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Friday, October 26, 2007

Two Things

Whenever I sit in a chair, Tabitha thinks she needs to join me. She's still pretty tiny, so we fit, but I think I need to get this:

Chair and Half
I didn't even know such furniture existed.

This is not funny--not in any way. I know this. And someone with my background should have the decency to be empathetic to the poor nurse involved. But really--91-years-old? In a nursing home? You almost have to wonder if the guy could still stand at attention at his age...okay, you don't, but I do. And to pretend to be deaf at his own hearing...that's pretty funny. There aren't many other perks to claim at that age. And I know it's not funny...I'm so still makes me giggle.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All Hail to the Google-ad Gods

I would just like to know why my last email exchange with AtP triggered this ad:
- Bras For Men Info. - Easy Access Guide.

The topic we were discussing had nothing to do with that--although I'm certain that, given enough time to come up with something, we could have a scintillating conversation about it. I'm not sure why we would...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Eavesdropping on DJ and Adam


Adam: Tabitha is going to "New Beginnings" tonight. What's "New Beginnings?"
DJ: It's sort of like stake priesthood meeting, but with cheesecake.
Adam: How come we don't get cheesecake?
DJ (snorting): 'Cause dudes don't make cheesecake.
Adam: You do. You make really good cheesecake.
DJ: Yeah...but no one ever asks me to make refreshments.
Adam: What refreshments? We don't get anything at stake priesthood meeting.
DJ: It's not fair.
Adam: Nope.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In a Dark Time
Theodore Roethke

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree,
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall,
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Monday, October 15, 2007

It's not what you hear, it's what you think you hear

Setting: 6:30 a.m.; Darrin and Samantha are sitting in their family room having five minutes of quality conversation because it seems like this is the only together time they ever have anymore.

Darrin: What was that sound?

They listen intently to an odd sound coming from outside the house.

Samantha: Sounds like someone on a pogo stick.

Darrin looks at her as if she's insane.

Samantha (defensively): What! It does!

Darrin listens for a few more seconds.

Darrin: Oh! It's DJ scraping ice off the car window.
Samantha: I liked my answer much better.
Darrin: Me, too.

Friday, October 12, 2007


When my dad and I were on our way to our seminar (ah, the joys of continuing education which allows us to keep our RIA status...) yesterday, he asked me my opinion about sin and the atonement. I asked why he wanted to know, and he mentioned that he'd had a person in his office recently who had discussed this with me, and he was interested to hear more. I told him it was nothing new, and I probably heard it from him in the first place. He said he was pretty sure it didn't come from him and asked me to tell him what I had told my friend.

So this is the Samantha Stevens Theory of Sin and the Atonement. It is not doctrine. This is my opinion. I love to use bold!!

My belief is that everything that happens in this life is, or can become, an avenue to draw us closer to God and Christ. Sin is no exception. Obviously we're going to sin. That's part of being human, and no amount of "trying" will change that. However, each time we sin we face a decision--what we will do next. For years my understanding was that when we sin, we become vile, filthy, horrible people and God wants nothing to do with us until we say we're sorry and promise never to do it again (which is sometimes ridiculous, because there's a chance we'll mess up numerous times before we finally get it right). This belief does not make me inclined to repent, but rather, to give up. There's also the belief that if you sin you should "just stop" sinning. I don't think that happens very often.

The more serious sins generally come about because we lack discipline or control over our impulses, and this is often because we aren't receiving what we need to help us feel able to regulate our desires. Sometimes we commit sin because we're reacting to feelings of worthlessness or because we've experienced deep hurt. Regardless of the reason, however, few people who are striving to keep God's commandments wake up one morning, stretch, and say, "Wow, I think I'll go fornicate today!"

If God knows us, he knows our hearts. He knows that even when we fall in horrifying ways, there are parts of us that still yearn to be the sons and daughters he has asked us to be. He also knows that just "stopping" isn't going to happen, which is why sometimes members of the clergy and therapists need to be consulted. Confession isn't instituted for the purpose of humiliation, it's to help us understand that we can't do everything on our own, and to show our Heavenly Father that we'll accept his will and help in our lives.

The judgmental view of sinners as unclean and vile is dangerous because it implies a belief that some of God's children are better than others--which is not true. And the scripture that says, "...confess and forsake..." aggravates me. It's just not that easy. However, Isaiah makes everything so much clearer when he says, "Come. Let us reason together..." God doesn't say, "Hey, Idiot! Stop being stupid and do what I tell you to do!" He says, "Come..." Come to me...I love you...I want you to be with me, and I with're always welcome... "Let us reason together..." I love to talk with you...I want to hear what you have to say, and to remind you of my love for you...nothing you do can change that love...let's see what we can do together to help you feel better, to help you make healthy changes..."And "...though your sins be as scarlet..." your sins...not you... "...they shall be white as snow..." shall be... not "might be"...shall...for certain...because Christ made it possible for that to happen...because he loves us...and he wants to be with us, as well...

And so each time we sin, we're given the opportunity to make a decision. Believe the sin makes us irredeemable and continue to walk away from the commandments and beliefs that say our behavior is not in line with what God intends for us, or believe that through Christ's atonement we can use that sinful occasion to try his words, to see if he really does love and want us. And if we choose the second option, we'll have many opportunities to see if what he's said is true, because as much as we might try to avoid it, we will continue, in our human states, to sin daily, which will give us the chance to go to our Father and say, "Remind me? Reason with me? Help me become stronger? Forgive me? I want to be with you, too..." And each time we repeat the cycle we become better at overcoming the weaknesses that beset us, and we develop a beautiful, loving relationship with our creator.

When I view sin in this way, I no longer worry about a God who cannot view sin with "the least degree of allowance," because he's offered to help me get rid of it. He doesn't have to accept our sins because if we "reason" with him, and take the necessary steps, our sin goes away and he promises to "remember it no more." What a great friend. Of course, with his perfect memory he'll know all that we've done, but because he loves us and respects us, he won't ever mention it again--it will be as if the sin never happened. He will do nothing to impede our progress, and everything to encourage it.

So there you have it--simple and uncomplicated. And you can argue with me, and tell me that I'm wrong, but you need to know that I probably won't listen. This is what I believe. And since this is my blog, I can think of no better place to express that.

Religion Rant

I do this occasionally. I believe, at my age, I'm entitled. Besides, tonight is date night, and Darrin's too tired to do anything except watch a stupid baseball game (sorry baseball fans, but I get a little testy when I have to share my husband with a sport).

I have sent my angry comment to the Ensign. I was going to blog about my aggravation earlier, but Original Mohomie beat me to it. In a nutshell, Elder Holland said some good things in his article, some of which could open doors to understanding, or at least dialogue among the general church membership about SGA . The editors closed those doors when they chose to post a picture of Adam and Eve, captioned with a quote about marriage and family, and the garden analogy, which basically states that if we choose good things we won't be gay anymore (okay, I know that's not exactly what it says, but bear with me, I'm a little upset).

This is what I said in my comment:
1. Most of the church membership will look at the title, "Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction (I have issues with the title, as well--I would prefer, "Loving and Accepting Those who Experience Same-Gender Attraction")," and say to themselves, "I don't know anyone like that. This doesn't apply to me." And then they won't read the article.
2. They will, however, look at the captions. The first caption (Adam's family) sends the message that gay people should just get married and have families. No mention is made of Holland's further comment that marriage is not an "all-purpose solution." The second caption solidifies the notion that one must simply seek God and SGA will be cured (exact words: "gain control over our inclinations."). While making our lives a place where the Spirit can freely dwell certainly helps, some of us have felt SGA feelings even while sitting in the temple--not because we're unworthy or because we haven't tried to be spiritual, but simply because we're human and those things happen. And really, the title of the article centers on how church members can be of help to those with SGA--not on what people with SGA should do.
3. End result, the skimmer who doesn't take the time to read the article (I'm guessing 90% of readers), looks at the captions, and decides that those unknown gay people need to get married and be spiritual and then they can decide not to be gay--which is the destructive lie that many people in the church put forth whenever they're confronted with the possibility that "gay" might actually exist. Thank you, Ensign person, for circumventing a possible chance to teach truth. We'll all just keep hiding in our closets, thanks to you. It keeps people from burning metaphorical crosses in our front yards.

Okay, I'm done. Don't be surprised if you never see my comment published, but I hope someone besides me (and OM) is bothered by the problem, and that the Ensign hears from everyone who takes issue with this. However, if I'm the only one who ends up shooting my mouth off, I suppose that's okay, too. No one ever listens, really, but it makes me feel better.

P.S. Darrin decided to use the article as this home teaching message this month. He said most of his families were a little shocked and didn't say much, but he didn't care. He felt they needed to hear the message of the article. Just one more reason I love my husband!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

You do your job--I'll do mine

There are times when I'm not "nice."

Today when I arrived at one of my accompanying jobs, a substitute was there. With a sigh of relief, she handed me the lesson plan that had been left her by the choir director and said, "I'm sure you'll understand what she wants." It was true. I did understand. I also understand that she's not getting paid for me to do her job. I smiled at her, handed the lesson plan back and said, "I'm sorry, but I just accompany. I'm certain I wouldn't know where to begin."

I know. I could have taken over. But honestly, if you don't want to substitute teach, for heaven's sake, don't apply for the job! And I don't like it when people assume I'll bail them out--which is why I probably don't.

There is no point to this.

I went to see cousin David's parents yesterday. It's an interesting sensation to visit with the parents of the young man who molested me.

I love Therapist, but he wants me to do really hard things.

I had a wonderful Sunday.

I'm tired today.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pecking order

I took a job at a secondary school as a team music director for the choirs. I did so because the person who teaches music at the school is a former classmate from college and her choirs are always exceptional. I love working with her. My duties include accompanying and training within sectionals. About once weekly I rehearse a different section, helping the young singers find their notes and learn the parts. It's actually a lot of fun.

For the last couple of weeks I've been working with the soprano, second soprano, and alto sections. Today I worked with tenors/baritones/basses. The boys are 12-15 years old. I find groups of boys interesting. There always seems to be one who is the loudest, who tries to instruct the others, who seems most visible. I call him the rooster. He has his staunch followers/admirers who do everything he asks. In the case of the choir groups, he generally is a soloist, is secure singing in any setting, and really loves choir--but not so much that he loses the respect of his choirmates. And he's usually cute.

Then there are the capons (I know this is a rather disturbing term, but bear with me). These are the young men who strut and talk, but no one seems to be listening. They usually have one or two followers who are shorter and seem to live lives of hero worship. They laugh often and loudly at anything their capon leader says, who, however can't quite measure up to the rooster.

Finally, there are those who strive for invisibility, who wander around, oblivious of their surroundings, more entertained by what is going on in their own heads. They take no notice of the roosters, capons, or groupies, but huddle by themselves, hoping to escape notice.

Today, when we did sectionals I found myself surrounded by the invisible group. For whatever reason, they seemed very happy to stand as close to me as possible. I think it was my perfume (one of them actually said, "Hey! You smell good."). The rooster began crowing, but settled down as I reminded him that I was capable of directing without his help. The capons made jokes in undertones and their groupies stifled giggles.

I had been warned that this particular group of boys was a bit unruly. I'm okay with that. I'm fairly used to unruly boys. I mentioned to the capons that unless they wished to be separated from their groupies, they'd need to actually sing. I asked the invisible participants to step back a couple of feet. I allowed the rooster to organize his followers as he saw fit.

Then they sang--beautifully. There were no disturbances or mishaps, and the rooster told me he loved my voice. The capons hushed their groupies and told them to pay attention. The invisible group stepped away from me each time I reminded them. We sang and laughed and learned the part.

When it was time to go one of the invisible group who had become glued to my side said quietly, "Samantha (they are allowed to call me by my first name--it's an unusual school), this is my favorite part of choir. You make me feel like I'm really singing--even though I suck."

So...I smell good, the boys don't misbehave with me, and I make the invisible kids happy. I'd say that's a job well done. Oh, and on top of all that, they're perfectly adorable, and I love them.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Talking to God

I do it all the time. In my head, sometimes aloud. I'm certain people who pass me in my car think I'm insane, because God and I have long conversations when I'm driving. He's a good listener.

Today, though, I seemed to be talking to him more than usual. I found myself saying, "I hope I'm not bothering you...


Okay, I'm almost ready to finish my homework.