Saturday, July 12, 2014

I Wish I Had Taken a Picture

I have been working a big project for the last 9 days. I worked on it little bits at a time and it has been a process, let me tell you. But today, I declared completion and success.

The project started on my birthday when I discovered, about 5 minutes before my parents picked me up for lunch, that a blue ink pen had leaked onto the family room carpet. An earlier, younger version of me might have just pulled the couch over the stain and called it good. But, now with kids being grown and not needing constant attention, I had no excuse for not having time to deal with the ink. I initially tried to dab the ink up with a damp washcloth, but all that did was bring the ink up from deep down in the recesses of the carpet. So it went from being just a barely visible blue streak to a royal blue, quarter-sized very visible spot on the carpet. Not good.

Next I called a friend and asked for her suggestion. She has this stuff called "absorb it" that she uses for her carpets. She was nice enough to give me some. I followed her directions and wetted the area around the stain with water before applying the powder. You want to know what happened? That ink stain went from being quarter-sized to small dinner plate-sized. Oh yes it did. I am not even kidding. Continuing on...I sprinkled the powder over the newly enlarged stain, placed a towel over the powder and let it sit for a couple of days, per my friend's instructions. Two days later I removed the towel, vacuumed up the now dried powder and Viola! A Seahawk blue small dinner plate-sized stain on my carpet.

Yes, of course, I am freaking out at this time because now there is no way possible to just pull the couch over the stain. So I do what anyone does now and  I Googled "how to remove ink from carpet". Almost every suggestion said hairspray. No way was a I spraying hairspray on the carpet. I didn't want the sticky residue of hairspray left on the carpet.

So I  used the next best thing

Rubbing alcohol.

Over the course of a week I went through 3/4 of a bottle of rubbing alcohol to try and lift the stain. Oh and white vinegar. Can't forget that.

Here is how the stain was finally lifted (and the carpet survived)

I don't have any spray/mister bottles so I would lay a white towel over the stain and then pour the alcohol directly over the stain. I would let the alcohol seep through and onto the carpet for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then I would spend the next 30-45 minutes dabbing at the stain, always working from the outside towards the center and in an up-down dabbing motion.

Let that dry completely, usually overnight and then rinse with warm water. Soak up water with towel. Repeat the dabbing process because the ink seemed to be coming up pretty good. Keep dabbing until no more ink comes up. Then I let the carpet dry again overnight to see where things were at.

I used this method for about two days before I added in the next step...white vinegar.

So alcohol, dab, let dry. White vinegar, dab, rinse with warm water. Soak up with towel.

Repeat the next day. And the next day. And the next day.

On day 7 I had the brilliant idea to borrow my MIL's carpet cleaner. I only used this for the rinsing and sucking up the water part.

Adding the carpet cleaner the process went like this...

Alcohol, dab, dab, dab. Let dry completely.
White vinegar, dab, dab, dab.
Rinse with warm water and suck up water with the carpet cleaner.

And today, on day 9, TA DA! No more blue ink stain on the carpet!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

She Wanted This in the Ensign...

But until she gets home from her mission and can submit it herself, publishing it on my blog will have to suffice.

Challenges and Blessing in Trusting in the Lord.

Being on a mission has by far been the best and hardest time of my life. Each day causes stress and joy, depression and satisfaction. Sometimes being out here can be downright miserable. There's no work, no referrals, no less-actives, and no members to help. Each day you feel defeated and like a failure. You can't figure out what it is you're doing wrong. I've never prayed as hard as I have serving in Arizona than anywhere else.

I know a lot of people think that missionaries are super inclined to the spirit and are these huge spiritual giants with no problems what so ever. True we have been set apart to do the Lord's work, but we're just normal kids. The only difference between us and members is a name tag. We get discouraged, frustrated and overwhelmed. Not being able to write home and say exactly what's going on is hard. Heavenly Father is the only one we can turn to in this time of need. But there are times when we feel that are prayers aren't being heard. More frustration. But at this point something happens. We have a new found determination to find work. We plan more effectively. We get members to participate more. We get less-actives more involved with activities. And slowly, but surely, we get more work.

Before I came out on my mission I never really grasped the concept that The Lord has a plan for everyone, members and non-members alike. And because He has a individual plan for each of us; work must be done in His time until both of us are ready. In a 2005 General Conference talk Henry B Eyring said, "decisions now to exercise faith and be steady in obedience will in time produce great faith and assurance. That is the spiritual preparedness we all will need. And it will qualify us in the moments of crisis to receive The Lord's promise that 'if ye are prepared ye shall not fear'" and most of the time that is exactly the reason why there is not a lot of work. The Lord needed to prepare both the missionary and the individual. Just like we can't go to battle without a weapon, we can't try to bring someone unto Christ if their heart hasn't been opened and we haven't learned patience and found humility in our difficulties.

I've always had a great love for my Savior, but until I left for my mission in Tempe, Arizona, I've never felt Him so close and relied on His atonement so much. I know that my Savior Jesus Christ lives and it is because of Him all things are possible. I love being able to talk about Him and bring others closer to Him every day. The knowledge that our Heavenly Father has a plan for us brings me so much joy and comfort. I don't know what I would would be like if I didn't have this gospel in my life, but I know for a fact that I wouldn't be as happy as I am now. I've learned for myself that if we rely on The Lord and pray to Him every time we're in need, He WILL help us. When we put our full trust in Him and rely on Him 100% He will never let us down.

 As I've allowed myself to trust in The Lord I have been able to witness how much He trusts me and how much He is able to soften the hearts of the people around me. The most incredible transformation I've seen on my mission was a man named David*. David wasn't a member but had gone to church for 15 years! He paid his tithing and even had a calling in scouts, but there was a time when he questioned if God even existed. Then randomly one night my companion and I get a call from our bishop asking if we would be able to do a baptism the next day. To our surprise we found out it was David. We quickly got permission from our mission president and set up the baptism for the next day. Unfortunately, when it came time for the interview, he didn't even make it through the first question without throwing a chair across the room. My district leader said he wasn't ready and that the baptism wasn't going to happen today. Boy was everyone mad! Here was a man who had come to church for 15 years, then all of a sudden wanted to get baptized and it wasn't going to happen. So the bishop set a temporary date for the following Saturday and my companion and I would teach him every day that week.

When Sister Davies and I went to our first lesson with him, we were terrified! David had been so rude to us before and slammed the door in our face many times before. We didn't believe he was being baptized for the right reason. That is, until we started teaching him.

Turns out David never had the missionary discussion. When people asked him if he'd had the lessons, he thought 'lessons' meant Sunday School, so he was like, "yeah I've had 15 years worth of them." After our first lesson with David we could see that he was, indeed, different than how he had been before. He had a different kind of light about him and he actually had interest in what we had to say. Witnessing The Lord work on this man's heart was the greatest sight I have ever witnessed! As each day passed we could see him carry himself differently and by the end of the week he already looked like a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This transformation that I had the privilege to watch was the best part of my mission thus far. David was baptized that Saturday, received the priesthood on Sunday, and baptized his daughter later that very day. I can't tell you how touching it was to watch a man, who a few months previous question if God existed, baptize his daughter.

Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways and in His own time. He worked with David for 15 years, and had David been baptized anytime before then, I don't know if he'd be as strong of a member as he is now. Putting our trust in Heavenly Father can be very difficult and challenging. Sometimes it can take years before our prayers are answered! But The Lord has a plan for each and every one of His children. It's when we allow ourselves to trust in Him and let His plan commence that miracles happen. So please. Trust your Father in Heaven and never for one moment think that He has forgotten you. I can testify to you that He hasn't. His plan for you has already begun. Be patient and trust Him and you'll see the wonderful things He has in store for you.

~Sister Katelyn Graham

Monday, July 7, 2014

Oh, Hello July!

July, so far you are off to a really good start!

I have been greeted with beautiful sunrises every morning. I love starting my day seeing the beauty of the world that Heavenly Father has created bathed in the golden hues of the early morning sun.

Carson had his broken nose fixed on the second day of July. He did great. The facial swelling was a little more than he anticipated, but at least it seems to be resolving quickly. The best part? He wasn't grumpy! Not even one day. That in and of itself is a small tender mercy from Heavenly Father.

The third day of July was another birthday for me. 43 years. And how did I spend it? By doing many of the things I enjoy most--biking with a friend, followed by a run with other friends, lunch with my mom and dad, taking a nap, and then finishing the day with dessert at the Melting Pot with my honey. It honestly probably one of the best birthdays in recent history. I removed all expectations for the day and just enjoyed every single moment.

July, you are going to be jam packed with even more activities and before I know it, you will be gone and we will be moving into August. I guess that is why Carson refers to you as "the Saturday of summer." But I will follow the plan I followed for my birthday, I will remove all expectations for the month and just enjoy the journey each day takes.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Sayonara, June. I Think You are a Miserable Month

Oh June, you hold so much promise. It seems that every year we end May desperately looking forward  towards June. And why shouldn't we? After all, June, you do usher in longer days and the start of summer vacation. The world in our neck of the woods really starts buzzing in June. BUT! You are such.a.tease!

Your longer days are necessarily warmer days. Matter of fact your weather tends to be a bit schizophrenic. This year the first week of June was beautiful and warm and all was well. Then, the last week of school you decided to cramp our field day plans by providing cooler, wetter weather. Matter of fact, our monthly rain total for June was a little over .25 inches more than the average. That damp, dreary weather is such a let down after we muddled through the cold and gray winter and early spring.

And then on the days that are nice, when the sun is shining, when it should be a joy to be outside enjoying the fresh air, it is complete misery. For you see, dear June, you also bring a huge spike in the pollen count. May is manageable with only the tree pollen being in the "high" range. But then you come along and add grasses to the mix. So we have high tree pollen and high grass pollen. It is a double whammy that leaves me feeling like I live in a haze of stuffiness.

My nose itches so bad and I rub it so hard and often that I look like a red-nosed wino. And you know my eyes are blood shot, which does nothing to improve my appearance. And there is no denying the itchiness. I spend my evenings with ice packs on my eyes in attempt to relieve the irritation and swelling. Then, there is the congestion that makes running a chore as I try to breathe through the phlegm and mucous.

Oh how I wish I could find an allergy medicine that worked. I think I've tried them all. I don't seem to have much success with any of them. So I resign myself to being miserable for the month of June. I figure I can suck it up for a month.

And there was some good news on the 5 o'clock news tonight. The tree and grass pollen are now both registering low. So bring on July...the heat, the fireworks, the heart of summer. That is my reward for making it through June.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Another Weird Dream

Urban myth says that drinking apple juice prior to bed can make vivid, strange dreams. I don't know about that since I hate apple juice, but it seems that for me, eating frozen dairy products after 8 p.m. causes me to have strange dreams. Wednesday night I had frozen yogurt and a strange dream in the early hours of Thursday morning. Last night I had a mini Blizzard and then another strange dream in this morning's early hours. I think I better lay off the frozen concoctions after 8 p.m.

Anyway, the dream...

This time I am at home and all of the sudden appears in my home a woman that I don't even know, but I really enjoy reading her blog. She is driving back to Utah from California via Seattle and Spokane. She said she had family in Seattle she wanted to visit and then decided Spokane would be a good overnight spot. When I asked if she was planning on staying at my house, she said she was hoping that I would offer. So there I am, with my house in the usual state of disarray (clothes that need to folded, dishes stacked on the counter, bathrooms that could use some cleaning, etc), trying to figure out where I am going to have Nor and her 3 children sleep. And even though I should be stressed out about unexpected guests, I find myself a bit elated to have Nor spending the night at my house. Her little girl somehow manages to find stashes of candy and every time I turn around she has more candy. Her boys think our backyard is a forest adventure and they somehow get lost in the bushes on the side of the house. Aside from the initial invitation to spend the night, I don't really remember talking much with Nor, which is terribly disappointing because I think she is a fascinating woman (at least that is the persona I think she portrays on her blog).

The next thing I know we are all battling this evil guy who is trying to link everyone with, what appears to be, giant jumper cables. Katelyn makes a brief appearance at this point, but it is to only ask about her clothes and where they all went. Nor's little kids think fighting the bad guy is the best part of their trip and are only disappointed when we defeat the bad guy because they know that the bad guy's defeat means their trip is done.

And at that point I woke up to a very raucous thunderstorm roaring outside my bedroom window.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What I Learned Today

I went to the temple today. My mind was swirling with different thoughts; thoughts about the recent press coverage of the Ordain Women movement and the subsequent excommunication of the movement's founder; thoughts about the different commentary and blog posts that I have read recently about OW; thoughts about my own limited understanding of eternal things and how we all see through the glass darkly. The thoughts were a bit noisy and clogged up my brain. I couldn't shut them completely off when I entered the temple and that turned out to be OK. For as I was pondering on those thoughts, other thoughts, thoughts that generated more understanding and growth, soon crowded out the previous thoughts.

As I sat down for the session I noted how many women were there with just a handful of men. I wondered to myself what would happen if there were no men available for a session? Would the session be cancelled? No, probably not. There are always men in the temple; it just might mean that a man who hadn't planned on doing an endowment session was called in to serve during the session. And the session wouldn't go on without men, just as it wouldn't go on without women. Heavenly Father has made it clear that both men and women are necessary in the temple. Each holds a unique and significant role.

Once that thought was settled, I focused a bit more than usual on the words of the endowment session. Full admission here: sometimes my mind wanders far from what I am supposed to be paying attention to during the session and I'm really just going through the motions of the whole process. Words that I have heard many times before struck me in a different way today. The things that I learn in the temple are for my own salvation and path back to Heavenly Father. I make the choice on how I will fulfill the obligations and covenants I make in the temple.

Then there were some thoughts on covenants and our Heavenly Father's grace He extends to us. I learned some things about Eve today that I hadn't really paid attention to before. Some of what I learned was in a blog post I read before attending the temple today and some was taught to me as my spirit communed with the Holy Ghost in the temple and was thinking about the blog post. It was fascinating to me today that I finally saw that Heavenly Father offered Eve the first chance to repentant, not Adam. Yes, Eve partook of the fruit first, but that sin was not any greater than Adam's so all should have been equal. Yet, Eve was granted pardon first. I don't want to get bogged down in why it had to be done through Adam. Right now, that doesn't matter much to me although I know it causes hurt and confusion for some LDS women. I just was touched that Eve was forgiven first.

As we approached the part in the endowment about the crucifixion of Christ my mind turned to a Facebook post I had read this morning regarding nails, boards, priesthood and women. As I thought about what the young man had shared regarding a single nail not being strong enough to hold something in place, that another nail is needed to hold things secure, my heart was touched that this is exactly what Christ's crucifiers had done. They drove two spikes; the first into his hands and the second into his wrist. Both were necessary to keep him on the cross. Now I realize that this analogy might break down a bit, but I don't pretend to be a great philosopher. But if the first nail represents the priesthood (and by extension, men), then one could view the second nail as women. One without the other cannot support the load. Okay, I'm drifting a bit here because I don't want to imply that one cannot "nail" themselves to Christ without someone else; but I do see how two nails, working together, can provide strength in keeping each other connected to Christ. In the LDS church, we don't focus much on the meaning of the cross and Christ hanging on the cross so I may be making a total mess of that analogy and if the cross is viewed as a positive or negative in other denominations. If it's a negative, well then the whole analogy breaks down before it even gets going. But whatever. It worked in my mind for my learning and understanding.

Then the session ended and I was left again thinking about covenants; the covenants I had made. The covenants Kate Kelly, the founder of OW, had made. With her excommunication, she was released from those covenants and the responsibilities associated with them. I was again struck by the wisdom of the 14-year old boy who had composed the Facebook post and his observation
Excommunication is a way God shows his love erasing your covenants you made with him so you will not be condemned by them in the end. It allows you to start over.
Whew, it was a day full of learning for me. My spirit needed it. And as usually happens with learning, once one concept/thought has been settled, another pops up. So next time I go to the temple, I'll have more things to contemplate.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Strange Dream

Do you remember dreams? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. The ones that seem to stick are the ones that occur close to my normal wake-up time and are somewhat strange. This morning's dream was one that stuck.

I had travelled with my mom and Katelyn to a large city (I think it was Vegas). I had a huge hotel suite to be shared with Katelyn. For some reason, once we arrived my mom had to leave to go get my dad. This required her to rent a car and drive to get him. Katelyn also decided that she wanted to go and visit my Aunt Shirley (my grandma's sister who used to live in Orem. I'm not sure if she is even still alive). Anyway, the dream meanders through a couple of days where I bump into Spokane-area friends at a gym I am working out at. I never visit the Vegas strip--probably because I really have no frame of reference for that since I have never been to Vegas. At one point I return to the hotel suite while the housekeeping staff are in the room. I remember feeling embarrassed about the state of the room. There seemed to be lots of clothes and shoes all over the floor; all of them Katelyn's. At that point in time it dawns on me that I have no idea where Katelyn is. I haven't heard from her and quite honestly I had forgotten all about her. My mom had arrived back at the suite (sans my dad which was weird) and I asked her "Do you think I should be freaking out yet that I have no idea where Katelyn is and that I haven't hear from her?" We thought about tracking her phone via GPS, but before we could do anything I woke up.

Do you try to find meaning in your dreams or view them as premonitions? I can't say that I really do either one. Most of the time, I just think "hmmm, that was strange" and leave it at that. I find that trying to find meaning or a message in my dreams just drives me crazy. But I woke up from this dream feeling so guilty for it taking me 3 days to remember that Katelyn had accompanied us on the trip to begin with and that I hadn't heard anything from her. Furthermore, I'm not sure I would have even noticed that she hadn't been around if I hadn't been so embarrassed by her clothes and shoes that were all over the room when the housekeeping staff came into clean. That is what bothers the most about this dream--I forgot Katelyn. Ugh, mother fail AGAIN.

Man, today I wish that there weren't such strict regulations around communication with our missionaries. It would be wonderful to hear her voice today and know that she is safe and sound.