Friday, January 28, 2011

Hard & More Needful

As I continue to be grateful to the Lord for allowing our family to do a few hard things during this financial struggle of ours, today I find myself in an interesting place. The past day or so has seen us facing some amazingly miserable realities that seemed to put in question the very heart of our beings. Not long ago, however, I realized that “Choosing the best activities sometimes means choosing the best hard activities too.”[1]

Using the words of Dallin H Oaks’ talk in the October 2007 General Conference entitled, “Good, Better, Best”, I’ve edited a few words to reflect this idea of choosing the best Hard activities.
“Just because something is good hard is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good hardgoodhard, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.” things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than
He then recounted the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, explaining that the Savior taught us in this passage that “learning the gospel from the Master Teacher was more ‘needful.’” With my edits, he goes on to say,
“As we consider various choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is goodhard. Other choices are better, and still others are best simply more needful.”

Since Rob lost his job well over two years ago, Rob and I have spent a good amount of time considering our Choices. While unemployed, one encounters a mostly lot of Hard choices and not so many good, better, best ones. During one experience on Elder Groberg’s mission the choice before them was to wait for the wind to pick up or row. By choosing to row, Elder Groberg still had to make a Hard choice, leaving behind any chance of using wind to take them to their destination. In this case the more Needful choice was to leave the sailboat behind. Sacrifice, in and of itself however, is not reason enough to make a Hard choice the right one. Saul discovered, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken [to the commandments of the Lord] than the fat of rams.”[2] Consequently, Elder Groberg discovered that, “We should always pray for help, but we should always listen for inspiration and impressions to proceed in ways different from those we may have thought of”[3] even if those choices aren’t the Hard ones we expected to be more Needful.

I believe that my biggest challenge of late has been correctly understanding which Hard thing He wants me/us to do. Choosing something out of our comfort zone financially or physically is only one type of Hard thing we can choose right now. Another might be to simply “let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.”[4] Or, even more difficult sometimes is the challenge to be confident under pressure. Elder Holland explains, “There are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. … Face your doubts. Master your fears. ‘Cast not away therefore your confidence.’ Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.”[5]

Over and over again during the past few months, I remember expressing how confident I was about getting the job with Valley Landscaping in Virginia. Was that really merely the crazed imagination of someone hungering for a real paycheck after two years? Or was it God giving me the confidence I needed to survive this week?

Rob said yesterday that this rejection felt like “Carson City” all over again, meaning the experience he had two years ago when he interviewed for a job there (which he obviously didn’t get). At first I agreed with him, but then my heart rebelled and suddenly a determination welled up within me that said, “No! This job was/is different!” And shortly thereafter I determined to fast and pray that hearts would be changed so that Rob could get this job. Furthermore, in my heart I determined that I wanted something to happen before noon today that would prove we were on the right track with this.

It was a good fast, but a difficult one too both physically and emotionally. Not feeling real well, I was at a loss today as to what to do. Then the February church magazines came, and I sat down to do my whatever-I-want/“all you can eat” Ensign browsing. And I found the article, “Did I Still Love Him?” and Elder Holland’s quote from above. Somehow that gave me the inspiration, along with a random suggestion from Rob to write and send the following email to the owner and along with a manager of Valley Landscaping.

Subj: Necessity is the mother of ‘taking chances.’ Sam Clemens
Dear Sirs,

It has been well over two years since my husband, Robert Beckstrand, was laid off from his job here in Arizona. Since that time he had tried everything he could to provide for his family. He is a very hard worker who is passionate about landscape architecture and landscaping. That passion has been so strong that despite many voices around us telling him to pursue other vocations, he has adamantly remained in the field he loves. Consequently, everything he has done since being laid off has helped prepare him to do exactly what the position with your company requires.

It is not my intention to continue any further possibly bothersome communications. My heart over the last few days has, sincerely, been full of prayers that you would find peace in the person you chose for this position. However, if you can find it in your hearts, I plead with you to give my husband an opportunity to show you how much he can benefit your company and how faithfully he will fill this position.

~*~Verena Beckstrand

I finished this email before noon today. Of course I would have loved to hear from them today offering him the job. But I did get reassurances from others confirming my hearts desire to hold out hope. And I truly believe that I was inspired to write this, thus answering the determinations of my heart in fasting.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to make God’s will real in my life, to choose having Faith in Him and His inspirations over doubting, even in the face of mounting pressures. What’s going to happen next week? I don’t know, but I am content that it will be in accordance with God’s will and that Rob and I are fulfilling the callings and commandments that He has given us.

And I am at peace with the progress and the more Needful choices we are making to provide for our family.


[1] Personal Journal, Jan 22, 1011.

[2] Hales, Robert D. “Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life.” General Conference, October 2010.

[3] John H. Groberg, “The Lord’s Wind,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 28.
[4] D&C 101:16
[5] Name withheld, "Did I Still Love Him?", Ensign, Feb. 2011, 33–35 (written by the best friend of a home schooling friend of mine, incidentally, though I told her not to tell me her name since it’s ‘withheld’ ;)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

YUP, CRAZY!!! . . . But I don't care.

Honestly, now that I've spent a fair amount of time crying about the email Rob received from VA telling him they weren’t going to hire him, I've decided that I'm not ready to give up on the job yet.

Is that crazy? Actually, I don't care what you think (though you are welcome to share your thoughts, I suppose ;).

I have felt so much peace about it along the way and so much direction, why should I loose faith in that? (Of course, I'm praying very sincerely and humbly that the Lord will tell me if I really am crazy, and I really am trying to hear His answer.) It’s been a rough week with lots of confusing feelings about the job. But over and over in my journal I have spoken about the peace I felt concerning Rob getting this job. So much of what we’ve experienced during the last two years points directly to this job. I really believe that this job is different from all of the jobs we haven’t gotten.

But is the Virginia job just what I want and not what the Lord wants?

Do I want to live 3+ hours from a temple? No. Do I want to leave the close knit (physically & friendship-wise) Ward we live in here? No. Do I want to leave the home schooling community, friends, and opportunities we have in Arizona? No. Do I want to move to a state that requires yearly testing of homeschoolers and more restrictions on immunizations? No. Do I want to live 30 hours driving time from my parents who are both late in their twilight years? No. . . . No! Do I want to leave the rest of my family here in Valley? No. And the list could go on and on.

It’s really about trusting that God has been directing Rob and I during these last two years to get the experience we need for the job he wants us to have. And trusting the peace He has sent us.

All week long I've been praying that Valley Landscaping would feel peace in their decision. The Lord has told me: "Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not be put to shame; for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more." (3 Nephi 22:4 & Isaiah 54:4).

This morning I began wondering why the Lord is having us wait, and I think He wants us to have confidence in the inspirations we have felt. I really do.

Rob sent them a very nice email this afternoon leaving the door open for an offer, I believe.

So folks, as for me, I'm calling for a RECOUNT!!! 

And praying for a miracle.

(Aaaaah, I feel so crazy! But I must believe!)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Report: Free-Range Kids

Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry
By Lenore Skenazy
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009.

I give up. I just have to type up a ‘book report’ on this one. This book taught me so strongly that fear is never a good reason. Furthermore, just because someone else fears, is never a good reason.

When everyone is “imagining the worst-case scenario. . . the result is a lot of people so busy preparing for the hideous and unpredictable future that they think nothing of trampling the safe and happy present.” (44) Wow, that applies to sooo much!

“Blame and fear are like Mean Girls. They pal around together and make everyone feel dumb and self-conscious”. (56) See them for who they are! Take the masks off!

Historian Peter Stearns: “Since the nineteenth century . . . we’ve progressively come to believe that if something bad happens to a kid, parents have to have done something wrong . . . And ironically, it got worse when children stopped dying. When it became so rare for children to die, it became absolutely unacceptable for them to die. And even though it was unlikely, now you had to worry: Maybe they will.” (97) This is so incredibly mind boggling. It’s all so much about pride and blindness and lack of faith and ingratitude that I just am dumbfounded.

“If you can just put the risk in perspective, the fear gets put in perspective too.” (99) ditto

“Fail It’s the new Succeed” (114) Make it fun & cool to fail! 'We love going to the Storehouse for our food, for a while!'

Play killers—Standardized tests, abduction fear, electronics, Elmo (toy doll), Organized activities (126-28) =]

Run out of something every week to help prevent kids from getting spoiled. (169)

Fifty percent of kids hit walking to school are hit by parents driving their kids to school. (176) too funny

Kids are “40 times more likely to die as a passenger in a car crash than to be kidnapped and murdered by a stranger”. (184) We take risks based on what's important to us. Society simply doesn't value children or their independence.

TALKING to strangers is great, going off with them IS NOT. (187) “Don’t talk to strangers’ is one of the most useless pieces of advice ever foisted on us to foist on our children.” (181) Connect, instead of suspect. (Alice)

“Safeguards and laws and medical advances” make “childhood less dangerous than at any other time in the history of human beings”. (194)

"Our children deserve no less. Long live Free-Range Kids." (195)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And Ye Shall Know The Truth, And The Truth Shall Make You Free – Part 2

I feel a yearning to share my thoughts about the new Millennial Science called the Universal Model (UM). My daughter, Emalie, had the privilege this last semester of being the first group of youth mentored by UM’s chief scientist, Dean Sessions. I only caught snatches of information about UM until attending his presentation on January 6th. The spirit of its grandeur I caught early and that awe only grew while joining Emalie on a hike with Dean to look for specimens of Surface Chalcedony on a little hill up Bull Dog Canyon here in the Salt River Valley. 

I now have a treasured box of such specimens and wonderful memories with Dean, his wife, and the rest of the group. Before and since the presentation, however, the joy of gaining and possessing this truth has been its own interesting specimen.

Hard Questions

When the opportunity arose to attend the UM presentation, I invited a few of my sisters. My dear sister Sarah and I had several conversations to help her understand the event I had invited her to. Her comment that she didn’t feel incredibly interested since she wasn’t home schooling right now puzzled me, a lot. Why wouldn’t any one be thrilled to go and what does homeschooling have to do with it? . . . What a wonderful and unexpected question!! The introspection began.

Why was I so excited to go? And what did I expect to do after the presentation? What personal benefit did I see gaining from the presentation?

One of my early thoughts about UM was a picture like this one:

It’s a picture of workers building the Salt Lake City Temple. What a privilege it would have been to be a part of building that iconic temple, a place that opens up the eternities for so very many of our Father’s children. I have no doubts that Emalie and everyone else associated with UM will someday feel the same way about their role now in UM.

But it isn’t just about being there.

After and through my discussions with my sister Sarah, I realized that it’s about rubbing shoulders with someone who has a vision of God’s Mission for him and being inspired by Dean Sessions’ commitment to Truth, to asking the Hard Questions and then doing the Hard Work to find those answers. I’ve found a kinship in these two qualities of his. Most, if not all, of my personal essays are about defining my own Hard Questions and then doing the Hard emotional Work, the work of refining my heart, to find the answers. And I pray that I might be a part of building something great like these Salt Lake Temple builders were and Dean Sessions is today, something that opens, even in a small way, the eternities for others.

“Truth shall spring out of the earth”

One of my very favorite Truths that I’ve found and felt in my heart from Dean and his work on UM, is an understanding of make up of our Earth. Dean Sessions explains that Scientists know that there is liquid inside of the earth. They claim that liquid is magma. UM claims and gives strong evidence that it’s water (and ice at the very core). In this case, truth really did “spring out of the earth” (Psalm 85:11) in the Universal Flood.

But what does it really matter for me to know this?? I have faith that the Bible is true. I’ve even exercised and seen power in its principles, and I’ve felt God’s influence in its pages. Somehow, though, it just feels right for this Truth to be universally understood right now, for the Dark Ages of Science to end. I suspect that God wants us to know Him better through this understanding and also, by this understanding, prepare us for His coming rule and reign on the earth. For me, I really like knowing that the earth has water inside of it. It’s rather like the difference between a Fire & Brimstone God and a Heavenly Father. It just makes me feel more loved.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

And consequently, 
more free.

Free Range Kids

Alice, a good friend of mine, recently introduced me to Lenore Skenazy's book and blog:

I've decided that our family would benefit greatly if our kids had more of the benefits of being Free Range Kids.

So yesterday, when I realized that I had a busy day ahead of me and little time to do something fun with my boys, I made this card for them from Skenazy's book:

And I sent them off on their bikes with a basketball and a deadline of when to come home.

This is how they looked when they returned home (right on time, I might add):

I love my Free Range Kids!!!

To read more about the Beckstrand Family adventures check out the HAPE Beckstrands Blog.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

And Ye Shall Know The Truth, And The Truth Shall Make You Free – Part 1

I feel deeply torn.

In recent years I have witnessed the Lord pouring down His Truth upon His children. While not replacing the simple, direct connection to our Heavenly Father, this Truth has the powerful ability to set us Free.

But is it really our job to POUR this truth out upon our Fellow Man in return for God’s generosity with us? What VERB do we use here??

I wish I had an answer.

Universal Model (UM), the New Millenial Science

Here are my notes from a UM presentation on Jan 6, 2011. My personal thoughts and meanderings on the evening will be coming soon.

This new Millennial Science, which began in 1990, will soon replace Modern Science. The book will be published sometime in 2013 by the head scientist, Dean Sessions. The evening included a presentation and experiments by Dean Sessions as well as presentations by almost a dozen of his associates in UM.

Big Picture of modern science:
Nothing > big bang > chemicals > plants > ape > mankind
(Um, something from nothing?  . . . Really?)

Since this Big Picture was adopted about 100 years ago, no new natural laws have been discovered. Previous to these ‘scientific dark ages,’ theories became natural laws or they were discarded. Modern Scientists are not looking for new Laws, only relative comparisons such as the Theory of Relativity or the Theory of Evolution. Many scientists have been asked the most basic of questions only to give incomprehensible answers. When these answers aren’t excepted, then these scientists quite often merely add more time to their theories.

How do we know something?
The Scientific Method: 5 Senses, Logic, and Reason and also Intuition
Intuition is the source of new discoveries but not the proof—This is not, as near as I can tell, part of the book. The first 7 are. However, God is still a part of his book and his work. For example: Why does the Earth never slow down? How do electrons never slow down? They both need an external source of energy: CUE, the Central Universal Energy.

Dean's associates consider him one of the phenomenal researchers of our generation. He is not willing to compromise truth and attacks the hardest questions. Everything is rigorously validated with the Scientific Method.

Random Facts:
Amber, fossils, and petrified wood are found only on or near the surface of the earth and are made in a matter of days or weeks, not billions of years, with a certain amount of pressure and the right temperature found only in a Universal Flood (Noah’s Flood. . . or Dean’s lab). The Flood was a beautiful creation event. Water is the most abundant compound in the universe.