Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Drama Queen & The Ruby Ring

I was six years old. I still believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I still believed the kid on the bus who told me that if you picked a scab while you were outside, you would die. And I still believed in monsters too. (By the way...not only do monsters eat kids...but they do it in one gulp...)

This is the world I was living in when I met my teacher at church for the first time. She was the first grossly obese person I had ever encountered. From my perspective, all 43 inches of me, I couldn't help but notice that her tummy was approximately the same size that I was. From this observation my six year old brain immediately came to the only reasonable conclusion I could draw at the time: She ate kids.

I started to cry and run after my mom. I cringe just thinking about what this poor lady heard me say as I darted out of the room. Poor Sister So-in-so. How incredibly humiliating that must have been and how sorry I am for the incident.

But she must have forgiven me because the following week she brought me a shiny, plastic, ruby ring that was the most beautiful thing I had ever owned. I was spellbound from there on out. Turns out she wasn't a dangerous ogre that ate children afterall! She was really a generous queen who gave away priceless jewelry! At least, that was the only reasonable conclusion I could draw at the time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Attractive is as attractive does.

This is my life. It is my mess and my masterpiece, and these are my stories. You my friends, are making messes and masterpieces all of your own, right along side me. What a wonderful human race we make together! How amusing it is to stop once in a while and peer into each others worlds, through the written word. And here we go again...

When I was in high school I left a bright and promising career at Taco Bell to work behind the snack bar of a Venture store. (A Venture store is something in between a Target and a Kmart.) I went from smelling like a taco to smelling like popcorn and from wearing brown polyester to wearing black.

As happy as I was about those changes, I was unhappy about the realization that WAY too many teenagers frequented that snack bar at Venture. My natural inclination at the time was to maintain a very low-profile while wearing polyester and pumping ICEE's. So this was not good. I spent most shifts neck-high in self-absorbed adolescent angst and feeling very sorry for myself.

Then one day while out visiting a friend in a neighboring town, we popped into her local Venture store. I casually glanced over at the snack bar on our way to the jewelry department to see if I could catch a glimpse of what I was certain would be a fellow comrad in misery. To my surprise, I saw the girl behind that counter looking way cuter than she should have. I did a double take to see what kind of uniform she got to wear and discovered it was just like mine.

The only difference was...she was smiling. And self-confidant. She was rockin' that geek suit and owning the crowd.

For better or for worse, that's how it works ladies and gentleman. We are attracted to happy and confident. Happy and confident will always trump style and chic. Which, by the should note that nothing makes you happier or more confident than having the spirit of God with you. In the inspired words of Sheri Dew: "No amount of time in front of the mirror will make you as attractive as having the Holy Ghost with you."


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Room that Rosemary Built

Once upon a time there was an LDS meetinghouse without a mother's room. That's right, no room for a woman to sit and rock her baby, feed her baby, or change her baby when needed.
An old brown metal folding chair wedged tightly between the sink and the bathroom stall in the ladies restroom was somehow supposed to suffice.

There are certain things about that set-up that make it disgusting, not to mention demeaning to a young woman who has not only chosen to bring God's children into the world, but bring them to His church as well. But such as it was, year in and year out, babies and bummies made due (and doo-doo) with the situation.

Then one day while looking for a quiet room to discipline a child in, one of those young mothers happened upon an empty classroom in the hall adjacent to the chapel. After reproving the child with sharpness, she couldn't help notice that the services in the chapel she had just left, were being piped into that classroom through a speaker in the ceiling. Could it be? Did her ears deceive her? A long, lost mothers room, stripped of it's true purpose?

Excited inquiries danced past the ears of many a priesthood leader. As far as support from those leaders went, the flesh was willing, but the spirit was...delegated. Excitement grew to disillusionment as nothing...ever...happened.

But it wasn't long before the disillusionment took the form of audacity as I, the aforementioned young mother, took matters into my own hands. I ordered a door plaque that read 'Mother's Room' that matched the door plaques on the other specially designated rooms in the building. I took my drill and my three young children to church one night and proceeded to screw the plaque onto the door. I moved all the classroom chairs out of the room and dragged two of the upholstered chairs from the foyer (one actually swiveled and rocked) into the room. Top it off with some lovely framed art stolen from the Relief Society room, and viola! Instant mother's room.

Through the grapevine, I learned that the High Priests Group Leader was considerably put out that someone had stolen his quorum's classroom and that he left a mean spirited note on the chalkboard for the mothers to read, but other than that, there were no inquisitions, no letters read from pulpits, no repercussions of any kind. I was prepared to repent if caught, but there never was a witch hunt to begin with. And much to my delight, when I went back to that church for a 20 year ward reunion...the room was still there as I had designed it, in all it's accomodating comfort and glory.

Viva la mama!

(Disclaimer: By no means does the author encourage or endorse the unauthorized altering or remodeling of any publicly or privately held property. My behavior was shameful and should not be emulated. Do not try this at home. Danger Will Robinson, danger!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Last Sunday our Fast and Testimony meeting was one of those meetings where you don't want to get up when it's over, you just want the feeling to last forever. Fortunately, the spirit was carried throughout the rest of our classes and into the rest of that day's activities. It's really quite invigorating when that happens and you feel like you can do anything, and you probably would if that darn sun would just stay up a bit longer!

Conference weekends have the same effect.

I have long struggled with the unsustainability of such spiritual highs. Sometimes it can really bring me down, when despite my best efforts, the magic dosn't lasts long enough for me to do all that I'm inspired to do, in the manner I know God would have me do it.

So yesterday, when I took a day off work to spend more time ministering to my neighbors and my family, and after having the best experience ever (despite problems with auto technicians), I came to the end of the day with the same conundrum. So in an effort not to wake up the next morning bummed out about it, I said this prayer to God:

Dear Father,

Thank you for filling my day with opportunities to minister to my brothers and sisters here on earth. Thank you for letting me see the beauty that lives inside each individual, that comes from the light you have placed in their soul. Thank you for giving words to those around me that have edified and instructed. Thank you for expanding my heart to consider each moment for its true significance in terms of eternity. Thank you for this all its perfection.

Please bless me, as I lay down to sleep and wake to a new morn, that I will not descend into despair when I realize that the unique blessings of this day do not carry over to the next. Please help me accept the hills with the valleys, the ordinary with the extraordinary, and the miraculous with the hum-drum.

But please, do not delay the forthcoming of the next chance to walk by your side, so that through your grace and that power alone, I may have another day of Heaven on earth.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Save a buck, burn in hell

When I bought my laptop last year I picked up a floor model that was for sale. The sales clerk took it to the back to box it up for me and soon I was on my way to PC heaven. Not long after getting home, the store where I made the purchase called me to let me know that they accidentally put my laptop in the wrong box. Because of this mistake, I had been charged for Dell's more rudimentary model, but actually went home with the elaborate one. As they explained the situation.. I braced for the inevitable. "You owe us more money." But instead they humbly and pleadingly asked me to bring the box back to trade for the one that my computer actually belonged to, promising a big discount coupon on future purchases if I would be so kind. An unusual shopping experience yes, but by no means unpleasant.

Contrast that to what happened to me today. I ordered and paid for a set of four new tires last week. When I went to have them installed today, the "tire master" scrunched up his face as he looked at the sales slip, stammered a bit, and then informed me that they messed up and didn't charge me enough for the tires. He followed this announcement by stretching out his hand, requesting my card so he could ring up the difference. I smiled in reply and said "surely you're going to waive the difference, right?" Not so easy.

The manager was called down, he immediately sided with me. The tire master then, believe it or not, argued with the manager that I should be required to pay!!! (I know...I'll let you catch your breath and calm down....................ok, back to the story) So the manager looked at me and said "I'll let your conscience dictate what you should do, this is your personal decision." (I know...more shock and disbelief, I'll give you time.............................ok, back to the story.)

Of course, I don't give them the money. At that point I should have had them load the tires into the back of my van so I could take them somewhere where the technicians don't hate me, but instead I wait for them to do it. And wait, and wait and wait. Two hours later I learn that after our moment at the front desk, the tire master had left in a huff and his coworker was left there working the tire bay alone and at his own sweet pace. I watched as he would stop working on my van to take new customers, fulfill their orders, and then go back to my van.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so in naivete, I walked across the store to the bakery and bought them a giant chocolate cake and set it on the front desk. Thirty minutes later he came out with my keys and wouldn't even look me in the eyes. I interrupted his icy, self-absorbed revery and asked "do you think I'm evil?" He returned "do you go to church every Sunday?" "Yes" I replied. "Then I think you're evil".

"So you won't accept my peace offering?" I followed. He picks up the cake and hands it to me across the desk. I then ask "do you go to church every Sunday?" His smug reply "no". You fill in what I should have said then, something like: "Well, if you did go to church they'd teach you not to judge people as evil based on one interaction with them." But instead, I just took my cake and walked out the door, feeling badgered and mystified. Did I just pay $500 to be treated like a doormat?