Somebody Else's Picture...credit to them, whomever they may be.

Somebody Else's Picture...credit to them, whomever they may be.
How I feel after throwing a party...

Thanks for the visit!! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rats and Rattlesnakes


Pioneer Women. I've been studying these women for years, and through their lives and example I have found places of strength within myself that I have been happy to reach to in times of need. The lives of these women: their trials, their cheer, their faith, all help me to be stronger in the face of my own adversity and trials.

A couple of months ago I went to a seminar on Eliza Partridge Lyman, a Mormon pioneer woman. She was a regular woman, and yet through her regularness of being, was incredible in the things she pushed through and in the way she persevered through her hardships. Our friend Eliza, is one of my favorite strong women who was just like me and you. She struggled, she had love, and joy, and tragedy, and heartbreak. Sometimes she didn't know how she was going to make it through, but she held on, stayed the course, and pushed through.

As you might imagine, travelling across the United States, and the wild territories that still existed at that time, in wagons and handcarts was not an easy means of travel in the mid 1800's. The day to day tasks, chores and responsibilities of men and women were mostly manual in nature. By the sweat of their brow they worked and ate and prospered, or sometimes didn't. Being pregnant, giving birth, dealing with sickness and injury and having babies, children and family die along the way, also not easy. Living in a home with a sod roof that leaked when it rained was no easy burden to bear, let alone the critters in and upon you, (so super not awesome), but despite it all she persevered mostly cheerfully, and continually checked herself to try harder, to do better, to strive to be more faithful.

She wrote regularly in her journal throughout her life and from these writings I learned that she had to deal with an overabundance of rats and rattlesnakes through the course of her life, homesteading, and travels. This made a pretty significant impression on me because those are two awful creatures to have to worry about. Because of this, in the moment that I heard about it, I realized the following "If I'm not up to my ankles in rats and rattlesnakes, I'm going to be o.k. I can push through . . . and if I ever find myself up to my ankles in rats and rattlesnakes, well I guess I'd better be in boots and solving my problem as quickly as possible."

The stories of my ancestors, of pioneers, of those who strove to persevere through the hard and heinous times help me to focus, to realign perspective, and to look on the sunny side. Sometimes when I get grumpy, or things seem a little overwhelming, I say to myself "Seriously Tracy, you're not up to your ankles...or your butt...in rats and rattlesnakes, you didn't bury a baby out on the plains knowing that the coyotes that are howling are going to be digging at that little grave before the day is through, and you didn't have to have someone chop your braids off because they were frozen to the ground where you were sleeping. You can do this. You can push through. You're going to be o.k." and it's true--I can push through and I am going to be o.k.

Eliza's life and example give me strength in my own. Someday, if I'm lucky in the hereafter, I hope I have a chance to meet her, hug her, and tell her "Thank you" for the example that she was to me. She pushed through, stayed the course, and did hard things, and so can I.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Status Chipper Quo: Serving in the Primary

I wrote this last week about my time thus far in serving in the Primary organization in my Ward. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we, through callings, or requests for leadership and assistance, help to run our local Sunday and weekday meetings and activities. 

I am in the Primary organization as the President which means that I work with all of the 18 month to 11 year old children in our Ward or parish/congregation. We are responsible for their "Sunday School" portion of learning, along with singing, classroom learning, playing, activities and Cub Scouts.

These are my thoughts.

Sunday, July 7, 2014

"Children are an heritage of the Lord." Psalms 127:3

The Primary children, the junior babies, the 3-6 year olds, delighted me yesterday during singing time.

Singing time always brings me joy. I want the children to learn to love to sing. I want them to be able to learn the gospel and the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for them through the happy, joyful and spiritual songs we teach them and that they learn to love to sing. Singing can open up the heart and teach us things, especially larger concepts, when we are too little to even say the words properly. Singing can help us to feel the Holy Spirit and the love that our Father in Heaven has for us. Singing can just be fun as we laugh, and smile, and play as we learn.

Yesterday, we started with a new chorister; this was her first Sunday teaching Singing Time. The children took straight to her as she has been a familiar face in Primary already as she was our Sunbeam (3 year olds) teacher this year. I know she was nervous and hasn’t ever done this before, but I also know that she was the right person for the job and that she would be marvelous at it. I was excited to see how she would do.

When they opened their little voices and hearts and sang the song “The Family is of God” I sat down from my other bustling and responsibilities and I just listened. This is the song:

Our Father has a family. It’s me! It’s you, all others too: we are His children. He sent each one of us to earth, through birth, to live and learn here in fam’lies. Chorus
A father’s place is to preside, provide, to love and teach the gospel to his children. A father leads in fam’ly prayer to share their love for Father in Heaven. Chorus
A mother’s purpose is to care, prepare, to nurture and to strengthen all her children. She teaches children to obey, to pray, to love and serve in the fam’ly. Chorus
I’ll love and serve my family and be a good example to each fam’ly member. And when I am a mom or dad, so glad, I’ll help my fam’ly remember:
Chorus: God gave us families to help us become what He wants us to bee—This is how He shares His love, for the fam’ly is of God.

As she led them and as the children vociferously sang their sweet little hearts out, particularly during the chorus, I was moved by the Spirit and my heart was so full it almost spilled out of my eyes. From one moment to the next I was overwhelmed by love: my love for the children, my love for their teachers, my friends, and my Heavenly Father’s love for me. What a Sunday blessing to receive and what a peaceful, loving way to begin the new week!

How blessed I have been to serve the children of our neighborhood and church through these almost-8 years. When I was first put into the Primary Presidency as the 2nd Counselor I was surprised. We had just moved into our home two weeks prior and we knew no one. We had been to church, maybe twice, when the Bishopric came to visit us in our home and extended the calling to me. I was not reluctant to accept it, just surprised, and so I went, feet first into the delightful, sunny pool of sunshine that the Primary is.

From the beginning I was responsible for the coordination of the monthly baptisms for our freshly minted 8-year olds. This is one of my very favorite responsibilities. I love working with the families as we prepare the program together, answer questions they may have, but especially in seeing the children take this big step in their spiritual progress as they decide to step forward to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized and in establishing a covenant relationship with their Heavenly Father through Baptism. It touches my heart as each of them enter the Baptismal Font in their white clothes reaching out their little hands in trust and love to their fathers and grandfathers, or perhaps to uncles and brothers or family friends, depending on the circumstance. The sacredness and joy in the event is always palpable and I am so proud and humbled all at the same time to be able to be a witness to this goodness and happiness at these events.

I also have the opportunity to speak to each of the children and their friends and families from the pulpit once they have been baptized, received the Holy Ghost and been confirmed our newest members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I often reflect on how much they have grown, observances about their character, and the delight we share in their personality and presence in Primary. I love the gift of being a part of this special event.

After serving as the counselor for four years I was asked to be the President and so I have been for the past four years. The responsibility for the coordination of the baptisms then fell to my second counselor. I still attended the baptisms and spoke with the children and their families which I continued to enjoy. Last year, my counselor asked if we could switch some responsibilities, due to her pregnancy, and if I would take on the baptisms again, I happily did, and so it has been that I continue to be fully linked in with the baptismal process and events. I’m happy to do it.

Now that I have been in the Primary for almost 8 years, I imagine that my responsibilities will be coming to an end sooner than later. I don’t know the time or the day, but it is likely that someone else will be given the opportunity to lead the Primary onward into the future.

I’m finding that I am relishing the small moments, the sparkly eyes as they tell me a new joke, the happy smiles as they come running into the Primary room after Sacrament Meeting, their little hugs and high fives and how their eager little hands are always willing and wanting to help me as I get the room set up to begin. I love how they are excited to get up in front of the other children to read the monthly theme, or the designated scriptures, or to give a talk, or a prayer. The children love to volunteer to help in every way. It delights me that they are patient, gentle and kind with the children who are struggling or who have special needs. There is no perfection here, occasionally we have frowny faces, some crying, hurt feelings and unkind words, and once a slight scuffle between 6-year old shepherds during our Christmas lesson, but these are little children still learning the ways of self-mastery and the world. They take corrections fairly easily and it’s back to status chipper quo.

Our Primary is a joyful place. Our Primary is a haven of love. Our teachers and activity leaders are kind and thoughtful and funny and loving and the children enjoy their lessons and activities. I have approximately 112 souls currently under my stewardship, 36 adults and 76 children, and at a greater extension, their families. Magnify that by the children and teachers that have come and gone over the course of my eight years in the Primary and you can see that the influence and responsibility extends even further and how great the accountability is to do my job correctly and well.

My goal is and always has been to serve them, support them, and love them. I cannot fail on my watch to teach them the things that they need to know, to provide them with the tools in understanding the gospel, recognizing the Spirit, and knowing in their hearts beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is their brother, and is real and true, and that He loves every single one of them whether they choose the right or sometimes choose the wrong. I want them to understand the Atonement, and the powerful tool that it can be in our everyday lives. I want them all to know that their Heavenly Father knows them by name and loves them and that even when we trip up, that love does not change. I want them to know how easy it is to reach out and talk to their Father in Heaven through prayer and that you can pray wherever and whenever you please. I want them to know the repentance process and the freedom that forgiveness brings. I want them to know that families can be together forever, that when people die that we will have the joyous reunion of seeing them again someday. I want them to know these things and so much more.

Through my influence, and that of their teachers, I want to help prepare these lovely, delightful little children to head out into the world. I want them to be able to stand solid and true against the buffetings and whispers that would encourage them to make poor choices and lead them down a path of sadness, heartbreak and misery. I want them to know that they are strong, divine, beautiful creatures full of light and with a mission and a purpose. I want them to know that doing good for the sake of good, that loving for the sake of loving, that joy for the sake of joy, and sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice are all things to be humbled by and proud of.

Simply and ultimately I want them to know that they are a child of God. This is my stewardship, my accountability and my responsibility, and it is hard, happy work and I am privileged to do it for as long as it lasts.

And so I follow the words of Jesus Christ as I strive to be his disciple and follower, as I tend to these little ones, when He said "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of heaven" (Mark 10:14), and again in Matthew 18:6 "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Not looking for a millstone, not looking to nosedive into the depth of the sea, just looking to do my best while these little humans, and some big humans, are under my care. :)