what is a squiggle?

According to fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Hill, a squiggle is a beginning point, a small, wiggly line on a page with the potential to become something more--a brilliantly drawn fifth-grade picture!

A beginning point. A silly phrase from my preschooler, my teenager rolling his eyes, or my kindergartner deleting my entire 3rd chapter...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: 2 Nephi 28:30

"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have."

I walk up the stairs in my house multiple times in a day, often carrying a sturdy two-year old, and I've done this now for over a year.  So, why don't my legs feel any stronger?  Why do I still struggle up all fifteen steps when my little boy decides he needs a free ride?

The answer, I believe, comes from laziness.  Yes, I climb those darn stairs A LOT!  But I only climb them when I have to.  What would happen if I pushed myself a little and threw in an extra trip down and up every time a task required me to move from one floor to the next?  

Well, for one thing, my thighs and buttocks would scream at me the next morning.  And they would protest each step I took the next day.  But if were to challenge my body by continuing the extra trips, soon my legs would get stronger and I could totally handle it.  However, if I didn't continue to challenge myself, adding even more journeys down and up, my strength would again plateau.

Spiritually, we are much the same.  If we try to glide through life on the basic primary answers--say your prayers, go to church and read your scriptures--we will be stuck, our spiritual growth will stagnate.  Climbing the spiritual stairs of prayer, scripture study, and meeting attendance will take all of our energy and never get any easier.

Instead, we must challenge ourselves spiritually: stay on our knees longer, read another verse, try to apply something we learned on Sunday to our lives.  

Spiritual strength doesn't just happen any more than physical strength does.  

One of my favorite quotes is: If you don't feel close to the Lord, who moved?

Start climbing those steps back to Him.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine and Covenants 68:28

"And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord."

Most nights I don't feel like I'm teaching my two youngest boys anything about prayer.  Even when I do manage to convince them to get on their knees and fold their arms, they start driving toy cars around the living room or tackling each other as soon as the prayer starts.

But Wednesday night, my five-year old proved to me that he is indeed learning.

We discovered on Monday that our home's well water was contaminated so my husband and our neighbor had to clean the well and treat it with chlorine.  On Tuesday we were able to turn the water back on, but the water had too much chlorine in it to consume. As my husband and I were headed out to celebrate my birthday, we gave our children strict instructions to only drink from the water bottles we had filled at my parents' house.

When we arrived home, in the madness of getting our children ready for bed, Cyrus came running to me, a look of sheer panic on his face.

"I accidentally drank some of the yucky water!"

I assured him that a little bit, especially since it had come out of our filtered water spout, wouldn't hurt him.  He'd be fine.

Later that night, after Cy had fallen asleep, I learned that his older brother had told him and the other young boys that if they drank the water, they'd die.  No wonder Cy was scared to death.  But since he seemed okay with things, I dismissed the thought.

Until Wednesday evening when Cy again approached me.

"Mom.  Sometimes Secada prays."

"That's good." I didn't turn away from my computer screen.

"Sometimes I pray.  I prayed last night."

"Oh.  What did you pray for?"  Again, I gave him only a small portion of my attention.

"That I wouldn't die."

That got my attention.  My little Cy-Cy had been afraid he was going to die, and in his fear, he knew enough to turn to his Heavenly Father.  I wrapped him in a hug and tried not to let him see my tears.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: 3 Nephi 16:13

"But if the Gentiles will repent and return unto me, saith the Father, behold they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel."

The man sitting on our tattered green couch looked frustratingly familiar.  He introduced himself and his teenage son as our new home teachers, and I had seen him around the church building a few times, but I was sure I knew him from somewhere else.

I studied him, noting his short blond hair and faded blue eyes, and guessed that he was probably around my age.  Then, when he mentioned his old high school, my old high school, I began to suspect.  As soon as the door closed behind them, I dug out my yearbooks to confirm what I already knew.  It was him, and he didn't seem to remember me.

But then, why would he?  Although the incident at the football game had been important to me, it had probably meant nothing to him.

I saw him everyday the first semester of my freshman year.  We passed in the crowded hallway after Algebra, and after a few weeks I found myself looking forward to seeing his handsome face each day.  Eventually he smiled at me--one of those shy smiles that sent my heart thudding against the books I hugged to my chest.

The next day he stopped me in the middle of the hall, people shoving past us on all sides, and asked if I'd like to meet him at the football game that night.  My mouth felt dry; I didn't trust any sound to come out without squeaking, so I nodded.  I was rewarded with another smile.

"See ya tonight."

My hands shook as I showed the gate attendant my ID card.  I peered around him, trying to catch a glimpse of the bleachers while he counted out the change from my entry fee.  Shoving the bills in my pocket, I walked toward the field, worried that he wouldn't show.

But when I reached the bleachers, he stood and jogged down the steps to reach me.  We walked together back to where he'd been sitting with a group of his friends.

"You look great."  He gave me that smile again.

I sat on the cold metal bench, mumbled a thank you and wiped my sweaty hands on my jeans.

He straddled the bench so he was facing me.  "Do you want a smoke?"

My stomach began to protest my dinner.  I looked from my hands to his smiling, handsome face and swallowed nervously.  Around us, some of his friends had already lit up and the acrid smell of smoke began to drift over me.  I felt a tickle in my lungs as the smoke triggered my asthma; I scratched at my throat.  "I guess not."

"Oh."  His wonderful smile disappeared as he moved to face forward.  "Well, I do."

Not knowing what else to do, I stood up and walked back down the bleachers.  He didn't try to stop me.

No.  He had no reason to remember me.  But that night was the first time anyone had so openly asked me to  do something I knew was wrong.  So I remembered.

And now fifteen years later, he was my home teacher.  A faithful, concerned home teacher, as it turned out, who brought us chocolate chip cookies and Oreos.

Evidence that the Lord gives each of his children a chance to return and repent.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: Isaiah 55:8-9

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

A few years ago, when my car broke down, again, I borrowed my brother's Grand Am, which happened to be the car I learned to drive on.  When I climbed in, even though I hadn't driven the car in a long time, everything felt familiar.  I had no trouble readjusting to driving a stick shift.  So I was very confused when, after stopping to check the mail, I couldn't get the car to start.

I tried every trick I knew before I finally gave in and called my brother.  He ran through the list of things I had already attempted.

"I've done all that."

"Then I don't know what to tell you."

I sighed.  "Great."

"Okay, stupid question: Are you using the right key?"

I rolled my eyes.  "Of course I'm using the right key."  Although he couldn't see me, I raised my hand to prove to him that my car and mailbox keys were in my hand and the Grand Am key was in the ignition.  But the keys in my hand were not mine.  "Oh."

I swapped the keys and the car started immediately on my next attempt.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in trying to figure out the solution to things, that I make things more complicated than they really are.  Or I think I know enough about something that I don't need any outside help.

Most of the time, I'm wrong.

And when I finally yield myself up to sincere prayer, I often find that the answer was so simple, I had merely overlooked it.  But, had I remembered that the Lord's ways are not mine and taken a step back to view my troubles from His perspective, the solution would have been plain before me.

Just as it was with the keys.  I was so certain that the problem had something to do with the car, rather than the driver, that I didn't see my simple mistake.  The world's way is to look outward, to blame our troubles on things beyond our control, but the Lord's way is to look inward.