Monday, April 30, 2007

Frontline - American Experience

  • Tonight and tomorrow on PBS will be a two part series about the LDS faith. I'm not sure what to expect. From the video stream available on the web it sounds as if it has been well produced. But I am very mindful of the fact that it is produced by those outside of my faith, and may or may not be entirely accurate. I plan to watch it and see what they have to say. I pray that it will do more to open up dialogue than create contention.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mountain Bound

I'm off to Wallawa Lake for three days of professional trainings that I'm helping to put on for the College Prep department at my college. I'll be doing technology demonstrations and facilitating work groups. Of course I'm taking a kite along and my Balderdash game, so hopefully there will be pockets of fun as well as work.

It should be a good time so long as I avoid the deer. The deer in that area are protected, and have gotten very used to people. Last time I was up there I witnessed a HUGE buck walk up behind a little girl in the camp ground and steal a s'more right out of her hand. The kid freaked out and cried, the deer merely walked leisurely away to mooch off someone else.

Then there are the Nazi squirrels who get very demanding for goodies.

It's too bad people keep feeding the wild things, taking away their wildness.

It will be a busy few days with much to accomplish. We've got a team pulled together to do some strategic planning for curriculum changes in the GED / ABE / ESL programs. We will be setting up faculty mentoring programs, reviewing data of past program outcomes, setting goals for the next two years. Nevertheless, I'm rather looking forward to a few days AWAY from the Internet, cell phone, and all the other accoutrements of my usual life. It's really beautiful up where I'm going. I hope to get some good hikes in between sessions and then come back to soak in the hot tub. Yeah, I'll be working. But what a great place to get to do it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Flower Garden

I haven't had much time for writing lately...too busy digging in the yard. I'm loving every minute of it.

I thought I should share some of the joy I'm having doing all this transforming from bare ground to go to and then just click randomly where ever you like.
Happy Gardening!

Friday, April 20, 2007


There is nothing quite so rewarding as a good dose of diggin' in the dirt come spring time. By mid summer I am sick to death of garden work, but this time of year I delight in turning over soil and planning what to plant.

For years now I've hated the ugly strip of nasty grass & weeds that lie between the sidewalk and the road along the side of our house. So we finally decided to reclaim it. The area is 20' by 100'. We've spent the past month preparing the area. We killed off all the grass with round-up and then tilled, raked, sifted, tilled again until we had all the old junk out. Then my beloved did the serious work of totally reworking the irrigation. He dug trench along the entire length of it and laid pipe. Connected to that pipe are drip hoses every four feet.

Tomorrow we get to go shopping for trees and shrubs. We'll get the big stuff planted and then lay down landscape fabric. Next will come several truck loads of bark and a few big rocks. Then will come the color splashes - two whisky kegs to be filled with bright annuals and a couple of wrought iron shepard hooks to hold hanging baskets of wave petunias. The final touch will be a series of bird feeders and a bench.

For trees I'm planning on two dogwoods (one pink, one white), a weeping cherry and two SOMETHING (haven't yet decided between magnolia, pussy willow or something else)

For smaller plantings I'm putting in holly, lavendar, purple sage, some varigated ground cover and a few other things I'm still undecided on.

In the fall I plan to plant about two hundred bulbs - lots of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, giant alium and some red-hot poker.

No more mowing and it should turn out looking pretty nice.

I'll have blisters for sure before the weekend is over, but I'm looking forward to doing some serious work on the project. I love spring time when everything starts growing again.

Once we get done on this we are going to completely re-vamp the vegie garden - put in some raised beds and possibly experiment with HANGING tomatoes plants.

I'm sort of an upside down girl, I suppose I can grow some upside down tomatoes. I like the idea of having them up off the ground, not having to fight weeds or bed over to pick them.

We'll see how it turns out.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sweet Tunes

The week long Arts & Cultural festival at my college continues. I just got back from a jazz concert that was surprisingly good. Some of you may recall me writing a while back about one of my GED students, Jordan L. She is now a regular college student here and has been in the choir for a while. She did an outstanding job on her solo work on their rendition of "Stormy Weather". They did several other pieces, ranging from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to some Billy Joel tune that were arranged to really compliment this particular choir. They ended with an improv piece that was astonishingly good. They had the whole room of people up on their feet moving.

This afternoon is something called "Socrates' Cafe". The flier says:
"Join together for a time of coffee and philosophical reflections. Socrates challenged the youth of ancient Athens, Greece to explore a wide range of questions about life. He proposed that "the unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates' Cafes are springing up around the world to provide an informal setting to ponder important questions about life..."

So there will be a facilitator with some questions to get the flow will be interesting to see what sort of participation we get.

Yesterday we had a PowWow and salmon feed and I also sat in on a slide show and discussion comparing global inequities in different parts of the word. The day before I listened to a "Transgender Awareness Training" that was pretty interesting. There are so many sessions going on throughout the day it's sometimes hard to pick and choose which ones I can fit into my schedule. After all, I DO still have to get some work done around here.

But over all it has been a good week with lots of energy. Students are flocking to this, and people from the community are dropping in on much of it.

I whine sometimes about the bureaucracy and petty politics of working for a community college, but there are times like this when I feel very blessed to be here. It gets even better. Next week I get to go to a curriculum design & program planning retreat at Eagle Cap Chalet at Wallawa Lake for three days.

I'd say this beats the heck out of turning bolts in a factory (which I've also done).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Keeping things in perspective??

Like a lot of people across the country I've been struggling with all sorts of emotions in response to the recent tragedy of the shootings at VT.

Greg Burgas has a bit different take on it over at Delenda Est Carthago. His post about the senseless crime brings up several different issues for me.

What sort of things does it make sense for me to get "upset" about? What sort of things is it appropriate for me to shrug my shoulders over and simply let go?

I believe apathy is a spirit murdering monster. I think being passionately connected to life and other people really matters. However, I recognize that with that passion comes mind wrenching sorrow and outrage when things go wrong.

There is ALWAYS something wonderful, magnificent, miraculous and kind occurring somewhere on the planet every moment of every day. There are also ALWAYS layers of depravity, cruelness, senseless atrocity and just plain ugly meanness. What is the best way for me to respond to that? Some would say you manifest whatever it is you focus on, so choose to focus on the good. Others would say we must be attuned to what's wrong around us in order to be a part of making things better.

But I'm not talking here about things I can take social action to change. I'm talking about world events in general - things utterly beyond my sphere of influence. What do I allow into my emotional radar screen and what do I choose to remain oblivious to? What things will I stay neutral to or uninvolved with and what will I allow to have major impact on my heart?

If I go around feeling hysterical because of all the bad there is in the world, eventually I emotionally short circuit to the point that I'm less able to function. So, almost as a matter of self preservation, I "tune out" thinking about or responding to many layers of the world's pain. But how far should I shut off the faucets of my empathy for others? At what point it it acceptable to me to NOT be involved?

I makes perfect sense to me that I generally care more about what happens to my immediate family than I care about what happens to strangers in another state. But when does what happens to stranger matter to me?

What makes the difference whether YOUR pain impacts MY heart?

I certainly don't think media is a good indicator of what is or is not important.

During the genocide the Hutu people of Rwanda carried out against the Tutsies, thousands upon thousands of men, women and children were brutally murdered in a period of just a few months. But it barely make the six o'clock news here.

Yet when one little blond, blue eyed girl in Colorado named Jon Bennet Ramsey was murdered, every news station and tabloid covered the case extensively for months. This was done while completely overlooking the fact that HUNDREDS of other little kids went missing or were found dead all across the country the very same week as Jon Bennet. But we never heard most of their names, unless they were in our same town or related to someone we knew.

Right now the country is reeling in shock from the senseless violence that occurred at Virginia Tech. But how many people were shot dead in single person crimes yesterday? How many died from snake bite? How many learned their beloved had betrayed them? How many lost their jobs?

WHAT does it take for me to care about another person's suffering? Is it the number? Is it the amount of detailed information available? Is it how closely their life resembles my own?

How to tell when to care, when to cry, when to cringe and move on.... there are no simple answers to that for me.

Kazoos on Steroids

The college where I work is having a week long Arts & Cultural festival with all sorts of workshops and speakers.

As a part of that, this morning I attended a Didgeridoo Workshop. It was great fun.

According to Wikipedia, "The didgeridoo (or didjeridu) is a wind instrument of the Indigenous Australians of northern Australia. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or "drone pipe". Musicologists classify it as an aerophone."

While the natural eucalyptus tree Didges are beautiful, with a little work you can get a fairly decent tone out of any sufficiently long tube. For the purpose of this class they had us working with 45" Schedule 40 PVC pipe.

The guy who led the workshop, Dr. Ernest Tutt, has been playing the didgeridoo for nearly a decade. He attended the 2003 Garma Festival of Aboriginal Culture in Gulkunla, NT Australia, where he participated in classes taught by digeridoo masters. He's a remarkable guy and was very patient with us newbies.

I was quite pleased by the sound I was able to produce from my instrument, but I could not sustain it. I just don't have the whole circular breathing thing down. Still, I'm glad I gave it a shot. I don't know that I'll be pulling my PVC pipe out again any time soon for a good blow, but it felt good to explore and experiment some.

Tomorrow there will be Native Drumming, a group from the Nixyaawii Community School will be on campus so I'm very much looking forward to that. Then we'll have an educational pow wow in the evening with Fry bread and salmon dinner. There's a songwriting workshop, poetry readings, Latin & Polynesian dance demonstrations, and a whole host of speakers on a wide variety of topics.

It's a little bit frustrating because there is still work to get done and deadlines to meet, but I'm fitting in as many sessions as I can. This is definitely one of the better perks of working for a college (along with the free tuition). I get opportunities to participate in some great stuff.

I Hate Profanity!

Well, I've given up on Pagan Babies. There's just too much nasty profanity for my tastes.

I've talked about this some before HERE where I described my infamous "dog turd analogy".

Beyond that, once the novel's protagonist left Africa it turned away from the riveting story I was first so impressed by and fizzed fairly fast for me. Very disappointing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

I am ever so honored to be tagged for a "Thinking Blogger Award" by cyber pal Mimi over at Bigger than a Breadbox. My heart has been touched by her words, both on her blog and through our rambling e-mail conversations, many a time. Although, as she notes, our faith is expressed in very different ways we still share a bond as sisters in Christ as we both do what we can to search out truth, love our families, and find our way in this crazy old world.

So, the ground rules for this tag are as follows:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

In sorting out various categories of online work that I follow, I acknowledge that much of my blog time is purely entertainment. There are a few I check on nearly every day out of friendship and camaraderie. But this meme did not challenge me to list who I LIKE the most. Instead, I am to list those that cause me to really think. So here, (in no particular order) are a few that do just that:

1. CLOSE TO HOME - by Molly Sambourin;
Molly is gifted writer, passionate Orthodox Christian, who mainly writes about faith and family. Yet hers is no commonplace vanity blog. I love the way her words cut right to the heart of so many issues.

2. Naihadot - by Naiha Earhart. An LDS woman with brains, style and plenty to say

3. Q and O - multiple contributors, I mainly follow Bruce "McQ" McQuain. Politics and social commentary

4. Goal Free Living - by Stephen Shapiro
Not sure how much I agree with the guy, but he DEFINITELY makes me think. This one is a more "commercial" type blog - serving as a promo for his book, his speaking engagements, etc. Still, his postings are worth a ponder. I've been a chaser of focused, specific, measurable goals for many years. Reading Shapiro's works feels like both liberation and heresy to me. At any rate, he adds some interesting ideas to the mix.

5. Ok - pressure is on....who gets the last spot?
I dunno. I think I'm going to just leave this one open for now... perhaps I'll come back to it in a day or two when I've given it more thought. Suggestions? Nominations? What blog makes YOU think? Maybe I'll find something new.
But then, my rebellious, prideful nature twists and turns a bit....Who says I have to name five? What if I want to leave it at four? What if I want to name six or nine?
ALSO - what's this bit about you can only pursue this meme IF you get tagged. Oh rot on that. My inner anarchist rebels. I say any time any blogger wants to play - more power to them. Also, if NOT ONE of the ones I've posted choose to follow up with lists of their own, I'm not going to get my panties in a twist.
The beauty of blogging is the independent nature of it. We each use the platform for whatever we choose - endless navel gazing, national agendas, selling of widgits, or making new friends. I suppose I can understand the reason for "blogger award rules" but I just don't much care for imposed structure here. I say it's every bloggers right to do this if they choose to. Or not.
I have no illusions that me being nominated for this award means my little blog has any more merit than the next one. What it means is that Mimi and I have made a connection, and that connection has been a blessing in both our lives. Why would we want to limit that sort of magic to some secret-handshake insiders group?
So I say go for it if you want to. Governing bloggers can and should be like herding cats.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I've been trying to teach my online students how to think critically and evaluate the reliability of what they read. In one of the assignment exercises I use for that purpose I have them go to the website describing research about Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) . After exploring the website they must complete a worksheet telling me the primary uses for DHMO and what the dangers are. Then they rank the website according to how informative, how interesting, and how reliable they find it to be. They rate how concerned they are about it and the overall value of the assignment.

My INTENTION was simply to get the students thinking. I assumed they had heard of the stuff before and were aware of its properties. I assumed wrong. Some of them are now quite worried about the impact that DHMO may have on health and the environment. I've raised all kinds of awareness, it seems.

This is a fairly typical response of those I am getting:

"Yes, I did get some value out of this assignment. I had never heard of DHMO before so it was interesting to learn about it and to be warned of the dangers. I do think it is worth incorportating because the majority of people may not have any idea about it at all. I know I didn't. The thing that was really concerning to me is that it seems to be present in a lot or just about everything we come into contact with on a daily basis. I think it would be very benenficial for others to learn about DHMO as well."

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After all, while DHMO IS useful as a solvent and cleaning agent, and undoubtedly has many uses in agriculture, it is true people have died from inhaling it, can be seriously burned by the gaseous form, or suffer tissue damage from the solid form of the substance.

DHMO has been deliberately ingested by high performance athletes who believe it may increase their strength and stamina. Those same athletes have been found to secrete the stuff in their urine, through their pours, and even leak it out of their eyes.

DHMO is used extensively in the dairy industry, consequently high levels of it are found in milk. Yep, that stuff we feed to babies and little kids is just chock full of DHMO.

DHMO contributes to the corrosion of metals, is a major component of acid rain, and is often a component of nuclear waste, the stuff is so pervasive in our environment there is just no escaping it. It has been found in every lake, river and stream known to man - even in the oceans.

While there has been some limited study of the long term impact of DHMO, many people just assume that it is safe and show amazingly little concern about how extensively it is used as an additive to all sorts of products.

So I guess I should be glad I can do my part to raise awareness.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A New Read

REVISED 4/17/07 - The FIRST part of the book was great - it really captured my attention; However, once I got into it further it was awful. WAY too much profanity and lost the magic that he started with. I will NOT be finishing this book

How is it that I've managed to be an omnivorous reader all these years and completely missed the work of Elmore Leonard? I've just started his book Pagan Babies and am absolutely riveted. The story opens in Rwanda, with chilling descriptions of the horror of mass genocide the Hutu militia enacted upon the Tutsi people. From what I've read of the book reviews the story will soon be moving along to other settings and introducing new characters, but where I'm at right now has be glued to the book. From what I've seen so far, the man is truly a master story teller. Within just a few pages I was completely engaged in the characters and the setting, drawn in as if I were there.
When I did my master's thesis on the influence of gender in how people choose educational paths somewhere in my literature review I came across a quote from the 1800's that said one of the justifications for not educating girls was that if they could read they might become willful and neglect their household duties. I remember thinking it was pretty ludicrous at the time. But ya know what? The dust be damned, I can't put this book down and I don't care what anyone says, SO THERE!

Who is to Blame?

I completely missed this news item when it came out in January. Apparently a radio station in Sacramento, CA had a contest dubbed "Hold your wee for a wii". Listeners were challenged to drink bottles of water every 15 minutes and whoever could hold out the longest without going to the bathroom would win a Nintendo Wii. One of the participants, a 28 yr old woman named Jennifer Strange, mother of three young children, DIED as a result of water intoxication. The family is now suing the radio station for wrongful death.

I am troubled by this. The whole concept of the contest offends me. But waiver or no waiver, at what point was it the Radio station's responsibility for what the participants did? I think the death of Jennifer Strange is clearly a tragedy. Buy why was having a Nintendo video game system so important that she would put her health in jeopardy and ultimately lose her life? Should the radio station or the DJ involved be held legally liable for her death?

If someone suggests, invites, or even demands that I do something, in the absence of threat of bodily harm are the consequences their fault or mine if I choose to comply?

The force of social influence can be powerful indeed, as demonstrated repeatedly by the experiments of Stan Milgram. But ultimately, shouldn't we each accept responsibility for our own choices?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007



I love bright week. After the long turmoil of Lent, to glory in the resurrection of the Savior is such a precious gift.

And yet...there is also a bit of a let down. My spirit senses the absence of the intense reflection and repentance I usually focus on during Lent.

Beyond that, Bright Week is a time when I come to terms with my doubts and ambivalence about my own redemption. This is the time more than ever when I question my worthiness, sometimes my worth, as I confront head on the Glory of the Atonement and recognize how very far I fall short.

In my last post I spoke of physical scars and how they remind me of pains from the past. During Bright Week I am more likely to ponder the emotional / spiritual scars that no one will see but me. However, like the physical marks on my body - these scars remain bearing witness to past problems, and in some ways continue to offer up a stern rebuke in my mind regarding the seriousness of my sins.

We are told in the scriptures that once a person truly repents that God will remember those sins no more. I mostly believe that. I WANT to believe that. Unfortunately, I still remember those sins and some of them I continue to mourn.

Worse than feeling bad about past mistakes is recognizing the weaknesses and frailties I STILL have. I no longer am caught up in the ugly world of substance abuse. I've been clean for over 25 years. Still, there are shadow remnants of those old cravings that these days translate into new struggles. I have learned to PHYSICALLY live the law of chastity. I am as monogamous as a goose. But my thoughts are still all too often unvirtuous. My desires are not always what I would want my Savior to see. I wrestle mightily with pride, with gluttony, with selfishness, with sloth. I worry over whether I am fully honest. I question my own integrity.

I GET IT that the Lord died for my sins and then rose again. What I agonize over is that even though I know that and trust that, I CONTINUE to fall in so many ways, repeatedly missing the mark His teachings and example have set for me.

I feel so unworthy of His sacrifice and love some days. This is not just some fleeting feeling. I AM unworthy. I know that. God does not love me because I deserve it. God loves me because He is God and that is the nature of His existance. That is something I will never fully comprehend.

There are days when I am filled with personal recrimination for my sinning nature. There are times I can't help but wonder, why would the Son of God choose to love the likes me? Then I kick myself in the rear and remind myself that any time I fall into the trap of that sort of thinking I am playing right into the adversary's hand. Lucifer WANTS me to feel discouraged, lonely, overwhelmed, unworthy. The father of all lies wins every time I believe I am so bad I cannot be saved. So he worms and wiggles his way into my consciousness pulling out the stops, pushing every button of self doubt I've got.

GET LOST SATAN! Get thee hence. Because I know better. I know that God Lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that no matter how weak I am, no matter how great my sins, I AM made clean through the atoning blood of the Savior. I know that I am loved beyond comprehension by a God that knows my every flaw and failing, yet somehow treasures me still. I know that I will continue to wrestle with my doubts and weaknesses all my mortal days. But I will not give up the fight to that nasty devil. I will keep falling. But I will also keep GETTING BACK UP.

"We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved through obedience to the laws and principles of the Gospel." That means me too.

Though my sins be as scarlet... redemption has my name on it as well.

CHRIST IS RISEN. What a priceless gift.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I have a scar on the tip of my ring finger on my left hand where I once had an accident with a cotton gin. It was ugly. It happened so fast, severing my finger lengthwise. There was a lot of blood. Fortunately the nice doctor at the emergency room did a good job of stitching it back together. But it still looks rather mangled.

When I look at that lumpy, misshapen finger with the long scar running down I can remember EXACTLY what that day felt like – the day I got my hand caught in the machine. I remember the feeling of the sun on my face. I remember what I was wearing. I remember what I was doing. I remember the accident…

I have a scar on the upper part of my left thigh. This came from a burn that occurred when I was just a little child, so it’s nearly faded away now. You can barely see it. But I know right where it is. When I look at that scar I can well remember what happened.

I was toasting marshmallows in front of the fireplace with my brother. We had stuck our marshmallows on unbent coat hangers and were having a grand time cooking up those puffy gobs of sugar snot into hot gooey treats. I liked to get mine to the perfect stage of crisp golden brown all around. But my marshmallow dropped a bit too close to the glowing hot coals. It caught on fire, incinerating the sweet crust into blackness. I jerked it out quick to blow the fire out, foolishly hoping to salvage it. Instead, the whole flaming mess dripped off the wire and onto my leg. The burn was immediate and intense. Then, to make matters worse, I tried to rub it off me – spreading the hot mess like napalm. All that accomplished was causing more damage to my leg and burning my hand as well. It was excruciating.

If I didn’t have the scar I might have forgotten the experience. Yes, it was a big deal at the time. But it was over 40 years ago and over the course of ensuing years my life has certainly had bigger bumps to contend with since then. However, I do have the scar. So I remember.

I think of these things as I ponder the scars on hands and feet from being nailed to a cross in my name. As we move through Holy Week I’ve thought a lot about scars….

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pascha Cookies

I recently added some new cookie cutters to my collection. I got a pig, a llama, a hand with a heart in it, and a Russian Orthodox cross. With Pascha coming up, I thought I'd make a batch of cookies to drop off for the celebration feast my friends will be having. However, as I look at this lovely little tool I got to wondering. Why do most other Christians focus so much upon the cross as a Holy symbol of faith?

My own faith does not use crosses of any kind. They do not appear on our churches, our books, our artwork, and typically are not worn as jewelry. To us, crosses are a symbol of Christ's death and we prefer to focus on the fact that He lives.

Christ's sacrifice on Calvary was critical. But it was what He did at Gethsemane that means ever so much more.

I've sometimes wondered if He had been born and died at a different time and place would Christ's death cause any instrument to be viewed as holy? If he had been shot by a firing squad would there be golden guns atop churches or if by gas chamber would there be little icons of that on chains about people's necks? I don't say this to be blasphemous or disrespectful to what others hold to be Holy. I sincerely wonder. Why is it the cross that so many Christians focus on? Thousands of people died by crucifixion. Jesus Christ did not. YES, he suffered tremendous anguish hanging on that tree for all of us. But He was not murdered. He gave up the ghost willingly. To me, the cross was an implement of torture, but it was no more holy than the post he was tied to earlier when he was beaten and scourged with a whip.

I will continue to be as respectful as possible of the things others hold to be sacred - whether it be crosses or icons or some other thing.

However, the thing that matters most to me is not the manner in which Christ died...what captures my heart and soul is that he CHOSE to endure the humiliation and agony of all he went through even though He KNEW how many of us would ignore His teachings. Despite the fact He KNEW how many of us would live self indulgent lives completely disregarding His atonement and love, Christ still cared enough to suffer beyond comprehension to break the bands of death. That is so incomprehensible to me.

Throughout this long Lenten season I've been giving thought to issues of repentance and religiosity and trying to make sense of where it fits in my own heart. Some say if you accept Christ as your personal savior that's all one needs to do. Others invoke long lists of do this and don't do that commandments which must be obeyed to the letter in order to live in the presence of God. I fall somewhere in the middle. I believe there is NOTHING I can do to "earn" my way into Heaven. I am not capable of it, no matter how "righteous" I might discipline my life to be. Still, I hold firm to the scripture that says: "if ye love me, keep my commandments." I DO think that once I have accepted the deity of Christ I am bound to do my very best to follow His example, the whole while acknowledging my state as a sinner who is lost without His grace.

The thing that I keep coming back to is that we are weak, imperfect and prone to passions BY DESIGN. Our susceptibility to temptation is no mistake. It is the nature of our creation. Had God wanted to create beings made of different character, I believe He well could have. Yet He did not. He deliberately created us as we are. Soft. Vulnerable. Subject to all manner of mayhem. I often wonder about that.

God is the ruler of the universe, the elements, and of every single thing in the material world. There's just one thing that He does not control: our will. He gave us that as a precious gift to do with as we choose. We can turn our hearts to Christ or our back to Him. That is up to us. He will invite. But He will NEVER coerce us to do His bidding. We each choose every minute of every day whether we will listen to the sweet whisperings of the Holy Spirit or the clamour of the material world. We choose.

Yet I'm coming to realize more and more that it is NOT in church services that I predominately make this decision. It is in how I treat my next door neighbor or my obnoxious relative or the homeless person on the street. Those are the moments when I really choose. I rely on the sacred sacrament to serve as a symbol of my renewed covenants with my creator. But it is between times that I show whether I really meant it or not when I said "Amen" at then end of the prayers blessing the bread and water that symbolize His body and blood.

As we approach Easter Sunday / Pascha I am trying with all my might to make sense of where I am personally in my own understanding of the nature of God and my relationship to Him. I am trying to quiet the clamour and din of the large and spacious building of the world that attempts to seduce us all with physical pleasure, worldly esteem, and "success" in the eyes of men. I am trying to go quiet inside to remember who I am as a child of God and to make sense of whatever plan it is He has for me. I am trying to learn to recognize more consistently the promptings of the Holy Spirit and be able to separate those feelings out from my own desires.

I may not have any crosses in my house other than the one in my cookie cutter jar. But I still know that the events that happened all those years ago on a cross at Calvary were real and that the importance carries on to this day.

It's been a long lent. I hunger for the rejoicing of "Christ is Risen." Yet I don't want to rush it either. These last few days...I still have things to learn and to experience.

I'll think of that as I bake and decorate the cookies. I'll think of that as I kneel in prayer. I'll think of that as I re-listen to conference talks over the Internet (LOVED the parable of the pickle!) I'll think of that as I have choices to make in how I treat my neighbor (and my neighbor's barky dog) and my relatives, family and friends.

There is so much about this journey to salvation that I do not understand. My whole heart resonates with the scripture that says:

"Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. " (Mosiah 4:9)

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up for me.

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