Sunday, July 27, 2008

Missing Month #2

**UPDATE** This post is now followed by two I wrote on the same day - The Sacred, and The Secular. Note: That last one includes new pics of the girls. **

Once again I find myself WAY behind in blogging the true-life adventures of the Woody family. Once again, it has been a very busy month! Much of our time has been spent in simply enjoying the summer (playdays and sleepovers for the girls, swimming, birthday parties, dinner "parties", service projects, gardening, and movie and/or game nights) while also attempting to continue our organizing and decluttering projects.

The girls' rooms are both done and they LOVE their "new" rooms!! It made them feel good to donate some of their well-loved but outgrown things to "kids who need them and will love them, too!" Somehow it is MUCH easier for a child's heart to part with loved toys when they know those old favorites will continue to be loved by another child. :o) We still have to finish tackling the school room. I was hoping to have that done by now, but have NOT given up hope! ;o) We WILL reclaim that space... even if we have to do it fifteen minutes at a time. In the interim, we will continue to use the dining and living rooms for school. One of the advantages of our school room is that is has a table AND a couch in the same room. We'll get there.

There have been, though, this month, a couple of things/events that I want to make sure I blog so that they are "journaled" for posterity. In trying to figure out how to post things so that they make sense, I've decided to make the technology work for me. I want THIS post to appear first, and then also want to keep the two "journal" posts separate - they range from the sacred to the truly secular. Which to record first... hmmm... it IS the Sabbath, after all.

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The Sacred: Savior of the World

This summer, Woody has been teaching a six-week summer institute class at church titled "Savior of the World." You can actually get links to download audio of the classes here:

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4

Lessons 5 and 6

I am, naturally, a bit biased, but even those who are not said that the summer institute course was a wonderful blessing in their lives. I most heartily concur. I thoroughly enjoyed ALL the sessions, and was, as Woody also expressed, sad to see them come to an end. But, though the classes have ended, my desire to learn more about and draw closer to our Savior has been reborn.

The direction Woody was given for this summer institute was to use the script for the Savior of the World production as a foundation, and then to provide a historical and spiritual background in order to help prepare the members of our stake to participate in the presentation of the production during the spring of 2009. You can download that script, and even the score and accompaniment and choir rehearsal tracks here.

If I had to come up with just one word to summarize, that word would be JOY!

My personal testimony and love for the Savior has grown so much. I do KNOW (through a personal witness of the Spirit) that Jesus' part in the Plan of Salvation makes it possible for us to have hope! There is so much in this world that causes us grief and pain, but it doesn't have to end there.

For example, how can we get through heart-rending grief? There are so many of our own family and friends that are suffering and have heartaches that seem beyond bearing. We can, here and now, have a personal manifestation of the Spirit that will bear record to us of the truthfulness of our Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation.
That personal testimony of a loving Father's awareness of each of His children, and of a blessed reunion in a heavenly hereafter can not only give us peace, but JOY! Instead of being distraught, we can be eagerly awaiting that reunion!

In the summer institute lessons, we discussed the fact that Mary always kept things and "pondered" them in her heart as she witnessed and experienced events in the life of her Son. What an amazing example that we should follow! Like Mary, we can also come to a real understanding of these life lessons.

As we learned of the time Jesus spent with his disciples before His Ascension, some other things spoke to my heart.
- Charity is not a single act, it is a state of being.
- It doesn't matter what others do, our purpose in life should be to focus on our personal mission.

I'm taking these verses as MY mission:

Doctrine and Covenants, Section 88 verses 118-120, 123-126:

118 And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.
119 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;
120 That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord; that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord; that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands unto the Most High.
123 See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.
124 Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.
125 And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.
126 Pray always, that ye may not faint, until I come. Behold, and lo, I will come quickly, and receive you unto myself. Amen.

Though I'm not (after three years) teaching monthly lessons in Relief Society anymore, I had the opportunity to substitute teach today. The topic was "Testimony," and was based on a talk given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, in conference this past April 2008. I closed the lesson by sharing my testimony, and I'd like to do that again now.

I know that our Heavenly Father’s Plan is in place because of His love for each one of us, His children. I know that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is our elder brother, and that the Atonement assures us the opportunity for eternal life. I know that the Prophet Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son, and restored the fullness of the gospel. I know that we have a prophet now, President Thomas S. Monson, who leads and guides us on our journey toward life with that same Father and Son. I testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

What does all this mean? The absolute bottom line is LOVE - sharing it, showing it, living it!

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The Secular: The OC Fair

On a lighter note, we took the girls to the Orange County Fair on Friday, July 25th. It was the first time they’d been to a fair, so we all had a marvelous time!

We saw (and smelled) lots of animals, some gorgeous quilts, table settings that inspired the girls to pay a bit more attention to that small detail, a small one-ring circus (only three performers, but fun), crafts galore, a beautiful demonstration garden that also inspired us to keep going with our own small efforts (a botany/herbology-inspired school project), a couple of carnival rides for the girls, and even pig races!!

Doodle chose to ride an elephant as her special ride. Originally she wanted to ride a pony, but ANYONE can ride a pony! How many can say that they've ridden an elephant? That's her, the adventurer with the big grin, in the pink cap. She is now officially the only member of our family to have ridden an elephant.

Jelly's pick was the Sky Ride. Because Doodle isn't quite tall enough to ride that one without an adult, Jelly had a marvelously independent adventure! She saw all kinds of amazing things from her lofty perch, but don't ask her about the, um, birds-eye view of a gross trashcan. I wanted to post the pic of her WAY UP HIGH, but she was really backlit in that one and so you can't see her awesome smile.

We managed to get our fill before the evening craziness began. It was a wonderfully learning-adventurous kind of day!

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