Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dogs, Friends, and Humility

Lesson of the week:

1 Dog + 1 open box of mouse poison = attempted doggie suicide.

I left the house just before 8:00 am to take the kids to school and head off to yoga. I returned home about 9:15am. Gentry greeted me with his usual doggie "Hi, I'm so glad you're home, something happened while you were gone" routine. Usually this means someone called and left a message, or someone came to the door, but he didn't let them in. There were no messages on the answering machine. We have had a number of burglaries in the neighborhood, so I began looking around the house to make sure doors were locked and everything was in place. When I got to the top of the stairs, I spotted a glue trap, upside down, in the middle of the hallway. When I picked the trap up and inspected it, I found white doggie hair on it; evidence that Gentry had been in forbidden territory--the master bedroom. I entered my room to replace the glue trap--we caught a mouse in there just the night before--and to my horror, discovered an empty container of mouse poison. Bits of the deadly stuff were scattered here and there around the chair, and I knew immediately that our mischievous pup had helped himself to a ride to doggie heaven. I ran down the stairs and looked him over. He seemed fine. He looked back at me with his usual doggie grin, lolling tongue, drool and all. I called my husband and asked him what he thought I should do. I knew I needed to call the vet, but I didn't know if we had the funds needed to pay for said vet. Doug told me to go ahead and take Gentry to the animal hospital to see what they could do.

At the animal hospital, Gentry took one step inside the doors and put on the brakes. The floor was slippery so I literally dragged the poor dog to the front desk. He was admitted immediately and the vet explained the entire procedure. One shot to make Gentry throw up anything left in his stomach. It was a good thing to take him in less than two hours after ingestion. It looked like most of the stuff he ate was still in his stomach. Another shot to give him Vitamin K. Another shot to bind up anything left in the intestinal tract. IV therapy to flush out his kidneys. Pick him up at 5:30pm and give him Vit. K tablets for the next three weeks. One trip to the vet, $350.00. Bringing home a healthy, living pet, priceless.

Today after yoga, I stopped to visit with a couple of other ladies in the class. I knew one gal from working out at Curves. She asked about the house situation in Phoenix. The other lady mentioned that her husband is a contractor and has been out of work for a year. Then she broke down and said that things have been so bad that her worst fear is that they will go through all of this and then her husband will die from all the stress. She stated that she is at the point that she would just rather die than have to endure any more. The three of us talked about personal experiences with challenges and depression. We shared ideas about how to cope and how we get through the toughest times. She mentioned her desire to write a book. I told her that I belong to a writer's group and we talked about that for a bit. She expressed and interest in ANWA and I told her I was trying to get a chapter started up here. She said she wants to come...then she said with excitement, "Finally, I have something to live for!"

Yep, it has been an interesting week. I wonder what -ity word I would apply to this week...definitely humility would be one of them. I do truly feel humbled that something I said or did could serve as a light for someone else in need. Serving others is the best pick-me-up of all. I love witnessing how when you share your light with others, your own light doesn't diminish, it gets brighter. What a miracle!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Family Blog

I've been getting some complaints from friends and family members that I am failing in the communication department.

"Use your blog! Tell us what is going on in your life. Post pictures!"


I will relate the mundane daily activities and happenings in the Pike household. I can't promise pictures until I either a) find the cord that connects the camera to the laptop, or b) fight my way through the line on the family room computer where I can download the pictures off the card. Posting them to the blog will be an education in and of itself.

I haven't given up on writing about those -ity words. I have been occupied. I took my final a few weeks ago for Food preparation in the home. I earned a score of 97...missing three questions. How in the world did I miss three questions? I've been cooking for decades..and this time I even read the cookbook! Amy and the kids have been here for a couple of months while they rented out their house in Laramie and so Sean could find them a place to live in Colorado. It has been such a treat to watch their joy in life...discovering snakes and bugs, making friends with the neighbors, acting out imaginary plays, and learning how to cook and clean and be a family. Little Ezra has accepted me as Grandma and even seeks me out when he hears my voice. He couldn't even crawl when they first arrived here and now he is on the brink of taking his first steps. (We decided to discourage that action until his daddy could witness it first hand.) I will miss their voices echoing up the stairs and out in the yard and their warm hugs around my neck. They are leaving in a few days. I dread the quiet...yet at the same time, I look forward to getting our home organized and decluttered...and getting ready for the amazing holidays coming up!

What do you want for Christmas, by the way? What do you see as the ultimate gift?

Growing Up

A few days ago, I discovered yet another act by a couple that caused our family more financial loss. Anger welled up inside me...and thoughts of striking back filled my mind. I felt betrayed and disappointed. I found myself beginning to justify those feelings (after all they are card-carrying members of the Church and should know better, right?) and then I knew I needed to ask my Father in Heaven for help. That simple recognition alone produced a small measure of relief. With a prayer in my heart and open scriptures in my hands, I opened the door and swept the debris out of my mind. I invited the Savior in and through the words on the page, He spoke to me.

Helaman 12:1 points out that the "Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him." Verse 2 then goes on to say how often "at the very time when [the Lord] doth prosper his people...yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord, their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One..."

I felt the promise in those verses, but I felt the chastisement even more. I recognized my complaining and anger as a form of ingratitude and a symbolic trampling of His gifts. The things that were lost, were just that...things. I failed to recognize the true gifts before me: the opportunity to learn and grow and show the Lord that I am worthy to be called His own. Things are temporary. Attitude is forever! A little over a year ago, my husband needed a job and insurance. Heavenly Father provided a job and insurance. Months passed and we prayed to be able to have our family back together again. Heavenly Father provided a way for that to happen. The end result is not what I expected, but that doesn't take away the fact that we were blessed with answers to our prayers.

Today is a milestone in my life. Our ninth and youngest child turned 12 years old today. Sunday will be the 27th Primary Program in which at least one of our children has read a part or sung a song. It's hard to think of not having a child in Primary anymore. However, I rejoice at the idea of having another Aaronic priesthood holder in the home. I've noticed our son watching the Deacons pass the Sacrament over the past several months. He even took notes a couple of weeks ago and stuck them in his scriptures! Last week he expressed a desire for the entire family to take him to the temple so he can do baptisms. Wow. All 9 of our children of age and worthy to enter the temple. I am truly humbled as I recognize this greatest of all blessings. Does this mean I am finally growing up?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

So my intentions of posting every day seemed to have been thwarted rather effectively. However, I have also had time to think about a couple more -ity words...dependability, tranquility, and something else...ummm...uhhh...sigh...I even wrote it down...somewhere. Oh is what I've learned so far.

During our move from Arizona to Utah, I decided that one of the advantages of moving to an area with a high concentration of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be the ability to "hide out" for awhile and rest from the many responsibilities that filled my life before. Perhaps if we had moved to more transient area, where members are almost overwhelmed by newbies, that would have been possible. However, we moved into a ward that hadn't seen more than two or three new families in a couple of years. Ward members flocked to our home, laden with smiles, hugs, and yummy treats. Everyone went out of their way to make us feel comfortable...and useful. In a matter of a couple of weeks, I found myself fully participating in Relief Society activities, ward choir, stake choir, a new calling in Family History, and agreeing to substitute teach a Sunday lesson. When a member of the Bishopric called and asked me to speak in Sacrament meeting the same day I had agreed to teach, I accepted the responsibility, and then went to my room and cried. Then I prayed.

Responsibility is an interesting word. I am fascinated by the way the meaning of a word changes when you look at it from a different angle...responsibility as an adjective, rather than a noun. I looked at the word "responsibility" and pondered on my recent degree of response. Yes, on the surface, I responded politely and quickly to the call to serve and speak, but what about on the inside? What quality of "response" did I really make? I agreed to speak, but did I agree happily, or did I agree grudgingly?

I looked up responsibility in the Bible dictionary and found myself directed to "accountability" and "stewardship." Luke 12: 35 -48 stood out in the references. Here is an account of the Savior teaching a parable of a faithful and wise steward. Verse 35 begins by telling us, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;" Then verse 36 tells us "and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, [this part sounds like active members of the Church] when he will return form the wedding; [Remember the ten virgins?] that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately." I turned to Matthew 25 and reviewed the parable of the ten virgins. Men and women, with lights and lamps, waiting for the Savior's return. They all know what is expected of them. They know what their responsibilties are, but some of the virgins neglect their responsibilities and some of the men "beat the menservants and maidens" and become drunken. What if we compare their lights and lamps to our temple recommends? The responsibilities we carry out to qualify us for a temple recommend are the oil that fill those lamps, and keep our lights burning. We know what is expected of us. Our "response-ability" takes on new meaning here. Are we responsive to the things asked of us or are we becoming complacent and "hiding out?"

Verse 39 gives us a warning: "And if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through." By watching over and caring for our responsibilities, we can defend not only ourselves, but our homes and everyone and everything in it. The Lord promises the good and faithful steward that he will be made "ruler over all that he hath." There is another -ity word that comes into play here: dependability. If we are dependable, we will respond (give response) to the needs of others. The Lord depends on us to fulfill our responsibility to love and serve others, to keep the commandments and endure to the end --when He comes again and holds us accountable for our stewardships.

I no longer desire to "hide out." I'm excited about the learning process I am going through as I study to teach that Sunday lesson and I look forward to the opportunity to express my gratitude and my testimony about the new insights that are given to me as I prepare that Sacrament meeting talk. I will continue to explore more -ity word, too. Come visit me once in awhile and see how I am progressing...just so I can be held to a degree of accountability!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Week One of the -ity Experiment

Week One:
I decided to make a list of all the -ity words I could come up with:
charity, responsibility, integrity, accountability, fidelity, civility, nobility, humility, dignity, generosity, respectability, community, creativity, opportunity, curiosity, productivity, affinity, diversity, humanity, infinity, luminosity, necessity, equality, identity, reality, personality, tenacity, continuity, and insanity (we are so not going there!).

Next, I went to Google and looked up the suffix-ity. Google sent me to where I found the following information.

"Latin: suffix used to form abstract nouns expressing act, state, quality, property, or condition corresponding to an adjective)"

There I found 18 pages of -ity words, many of which I either can't spell or pronounce, or they don't apply to the purpose of this blog. I did find sagacity, (which has possibilities) seniority ( getting there too fast as it is), and a really fun one - pecuniosity. It means: "The state or fact of being supplied with money." Now that is a fun -ity word that I am sure many of us would have no qualms about trying to develop! Serendipity was listed: "an accidental or chance discovery." Pseudoserendipity showed up as well: "A description of accidental discoveries of ways to achieve an end sought for, in contrast to the meaning of (true) serendipity, which describes accidental discoveries of things not sought for."

I had fun learning new -ity words, but I am not interested in developing a talent for sesquipedality ("The practice of using abnormally long words"). My goal is to develop states of being for myself that will bring me closer to who I really am: A daughter of a Heavenly Father who loves me. A child of God. A spiritual Being having a mortal experience. I am reminded that no matter how many big words I learn, it always circles back to the basics of the gospel: Faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, obedience and enduring to the end. Developing those virtuous -ity qualities described by Bishop Burton will help me achieve my goal.

So, where do I begin? What -ity do I choose first? I'll narrow it down to the first 10 I listed earlier: responsibility, integrity, accountability, fidelity, civility, nobility, humility, dignity, generosity, charity. I moved charity to the end of the list because the Bible Dictionary describes charity as "The highest, noblest, strongest kind of love, not merely affection; the pure love of Christ. it is never used to denote alms or deed or benevolence, although it may be a prompting motive." 2 Nephi teaches us that if we have not charity, we are I am hoping that as I come to develop the other nine -ity qualities, I will be more prepared to understand the concept of true charity.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

In pursuit of ...what to blog about.

What do you write when you can't think of anything to write? I don't know how many times I have settled down in front of this computer with the intention of writing something wonderfully uplifting, inspiring, and genuinely clever. As soon as the window opens, my mind goes blank. I recently watched the movie Julie and Julia (and except for the sprinkling of obscenities, I really enjoyed it). I found Julie's idea of blogging, as she cooked her way through Julia's cookbook, delightful. However, I am late to be jumping on the blogging train. Every time I think I have a great and new idea...I quickly learn it has already been done. Of course. So, I will use this time and space to record the every day and perhaps mundane activities of my family and my pursuit of those things that mean most to me - mainly trying to be the best wife/mother/daughter/sister/friend/grandmother/niece/aunt/cousin and crazy woman that I can be. Perhaps I will share my thoughts as I pursue my dream of life-long learning and answers to the questions we all face about who we are, why we are here, and where we are going...whether it be in this life or in the life to come. I hear's been done before. but since we are all unique, perhaps someone will read this and find a piece of what they too are seeking.

This weekend has been the 179th General Conference of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Where I live, the weather is cloudy, cold, windy, rainy and rather dismal. but my heart is warmed and I am inspired to be more of who I am, to live more closely to the truth. Presiding Bishop H. David Burton spoke about the -ity virtues. -ity being a quality, state, or degree of being. Integrity, charity, civility, nobility, humility, fidelity, dignity, generosity, responsibility, and accountability are just a few examples. I also love the quote, "Integrity is the light that shows from a disciplined conscience."

So now I have a goal for this blog. I am going to experiment a little bit, so bear with me. Each week, I am going to focus on a different -ity virtue and share my thoughts as I search for examples of people living this virtue and my experiences as I try to implement this virtue in my own life. If you see someone living that -ity virtue, or if you have an experience in your own life, tell me about it! We have the power to change the let's do it!