Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lessons from a Drone

As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day I came across a beautiful video of Oregon City during our recent snow storm, all of which was captured on a drone. Drones have become quite popular the past several years as they are being made and manufactured for the general public to explore with. It's amazing to see footage from a drone of various places in the world. We are being exposed to a perspective we've not had the opportunity to view on our own until recently, relatively speaking. Sure, when we've watched movies over the years we have been able to see what the big budget films can give us from high up in the sky. But now we, the average person, have the ability to afford a drone and discover it for ourselves. Maybe not to the same degree as a major motion picture, but still pretty cool for us amateur movie makers.

I have lived in Oregon City nearly all my life, except for an eight year stint from '91-'99. Oregon City, to me growing up, was average. I didn't necessarily think it was anything extra special, other than it was the end of the Oregon Trail, has a pretty cool elevator connecting the lower part of Oregon City to the higher elevated part, and some pretty cool dams. It has grown quite a bit during my 44 years of life and continues to. It's a nice town with friendly people who have seen trauma and tragedy, but pulled through. The trauma of two young girls kidnapped and murdered on their way to and from school, and the '96 flood disaster that affected many homes and businesses, just to name a few. But it is a town that has triumphed and carried on in spirit and determination, never wavering.

Oftentimes the problem with living in a town that has some pretty neat sights, is that the locals take it for granted and don't explore what's right in front of them. I think I've visited the viewing spot for the falls maybe twice, ridden in the OC Elevator a couple times. and have never been to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. I figure, it's here, I'll go to it someday, I'll get around to it..... I'm not going anywhere. But at least for me, that's not true. I haven't taken full advantage of what's right in front of me. But when I watched the video of Oregon City blanketed in snow, I came to realize what a beautiful town I live in. Sure, the snow made it all the more pristine, but it also gave me a perspective I had never seen before. My eyes took in views I never could have witnessed if it weren't for the drone that captured the beauty that surrounds me. These were vistas and panoramic views I had never considered, let alone captured with just my eyes of limited vision. As I was finally acknowledging all of this during the video, I had an 'aha' moment about perspective and how Heavenly Father sees little 'ol me, not to mention each and every soul that has lived on earth, and this is what has occupied my thoughts since observing Oregon City in the eyes of a drone.

Before I dive into my thoughts on how Heavenly Father and drones are similar in perspective, let me back up by explaining a fundamental truth I grew up with. I know who I am. I am a child of God, and I know that I have divine potential to one day become like Him. That in and of itself is worthy of another blog post, but I feel it is important to understand where I'm coming from as I share my thoughts and feelings about perspective. I have always known that God is loving and cares for ME just as much as he cares for YOU. That said, there have been times in my life where I have felt I needed that reassurance made more evident, than at other times. Don't we all need reminders from time to time how much we are loved? Whether it be from our spouse, children, parents, friends, and even God? God's love for us never ceases, but perhaps there are times where we fail to consistently acknowledge it. The times in which I feel we underestimate God's love for us is when we see the worst in ourselves, when we are not perfect in our words or actions, when we have made mistakes and fallen and can't seem to get up and stay up.

I saw Oregon City in a new light as I watched the drone fly over landscapes I've seen all my life, at least through my narrow vision of looking only straight ahead but not overhead, yet never really thought much of. The snow somehow made it more beautiful. It was different, it caught my attention. Was it ugly underneath the snow? Not necessarily. However, when the snow falls at my house I enjoy the beauty it brings for the brief moment it's covered the landscaping that's not yet finished, or the pallets and wire that are strewn about, or the pot holes in the driveway. When it slowly melts it looks messy again. The drone caused me to reflect on how much Heavenly Father loves me, no matter what I look like, what I've done. He sees me from a perspective I rarely, if ever, see in myself. He sees all of me... those times when I'm at my best, covered in white, beautiful soft snow, and the days when I'm at my worst when the snow has melted and I don't feel so great, feel unworthy of His love and acceptance, when I feel disappointed and want to hide deep in the earth where it's dark. It's not just that he does see ALL of me, but rather HOW He still feels about me regardless of what I'm going through in my life. His perspective is deeper and broader than mine. His knowledge of who I am to Him right now, not just who I have the potential to become is greater than my own understanding.

Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." What a beautiful passage. What comforting words to the weary soul. What a relief that our thoughts are NOT His thoughts, nor our ways His ways. He sees the 'whole' of us, not just the narrow view we find ourselves in. He has the perspective we lack, and how we need His perspective. It is in His view we find hope, grace, love, acceptance, mercy, encouragement, the list goes on and on. He sees what we cannot see, or what we won't see. What if we allowed ourselves to see in us, what He knows we are capable of? Would our attitude adjust accordingly? Would our countenance shine with the hope of God's love pouring over us? Would we pull ourselves up from the despair or disappointment we feel and choose to see what God sees?

Now compare the Oregon City video with this video of Auschwitz and the Nazi Concentration camp. The drone captures the haunting landscape where millions of innocent men, women and children died under the hands of an evil man. The stories born out of that camp are plentiful and disturbingly heart-wrenching. But there are many beautiful stories of heroism, God-fearing individuals who didn't let an ugly, evil, dark place take over their souls. How could something beautiful come from such an ugly place? As I've read about Corrie ten-Boom, her sister Betsy, Viktor Frankl, and many others who lived in various concentration camps under vile conditions I've come to understand that in the deepest despair we might find ourselves, we can find God right there with us. As God looked down on the Nazi camps and watched His children starve to death, be tortured to death, killed in gas chambers, I am sure he saw an ugly camp with evil guards, soldiers and leaders. But beneath all the appalling acts of torture and deprivation He also saw the beauty and growth that could occur when we lean on Him, and He alone.... not man.  Watching the drone fly over areas of Auschwitz and realizing what happened inside that camp our thoughts can be consumed with horror. But if we watch it again thinking about the people who survived and lived to tell about it and consider their experience of feeling God in the midst of such evil, then our perspective changes.

Corrie ten-Boom's sister Betsy told her one night in the camp, "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." How could she have felt that way under those circumstances? How did she feel God's love? Did she question Him as to why she had to suffer such atrocities when she had only tried to help the Jewish people? Did she blame Him? Did she question where God was in all of this? Did she hate Him? No. She understood what God understood. She knew right where He was right there with her giving her strength to go on, giving her the mental capacity to acknowledge what was happening and allow His works to be made manifest through her. His works did not consist of the evil that surrounded her. His works involved using her to share His gospel to others in the camp, to use her example of how God still hears and answers prayers in even the most unimaginable circumstances. He was showing that no matter how physically dirty they all were, how helpless they were feeling, that He was right there with them. Regardless of how and when each of them would die, they would go home to Him who would receive them and show them what He has always seen. He was using her for His purpose to share light and life with others, in a place where light did not shine and where all felt lifeless and life could be taken in an instant. She understood His perspective.

For the past year I have had the opportunity in my church to work closely with the women in our congregation. It has been an interesting experience as I have been able to serve closely with these women and seek to try to understand them better. I have been able to see my fellow sisters in a different light, in a way I had not seen before. My number one goal is to try to see each of them as God sees them. If we did that we would have more compassion and understanding for one another. Why is that? It is because he has the grander view, the view we do not see. He has the vision our eyes lack. Trying to acquire the perspective God has takes time and effort, but it is possible. He isn't hiding his expectations from us. He knows what we are capable of, regardless if we are covered with snow or a mess with conflict and self-doubt. God sees the bigger picture and He wants us to help draw the moments that make up that portrait if we let Him in to help guide us. Because I know that I am His daughter, I know that I was made for bigger things than myself. I hope someday to see all what He sees in me. I am grateful I was scrolling through Facebook and found a beautiful video taken from a drone that has helped enlighten my understanding and perspective of what God sees in me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Forgot I Had A Blog.... and that's a good thing.

Ever since I decided to go back to school to get my bachelors, I have neglected a few things: the dusting (well, I never really did do that to begin with), my vegetable garden, scrapbooking, making cards, and oh, this blog. As I finished up another term this week, I remembered I did indeed have a blog, of which I completely forgot about!

There is so much social media. Take your pick and you will be connected with the world in an instant and find out the most interesting things about people; some of which I could surely do without ever having known. I got rid of my Twitter and Instagram accounts. I never used twitter and rarely used Instagram. And who could forget Pinterest. I really do like Pinterest, but have found less and less time for it. And it's a good thing Pinterest is in cyber-space, because I certainly would have no room for the real life bulletin boards in my house. I stopped following some groups on Facebook, and un-liked 99% of my political pages. Boy, did it feel good just doing that! I felt my life was being over-crowded with the world's noise; contention, materialism, frivolous information. Are all those outlets bad? Not at all, just not for me.... right now.

I believe in expressing my convictions, even when it's uncomfortable; however, I cannot change the world alone. A little rant on Facebook, or a "like" on a certain page isn't going to end world hunger or achieve world peace. I am the first to admit that I have used Facebook to express my disdain over this and that, and to some degree I think that is okay. I enjoy looking at Facebook, catching up with friends, posting pictures of the family for my extended family to feel a part of. I really do enjoy that about Facebook. But I need to be careful; we all need to be careful. The more outside distractions I eliminate, the more peace I find inside. I believe the internet can and should be used for good, and it is something I am trying to be more conscious of now. I firmly believe one of the biggest ways families can be torn apart is by lack of communication, especially when our heads are down trying to catch up with the latest information, whether it be the news, or what so and so had for breakfast. Rather, we should be looking up into the eyes of our children and/or our spouse catching up with them. After all.... aren't they the one's we should more concerned with how they are living THEIR lives? I prefer being a part of their life, rather than my Facebook friend's lives. (No offense to all my Facebook friends.... I really do love you all!)

I am not sure if I will continue to keep this blog or not. I'm trying to decide if it is worth it. Because I don't follow many blogs anymore, I wonder if blogs are a thing of the past. I simply don't have the time, and that is the biggest reason really. But that has to be a good thing, because the less time I spend on social media..... that must mean I'm spending more time with my family and those things that are of value.

My intention in the beginning was to use this blog as a way of journaling my thoughts and convictions about life. I feel I was able to do that for awhile, but as I said, life, or school, got in the way. I have two more terms left..... I will graduate in April 2015, and maybe then my life won't be as hectic, or, maybe it will never slow down since my kids are growing and the demands of their schedules require more of me. But that's okay, because I don't want my family to become a thing of the past. I want them to be the present. MY present. So ta-ta for now! Maybe I'll blog again when I'm a University Graduate!!!


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Love My Faith

I was born a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was raised in this gospel, and I am raising my children in this gospel. I love the standards for which it teaches, the doctrine of the church, the fact that we have a living prophet on the earth today to lead and guide us. The video below is a short clip of what Latter-day Saints are; more commonly known as the Mormons.  Have any questions, or want to learn more? Just ask. I'd love to send you a free Book of Mormon and can get you in touch with missionaries that can help answer your questions.  The teachings of this church have helped shape my life and give me direction in a world with shifting values. It can do the same for you too!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I Have Arrived

Fourteen years ago, in May, my husband and I moved from Ogden, Utah to our present location of Oregon City, Oregon. I was pregnant with my 2nd child, due September 24th. This boy would be my first child to raise (as my first born died at nearly 4 months old). I remember when he was born and thinking of the many milestones that lay ahead, such as his baptism when would turn 8 years old. I remember then thinking when he turned 8 that in the not too distant future he would be a teenager.  He will be 14 in a few weeks.

As each child has come along, I have had similar thoughts.  Josh, my 11 year old, has started middle school, and will be 12 in a few months.  Reagan is 9 and in the 4th grade.  I have no choice but to already be thinking about when she becomes a teenager because she is already wishing she was there. I, on the other hand, could wait a tad bit longer.

My youngest, Hailey, just started Kindergarten...... today. She is my last. She has been home with me for nearly 6 years, as she will turn 6 in December.  I remember thinking when she was born that I had a looooong time to wait for her to depart from my constant care and enter into the world of teachers, sack lunches, bus rides and homework. Fall of 2013 seemed many moons away.  I would have been content keeping her 5 years old for another few years.  But I can't keep time still. 

I have arrived at that time in my life that I knew would come eventually. The time when all my children would be gone from me for nearly most of the day. The time when my car would be empty while running errands having the radio be my only company. Many moms long for this time to be able to so called "get things done" and have "me time". But for me, it proves all too clearly a stage in my life that I had no choice but to encounter. The baby, toddler, preschool years are done.  My children are in Kindergarten - 8th grade.  I recall picturing this time of my life after Hailey was born, trying to push the thoughts aside as far as I could. 

Life won't be any easier now, only different. I feel blessed that I am going back to school and will be able to devote time for that. I feel blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, even when the children are gone all day, so that I can try to make my home one in which my children are happy to come home to after a day at school.

What do I think about now? It's hard not to allow my mind to wander to the time when my children will start graduating from high school; but for now, I'm going to just savor the time I have with them in their new stages of life, because I know it will undoubtedly be a fun ride and I'm grateful to be their mom to go along with them.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Watch Your Mouth!

Recently I took my children to the local community swimming pool for family swim.  While my older children wanted to swim inside in the big pool, my younger two daughters opted to stay outside and play in the wading pool.  My girls hopped in the pool and started playing in the water as I settled into the lawn chair I brought and pulled out my math book to start studying. Not two minutes later a young boy, about 8 or 9 years old, stepped out of the pool and approached who I believe to be, his mother sitting on a bench holding another small son about the age of 2.  My head turned as I, and the other few adults and children who were in ear shot of the argument, heard this young boy screaming at his mother and using foul language at her, all over a piece of gum, from what I could tell.  Now, being a mother myself, I can empathize with any other mom who finds herself in such a situation where her child has become irrational, especially in public. I immediately say to myself, "Been there, done that, you're not alone", etc, etc. But this was not any kind of bickering back-and-forth that I had ever been witness too.

After the boy finished his tirade about the gum, the mom decided that his behavior deemed it necessary for them to leave the pool. I would have done the same thing. But what disturbed me the most, was not so much how the boy was behaving, but rather the mother. It was obvious she tried to remain calm in the beginning, and I imagine she was embarrassed, (any mom would have been) but her voice was raising and she was losing control. She began to tell her son what a "retard" he was. I heard her call him that two times in a matter of about sixty seconds. I was appalled. My heart tugged for the young boy whose ears took in such language from his mother. While I thought in the beginning she must have been embarrassed with her son's actions, she at all didn't seem to think twice about using such words to express her anger to her son, for all around her to hear.

Now I am not here to judge whether or not she is a good mother. We all have our sour moments we wish we could take back. I had never seen these people before, I have no idea what their family life is like. It is not up to me to determine worthiness on the part of the boy's mom. But I can say I did take away some very valuable insights as I was privy to this scene.

I couldn't help but think and reflect upon the verbal messages I am sending to my own children. Did I feel sorry for the boy? Absolutely. I feel badly for the mother too. Perhaps she is stretched to her limits, stressed to the max, maybe she's never spoken that way before and just snapped and was terribly sorry afterwards. It's not important for me to know those details. But hearing the shouting match occur as it did really made me think of my own verbal usage towards all my children. Are the words I'm saying and expressing to them uplifting? Are they encouraging? Can I be firm? Yes. But can I do so in a loving way? I had better.

I am in no way a prime example of absolute loving-kindness towards my children every second of every day. I know there are areas I can work on and improve. I know that I myself have a short fuse. But I also know that my children were given to me from a loving Heavenly Father for me to raise and to do so in respect, kindness, honor, compassion and most of all love.  I recently read an article by Jeffrey R Holland, a leader in our LDS church, about this very subject. In his article, The Tongue of Angels, he says the following:

"In that same spirit we speak to the sisters as well, for the sin of verbal abuse knows no gender. Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in your mouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind....."

This really hit home to me. It made me more determined to do my absolute best to make sure that the words coming from my mouth are angelic, and not abusive.  I can only imagine what the young boy at the pool must have been thinking of himself as he heard what his mother was calling him. Elder Holland continues on saying:

"We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive."

I have not been able to get this recent incident out of my mind. I feel I have a very important lesson to learn from what I observed, and I hope and pray that I can be the kind of mother who speaks to my children in such a way that encourages decency and goodness and a healthy and positive self esteem.  May we all truly watch what we say and think before we speak, especially when it comes to God's children in whom He has entrusted in our care. Heavenly Father does not need to shout, the Holy Ghost does not shout. And nor should we.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

I came across a post I wrote last year about being a mom. I needed the reminder, as being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever done, yet the most rewarding. Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers out there!

Friday, April 12, 2013

It's How We React That Counts

Has there ever been a time in your life when something happened to you that you felt was unjustified? Has someone ever said anything to or about you that was knowingly false? Have you just felt that sometimes you get the raw end of the deal?  I imagine all of us have experienced one or more of these scenarios at some point in our life.  I know I have.  It is at times like this that can define our character and show to all around us what we are made of. And sometimes, our reaction TO the false accusation or unjustified behavior towards us is more of a problem (if not dealt with in a mature manner) than the actual issue at hand. 

An incident recently happened to our business that I allowed to fester inside me; something that I chose to be upset about.  Was the incident unfair? Absolutely. Do I have tangible proof that what was inflicted upon us was unjustified? You bet. Was there dishonesty towards us in this recent experience that had a negative affect on our business? Yes.  (I will clarify by saying it wasn't a negative affect having to do with our reputation, but rather a financial incident). And after all the proof given to the proper authorities concerning the unjustification towards our company, the decision was made to side with the one inflicting the false information.  I was stunned. I thought for sure that people of a sound mind, having in their hands the proof to show we were in the "right", would make the correct and honest decision.  I was wrong. 
When I received the information telling me of the decision, my first reaction was one of anger. I was so upset that this person had presented false information, while I KNOW I had presented honest and accurate evidence. It seemed so obvious to me what the outcome should have been.  I am realizing more and more that the world we live in is not as concerned with honesty as they should be, and that lying a little here, and a little there, won't hurt anyone. Or so they think.  It is also showing me that many in "higher authority" think I should be taking care of those that don't put forth their best effort in taking care of themselves. That it is somehow my responsibility to continue to financially support them, regardless of how that affects our company.
Did we choose to start a small business on our own? Yes.  Did we realize how hard it would be? In many respects, yes.  Did we expect to be treated fairly by employees, vendors, government officials, etc. etc....? We sure hoped we would be. Did we realize there are those also who simply have no respect for the business owner, the employer? Yes, however, we would prefer to give someone the benefit of the doubt.  Although we cannot control how others will treat us, we certainly CAN control how their behavior will affect us.  Sometimes, that is the hardest part of all.
On my drive home from the post office, after reading the decision that was made, I was upset.  But I know how I can get when I don't control my emotions.  I said a silent prayer to God that my heart would soften, that I would not let anger take over, as disappointing as the news was.  I did not want to let the unfair people and decisions involved control ME.  They may think they have "won".  But what I have to gain from this experience is more valuable than anything tangible they will receive.  I KNOW I have been honest. I KNOW what the truth is, whether they want to see it or not.  I KNOW that I will be able to sleep at night knowing I did not take advantage of anyone.  I KNOW that I can learn from this, and not allow their poor choices to influence my character.  If I allow them to control my reaction, then they surely have won.  And I will have lost so much more.
There are a lot of unfair things in this world.  Too many to dive into.  We all have had unfair things happen to us.  Sometimes we feel it is our duty to prove the wrong that was done.  Sometimes, that is what we need to do.  But other times, after all we have done, it's time to be content with what our heart knows.  Does it make it right, the unfair thing that happened? No.  We will still continue to fight our issue at hand until after all we have done, can be done.  But I have faith now that I can do so with  a softer heart, not one of stone. I know that regardless of the outcome, it is enough for me to know what I know. What I know is..... I have a beautiful family that I love, and who love me. I know I have a loving Heavenly Father who helps us in our time of need. I know that I have much good in my life to be grateful for, and that is where my focus needs to be. Not on someone who lies their way through life.  It is such wasted energy. I think it is in times such as these, that God wants us to prove to Him our character.  He does not want us to be vindictive.  His ways are ways of love.  Let us turn the other cheek, as hard as that can be sometimes, and in the end, to be content with what we know is right.