Thursday, April 27, 2017

Easter

I'm always so very happy when the weather on Easter matches the subject matter! Rebirth, springtime, rejoicing—they CAN happen in the rain and snow, but how much better to have a sunshiney day! 

We didn't take pictures with our bunny like we have the last few years (more's the pity) but the girls did sleep in curlers, so they were extra bouncy and hoppy all day, and that's something, at least! And we did hunt for eggs at my mom's house. In all these many, many years since I was a little girl, we have never hidden plastic eggs with candy—or money—or prizes—in them: no, just plain old hard-boiled eggs (but colored, of course) and I like how that makes it all about the HIDING and FINDING—just for the sake of HIDING and FINDING. It's quite exciting enough as it is!

(Here are a couple other Easters of yesteryear: here and here)
I couldn't get enough of these bouncing curls as we walked to church. :)
I just couldn't resist getting these bunny tights at Target, even though I never buy sheer tights like this for little girls because they wear out too fast! And sure enough, by the end of the day—these were all ruined by holes and runs. So…let that be a lesson to me. They sure were cute while they lasted, though!
A great deal of twirling. And those flying ringlets!
Teddy was trying to twirl, too.


Pat-pat-pat the tulips! (That's how Teddy tells himself to be gentle)

And the egg hunters at my mom's house:
Abe's a good egg hider now that he's so tall! My nephew Mark was there with us too, and it was SO STRANGE to have him there looking, sounding, and acting so much like my brother Karl. I think he even picked the same hiding spots Karl used to pick. Karl and yet not-Karl. It was like going back in time. Very surreal!

Theodore, after being told not to go into the driveway
But don't worry; his day did improve after that.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

No money value can be placed upon them

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Welfare Session from the October 1975 Conference.

This session of Conference was a "Welfare Session," which was something they used to do, apparently. It was very interesting to hear so many talks in a row about the same subject! And, on a completely undoctrinal note, this session has the distinction of containing the most incomprehensible quote I've ever heard in General Conference. Surely there is some context I was missing, but…??? It's President Romney, quoting President Grant quoting HIS father:
I was told that my father, who was the superintendent of public works in early days … said, ‘I can pick out every man who is working by the day, and every one who is working by the job. I find men working by the day—by the day—by the day; and I find them working by the job, by the job, by the job, job, job—by the job, by the job, by the job, by the job.’ 
Now, we want our people…to work by the job and not by the day." 
Well! There it is. I hope that was enlightening to someone.

Mostly, though, this session reiterated again and again this fundamental gospel principle:
Our Heavenly Father loves us so completely that he has given us a commandment to work. This is one of the keys to eternal life. He knows that we will learn more, grow more, achieve more, serve more, and benefit more from a life of industry than from a life of ease. (Howard W. Hunter, "Prepare for Honorable Employment")
During the whole range of man’s existence there has never yet been any plan by which men may live righteously in idleness, and no such plan, it is my faith, will ever be devised.  (Marion G. Romney, "Welfare Services")
This has been repeated so many times by church leaders, it's obvious that it's part of our core doctrine. And it's not the sort of "poor people should know their place" sentiment that critics might accuse us of, because it applies to all of us. No matter our material circumstances, we see work as an ennobling principle and a privilege; something that builds us into the type of people God wants us to be. We work, and we encourage others to work, not as punishment, but as practice for Godhood.
It is right to care for the poor and the needy. It is wrong to give them something if they do not work for it to the extent of their ability… 
About 25 percent of those receiving help are not in a position to work, although perhaps even they could do something if priesthood leaders made creative and inspired efforts to find the service that could be done. The spiritual strength of God’s children is destroyed when the program is not followed as the Lord has outlined it. Our people need to work for what they receive. (H. Burke Peterson, "The Welfare Production-Distribution Department")
I can imagine someone protesting, like I always wanted to protest after doing mindless "busywork" worksheets at school, "But is work for work's sake really valuable? Are we all going to get rid of our washing machines and our other labor-saving devices, just to give ourselves more of this 'ennobling' work?" Obviously, that's not our position either. And I love the way the underlying principles balance that idea. We have never been a technophobic church. On the contrary, we embrace technologies as a chance to…do more work! And to do even better sorts of work:
We work so that we may have the necessities of life, conserving time and energy left over for service in the Lord’s work. (Howard W. Hunter, "Prepare for Honorable Employment")
I'm not sure if we can set up any definite hierarchies, but it seems like the main idea in all these talks was something like, "Working for what we receive is good. Working beyond our own needs, for the physical or spiritual benefit of others, is even better." And in fact, that is the whole goal:
Of fast offerings, President Kimball has said, “I think that when we are affluent, as many of us are, that we ought to be more generous. Instead of the amount saved by our two or more meals of fasting, perhaps much more—seven times more [should be given]—when we are in a position to do it.” 
I like the echo here of Jesus' instructions to forgive "seventy times seven"—as more of a mindset than a number. Since the number seven usually denotes completion or perfection, both Jesus' and President Kimball's words here probably mean something like, "Give ALL you can. Give until your desires and love for your neighbors are completely and fully one with God's."

And then there's our extraordinary idealism: our faith and belief that THIS PLAN WILL WORK. The Lord's plan will succeed! President Romney quoted this amazing statement by President Grant:
We must not contemplate ceasing our extraordinary efforts until want and suffering shall disappear from amongst us.
But not just monetary want and suffering, because of course, that is only part of the suffering people experience in life. The Lord's program of having his children care for each other goes even further:
The relief, encouragement, comfort, rehabilitation, homes supplied, companionships established, hope and peace inspired, and other charitable and benevolent services rendered through our social services program are incalculable. No money value can be placed upon them. (Marion G. Romney, "Welfare Services")
I'll end with President Kimball's closing statement of the conference, which I liked just because it seemed so unusually…feisty for a President of the Church! It made me want to shout "amen." I love belonging to a church that does so much good in the world, and encourages ME to do so much more good than I would ever think of doing on my own. Here's what he said:
And third, I would like to say I wish our enemies could have seen this program this morning and seen the wide variety of help and assistance and succor that could be given to the people of this world. And then I wish they could have listened to what President Romney has said, and all the other speakers. We are doing a great service; and it would please us if they would go and do likewise rather than criticize our efforts.
So…okay then! Let's go and do likewise!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Tulips

These are not our tulips.
I've always secretly liked daffodils better than tulips (don't tell the tulips!), maybe because they come up first, and because they are YELLOW, but then every year as the daffodils are dying out and the tulips are coming up, I start to think I might reconsider. Last year the boys and I planted a ton of tulip bulbs by the trees in our front yard, and one of the happiest things is seeing bulbs you've planted coming up, isn't it? We all felt personally responsible for their progress. "I see three tulip shoots!", someone would call out every morning. "I see some buds!" "Two of the buds are opening!" We were like anxious mothers hovering over our babies.

And then finally they were all out! We were so proud. An April snowfall dampened our spirits slightly (it was so beautiful, though!)…
but soon enough it was melted and our little orange friends popped out again. Cheerful little things, aren't they? There are other colors in the backyard, but I like the orange best. (And we just feel sorry for those little pink misfits on the left…somehow they got mixed into the wrong bulb bag, I guess.)
There are lots of other tulips around the neighborhood too. One day Daisy and I were going on a walk while she was wearing her green-and-white dress-up dress, and she matched the scenery so well, we couldn't help but take some pictures!
One of our orangies. Pretty, isn't she?
Perhaps having heard of the success of our Spring tulip display, Thanksgiving Point gardens apparently decided to prepare a display of their own. :) We cleverly went there before the "official" start of their Tulip Festival, so as to avoid the crowds (and catch the last daffodils!). There were some flowers not yet blooming, but it was beautiful, of course! (We will try to go back in a few weeks to see the rest!)
I love these two daffodil varieties mixed. I don't want to GIVE UP the traditional all-yellow daffodil for these young upstarts, but I appreciate them in addition to it. :)
These hyacinths smelled heavenly. Now THIS is what I call a "hyacinth garden!"
Junie seems quite at her ease here.
Seb's favorite—red!
The girls got chilly, and I had but one sweater to give.
It didn't slow them significantly down.
Don't you wish YOU had a sister?
My favorite way to see tulips: with the sun glowing through.
Lovely swaths of color. Excellent work, Spring!