Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Light of the World

I had to teach the Sharing Time in Primary.  It was supposed to be about Christmas, but we had done the nativity already.  My first couselor, Melissa, suggested an idea she had done before about having the children write a service on a paper ornament and hang it on the tree. I loved the idea and it got my mind going. 
This was my lesson:
I had a table top christmas tree with no decorations sitting in front of the room.  I asked the littlest children if they knew what it was. "A tree!" they answered. 
But what kind of tree?
"A Christmas tree!" they shouted.
I asked them if it looked good enough or if it needed something else. Of course all of the children offered up ideas of what it needed: ornaments, a star, an angel, candy canes, etc. So I pulled out a container of small ornaments.  The kids were scrambling over themselves raising their hands, wanting to put an ornament on the tree.  I told them that in order to put an ornament on the tree, they had to think of a gift of service that they could do for their family for Christmas.  They said things, like: make my bed, do the dishes, clean my room, help Mom clean, and even wash the car!
The tree was finally covered in ornaments.  Then I let 3 kids put a beaded garland on the tree when they told me what they would do as service to their family.  Then finally I let a child put the star on top of the tree.  I talked to the children about how the star reminds us of the Star of Bethlehem when Christ was born. And that sometimes people put angels on their tree because it reminds them of the Angels in the Christmas story.  Then I asked, once again, if the tree looked finished. "It needs lights!" some of the children offered.
I walked to the wall to plug the lights in and said "I'm going to turn on the lights, let me know if this makes our tree look better."  When I plugged in the tree, there were audible sighs and gasps. We all agreed it looked much better.  I asked the children if they ever rode with their families to look at the lights.  Why do you think we like lights so much? They answered that it is because they are pretty, they remind us of Christmas. 
I explained that one of the names that Jesus is given is "The Light of the World."  He is the light.  Just like on the tree. The tree is decorated and doesn't truly look beautiful until we turn on the lights. We can do the best we can, by giving service and love to our family and friends, but Jesus is the light that makes those things perfect.  It is His example that makes us feel the love we feel at Christmas time.
Then I gave each of the children a paper ornament that looked like a Christmas light bulb.  I told them that it is to remind them to bring the light of Christ into their home by following Jesus's example.  They all wrote, on the back of the ornament, what gift of service they were going to give their family for Christmas.  They got to take the ornaments home.
I have been pondering this lesson this week.  Jesus truly is the Light that perfects all that we do. After all we do, sometimes our best, mostly our meager attempts- Jesus perfects it and sanctifies it so that it is good.  Because of His atonement, our mistakes and rough edges are made whole and smooth when we turn to Him.
I am thankful for the opportunity that teaching this lesson gave me to think about these things.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Song of the Righteous is a Prayer

One of my favorite Christmas memories was listening to the album "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" by Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers.  Random, I know.  It was a record (those large black discs put on a turntable)  Because we played it every year, there were scratches at certain parts, and even now when I listen to it as a downloaded MP3, I miss those "bumps" in the songs.  My memory fills them in at the right places however! My mother can't believe what an important part of Christmas this was to her children.  She claims she needed some Christmas music and just grabbed it because it was cheap and seemed decent. It is now ingrained into our collective Christmas memories.  I especially love the song "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep."  It really touches me to this day.
       "And when we're worried and cannot sleep, we'll count our blessings instead sheep, and we'll fall asleep counting our blessings.  And when our bankroll is getting small, we'll think about the time when we had none at all, and we'll go to sleep counting our blessings.  We'll think about a Christmas eve and picture curly heads, with presents waiting 'neath the tree as they slumber in their beds. And if we're worried and we can't sleep, we'll count our blessings instead of sleep, and we'll fall asleep counting our blessings!"
I love this! It reminds me to remember what is truly important, and that the love of children is what makes the magic of Christmas.  We truly are so blessed.  As I sit in my warm house, I think of all of the ways we are blessed to make the love in our home possible. 
Matt 16:20-21
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
This is my inspiration this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where there's smoke...

My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving week. We had a marvolous time! I had never cooked a fresh turkey before, I had always done a frozen. It was remarkably better! Daniel was so sick of turkey, he even asked if we could do a ham instead but I was determined to find a way to make the turkey delish. The fresh turkey was the key.  It was moist, very juicy and tons more flavor. The left-overs have been divine.  When dinner was over, I did what I always do and put the carcass in a stock pot to boil.  I love using the juices to make soups- it is wonderful broth. 
At around 4pm, we decided to take pies and go visit Daniel's parents in Lindon. (about 30 min away)  We played a game of Rummikub, chatted, and ate pie.  Diane had a delicious Turtle pie with chocolate, and caramel.  Then Daniel, the kids, my parents, and I climbed in our car to come home.  We were back in Spanish Fork, about 1 block from our house, when I decided to turn the car around and take the opportunity to go to the Festival of Lights.  This is a light display that is set up in a city park.  It takes about 15-30 minutes to drive through and see the animation, and lighting. The kids always enjoy it. 
It was after 9 pm when we finally pulled into the driveway.  Daniel was the first one out of the car and up to the door.  He threw it opened and yelled "Fire!" I opened my car door and heard our smoke alarm going crazy.  I ran up to the door and there was smoke filling the house, acrid and horrible.  There wasn't a fire- yet.  Daniel had grabbed the stock pot, with the turkey carcass in it, and put it out the back door onto the driveway.  The pot was charred.  By the looks of it, we were about 3 minutes or less away from flames.  We had come home in the nick of time.  We aired the house out immediately.  Then when all was calm, we gathered around and gave a prayer of thanks to the Lord for His protective blessing.  Even though we aired it out as best we could, it was nearly unbearable to sleep that night.  The smell was horrible!  Like a bad 1970's motel.  Smoke is like a sandstorm rushing through your house, it covers everything! And what it doesn't settle on, it penetrates.  The next morning, we got cleaner and started cleaning up.  It is 5 days later, and it still smells a bit, but I know that will go away with cleaning, and time. 
I have had a few days to ponder our miracle.  What if we had played another game? What if we had spent longer at the Festival of Lights?  What if.....?  But it we didn't.  I don't know why we were blessed to have our house saved from a fire, but I am humbled by it.  Very humbled.  What a reminder of the blessings I have and the true things that make my life worth living- my family.  I don't know if I am priviledged to a feline-9 lives, but it sure feels as though I have used a few.  It truly became a Thanksgiving for us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dream Symbols

I have always been an avid dreamer. I dream almost nightly. In fact, if I don't have dreams, I know that is a sign of depression or anxiety.  It is because I dream so frequently that I pay attention to what I dream about.  I do not think that dreams are important to everyone, but I do think they are to me.  I am entertained by them, solve problems through them, and am sometimes quite confused by them.  I have read many books on dream theory and research but I feel it is most important to understand what the dreams mean personally to me.  Do all dreams have "meaning?" No, I think there are many types of dreams. I have divided mine into several categories: 
  1. Purging dreams- this type of dream is full of ideas or imagery from my day.  Something I read in a book or saw on tv or a conversation that I had with someone. I think that my brain just tries to lump these together in a cohesive way and I get these bizarre dreams.  Ususally when I wake up, I can remember where the individual ideas or images came from.
  2. Movie dreams- these dreams usually have a plot and characters.  There is a problem that needs solving.  If I could remember these in detail, they would make a great book or movie.  This is how Stephanie Meyers got the idea for the  Twilight novels.  Maybe the movie dreams could make me rich! LOL.
  3. Symbolic dreams- this type of dream is usually rich in symbolism. These take more time to dicipher because I have to ponder what the dream means.  Some symbols are obvious to me, others are more obscure.  There are universal symbols but I more strongly believe that personal symbolism has greater meaning.  I have been taught many lessons through these types of dreams.  I have solved difficult problems.  These are the types of dreams often found in the Bible.  I think that our minds are more open to spiritual communication while we are resting.  This is one way that I feel that my prayers get answered.  The morning of this past birthday, I woke up and realized that I received a parable as a dream.  It was a precious gift.
  4. Prophetic dreams-  these dreams are rare.  These are things that I have dreamed about and then they came true.  I had a dream like this before Daniel and I even started dating, that we were married.  I dreamed about each of my children before I was even pregnant with them. I have dreamed about places we ended up moving to later.  Interestingly, I don't know that these were glimpses into the future until they actually happen.  Like I said, very rare.
One thing that has been a rather consistant symbol is that when I dream about losing a tooth, someone dies.  Not always someone close to me.  I dreamt about losing a tooth the night before Princess Diana died, before my grandparents both passed away, before President Hinkley died.  There have been many others.  I don't dream this dream often, but it is very consistant. 
Well, last night I dreamt that I lost a tooth.  Then when I was fussing about the tooth I lost, 3 more fell out.  In my dream, Daniel told me that I would be just fine and then one more fell out.  I woke up so disturbed! It was a helpless feeling.  I hope that this is the first time that this symbol means something else.  Maybe it could be that I fear getting old, or maybe it is because we have dealt with so much death this year.  Who knows.  I just know that for 15 years that it has meant death.  I hope I am wrong this time.
I wonder if anyone else pays this much attention to their dreams. Haunting or not, I will still look forward to dreaming.

Monday, November 16, 2009


It's amazing how much time I spend as a mom "fixing".  First, the washing machine wouldn't go on spin cycle. I tried a short cycle, then I unplugged it for a few minutes and plugged it back in. Then I ran a different cycle.  I noticed an odd smell, kind of electrical in nature, coming from the washer. I decided to unplug it and look for a solution. Moni started to complain because she needed her clothes washed, so I asked our neighbor if we could do a load over at her house. While Moni took care of that, I looked up the problem on the internet and realized that the problem was with the suction hose connected to the pump. It was possibly clogged.  So I got a philips screwdriver and started removing the panel off the washer when Moni came down and tells me that she needs me to take her to the bank to cash her check before they closed.  She needs the money for tonight to go to a play.  Because I didn't have any cash on me, I grabbed my keys and off we went. While heading out, I called Daniel and let him know about the washer. When I got home, he was searching for the problem.  I told him to look in the suction hose and Voila! There is a deck screw stuck in the line preventing the pump from working. Hence, the wierd electrical smell.  He pulled it out and the machine is now working just fine. [ I wonder who leaves screws in their pants pockets? wink, wink Daniel ;)]
Most of my days are filled with stories like this.  As Mom, I am expected to fix food, schedules, owies, machinery, relationships, and do it all in record time.  I offer quilt-like comfort, act as verbal sounding board, answer encyclopdiacly to numerous questions, and perform comedy routines to keep my kids happy and put things in perspective.  This is what I am expected to do. I try to do it.  I am not perfect, but I am willing.  My mother was this woman for me. I try to be this for my children, in hopes that in the future, they can do it for their children. Every day that I successfully accomplish something, I think of my awesome Mom and thank God for her. She is still the best "fixer" I know! 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday the 13th!

Friday the 13th tried to curse us with bad luck, but it failed.
     First, we woke up to a hot water heater that gave out it's last breath in the form of water spewing all over the basement floor.  We had to go buy a new one. Not something I had planned in my purchases before Christmas, but very grateful the money was there.
     Then my little black cat got into a fight last night.  He came limping to his bowl this morning with a front paw double in size from swelling. I had to take him to the vet. He got a shot and some pain meds and hopefully is on the mend.
     The good news is that we got new insulation in the attic and in the crawl space.  Just one day before the first snow storm hit us.  We also will get 1/2 back in a rebate! woo hoo!
     My front entryway is finally done, and Moni got my house immaculately cleaned so that she could have friends over to play games last night. 

All-in-all it was an excellant day! Maybe Friday the 13th doesn't have to be unlucky.

Monday, November 9, 2009

19 Years

Today is my 19th wedding anniversary! At the Seattle Temple, Daniel and I knelt across the alter and were sealed together for time and all eternity.  It was the best choice I ever made! I am still blessed every single day because of my choice to marry him.  It isn't that our marriage has been without challenges. On the contrary, we have been challenged many, many times.  We have had to learn to speak the truth, even when it is painful.  We have had to learn to trust that the other has our best interest at heart. We have both had to learn to suck up pride and move forward in faith.  We have had to learn to argue effectively, without doing damage to the other.  We have learned to put the Lord before our own desires.  There have been times when these lessons were almost more than we could bear. The challenges that this life presents can be such a distraction, and can even distort our perspectives into thinking that maybe there was a better choice.  But the joy of making an eternal covenant is that we are not only responsible to each other, but more importantly, to the Lord.  This has helped us to get back on couse and strive to do better. I can honestly say that I love Daniel more than the day we were married.  This is because I know him better now.  When I lay in bed at night reading, I love to look over and see his sleeping face right beside me.  I love when I say something silly and he laughs and I know that he genuinely likes my jokes.  I love when he says my name "Jennifer" and it rumbles deep in his throat like it came from his heart.  He is my best friend.  We are good together.  I am grateful for the 19 years we have had.  I look forward to more. I love you, Daniel Thomas Lewis! I will be here forever.