Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Upside Down Family Tree

Mother Teresa
There is an old, outdated notion in society that the world is in danger of overpopulation-- that the world's resources are dwindling in a way that will not sustain human life much longer.

There's one thing that this notion has correct: the idea that human life may not be sustained much longer if we continue as we have for the last century or so. But these results will NOT, as we have been lead to believe,  come because of over-population. Instead, the math and statistics all point to UNDER-population being the cause.

From a very interesting new article in the National Review:
"The problem with the advanced West is not that it’s broke but that it’s old and barren. Which explains why it’s broke. Take Greece, which has now become the most convenient shorthand for sovereign insolvency — 'America’s heading for the same fate as Greece if we don’t change course,' etc. So Greece has a spending problem, a revenue problem, something along those lines, right? At a superficial level, yes. But the underlying issue is more primal: It has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet. In Greece, 100 grandparents have 42 grandchildren — i.e., the family tree is upside down. In a social-democratic state where workers in “hazardous” professions (such as, er, hairdressing) retire at 50, there aren’t enough young people around to pay for your three-decade retirement. And there are unlikely ever to be again."
"Look at it another way: Banks are a mechanism by which old people with capital lend to young people with energy and ideas. The Western world has now inverted the concept. If 100 geezers run up a bazillion dollars’ worth of debt, is it likely that 42 youngsters will ever be able to pay it off?"
 The National Review is not the only source for this information. I know I've shared this before, but his video made by the German government to encourage its citizens to have children is telling of their demographic troubles:

And here are a couple of a series done by the Population research Institute:

We are literally facing a demographic crisis in our country that is already happening around the world. I want to state clearly here that I know not all women can have children. But we can ALL value, love and nurture the children that come into our lives, and do our best to make this world a better place for the future generations to come.

It sounds like they're going to need it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Divine Design

The following is a beautiful video on the majesty, wonder, and divinity that goes into the creation of human life. I love how this mathematician presenting the video sees the complexity of creation and the human form. I testify that Creation IS divine and that our Heavenly Father has a plan and a purpose for each and every life.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Giving Relief

This morning I was pondering about community. The pioneers of the frontier relied on their communities when they were far from extended families, times were hard, and unforeseen struggles overwhelmed. Neighbors helped farmers build barns, women helped each other with sewing and quilting, and everyone worked together to bring in the crops.

In these days of busyness and running hither and yon, we don't often get to know our neighbors and those who are a part of our local communities. It makes me sad when I think that many-- especially those who don't have a church family to connect with-- feel alone and disconnected from those around them.

While the Internet has made it easy to connect with people we can relate to from around the world, it also can sometimes add to the alienation we feel from those we live close to physically.

As I was thinking about these things, a soft voice reminded me that I belong to a beautiful community that strengthens and inspires me every day.

I belong to The Relief Society, a beautiful sisterhood that is spread over all the earth. We sisters of Relief Society all have similar goals like raising righteous families, growing closer to the Savior, and reaching out to those in need. We all believe in Jesus Christ and in His great atoning sacrifice for us. We have amazing opportunities to help and lift each other as we visit one another's homes each month in friendship and love as Visiting Teachers, called by God to serve his daughters. Each Sunday, all over the entire world, we know that we will be uplifted by our sisters in the Gospel as we learn and share together. And each year, we will gather to hear the inspired words of our Relief Society leaders.

What a beautiful, wonderful community we have as as LDS women! There is no other organization of women in the world so large, so organized, and so dedicated to bringing the Gospel to the world-- beginning in the homes and families of those we visit teach.

In this year's Relief Society broadcast, Sister Julie B. Beck, our General Relief Society President reaffirmed these truths in her wonderful talk, "What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Will Understand about Relief Society."

Because of my pondering this morning, I watched it again today and felt inspired to share it with my readers here. I hope you enjoy hearing it as much as I did.:

Whether LDS or not, it is in the divine nature of ALL women to serve, help, and lift one another up. We can share a smile, a hug, a warm loaf of bread, or a kind word.

We can show by our love and deeds whether or not we are disciples of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

We can ALL give relief.

With love,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vintage verses Old-Fashioned

Christmas in the early 1950's

The world is becoming an interesting place!

When I was growing up in the 1980's, I often heard people use the word "old-fashioned" in a very derogatory tone. In fact, it was often flung at me by my brother and other peers as a way of trying to get me to change in order to fit in-- and for quite a long time, I tried to be what others thought I should be. But to me, old-fashioned ideals were something I loved!

My entire life, I have always felt like someone who was in the "wrong" time period. I used to wonder quite a lot about why the Lord saved me to come in this day and age of the world. (Now I have a clearer vision of His plans for my life!) I am and always have been highly sentimental, I admit! I read and re-read classic literature, watched costume dramas, and "dressed up" every chance I could. I reveled in wearing the "Gunne Sax" style that came and went all too quickly. And I have always stubbornly held to my ideals of being a traditional homemaker, a devoted mother, and a follower of Jesus Christ.

When I finally embraced who I am and stopped being ashamed of my old-fashioned nature, I was pleasantly surprised that there have always been many others who cherished the same things I do!

I love the word "old-fashioned," and though I am very thankful for the day and time in which I now live (blogging, e-mail, running water, electricity, transportation, convenience), I often have nagging thoughts about what we all have abandoned in favor of our modern lifestyle.

In the last few months, I discovered a very interesting blog that-- combined with other things my husband and I have been reading, watching, and discussing-- has me pondering on the past even more than I usually do.

The blog features a young married wife with no children, who decided to live a "vintage" lifestyle for two years, dressing the part of a 1950's homemaker, using old appliances, limiting modern media, and building homemaking skills. It is fascinating to read her thoughts along her journey, mostly because of the way it changed her heart. (See the blog button in the right hand column called "The Apron Revolution.") What began as a "cute" or "fun" vintage experiment, where she got to play dress up and shop for old stuff, ended up teaching her things she never imagined.

Here's an excerpt from one of her more inspiring posts:
"Well, I am coming to realize if I want to be, or any of us want to become, more like this or that person or to take on the qualities of vintage times that we admire, we have to work at it. We cannot just buy the product and ta-dah! there we are happy and transformed. I am finding that what I love and cherish of this generation, their community spirit, their ability to make do and to smile through hardship, cannot be bought. It has to happen. You have to not just wear their fashions, you have to go out and try to make a difference. In your own home and how you respond to things. How you shop. How you connect to your community and family. But, in doing it and failing along the way or being unhappy in it, now you are building character and a real life. I don’t know if I will ever live up to what I think those 1950’s homemakers were, and they probably never lived up to their predecessors either, but in trying, in being self-aware and caring for others, for people more than whether or not you ‘fit in’ or you are part of this or that group or you buy the right things or you wear the right clothes." 

 In the time I've spent online, I have found that anything "Vintage" is becoming really trendy-- very cool. But much of it is superficial and some of it is even revolting, such as the idea that pin-up girls from the 1930's, 40's and 50's being the new desirable fashions we now admire. (?) While I actually AM very excited to see more women dressing more femininely and embracing womanhood in way that has not been done in decades (YAY!!!), it's strange to me how so many view "vintage" through a modern lens. In the flurry of vintage hairstyle tutorial videos, reenactment photo shoots, and antique shopping, are the principles, the morals, the goals, any different than our broken society now holds? Or are these just "funny and cute" things that we laugh about and see as novelties?

Our fore-mothers knew something that we don't always grasp with our modern thinking: True homemaking and motherhood are not "trends." Femininity is not something we embrace because it's fashionable right now, and then we abandon when it's no longer "new."

Old-Fashioned Motherhood is about serving and nurturing our families. It is the dedicated work we do in our homes and in our relationships out of love for God, our husbands, and our children. The "old-fashioned" values we hold sacred mean so much more than any "vintage" trends we could follow. Our values are who we are, what we know is true and right.

By all means, we "old-fashioned" ladies can enjoy wearing skirts and dresses, curling our hair, sewing, crafting, cooking, and eschewing consumerism. But no matter how much we do these things, if our hearts are not turned to our children, our homes, and our God, none of those fun "vintage" things will be anything more than a fun trend we once followed.

May the Lord bless you and all those in your homes this week to have a truly "Old-Fashioned" Christmas. One focused on the love of God, and on His gift to us: the birth of His precious Son, Jesus Christ.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dealing with Loss

Each baby is a precious GIFT!

 As I'm sure any of my readers can guess, my children and I really admire the Duggar family. We love to watch their show on DVD, and I have learned many organizational and parenting lessons from Jim Bob and Michelle. As a mother of a large family, I am always trying to learn how to be a better homemaker and parent, and they are a great example to me!

I was so sad to hear that Michelle recently miscarried their twentieth baby-- especially so far along in her pregnancy! (She was due in April.) I have had SIX miscarriages, myself, and I know the heartache and disappointment that happens as a result. (Though mine were all in the first trimester.)

Though I have been sad and disappointed-- and sometimes even devastated-- by the loss of one of my babies, I have found great peace and comfort in my knowledge of the Restored Gospel. I know, through the witness of the Holy Ghost, that each one of the babies that haven't made it belong to me and my husband. And will for all eternity!

I also believe that our Heavenly Father is merciful, and that He has a plan for each one of us. I can trust in His plan, again through the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit.

I believe that all children are born innocent, and that they are not required to be baptized until they reach the age of accountability (about age 8). Little children who die before baptism are taken back to be with God, because the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of the mistakes they make in their little lives.

As it states in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Christ:
"And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins. But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world; if not so, God is a partial God, and also a changeable God, and a respecter to persons; for how many little children have died without baptism!" Moroni 8:11-12
 In the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, discussing the writings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:14, it says:
"But little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ;" Doctrine and Covenants 74:7
And in The New Testament:
"And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3-4, KJV

Some of my ancestors in Sweden felt the same way. In fact, the reason they were open to learning about the LDS Church way back in the 1800's was because of the loss of one of their children. Here is the story taken directly from my family history:
"One winter day little sister Emma came to brighten their home. When she was about two months old, Father took the baby to the minister who lived some distance away, to be baptized or sprinkled. The baby died of pneumonia resulting from the exposure. The couple readily listened to the Mormon missionaries who taught that babies need no baptism as they are without sin."

I also have a testimony that life begins at conception, so babies who are miscarried in their mothers' wombs of course need no baptism-- they are innocent-- alive in Christ. And I know that the Lord's Atonement is great enough to cover the lives of innocent children who are still learning the difference between right and wrong.

I have always found the doctrine above, and that of eternal families, to be of GREAT comfort to me when I lose an unborn baby. I have great hope that through the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior, I will again have those tiny ones that I have lost.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Duggar family at this difficult time, as they are with ANY who have lost a tiny one all too soon. The Lord will make up the difference and bring us hope and joy, even through such difficult times.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A True Artist

"Winding the Skein" by Frederick Leighton
“There is an art to being a homemaker. For ourselves and for our families, it is important that we have a sanctuary—a place of refuge away from the world where we feel comfortable and where, if others come, they, too, can feel comfortable.”  
~Barbara W. Winder, former LDS General Relief Society president

Have you ever had those days when you feel that none of your efforts matter; days when the house is a mess, the laundry piles have grown into mountains, the kids are fighting and complaining, you are facing the preparation of dinner with an empty pantry and fridge, and the baby's been playing in the mud and REALLY needs a bath? 


Then this blog post is probably not for you.

BUT, if you have ever had those kinds of days, it might help you to know (I know it helps me!) that I have NEVER met a woman who hasn't. 

(Though if you haven't ever had this kind of day, would you please share your blog address and tell us how you do it all? Thanks so much.)

By the way, my life feels like the day I described above-- MOST of the time. It is a rare occasion when I feel like homemaking is an "art."  Far too often I just feel like a big, fat mess-- and there is nothing "artistic" about that, I assure you!

So on those days when I feel that I can never, EVER create that lovely, comfortable sanctuary that I've read about, I take a deep breath, say a prayer, and re-read a heartwarming quote like this:
“Every mother should endeavor to be a true artist. I do not mean by this that every woman should be a painter, sculptor, musician, poet, or writer, but the artist who will write on the table of childish innocence thoughts she will not blush to see read in the light of eternity and printed amid the archives of heaven, that the young may learn to wear them as amulets around their hearts and throw them as bulwarks around their lives, and that in the hour of temptation and trial the voices from home may linger around their paths as angels of guidance, around their steps, and be incentives to deeds of high and holy worth.” ~Frances E. W. Harper
The actual artistry of motherhood and homemaking is not featured in magazines or re-pinned on Pinterest. It's not even found in creating adorable crafts, decorating beautiful homes, delicious meals, or scrubbing our homes until they gleam.

The TRUE artistry of motherhood lies in the hearts, minds, and souls of our children and our husbands. What are those "amulets around their hearts" made of? How do we build and reinforce the "bulwarks around their lives?"

We should all recognize that the sanctuaries we are making for our families do NOT have to be perfect in order to be a comfort and a strength to all who enter in. They only need to be a place where the Lord and our sincere, loving efforts reside, and where we are doing what we can, when we can.

Sometimes the "masterpieces" that we think we're building fall down around us, and we have to begin all over again. But EVERYONE make mistakes. We will all have days when we lose our patience, where the floors are never clean, and the meals are late. And thanks to a merciful and tender God, we can repent, start again. A new canvas is ready for us each morning, "with no mistakes in it," as Anne Shirley puts it.

Our "masterpieces" are not yet finished-- and may not be finished in this life. But every color we add, every stroke that we make adds to the beauty of the final work that the Savior, the Master, Himself, will finish.

And that IS "of high and holy worth."

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