Saturday, May 23, 2015

SACRAMENT TALK

I'm speaking in Church tomorrow.  So I thought I'd share what I've prepared.

There Are No Shortcuts to Christlike Love
We live in an age of hyper individualism.  This has led us to believe that the best way to be happy is to pursue our own self interest, and follow our own personal desires.  “What’s in it for me?” is the leading question of our time.  I think other questions are much more important:  How can we learn to accept others, and watch out for others?  How can we develop compassion, empathy and Christlike love?  How can we stop asking “What’s in it for me?” and think “How can I help?”

My father is wise.  He always had silly sayings that, when thought about, helped me realize the importance of deep gospel principles.  When my sister and I would argue about something unimportant, my father would say, “That’s why we named you Sundy and her G.J.  – so we could tell you apart.”  In other words, “Each of us is unique.  People are different, but that’s not necessarily bad.”  I’m sure that this silly saying has helped me to understand about differences in people around me, and makes me realize that I need to have Christlike love and show kindness to others who are not like me.

President Gordon B. Hinckley also commented on a problem that is related to the principle my father taught.  He said, “We live in a society that feeds on criticism.  Faultfinding is the substance of columnists and commentators, and there is too much of this among our own people.  It is so easy to find fault, and to resist doing so requires much discipline. … The enemy of truth would divide us and cultivate within us attitudes of criticism which, if permitted to prevail, will only deter us in the pursuit of our great divinely given goal.  We cannot afford to permit it to happen.”

More questions:  How SHOULD we respond in these trouble times as we are faced with daily criticism and hostility in the world?  And how should we respond to the everyday frictions and failings in our own lives?

I think the answer can be found in the 13th Article of Faith:  “We believe… in doing good to ALL men.”  It seems to me that “doing good to ALL men” is the same as compassion despite differences… and compassion leads to Christlike love.

Differences often cause us to separate ourselves from others.  We feel comfortable with those who dress like we do, think like we do, and act like we do; and we feel uncomfortable with those who are different. 

When I was a little girl, my Primary music leader, Lyn Mortensen, taught me a song that helps me to realize that Jesus wanted me to be kind to everyone: 
If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t!  I won’t!
I’ll walk with you.  I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave His love to everyone.
So I will!  I will!

Physical differences don’t matter at all and should never divide us.  The woman who taught me this sweet Primary song had a daughter with epilepsy and brain seizures.  This song was personal to her.  And she taught us all, through the use of this beautiful song about kindness and acceptance and love.

Age is another difference that should make very little difference.  How well I remember when I was 15 years old and was accepted into my mother’s group of Relief Society friends.  I was 20 years younger than them.  They seemed old.  But I learned so much from the acceptance and loving care of those older and wiser than I was.  I still learn from the women I visit teach, many of them much older or younger than I am.  I am grateful for their friendship, and their examples of Christlike love.

Culture differences also fall into this category.  We are a worldwide church and represent many different cultures.  I grew up in the West.  Moving to Kentucky was a huge cultural shock for me.  I wasn’t used to cashiers at the grocery store making small talk.  I wasn’t used to people saying “ya’ll” and “It’s CODE outside.”   And I didn’t realize how important the Derby is.  But I made a choice to absorb this wonderful culture!  I learned to love the southern accent.  I’ve made good friends with the cashiers at Speedway who actually ask me about my life every time I come in for a Coke.  I’ve learned to love this culture and this place I call home. –  I’ve never been on a mission, but my husband, who served in Brazil, bears testimony to this truth:  Embracing and being kind to others who are different lead to love.  The missionary effort is an inspired program: sending missionaries all over the world, where they personally confront different languages, different ways of dressing, different customs, and different food.  They arrive as strangers and foreigners, uncomfortable and very aware of differences, but with a precious message of restored truth to deliver.  That message motivates them to look beyond the differences, and the differences give way to friendship and love.

Sometimes there are differences with relationships where the differences DO matter – differences involving values, principles, truth and the confirming religious experience we call testimony.  Truth demands our allegiance, but it should not be a barrier to compassion, kindness and love.  To accept and love others, we do not have to adopt their ideas or be condescending.  We must remember that good people can have mistaken beliefs. 

The gospel teaches us not to condemn our brothers and sisters for their weaknesses and sins, but to show them by our lives how it is possible to escape sin through learning and living the truth.  Part of our purpose in mortality is to learn and to lift each other up.  I’m sure that Satan must laugh when we push each other down – by faultfinding, criticism, name-calling, and labeling.

Being kind and having compassion for ALL people is indeed the beginning of Christlike love.  Lyman Sherman was given some wonderful counsel in the Doctrine and Covenants 108:7.  “Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations and in all your doings.”  The word ALL appears four times in that verse.  It doesn’t leave much from for exceptions.

Like the Savior, if we can learn to be kind, allowing all men the privilege of seeing truth at their own pace, we will have more Christlike love.  Remember: Christ saw no enemies among His crucifiers.  His example stands for all time to teach us the path of kindness, compassion and perfect love.  When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgemental.  The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: …  forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

“But,” you ask, “what if people are rude?”
Have compassion upon them.
“If they are obnoxious?”
Be kind to them.
“But what if they offend?  Surely I must do something then?”
Love them.
“Wayward?”
The answer is the same.  Be kind.  Love them.


I hope that we can all be models of kindness.  May we ever live up to the words of the Savior:  “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SHOPPING, AVENGERS AND ALCATRAZ

Key Lime Pie needed some new clothes.  She's been running for over a year and most of her cute clothes were way too big for her.  So... yesterday Kotten Kandy took her shopping (because Kotten Kandy is our resident stylist).  She bought lots of really cute clothes.  Here are a couple of brand new outfits  (She wouldn't let me take a picture of her new swim suit... but it's cute too!):
Her favorite color is blue... hence the blue shirt!
This is my favorite outfit!  I love yellow!  It's such a happy color!
Key Lime Pie, Kotten Kandy and I went to see the Avengers movie again this evening.  We are celebrating the return of our husband/father!  He gets home tonight from his work trip.  We've missed him.  Anyways, we really like this movie.  My mom did not enjoy the show... but I think she missed the humor!
Silly girls!  Glad they are best friends!
Kotten Kandy being cool before the show started....
I just finished another book by Brandon Sanderson - Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians.  And I should say that I love Brandon Sanderson, and I've enjoyed most of his books.  With that said, I also need to say that I am a little bit older than the audience this book is geared too.  I'm about 30 years older.  This is such a silly, dumb book, but its purposely written that way and the author doesn't try to take himself seriously so in a way it works.  Other than being purposefully ridiculous, the other thing that really annoyed me was when the main character talks directly to the reader.  I really don't like books like that because it takes me out of the story.  (Incidentally, I felt the same way about the Series of Unfortunate Events books.  I was only able to read the first one.)  There are some good life lessons that could be drawn out in the book such as how it feels to push people away because you think they won't like you, and issues about the foster system.  But I don't think I'll be reading the rest of the series.  It's an OK book.  And I think reluctant readers might enjoy it because it is fast paced and fun/exciting.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A LOT ABOUT A LITTLE

Raising teenagers is a challenge... but I love it!
My daughters are really great girls!
They are silly and sweet!
And they have wonderful testimonies of Christ!
But they also like to steal my phone for selfies:
Crazy kids!
But beautiful!
Kotten Kandy finished up her musical last week... 
and I took a few pictures from the audience.
The Jitterbug dance was amazing!
Kotten Kandy was so cute with her little bug pigtails.
And it was my favorite scene she was in.
When she marched onto stage as a general her legs went straight out in front.
So funny!
Juice calls her "Bucket Head" for this scene!
Kotten Kandy was the best witch there!
She was loud enough (without being miked.)
And she rode her vacuum cleaner with flair!
Kotten Kandy was so glad to get to spend time with Muffin before she moves.
Glad they did the show together!
She thought Tibia was lots of fun too....
Van Way did a great job as the Tin Man and became a good friend too.
Witches together!
She really liked the cast.
She'll miss them now that it's over.
I took this snap shot of Scott with Jelly Bean the other day.
It's too good not to share!
Jelly Bean adores Scott!  And he's wormed his way into all of our hearts!!!!!

Yes!  We (the girls and I) walk/run at least 3 times a week.
And the weather is perfect for it right now.
We are loving the nature and the beauty on our trail!
This little guy was rescued by Amy off the trail so he wouldn't get run over...
Aren't these flowers gorgeous?
They surround my mailbox!
I LOVE Spring!
We went to the zoo on Wednesday... with 13 kids!
It was fun!
Here are the guys:
And the girls:
The little ones always gravitate toward Key Lime Pie.
She's a natural with kids!
Kotten Kandy and Lemon Drop are looking at the gorgeous birds!
I know that I've already blogged this picture...
But it's my absolute favorite!
I am soooooooo blessed to be the mother of these two amazing girls!
I love getting to share in their lives!
I'm sad that they are growing up too fast... 
and before I know it they'll move away with lives of their own....
I've been trying to "let go" and give them more agency.
I've been trusting them more.
And they have earned that trust.
But this mom is still sad to see them need me less and less.
I pray that they know how much I love them!
And I pray that they know how much their Heavenly Father loves them!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I LOVE BEING A MOM... AND I REALLY LOVE MY MOTHER!

I really love being a mom!  And I really love these two, absolutely beautiful daughters who made me a mother!  They are truly wonderful!  And I am blessed!
They spoiled me with fruit trees (peach and pear)!  And Scott spoiled me with yellow (my favorite color) roses!  Aren't they beautiful!?
Not only did my daughters get me trees and my husband get me flowers, but I also got to hear the most beautiful musical number in Church today.  Key Lime Pie, Kotten Kandy, Muffin and Lemon Drop sang the song "She Put the Music in Me."  I cried like a baby!  It was incredible!  I wish I could have videoed it for everyone to hear.  My daughters and their two friends are truly talented!  And the song's message was perfect for mom's everywhere!  (This is the first time EVER that I was able to hear my daughters sing to me on Mother's Day.  In the past, when they sang with the Primary children I was always up there conducting or playing the piano.  So today was extra special!)

Here's the neat thing about my amazing family:  I have two wonderful mothers too!
My own mother who still loves and serves me!  I'm soooooooooo grateful to my Heavenly Father for her!
And my husband's mother!  She raised a GREAT son!  And did a fantastic job!  I'm blessed!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

PROM WITH TWIZZLER

Key Lime Pie was pretty excited about Prom tonight.  The first time she met Twizzler at work, she thought he was pretty "awesome!"  She came home and told us about this "really cute and nice" guy she worked with.  About two months later he asked her to Prom.  She was elated.  Mom screamed. Kotten Kandy celebrated.  And Scott got out his gun.  So, here is the cute couple:
Guns and Prom?!
Beautiful Flowers....
I must have the two most beautiful daughters EVER!
Key Lime Pie with her best friend: Kotten Kandy
D.A.D.D. = Dad's Against Daughters Dating
Twizzler's Mom and Key Lime Pie's Dad...
The Rubber Band Wars Continue....
I love my daughter.  And I love that Twizzler makes her happy.  Our whole family kinda likes him.

Friday, May 8, 2015

THE WIZARD OF OZ - STARRING KOTTEN KANDY

Kotten Kandy has been spending a LOT of time at the high school for the past few months rehearsing for this weekend's performance.  Last night we all came to see her perform.  She was by far the cutest person on stage.  And she was loud enough and talented enough to make us all take notice. I wasn't able to get pictures of all her costumes (I'll try to get some more shots tonight.) but my favorite costume was the Witch and the Jitter Bug.
She said she will miss her new thespian friends after the show ends on Saturday night.  But mom won't miss having to taxi her to and from the rehearsals.
Look at ALL the fans who came to support her!  She is truly loved!  And it's wonderful that we have such great "family" here in Kentucky!
Kotten Kandy got flowers from the Bettenhausens and mom and dad!
Kotten Kandy is a beautiful, and talented young lady!  I'm soooooooooo lucky to be her mom!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

ABOUT: CHOIR, DATING, AVENGERS AND LOVING MY HUSBAND

The show choir had a concert on Friday night! I REALLY love all these kids.  And I've REALLY loved being able to sing with them every week.  I also REALLY love Disney.  (I actually had a Disney wedding 20 years ago!)  There is nothing better than Disney music to make someone happy.  So this semester we did a Disney Review.  My favorite parts were The Little Mermaid and "We're All In This Together."  Is there any better song than "Kiss the Girl?"  And I love the message of "We're All In This Together!"  I have spent most of the past two years trying to get these kids to smile and really "perform" their songs.  (Not just sing.)  They rocked this concert and all of them were great showmen!!!!  Kotten Kandy is a natural!  She's always been a terrific showman.  And I love that she shares the love of the stage with me!  Our new "thing" is to sing "There's a special kind of people known as SHOW PEOPLE!"  Of course when we sing it we act it!  I sure love my little girl!
Next:
What do you get when you mix Twizzlers and Key Lime Pie?  This:
Key Lime Pie has a boyfriend.  He asked her out on Saturday with pie.  He really does seem like a nice young man with good standards.  (If you are reading this Twizzlers, you need to know that I trust you with my precious daughter!)
Also:
I got to go on a date Saturday night with my cute husband!  Scott and I spent 6 hours working at the temple.  Then we went to Qdobas (one of my absolute FAVORITE places to eat).  And we ended our date watching the Avengers.  It was AWESOME!  And guess what?  My date even held my hand during the movie!  I think he likes me!
Scott and I will be married 20 years this August.  We've had our ups and our downs, but I have not regretted a moment of our lives together.  He is a great man!  Lately I've been thinking about how we can improve our already good marriage.  I came up with four things to help us stay in love for another 20+ years.  Here's our plan:
1.  Continue to date each other regularly.  I ABSOLUTELY loved going out on Saturday night with such a cute guy!  And it makes me feel special to be "dated."
2.  Continue to flirt.  I like sending Scott flirty text messages, and winking at him when he's across the room.  I love it when he calls me Brightness (my nick name from him.)
3.  Kiss each other in public.  I don't like couples who “make out” in public, but a quick kiss or a hug makes me feel like he's not ashamed to be seen with me.  Holding hands is great too.
and 4.  Spoil each other.  I try to spoil Scott with time, service, small "gifts" ie. favorite drink, etc.  I like being spoiled in return.
Scott and I continually try to improve and these are four areas I'm working on in our relationship!  I'm grateful for my husband!  He's amazing!