Tuesday, September 30, 2008
1. Say, "oh I am sorry to hear that," while backing away?
2. Ask what forms of medication they are taking and recommend some favorites?
3. Ask if they are taking antibiotics just so that you know how close you can come in contact with them?
4. Look at them lovingly and call to remembrance the last time you were sick and truly hope they get better soon?
5. Get mad that they came to work with this apparently spreadable disease?
6. Wonder how this is going to affect their work and help you to meet your deadlines?
7. Make them cookies, soup or whatever a good 'cure-all' can be concocted?
Me, I am a little bit of everything, but mostly 1,2 and 4.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Crazy week! I went to bed last night again thinking about how much I love my job. That’s right! The weekend was amazing. So, remember how I cry…yeah, huge bawl-baby. Rachel and I went to Salem Heights Elementary School, where we had a Signing Time story time. We met with teachers, principal and students who greeted us with the most gracious smiles and attention. The children were absolutely fantastic. I was so impressed by how polite they were. They also shocked me by knowing almost all the signs Rachel taught them. So, instead of teaching them, it was more like a refresher course…you know, just to practice. For me too…since I work at a sign language company and am still learning how to sign ;) I guess I am just really good at verbally communicating…all my close friends can attest to that ;) and I am sure that is why they hired me.
After we spoke with the kindergartners, we were escorted to Salem Heights Church, where they had the most incredible set-up for Rachel. About 300 kids came into the auditorium that was set up for bands and the like. The sound system was incredible and Rachel was amazing. Of course during Caterpillar Dreams, I cried my eyes out.
I was chatting with one of the adults who told me how there are so many people who need to understand that sign language can be for everyone, not just children who are deaf. I mean, we were in Salem in the first place for the Willamette Valley Down Syndrome Association who sponsored this year’s Buddy Walk. We were in Salem because someone saw the vision of what sign language can do to break down communication barriers for children of all abilities.
I am always impressed and touched by stories of people who have benefited from sign language as a means to truly understand their children or students. I spoke with a lady who told me that her daughter, though not born deaf, was born with developmental delays and who really only communicates using sign language. Of course everything is case by case, but she rarely verbalizes making it hard for her mom and dad to truly know what she wants or needs. Some schools feel that the deaf and hard of hearing programs are the only programs that should use sign language, however, after seeing this little girl and meeting her, I know it is more than just that.
As we drove away from the Elementary School and church, we saw the sign outside school that said ‘Welcome Rachel Coleman.’ We missed taking a pic of it, so circled around so we could get a shot.
So…what does Rachel Coleman do in between outreach shows…well, allow me to let you in on a little secret. It involves stopping at some swanky stores to buy sweat patches. That’s right, Rachel sweats…but shh, don’t tell the kids. We don’t want to ruin their romantic notions of this Signing Star. I really don’t even know if they are called sweat patches, but they must do their job, because I never see Rachel sweat (when she is performing). After this summer it might not be a bad idea for me to invest in some. Seriously. And spanx…just saying.
Probably a good problem to have but I had to buy new pants because the pair I was wearing kept falling off. That’s right, I am skinnier. Let’s blame it on the fact that I hadn’t had anything to eat the whole trip and had to force Rachel to eat. KIDDING, but we did find it hard to eat….showbiz, you know. I actually just finished up my Body for Life program. Loved it. Very satisfied with my ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures. Planning on doing it again in November!
So, after buying pants that won’t fall off my skinny little waist ;) hah, we realized that we had 30 minutes to find, or rather, get lost on the way to the other church where Rachel was performing as part of the WVDSA fundraiser. Again…bawled like a baby. Oh, I love it! Everyone was so AWESOME with us. I felt like a princess, as I am sure Rachel did too. It was remarkable to walk into a room, where instead of shaking hands, they totally hugged. Oh…seriously, it was my kind of place.
I am convinced that when people ask for what they want, when they want it…that things happen. Opportunities present themselves in ways that could never have been seen coming. Today, for example opened me up to all those possibilities that had not presented themselves before. After doing PR for others who are very strict on their schedules, I always found it hard to make room for additional or other possibilities. Call me un-spontaneous…ir-spontaneous…whatever the opposite is…but that is generally me. I like having a plan…I am a planner. It is part of my job – making itineraries, scheduling interviews, meeting deadlines, getting approval for all my work prior to letting the public see it…stuff like that. So…over the weekend, I practiced being unreasonable!
Rachel has a best friend who called first thing on Saturday to tell her that she was having a baby. Rachel has become her birth coach and hoped and prayed that this baby would not peak until she was back from both of our trips (remember how we were scheduled to go to Denver?) So, Saturday morning, Rachel woke up to a call from her friend saying that she wasn’t too comfortable in her tummy area and she hurt a little, but not a lot…and that her water broke. Rachel kept saying over and over, “Whose water breaks? That is only something that happens in movies. I can’t believe this…I have to be there.” Rachel sprung into action. I started looking at flights that she could take where she could leave earlier than planned. I called Cory, my contact with the WVDSA to throw around some possibilities of going on earlier rather than later.
I never in my right mind would ask someone who is paying us to be there change their plans on behalf of us, when we would just get there at 7 that night anyway, but I threw out the possibility. With a little back and forth…the WVDSA totally understood and let Rachel perform earlier so we could book it from Salem to Portland. After running around our hotel room (which was totally like our own little apartment) like chickens with our heads cut-off, we managed to – pack all of our things, booked Rachel’s travel plans, decided to eat the Canolli’s at the walk and share, blogged about our hit in the Salem Journal that had a spread from yesterday (thank you Nacho and Sara), called Denver to confirm plans for the next morning, ironed shirts, did hair/makeup, sorted out what items were for the raffle, made separate piles for what to take to the event and what to leave in the car, flirted with the front desk man and the official Signing Time online boyfriend, bandaged my toe (it has since bled for two weeks…due to Salsa classes and boys who are learning) and made it out the door in 45 minutes.
The Buddy Walk was awesome! Again, we met families and others who were so incredibly amazing at making EVERYTHING possible for their children, and in turn for us. I am not going to tell you how long it took us to get to Portland, because I know some of you are related to cops. Fact is, Rachel got on her flight to go deliver a baby in Salt Lake and was going to meet up with me first thing on Sunday morning (at 6:30 a.m.) to do a morning show interview in Denver. The baby didn’t come…Rachel couldn’t find a flight…so DROVE with her husband all the way to Denver to do the show. She believes in this cause and knows that she needed to be there for those families who needed to hear her message. So, she drove 8 hours…and walked right in to the expo in Denver, gave a phenomenal presentation and then got on an airplane. Her friend’s baby was born at 6:34 p.m. last night.
I am so grateful for people who make it possible to do extraordinary things. Whether or not it is for me, my family, my employer, children – everyone who has ever had to change their plans after months of organization in order to have an unforeseeable outcome. Seriously. It is pretty incredible.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Today, while waiting for my plane to Salem, OR (yes...I believe there is a Salem in every state...Salem meaning peace) I noticed the recent airport fashion trends are making it hard for loungers like me to really be a truly respected flier, and to win over the hearts of those cutey-cute boys that love to pick up chicks at the airport (you know you have always romanticized about airport boyfriends/girlfriends). Really. The pointy toe heels, big purses, dangle earrings, hair-doing, make-up wearing, pretty smelling ladies...make me feel like I was on a runway and I was sporting something from the latest and greatest Derelict collection. A mere observation really.
Me, I prefer to wear shoes that are easily taken on and off, a comfortable pair of jeans and a t-shirt. I also sport my purple jacket that I am totally addicted to right now, because sometimes the plane gets a little chilly for my hot body ;). I also prefer to carry my laptop and all other carry-on items, which today includes the 1444 page unabridged version of Count of Monte Cristo, all my power supply items, flight itinerary and information for my boyfriend, Job a.k.a Work, with the formal nickname: Career, in a backpack. I tried carrying a cutesie little purse/briefcase looking thing...but let's be honest, I love distributing all that weight equally...to create a balance, if you will.
I don't like trying to keep one strap of my bag over my shoulder, trying desperately to put my laptop back in my bag with my purse flipping everywhere and all the contents spilling out, including the much needed Burts Bees Wax chapstick, which I have lost on occasion at airports from all my stuff flying out.
All I am saying is if you feel like dressing up to go to the airport, power to you. I will stick with my lounging attire and have a comfortable ride in the process. I find that I have the same thought process when I go to sporting activities.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
SUBMISSION FORMAT AND CONTENT REQUIREMENTS
For years, children have recited the schoolyard chant, "Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel. So eat your beans with every meal!" But something is amiss in the lyrics. Beans are a vegetable, not a fruit! The Vegetable with More® campaign needs America to finally right this musical wrong!
WHAT: Rewrite the classic chant "Beans, beans the magical fruit..." and videotape yourself performing your original lyrics. Simply start your chant with, "Beans, Beans" and then let your rhyming skills flow. Remember you must somewhere in your lyrics convey that beans are a vegetable or veggie.
WHO: Take your place in history and enter the Magical Veggie Challenge by submitting video entries beginning with "Beans, beans" and conveying within that beans are a vegetable or veggie. Gather your friends, family or colleagues and upload your creative video to www.BeanChant.com
WHEN: Enter starting on September 11, 2008. Challenge ends December 12, 2008, so HURRY!
WHERE: Visit www.Beanchant.com to fill out the submission form and upload your video. It's that simple.
WHY: While three out of four adults recognize the classic bean chant, less than half of Americans correctly identify beans as a vegetable. Additionally, almost every family struggles to get their kids to eat their vegetables but many moms are missing an easy solution - beans!
WHAT YOU CAN WIN: The best video of the bunch will be awarded $5,000 and a trip for four to perform the winning chant at an event in Times Square in New York City hosted by .
Remember, December 12th is the deadline! Let's get crazy....
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I flew out of SLC on Friday and arrived in Oklahoma City for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma Buddy Walk, where my boss gave a quick presentation and scored (should I brag?) some pretty awesome interviews while she was there. I posted all those interviews on our Signing Time blog, which I author most of the time. Anyway, I had a pretty 'righteous' time. (I am bringing that word back).
First, we were upgraded to a pretty remarkable room and decided that we were princesses. Well, I decided that we were. It was pretty nice. I highly recommend becoming some kind of gold card member. I need to look into that. The next morning, Rachel did a phenomenal job during her interview on Channel 9. I was able to meet the family that I had been working with long distance, the Klehm's, who have two cute daughter's, one of whom has Down syndrome. Rebecca (momma Klehm) did awesome during the interview too.
We then grabbed a quick bite and headed over to the Buddy Walk. It was HUGE. I was so completely impressed with the event. We didn't have any glitches. The preparation was flawless, and I couldn't have worked with better people! Rachel's performance was AWESOME! We had participation like crazy. It was cool to see how many children were using their signs and knew the songs by heart. We even had some proud dad's that were asked to help sing the Silly Pizza Song. After the performance, we hung around the Buddy Walk and chatted with other families about their experience using Signing Time with their children who have Down syndrome. We heard some pretty remarkable stories. Then, we hopped on a plane and got home at about 11 p.m.
The next day, I attended my Aunt Cindy's wedding. She was married to Tom in the Greek Orthodox church on Highland. It was beautiful. The whole wedding was incredible. I don't remember the name of the priest, but his voice was beautiful as he sang the marital chants. It was so cool to see and hear the ceremony, as I have never attended a Greek Orthodox religious ceremony. I loved it. It was so cool to see that the whole family was there too. After the ceremony, we boogied it up at the reception. We thought it would be pretty funny to take pictures with Cindy and Tom behind us. Turned out pretty good...
It was fun to relive past memories: like the time that I was my Aunt Cindy's flower girl at her first wedding. She put all my hair up in a braid that acted as a crown on top of my head and then filled it up with baby's breath. As the story goes, my cousin Chris called me a 'shrubbery.' Apparently, I was so angry, that I ended up chucking the flowers in the aisles at people with much force and trepidation. I only recall that my outfit was itchy and we covered all the itchy spots with band-aids, I got to ride in a limo, I wore a ton of band-aids on my heels too because the shoes hurt, I wasn't sure how far or hard to throw the flowers while I walked down the aisle, and my parents forced me to dance with Chris at the reception. BLECH, I hated boys. So, Chris and I re-created that moment with the photographer, just for Cindy.
I was able to show off my Greek dancing skills with my sister and some of the Burton clan. It was fun to be part of a tradition that leaves me exhausted and with a consti-smile. I loved it! After the reception, we went over to my Aunt Kellee and Uncle Mike's house and played Shein Hei...another family tradition full of laughter, fighting, bickering...and non-violent (I use that word loosely) competition. It was fun to see that nothing had really changed. Steve will always pick on Eva, Rick will always take the cards without permission, Diane will always say, "Oh, I wanted that card," my mom will always say, "Wait, what is that?" Jamie will always lay out the cards she wasn't able to lay down after someone had won....ah, the memories. My mom and I were able to play all night, chatting it up like little chipmunks...I miss having her around all the time. It is always good to see her.
Ok, so this next weekend, I am in Salem, OR and Denver, CO...so boys, I'm sorry, but maybe October would be better for me....love ya!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
- Hiked Angel's Landing in Zions: I had a group of my favorite people come down and hang in St. George. Going there is probably one of my most favorite things...and to share with people I love...double-plus.
- Took my GRE: Many ask...so, how did you do? I honestly haven't a clue how I did. I am ranking myself at average. So, if you were to place a grade on it, I would give myself a C. Thanks to my lovely tutor, Ben, I totally aced my analytical portion of the test in comparison to my reading comprehensive score. All I know is that I had post-test-anxiety-disorder and have never sweat that much in my life...even on the plane when I was on my way to San Diego. I am looking into prescription deodorants.
- Press Kits: succeeded in getting all press materials out the door for my job. Even though some people in the office commented on how they weren't fond of one aspect of the press kits over another...I am proud to call those my babies, my brainchild, the love of my life. (Special thanks to Erin-who was also involved in the whole project).
- Home makeover: My amazing roommate is the best interior decorator I know. I asked her if she would like to help me re-make my room with all the crap I have...cause I have a lot of crap. Did I mention the crap is WAY cool? Well, it is! She totally re-did my room, rearranged furniture, put new holes in the wall...sorry mom. It is amazing, and I love it almost as much as I love her.
- PR ladies night out: Thanks to Ashley Stolworthy, I was able to meet up with some of the PR gals that I graduated with. We had a lovely night gabbing about the 'nows' of our lives and the 'thens.' Perhaps there will be some 'futures' in there too. It was nice to meet up with people I became really attached to during college. Even though we haven't kept in touch, it was cool to pick up where we left off!
- Farmer's Market: Need I say more? Hallelujah for homemade cheeses and jewelery...two things I a finding I can't live without that make me truly happy ;)
- Music and more: totally picking up on bands that rock. Just recently got invited to participate as part of a CD exchange where people I know will make one mix a month and send it out to 5,6 or 7 people. I just got my online-ordered new CD that features the song I posted earlier with Zach Gill. Pretty awesome stuff.
- Business Trips: I will be in Oklahoma City, OK, Salem, OR and Denver, CO in the next two weeks for business. Busy, busy - sorry to all those boys who want to take me out over the weekend, we are going to have to wait until October ;)
- Planning Greece: the planning for Greece is slowly coming. I am just waiting to hear back from one independent airline. Crossing my fingers that this will all work out in the end. Either that, or we will be nomads....
- Learning to Greek dance: kind of a coincidence, but my aunt is marrying a Greek man. I have since been to their home to learn some Greek wedding dances that I get to dance in one week at their wedding. I also went to the Greek fair here in SLC to pick up on some moves...and Greek men...they really are the most beautiful. Way to go Cindy for catching one!
- Trudi's 5k: I walked the 5k today. Due to some unfortunate circumstances that have left my big toes black and blue....I had to walk today. But you know what, I think I would have walked anyway, regardless of black and blue toes. It was nice to catch up with the other ladies in my life that have truly been incredible BFF's. It was nice to be with a community that truly supports one another and finds joy in contributing time, energy and money to an amazing cause. I wouldn't want to be around any other kind of people.
- Regional Conference: I get the opportunity to hear the prophet speak at our regional conference tomorrow. I am so excited to hear what he has to say!!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Lately I have been contemplating the existence right and wrong. Who or what determines right and wrong? They are just thoughts that I wanted to share. Throughout my life, I have made decisions based upon spiritual revelation and obedience to the laws and commandments that have been set forth for me within the gospel of Jesus Christ. I noticed that by obedience I have received some pretty incredible answers to prayers and have been completely happy in that which I have come to know about my Savior.
Granted I know there are laws and commandments that have been given to be my guide, I have taken a look at people in my life who have (in a non-judgmental word) gone another direction. Perhaps a direction that some would deem as 'wrong ' and by definition 'bad.' Some may even say these people have 'fallen away.'
Someone very close to me took a path that I would not have taken...however through some very hard experiences, he became aware that this path did not make him happy. A feeling of helplessness engulfed him as he fought off addiction and really wanted to go back to a place where he wasn't relying on substances to create an escape. Through this process he realized another path that really made him happy...truly happy. It was the way of the Lord. He found that when he followed the commandments set forth, that he actually reaped consequences that left him inspired, confident, humble and truly happy. I have seen this amazing transformation take place. I cannot begin to comprehend the incredible understanding he must have of the Atonement of Jesus Christ because of the way it has completely changed his life. I see a light in his eyes full of a deep commitment to stay close to the Lord. Completely humbled and willing, this man would do anything to continue to feel the love of his Savior. It is amazing to me to see this incredible change of heart.
So, the question I pose is, was his experience wrong?
It seemed that after I asked myself that question, I really started to think about what makes something right and what makes something wrong. I chatted with many of my friends about this concept and thought some of them had some really awesome insights.
After relating the story mentioned above, one of my friends said, “I often hear people say to me that they were grateful for their mistakes because they learned from them. Naturally we learn from our mistakes, but a mistake is just that –a mistake.” From this conversation, I learned that just because we learn from a mistake, does not excuse the fact that it is a mistake.
After relating the story to another friend, I said something to the effect of, “Who am I to judge the path that my friend had chosen for himself? Because look at him now. He is the most incredibly humble and repentant person I know. Who is to say that without those experiences, he would be this incredibly spiritual person?”
My friend told me that obviously we shouldn’t judge another person for what they have been through, but it is important to recognize that there are many paths for all of us to choose from. My close friend had chosen a path that led him away from the things that I was taught are right. Accordingly, he chose a path of sin. Sin by definition refers to not obeying the laws and commandments of our Father in Heaven. All men/women sin all the time. It is when we get caught in the snares of it and begin to seek after it that we get trapped.
In the talk Be Ye not Deceived by Elder Oaks, it states, “Satan seeks to deceive us about right and wrong and persuade us that there is no such thing as sin. This detour typically starts off with what seems to be only a small departure: “Just try it once. One beer or one cigarette or one porno movie won’t hurt.” What all of these departures have in common is that each of them is addictive. Addiction is a condition in which we surrender part of our power of choice. When we do that we give the devil power over us. The prophet Nephi described where this leads: the devil says, “There is no hell,” and, “I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Ne. 28:22).
If we choose the wrong road, we choose the wrong destination.”
I looked up what right means in comparison to wrong, and I found a scripture in 2 Nephi 25:28-30.
Verse 28: And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand. And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony again you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law.
Verse 29: And now behold I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out
When I first read this scripture, I only read the first two verses...and in regards to what I was pondering, it left me confused and I found myself justifying certain aspects of life based on the sense of only worshiping Christ to be sustained in righteousness, but then I continued reading the last verse.
Verse 30: And, inasmuch as it shall be expedient, ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God until the law shall be fulfilled which was given unto Moses.
It was remarkable how much my thoughts changed after reading the last verse.
I was again chatting with a friend about this. There was so much more thought going through my mind, but I found myself saying, “Well, never denying Christ is good enough for me.” I didn’t really have time to retract what I had said, or add to it, but never denying Christ is a loaded responsibility. To never deny Him means to always remember Him, obey his commandments, fulfill His ordinances and come unto Him always. God is merciful, and He is always just.
From the previous talk, Elder Oaks continues to say that many fall into a trap of carnal security, being ok with where they are in life but not really heeding the counsel of Heavenly Father through his prophets. He continues by saying, “Those who fall for this deception may profess to believe in God, but they do not take His commandments or His justice seriously. They are confident in their own prosperity and conclude that God must have accepted their chosen route.
Many in the world deny the need for a Savior. Others deny that there is any right or wrong, and they scoff at the idea of sin or a devil. Still others rely on the mercy of God and ignore His justice.”
In the talk entitled Righteousness, Elder William R. Bradford said, “We live in a time when many men and women do not prescribe morality to their actions, and so they believe that what they do has only social consequences. In this they deny God, and they also deny that things are either right or they are wrong.”
So, now it is important to define right.
Elder Oaks in a talk entitled Religious Values and Public Policy said, “I cannot think of anything more important than for each of you to build a firm, personal testimony that there are in this life some absolutes, things that never change, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. They are eternal truths, eternal principles and, as Paul tells us, they are and will be the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Unfortunately, other educators deny the existence of God or deem God irrelevant to the human condition. Persons who accept this view deny the existence of moral absolutes. They maintain that right and wrong are relative concepts, and morality is merely a matter of personal choice or expediency. For example, a university professor reported that her students lacked what she called “moral common sense.” She said they believed that “there was no such thing as right or wrong, just good or bad arguments.” In that view, even the most fundamental moral questions have at least two sides, and every assertion of right or wrong is open to debate.
Many differences of opinion over the role of religion in public life simply mirror a difference of opinion over whether there are moral absolutes. But this underlying difference is rarely made explicit. It is as if those who assume that all values are relative have established their assumption by law or tradition and have rendered illegitimate the fundamental belief of those who hold that some values are absolute.”
From this, I learned that right and wrong are not open to debate. It is very real. Just as everything has its opposite, so it is with right and wrong. In 2 Nephi 2: 11, it reads, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad….”
It continues in verse 13: “And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall say there is no sin. If ye shall also say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness, there be no happiness. Ad if there be no righteousness, nor happiness there be no punishment or misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God, we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore all things must have vanished away.”
I found that to be pretty profound. Without an opposition in all things, what is the purpose of life? That would then mean that without opposition, there would be no need for repentance, no need for guilt, no need for happiness, no need for a Savior. Kind of seems like a hopeless situation. Me, I prefer to hope. As for the rest, I will save that for a whole other discussion.
I also want to add that right or righteousness is governed by eternal truths and principals set in place by our Savior, and that these truths are unchangeable, just as God is unchangeable.
So then I thought, well I think I know how I can tell right from wrong, but how do I know for sure? I feel like there are often times gray areas.
In the talk Discerning Right from Wrong, Elder Faust said, "Occasionally our well-meaning young people want every detail of appropriate and inappropriate conduct to be specified, perhaps so they can feel comfortable in getting closer to the edge. They sometimes seem more concerned with what the gospel prohibits than what it gives. . . .
My strong advice is, if there is any question about your personal conduct, don't do it. It is the responsibility of prophets to teach the word of God—not to spell out every jot and tittle of human behavior. Our moral agency requires us to know good from evil and choose the good.
If we are trying to avoid not only evil, but the very appearance of evil, we will act for ourselves and not be acted upon."
In the talk, Walking in the Light by Elder Eyring, it states, “Long ago Heavenly Father, through His prophets, gave us a way to know which choices matter most and why—and how to make them.
But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Wherefore, take heed … that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
The scriptures tell us the source and the power of the light.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him."
This quote goes back to what I already pointed out in a sense that it is my responsibility to never deny Christ, and by so doing, I am doing good continually. Anything that is good, is to not deny Him…and so it is a circle.
In the talk Finding Joy in Life by Richard G. Scott, it states: “Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. That path leads to glorious joy and happiness.”
In conclusion, I would like to share my personal witness that I know that everything has an opposite, and because everything has an opposite that right and wrong do exist. I know that if right and wrong exist, there must be a means to determine what is right and what is wrong. I know that if wrong exists then I make mistakes and that mistakes are just that – mistakes. It is not just a moral implication. I know that if wrong exists, there would be mistakes, guilt, sin and remorse – there would be a need for a Savior to make the wrong things disappear until they are righted. I understand and know that to do right means to never deny Jesus Christ and by not denying Christ, I am following the commandments and actively participating in the ordinances and laws set forth by Him. I also know that I have the ability and capacity to know good from evil by the power of the Holy Ghost. With that I know that God is merciful and He is also just.
I love my Savior, Jesus Christ who has given me the gift of life and happiness. I love my Heavenly Father who made this wonderful plan, who provided a Savior for me so that when I do stumble into the wrong, that I have the opportunity repent of my mistakes and come unto Him.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
On my very first day, I knew that I was so lucky to have been hired by this company. I was able to see Rachel, Alex and Leah perform for children of all abilities during their LIVE concert. I got teary-eyed during some of the songs (what's new, right). Parents were up most of the time with their children, dancing, singing and signing. Everyone had a blast. Even though I hadn't worked there for longer than a couple hours, I knew what Signing Time was all about. Since then, I have been working really hard to try to get the word out about what I know. Part of my job is to make other people aware of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. As part of that, I get to be a part of this greater whole: to make products that encourage communication for children of ALL abilities through American Sign Language (ASL). You can read All about us: OUR STORY too.
I get to see behind the scenes. I get to cry from reading testimonials of people whose words have influenced the next best thing. I get to see families ask for more of our product because of the difference it has had in their lives. I get to see Rachel's face when we tell her about this email or that of people who have been influenced because she and her sister were inspired with this mission. I get to see these products (over and over and over ;) before they are released. I get to give input on the best way to make it better, or more effective, or whatever. I get to go with Rachel on her outreach events and coordinate interviews, travel arrangements, meet and greets, events and presentations where I cry every time when she tells her story because it is so phenomenal. I GET to do all that.
And I also get to post the previews for the newest DVDs so you can get a glimpse of our new babies, Baby Signing Time 3 & 4. I wasn't involved in the production of these shows other than a couple comments and helping out with putting together text for auditions -- oh no, that was our incredible team here at the office that did that, but I was able to "ooh" and "aah" and comment on how much these DVDs make me feel warm and fuzzy!
Check out these new previews for the upcoming Baby Signing Time 3 & 4 that will be released in October. If you like what you see and WANT some for yourself, we put together a BLOG contest right now where you can enter to win the entire Baby Signing Time Gift Set (1,2,3 and 4) with the accompanying CDs. (I sound like an ad right?) OK, here are those videos.
Baby Signing Time Volume 3: A New Day
Baby Signing Time Volume 4: Let's be Friends
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!!
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
To infinity and beyond: A sparkling survival story
(CNN) -- Walter Marino shouted to his 12-year-old son, Christopher, as he drifted farther away in the Atlantic Ocean.
"And beyond," Christopher replied.
After a rip current swept the boy and his father out to sea Saturday, darkness fell, and the sound of rescue helicopters and boats grew faint until they were nonexistent.
Despite the danger, Christopher, who has autism, was enjoying himself, his father said. The boy lacks a fear of death because of his autism and finds comfort in the water, Marino told CNN.
Marino finds comfort in his son. Their unique circumstances helped keep them alive for more than 12 hours in the open ocean, Marino said.
"With many kids with autism, the thing that is so dangerous is that they have no concept of fear or fear of death," Marino said. "In this case, though, it perhaps saved him -- that and the fact that water is one of his favorite things. Whenever he goes missing or tries to run away, we can always find him near water ... even at the mall if it is just near a fountain." See a map of where the father and son were rescued »
Christopher was laughing as the father and son were pulled farther and farther from Ponce Inlet, Florida. As the pair lunged for buoys -- and missed -- Christopher couldn't help but giggle. It was this spirit that helped ground Marino, the father said.
"It was a big entertainment roller coaster for him, that's what got me through it -- because he wasn't freaking out," said Marino, 46.
But after four hours at sea without a life vest, and after it became obvious that rescue operations had ceased for the night, jellyfish began to sting the pair. That began to "freak Christopher out," his father said.
While Christopher is almost nonverbal in his communication, he and his father use catch phases from Disney movies, which the boy loves, to communicate.
After four hours, the currents picked up, and Christopher began to drift from his father's reach. Because of the darkness, they couldn't see each other. So Marino shouted out part of a phrase to his son. Watch the Marino family talk about the ordeal with CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta »
"To infinity," Marino shouted, referencing one of Christopher's favorite lines from the movie "Toy Story."
"And beyond," Christopher shouted back, pumping his fist in the air like movie character Buzz Lightyear.
The call and response went on for a while, with Marino choosing different phrases and Christopher yelling back. But over the course of an hour, Christopher's voice faded until his father couldn't hear him anymore.
"That's when I resigned myself to the fact that he was gone," Marino told CNN, saying he believed his son had been pulled under the water. At the time, Marino said, he thought about giving up, until he thought of his daughter Angela. She had just registered for ballroom dance classes, and he told himself over and over he would live to see her dance.
"I just kept thinking about her and how I was not going to leave her without a brother and her father in the same day -- not on my watch," he told CNN. "It was the visual of her that kept me going."
Marino used other tricks to keep his mind focused in the 81-degree water. He remembered going to the Ponce Inlet museum, which highlighted a lighthouse. He then set out to use the lighthouse as a guide for himself, so he would know how far he was from shore.
He alternated doing the "doggie paddle" and floating on his back with his ears in the water, the way his son loved to.
He would float on his back and watch the bright stars. He wished on four shooting stars that flew by and used constellations in the sky to know what direction to go if he drifted away.
Under the stars and in the dark Atlantic, he turned to his spirituality, realizing his life was in God's hands. A religious medal rested on his chest.
As morning turned, Marino tried to stay alert for sounds that might mean help was near.
Hearing a boat motor, he waved frantically.
Soon, a group of fishermen pulled him aboard their boat. A flash of light from the medallion had caught the eye of one of the anglers, who shouted at his brother at the helm to stop the boat, one of Marino's rescuers told him.
The first thing Marino asked was if the men had heard anything about his son, but they hadn't.
Marino began to grieve. It had been nearly eight hours since he had last seen his son, and he believed he was gone for good. He wept.
When the U.S. Coast Guard arrived, Marino asked them, too, about Christopher, but they said they had not found him. The Coast Guard crew asked if he wanted to go to the hospital, but he decided to stay on the boat so the search for Christopher wouldn't be disrupted.
But Marino chose not to watch the water as the search went on.
"I chose to be down below, because I didn't want to see them pull up on Christopher being face-down in the water," he said.
So the Coast Guard vessel steamed on. After more than an hour, the boat went full throttle, jolting Marino backward in his space below deck. Suddenly, the boat was idling, and Marino was asked to come topside.
"That was my personal green mile," Marino told CNN, a reference to what some people call the walk on death row from the cell to the execution chamber.
"I took three steps up the green mile to the back of the deck, and they pointed to the helicopter and they said, 'You see that helicopter? It has your son on it, and he is fine,' " Marino recalled a crew member saying.
Marino was so excited he began "kissing all the Coast Guard guys." Watch Walter Marino thank the Coast Guard »
The father and son were reunited at the emergency room at Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where they were treated for dehydration.
"We were both very weak, tired and thirsty," Marino said. "But I reached out and held his hand and could tell from the same sparkle in his eye that he was going to be fine."
While Christopher can't truly communicate what he felt during those hours alone at sea, his father hopes that one day, he will be able to tell him what he felt alone in the Atlantic.
The one thing Marino knows is that his son still loves the water and that the experience hasn't taken away that special comfort from him."It may be a while before we go back to a beach," Marino said. "But he still loves the water. He's already gotten back in a pool."
Monday, September 8, 2008
I have had the privilege of talking with parents who have been so completely touched by the production. I tell my boss that I cry on an everyday basis....not because I am sad, but because I am touched by the different stories and circumstances of these families who have overcome communication barriers with their children, because of Signing Time.
I am going to post a video of one story that truly touched me. I was mostly behind the scenes on this, but I had an opportunity to be involved...and for that, I am grateful. Grateful to work at a company where I completely respect and agree with the mission: to create products that are dedicated to teaching children of ALL abilities to communicate using American Sign Language.
Everyone, meet Rhett.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The next morning we all went to sacrament meeting, where Brendon prepared his talk during the opening hymn ;) Just kidding, that is what he said, but I know he probably thought about it before then! My sister and I cried...and cried some more. It was so awesome to hear my brother's testimony. I have never heard him share it before. It was really cool to see how much he has matured and grown over the past couple years. It has been so fun to be his older sister and see how much he has really become a man. It was so nice to have the family there. I even got to see my good friend Scott. We all sat down to a nice family dinner and talked about our favorite memories with Brendon...made fun of each other, and as always, ended up laughing through nightly prayers - a past time that has haunted our family for years. I don't think we have made it through a family prayer without giggling.
I will miss Elder Blau, but so far, I already know he is loving it! It took him about two days to get to South Africa...and they have already put him to work. I am so proud to call him my brother. What an incredible person. He has truly grown into someone who really has the capacity and understanding relaying the good news of the gospel, that Christ lives!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower - Albert Camus, French novelist.
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves - John Muir
Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile - William Culllen Bryant
So, as I sit here in my office with my space-heater on (because the air conditioner is still on in the office and is not off-setting how cold it is outside), I will breathe one deep breath and welcome the fall.