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, March 30, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: Doctrine and Covenants 21:4-6

"Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
    For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
    For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory."

In the fall of 2006 my husband suffered from severe depression.  As a result of undiagnosed bipolar disorder and events from his teenage years, his thoughts revolved around suicide, which seemed to him to be the only avenue of escape from the terrible feelings that assaulted him.  We took several trips to the psychiatric emergency room in downtown Phoenix, visited with his primary care doctor, and even spoke with a lady provided for by his work's helpline.  But nothing helped.

I prayed fervently for something to lift him out of his depression, but I also prayed for strength to support and help him through his trials.  As general conference approached, I began to pray that one of the speakers would be inspired to address a topic that would help my husband in his quest to overcome his negative feelings.

Conference weekend arrived and we gathered in our home to listen to both the Saturday and Sunday sessions. I remember that not one speaker, but three speakers in that conference spoke on feelings of self worth, overcoming depression, and forgiving ourselves.  As that third speaker began his talk, covering items of great importance to me and my husband, my husband turned to me, a ghost of a smile on his face.

"You must have a direct line to heaven."

I realized at that moment, that I did; we all do.  Each of us can prepare ourselves to listen to the Lord's prophets and hear the words that He would speak to us if He were here.  Never before had I prayed to receive answers from conference.  I had never thought to.  But in 2006, I could not deny that the Lord had spoken directly to me.  The words that He inspired His servants to say brought me great comfort, and although the talks did not cure my husband of his depression, they helped to open communication between us about the subject, and that communication played a vital role in his eventual recovery.

I've had a lot on my mind lately; I'm anxious to hear what the Lord has to tell me this weekend.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: Ephesians 6: 11-13

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

Every morning I put on my shoes, a pair of gloves and grab our broken green push broom in preparation of feeding our docile, mixed flock of chickens.  If they're docile, why do I need the gloves and broom?  Because of the feisty, full-of-himself rooster waiting just outside the chicken run.

In early October of 2011 my dad brought over ten cute little, fluffy red-brown chicks that peeped and scratched at their cardboard box.  Ten Rhode Island Reds, guaranteed-to-be-hens chicks.  But by the first of February, as the time neared to move the young chickens from their small coop to join the mature chickens in the run, we were pretty certain that one of those now teen-aged birds was not a hen.

Chanticleer, as we called him, had a bigger comb, bigger body, and a fluffier, more colorful greenish tail than his sisters.  The feathers around his neck were shiny and smooth.  And he made a strange croaking sound like a toddler trying to imitate a rooster.

To be sure, I read up on Rhode Island Red roosters.  Chanticleer matched every description I found.  I  also discovered that these roosters were very protective of their flock and had been known to kill a fox if it threatened their hens.

Good.  Hopefully we wouldn't lose anymore of our birds to the wandering neighborhood dogs that had taken at least five of our original flock.

But we wanted chickens for the eggs, not to raise more chickens, so, with the help of my two teenagers, I clipped Chanti's wings and tossed him on the other side of the  fence, into the backyard.

At first he stayed close to the hens.  Whenever I went into the run to feed, water and collect eggs, Chanti would shadow my movements on the other side of the fence.  And his feeble attempts at crowing weren't enough to wake me in the early morning hours.  I felt kind of attached to him.

Attached enough to put off my husband's suggestion that we make a meal out of Chanti.  Instead, I pointed out that we hadn't seen any cats roaming around the yard in the weeks since we'd separated Chanticleer from the rest of the flock.

But the first time the rooster attacked me, I changed my mind.  I had just finished feeding and water the hens and was headed over to give Chanti his share of the feed and refill his water dish.  Walking past him as always, I started to dump the pitcher of water when Chanti jumped at me, his red-brown feathers puffed up like he'd been dried without a dryer sheet.  In response, I threw the rest of the water at him.  With a squawk, he sulked away while I tossed his feed down and hurried back into the house.

Over the next few weeks his attacks became more aggressive.  In the beginning, I could easily fend Chanti off with a quick kick in his direction, but as his crow matured, so did his boldness.  Soon enough I started carrying a short stick anytime I went in to see the hens.  We began dumping Chanti's food over the fence to keep him distracted while we escaped the run and went back to the house.

I didn't start using the broom until Chanti's attack on my husband.  One afternoon, he was checking on the garden, on the opposite side of our large yard than the coop, when Chanticleer came bounding across the lawn and jumped at him.  Twice.  Despite the hard kicks my husband landed in defending himself.

Needless to say, Chanti's days are now numbered.

But, like the wickedness and evil that we know exists in the world, I knew that Chanti had an aggressive streak.  It was part of his nature.  Yet, I didn't prepare myself to face that meanness, until after it almost had painful consequences.  And even after his attacks caused my daughter to spill feed and my son to drop some eggs, we still relied on our own strength to protect us.

Sometimes we face Satan and his temptations the same way, boldly trusting in our own strength and cunning to keep us from his grasp, when we would have been better off girding ourselves with the Lord's armor.

We know the devil's character.  We know he is cunning and tricky and determined to get us.  Knowing this, we should never face him unarmed, but we should beat him off, standing strong in the armor the Lord has given us, even if our only weapon is a broken push broom!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: Galatians 5:13

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."

I heard my husband's aunt banging around in the stairwell as she lugged her bags upstairs.  I thought about offering to help, even set down the measuring spoon I was holding and started toward the stairs, but something stopped me.  What if she didn't want help?  What if by offering to help, I made her feel weak or offended her?  With those thoughts in mind, I waited for her to reach the top of the stairs, thinking that maybe I could give her a hand then.

As I hesitated, my twelve year old son walked into the kitchen and saw his aunt as she approached the gate at the top of the stairs.  "Tricia, do you need help?"  Even as he asked, he was already moving forward, opening the gate and helping her get her bulky bags through.  He then opened the door of the house for her and followed her outside to make sure she was able to get everything in her car.

Why did I hesitate?

Elder M. Russel Ballard, in a general conference session in April of 2011 counseled, "we need to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The still, small voice will let us know who needs our help and what we can do to help them."

I felt the prompting to help, and I wanted to heed it, but I let my fear of man overcome my fear of the Lord.  And this wasn't the first time.

Recently, after learning that a friends daughter was in the hospital in serious condition after a fall off a swing, I thought about the long drive they had from their house to get to the hospital and the rising price of gas and wondered if I could do anything to help.

I considered giving them a call and offering them some money, but I worried I might upset them by assuming they needed my help.

Most times, I don't have too much trouble heeding the Holy Ghost's promptings.  But when they relate to other people, people I don't know very well or even at all, I struggle.  How can I learn to set aside my doubts and worries about how someone will receive my service and just do it?

Elder Ballard offers this advice: "Brothers and sisters, may I reemphasize that the most important attribute of Heavenly Father and of His Beloved Son that we should desire and seek to possess within our lives is the gift of charity, 'the pure love of Christ.' From this gift springs our capacity to love and to serve others as the Savior did."

Charity doesn't come to us overnight.  We have to pray for it, and we have to work to attain it.  As with all things in the gospel of Jesus Christ, line upon line--a little at a time.

The next time the Holy Ghost urges me to do something for someone else, I'll do my best to respond without doubts and worry.  If I succeed, I'll have taken an important step towards developing charity.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Scripture Squiggle: 2 Nephi 24:16

"They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and shall consider thee, and shall say: Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?"

Last night as the family was gathering for scripture and prayer, my 16 year old son told my husband that he needed to talk to us before he went to bed.  My stomach knotted up as I thought about all the awful things he might be about to tell us.

Satan works that way on me.

He starts feeding me all of the worst-case possibilities anytime something breaks, someone is late coming home, or a teenager wants to talk.  And even though I try my best to turn to the Lord and trust the peace and reassurances he gives me, I always seem to keep Satan's version of things in the back of my mind, wondering if maybe he's right.

So as we walked down the hall to my room to talk, I envisioned tales of secret girlfriends, teen pregnancy, failing classes and suspensions from school, even though I know my son stresses over a C on his report card and can't even jokingly lie to us with a straight face.

I let Satan have those few moments to torment me, which he did rather well.

Until my son confessed that he forgot to turn in his application essay for National Junior Honor Society.  Oh that's all?  Why was I worried?

I look forward to the day when Satan's true character is revealed and he stands powerless before the righteous.    I hope I'm there to say, "Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms?"

Until then, I'll try my best to ignore the trembling and shaking he sends in my direction.