19 September 2011

Pressing Forward and Clinging

A couple weeks ago I finished the Book of Mormon again. I mostly listened to it and had a good experience but nothing special.  After finishing I considered reading something else like the New Testament or the Doctrine & Covenants but decided that I needed to read the Book of Mormon again. When I started it again, I said a special prayer to help me get more out of it this time. I really wanted to try to study and learn instead of just being able to check off that I listened to it during the day.

So a couple days ago I was reading in 1 Nephi and came across this passage in Chapter 8 verse 24:
And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, aclinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the bfruit of the tree.
For those that aren't familiar with what is happening in this chapter, Lehi has seen a vision of the Tree of Life. Instead of explaining it further, I recommend you go and read the whole chapter.  The vision basically symbolizes our journey through life and eventual goal to reach eternal life. So back to the verse above...

Two things jumped out at me in this verse. The phrase "pressing forward" and "clinging". I loved the imagery these brought to my mind. The people in Lehi's vision were pressing forward through the mist of darkness. The new that they couldn't just wander through life without guidance and hope to reach their goal of eternal life, they needed something to hold on to. They also didn't wait for it to come to them, they worked hard to get there. When I think of someone pressing forward I think about an athlete in a race. I swam in High School and can remember having to be in the 500 yard event. Distance was not my thing. I could do just fine on sprints and even short distance events but the 500 was murder. There was a time I can remember where I didn't think I was going to finish, my body could not move any more. I knew I couldn't give up though, I had to keep going. I pressed forward through that water and even though I finished dead last, I finished. It took all the strength I had but I did it. I pressed forward, I didn't stop until I reached my goal. That's what I see these people in Lehi's dream doing.

And then once they got to the Iron Rod they clung to it. They didn't just touch it or even hold on to it, they clung to it like it was their life support. They had worked so hard getting out of the mists of darkness that they hung on to the rod with dear life as they walked forward. They knew that if they let go there was a chance they could fall into the mists of darkness and be lost again. Back to the swimming analogy: Sometimes pools are deeper than you can touch when you finish a race--let's face it most swimming pools are deeper than I can touch being 5'2"--but when you get to the end of a race and you can't touch, the wall is all you have to hold on to. You cling to that wall and don't let go. If you do, you would sink.

The Gospel, Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon are the things that we need to be pressing forward to get to and clinging on to when we get them. Life takes work. Having a testimony of the Atonement and the gospel take work. We need to not be wanderers in the mists of darkness, hoping that we will find the Iron rod to hold on to, but we should press forward until we find it and cling onto it when we do. Our life and salvation depend on it.

10 September 2011

Vacation Rundown--Part 3 (The Final Chapter!)

I know you all have been waiting with baited breath for the third and final--thank goodness!--installment of our Northern California vacation back in July. Yes I know it's the middle of September. Anyway, here goes....

We pick up the day after my grandpa's funeral, on Thursday. Orignally we had thought we'd just drive home on Thursday but since T-Bone could take the time off we decided to stick around the bay area and make a real vacation out of it! My brother and sister-in-law were there too so we spent the day with them.

We went to San Francisco around Pier 39 and once again this is as close as I've gotten to Alcatraz. I have wanted to go there my whole life. Someday...


We took the kids on a Cable Car ride
Rode the carousel at the Zeum museam
Found the Painted Ladies houses
These are houses I've wanted to see my whole life too. At least I can cross that off the list now. And how cool is it that my Grandparents lived in the one next to the yellow one?? So cool.

After an exhausting day in the city we drove to Los Altos and stayed in a crappy hotel. It had this door in the back that was bolted shut with a piece of sheet metal and reeked of cigarette smoke. We did eat at this super yummy sports bar for dinner though. The greasiest food I've probably ever eaten, but we were all starving and it was delicious!

The next day we stopped by and said good bye to my Grandma. Rachel got some one on one time.
And we took a picture with all of us.

After we left my Grandma's house on Friday we hit the road. On the way home we planned to stop at Henry Cowell Redwood Park in Santa Cruz to break up the trip a little. Imagine our surprise when we kept hearing the Thomas the Train song and train whistles when we pulled up. It was the Day Out With Thomas! So we hung out there a little while and took a picture with Thomas and Sir Thopham Hatt.





Then we walked around the redwood grove and saw all the huge trees.



We hit quite a bit of traffic on the way home and since we spent more time at the redwood grove then we planned it took us quite a while to get home. We pulled in at 1 am I think. Needless to say we were exhausted! I'm glad we had decided to drive home on Friday so we could have Saturday to recuperate. We needed it! Luckily the kids slept most of the night in the car so it wasn't too bad for them.

All in all it was great to get away and have a family vacation. Mr. Smiley loved the trip!

09 September 2011

The Great Power Outage of 2001

**This post will probably be super boring for most of you, but I just wanted to get it down for history's sake**
 
Yesterday I was walking home from getting Big Sister from school and a neighbor asked if we had any power. It was on when I left, but off when we got home. If you haven't heard the news here's the story. In short some guy was doing maintenance on a plant in Arizona and something happened which caused a chain reaction to occur. This knocked out power to all of San Diego, Imperial, and some of Orange counties, as well as parts of Mexico and Arizona. Serious stuff. By one guy. I was fine with the outage until I started to hear that it was at T-Bone's work, and at my dad's house too. Then I started to realize that this this was big. Something huge had happened. I kept trying to get online on my cell phone to find some news, but it wouldn't connect. I couldn't call out or get calls. The only thing I could do was text. I'm glad I had that or I would have felt really lost!

Luckily our heat wave this week has been waning so we kept our windows closed and it didn't get too hot in our apartment. I can't imagine this happening two days ago when it was 97 degrees and 55% humidity. We were able to open our windows in the evening and the air was a pleasant, cool temperature. We took a walk to the grocery store to get a few things--luckily I had grocery shopped a couple days before--like bread and bagels. Everyone there was nice and calm and just waiting their turn in the long lines. It was nice to see how people in my community reacted. I heard about block parties and group barbeques, San Diego is a good place to live. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips and fruit for dinner. Yum! Not enough to satisfy my pregnant belly but it was good enough for what we had. We were preparing to not have power for at least 24 hours, school is cancelled today and we weren't sure whether T-Bone would go to work or not. AFter dinner we sat on the porch where the moonlight was the brightest and just took in the evening. We listened to the news on our solar powered hand crank radio--which we put batteries in. And I've come to the conclusion that we need a camping stove. I need to know I can cook something. We had tons of food but it was canned or otherwise needed cooking. Emergency wise we are pretty much set--we have our 72 hour kits with spare clothes and emergency water and food. But we don't have a way to last those first 24 hours. A camping stove would really have come in handy last night.

Luckily we were blessed to have our power back on at 10 o'clock! The neighbors were cheering and jeering too since that meant they had to go to work. But we were all grateful to have our conveniences restored to us.

I always forget how much I rely on electricity. We have an electric stove and oven, the garbage disposal is electric, obviously lights, tv and computer (but I can live without those things for a few hours). I was hungry. I had planned fish tacos for dinner and was really looking forward to eating them. I can only eat bread and fruit and cereal for so long--plus it just doesn't fill me up! Pregnancy makes me a insatiable monster when it comes to food. I can eat a whole meal and half an hour later be starving. I managed to eat enough food so I could sleep and did so like normal.

The kids were a little freaked out. I made the mistake of telling Big Sister that it was going to be really dark last night since there wasn't going to be any street lights or anything. She was getting a little scared, but went to bed just fine. Mr. Smiley on the other hand has developed a fear of the dark in the last few weeks. Yay. He would freak out if it got too dark or if we turned off the flash lights. He wanted to carry one around all night, but since we didn't know how long we'd be without power we wanted to ration the battery life we had. So we kept him up until he was good and tired. I tried laying down with him in the living room but he wasn't having it. Then I saw a friend mention something about glow sticks in her daughter's room on her Facebook page. I gave him a green stick and sent him to bed. It worked like a charm! He was so happy to have his own "green yight" and I was glad he went to bed without much of a fuss.

Power was slowly restored through the night and by 4 am all of San Diego had power. SDGE worked really hard to get us all up and running. I'm glad to have my power back on!

02 September 2011

I just don't get it

I got my first taste of the new "Breast Cancer Awareness" Facebook status game yesterday. My friend wrote, "I'm 4 weeks and craving bubblegum." Figuring this particular woman would not be getting pregnant and announcing it at 4 weeks and also craving bubblegum I knew there was something up. This morning another friend posted something similar but with a different number of weeks and craving something different. Call me slow but I started to catch on that there was a Facebook chain letter thing going on. (In case you haven't seen it here's a link that explains it.)

Also call me crazy, but I just don't get it. The bra color thing was funny 2 years ago because it actually had something to do with breast cancer, but I thought the purse thing last year was pushing it. This year it's just going too far. What the heck does announcing a fake pregnancy have to do with raising breast cancer awareness??????

Seriously, it's driving me nuts. There has got to be a better way. Maybe I'm just a simpleton, but how about, "September is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Feel your boobies." or just posting a link to the Breast Cancer Awareness website? I'm pretty sure that gets the point across a lot more than confusing a bunch of people and possibly even hurting others feelings. Maybe I'm just ultra-sensitive because of my pregnancy history, but I rank this along the same lines as April Fool's jokes where women announce their fake pregnancies just to get a laugh.

Some of you probably don't agree with me and may even think it's funny. Rest assured that I bear no hard feelings if you want to play along, this is my opinion and my opinion only, but I won't be playing along. Instead I'm just going to ignore them and hope they stop. Ugh...