Sunday

Easter Dress

I'm such a slacker photographer mom. I hardly get my camera out for her these days! And even then, it's nothing too special. But luckily she is and that's all that matters. Really, the most physical change from 9-12 months has been her growing hair & top teeth! We love her. So I finally took some pictures in her Easter dress. This is how a photoshoot looks when Mr Smith is not here to help with this quick moving girl.











Daddy came home and we got a few family photos
(lighting was harsh so just love us not the background)
I love my new wireless remote! (clicker for the camera)







Grandma Looper made sure she had an Easter basket, which was celebrated last week at their house.
I got chocolate, Mr Smith got his favorite fruit snacks & Lexi got her fruit pouches. win win win!

Saturday

3 Nephi 11

 Behold my aBeloved Sonbin whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
 And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they asaw a Man bdescending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them.
 And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
 10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
 11 And behold, I am the alight and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter bcup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in ctaking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the dwill of the Father in all things from the beginning.
 12 And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude afellto the earth; for they remembered that it had been bprophesied among them that Christ should cshow himself unto them after his ascension into heaven.
 13 And it came to pass that the aLord spake unto them saying:
 14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may athrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may bfeel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the cGod of Israel, and the God of the whole dearth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
 15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and adid feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.
 16 And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying:
 17 Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did aworship him.

Because of Him, we can start again, and again
Despair becomes hope

Friday

No Strength Without Struggle

I didn't really feel prompted to bombard the lds social media world with one more mommy blog post regarding hard doctrines that have recently raised quite a buzz in the Mormon world (until now! mer). Well, Prop 8 launched it awhile ago and since then some members have really battled with standing convicted when it comes to defined marriage between man and woman. (the fact that we have to define it is troubling)

And then comes the Ordain Women movement and a lot of people started associating that with feminism and I would like to keep those two things separated . . . But in any case, people developed strong opinions. 

At first I saw them as two separate issues, but I recently discovered the link (besides apostasy, mer). Family. {I know, I'm a little slow} Ah why yes, we all just thought the Proclamation in 1995 sounded nice? The prophets and apostles warn and prepare. I think it is fascinating to see how inspired it truly was. And then to take thought to what else we have been warned about or prepared for . . .

In order to understand and obey hard doctrines or even the small and simple things, we need to first have a testimony of our Savior. We need to pray to know whether or not He lives and knows us personally. This video is amazing. I'm grateful that Easter reminds us about the most significant event in our history. Everything would be for not, if it wasn't for Him. (let's overshadow the bunnies & eggs completely)

The rest of this post extends mostly to members of the LDS faith and I know it's a very sensitive topic and I hope my comments are just reflective in nature and not condemning in any way.

So, a few women want the Priesthood. For me that came out of left field, coming from members within the church any way. And then in the way they sort of… demanded it was awkward to say the least. But I think people got their opinions out, and although I'm all for women in leadership, I think we always have to follow where the Spirit tells us we should lead. And it's pretty hard to find better answers than from the mouth of the latter day prophets and apostles. I tend to struggle more with ambiguity than with specific guidance. Especially when, in the church, we lay priority on prayer and study to seek personal revelation/confirmation for ourselves. And then personal revelation should remain in your heart and in the way you act (because only the prophet receives revelation for the entire church). I think it's more than great that we have access to the companionship of the Holy Ghost because we took on that covenant of baptism and try our best to follow Christ. I have never felt happier than when I hear the voice of the Savior whether out of the mouth of a living prophet or from those centuries ago - a voice that not only comforts, but also inspires. Even when not all the dots align, I have always found strength in putting my faith in God. I am grateful for the roles that women and men uniquely fill within the workplace, the church & the home. I'm grateful for the restored Priesthood power on the earth and for the men that hold it worthily. It's a blessing to us all. 

All this sameness talk seems really … exaggerated. There are just a lot of generalizations out there, but I have yet had to deal with glaring sexism outside of my husbands lovable humor when he tells me to get back into the kitchen. I stab him with my eyes. I'm sure there are tons of examples where women are overlooked or looked at for the wrong reasons because of their gender (I didn't go on to grad school or try my hands at a management career), but I just wish people would realize that we don't need to be exactly like men nor treated exactly like men. Human? yes. But like men? I'm good. Wear a skirt if you want to, boys (please don't). I believe in standing up for anyone who is pushed down, but I can tell you plenty of times where I was favorably accepted because I was a woman. But no one wants to count those cards. (I'm sure they are less. Don't hurt me "feminists"). I think we work well together when we really seek to magnify our individual callings & live our passions - within the collective whole - instead of trying to become our neighbor… or husband.

I think the struggle with same-sex attraction is harder even though I know I shouldn't compare trials. I'm a firm believer that trials are specific to a person for a divine reason. Your trials will help you reach your potential. We tread water when we start placing ourselves in the shoes of others just to say how we would have done things differently. Self righteousness happens when we think we're better than anyone in any way. I don't know what it's like to be attracted to the same gender. I've read/heard many personal stories and I feel for those who do struggle with this because it seems as if there is a universal sense of loneliness and confusion that initially attacks the heart and perhaps is still difficult to push aside. We have all certainly felt the despair of loneliness, but although who you are attracted to doesn't define you, I know how much I've talked about dating and boys in my young adult life and I can see how your questions would extend well beyond the casual dating woes.

However, it seems the majority steps on egg shells not to offend. And the minority tells us to be kinder than Christ (basically). Ah I'm not sure they understand. Christ loved those who society cast aside, but he never tolerated sin (just to confirm, the attraction is not the sin, but acting on it is). Truly, the offense rests with the offended (I'm not saying forgiveness is easy). No one is saying individuals should be bullied or neglected. That wouldn't be Christ-like. But on the other hand, many argue that we should accept same-sex attraction and allow humans to please themselves in whatever way they see fit. That wouldn't be Christ-like either. I'm not sure how gender attraction is defined for a person. I.e. I understand it's not my place to say whether or not you might be born with a same-sex attraction that can't be overcome, in the sense that you will one day like the opposite gender. I will be excited when it's all understood. 

But for now, I understand it as an inclination that might never go away in this life. I admire those members who appreciate themselves and fight to live temple worthy, which means you value chastity just like any single latter-day saint. That brings us to marriage between man and woman, which I still believe is how God designed our bodies and our family so I will fight for it. And it is sad that some may choose never to experience the joys found in such a marriage, but I trust if it doesn't happen in this life, that you can have such opportunities for that joy in the eternities. I know God did not design some bodies that could not receive the fulness. Agency must exist.  I know that God would not lay out an eternal plan that centers on a wife and husband being eternally sealed as a family unit without us all having access to that glory.

The dividing wall is getting thicker. The right side is getting smaller. It will take a lot of strength to stand tall and firm. With that comes an equal amount of resistance.

As a mother, I fear for her struggles, but I want her to find strength within them.



Tuesday

Rounding Up 11 Months

Well, the house is looking more like a home. Alexis is getting more opinionated and active by the day. Mr Smith and I still love each other. Lexi and I visited the grandparents this weekend and played with the dog, chickens & goats. Every animal is "woof"





Grandma Smith sent an Easter package


Jenny came to visit for General Conference


She loves her stroller rides. We love living within walking distance to 3 parks!
And then there is that stink face . . .





So she wouldn't let go of the cracker to feed the goat at first. She would just laugh as he tried to take it from her and then she'd attempt to eat it. But eventually she learned to give it to him. Super cute.


 The best BBQ I have found in the South #bananapudding


We started practicing with milk in a cup. Transitioning from breast milk to whole milk! Hurrah!




The Choice of Life and Pennies

We just finished our taxes. Yes, I realize it's April 8. Thank you Turbo Tax for not prolonging the agony. And thank you Alexis, for allowing us a portion of those dollars back. But to be fair, it's the grad student loan interest & dental work that emptied pockets last year. Next year, I have a feeling it will be medical costs. Due to having to get our own individual health plan, future children are more expensive, like really expensive (but they are priceless). I'm not pregnant. I only want to be-ish. But my nursing child is sucking all the nutrients I need. Pity party. Let's dance. (but really I look malnourished…)

This year, I hope we get a break from surprise "life" costs. But I doubt it. Life wouldn't be life without them. But all this talk about money has got me thinking about what life would be like if it were any different. Because I think the natural man does think the grass is always greener in some ways. We pay tithing as a reminder that all of it is truly a gift. But is money really a blessing? That was my question. Again, we often think that. We think I'm experiencing a trial when I feel the pennies are being pinched. But what if it's the other way around?

I didn't think about it until I watched this talk 

by Boyd K Packer (one of the 12 apostles) from years ago.

The talk was on Choice and at first I didn't see how that was the focus. But then it clicked. He talks about where we can find true success and complete happiness. Isn't that what everyone is after? And of course you anticipate that the true answer is with Jesus Christ. And you're correct. But his main point surrounds the Choice that brings about that success. We can think of many we make on a daily basis. 

The Choice of Life is between good and evil. NOT fame and fortune. The greatest decision in life is between good and evil, NOT what will be most noticed and fortunate. In contrast, he states that wealth & power can be the hardest trial. The scriptures warn many times of the dangers of wealth.

There are many ways to figure out whether or not wealth is a factor of true success, but then he shares this quote by Poor Richard, which I enjoyed: "Experience is a dear school, but the fool will learn in no other."

Ha! That sums of my adolescence pretty well.

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Essentially, seek ye first for the kingdom of God, then if wealth comes, you will use it to bless.

I love that thought. Because if your mission is to serve the Lord, then you will not be weighted by the gold, but you will use it to lift burdens for your family & for others. The light of Christ will shine within your service and there will be no desire for glory or praise, only the desire to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.

But I'm not saying wealth always comes because you're great. Whether it comes or not, it's what we do with what we have been given that matters in the end. And as Elder Packer warns, it's not easy for the wealthy to stay focused on the Lord. They have the most to lose if they are asked to give it up.

Knowledge should be more valued than gold. Making and keeping sacred covenants and serving our fellow men should be more valued than gold.

But often times we struggle to move past the dreams of jewels, grandeur, and site seeing the world. If we get the chance, we can still appreciate those things, but our hearts will never be satisfied if we do not have them connected to God and family. 

For me, I'd like to go to the grocery store and not have a budget. I don't want to stress about the change. But why do I think it should be any other way?

I didn't make this print, but I love it.

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