Monday, July 28, 2014

Girls Camp

Before Christmas I had a call to come in for a meeting with a high councilor.  I couldn’t imagine what he would want to talk to me about, and it turns out I never would have guessed.  He told me that they wanted to call me to be over the service projects at girls camp. 

I accepted the calling, but with tremendous reservations.  For one thing, the last time I went to girls camp it ended in a hurricane.  (True story.)  For another thing, I’m not as young as I used to be and I wasn’t sure camping for a week was going to work for my body.  And for one last thing, I really had no idea what he was talking about.

The short version of this story is that at our stake’s girls camp every day the girls rotate through 3 activities—certification, service, and a devotional aptly called “destiny.”  I was to, with a committee of youth leaders, come up with and execute 4 days of service projects for 3 groups of 50 girls each day. 

The actual doing of camp was both better and worse than I had thought/expected/dreaded.  The service was great.  Each day (x3) I taught for 5-15 minutes to set the stage for the specific project.  Sometimes I forget how much I love teaching.  The projects went off well—some of them much better than I had even imagined.  I felt like I successfully completed year 1 of what is typically a 3 year calling.

The camp setting was lovely.  For the first few days I didn’t go much past the cabin in which I was sleeping, but on Thursday our service activity involved a lot of walking around specific areas and I appreciated that my girls could come to a facility like this.

My concerns about camp proved to be well founded.  I didn’t get enough protein some of the time (good thing I had my own stash of greek yogurt) and one day there was a shortage of food in general.  I definitely didn’t get enough veggies and next year I think I will take salad jars and just keep them in a cooler in the walk in refrigerator in the lodge.  At the last minute I told the camp director I couldn’t be a cabin mom because I was concerned about not being able to get enough sleep and I think this was a good call.  As it was I had break-through pain one night and was awake from about 3am on rubbing my painful SIjoint/muscles.  I switched that night from a bunk with a foam pad to an air mattress and did a lot better, so I think that will be my plan for next year.

On the last morning after I’d gotten my stuff all taken care of I walked around and took some pictures.  And then I happily went home—back to civilization and my comfy bed and best of all…my own clean bathroom!


How oft would I gather thee...

In Sunday school today we talked about the story of Elijah and the priests of Baal.  The teacher asked what the purpose of this magnificent display of God's power was.  My first thought was that it was to prove that Baal was not real and had no power and that it was God that has power, but then I realized that the real purpose was to bring the children of Israel back to God.  So often in the scriptures it talks about God's commitment to the children of Israel in a way that quite frankly baffles me.  How can God continue to love Israel this much when they continually turn away from him?  In the scriptures it says things like "How oft would i gather thee," and "Mine arm is lengthened out all the day long."  Someone in Sunday school made a comment about how much the Lord must love the children of Israel and I had to sit and think about that for a while. 

My dad has always told me that I would never know how much he loved me until I had children of my own.  Recently I was reflecting on how much delight my kids give me and how much I love them.  My dad's words came into my mind and to my surprise I immediately rejected them, thinking that that my dad could not love me this much, not with this kind of feeling.

I find I have a similar feeling about God.  (No surprise there, right?)   Sure he may love the children of Israel for some unfathomable reason.  He may be seeking after them and reaching out to them in ways large and small all throughout history.  But me?  Not me.  He couldn't love *me* like that...

Could he?

I think I have some work to do here, some examining and cleaning up of old belief systems.  And I think that I need to do a better job of likening *all* of the scriptures to myself, so that next time I read "How oft would I gather thee", I remember he means me.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The view from here

One of the things that I have loved here in Oregon is my yard.  I had lots of reasons to be really worried about my yard--we had a nice big lot in NC that provided us with lots of green and lots of privacy and I liked both of those things.  As we looked at houses here we realized that while most houses had a lot of green, few houses actually had privacy.  In fact we were horrified to hear that new homes in our part of Oregon are being built with 14-15 homes/acre!

But back to our yard.  Most of the homes that we had looked at had other homes right behind them.  One home had the high school right behind it...I was not sure that was a good trade off.  But our house is in a relatively unusual setting.  It has a much older home behind it, one that sits on 1.1 acres instead of the 1/5-1/6 acre that is the norm for our neighborhood.  Not only does this property have tons of trees that are right behind our fence, but the house itself is on the other side of our neighbor's house!

The north side of our backyard borders another piece of property for 15 or so feet and we can see that house from our yard, especially when the leaves are off of the deciduous trees in the winter.  We are hoping that operation bamboo will address this issue in coming years, because I really like the feeling of not having anything/anyone back there.  Russ and I love to sit out on the deck and read or chat and enjoy the hummingbirds and flowers and feel like we're almost alone in the world.

PS--we changed out the sprinkler heads in the back of the yard so that they would spray in a whole circle instead of just getting the grass.  This will make it possible for us to grow more flowers back there which is of course my plan.  Flowers, flowers, flowers.  But one thing we didn't expect is that now we have a permanent watermark on the fence.  It's not too attractive, but I tell myself that as the clematis grow they will cover much of it, and hopefully we will have other tallish flowers that will cover the rest.  It's certainly worth it to keep those flowers alive!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Price They Paid


Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly making my way through “The Price We Paid,” a non-fiction book about the handcart pioneers.  I’ve ended up reading it in bits and pieces, so it’s effect has accumulated gradually.  Yesterday I was out shopping for much of the day and had lunch by myself at Panda Express.  I had anticipated this possibility and wanted to be able to read more so I took the book with me and read it while I ate.  (A bad habit I am not succeeding at breaking myself of…) 

As I read I was certain that if people in the restaurant were looking at me they would be sure I had some kind of problem—the look on my face could only have been horrified as I read more and more details about the terrible conditions that the Martin & Willie handcart companies experienced. 

And then within a few seconds the look on my face changed…as I tried to hold back the tears that threatened to escape.  One of the passages that really touched me deeply was describing the death of John Linford in the Willie company.   He had been ill for much of the journey across the plains and eventually had to be pulled in a handcart.  His children attributed his death to starvation.  Before he died his wife asked him if he was sorry they had undertaken this journey.  This is what he said,

No, Maria.  I am glad we came.  I shall not live to reach Salt Lake, but you and the boys will, and I do not regret all we have gone through if our boys can grow up and raise their families in Zion.”

How can you not be moved by that kind of stoicism and faith?!?

I’ve blogged before about growing up without pioneer ancestors of my own, about not really caring about the pioneers besides getting to sing some fun primary songs about them every summer.  This book has reminded me of how much my feelings have changed as an adult and how grateful I am for the sacrifices that were made that bless me today.

I firmly believe that the church as it exists today would be entirely different if it were not for the movement of almost the entire body of saints to a relatively isolated area where they could worship and learn and grow away from interference and persecution. 

I am so grateful for their sacrifices and their examples.  Ffor being able to read in their stories that having the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives was worth making sacrifices for.   That the short term pain and inconvenience was more than offset by the eventual blessings.  I am grateful for the price they paid.

Happy pioneer day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Flowers you will NOT see growing in my yard

There are all sorts of fun things blooming in my yard.  And more to come.  But I have noticed a few flowers that we will not be bringing home.

First: the weird


Seriously, this flower thing looks like it’s an alien. 


At least that one has a pretty color to it.  Unlike this one, that has nothing to recommend it.  Meh.


Or these, which look like a goth plant person went crazy in the plant lab…such a waste of potentially pretty flowers!


These lilies which in their regular colors (white or yellow) are divine, but this variety was almost black.  Blech.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by someone who cares that you have nice looking flowers in your yard.

Winking smile

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A new favorite flower?

For two years now I have missed my favorite North Carolina flowers.  I’ve missed my mandevillas because they were a summer staple for me for the last 15 years—always at least one but sometimes more, blooming like gangbusters all summer long.  Sigh…

And I’ve missed my gerber daisies because when they did bloom they were so great and provided such great photo ops.  I’ve planted a few gerbers here but they are very limited in colors because they get some kind of disease here.


I often buy plants from the 50% off clearance rack at Lowes, and last year I bought some dahlia tubers.  I had no idea what they were, but the picture looked promising.  They turned out to be HUGE yellow flowers, so heavy that I had to stake them to keep them upright.  I enjoyed them enough last year that this year I bought more at Costco.  I’m still waiting for most of those to bloom this year, but already I can tell that I might have another favorite flower.  In most places in Oregon you have to pull up the tubers to over-winter them so they don’t rot, but in our back yard the towering evergreens sheltering from behind the back fence kept off most of the rain and prevented these from rotting. So I have great hopes about them coming back. (My plants get to over-winter in the ground.  Or die.  That’s just how it is.)  Here are some pictures from the back yard right now.  I can’t wait to see the rest!


Monday, July 21, 2014

My what big eyes I have.

I spent the last week at girls camp.  This is, in and of itself, fodder for several blog posts.  But today I want to talk about what I did (and didn’t) do at camp.

I was in charge of the service rotations every day—a total of 3 hours per day for 4 days.  I went up on Monday morning so I was there for 24 hours before any of the girls arrived.  In light of these facts I took with me:

  • 5 magazines
  • 3 books
  • 4 books on my tablet
  • materials to prep the gospel doctrine lesson I was teaching yesterday
  • my computer so that I could catch up on blog posts
  • my computer so that I could work on a new blurb/blog book
  • my computer so that I could work on a North Carolina book.

What I actually did at girls camp:

  • prepped for gospel doctrine lesson
  • read 1 book

Do you know what this feels like?  This feels like I am perpetually living my life with eyes that are “bigger than my stomach.”  I am perpetually falling short and perpetually frustrated.  Sometimes I think the problem is in my performance, but more often than not I think the problem is my inability to plan time well—in this case knowing how long each of those things would take, how much of each day the basics of living would occupy, and how much “extra” time I would actually have.   I’m not sure what the answer is.  I think it’s always a good thing to have more books with you than you can read, for instance.  (Because the opposite is unthinkable!)  It’s always a good thing to have more projects rattling around in your mind rather than be unable to think of anything at all to do.  But I do think it would be a healthy thing for me if I could inject just a little reality into my life.


And while I’m thinking about this…I wrote up a rest-of-the-summer “wish list” a little while ago.  I’m fully aware that I can’t get everything on this one done, but at least I have a good list to choose from!