Friday, May 24, 2013

Ducky Little Secrets

Dear Diary,

I was nearly caught again tonight. Buns and the kids unexpectedly came home early from the Youth activity and I had to move pretty fast to cover up what was going on. Why can’t I give this up? This secret is killing me and Buns is getting suspicious.

It all started so innocently. A conversation at work that led to one thoughtless viewing and now I am addicted. I just can’t stop watching Duck Dynasty.

I’m so careful when I watch. The shades are drawn and I make sure the recall button on the remote is programmed to Nova or Downton Abbey in case I must change the channel quickly. I’ve covered my Uncle Si commemorative plastic cup in a “libraries rock” cozy to disguise it and I’ve become an expert at ripping off my American flag bandana and shoving it down the couch cushion when footsteps are heard outside the door.

What is it about the real life antics of self-proclaimed rednecks that is so compelling? Is it the hilarity of the ridiculous situations they get into? Is it their brazen attitude that doesn’t care one bit what the world thinks of them? Is it the deep faith that is the undercurrent of every episode?  Is it the peek into a long-held southern and completely American way of life?

Whatever it is they are selling, I can’t get enough and have even found some of their backwoods wisdom creeping into my conversations.

“When you don’t know what you are doing, it is best to do it quickly.” 

“That’s a fact- JACK!” 

“It’s like a cat with his tail in an electric fan, it won’t be long now.”

Ok, so that last one isn't something I have ever said but undoubtedly as the wife of a bearded man I appreciate the sentiment.

From Phil and Miss Kay and their refreshing and hysterically funny relationship, to crazy Uncle Si who has had one to many iced teas, to the Robertson brothers and the grief they give each other, this family is absolutely committed to each other and you can see it in everything they do.

There is no worry about whether or not anyone takes you seriously in their world and intellectual stimulation is found in blowing up a beaver dam.

Still, letting this out might damage my reputation as a civilized person so no matter how much I want to share this with the world I guess I’ll keep watching incognito. I just hope the camo car seat covers I ordered  last week don’t give me away.



Monday, May 20, 2013

Love Your Choice

Last Sunday my 16 year old son and I had a chance to watch a recording of the May 5th CES Devotional by Elder William Walker. During his address Elder Walker related a story about President of the Church Thomas S. Monson.

It was just prior to a General Conference weekend and all of the senior leadership of the Church were gathered together to be instructed by the First Presidency. As they waited for the meeting to begin the 9 o’clock hour came and went. This was unusual and the brethren began to worry.

“Someone walked out a side door to check if some assistance might be needed. On his re-entrance to the room we were told President Monson would join us shortly. About 15 minutes after the meeting was to have started President Monson entered the room. Out of respect we stood as he entered. We were happy to see him and pleased that he looked well and it didn’t appear that there was any obvious reason why he would have been late. President Monson went strait to the pulpit and said ‘Brethren, I’m sorry to be late but my wife needed me this morning.’  I was deeply impressed and humbled and couldn’t stop thinking about President Monson’s words. This was a very important meeting. The entire senior leadership of the Church was assembled but President Monson set the example for us all. His wife needed him and he took the time necessary to care for her. It was a great sermon.”

At the end of this account my son said something very simple and profound. “Love is like faith isn’t it mom? Love without works is dead.”

As I sat there a little stunned at the beauty and truth of that statement it became clear to me that President Monson and his lovely wife Frances have spent a lifetime modeling that very idea. It is worthy of emulation.

In a conference talk called Hallmarks of a Happy Home President Monson spoke of a framed expression that his Aunt had embroidered which hung on the kitchen wall of his boyhood home. It carried a world of practical application: 
Choose your love; love your choice.

That expression was put into practice early on as heavy responsibilities came shortly after their marriage. As Bishop, Mission President, and other callings came to the remarkably young and talented Monson Frances was unwaveringly supportive.

 “It has never been a sacrifice to see my husband doing the Lord's work. It has blessed me, and it has blessed our children. He always knew that if it was for the Church, I expected him to do what he had to do.”
This support was received with thankfulness and love. 

“I have never known Frances to complain once of my Church responsibilities,’ he says. ‘I have been gone many days and many nights, and I have rarely been able to sit with her in the congregation. But there is no one like her—absolutely no one. She is in every way supportive and is a woman of quiet and profoundly powerful faith”

“I thank my Father in Heaven for my sweet companion, Frances. … I could not have asked for a more loyal, loving, and understanding companion”  
 There has been a sense of fun in their relationship as well. Both are good-natured and able to see the humor in even difficult situations. President Monson related the following.
“My sweet Frances had a terrible fall a few years ago. She went to the hospital. She lay in a coma for about 18 days. I sat by her side. She never moved a muscle. The children cried, the grandchildren cried, and I wept. Not a movement.
And then one day, she opened her eyes. I set a speed record in getting to her side. I gave her a kiss and a hug, and I said, ‘You’re back. I love you.’ And she said, ‘I love you, too, Tom, but we’re in serious trouble.’ I thought, ‘What do you know about trouble, Frances?’ She said, ‘I forgot to mail in our fourth-quarter income tax payment.
I said to her, ‘Frances, if you had said that before you extended a kiss to me and told me you love me, I might have left you here”
Now with Sister Monson’s passing and as we bid her farewell for a time it seems appropriate to ponder the example she and President Monson have set.

Unconditional love, gratitude, support, and humor, all of these actions took effort. Truly love without works is dead and the Monson’s have been a magnificent example to all of us of the vibrant happiness that comes from that determination.

“Brethren, let’s treat our wives with dignity and with respect. They’re our eternal companions. Sisters, honor your husbands. They need to hear a good word. They need a friendly smile. They need a warm expression of true love.”

 May we all take those words to heart and do the work of love by loving our choice a little more today.



Friday, May 10, 2013

Gifts on the Day of Mothers

Ahh, the underappreciated and overworked mother; deity of the dirty diaper crowd, superwoman of supper, lioness of the laundry room. The woman who loves you best and toils 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make sure that noses are wiped, homework is done, and that the fruit of her loins turns out to be the most fantastic, spiritual, amazing adults that the world has ever seen.

She pulls off this miracle by sacrificing sleep, self-indulgence, and sometimes sanity amid the well-noted lack of accolades from the outside world and many times her family. This is why mothers get seriously out of sorts if her husband or children forget that one day in May when everyone is required to give her some much deserved recognition.

Just ask my hubby Buns what happens if even once you forget the sacred Day of Mothers. Your sweet companion will turn into something that resembles an angry Al Pacino with flames shooting out of the top of his head, and like an elephant Pacino never forgets.

Since that fateful Sunday all those years ago Buns has showered me with many an adorable card and beautiful bouquet of flowers. I also have a drawer in my bedroom that houses a growing pile of cherished macaroni art, cards with childish endearments scribbled on them, and glittery pictures given in love from my four offspring. One year I even got tickets to a Josh Groban concert (which was swoon worthy) but with all of these great things none of them are the best gifts I’ve received in appreciation of my motherly efforts.

Here is a list of the very best gifts I’ve ever gotten.
  • Dandelions picked with care from the back yard
  • Watching my newly ordained sons pass the sacrament for the first time
  • Witnessing the first vocal prayer of a little one kneeling next to me
  • Having my teenage son read to me when I was too sick to do it myself
  • Laughing hysterically at the joke “why did the chicken cross the playground?” (to get to the other slide) as told by a seven-year-old girl for the 17th time
  • Receiving an answer to a fervent prayer for the healing of a critically ill child
  • Joy in water fights, kite flying, and shooting gingerbread houses with slingshots
  • The smell of a new baby snuggled safely in my arms
  • Being able to tell bedtime stories to a captivated audience every night
  • Sticky kisses
  • Gospel discussions with teens who blow me away with their understanding
  • A feeling of pride when one of my kids stands up to injustice
  • Burnt toast made by a budding chef
  • Warm Christmas mornings together
  • Having my cheeks grabbed by a five-year-old who then tells  me in his most serious voice that “I wuv you mom”

The thing is that regardless of how much we mothers are ignored, unappreciated, and overlooked by the world at large, and even if our family has become complacent, there is One who appreciates us every single day for the hard work we put in. He recognizes our imperfect efforts, He sees the sacrifices, and rewards us openly and in exponentially greater amounts than the energy we put in.

He never waits for one Sunday in May to make known how much He loves, trusts, and sees us. His gifts are poured out day-by-day and minute-by-minute if only we have the eyes to see them.  So as much as I adore the cards, words of appreciation, and the pansies I’ll get in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, my favorite gift  is the love of my Savior and the privilege He has given me of being a mom. 

Happy Mother’s Day!


What gifts has God given you?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pointing Fingers

Immediately following Elizabeth Smart’s remarks at a John’s Hopkins human trafficking forum on Wednesday May 1, the internet erupted in criticism of the Church and it’s instruction on virtue and chastity. In a way that ignored the premise of her comments, accusations filled the blogosphere that teaching abstinence before marriage is damaging to women who have been the victims of sexual assault . 

 Jay Evensen, Associate Editor of the Deseret News editorial page responded.
“Two issues are at stake here. One is consensual premarital sex, particularly as engaged in by teenagers (Smart was 14 when she was abducted). The other, more relevant one has to do with rape, sexual coercion and its relationship to chastity and the worth of a soul. Don’t confuse the two.”
“The problem wasn’t the way she had been instructed about chastity, it was the lack of instruction about how rape is a crime of violence and not a reflection in any sense on the victim. It was, as she said, a lack of training that it is OK to fight back and that no one can steal your self-worth.”

Well then, why didn’t the Church instruct her properly? Why didn’t the Church make sure she knew these things so that when she heard an unfortunate object lesson about chewing gum she was able to sort the truth from error?

This was my knee-jerk reaction to the articles I read and then I began to do a little research. Here are just three examples of an overwhelmingly consistent message.


From under the topic of abuse:
“Victims of abuse should be assured that they are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. They do not need to feel guilt. If they have been a victim of rape or other sexual abuse, whether they have been abused by an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a family member, victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sexual sin.”
For the Strength of Youth:
“Victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sin and do not need to repent. If you have been a victim of abuse, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult, and seek your bishop’s counsel immediately. They can support you spiritually and assist you in getting the protection and help you need. The process of healing may take time. Trust in the Savior. He will heal you and give you peace.”
From the official leadership handbook:
“Parents have primary responsibility for the sex education of their children. Teaching this subject honestly and plainly in the home will help young people avoid serious moral transgressions. To help parents teach this sensitive and important information, the Church has published A Parent’s Guide.
The finger I had pointed at the Church found itself turned right around and aimed directly at me.  

Why haven’t I taught my children about this subject effectively? Do I really think that my eight-year-old's Primary teacher should talk to her about sexual exploitation on Sunday? Should my teenage sons be gaining all they know on abuse from their Young Men’s leader?

Absolutely not. That is my obligation as a parent to teach my kids about these difficult and tender subjects. It is my duty to prepare them for the possibility of terrible things. We live in a darkening world where so many people are subjected to appalling situations at the hands of evil people. I cannot turn the education of my child over to the Church. That is not its purpose. God called me to that important task. I’m responsible.

Far too many well-meaning and good parents are shirking their duty in the home. It is understandable, I don’t want to even consider that something awful might happen to one of my kids and it is an uncomfortable topic to talk about. But the safety of a warm, trusting, and loving home it is the only place these lessons can be learned effectively. We are accountable to God to create that home and teach the vital lessons.

So instead of hurling stones at the Church let’s take a closer look at what is being taught or ignored in our own homes. Are we teaching our kids the truths that will protect and comfort them when the trials of their lives come up? Or are we shoving that responsibility off on someone or something else? Are we doing enough to build the loving and trusted relationships that will bring them to us in times of need?

In my case I can do better. How about you?


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