions. He had brothers that sold him into Egypt. He had a master’s wife that got him wrongfully imprisoned for his refusal to lie with her. Joseph did not choose his afflictions like Jonah did but he still had them. In Acts 7:10 when Stephen is recounting the history of Israel he mentions Joseph and he talks about how God was with him and “delivered him out of all his afflictions.”

And last but not least there is Lehi’s son Jacob. In 2nd Nephi chapter 2 verses 1-2 Lehi is talking to his son Jacob and he acknowledges that Jacob “hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow” throughout his childhood. But then he reminds Jacob that he knows the “greatness of God” and that because he knows this God will “consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.”

As I read scripture after scripture about affliction I could not ignore the realization that if you consider becoming better a blessing then afflictions are blessings. They refine us. Because we are the natural man it appears we will not naturally turn to God, we need experiences to encourage us to make that choice. In my reading I found a quote in the, Instructors Guide for the Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, that says, “Those times of spiritual dryness, when man is left alone to choose if he really will follow Him, are important to God, for then man shows on his own that he is determined to do as God asks. The Lord wants man to walk in His paths and so shows the way, but He must take away His hand so that man can learn to walk, if he will.”

So the definition of a blessing is a, “special favor, a mercy, or a benefit.” Think of it, that is what we get from God when we face our afflictions. We are here on earth to prove ourselves and the way we prove ourselves is by how we choose to see our afflictions. In Helaman 12:3 it says that “the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions” and sadly if he doesn’t do this we “will not remember him.”

Sep 28, 2015

What Takes Priority?

I just can't help it guys I have so many questions and thoughts about the word priority that I think I may burst. Can you believe that my recent constant thoughts about this word is what has jolted me back into the blogging world? Speaking of priorities obviously, poor, neglected, blogging has not been a priority in my life lately. I was so discouraged when I realized I had not blogged since May 11th of this year. So much has happened since May 11th, so much to tell you about, so much to document, and what do I choose to start with?

Not my epic trip to Estonia in July.
Not my trip to Idaho/ Yellowstone/ Jackson Hole/So Much More, in August.
Not our multitude of day trips since May.
Not my musings about relationships....yeah, I spared you this time :)
Not my feelings about ice cream.
Not about me starting online school.
Not about my constant quest for the perfect shoes.
Not about failing at long distance dating when you are 46....fascinating me.
Not all about living with your parents for an entire year.

No, I chose to start with a word...the word priority, no less. What is coincidental is that as I was sitting here, curled up in my chair, staring out the window thinking about the word priority my mom came by to ask me a question about mailing something and she held up one of those priority mail boxes from the United States Postal Service and asked me a question about it....she even used the word priority, which made me smile. What does it mean if you use a priority box from the post office? Well by definition priority means it will get special attention. It also means it has the right to precede others in rank, order and privilege. How does something achieve that right? Often it is because you pay for it. Or it also can simply be that it is in a certain box that identifies it as a priority. The guy at the post office has told me that anytime I send anything over the Mississippi River within the USA it is worth it to use a priority mail box. It saves me money. The weight limit for the box is twenty lbs and I have never packed one of these boxes anywhere near that weight. When I had missionaries in foreign countries I always used the priority mail boxes. They never, ever got lost. I kinds like that these boxes always cost the same amount to send no matter what it weighs. And I may secretly have a thing for the official looking box. I always feel safe using these boxes.They always get where I am sending them. They truly do appear to get the special attention a priority box should get.

What about if you are a person. What does it mean to be a priority to someone? They obviously do not just have to pay more for you or put you in an official priority box :) Do you know who you are a priority to? How do you know? I have been thinking about this and wondering who I know I am a priority to. Who puts me first? "They"say that the biggest way you show someone that they are a priority to you is through time. Time is our most valuable resource, you have to be intentional with your schedule and your calendar so that you let someone know they are important to you.

How on earth do we ever choose the rank, order, and privilege among everything that demands something from us? Religion, work, school, relationships, kids, telemarketers, exercise, book club, unfolded laundry.Why are Reeses more important to me than Starbursts? Why are my counters clean from clutter but my drawers a little messy? Why is straight hair a priority to me but not curly hair? Why do I never think twice about the gas money that it costs to get in the car and go anywhere? And just to complicate things our priorities change...all the time.

I have a friend in Massachusetts for whom exercise is a priority. No complaining about not having time. No complaining about not having money for the gym, No complaining about what to do with her little kids while exercising it just happens. Exercise is a priority for her. She knows she needs it and she makes it happen. Yeah, I idolize her :)

When I was a young mother teaching my kids to sleep through the night in their own beds was a priority to me. I did whatever it took for that to happen. If if it meant listening to them cry in the be it. After they were 6 months old it meant that much to me that if you would have told me that if I stood on my head in a jungle while balancing a stack of pancakes on my feet my kids would sleep through the night in their own beds I would have done it.....yeah, a priority.

It used to be a priority to me to give out, way too many goody plates at Christmas time but one day I realized with a start that this was not a priority to me anymore. Other holiday things ranked higher so I switched up the priority list.

What in my life means enough to me that I would do anything to make it happen? What if I know what means a lot to me and I do not mean that much to it? Yeah, it happens.