Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Next Adventure (and some reviews).

So, we moved this week. it was kind of hard saying goodbye to our South Weber home. We built some good memories there, including having 2 babies in my upstairs bedroom. At least most of the memory makers are coming with me!
Goodbye dear house!

After much consideration Bill and I decided it would be good for our family to have an adventure in an RV before moving into our new home. The house won't be ready until spring so instead of renting a home somewhere - we put the money into an RV where we can have an adventure now and many more adventures in years to come.

So far it's being going really well. Maybe I will feel differently in a couple of months, but for now if feels simple, cozy, unifying and fun. Our friends let us park it in their driveway so we have had a good time getting to be near them too. We just hope they are not sick of us in a couple of weeks ;-)

Going through the house and getting rid of lots and lots of stuff was really freeing. I feel much lighter. We did put some things in storage - couches, piano, beds, bikes, books. But I tried to follow the advise on "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up." It was kind of fun.

What made moving even remotely doable too was the help from some dear friends. Some brought us meals during our moving week and several good women helped me clean on Wednesday. Friends also helped us transport some things and store them. There are some very good people in this world for sure!!

It's kind of hard for me sometimes because I hate feeling like I'm inconveniencing other people, but they are so sweet and kind about it that it reminds me how good it is to just take care of one another because we all need help sometimes.

We watched The Little Prince last night. It is one of my new favorite movies. I loved the message of "What is essential can only be seen with the heart." And how sad it is that we are filling our children's minds with "head" knowledge of things that can be measured and tested while neglecting the heart - the truly essential .

One of my favorite lines, "We don't just want to count the starts - we mean to OWN them." Isn't that what dry science does today? Gives us facts and figures about what stars are made of so we can pass our astronomy test - and distracting us from noticing how wonderful they are?

I love  looking up at the stars . I think of how my little ones look up at me with their innocent little eyes and am reminded of how much Heavenly Father loves me when I look up at Him. I remember my inherent worth.

I also loved the message that the world will laugh at you when you are on the right path to discovering your true self, your way of serving others, and your relationship to God and His creations.

I just started reading a book with evidence that this is true. It's called "Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed." It's very interesting, funny, and thought provoking so far. He starts out talking about how it's hard it is to go against the flow in scientific thinking. Peer pressure is very strong. "The stream of scientific consensus flows with an almost irresistible current. Almost."

But then he says something similar to what I said in my last post, "As we think more about how science works, we'll see that those rare people who oppose the stream are the ones to watch."

I wrote the following today about a presentation coming up this week:
This Thursday! I know life is busy, but this is worth attending. Science should strengthen our faith, but often weakens it instead. Why is that? Do we have to fight a battle between science and faith or is this a false dichotomy? Can we teach our children that all things really do testify of Christ?
I have really enjoyed learning about the evidence for creation. Not because it convinces me that there is a creator  (I believed that even when I bought into the evolution of man), but because I see God's hand more clearly in everything.
I was never taught evidence against evolution - only the evidence for it.  I think that is the case for most of us. It's certainly the case for those in school today. There are so many scientists who have done incredible research that isn't talked about in our school textbooks. Now that I am learning about it, I am even more in love with nature and it's amazingness, I've developed a love of science (I think I had a slight fear of it before because of my experiences in science classes), and I've grown closer to my Savior as I have learned to appreciate Him more. It has increased my joy and love of truth. That's what I want for my kids.
This presentation teaches us about why an accurate understanding of science is so important to our freedom. We see that freedom being taken from us everyday, but we are often unaware that the battle stems from some basic assumptions about our origin and worth. If we want to defend our freedom, we need to understand what we are up against.
I hope to see you there :)
Has Darwin Erased the Self Evidence of Our God Given Rights?
Presentation by Vincent Newmeyer
1645 S 500 W Bountiful, Utah 84010

And that's pretty much what we've been up to. Busy times full of good people and exciting life lessons. I'm grateful for a family that likes adventures!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

How Important is it that People Think Well of You?

How important is it that people think well of you? When I first started homeschooling, one of the concerns that was brought up by others for me to consider was what people would think of our family. We might have less influence because we would be considered "weird" by others and would not be taken seriously. I wanted to give it a try anyway. I will forever be grateful that I did.

A loving friend brought up the same concern lately with what I am doing in my science study group. If you state that you are questioning evolutionary beliefs, people will stop taking you seriously and you will have less influence for good. What if Satan is distracting you with this scientific debate to keep you from doing the good you could do in this world? Is it even worth risking your reputation?

I've been pondering these assertions the last few days. Of course I had already considered that people would think it was odd. Was that a good reason for remaining quiet? I had been trying my best in asking for guidance about my path and the best use of time for me and of those whom I mentor, but what if I had been confusing "the Spirit" with my own desires?

When this kind, concerned friend left my home, I wondered - "Heavenly Father, is she right? Am I making myself look silly and not credible?" The thought came to me, "This is what you asked for." My mind was brought back to a prayer I had offered a few weeks ago. I was hiking along and pondering. It was a time of transition and choices and I was asking Heavenly Father to help me know His will and to do it - I realized at the time that sometimes the concern about what others think of me holds me back. I asked Heavenly Father to help me with this weakness so I could do his will wholeheartedly without distractions. I hoped it wouldn't be too painful. Remembering this prayer brought comfort to me, realizing that this was for my good.

After that there was a series of events that helped me understand things more clearly.

On Friday and Saturday, I did a youth retreat for some youth I mentor. One of our activities was watching a movie called,  "The Man who Knew Infinity." I had never seen it so I hoped it was something the youth would enjoy. It came recommended by a friend I really trust.

It was about a man who had a genius for numbers. He understood them instinctively and could come up with some amazing formulas to solve some incredible problems . However, the fact that they were brilliant and looked like they would work was not enough for the scholarly world - he needed to show proofs. This was tedious work which kept him from doing that which he loved and he was not very good at it.

He was laughed at and ridiculed as were the very few who supported him. But with their support - he was eventually able to produce some proofs that got people to start taking him seriously. His work is still being used today - even in helping us understand the behavior of black holes.

Fast forward to day 2 of our retreat.  The youth and I went on a hike with a scientist, Vince, who had been studying Battle Creek canyon for 8 years.  He was willing to share some of what he'd learned with us. He had worked so hard and acquired so much evidence for his theory about how this canyon was formed. He could only share some of it with us because of time and our lack of background in geology, chemistry and physics, but what he did present was astounding and very convincing.

However, his theory claimed that this canyon was rather young. Much younger than the age that traditional geologist give it. This man was the first LDS scientist I had met that stated that the traditional beliefs in science were not always scientifically valid. I have met one other since then, but these men are rare. Most creationists are non-LDS Christians.

At the Q&A at the end he mentioned in response to someone that BYU is a known evolution research institution and that most BYU professors believe in the evolution of man. I asked him why that was. He said many were educated in evolutionist research institutions. He also mentioned the debates in the early church between Joseph Fielding Smith (recognized as the church's most eminent scripturalist and president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) and Henry Eyring (respected scientist and member of the Sunday School general board). I had looked at these writings before - I had learned that these letters had circulated widely at the time and (though the first presidency of the church stated that the church did not have an official stance on it - except that Adam was in fact the first man on the Earth), most members of the church chose the scientist over the scriptorian so Henry Eyring's views prevailed with many. You can read some of their correspondence here.

After the Q&A I had the opportunity to walk down from the hike by myself.  I felt a little confused. What Vince said resonated with me, but so many were against him. Here he was - one man who spent hours learning the different theories in science, looking at the evidence from both sides (until a few years ago he also believed the world was billions of years old), who spent hours in this canyon doing his own scientific research (he said one hiker there referred to him as "homeless man" because he saw him up there so often with a hammock and his research) versus all of these BYU professors and other men who believed in evolution. He had a discussion with a BYU professor who told him, "You can't talk about religion with science - the two just don't mix" - yet this man believed that the two do mix - that scientific findings testify of Christ. Who was right?  The many educated scholars or the lone researcher? There are many scientists that agree what evidence points to a young earth, but not really in our LDS community.

As I hiked down, I asked Heavenly Father to help me find my place in all of this. Did it matter? Should I care? Obviously one could be faithful member and still believe in evolution. I have seen evidence on both sides of the argument and evidence for both rests on the assumptions that the scientist make (even rock dating rests on assumptions). Observation may be objective, but the interpretation of it is extremely subjective. Most scientist think Vince is wrong. Was I making a fool of myself by encouraging others to listen to him? And to what end?

After I asked this, the parallels between Vince and the movie I had seen the night before flooded my mind. I hadn't considered them before, but there they were. The movie was about a mathematician who was ridiculed - who would not be believed until he could show his proofs. He did the rigorous work of proving his answers and then people started to come around. And here was Vince. He had been ridiculed for his beliefs but he was doing the rigorous work of showing the proof (and it's pretty astounding - he plans to publish it soon). He was okay with being somewhat alone, he said people will continue to come around as some of the latest research with the newer technology from all over starts to become known outside academic circles.  In his experience an ounce of truth spreads quickly once it catches hold.

Asking this question also led me to think about the fruits of evolutionary belief that I had seen. "Survival of the fittest" has led some to euthanasia, genocide and the belief that all men are not created equal (undermining our constitution and freedom). The belief we descended from animals leads some to abortion, the breakdown of the family, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse and selfishness. The belief that the earth created itself without miracle, but through natural processes over billions of years - leads some to question the existence or the need for a God. The belief that some of the scriptures are metaphorical and some are literal has led many to question the garden of Eden and the story of Christ.

As I hiked down peace came again and my mind became more clear.  People like Vince are rare - people who are willing to look weird and share their counter-cultural beliefs with others - people who are willing to do sit outside for ours doing their own research instead of just believing what the experts say. But historically these people are those that break through current paradigms and shine additional light of knowledge in any field. It was an inspiring privilege to get to hike with a man like that. I decided I don't mind being on his boat. It's what I asked for after all :-)

I wanted a picture of Dallin, but he'd only do it if it was a selfie with both of us. This is when we got lost for a little bit when we accidentally took a path away from the group. 
(If you're interested,  you can subscribe to this newsletter if you want to keep up to date on creationist lectures through the state and some of the latest findings. You can also join my study group or start one of your own if you want some direction in your scientific studies.)

Other pictures from the week:
I only have three this time. My phone was missing from Tuesday-Friday morning so I didn't get many pictures.

Guest Speaker on China for our KIP Academy family group

The movie at the retreat ended at 1am on Oct 22nd - the time and day Cassia was born. Here we are singing her Happy Birthday at 1am.
Breakfast on Saturday morning on the retreat

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Coming Alive by Learning to Listen

I have a lot of things in my heart lately. We are going through a lot of changes in our family. I tend to evaluate life in the midst of change.

How is our family? How are our relationships? How can we be more in tune?

Maybe because change also makes it so we have to make lots of decisions. I examine what's most important to me, make sure it's most important to the Lord too, and try to move forward with decisions based on those principles...

Does this choice improve my relationship with God? Does it improve my relationship with my husband? Does it bring us closer together as a family? Will it help our family better do our part in building the Kingdom of God with the gifts He has blessed us with?

I feel like my Heavenly Father is trying to teach me to be still more often. To listen. It is so hard to listen when there is so much to do. But life has taught me that there is always much to do - if I waited to have time to be still, I would never be still. Part of living a God-centered life is making it a priority to listen often even when the to-do list feels pressing.

I have also learned that it is not only busyness that keeps me from listening. It is also distraction. I've been pondering on ways I can keep myself from being distracted so much. I'm not saying I mean to be serious all the time - but I want to be in tune in whatever I am doing - feeling love for the people around me, gratitude for the the moment, joy in the experience - regardless of the circumstances - laundry, dishes, judgement, hurt, feeling ignored.

What do you do to help you eliminate distractions that numb - that keep you from coming alive?

Learning to listen, and then doing what I feel I am prompted to do - that is how I want to live life. I am making some goals for myselft to help me eliminate distractions from my life. I think having this clear "why" to my goals will help me remember to ask for the motivation I will need to keep them.

Here are some pictures from the last two weeks:

Stewart Falls:
Fernwood Hike:
KIP Academy (family group):
Picnic at a park where I used to play in elementary school:
Battle Creek Canyon:

Joy trying to "dab"

Sunday Walk in South Weber:
The kids were so awesome during conference this time! I was so impressed with them. They drew, colored and took notes:

Waiting for the kids to get done with choir:
Joy loves baths. She asked me for one and I said no (she already had one or two that day), so she took matters into her own hands outside.. 
Science Class:
Green Pond:
Bike Ride:

Canyon View Park:
That was a lot of pictures, but I had over 500 from the last couple of weeks - so I narrowed it down as best I could :)  Life is certainly not boring with all these cute kids around (: