Monday, April 30, 2012

Increase in Learning

I have not reviewed many books on my blog but every once in a while I find a book which has changed my thinking and has helped me move on in my mortal experience. Such is the book "Increase in Learning" by David A. Bednar. This book started me off on a new reading of the Book of Mormon last Fall. To respond to Elder Bednar's challenge to look for the strengthening power of the atonement in my reading I have found many more evidences of that power.
Elder Bednar was hesitant to write this book because he felt this type of learning could not be taught from a book. This increase of learning really comes through the Holy Ghost so reading about it might give knowledge but the Holy Ghost would be the one to teach the heart. So the writer and editors came up with a new way to present the book. Elder Bednar asks his readers many questions which they may answer in the extra large margins on the side. Accompanying the book is a CD which has a classroom of Young Adults discussing this book with Elder Bednar. They ask him questions about his writing and he masterfully leads them to answering the questions themselves. These video clips are powerful. My favorite is a clip with Elder and Sister Bednar being interviewed by Sheri Dew, the CEO of Deseret Book Co. From that clip I learned something I have struggled to understand for years. The brethren of the church have been admonishing us to look for Doctrine, Principles and then apply them in our lives. I have been trying to understand how to distinguish them apart. This task has been frustrating. Being unwise, I have even tried to teach this to my students. Well, guess what? Doctrine, Principles, and Application cannot fit into a nice clean box.

They actually intersect and sometimes are interchangeable. What is commonly an application like, go out and serve your neighbor can be a doctrinal truth as is taught in Joshua 24. In the church we teach application with a fervor because we want to increase righteous behavior. But without the correct doctrine the applications turn into a list of to-dos. If you have struggled with more dynamic learning and teaching, I recommend this book. The E-Reader format has the videos embedded and come along as you read each section. Below is another brief description of this book.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Helaman 1-7

      The book of Helaman portrays the people of Nephi dwindling in the strength of the Atonement. Due to their hearts turned away from God, they are limited to their own strength.
  Helaman  4::12 "And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites -- And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven, before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands."

  Without the grace of God, these people are left only with mortal strength which consists of might, cunning, deceit, and intellect.
    Helaman 4:26 "For behold, they saw that the strength of the Lamanites was as great as their strength, even man for man. And thus had they fallen into this great transgression; yea, thus had they become weak, because of their transgression, in the space of not many years."
  This was the spiritual condition that set the stage for the missionary work that Nephi and Lehi would do. As other leaders before them, these men left their administrative roles and went to teach individuals. And Lamanites, to boot.
 Helaman 5:18 "And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did preach unto the Lamanites with such great power and authority, for they had power and authority given unto them that they might speak, and they also had what they should speak given unto them --"
  Another great opportunity arises for the Lamanites to repent and come unto Christ and some of them have the sacred experience of seeing strength of the atonement come to the aid of Nephi and Lehi.
    Helaman 5;37 "And it came to pass that this man did cry unto the multitude, that they might turn and look. And behold, there was power given unto them that they did turn and look; and they did behold the faces of Nephi and Lehi."

   Take note that these Lamanites received power to see the physical miracle that comes over these missionaries. They see the fire of the spirit overcome the physical fire which threatened their lives.
    Helaman 5:45 "And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words. And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying: Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world. And now, when they heard this they cast up their eyes as if to behold from whence the voice came; and behold, they saw the heavens open; and angels came down out of heaven and ministered unto them."
  Unfortunately, the Nephites did not see these miracles due to their pride and wickedness.          Helaman 7:23 "For behold, thus saith the Lord: I will not show unto the wicked of my strength, to one more than the other, save it be unto those who repent of their sins, and hearken unto my words. Now therefore, I would that ye should behold, my brethren, that it shall be better for the Lamanites than for you except ye shall repent."
  The Nephites are alone again in their own strength. They have only their  plotting, coercion, and intrigue as tools to overcome their enemies. It takes faith in Jesus Christ to see the strength of his grace. Without faith the idea to lean upon God seems foolhardy when the need for power is essential. I long to be alive to that strength and to plead for it in my daily life. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Scaling Down

   I have been spending some time on this implement lately. I have been overweight most of my life.


This post is not going to be pretty so if you are bored by weight loss discussions or squeamish about people talking about shame and fear, close the page now. 
If you are still here then it is true, I am going to explore the words shame and fear. After all my blog is called "Back On The Floor Again" and when it comes to weight loss I am starting over and exploring why I am in the same place, again and again. Let me start with some definitions. 
"Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging."

Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection 
Shame is attached to my being overweight and it raises it's ugly head whenever I start on the path to losing weight. Fear of failure is shame's best friend and together these emotions make my process precarious, to say the least. I am presently at the end of week 3 and have lost 6 pounds which is evident in the way my clothes fit and I am allowing myself a glimpse of joy. I believe in order to fight shame and fear I need to embrace three C's:
Today is an attempt to have the courage to be truthful about my need to loose weight to help my body be more effective. I do honor my body more than ever before. My yoga practice has enabled me to live in my present body and listen to it's needs. Now it is time to lift the burden it carries. 
While in Arizona this February I watched an episode of "The Biggest Loser".  I scoffed and made negative remarks about the commercialism of people's struggles but then I gave some place to the courage these individuals exhibited. I was impressed. To aid my staying "real"my friend and business partner kept suggesting an app to record my eating for each day. I resisted many weeks but now I see the benefit of knowing when I need to stop eating and stay within my calorie limits. My goal is not to be thin but moderately slim, 30 pounds to be exact, and I have a long way to go. Now I have recorded my story and it will be sent out to be shared. Shame does not like being exposed.
"Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it—it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes. I remember saying out loud: “I need to talk to someone RIGHT NOW. Be brave, BrenĂ©!”

Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection 

Be Brave and go forward, you are worthy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A True Definition of Courage

   Two days ago I witnessed some true courage. "Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics is important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we’ve lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we’re feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage. Heroics is often about putting our life on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.1"

Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection  Kindle Edition.

    My daughter-in-heart had a particularly bad day and with intense struggle she made the choice to join her children at the lunch table. She could have gone to bed all day since I was there to watch the kids, but she braved the pain and took her place at the head. Some friends dropped in unexpectedly. They were full of cheer with good news, bearing gifts from the garden. They asked how she was feeling and she spoke her mind with all her heart. It was a bad day. Her body was aching everywhere. She was holding on with just a silken cord of strength. When someone is really vulnerable in our presence we often feel uncomfortable because there is nothing we can do to shore up the breach of "confidence". We want people to be fine. That is why we run through the ritual of asking, "How are you?" But why do we always have to have a brave face when there is much in life that is frighteningly out of control? When someone shows this kind of courage I say we should take heart and meet that courage with our own. That may mean doing nothing but witnessing what the person really feels. We are not perfect and most of us have some really bad days.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Alma 56-62

   It is time for me to look back at my list of ways we are strengthened through the atonement. The war chapters in Alma are heavy with action but interspersed are always testimonies of the strengthening from God.

Recap On the Strenghtening Power of the Atonement-
The Atonement of Jesus Christ gives:

Mighty power unto deliverance from physical and spiritual bondage
Physical and Spiritual Power to do God's will
Power to receive insight and revelation about things as they were and as they are, and as they will be.
Guidance to proceed through our trials
Ability to see God's love in our lives
Freedom to Act and Not be acted upon
Power to make us clean and sanctified
Hope in the future, for us, and for our ancestors, and our posterity
Power into our soul to combat anti-Christian philosophy
Remission of sins and power to be free of the guilt
Power to affect the spiritual lives of our ancestors and our posterity
Strength through his name which we take upon us
Strength to exceed the strength we apply to seeking and calling upon him
Power to the Holy Ghost to enter our open hearts and make a mighty change
Grace to enable men and women to come into alignment with Him
Deliverance from burdens, even those given by God himself
Strength to missionaries because of the goodness of God's people
Angels commissions to talk to mortals
Power to heal
Power to lift us, upon his name
Strength against our enemies in battle
Strength to keep covenants
Grace for Grace

   The list grows and I am only half way through the Book of Mormon. 
   In this scripture block Helaman is giving account of those valiant Stripling Soldiers who have amazing strength.

   Alma 56:56 "But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war."
   As Moroni and Helaman struggled with their armies to hold the Nephite cities, they diligently prayed to the Lord for strength and direction. They followed a pattern spoken of by Elder David Bednar. They sought for assurances that the Lord was with them, they went forth and acted in faith, then testified of the evidences of the strengthening power of the Lord in their lives.
  Alma 58:11 "Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty. And thus we did go forth with all our might against the Lamanites,"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy Feet

     It is time to talk about feet, not a subject we use in everyday conversation. I have ignored my feet for most of my life but alas they are crying for attention as I wriggle through mid-life. No one taught me about how my feet should work, or else if they did I wasn't listening.
 Here are some things I wish I had been taught:

  1. Your feet connect to the earth and if they are firmly, openly planted they will support your whole being.

   2. Your toes can spread wide and each of them have their own dexterity.

   3. If you cram them into shoes that don't give them room to move they will start working as a block instead of individual toes.
    So, here I am with two broken pinky toes and others that have a hard time relaxing and I have purchased shoes to let each toe be in it's own place. Important truth: THEY CAN BE TAUGHT!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Wall of Color Far Above Our Heads

   Last Saturday, as I was doing my taxes I glanced out my kitchen door and gasped at the sight of my Rhododendron bush, well, not bush, more like a tree. My gasp was a remembering the words from one of my favorite Gothic romances "Rebecca" by Daphne DuMaurier. 

"a wall of colour, blood-red, reaching far above our heads. We were among the rhododendrons. There was something bewildering, even shocking, about the suddeness of their discovery. The woods had not prepared me for them. they startled me with their crimson faces, massed one upon the other in incredible profusion, showing no leaf, no twig, nothing but the slaughterous red, luscious and fantastic, unlike any rhododendron plant I had seen before". Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier (pages 71 and 72)

   The tree with it's red was a symbol of the dead Mrs. DeWinter, who was a mystery to the main character. Coming from the desert, I never knew what a Rhododendron plant looked like but I certainly know now, and even though my tree is not "blood red" I still marvel at my good fortune to know what the scene from my favorite book looked like.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Singing Stories

Hooray, video #2 is on U-tube now and this one is very fun and upbeat. I wrote it because a grandchild asked me once why I sing the words to a certain story. I told him that some stories are Singing Stories

That inspired this song which we use in our music and movement classes. Why not sing a story next time you read to a child.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Take A Breath

   Breathing, something we all do every moment of our lives, can be improved and magnified if we breathe clear to our toes.

    Then when we exhale the breath can carry away our toxic concerns and worries. Children know this so I wrote a song to remind them to breathe and quiet their body boats.

Here is my song on U-Tube.

If you like it, give us a thumbs up! New classes start Thursday April 19.

Stump or Be Stumped

   It is Monday morning and we are starting into the book of Jeremiah. Spring break is over and the kids will not be ready to just jump into the scriptures. It is a perfect day to play Stump or Be Stumped.

  The Rules: Everyone reads through a block of scriptures, looking for details. When it is your turn you may stump someone with a question based on your reading or you may ask to be stumped. To make it interesting everyone has a small plate of candies to start the game. If you get stumped you must part with a piece of your candy.

    The Outcome: Students read a little bit more carefully looking for questions and answers and then we can discuss with a stronger knowledge base.

     Jeremiah Blocks-
         Jer. 1:6-10, 17-19
               Why did the Lord touch Jeremiah's mouth?
         Jer. 15:15-21
                What kind of impenetrable thing will the Lord make of Jeremiah?
         Jer. 20:7-13
                 Why could Jeremiah not stop speaking about the Lord?
         Jer. 26:12-15,24
                 What will happen if the people put Jeremiah to death?

                         Jeremiah, painted by Michelangelo, pondering his message to the Jews.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bringing Nature Home

     I have a bouquet of Rhododendrons within some twigs of lilac on my toilet. Yes, in that very private place I have a bit of nature.

 And do you know what? It looks awesome there because the walls are white, the toilet is white, and my window sill has just a bit of black and white stripe to frame it. Bringing some nature home moves my sensibilities. It perks up my eyesight and strengthens my connection to my surroundings.
   Speaking of surroundings, I have noticed some amazing art right in my little town. For example, look what is showing at the Lumber Yard.

   Next to these plant cages I marveled at the colors of yard furniture. I really need one of each color, don't you think?

   Across the road a row of white tree trunks claimed my eye. It took many shots to find just the right angle to block out the parking lot of not so photogenic cars.

                          While visiting my grandchildren on the mainland I enjoyed their trees.

 The trees create a ground cover as beautiful as the branches. Check out what the camellia tree left on the ground.

Bring nature home literally and in the lens of your camera.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going to Kindergarten

   I went to kindergarten yesterday and I learned some important lessons. Teachers have the hardest jobs next to mothers. There are so many needs and so little time. During reading time Cameron pointed out to me that a Caldecott medal book is really cool. "No, David", was what he chose to read and the book followed David from one bad situation to another until the last page where the mother in the story called "Hey, Davey", and Cameron, my reader, smiled at me and said, "She's going to hug him".

   "I don't get this", another boy announced to me. He read a book that started with a clean classroom all neat and tidy. The words on the top of the page were, "A perfect classroom." Then he showed me the last page where all the tables were littered with art supplies, the chairs askew, and nothing put away. The words on that page were also, "A perfect classroom". How could these two different pictures have the same words? I tried to introduce the idea that the messy classroom showed evidence of fun activity which indicated the children had a good time. He turned to his table mate and ignored my suggestion and proceeded to make his case again. Sometimes we have to look at things upside down.

   During Writing Time everyone was working on a How To book. I helped a little girl who was writing on how to plant a seed. First, make a hole, then put in the seed, get a bucket of water and pour in hole,... She was stymied on the next step. "Put the dirt back in the hole", a boy next to her chimed in.
  Amazing Grace was writing about how to jump rope. I wanted to see her do it so we found someone using a jump rope and borrowed it for a second. She does know her stuff.

  Out on the playground, Amazing Grace, taught me how important it is to try the hard things in life more than once.

   She was stranded on the top of the playground equipment, not knowing how to get off. A little friend told her she needed to move several feet to the right and then jump off. I tried to reach her but she was too high to touch. She edged over carefully, looked down and jumped. Whew! A huge smile broke over her face and she promptly did it again.

  At lunch I marveled how loud it was. I couldn't hear a thing in the cacophony of voices. "Who do you usually eat with?", I shouted at Amazing Grace. She told me she usually ate alone unless she ate with her friends. It does feel like you are alone if you are not with your friends.

   I think it is true that everything you really need to know you can learn in Kindergarten and I was glad for the refresher course.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Sunday

   "Grandma, if you are coming to our house on Easter, how will we do our egg hunt at your house?"
   "Grandma, D. is really anxious about the fact that we are not coming to your house for an Easter egg hunt. How will we do that this year?"
    These questions came to me by phone several hours before we were due to Easter dinner at the Music Man's house this year. I had to reassure them that indeed we could do a hunt, even at their house.

                                                 Who is hiding here, Miss Maggie or the egg?

                              Finally, A. found one, after feeling like he would never get his own egg.

                                            Papa hid them in open view, if you had eyes to see.

                                         Some eggs became part of their natural environment.

                                                  The hiding master with his accomplice.

At last, all the eggs are found and all the children are happy that this tradition was not lost in the change of venue.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Alma 49-55

   The voice of Mormon is throughout these chapters and I see that he makes assumptions of what is motivating the people. I can't help thinking that he views this story about Captain Moroni through his experiences with being the leader of the Nephites in his own day. His people lack the faith to trust in God and he marvels at the power granted to Moroni's followers to overcome their enemies.

    Alma 49:27 "Yea, he was exceedingly wroth, and he did curse God, and also Moroni, swearing with an oath that he would drink his blood; and this because Moroni had kept the commandments of God in preparing for the safety of his people. And it came to pass, that on the other hand, the people of Nephi did thank the Lord their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies."
   Mormon has the ability to see both the past and the future. Here he is testifying to us, his readers, about the connection between prosperity and keeping the commandments as he sees prophecy fullfilled in this time of the Nephites.
    Alma 50:19 "And thus we see how merciful and just are all the dealings of the Lord, to the fulfilling of all his words unto the children of men; yea, we can behold that his words are verified, even at this time, which he spake unto Lehi, saying: Blessed art thou and thy children; and they shall be blessed, inasmuch as they shall keep my commandments they shall prosper in the land. But remember, inasmuch as they will not keep my commandments they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord."
  Unfortunately, the Nephites, as a whole, did not continue to keep the commandments. There arose contentions among God's people.
  Alma 51:9 "But behold, this was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi;"
 Alma 53:9 "And thus because of iniquity amongst themselves, yea, because of dissensions and intrigue among themselves they were placed in the most dangerous circumstances."
   The Lamanites, with help from dissenting Nephites, became bold enough to attack the cities. This called for more resources and the people of Ammon felt they should arm themselves and help in the defense of their brethren.
   Alma 53:15 "And Helaman feared lest by so doing they should lose their souls; therefore all those who had entered into this covenant were compelled to behold their brethren wade through their afflictions, in their dangerous circumstances at this time."

  To preserve the covenant their fathers made to never again raise their swords against another, the sons of Ammon unite to go with Helaman and fight. These young lads are protected as sign from God that He keeps his side of the covenants we make with him. One thing I have learned from the Book of Mormon is that keeping covenants is everything to God. We are helpless, in many ways, in this mortal life to control our fate, but we do have power to stay true to our covenants. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ we receive enabling power to live with adversities, and  that power increases through keeping our covenants.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekend Breakfast

   I puttered around in my pajamas way to long this morning but that is fun once in a while. Breakfast was so visually appealing.

     Then on to make Hot-Cross Buns for Easter Dinner, minus the cross, with a little candied ginger and coconut.  They turned out great and I like the punch of the ginger.

   Lastly, before the day gets fully engaged, I gathered some spring blossoms for the table. I love my yard, unruly, even as it is.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bringing Nature In

I am sitting at my kitchen table, my Early Morning Guests have just left, and I am thinking how beautiful this Easter weekend is, already.

The daffodils in front of me are reaching their heads towards the light and straining to add even more sunshine to their expanding arms. I feel an unmistakeable surge of joy and on this feeling it is worth meditating.

   When other things in life seem out of control I turn to my faith in Christ and in the signs in nature which he provides that testify that he lives and can renew my very being.

   A still life, a life where we bring the natural world into our hearts and homes is in itself worth living.
So many of us lean on others to give us joy and suffer from disappointment when we are left alone. It is within ourselves we find solace from the Holy Spirit and he makes it possible to extend our hearts to the others we want in our lives.

I am not alone, someday I may be, so I want to learn now to draw on my inner joys to bring me peace. Beautiful music to play, inspiring words to read, (like Isaiah), and examples of nature around me, that makes me a more social and peaceful person.
Here is a new beautiful book I am looking at this weekend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Where Do All the Colors Come From?

Where do all the colors come from?
    Who makes up colors and then gives them names?  I'm aware of the Pantone color system and know that every year they choose some new colors which designers use to create their sensations. 
   "The Pantone Color Matching System is largely a standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colors match without direct contact with one another."
    So what colors do you love right, now? I am fascinated with the color Rhapsody.

    I found some sights around town that seemed to fit the color. Isn't color amazing when you open your eyes to it's treasures?

    Passed this mailbox on my way and had to back up to get a little shot. Is this Rhapsody in Mail?

    One of my students looked so lovely in this color playing at the piano. Perhaps she is playing a rhapsody, I can't remember.


      A recent purchase of a children's book made all the colors come alive.  How about Tangerine Tango or Pillow Purple?

  There is so much more than red, yellow, and blue. We live in a world of variations and subtleties.