Wednesday, August 31, 2005

"For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith ni his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made." Moroni 7:38

The law is that we must have faith to be saved. I think I lack some understanding in this area. If we look at faith as a near equivalent to belief, then Christ can only save us if we believe he can. I have a hard time looking beyond the simplistic idea of comparing it to my belief in something happening. I can say that I believe it will rain tomorrow, but whether it does or not is independent of my belief in it. It almost feels like it is a limitation on Christ's power to say "He can only save me if I believe in him." But faith is more than belief, I think. I don't know if I understand faith as well as I used to think I did.

From the Bible Dictionary:
Faith: Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true, and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed himself and his perfect as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith. Miracles do not produce faith but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith.
Faith is a principle of action and of power..."

It goes on but for now that suffices. So if I have faith in Christ I have confidence in him, and faith comes by righteousness. Is that because it is only by being righteous that we can actually get to a point where we might understand Christ enough to have confidence in him? I can see that we have to get to know him in order to have confidence...could you know him if you are acting unrighteously? Why and how does the atonement only work if we allow it to work in our lives? I tend to believe that there are actual rules that govern these sorts of things, and not that it is just an arbitrary setup. Why do I have to have faith in order to be redeemed from my sins? What is it about faith that allows Christ to help me?

I'll have to do some more research and pondering on the matter. Maybe I'll need to dig out my copy of Lectures on Faith.

So David and I had a discussion on the topic, and we came up with/remembered the following key point:
Faith is an active verb, not a passive verb (like believe). To truly have faith, you must be acting in some way that is taking you closer to the person/idea/concept you have faith in. So if you have faith in the Atonement, you must be acting in such a way (repentance) that puts you in a position to receive it. Without faith, you stand still and don't move in any direction, as you have nowhere to go (what's the Alice in Wonderland quote? If you don't know where you are going, it doesn't much matter which direction you go. Something along that line.) Faith is what makes you take a step towards God, in any way. We brought up that rarely would the self-absorbed hedonist suddenly have an epiphany to find God, simply because they lack the desire. As Alma says, you first start with a desire. I'd guess for most people this is a desire for something unknown, but simply a desire for something better. That is the beginning of a faith, as they are willing to look for something, and hope that it exists.

Well, it's late so I'll sign off for now and hopefully continue this more in the future.
Dejunking! That's the word of the week! As David and I have started planning and dreaming and researching our future home, I think I am finally getting the motivation I need to toss unneeded, unwanted, and unloved stuff. I have two HUGE garbage bag of clothes plus a large bag of toys that are going. I cleaned out and tossed some plastic food storage containers, pulled out some "trinkets/collectibles" that I won't miss, and have cleaned out & organized a couple of my craft boxes. I still have a ways to go, and have to do some sorting through stuff that we have at David's folks house, but I am making progress. And it really does feel sooo nice to not have all of this stuff weighing so heavily everywhere. Heck, we might actually be able to find things. I checked out a couple of Don Aslett's books from the library, and they've been helpful. It's nice to have encouragement and some sound reasoning behind my efforts, as I certainly don't come by them naturally. Mom & Dad are both big-time hoarders & collectors. It's a struggle for me, as there is a strong part of my brain that wants to be frugal and therefore not get rid of things that might come in handy someday. But I'm trying to retrain my brain to think of how it is frugal to not spend time & energy (which equal money) dealing with stuff that I don't need at the present time in my life. It's a paradigm shift, but having too much really does cost us. We lose time because we have to sort through, organize & reorganize, and clean up around junkl And using time in this way takes away from more productive and enjoyable things. So the cost of dealing with it everyday is not worth the money saved by holding onto it forever.

I also like the idea of viewing gifts as messengers. Once you have received the gift and enjoyed the thought that accompanied it, it has served it's purpose. You can keep it around if you really love it, but you shouldn't feel obligated to hang onto it forever simply because it was a gift. Flowers & food are gifts, too, but after we're finished with them, it's okay to chuck 'em. So I think that perspective has some value. Another idea is that of it being selfish and wasteful to keep things around that you aren't using/enjoying, when there is someone out there who would enjoy it. I like that, too.

And my favorite part of putting the clothes that I'm KEEPING (some maternity clothes, kids clothes & diapers, etc) away: vacuum packing! I love to suck the air out of the bags with the hose! Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Fabulous Pink Mindy

"You'll Look a Little Lovelier Each Day with Fabulous Pink Mindy."

For laughs, sloganize yourself & loved ones! Sloganize!


"When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be Mindy Overnight."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I like to consider myself a fairly informed American, and I do my best to research issues and candidates before I vote. I also listen to NPR several times a week and keep up on the news that way. When I feel strongly about an issue, I write to local and other politicians. But I feel no need or desire to keep up on the activities (more than happens from above mentioned sources) or speeches of our current President. I'm not a big fan, and I think tuning into him more than I do would just annoy me. Plus, it isn't like I have a lot of choices in the matter--we're stuck with him until 2008.d This spills over into my feelings about the war in Iraq. I don't support his justifications for going there in the first place (I feel it was a bit like an Onion article described it "Liberate Iraqi Oil Wells"), but since we are there and caused a big mess for the Iraqi people, I do kind of feel like it'd be wrong to just leave the country in shambles. But beyond that, my feelings about the whole situation are incomplete. I haven't wanted to put the effort and emotion into more fulling forming my views, because I don't know that it would make any difference, except to add more emotional stress to my life. I care about a lot of issues, but I don't care about every issue.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Harold & Maude

Last night we watched an excellent movie, Harold & Maude. It's an oldie (1971) but definitely a goodie. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It reminded me to enjoy living (not that I don't) and enjoy the journey for what it is, and not to spend your life half or mostly dead.

Related to this, I'm going to make a real effort to "greet the day" happily. It's hard after a night of frequently interrupted sleep, as all I think is "Aaarrgh! I need more sleep!" While that may be true, unfortunately having a negative attitude about it won't make me less sleepy. Though I might reserve the privilege of being grumpy for particularly bad nights.

Assuming all goes according to plan, David should start getting paid September 1st, thus ending our 15 months of poverty, and 8 months of zero income. Hooray!! I can't help but wonder if there were some lessons I should have learned during this time that I didn't. I know that I will not take paychecks for granted in the future. And I was already pretty frugal, but I've learned that you really can do without a lot of things. Our goal is to continue living cheaply so we can save up for a down payment on a house. We have several thousand in our IRAs that we can use for a down payment as well. Which is pretty good considering we saved that while we were both grad students.

One more comment on the movie -- the soundtrack is by Cat Stevens, and features this fabulous song:

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

You can do what you want
The opportunity's on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well if you want to say yes, say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
'Cause there's a million ways to go
You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
'Cause there's a million things to do
You know that there are


Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Valderah HA HA HA HA HA!

This is my new happy song! For the tune, go here The Happy Wanderer Tune

I love to go awandering
Along the mountain track
And when I go, I love to sing
My knapsack on my back

Valderee, valderah,
Valderee, valderah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha,
Valderee, valderah,
My knapsack on my back

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun
So joyously, it calls to me
Come join my happy song

Valderee, valderah,
Valderee, valderah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha,
Valderee, valderah,
Come join my happy song

Overhead, the skylarks wing
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing
As o'er the world we roam

Valderee, valderah,
Valderee, valderah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha,
Valderee, valderah,
As o'er the world we roam

Note: I was made aware of this happy song by watching the Ben Stiller/Jack Black movie "Envy" which I think is a hoot & a half. I've seen it a couple of times, and had been singing the chorus periodically since we rented it last time. Finally I knew I just HAD to learn the whole song. I'm still working on the lyrics, but at least I have the tune. And it's a great tune to use for "homemade" lyrics about the kiddos, too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I've not been blogging much lately. I just finished reading our FMH bookclub selection, Mama Day. Excellent book! I'm excited for the discussion. Maybe I'll jot down some thoughts about it sometime. Other than that, I've been dealing with Spud & his erratic napping schedule. He's up to 6 teeth now (4 top, 2 bottom) and he does not seem to do to well with the teething pain. He also thinks it's his privilege to bite everything in sight. I don't mind as long as he sticks to things, but he loves to try and bite my clothes, which invariably leads to biting my skin, too. The other day he just reached out with his mouth and chomped me right on the wrist. YOWCH!! That was unbelievably painful. So, we of course give him our standard empty threat that he'll be sent to the coal mines...I'm sure they'll find a job for him. Perhaps testing the coal for strength with his teeth?

Also, he's into EVERYTHING lately. I knew this would happen, which is why I was in no hurry for him to master crawling. Yesterday I was in the living room with Noodle, and he crawled into the kitchen. Our living room and kitchen don't have any dividing walls, so I could easily hear him though I couldn't see him from where we were. I assumed he'd just go play with the tupperware like he usually does. After two minutes, I walk over to check on him. He's standing at the garbage can, EATING! AACK! He had a chunk of apple in his mouth, as well as a bunch of uncooked oatmeal (he'd spilled it earlier in the day), and a tomato top in his little fist. I was grateful that the garbage was pretty clean (and devoid of rat sundries), and after I cleaned out his mouth and his fist I couldn't help but be amused by how pleased he'd been with himself. You could just see him thinking, "Wow, thanks Mom! It's so great of you to leave this food out for me. And it's right at my level!! What a peach!" I guess I should have seen it coming, as he has been in love with the broom for a couple of weeks now. If I forget to put it in an inaccessible spot, he'll pull it down and just pet it and look at it. I figure so long as he doesn't suck on it, we're probably okay.

But I am a mom with a high tolerance for "germs". I don't worry too much if things fall on the floor, or sharing food among family members. But I do insist on fairly frequent hand & face washing, so I hope that balances out the germy stuff they get into.
Update on my niece, Emily, from my brother:

Well, we have some good news (of the mixed, uncertain

The attending physician last night concurred last
night with the diagnosis of "Dr. B" (for want of a
proper spelling of his last name) and recommended
treatment for Stills Disease - the juvenile arthritis
one. Talked to emmy's mom a few minutes ago, and she
says Emily seems to have responded well to that
treatment. So the good news is that we may have
solved the puzzle. The bad news, of course, is that
if so, our little girl may have arthritis that we need
to deal with. There are various levels of this
particular illness, so there is no telling at this
stage how severe the symptoms will be. Seems to be
evenly spread across the spectrum between mild,
moderate, and severe. So we are proceeding with that
treatment, and continuing to make other tests that
will help zero in on something. But, emily is feeling
much better today, and we appreciate your prayers and


I've been looking around online for more information about Stills, It seems like it does okay with treatment, but what a stinky thing for a kid to have to deal with. We're still praying for her.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

My brother Dave's little girl Emily (almost 5) is at the hospital for the 2nd time. She went in the first time about 10 days ago, with a high fever (104) and a rash. She was released, but then readmitted in the past couple of days. (I don't have all the details.) I guess she has been going in & out of consciousness. This is the news from my brother:

So far we have had "guesses" from doctors that she
might have Rocky Mtn Spotted Fever (carried by ticks
and mosquitoes) Kawasaki Virus (Scary, since if left
untreated it can mess up the heart) and the latest is
Stills Disease, or Systemic Onset Juvenile Rheumatoid
Arthritis. All we know for sure is that she is quite
ill. Fevers as high as 104, though we seem to be able
to break those with meds. She walked from the
bathroom to her bed tonight, and ate some steak, so we
are taking any good signs we can get. The spinal tap
came back negative, so all those scary diseases
relating to that are put to rest. First round of
blood tests will be in tomorrow, and hopefully that
will make us smarter than we have been so far."

Please pray for her and the doctors, or send good thoughts & energy their way. She is at Primary Children's hospital in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Yet another reason...

....I won't be sad to move. So neighbor kids M & J come over and knock on the door to ask if Noodle can play. The three of them play together for a half hour or so outside, and then decide they want to play inside M & J's house. M & J's mom has said that each of them could only have one friend in the house, and J (the girl close to Noodle's age) invites B over, even though J has been playing with Noodle happily for the past half hour. Then J & B both brattily tell Noodle that she can't come in, and they parade from B's place to J's place (right past our apartment) holding hands and acting all bratty towards Noodle. I was so mad, and poor Noodle was just crushed. I get her to come inside and have her sit on the sofa with me and she says, "They're not doing what Heavenly Father wants them to do, because they're not being nice to me." "I know sweetie." "I need to go tell them they should do what Heavenly Father wants them to do." "You can't, sweetie, because they didn't invite you to come." She went on about it for a bit longer, until finally I was able to distract her with her "quiet time snack" and take her in her room to read stories and take a nap. I'm annoyed at the bratty girls, of course, but more annoyed at their idiot mother who only allows one friend over when there are obviously three little girls playing together. Does one more little girl make such a difference? I don't think so. So I vented to David about it on the phone just now and he said that it is a typical behavior of poor people -- they set themselves up to "control" situations, resources, etc because they have always felt deprived. I think he's right on in this case. And not that "not-poor" people don't do this, too, but it seems to be particularly obvious in poor people who just feel like there isnt' enough ________ for everyone, so you've got to stick it to someone, especially if someone has more _________ than you. Obviously not all poor people are like this, but people with a "poor mentality" tend to be. Because heaven knows that the past year we've been poorer than poor, but we don't suffer from the same afflictive mentality. There is a lot to be said for David's idea of having an "abundance mentality". Approach life with the paradigm that there is enough for you and for everyone.

It's especially hard because Noodle loves to share things with her friends and invite them over to play here. And I either allow no kids into play, or allow all of the girls playing together to come in. We've had several little girls here at the same time playing together. I just won't support such exclusivity among kids when it is totally arbitrary.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Another rant...

So, I'm getting increasingly UPSET about the pit bull hysteria as of late. Check out these reports of dog bites/attacks:

What kind of dog? (You can bet it'd be all over the story if it were a pit bull

Akita - not said until end of article

Fatality, not caused by pit bulls!

Anyways, I just get annoyed when i read reports that include inane comments by people who obviously haven't done their research, or who assume that pit bull = killer. Sigh... I guess I just have to fight for the underdog and for TRUTH!

(I need to go to bed!)


Too late, I found out about "blogathon" where people blog to raise money for a charity. If I'd known AND had any spare money (which we don't right now--heck, we don't even have any money, let alone spare money!) I'd have supported this woman:
A fellow pit bull lover

Hopefully next year.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Yup, more on pit bulls

Perusing pit bull related sites the other day, I came across this fantastic comment on BSL (Breed Specific Legislation). LS says it as well as I could hope to, and I received permission to post the comment here. All I can say to this is "AMEN!"
(Linked from blog at The Bark,
Why does everyone hate me?)

Ignorance, hysteria and urban legend are terrible grounds for generalizing about dogs, and even worse grounds for legislation.

Compare these quotes:

1. Denver Assistant City Attorney Kory Nelson: "Pit bulls are the 'nuclear weapon' of dog breeds compared with the 'hand grenade' of other breeds."

2. Julie Gilchrist (a doctor at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who researches dog bites): "If anyone says one dog is more likely to kill — unless there’s a study out there that I haven’t seen — that’s not based on scientific data."

Show of hands---
How many of you heard about the border collie involved in a fatal attack on an elderly man in Indiana on July 1? How many heard about the Siberian husky that killed a days-old infant in Rhode Island on July 14? How about the Massachusetts boy mauled by two wheaten terriers last week ("one of the worst attacks I've ever seen," said the animal control officer)? Or the Wisconsin girl who suffered permanent injuries when a Lab attacked her, "flinging her in the air" several times? (The girl's mother has filed suit against the store where the dog ran loose.) Or the fourteen year old New Jersey boy who needed four hours of surgery after being attacked last week by a friend's bullmastiff? These are the stories that don't get much media coverage---the stories that have "dog" in the headline, as opposed to "pit bull."

If you ask the bureaucrats in Denver (where good dogs are being confiscated and killed) how many dog bite fatalities they've had since pit bulls were banned, city officials will admit that other breeds have been responsible for at least five fatal attacks and dozens of serious injuries. A malamute killed a seven year old Fruita,CO girl in May. As Dr. Karen Overall has written, "[Laws] banning breeds will not make you safer, and the illusion that they will do so is dangerous to humans and unfair to dogs." (Canine aggression is part of Dr. Overall's study at UCSF: )

Given the problems of overbreeding and the horrendous abuse and neglect so many pit bulls suffer, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of them bite. The impressive fact is that the overwhelming majority of pit bulls don’t bite---not even, in many cases, in the face of abuse and neglect. By anyone’s educated guesstimate, there are more pit bulls in the U.S. than any other breed of dog, and if even the better part of one percent of them were “loaded guns,” “sticks of dynamite,” “ticking time bombs” and “nuclear weapons,” there wouldn’t be enough space on the front page of the newspaper to record the daily fatalities and horrible injuries these dogs would cause.

I keep and train working border collies, and am always struck by the fact that so many border collies in the “best” homes bite---and so many pit bulls in the worst homes don’t.

God knows pit bulls suffer terribly from overbreeding. But so do all popular breeds, and this problem can be addressed by licensing dog breeders and establishing (and enforcing) universal spay/neuter regulations---not through legislation compounding the media-driven fiction that there are "safe breeds" and "dangerous breeds." That illusion is why America has a dog bite epidemic in the first place.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Awwww RATS!

A few months ago I started "officially" collecting rat/mouse paraphernalia, in large part because I am at my current max for actual rats. I think if I can move into a house and have a room that is more specifically for the rats, then I would like to get a couple females, but at present 5 rats is my limit. Anyways, it's been fun and I've picked up some fun pieces, and I already had a few just because. These pics are my junior boys Marco & Berkeley checking out their graven images. As I type this, they are running around exploring the living room. Cobar & Taj (their other cagemates) come out occasionally, but as they are getting up there in rat years, they often prefer to lounge around the cage. My other boy, Turbo, is antisocial with humans & other rats, so he rarely leaves his private cage (he was a humane society rat who I don't think was ever well socialized). I admit it. I'm obsessed. Rats really are fantastic little pets, though I don't expect most people who haven't had them to believe that. They each have their own "personality" and some are just like little dogs--demanding of attention and so excited to spend time with you.

So, what exactly does it mean to be open-minded? I like to think of myself as open-minded, but at the same time I realize that I'm incredibly opinionated about topics and issues that matter to me. So if I have a strong and unlikely to budge opinion about something I've researched well and thought about, am I still open-minded? I really can't think of issues that I feel passionately about that I haven't done the research to back up my opinion, and there are loads of things that I don't have much of an opinion on, and I consider myself to be open-minded about those topics as "the jury (in my mind) is still out." Is open-mindedness simply a willingness to hear various viewpoints, and consider their merit, even if you are pretty set in your own opinion?

Intelligent (?) Design

I'm in a state of disbelief that people are still so anti-evolution. I don't understand a faith in God that is so threatened by the principles of evolution. Would a human body be so much "degraded" by having developed through processes of evolution, rather than being created nearly ex nihilo out of dirt? Hmmmm...I don't see the difference. But the key point to me, and the nail in the coffin of teaching Intelligent Design in school, is that it isn't science. The beauty of science is that it is a discovery process, resulting from forming hypotheses, running experiments, making observations, then drawing conclusions from those observations. When we close the door on discovery, saying that the earth was Intelligently Designed, we close the door on inquiry and probing, and therefore close the door on discovery and learning. I refuse to think that God doesn't want us to study his earth and learn as much as we can. To say, well, God designed it and and therefore it is unknowable, that's just rubbish. Seriously, why do people think that the Bible is a science textbook? People don't use the Bible as a medical textbook, or a math textbook, or a cook book, or an economics book. So why do we feel the need to say, "Oh! This science does not conform with the story in the Bible (which we have no actual scientific evidence of), so we'd better just throw it out." No, it flies in the face of science as a process of knowing things. There is just no point in closing the door on inquiry and thought. It does no good, but a lot of harm.

(This rant was inspired by today's Diane Reams show on NPR)
  • President Bush Strikes again

  • and another p.s. The speakers on Diane's show are pointing out a key point, which is that evolution should be viewed as an organizing principle for biology. No, we don't know all of the particulars, but who cares? That's why we keep studying.

    My nephew the unicyclist!

    Check him out!!

    It's my brother's son! He's such a cool kid.

    Tuesday, August 02, 2005

    City Council meeting

    I went to the Springville City Council meeting tonight to "protest" the pit bull ordinance. Rachel was there, too, and she had prepared a lot of materials which she brought along with her. I think it was good that I was there, as I was a contrast to what the council members might have perceived as "typical" pit bull owners. Also, I was able to mention the point that my family was looking to purchase a home, and this ordinance really knocks Springville out of the running. (We actually have considered living there, but in all honestly we'll likely end up somewhere further south. But the ordinance would preclude us from EVER living there.) Anyways, Rachel presented some good information and I added my two cents, mentioning that I have been attacked by a black lab and a St. Bernard, so it isn't just pit bulls that attack. When Rachel left, one of the city council members went out into the hall and talked to her for several minutes, saying essentially that he is on our side and has been a dog owner for his entire life. He said they'll have to have the staff review the documents and draft a new ordinance, and he'll be in touch with her when that is ready to appear on the agenda. So, HOORAY!!

    We Don't Need No Education

    "How can we say, in any case, that one piece of knowledge is more important than another, or indeed, what we really say, that some knowledge is essential and the rest, as far as school is concerned, worthless? A child who wants to learn something that the school can't and doesn't want to teach him will be told not to waste his time. But how can we say that what he wants to know is less important than what we want him to know? We must ask how much of the sum of human knowledge anyone can know at the end of his schooling. Perhaps a millionth. Are we then to believe that one of these millionths is so much more important than another? Or that our social and national problems will be solved if we can just figure out a way to turn children out of schools knowing two millionths of the total, instead of one? Our problems don't arise from the fact that we lack experts enough to tell us what needs to be done, but out of the fact that we do not and will not do what we know needs to be done now. Learning is not everything, and certainly one piece of learning is as good as another...It is not subject matter that makes some learning more valuable than others, but the spirit in which the work is done." -- John Holt, How Chlldren Fail

    It's interesting to me as I do more reading and research on home schooling, and I've found John Holt's books to be particularly thought-provoking, because I become more convinced that schools wouldn't be so "bad" if they were just inefficient methods of learning. That is tolerable in some regards, I think. What is NOT tolerable is that schools seem to inherently damage the natural enthusiasm to learn that already exists in most children. So I can no longer think that school is simply benign, because it seems that schools actually do harm to children. And this is coming from someone who always excelled at school. I was an ideal student in many ways, and received excellent grades. And even I recognize that so much of the time was wasted waiting for the teacher to gain control over the class, dealing with the troublesome students. I think I "learned" just about as much as was available to me to learn, but I know that most of it was not retained AT ALL past the end of the semester, and everything I did learn could have been learned much more quickly had it been something that actually interested me or that I'd chosen to study.

    I like the above quotation because I really do think that one of the most important things to learn is how to find out information and how to think critically about that information.

    Anyways, I think I have more to say on the topic, but the kiddos keep interrupting my train of thought.