Sunday, October 26, 2008

Turkey, anyone?

Jerry just spent a few minutes reviewing our pictures from the recent zoo trip. As he examined the turkeys I'd photographed in all their autumn glory, he commented, "Turkeys are gross. I don't think I want to eat them anymore." We will remind Jerry of those sentiments come November 27th...But I have to agree. Turkeys are vile creatures, with propensity to eat all sorts of garbage if they find access. Their featherless heads remind me of vultures or some other type of carrion eater. The Bear picture was taken by Jerry. He has a good eye for opportune moments, and caught the bear's thin pink tongue flicking out for a sip of water. Giraffes were Jerry's favorite, because he wooed them close enough to touch their furry heads with his fingers. Giraffes have purple tongues as long as my forearm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

One more reason

There are different types of understanding. Spiritual, intellectual, and cultural facets are just a few of the lenses through which to understand other people, events, and issues. Have you ever had an understanding in just one area, and then felt enriched by expanding that understanding to other realms as well? In a recent post I remarked on my spiritual acceptance of the need to support Proposition 8. While gaining my own spiritual understanding of the need to protect marriage was a fulfilling process, I have found my resolve to promote Prop. 8 strengthened by learning legal and cultural implications as well. I now have a cultural understanding of the need to protect marriage as it is currently defined, between a man and a woman.

If the US government accepts same-sex marriages as equal to heterosexual marriages, the schools, businesses, churches, and other organizations of society will eventually be pressured to accept same-sex marriages, or be severely penalized for failure to do so. For example, imagine Proposition 8 fails. If I am a public school teacher reviewing sex-ed with my fourth grade class, I would now have to teach the children that homosexual acts are normal and okay, if they feel so inclined. If I am a church who rents facilities for marriages, I would suddenly have to allow gay marriages to be performed in the church or risk expensive lawsuits for my "discrimination."

The movement pressuring the US culture to accept homosexuality is understandable to some degree--what if I had a significant part of my lifestyle persecuted or inhibited? I would feel terrible.

But wait! That is exactly what will happen to the majority of the US population if proposition 8 is overturned; their heterosexual family lifestyle and moral beliefs WILL be persecuted and inhibited. Civil rights groups are even now straining at their leashes to begin taking legal action against any entity who discriminates against same-sex marriages. Visualize cultural violence. Visualize the lifestyle of a fundamentalist, faithful follower of Jesus Christ being ridiculed for his or her beliefs. It is happening already.

But also visualize protection. "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." --Ephesians 6:12-13

Protect religious freedom, protect parental rights, protect the culture of faith and duty to God on which the United States was founded. Vote YES on Proposition 8! Encourage others to do the same.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I came home from class with rather a frowning countenance--call it the predictable result of midterms and lack of sleep. But as it is Thankful Thursday, I found a lot of blessings to count. My number one favorite blessing: good neighbors. We live in a community of saints, where everyone helps each other with joyful abandon.

One example is the communal sharing of children. Two of those pictured are straight from Mexico. Their mother entered the MBA program this semester, which takes 90+ hours per week, and their father is employed outside the home for a portion of each day, so various ward members split up the shifts and the kids get tended. Today was their day at our home, and we also managed to reserve the kids for next Thursday, when we will take them to an on-campus children's Halloween party! I remember feeling wistful last Halloween when I walked by the party on campus and realized you had to have children to be admitted. So borrowing a few kids this year is my strategic plan to crash the bash.

The third child pictured recently moved here from Korea with his family. We met him on the playground. Then, at his invitation, we invaded his home to check out his famous magnet toy which, he assured us, promised crazy amounts of fun. We had fun indeed, and his mother--in true Korean hospitality--even gave us all a snack and a couple sacks of potatoes to take with us on our journey out the door. (I know, potatos seem a little random, but what kind of Idaho girl could resist such an offering? They are even caked with dirt in the manner of freshly dug tubers)

At one point I started grasping for ideas of kid-friendly activities in our non-child-oriented home, so I whipped out a few rags of fabric from my quilting pile and tried to get the kids to dance with their fabric pieces. They appeased me for a good 30 seconds before deciding to tie the fabrics on each other's heads like blindfolds. Then they staggered around the room with dizzy blindness, laughing like cherubs.

Probably those of you who have children grace your home on a regular/permanent basis find these anecdotes unremarkable--but to Jerry and me, each moment brought new surprises and a constant smile to our lips.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Proposition 8

I like to think of myself as an activist--someone who stands up for what I believe is morally sound, regardless of opposition. However, I had to pray for desire to join the movement for Proposition 8. I have friends and acquaintances who either term themselves "gay" or say they have "same gender attraction." I love these friends, and want their happiness. A portion of my morals says, "Let them use their agency, and learn from the consequences--just stay out of all this fervor."

But as I prayed for how to reconcile these feelings with the clarion call of my church leaders to defend Proposition 8, I felt an empowering realization: Aside from having a moral obligation to allow for agency of others, another part of my personal moral belief calls for protection of the sacred.

Sacred means, in one dictionary definition, something holy that must be "secured against violation, infringement, etc., as by reverence or sense of right." Marriage, as an institution given by God, holds the title "sacred" in my mind. If marriage becomes allowed to describe unions not sanctioned by God (i.e. same gender unions), the term will have been "violated." Therefore, I feel a motivation to secure this institution against infringment, and urge others to do the same.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All Creatures Great and Small

My highschool friend Trina lives close by, so we try make it out to see her once in awhile. Little brother Davey, Mom, Jerry and I all joined Trina and her two young'uns for a jaunt around Hogle Zoo. Highlights:

Jerry managed to get a free ice cream cone without even asking (his charisma amazes us all).

AND we stayed in the zoo 4 minutes past closing time so we could hunt down the kangaroo for Elder Steele. He's headed for Australia in just two months now, and seems pretty well adjusted to the MTC. Thanks all for the letters, packages and help you have given him!

General Conference

Every October and April, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a world-wide broadcast conference. We tuned in to all four sessions over this past Saturday and Sunday. If you missed any of it, look it up at You can listen to the most recent conference using MP3, and later will be able to access video and text archives. Every speaker brings a feast of wisdom, hope, and spiritual strength. Here are a few points from one "Tam Fam Favorite:"

Elder L. Tom Perry, pictured above, shared some intimate stories from his earlier years. During a period when he faced struggles in employment and his wife was deathly ill, he identified with Henry David Thoreau in seeking spiritual strength through a simplified lifestyle. During this trial, the Perrys would either walk around Walden Pond together, or if Sister Perry's energy waned too much on a given day, the two sat on their car amid the calming pond scene and reflected together.

We have goals to have a simplified lifestyle through following Elder Perry's counsel. He said Thoreau's basic "four needs" could be examined in a spiritual sense:

1. Food: Get regular exercise, quality sleep, and eat a healthy diet; remain free from harmful addictions. Elder Perry cited Doctrine & Covenants 88-89 and the For Strength of Youth pamphlet. The Tams have renewed the goal to get to bed early! Of course we are already impeccable with regards to diet and exercise...

2. Shelter: Let provident living touch your housing plans. Courtney put this plan into effect right away, by picking up a free wall hanging at Deseret Book Store's ladies' night event. Our living room furniture and decor now totals a $20 expenditure overall, and feels rather complete.

3. Clothing: Very casual dress almost always leads to casual manners. Profound to consider how modesty is more than just covering up. We will strive to have gracious actions and speech.

4. Fuel: Spiritual fuel comes through acquiring knowledge of God's plan and surrendering to His will. We build our spiritual reserves daily through prayer as a family, studying the scriptures together, and working to follow the promptings of our inner moral compass.