Monday, December 23, 2019

A Jam Packed Month!

My life became quite consumed by church duties a few weeks ago...

Nov 23 - baptism
Nov 24 - practice for primary sacrament meeting program
Nov 30 - baptism
Dec 1 - practice for primary sacrament meeting program in the chapel
             Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting
Dec 4 - making armor with the young men (male teenagers)
Dec 7 - stake day at the temple (our temple is 4 hours away)
Dec 8 - primary sacrament meeting program
             {attend young women in excellence with Amelia and Elanor}
Dec 11 - helping the young women (female teenagers)
Dec 14 - Ward Christmas party
Dec 15 - teach a song to perform on Dec 22
Dec 22 - primary sings 1 song during sacrament meeting
Dec ?? - baptism

I was called to be the Primary president in our ward in May.  I am the leader in our congregation over the children ages 18 months to 11 years.  I have a presidency - 2 awesome counselors and an amazing secretary to help.  And I have fabulous teachers that teach children based on age.

I also felt strongly that the presidency should take on singing time (teaching the children new songs and singing ones we know).   Um.....  This is a whole calling/job all to itself.  I don't sing well, AT ALL!  I am a disaster at carrying a tune. 
I had a little argument with the Holy Ghost about how it should NOT be me up in front of the children.  Yet I could not dismiss the strong feeling that I should do it.  So I jumped in with both feet. 
While I love it, this task has been a most difficult one for me.  I have learned so much about music, how it affects our brains, how to teach music more effectively.  I don't think my voice is any better either. 
I recently had a 7 year old tell me "THAT WAS TERRIBLE!" after demonstrating how we were going to sing a song opera style.  Ha ha ha.  (My response was that he had better sing out so he didn't have to hear me again.)
My counselors have been up in front too.  I think we are all settling into our roles and supporting each other well.

Shortly after I was sustained as Primary president, I was told the primary program was scheduled for Dec 8.  OK,  so I left it there and did not attempt to change it.  And then, I was also appointed to head up the ward Christmas party. (deer in the headlights kind of look here)

I was a ward (congregation) activities person many years ago, for a very short time.  I was in charge of a Christmas party that did not go so well and was promptly released and given a different calling.  Yeah, it was that bad!  I must say I tried, but I failed miserably anyway.

Last year I was asked to be in charge of the food for the Christmas party.  I did an ok job.  Yay!
But this year everything was on me.

Our Sunday school program focused on the New Testament his year.  So I thought it would be fitting to have a "Bethlehem" themed Christmas party, totally focused on Christ.  But I had never been to or have been part of a ward Bethlehem Christmas party.  I got online and did some research.  I found various ideas and combined the best of what I thought I liked from each into my own plan.

I asked my decorating guru friend in our ward to head up decorations.
I asked the Relief Society President (women's organization) to head up or ask someone to be in charge of the food. When I found out who it was, I was completely confident that everything was going to be wonderful!
The 2 biggest items were taken care of!

We as a primary presidency divvied up some duties.

I decided I wanted the young men to be Roman soldiers.  So I did some more research, about making costumes.

I decided that if I was going all out for the young men, I should do something nice for the young women.  Amelia talked me into making dresses for the girls one week before the party.

Eric was in charge of the Nativity reenactment, but he was out of town 2 weeks in a row, so I took on finding a few for him to choose from.

I realized that everyone had costumes (thanks to a generous primary teacher who loaned us her costumes for the reenactment) except for the sheep.  So I made a few sheepies too.

I had the general idea of what I wanted to do for the Roman soldiers.  I even collected cereal boxes for a couple of weeks.  But I didn't start to construct the parts of the armor until the day before I was to meet with the young men (10 days before the party).  I bit off way more than I could chew!  I had all available onions on an assembly line for 2 days straight.  We got things done just in time for me to greet the young men and get started.  12 suits of armor in 1.5 days is not too bad, especially when I was making it up as we went.
I was a little apprehensive.  I was concerned that the boys would think the armor was lame.  I was overjoyed when everyone was willing to wear it and they even liked the armor.

A friend told me about her ward did sheep - cardboard spray painted black with batting glued on and brads to hold on the black felt ears.  OK.  No problem.  I can do this (7 days before the party, and 2 days before practice) Eric wanted to do it different than me.  I managed to get a few made in time for our practice at church.  They were such a hit, I made more (with help) to accommodate all who wanted to be sheep.

Just 5 dresses - no measurements and no pattern.  It took 3 days, working on and off, to get all of them done.  I copied the design from one of Amelia's dresses, made it longer, and guessed at measurements.  The fabric was stretchy like a T-shirt, but it was very thin and light, so I made it 2 layers thick.  Tricky!  Amelia sewed almost every seam once I got everything pinned just so.  Elanor tried it on.  Beautiful! 
I surprised the young women 3 days before the party.  They all looked so lovely.

During this process, the onions saw me take on something I have never done before and did not have a "how to" manual.  They helped when I needed them, which was a LOT.  They helped with opinions on how to shape things.  They suggested better ways of doing things.   They worked hard and got things done.  I enjoyed our team building experience. 

While some of the onions did not think the effort was worth the outcome, I 100% think it was worth it.
I wanted everyone involved to feel needed, to play an important role, and to be part of something big.  I think I accomplished that. 

For the actual party, I wanted everyone to feel welcomed.  But I also wanted them to experience a little of what it might have been like 2019 or so years ago.  I think that was accomplished too.  We had a few visitors (non-church members) attend.

Before, during, and after the party, I was flitting about trying to help things go smoothly. I think it went rather well overall.  Ward Christmas "A Night in Bethlehem" party: success!

If you are an over analyzer like me you will understand.  If not here is a peep into my life.....
 When I went to bed, I could think of nothing but the party.  It played over and over in my head.  I learned where I lacked planning and communication.  I learned where all my mistakes were.  I began to doubt that the party went well at all.  I began to beat myself up mentally.  I was focused on everything negative.  I tormented myself with entertaining that I was a failure and that all of my mistakes could have been avoided. 
I eventually recognized that this was the adversary's way of getting to me.  I prayed for relief.  It did not magically come, like I had first hoped it would. 
I remembered that a friend told me that when we bombarded by satan, we can use our BODIES to combat him.  He does NOT have a body.  At 2:20 am, I peeled myself out of my warm cozy bed and sat on the stool in front of the wood burning stove.  And I wrote thank you notes to all who helped out with the party.  I used my body for good, and good thoughts pushed out the negative.  I finished after 4 am and was feeling positive and good and slept soundly for the next 3 hours. 

I received many positive compliments at church.  No one thought it was a disappointment, let alone a failure. 

While I would not choose to have an overwhelmingly busy, all consuming month of church service.  I learned so much that I would not trade it for anything. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Hunting with Papa

My dad decided to join us for hunting season was a few weeks ago.  It started on a Saturday and he told me he was coming on the Tuesday or Wednesday before.  What a nice surprise.  Super exciting!

The first day, papa and Elanor went to sit near the trash pile, remember that? 

I took Scott and Naomi with me.  We walked to the opposite end of our property, cut across and started walking toward Papa and Elanor.
We flushed out 2 deer, but they looked really small.....  Then 5 or so more, but they were running too fast to take a shot.  No go.
Our neighbor said we could shoot anything we wanted in his fields. So we sat and watched the neighbor's field.  There was ONE.  Not enough time to take the shot. Bummer.

Then.... Papa decided to drive around and see the country and hopefully some deer too.  We drove and drove and drove, and eventually saw a few deer.

Papa turned onto a road that was meant for 4 wheelers.  Scott and Elanor were with us in the back of his truck.  
We drove over a tree.  The trunk was over the "road" but the top branches were "passable."  I never would have believed it.  But I was in the truck as my dad confidently drove on through.  
He drove through a wet boggy area.  I thought we would get stuck in the mud, for sure.  
He drove through 2 trees so close that we had to turn the mirrors in to get through.  I would have turned back at the first sight of any of those, but my dad is amazing - we made it through each obstacle like it was nothing.  
Elanor and Scott gained the off-roading experience that I remember driving around with my dad in Bishop, CA and Angeles National Forest.  Such fun memories.  And now my kiddos get that too.

Another day we drove all over the place.  We stopped for lunch, and then for ice cream.  Of course, "Betty Lou" got treats too.  

We also drove through some public lands.  We stopped for a few hours.  Papa took Elanor and Scott, and I stayed with Naomi by the truck.  Naomi was resourceful - she cleaned out the truck, putting trash in bags, and organizing the blankets and clothes.

At on point Betty Lou would not move out of the front seat, so I shared with her.  

That night we got home after dark, having been gone for about 8 hours.  We were cold, tired, and HANGRY.  Thankfully Amelia had made us dinner and it was waiting for us when we arrived home.  Seth and Eric worked all day, be they were there for dinner too.

It was really nice to see Papa!  We really missed Grandma ma though.

There were a couple of days of hunting left after my dad departed empty handed.  So I headed up to the trash pile.  As I was walking down the road, I spotted a doe that had jumped the fence into my neighbor's field.  I watched it walk across the field - through my scope.  Another deer!  She saw me and decided to go back.  The first followed her.  HA! They were both back on my property!  I made it to my spot and waited.  About 15 minutes later, I spotted 2 ears through the brush near the road to our pond.

This was my view: On the left is our access from the road.  It curves around.
On the right, the road meanders up to the pond.  

I know what you are thinking..... Don't be jealous of my orange.  Ha ha ha. 

Back to the story...
So there I was SUPER EXCITED that the two does came back to the exact spot I wanted them to.  The first one walked into the road, broad side!  
I took a few deep breaths to calm myself down and to steady my shot.  
I took aim. 

In the beginning of the week, I discovered that my safety didn't work.  SO I was super careful with my gun.  Then it fell.  Now, in this moment, I could not get it off of safety.

I opened the bolt to be sure a bullet was in the chamber.  Yes.
Aimed and Fired.  

I tried all I could think of.
I fiddled with my gun as the two deer noticed me, but didn't seem to care too much.  They continued across the little road and I frantically tried to get my gun to fire.  
Finally I pulled the bolt out and back as far as I could, kind of slamming in back.
It made a metal "click" sound.  
It was off of safety!  But it alarmed the deer.
I was a bit frantic at this point.
It had been well over a minute.  
The first deer had disappeared into the brush on and the second was facing me right on the edge of the road and the thick brush.
After 5 prior failed attempts, I took aim one last time, forgetting to hold my breath, and took a shot.
Well good news: the gun finally fired.
Bad news: it was a complete miss.
I have to confess that this story is rather embarrassing.  But I learned a LOT from this experience. 
And... it is what happened.  

I did go up the next day.  It was windy, and there was no way the deer were going to walk where I could see them.  Eric even walked from our house toward me and heard several deer moving around.  He saw 3 or 4.  I saw ONE run very fast out the access road.

I am severely disappointed that I did not harvest a deer this year, and I have only myself to blame.  I am grateful that my family does not depend on me to provide meat for them at this time.  While I do not eat cows or pigs, the rest of the family does.

I imagined what it was like for early settlers with no grocery stores and what it is like for people in need. Hunting is free on your own land here.  You do not need a license to hunt in Missouri.  I know of many people who even process their own meat.  This is such a blessing to those who strive to provide for themselves.  Better quality meat at the cost of your own effort.  
While I do not want to come home empty handed to hungry people, I know that could be a real scenario for some.  
So I say "maybe next year."  But I do not say it lightly.

In April 1978, (one of my all time favorite general conferences) A. Theodore Tuttle, a leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, said:

            “Live within your means. Get out of debt. Keep out of debt. Lay by for a 
            rainy day which has always come and will come again. Practice and 
            increase your habits of thrift, industry, economy, frugality.”

            “Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough 

            food and clothing, and, where possible, fuel also, for at least a year ahead. … 
            Let every man who has a garden spot, garden it; every man who owns a farm, 
            farm it.”

            “Cash is not food, it is not clothing, it is not coal, it is not shelter; and we have 

            got to the place where no matter how much cash we have, we cannot secure 
            those things in the quantities which we may need. … 
            All that you can be certain you will have is that which you produce.

            “We must purge our hearts of the love of ease; we must put out from our lives 

            the curse of idleness. God declared that mortal man should earn his bread by 
            the sweat of his brow. That is the law of this world.” 

I think this counsel applies now more than ever.