Monday, August 29, 2011

A lesson from my homeboi, Pahoran...

Once upon a time, Elder Bednar gave a particularly poignant address that stuck with me like that goobery stuff they use to mount random advertisement magnets on the cover of the phone book. I mean it really stuck!! So much so that when I went to peruse for the talk, I was FLOORED to find that it was in 200-freaking-6! Are you kidding? I was guessing 2010 at least. I can't believe it's been 5 years. Nevertheless, this always-vital principle came blaring out of the pages of my BoM tonight whilst trudging through the end of the war chapters...

"When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else." --Bednar

In chapter 60 of the seemingly ever-dragging Book of Alma, Moroni lays the smizz-ack dizz-own in his epistle to his friend:
  • Verse 7: "Can you think to sit upon your thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor..."
  • Verse 11: "Behold, could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you?"
  • Verse 23: "Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things?"
  • Verse 33: "We know that ye do transgress the laws of God."
Yowza. Them's fightin words, yo. I actually read 60 last night without much thought except an "ouch" after I'd finished and begun making my way onto my knees. But tonight, Pahoran's so-out-of-our-society's-norm response really stood out to me. After calmly explaining his unenviable plight to Moroni, he simply states:

"And now, in your epistle you have censured me (understatement), but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart." (61:9)


It has been, and continues to be, a life-long pursuit of mine to understand where others are coming from before reacting and to try to implement that understanding in my daily dealings with others. It's fascinating to me how much this has impacted my ability to not be entangled in and ensnared by offense. Some days I'm better at it than others, but this small but intense lesson from Pahoran should be my mantra, as well as for all striving saints. Don't ya think? I mean seriously, go read 60, and then 61 right after. Pahoran's a rock star at not becoming offended.

Turns out Bednar actually uses this example in his address. Ha! I didn't remember that part before tonight, but I do remember the following like it was YESTERDAY. Here's hoping I can continue to do's certainly made my life better:

"In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless. You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended." --Bednar

Completely, totally, 100% agreed.

(Why do I get such a kick out of mixing Gospel with inner-city vernacular? I do not know. I guess cause Jesus said, "Love everyone," right? Ha!)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ode to Gm'a G

*Disclaimer: my grandmother was one of the sweetest, good-natured/well-mannered women to ever roam the earth. There. Now...*

Rest in peace, Grandma. It was a hard fought fight. We all love you so much, and we know you're happier where you are now.

My grandmother was a kind, caring woman who put up with a lot in life. She graciously allowed us to make a mess of her upstairs every Sunday evening with our "haunted houses" that we never cleaned up. We also had a heyday in the Fuller Brush room constantly, which I'm sure she wasn't a fan of. But, she loved us, and we knew it. I still remember her coming to pick me up at dancing sometimes. That said, this woman had the best one-liners. Ever. They simply cannot go unshared. Why? Because I cherish them. That's why. And so, sweet Grandmother, without further ado, here's the side of you I think I inherited a bit more of than most...
  • "Looks like Big Chief $h*#-in-bush from the Toilet Paper Tribe..."
  • "Quit jumpin around like a fart in a skillet!"
  • "Couldn't poor p@*$ out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel..."
  • "You don't know $h!# from Blue Vitriol."
And most recently, another hilariousness from her that spurred a post of its own back in the day. I had only written something about G'ma making us laugh til we cried, so my cousin inquired about the details...

"AHAHAHAHAH. oh my gosh. seriously. So, i believe we were reminiscing about choir with grandpa and how it was hilarious because he would just make up his own words to the songs (usually with swear words in them) during practices. So, Kenneth leans over to Grandma (over me) and says, "Couldn't you keep him under control?" WITHOUT missing a beat, she says, "Well, I have 9 kids...what do you think?!" O M H. WE LAUGHED SO HARD. Seriously, i believe i nearly had water out the nostrils. or spit food. or something. all of us were SLAYED. Kenneth's eyes about popped out of his head. it was UNBELIEVABLY hilarious. and the best part was, bless her, she's so far gone that about 2 minutes later she asked me why everyone was laughing so hard. I nearly lost it again."

Dear Grandma,

I know you're in a better place. Enjoy watching the rest of us try to figure this thing out for ourselves. It's got to be entertaining. Can't wait to see you again someday.

Love you,

Monday, August 15, 2011

In the words of the fortune cookie...

Confession: sometimes the fortune cookie gods scare me.

Simply put, I swear they're WATCHING me. Bah! No, I'm not crazy. But seriously, I'm quite certain that the percentage of freakishly applicable fortunes I open is WAAAYYY higher than normal. (I know. My hypothesis is flawed given that my sample size is probably larger than most people too...I do love Chinese food a lot...and...I'm a nerd.) Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those astrological nutcases that reads my horoscope and twists my reality to make it make sense. It's not every single time, but after the first double-take-requiring fortune, you kinda blink. After the second, you kinda glance over your shoulder. When the track record reaches "ritual", you get a little shifty! I started keeping them. They're actually taped to my desk at work so I can remember them. They're shocking! I feel I can only do them justice by including the ACTUAL circumstance surrounding some doozies.

Por ejemplo:
  • (no foreshadowing context, but still...) "Be careful. You are easily tempted." Who me?
  • In the midst of whining about battling to be healthy: "If you want something, earn it." Bite me, fortune cookie gods.
  • During a particularly difficult time dealing with loneliness: "You are admired by many." Ok...I take it back...
  • Feeling drained after trying to help some friends through some tough times: "You are realistic and others can relate to you." Thanks. I needed that.
  • While successfully procrastinating work for my thesis (back in the day): "It's time to gather info for the project that you've delayed." Whoa...are you kidding me? Are you watching me?
  • The NIGHT I got the message about the Rome Italy Temple Visitors' Center: "You have the urge and the ability for major accomplishments." This is getting ridiculous...
Which brings me to the most recent addition:
  • "You have a charming way with words and should write a book."
Oi yoi yoi...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Float Making 101...R...

Let's be honest. My sister(s) and I could totally teach Float Making 639! But, for the sake for those who don't have the luxury of kickin' it at Trenton's rockin' 24th celebration each year...we'll keep it simple. Why 101R? Well, because I'm a nerd stuck in the realm of higher ed, and the "R" means the class is repeatable. And we DEFINITELY repeat Float Making...every year...

This year's model was hesitant to show its potential early on. After D spouted the perfect saying to link a float to the day's chosen theme, we went to work. K and I were nervous, but optimistic. Then suddenly, about two weeks before D-day, it all came flooding in. Each time we'd brainstorm on the phone, the details seemed to flow with ease. We knew if we could pull it off, it would be AWESOME! We moved into production mode with these little mock-ups (thank you, Paint), a shared vision of the monster coming out of the wall, and an expandable plan for costumes just in case more grandkids jumped on the bandwagon. (Oh ya. We were SO prepared...)

Someday I will have even more pics to share, but I couldn't wait when I got the following from R today. Basically, K deserves all the credit. We went into it thinking the monster was going to be the kicker...and, while it was awesome, the random detailing in her costumes KILLED IT. See for yourself:

Trenton: A Town of Incredible Character
Gotta love those costumes! Don't they all look great!? M was strapped to the trike as the kid that yells, "That was totally wicked!!"

D makes a great "FBI agent", doesn't he? And L's random decision to bleach his hair orange a few weeks before seriously helped him pull off "Syndrome" too, I think.

Check out that monster!! K and her paper mache skillz were only one-uped by...

Her MAD DUCT TAPE SKILLZ!!! L totally rocked "Edna" with those fantastic sleeves. And, check out J's "JackJack" hair in the background.

And we can't forget the "Incredibles family" costumes. Special thanks to N and Kx4 for sporting the all-important, recognizable spandex.

Yup. It. Was. Awesome. (I was gonna say "incredible", but I couldn't bring myself to do it...) My official title was "Sounding Board", really. K did all the hard stuff. I was simply support staff in P-town. Oh...and the nutcase that came up with the solo-cup/ping pong ball legs for the monster. Hee hee! We're nuts. But we're awesome.

(Thanks to Disney for making such a fun movie and for putting the great score on iTunes so we could blare it out the truck speakers along the parade route and watch the smiles appear. Good times.)