Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Year and My One Little Word for 2014

In 2012, I chose Whisper.  It helped me to focus on speaking softly and listening closer to the spirit.

In 2013, I chose Serve...then swapped it out for Diligent half way through the year because I felt I was losing myself in the service a bit too much... but I think this year just spun off kilter because I've been on the wrong birth control and it made me a different person.  But I do feel like I have learned to be more diligent in my self discipline by the end of this year.  I have renewed my efforts to be a better person and be closer to my Savior then I have been before. (And I got off that stupid stuff.)

Now I'm looking 2014 in the face with a shock because it seemed like yesterday I was just changing 2013's diapers and now he's walking his little hiney out the door and I'm greeted with a new face.  I'm not sure if this face is friendly or not yet.  2014 has some secrets for me that are not going to be revealed right away.  I visualize 2014, not as a newborn baby like 2013 seemed to be.  But as a cloaked stranger, waiting to lower his or her veil to reveal the face of my future.

In 2014, my family will hopefully, fingers-crossed, most likely be starting a new adventure into the unknown land of living with "Law-school Daddy".  Right now, Daddy is sorta the glue that holds Mommy's sanity in check.  So, let's hope "Law-school Daddy" isn't much different.  Or let's hope "Law-school Daddy's Wife" is up to being Full-time-Dedicated-Mom-of-the-Year, because right now she's feeling a little pathetic at the moment.  The trapeze artist needs more balance before she can walk that rope.

2014 may or may not hold a relocation for our family as well.  You see, law school is big fat book laying on my chest with a binding that won't open yet.  Inside this book's pages lies the answer to where we will live during law school.  Whether we will remain here among this loving outstandingly supportive neighborhood... or whether we will move to [somewhere else] where who knows how supportive or unified the neighborhood will be?  This will be somewhere where my oldest will start second grade, and my second child will start kindergarten.  This will be a place we may live for only one year, but nothing is set.  Nothing is planned.  Nothing is made to order.  This to-go box is going to come ready-made, and when it's cooked through we will be given what we're given.  No turning back.  We'll have to eat it.  That's up to 2014.

That's not to say we have no choices to make.  There will be choices.  The hard part is waiting on what those choices will be.  Are we going to have to decide how to get a second vehicle for commuting?  Or will we be deciding how to downsize our belongings to fit into a small apartment?  Will we be installing new carpet and giving our home a new paint job for us to enjoy, or for someone else to enjoy?  Will we be driving across states with a trailer truck that holds everything we own?  Will I be saying goodbye to my small but promising positions with the little local paper, my little piano students, my essential oils friends, and my ward family?  Or will I get to keep it all?  Somehow that seems like too much to expect right now.

So, as I look at 2014's unfamiliar and shadowy face, I am once again asking myself what I will choose as my One Little Word this year?

Outside of all the unknowns, what are the things I really need to work on this year?

I need more patience.
With my kids.  With my life.  With my husband.  With my family members.  With myself.
I need to breathe.
I need to stop myself from speaking, acting, lunging forward, shouting, screaming, interjecting, rescuing...
I just need to stop.

This is my one little word for 2014.

In that crazy out-of-my-mind moment when all day I have been picking up emergency messes in my house, when my children just haven't been listening to me and I feel like a broken record.
Don't do that.  Don't do that again.  Don't do that.  D o n ' t .


And in that moment when I'm busy, my mind is focused, I'm feeling as though I'll be finished any minute now.  Just a little longer and I will feel accomplished, and my child interrupts me.  Mom.  Just a minute, I'm busy.  Mom!  Just a minute.  Mom, look!  Hold on a second.  MOM!

In that moment when I discover another secret naughty act, after the millions from the day.  That moment when my son looks up at my face with that tiny glimmer of hope in his eyes that maybe if he's just honest with me I won't break.  That moment when I feel like my body is  s h a t t e r i n g  into a million pieces just like that precious heirloom that was happily thrown against the wall earlier that day with a squeal and dashing bare feet.  When I can feel my blood pressure rising and my head begins to pound.

Pause.  B r e a t h e.

I can do all things with the Lord who strengthens me.

This too shall pass.

I'm not perfect, Lord.  Take this cup from me.  Carry my cross for a moment.
I need Thee every hour.
I need Thee, Lord.  Oh, I need Thee.

Tomorrow I will be better.  Tomorrow I'm going to Pause.
Tomorrow will be my jumpstart into 2014, and all the surprises that await.
When if my husband says we will pick up our lives and begin again somewhere new.
Before I react in some unknown way that is now hidden in my subconscious mind where I am not allowing myself to go...
I will Pause.

If when I am given a "golden" opportunity to share my experiences with someone who might "need" it,
Before I voice my opinion
Before I post that comment
Before I interject
I will Pause.

When if I wake up in the night to the sound of little feet shuffling into my room and a groan from the tired man next to me,
Before I roll over and let him deal with it
Before I rush that little body out of the room
I will Pause.
and remember this too shall pass. And do I want it to?

If when I am finding myself distracted by unimportant things and my child is trying to remind me to look them in the eyes again.
Before I brush him off
I will Pause.
and I will see him.

When if I find my kitchen drenched in milk and chocolate chips.
Before I scream.
Before I cry.
Before I fall down dead.
I will Pause.
.... and maybe then I'll find something to laugh about.

Happy New Year!
What's your One Little Word?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Am Already Amazing

For Christmas I got a couple books and so today I began reading a book by Holley Gerth called You're Already Amazing.  It's been quite refreshingly inspiring for me to begin reading a book like this.  I should read more books like this.

Anyway, so far the part that really caught my eye today was a section called "Most People Don't".  She gives examples of the kind of self-talk that can be destructive.  When we sit and think about how most people don't do what we are sitting in front of a computer screen writing for hours on end.  Then it becomes things like "What's the matter with you?  Why can't you be more like most people?"

"Most people don't...wear themselves out in the kitchen because they believe a meal feeds hearts and fills bellies.  Most people don't...throw off their entire schedule because they take time to listen to the stranger in the grocery store who's having a hard day....
...It's true.  Most people don't do what you do, love what you love, feel the kind of passion you feel about that thing.  I started thinking about this recently and I realized we're in pretty good company if we feel like we're not like most people.  After all:
Most people don't build an ark.
Most people don't lead people through the desert to the Promised Land.
Most people don't die on a cross to save the world.
But aren't we glad one person did each of these things?
If most people don't do what you do, and you're passionately pursuing Jesus with your life, then it's probably not just a human plan.  The heartbeat of God is probably somewhere within it.  We need you, just you, to fulfill that purpose, complete that project, bring that gift to the world in a way no one else can.
Most people don't...but you do."

This really struck me.   Because I am constantly giving myself crap about the way I spend my time.  I try to do what I need to do and not just what I want to do because everybody needs priorities.  But my leisure time is always questioned in my mind.  "Is this important enough?"  or "Does any other mother do this in their spare time?"  What spare time?

My sister said something over Thanksgiving that I keep reminding myself too.
"Don't should'a on yourself."
Meaning, don't ever look back with regrets, but instead, think forward.  I'm trying my best to do just that.  Because what I'm doing is good enough.

I don't have to do more to be good enough.  I don't have to do more to be loved.  I am already.  I really am amazing already.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but aChrist bliveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the cfaith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Friday, December 13, 2013

Who's Birthday Is It Anyway?

The transition from childhood to adulthood can be pretty rocky for some people.  It seems like typically the youngest of a family struggles the most with this.  Maybe it's because we are spoiled, or maybe it's because we never want to stop playing or lose the magic of childhood, but something about being the youngest holds us back from embracing the fact that, yes, I'm over twenty years old now.  In fact, I'm reaching thirty soon.  But I guess the number doesn't matter that much because I don't feel that much different (unless I'm jumping on the trampoline or something) and I still want to play and feel the magic of love inside my heart.  Too often adults get caught up in being serious and responsible and forget about having fun and being curious and looking for the wonder in life.

So keeping this in mind, Christmas this year is once again giving me a struggle because I have been wrestling with the magic.  I miss the days when Christmas was all about the childlike excited anticipation of "what's going to happen?" and the belief in things happening that are not ordinary, but special and magical.  Now I get caught up in the idea that I have to make these things happen and I miss out on the magic because I think...I'm not magical.  How am I supposed to create the magic for my family?  And I lose out on that special Christmas feeling that I used to feel all December long as I gazed at the Christmas lights reflecting off the shining ornaments of the Christmas trees, or when I caught snowflakes on my tongue.

But I am starting to remember what the magic really is all about.

I attended a small Christmas party last night where we drank hot cocoa and gathered around their make-shift fire-lit living room with couches and comfy beanbag chairs by the Christmas tree, and listened to stories.  One of the stories was about a little boy living in a backwards town.  I found the story here!  It tells about how on his birthday everyone did what was unexpected and not what was expected.  This little boy spent his entire birthday watching people give each other gifts instead of giving him gifts.  His mother gave his birthday cake to the mailman, and his grandparents came to visit a neighbors house instead of his.  Finally this little boy gets a megaphone and rides around the neighborhood shouting "Who's birthday is it anyway?"

We need to remember who's birthday it is, anyway.

I was truly touched by this story.  When she began reading it, I had no idea how it was going to relate to Christmas, but in the last line it hit me like a dagger to the heart.

I've had all kinds of goals and plans this Christmas.  I wanted to teach my kids to be more selfless by trying to make home-made gifts this year for each other.  It's been a huge challenge, because since my kids are 6 and under really it's me coming up with these home-made gifts for them to help me make for everybody.  It's become overwhelming but I want to see it through.  I want Christmas to be more then just receiving.

Then today I had a telephone conversation with my mother-in-law that prompted me to post this blog post.  She talked about her desire to convey the message about the true meaning of giving gifts at Christmas.  The gift doesn't have to be expensive.  It doesn't have to be stunningly beautiful in a material way.  Giving at Christmas is more then what's wrapped inside the wrapping paper.  It's what you feel inside, and it's what you sacrifice for each other.  My mother-in-law's definition of Christmas is that Christmas is sacrifice.  Because we make sacrifices for each other to remember the greatest sacrifice given to us, that of the Christ.  I'm going to add to this and say Christmas is finding the joy in making sacrifices for others, no matter how small they are.

At the Christmas party last night, we were given Christmas Jars, following after the book by Jason Wright, where we can make a tradition to save a little in the jar all year round in order to save money for gifts for each other in our own family, or to give to another family for Christmas.  It's a beautiful tradition, and shed some light on the little sacrifices we can make all year to remember the sacrifice given to us by our Savior and our Heavenly Father.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Beginning to Understand the Atonement

I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting on the atonement this past Sunday...for seven minutes.  I found this to be a challenge because how could I even begin to introduce the atonement in such a short time.  However, I felt inspired as I prepared to speak, and afterward when I had people come forward to express their appreciation for my talk I'm glad I did it.  I just know there could have been so much more to say. :)

But I thought I would go ahead and post a summary of my talk here for you.

When I told my husband the bishop had asked me to speak on the atonement, he told me, "You'll do fine.  You've got plenty of experience."  And I said, "Thanks....I think."  But in all seriousness, he's right.  I do have plenty of experience using the atonement because I've got problems.  But who doesn't?  Everyone needs the atonement and if you haven't used it yet, you need it too.  But most of us have heard that before.  We know we need to use the atonement, but how do we do it?

Many of us have heard of the steps of repentance before.  I like to think put things into analogies and metaphors in order to better understand them, so let's talk about doing dishes and breaking a plate.  So the sin is I broke the plate.  The first step is to recognize that and take responsibility.  "I broke this plate."  No excuses.  It was no one else's fault.  It wasn't because of anything else.  My hand slipped.  Perhaps it was the water.  But the reasons don't matter.  "I did it."  Sometimes this is the hardest step to take.  But I'll get into that further in a minute.  Next we must feel sad about what we've done.  "I'm sorry that I broke the plate because it was a nice plate."  Then we forsake the sin. "I won't brake any more plates."  And confess the sin, "Mom (or whoever else) I broke this plate."  Then make restitution.

Making restitution is the reason I use the broken plate analogy with my boys.  If one hurts his brother, he has to do more then say he's sorry.  I often tell him, "The plate is still broken."  You can apologize all you want, but until you make restitution for your mistake, nothing changes and nothing gets fixed.  You have to find some glue and put the plate back together the best you can.  Of course, the plate won't ever be the same, but the effort of making things better means a lot more then just saying you're sorry.  So you need to make an honest effort to fixing what you've done.

After this, you forgive yourself and you forgive others.  Lastly, you continue to keep the commandments.  If you break the plate again, it all starts over, and that plate would be a lot harder to mend.

I think when contemplating these steps of repentance, the first part gets skipped over sometimes but I feel like that first step can be the hardest part.  It can be very difficult to first recognize our sins and shortcomings, not because we don't know right from wrong, but because bad habits sometimes become somehow precious to us and hard to let go.  So in order to keep them, we hide them even from ourselves.  The natural man within us makes excuses and justifications for our behavior to satisfy our conscience and deny our own guilt.  Because really looking at our own imperfections can be painfult.  It hurts to take responsibility.  But there is a purpose in that pain.

Our body feels physical pain to warn us.  It's like our body is telling us, "Stop.  Don't do that."  The same with spiritual pain.  Our spirit is warning us, "Stop!  Don't do that again!"  We also have to remember that there is godly sorrow and then there is worldy sorrow.  Godly sorrow is feeling guilty for a wrongdoing, whereas worldy sorrow is when we feel shame for self.  Only godly sorrow is the Lord's way to heal.

The first step to be completely honest with ourselves is about swallowing pride and accepting the fact that we are not perfect and that we have a problem we need help fixing because we cannot overcome our problems on our own.  One of Satan's biggest lies is when we tell ourselves we're fine.  We can do it on our own.  We don't need help.  The truth is, we need the Lord's help and He's always there to help us!

As Ammon puts it in Alma 26:11-12, "I know I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things."  If we humble ourselves and realize we are powerless against our sins and bad habits, we find that we must put our faith and trust in the Lord's help to give us the help we need.

One way I've learned to begin to use the atonement in my everyday life is by keeping a journal daily and studying the scriptures daily to really give myself an honest reflection of my life.  How am I doing?  Every day I ask myself this question.  I look at both the good and bad in my life to find patterns in my behavior and so I can find my strengths and my weaknesses and how I define myself.  Also, by praying to the Lord he will help you recognize things you need to acknowledge.  He will help you with one at a time.

When we are talking about our own nothingness we also need to acknowledge our great worth.  In order to illustrate this concept better, I compare myself to a little child, and the Lord to our earthly parents.  A child must rely on his parents for everything.  That child learns how to take care of himself through his parents.  He must rely on his parents to provide him food, shelter and safety, and to teach him everything he needs to know in order to live his life.  In this way, the child is nothing compared to his parent.  He is powerless.  But in the eyes of his parent, that child has worth that stretches beyond what words can express.  This is how I must see myself in comparison with the Lord.  I am nothing as in my abilities, my knowledge, or my power.  But I am still worth so much to Him and I know He loves me more then words.

After acknowledging the sin, feeling sorry and forsaking the sin sometimes follows quite naturally.  If they don't, they can be prayed for.  The other step I wanted to focus a little attention on is confessing.  I can be one thing to acknowledge our sin to ourselves, and the next hardest is to admit it to another person.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: "Repentance can never come until one has bared his soul and admitted his actions without excuses or rationalizations.  Those persons who choose to meet the issue and transform their lives may find repentance the harder road at first, but they will find it the infinitely more desirable path as they taste of its fruits."  After confession, there is no longer anything to hide.  It's our outward demonstration to our inward commitment to give away our sins.

I read recently in the book called Hard Questions, Prophetic Answers by Daniel K. Judd, that often in temple recommend interviews members find it hard to answer the question of whether they are worthy.  Often people respond with something like "I have a lot of weaknesses and I am far from perfect, but I guess I feel okay about answering yes to the question."

The book reads:  "I am always touched by the sincerity and humility of their reply, but I generally probe just a little to make sure they understand the doctrine of the atonement of Christ.  If they understand that doctrine, have accepted Christ, and are sincerely trying to follow Him, they have no need to be shy about declaring their worthiness, because worthiness is so much more about "the righteousness of the Redeemer" than it is about us.  ...The Savior as our advocate with the Father will indeed plead our cause, but instead of putting forth our personal righteousness as evidence of our worthiness to enter the celestial kingdom, He will declare that the righteousness that allows us to enter therein is HIS righteousness--not ours.  We can claim His righteousness as our own by taking upon ourselves His name, always remembering Him, and keeping His commandments, for we must realize that 'it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

I really liked that perspective that when we are being asked about our worthiness, if we are taking advantage of His atonement, we can claim His worthiness as our own, and rely on Him.

To close, I want to share this quote I thought of after further contemplating the atonement.  It's from Bruce C. Hafen in April 1990.

"Some church members feel weighed down with discouragement about the circumstances of their personal lives, even when they are making sustained and admirable efforts.  Frequently, these feelings of self-disappointment come not from wrongdoing, but from stresses and troubles for which we may not be fully to blame.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ applies to these experiences because it applies to all of life.  The Savior can wipe away all our tears, after all we can do...The Savior's Atonement is...the healing power not only for sin, but also for carelessness, inadequacy, and all mortal bitterness.  The Atonement is not just for sinners."

I testify that the atonement is real.  I have felt its power in my own life.  I also testify that I know that when I am actively turning toward my Savior in my daily life and relying on His power and influence to guide me, I am strengthened in ways I cannot explain in any other way but that the Lord takes away my burden.  And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Truth about Love

What Is Love ? by ~PARANOIA--7 on deviantART

I have learned so much about love over the years I've been married.  I've been married only 8 years, so I'm sure there is much more to learn.  The more I learn, the less I know! :)  Socrates knew more then me.  The thing that breaks my heart is how love continually gets advertised in this world as a completely different definition then what it is.

For example, we are told love is about feeling giddy and excited.  Love is when you can't live without someone and are only happy when you are with him or her.  Love is when you are miserable without this person.  Love is the rush of seeing this person walk into the room.  Love is either there or it's not and it cannot change because it's a chemical thing.

All lies.

Love is not selfish.  It's not about me or how I feel.  Actually, love isn't a feeling at all.

Let me explain it this way (and I've heard this before so know I don't own this idea!), love is not a noun but a verb.

*For those English and Grammar junkies like me, let's break it down -if you're not a junkie, just read on- I "love" (noun) you. vs I "love" (verb) you.  What's the difference?  Think about it.

Here's a little story to illustrate.  A man walks into a priest/councilor's office and tells the councilor he doesn't love his wife.  The priest/bishop says to him, "Shame on you."  He says it again, "I don't think you understand.  I don't love her."  The priest/bishop again tells him, "Shame on you."  The man feels misunderstood and frustrated now.  "What do you mean?  It's not my fault.  It does make me sad.  I just don't love her."  Again the priest/bishop responds saying, "Shame on you.  Love is not beyond your control.  If you don't love your wife, you're not doing it right."  After a small conversation the priest/bishop told the man as he left, "Now go LOVE (verb) your wife."

Love is action.

Ever wonder why a mother loves her baby?  It's because she has sacrificed for her baby and continues to sacrifice for her baby every single day.  She puts her baby first and nurtures her baby.  This is why she loves her baby.  Unconditionally.  Because she is not thinking about herself.  She doesn't think to herself, "Oh, today my baby didn't make me happy so I must not love my baby after all."  If she did, everybody would tell her she was a selfish mother that didn't deserve her baby.

Love is not a noun as it seems to be portrayed in romantic comedies and fairytales.  It is in actuality a verb.

It's not an object.  It's not a gift you can be given when you begin a relationship, all wrapped beautifully and tied up with a bow, for you to hold and keep for yourself always.  It cannot be contained or held.  It's an action.  Loving someone is not about how you feel all the time, it's about how you act.

Love is service.
Love is sacrifice.
Love is unselfish acts.
Love is diligent commitment.
Love is pure loyalty.

Finding this new (to me!) definition of love has made me realize that I must take responsibility for the way I love my husband!  It's MY responsibility to love him.  Not his.  If I were to say I didn't love him, that's no one's fault but my own.  It takes away the blaming game.  I can no longer blame him for not making me love him.  That's my responsibility!

Loving my husband is not about what he does or does not do, but what I do.  I must actively love (verb) my husband and then that happy giddy feeling will grow inside and I will love him.  That is truth, even though it's not easy.

It would be so much easier if love was an object or noun, a gift-wrapped thing to hold and enjoy.  But it's not.  It's much more difficult and complicated, but that's what makes love so special.

*I do want to add this:
I do not claim to know what everybody's individual situation is in their own relationships.  Commitment goes both ways and divorce happens more often then anyone would ever want.  But I do believe this is one of the reasons behind it.  No matter your situation, try to be the one to actively love others.  Take responsibility for your own actions and feelings.  Let others be responsible for theirs.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

LDS Church Little Inconsistencies and Repetitions

I've been contemplating a lot about church history lately, being prompted by people on all sides to look more in depth at my own personal beliefs.  My friend did our Sunday School lesson this week and began with this quote:

"The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one who is living in our day and age. This is the prophet who has today's instructions from God to us today. God's revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Every generation has need of the ancient scripture plus the current scripture from the living prophet. Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering which you should do is of the latest inspired words from the Lord's mouthpiece." Ezra Taft Bensen

It struck me quickly and close to home because a lot of the arguments it seems people have come from getting caught up in the little inconsistencies presented throughout the history of the church.  Because God is unchangeable, people think this should not be happening in his one true church.

However, the church is being run by imperfect people on this earth.  Mistakes are made.  Even by apostles and prophets.  They are good men, but they are still men, and imperfect.  They act as God's mouthpiece and lead the church to the best of their abilities.  But as Elder Holland recently said

"Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.10 Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving."

 Recently, I began reading a manual I've had since college institute classes on eternal marriage.  I was reading in the preface and didn't expect to be taught about this subject by a manual on marriage, but here's the quote that pertains to the subject:

"One of the keys to recognizing council to warn us from sin and sorrow is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in these general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third...The Apostle Paul wrote that 'in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established' 2 Cor. 13:1. One of the ways we know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of the prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time." Eternal Marriage Student Manual, preface, viii

I couldn't count how many times I've heard complaints about hearing the same old thing over and over at church, and this includes myself.  Some people may feel their eyes glaze as they think, "Well, I've heard this before.  I already know what this guy is talking about."  But according to this, repetition should get our attention even more and fill us with more urgency about whatever the subject is being repeated.  Especially if it's coming from a general authority during conference weekend again.

Anyone else notice a repetition in this past conference?  I'm sure there were many more, but the one that stuck out most to me was a quote I'd heard before many times and it first (as far as I can see) appeared in this talk in 2000 entitled The Joy of Womanhood, and then again quoted in this past 2013 conference talk entitled The Moral Force of Women:

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity."

I think this is becoming more and more needed in our world, as social culture moves more and more into this worldly definition of a woman.   The world tells us to be tough, coarse, rude, famous, greedy, vain, and popular.  I see it more and more, and it often makes women in Hollywood do desperate things to gain that image.  But this image in no way give happiness to that woman seeking it.  A happy woman seeks to be tender, kind, refined, faithful, good, virtuous, and pure.  This is the way to true happiness.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Does Baptism Mean?

Last Saturday, the General Relief Society Conference was held and I felt I learned a lot about how to better teach my kids about baptismal covenants and what they mean, as well as how to remember my own promises and keep them.  Service is such a big part of that covenant and I never realized that's what it's about.  I always just thought of it as remember Christ and trying to be like him...but in what better way are we trying to be like him then when we serve others?  This is what the baptismal covenant is all about!  Service.  Love.

Being baptized means I'm promising to love and serve others.

It is so simple, and yet being explained this way completely transforms the way I feel about my membership in the church.  I know following the Savior is all about love.  Baptism is about being a member of the church and having my records there.  But combining them?  Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints means I am supposed to love and serve others as Christ did and does.

It's a beautiful way to live.

On Sunday in Relief Society, the lesson was on service and sacrifice too, and I was struck by the word SECRET.  Keeping service a secret isn't a new idea, but somehow I understood this differently then before.

Now, let me just make things clear, I am horrible at keeping my own secrets!  Someone else has a secret?  I keep it to myself.  But my own secrets I'd blab to everyone and their neighbors.  I think it's some completely pathetically sad attempt I make to have friends or get close to other people, but it only succeeds in making me look like a desperate crazy person I think.  But it's SO hard for me to stop telling the world about my darkest secrets.  It's tragic.

But, keeping service a secret is a precious thing, I've realized.  Not only does it save your ego from getting bloated with the big announcement of "Look what I just did for you!" but it also erases selfishness in many other forms.

For about a week, I made a silent resolution to myself to serve my husband by doing EVERYTHING he wanted all week long.  (I had to limit it to a week so it seemed doable.)  I did it, and it felt so good!  I felt more affection and love for him as I silently served him just because I loved him and made little sacrifices for him.  It was HARD to keep it to myself!  It was sort of an inside joke with myself at one point as he asked me what I wanted to do and I said, "Whatever you want, really." and snickered to myself, trying not to tell him.  I got SO close to spilling my beans at that point but I didn't.

Then on Saturday I told him.  Biggest mistake EVER because immediately things changed!  Now, instead of this wonderful loving feeling I had from serving him, I would get resentful the moment he asked me to do anything because I would think, "You know I'm only doing this because I am putting you first right now, so why are you making me do it?"  It became selfish to the point of stubbornness and nothing was enjoyable anymore.  SAD!

So keeping service a secret is a good idea.  I really DO need to put my spouse first more often.  I really DO need to be more respectful toward him and be kind with my words and clean the house with my family in mind because when I do these things, I am serving my family.  Yes, it's quietly, and yes they may not even notice.  But that's better then announcing it to the world and expecting things back that won't come.  It feels so much better to just love other people.

And that's keeping my baptismal covenants.  That is trying to be like Jesus.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I'm so excited.  It's that time of year again when the air gets crisp and starts to smell delicious. That spicy flavor hangs in the air like smoke, smelling of warm baking and things like cinnamon or nutmeg. I love the fall. 

Not to mention the blessing of daylight savings when the kids go to bed more readily,  and waking up in the morning is feels more productive because time had allowed it to be.

But my favorite thing?  Conference is approaching and I get to hear more inspired words from the prophet and apostles of today.  I love conference weekend because it brings a special family togetherness and a beautiful spirit and I am fed.
I used to wonder at other people who could conjur up a talk from a previous conference from memory. But as I have begun reviewing talks on a regular basis I find myself doing this and it feels so good to have these things in my mind.  Study is so important and helps so much.  I love listening to conference talks year round from and I'm so thankful for the technology available so I can do that!  I now have an app on my phone so I can listen to them anytime and anywhere!  It's wonderful! 

I can't wait.  Brace yourselves for my thoughts to come.  :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Drawing Parallels

I was reading in 1 Nephi again, and in chapter 18 is when Nephi is building the ship.  It's a story I've heard countless times but this time I somehow read it differently.  It's such a beautiful thing when something you've seen in the scriptures again and again suddenly becomes new to you in a personal way.  I think it's the nature of truth and perception.

The timing of these new revelations are always just right too.  God knows me.

I read Chapter 18 as follows (subbing in the words that were given to me by the spirit.  Go here for the actual scripture.  "And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the [matters of my home].  Now I [Danielle] did not work [my home] after which was learned by men, neither did I build [my home] after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.  And I [Danielle], did go into the mount [or my private corners] oft, and I did pray unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.  And it came to pass that after I had finished..., according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord."

So the words "my home" are vaguely part of the concept I was given while I was reading.  It's strange how language works below the level of the spirit.  The words "my home" don't adequately describe the feeling I was having to represent what it is I am building.  So I thought I would elaborate for the sake of my memory and whoever reads this might get something from it.

Building a home: also, raising my children, living my life, being my best, serving others, changing the future, influencing the world's a little bigger then just building my home.

The most important part that hit me, however was not this.  It was the council I was getting from this scripture.

"The Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should [continue]."
"I did go unto the mount oft, and I did pray unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things."

Now this could mean go into the temple often, as well as praying often every day.  I believe it meant both.  I know that when I pray daily...and multiple times a day, I am helped in everything I do during that day.  I am given the tools I need.  I'm given more patience with my children.  I'm given more joy in my duties.

So the milk spilled all over the carpet this morning isn't that big a deal.  If I pray.

And the temple is something I really want to develop a better habit in.  It's our 8th anniversary today.  Jimmy and I went to the temple on Saturday to celebrate.  It was incredibly busy and we didn't get into the session.  We decided to do sealings instead because we wanted to go to dinner afterward.  I was a bit let down because they have supposedly done a new presentation to show and I was excited to see it.  But we plan to try going again this weekend and I'm excited to try to go more often.  Because I do believe it would help me to be more positive as I've been trying to do.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Nature of Depression

Ok, so that last post was a downer.  I warned you.  Sorry.

Want something that will make you smile?  My cat is chasing the letters on my computer screen while I type.  Pretty darn cute, right there. :)  He chases my mouse too.  I made a YouTube video about it. :)

Here are some things that make me smile.

Counting my blessings and the Lord's tender mercies in my life.
Like when my kitten came home after a day and a half being completely gone and I thought I'd never see him again.
Or like a friend who brings me an entire meal plus some when all I asked for was a box of macaroni meat mix stuff that she was getting  rid of.
Or like my family going out for a laugh a couple days after the reunion and how I was able to take off that little bit of work in order to do it.
So when our bank account is low, or when our microwave breaks, our tire goes flat, or our clothes washer starts whining, all I need to do is count my blessings.

Another thing that makes me smile?  Getting a better routine to go by and so I get things done.
"Get things done" means I don't neglect myself, the kids, or my house.  Something in each place gets addressed.
So I started doing just that.  I scheduled a type of exercise for each day of the week: Dancing, biking, yoga, or jogging.  So far so good.  I danced with the kids to Hal Palmer yesterday and today I did yoga.  Sweet.
Other must haves on my schedule: Non electronic game time with the kids (cards, boardgames, strategy and teamwork games, etc.), a focus room for chores (today it was the porch, yesterday was my bedroom, but I ended up focusing more on the basement/toyroom), laundry every other day helps.  Just that kind of organization.
Why does this make me happy?
Because if I don't schedule it, I don't do anything.  I have passed days laying around in my robe doing the bare minimum, which means making sure my kids don't destroy the house or kill each other.
Because I have depression.

Having depression is something I haven't acknowledged as "having depression" for...well, never.  I always want to say I'm in charge of how I feel.  I want to say I choose my feelings.  Because that's what I want to do.  I want to be in charge of my own feelings and be responsible for them.  I don't like blaming my feelings on anything else outside of myself.  But it's just not true.  In spite of everything I try, sometimes I still just feel like crying and have to fake a smile.  That's just how it is.  And I can't often explain it or find any reason for it.  It just is.

I didn't realize this until I was discussing introvert/extrovert tendencies with my family.  They talked about how extroverts feed off the energy of other people and so they get lonely easy and have to go be with people.  Introverts feed off their alone time.  It doesn't mean they don't want to be around people, but they can get overwhelmed because they have to be alone for a while to fill up their buckets, so-to-speak.  During the discussion, I found myself asking the question: But what if you feel alone when you are with a group of people?

No one really answered at first and then my brother told me that was the nature of his depression and why he's sort of become a hermit because he can't handle that kind of loneliness.  At least when he's alone he can explain why he's lonely.  I found that very sad.  But I could understand him completely.

And that was my first step in acknowledging my depression.  I like to take St Johns Wart for it.  I took it when I had the baby blues after my last pregnancy, and when I had my miscarriage it helped too.  So I've started that up again and I will look into using essential oils for it as well.  I'm sort of inching away from medicine (I know there is a place for it, so don't judge me.).

But as I've given myself a schedule and started to try to practice positive thinking, counting my blessings, and finding things to be grateful for every day, I feel like the fog is lifting again.  In a way, I am in control.  I just have to catch myself when I feel like something is bogging me down, before I'm left feeling like the tears are about to spill, or I escape to some form of media distraction to keep my mind off life altogether.

I hate that in the past this is what I've done.  Movies, tv, and for a while internet was my go-to escape route.  But because I did that I missed out on my life.  I missed out on the more important things, like my kids and my days.  Because they are mine.  No one else's.  When I lose myself in media, I'm trying to live in someone elses life and it's a tragic way to live.  It's not living at all.

So this is what I'm going to do.  I'm going to do my best to live, acknowledge the issues at hand but pull myself out of the negative thinking fast.  Today I started to tell myself "It's going to be ok.  Everything is going to be fine.  It will be fine."  I had to say it a few times out loud before I believed it and my breathing got easier.  And then it felt like the sun came out on my troubles.  I still don't know if my troubles are fixed or solved and I know my troubles are far from over, but it feels much better realizing the world will not end because of them.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Family Introspection

 Disclaimer:  This post may be a bit of a downer post.  My apologies.

I just drove away from another family reunion with my immediate family this year.
And I cried.

I started crying at the end of my family reunions for the first time a few years ago and it seems like it's become an annual trend.  At first I just said, well, I missed my family.  That was easy and understandable enough.  But I felt it didn't quite hit the mark on the expanse of my emotions.

I'm the youngest child in a family of 8 kids.  I grew up looking at my older sisters and brother as though they had godlike perfection.  I wanted to be just like them.  All of them.  (Sounds possible right?)  I wasn't aware of their mistakes or flaws until much later in life and it sort of hit me like a ton of bricks at first.  I thought "Oh wait, they aren't perfect?" and then of course the afterthought followed, "No of course they aren't perfect."  But this still didn't stop me from admiring their every trait.

As tears sprung once again as I was driving away from this year's family reunion, I began to honestly dissect the reason for my tears.  Yes, I miss my family.  I don't get to see them near as much as I'd like to especially since I became an adult.  I used to be the last one left living with my parents so everyone would come to my house to visit.  Now that I am married with kids I have to go there to visit and ALSO go simultaneously with other family members in order to visit them.  Or make the effort to connect with them at their homes or mine, but this often doesn't go any further then stating "We really should do something sometime."

So the family reunion comes in the summer and the anticipation to see these godlike creatures again in their glory consumes me.  Then I spend a couple days in their presence and am reminded of how much I don't know them as well as I want to know them, and how much I don't think they know me as well as I want them to.  Then it also hits me that I am now the adult I used to fantasize about being someday sans these fantastic traits I love in my older siblings.

I look at sister number 1 and see strength and contentment.  Sister number 2, and her all-consuming happiness and optimism.  Sister number 3 and her healthy respect, let alone her gardening and mothering skills.  Sister number 4 and her joy and enthusiasm with life.  My brother comes next with his unique humor and style.  Sister number 5 adds on the contentment and confidence.  Then of course sister number 6 has always been perfect beyond my ability to understand.  There are traits and beautiful things about each one of these amazing people that I admire so much.  As a kid I used to dream I'd be just like them.  I expected to be, because I was their family.  So I'd inherit these things, right?  But every year I'm reminded that now I'm adult and I still haven't amounted to those things I thought I would.  The biggest thing that seems to run in my family is everybody's innate contentment and resolution to life.  Somehow I skipped that gene.  It takes a lot of work for me to hunker down and get happy about my place in life.

Then I find myself thinking...each one of my siblings has something that stands out as their best quality.  She's good at organizing.  She's good at being positive.  She's supermom and green thumb.  She's fix-it lady and storyteller.  He's the cool, confident quirky one.  She's the cook and awesome mom.  She's the one that's always right.  So......what about me?

I'm the...messy mom with good intentions?

I think the reason I cry after the family reunion every year is because I'm disappointed.  I get so excited to reconnect and never feel like I have reconnected to the extent that I'd be satisfied.  I'm disappointed with myself for not living up to the expectations of who I wanted to become -my siblings.  I'm disappointed that I don't even know what my niche is.  I'm just the youngest.  The observer.  The silent one in conversations that awkwardly speaks up at the wrong time to try to fit in my own story.

People shouldn't compare themselves to other people.  But growing up in a big family of people I've idolized made that really hard for me not to do.  I have lots of good people to compare myself to, and I fall short.

Escaping My Nevers

Things get so busy during the summer I haven't posted as much, but I had some deep thought lately I thought would be post worthy.

As you may have gathered already, I am prone to self-evaluation and examination on a regular basis.  Sometimes this gets to the point of obsession and some people would probably see it as a bit exhausting.  But it's what I do because it's who I am.  I've seen it in personality types, actually.  So I was once again thinking about the way I think.  Which sounds incredibly dull but it's not, it's pretty deep.

I realized in recent months that I am a dreamer in more then just the sense of the words.  Usually when one says "I am a dreamer." People take it as a positive thing, like someone who has a great imagination or someone who thinks big things and does them.  But I haven't been that kind of dreamer.  I am trying to become that kind of dreamer because I see that kind of dreamer as much more healthy then the way I have been for the majority of my life.  I don't dream about what ifs.  I don't dream about somedays.  I found that throughout my life I've dreamed about alter-realities that I think of as nevers.  Because I have accepted within myself these dreams are nevers, I sort of contented myself with a lesser reality and escaped my reality by dreaming.

I recently read a phrase posted on Facebook that said: Your imagination should be used not to escape reality, but to create it.
True dat.

I looked back on my life as a hopeless dreamer and realized something rather tragic.  Because I dreamed in this way, I gave up on reality ever being at all dreamy.  I gave up the hope of a realistic romance or an amazing life.  I told myself things like that only happened on television or only happened to other people.  So of course they never happened to me.  This mindset made me settle so hard in real life and then I would live in my dreams because that was where I felt happy.  But it wasn't real, and I wasn't really happy.  So my depression grew with my disappointment with the gap between real life and my dreams.  But whoever told me my dreams weren't realistic?  Why didn't I think I was good enough for the dream-boat dark and tall to sweep me off my feet?  I think I saw opportunities sometimes and let them pass by because those things don't happen to me.  This mindset really messed up my dating life back in the day.

Over the last year or so I have been focusing on the real more.  I've escaped the dreaming for a while and it's like my head has been lifted out of the deep water.  I took a stroll down the street this summer and it felt like I was seeing my neighborhood clearly for the first time.  I'd walked down that street multiple times in past years but I always did it in a fog of dreams.  I also wasn't taking advantage of my children realistically either.  Instead of seeing the blessings right before my eyes I was dreaming about the blessings I felt I never realistically could have.

Then I opened my eyes to the reality of my blessings.  I am married to a great guy who not only helps cook and clean when he gets home, but he's incredibly responsible and a hard-worker and he cares deeply about me and our children even if he can't express it sometimes in the way I wish he would.  Men are being shaped into emotional's an epidemic that must be stopped.  I could write a whole other post on that, but I'll stop there.  I love my husband.  When I get my head out of the clouds of alter-reality and nevers, I find the nows and the this-is-happenings and realize what I have been SO taking for granted like an idiot.

I am also the mother of some great little boys.  I thought I was investing everything into my children as a good mother should.  I feel guilty all the time as most mothers would because every single day something is not done that should be.  But I've got to learn that the list of to-dos and to-dones will always be lop-sided and priorities must be variable and what I didn't get done today can always be done tomorrow.  And life doesn't end because of my not-done-yet list.  What is most important is that I watch my kids in the now.  I see them today because of course everyone knows the cliche, tomorrow comes too soon.  But the first step is opening my eyes and stop dreaming about nevers because with my kids the possibilities are endless and I know of one never to embrace: I NEVER want my kids to think of their dreams as nevers!

This world I live in is a beautiful place with lots of good.  I'm going to start seeing it for how it truly is, because dreams are founded upon realities.  People really do great things.  Great things really do happen to good people.  Instead of losing myself in my dreams I can work for my dreams to be realities.  I'm going to create and stop escaping.  Because honestly what's real is too good to try to escape.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Greatest Gift to My Family Is to Be Present

Recently I realized something about the way my mind works.  It's been this way for as long as I remember and maybe I sound like a crazy person.  Putting it into words is difficult because it is so hard to explain, and so it makes me feel kind of insane, but I'll do the best I can to describe it.

I live in a dreamland.  My mind is constantly dreaming.  It is not necessarily what-ifs, but what-won't-bes and fantasies that are completely fictional in nature.  But then there are even times when I am in a moment but I am dreaming about how it would be to be in the moment.  I'm not really embracing the fact that I am in actuality IN that moment.

The other day I was thinking to myself "This is happening to me right now." and repeating it in my mind.  "This is actually happening right now."  I remembered something my sister had told me and focused on my senses.  It brought everything in that real moment to life and I was finally about to embrace it completely!  It felt SO GOOD!

I've been told before about how we live in different mind-sets.  There's the "logical mind", the "emotional mind", and the "wise mind'.  The "logical mind" is when you are thinking about something technical, like when you're doing your budget or something.  The "emotional mind" is when you are completely taken by emotion, like when riding a roller coaster or sky diving.  Your entire mind is focused on emotion.  The "wise mind" is when you are using BOTH.  It was hard for me to think of an example of this at first but when I did, I realized...when you are in the "wise mind" you are present.

My first example is easy for a musician to understand.  I play the piano and I feel a release of tension and a solace whenever I do that.  If I let go to make music it's being in my "wise mind" because I am logically thinking about the technical aspect of making music, but then I am letting my emotions also overtake my mind at the same time.  I am in the moment, completely focused on the present.

My sister gave another example of times when she is doing something routine or normal with her family and she seems to step outside of herself and look at her and her family.  She thinks "Look at where we are right now.  Look at the the stage my children are in right now.  This is where we are."  She savors the moment and feels immense gratitude for it.  Feeling gratitude is a wonderful way to be present.

Another sister told me a little trick on how to be in the "wise mind", which was to focus on the senses in any given moment.  Think about how my skin feels, how the air feels, what I can hear and see, what I can smell in the air and how my mouth tastes.  Touching the surface of something and focusing on the roughness or the smoothness of the object.  It enhances the present when you do this.

It helps to put down your cell phone too. ;)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Feeling My Imperfections

I read D&C 50:40-42 lately and rewrote it to personalize it to myself.

"I am a little child and I can't bear all things now; I must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth...Fear not, little child, for I am His and He has overcome the world...and none of us, that the Father hath given to Christ, shall be lost."

I can find strength in this scripture because when I am discouraged I must remember NOT to try to bear everything all at once.  I must give myself the time and patience I deserve to grow.

I keep having to learn the same lessons over and over again and I get tired.
I'm tired!

I want to be able to live joyfully from day to day, doing my mediocre tasks happily and spending worthwhile time with my children.  Far too often my kids seem to be wasting away their time while I am elsewhere wasting away mine.  I want to be the kind of mom that cherishes every moment and takes advantage of it because I know it passes far too quickly.  But I'm tired.  Moments pass and I don't cherish them.  I don't hold my kids close enough.  I can't hold them close enough to stop time.  I can't, and they wouldn't appreciate it if I tried.

I want to be a different kind of mom.  But I'm only me.  And so I must look to God to build up the best of "me" there is and add to it.  Otherwise I truly feel I will fail.  So, Lord, help me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Thoughts from the Old Bible

I found this scripture recently and decided to dress it up and now it's in a frame above my computer desk.  It's a friendly reminder to me of what I'm striving for in my home and in my self.

Stress can get the better of me sometimes.  Times are really tough and whenever I sit and look at our finances it is so easy to get caught up in the what-if's and the oh-no's and the I-can't-do-anything's...but then I remember the last part of this.  Rejoice in hope!  Even a little ray of hope is worth rejoicing over.  And I also remember this talk from the last conference by Bruce D. Porter.  It was a great reminder to fear not!

This past weekend we had a local street fair where local businesses set up booths for people to walk along and support one another.  I went partly because my son's dance class had a booth and were planning a dance party/performance that afternoon.  Along the street there was a woman advertising for positive thinking classes and workshops.  Her little reminder about positive thinking bringing positive results and good things coming to those who are optimistic and waiting for good things, well, it was rather timely for me.

Coming back to this little scripture I decorated, well, I didn't even realize my one little word was a part of this either.  Rule with diligence.  Makes me want to smile actually.  How many times have I wanted to give up ruling my household with my three little gremlins running around destroying everything.  Deep breathes.  Be diligent.

Every part of this strikes me as a new way of thinking.  Which is odd, because old is the bible?  But giving simply is such a neat and wonderful idea in our modern world where everything is subject to embellishment and undervalued without the bells and whistles on display.  But really, it's always the most simple gifts that mean the most.

And mercy.  I'd never really thought about how showing mercy could be a cheerful thing.  Sometimes being merciful means being forgiving even when the offender isn't even that sorry.  It can be really hard to be cheerful when showing mercy, I think.  But I think there is something quite godlike and angelic about being merciful with a smile on my face.  It's really kicking out that natural man in a way I had never contemplated before.

To be fervently  Well, fervently.  It makes me think of a bright or hot flame.  The dictionary says fervently means having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm; ardent, passionate.  Wow.  Serving fervently seems pretty neat.  And I didn't even realize how much the yellow color I used for that adds to the meaning.  I love how sometimes it seems like I am guided without even knowing it.  I love it when I am shown in God's synchronicities that He has a plan for me.

Dissimulation means hypocrisy.  So to love without any pretense, feigning nothing.  Just honestly loving.  On the surface, this may seem like an easy thing in the home.  But under the surface I think sometimes everyone struggles with that.  Being genuinely kind and loving to someone.  Showing love without pretending or trying too hard.  Being unconditional and letting go of expectations.

So much from just one little scripture.  Those words are truly from God as a gift to us to help us along the way.  What a powerful thing language is.  Definitions of word expounding on our understanding and knowledge of the truth.  Just utterances that could at one point be meaningless but when paired with ideas and given meaning and then put together in sentences...awe.  Ok I'm letting that grammary-English-passion-of-the-dorks person out again.  (Glimpse into the real me...gheesh.)  I'll leave you to your own thoughts. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

ReEvaluating My One Little Word

Ok so...I got carried away with the whole Service thing.

I've been thinking about it, and I don't think it was a good choice for my One Little Word this year.  Hey, it's a great idea - and it probably would work for someone else.  But, you see...I sort of have an issue with being prone to...codependency.  Ya know, trying to serve others to the point that I'm not living my own life at all?  Yeah...not really the best idea for me.

During this last General Conference, Stanley G. Ellis, from the seventy I believe, spoke about The Lord's Way.  It was a great talk to listen to, and actually struck a chord with me about what I wrote in my last post.  But reading it now it has even more in it then listening to it.  I really liked the part where he talks about how we must govern ourselves.  "The irony is that even now we have faithful Church members everywhere who would go anywhere the prophet asked them to go.  Do we really expect President Monson to individually tell more then 14 million of us where our family is needed?  The Lord's way is that we hearken to our leaders' teachings, understand correct principles, and govern ourselves."  Awesome. :)

Anyway, there are so many links to scriptures about the Lord's guidance in how we should live our lives.  But the part that pertains to my One Little Word: Service, was the part where he referenced the Lord's way to help.

First scripture referenced was Mosiah 4:21-27, which is all about imparting our substance and stuff...but the part that struck me most was the last verse: "And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.  And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." (emphasis added)

I'd read this scripture before, and people make reference to it at church all the time, but I hadn't ever read it directly after reading about imparting of your substance.  I'd never put the two together.  But that's the way it is!  I shouldn't leave my kids every day to help someone else get their home in order.  I can't let my own world fall apart while building up someone elses world.

I lost myself in service for a while.

That's all well and good, but I need to get my priorities in order again and start putting other things first - including myself!

I read Alma 7:23 "I would that ye should be humble, be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."

Of all the things in this scripture, I could point to one I could work on most right now.  So here's what I'm going to do.  I'm swapping my One Little Word to:


So, I think this is better for me.  The dictionary says diligence is a constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body and mind - a degree of care and caution required by circumstances.

I'd never though about how being diligent to the Lord's commandments would also mean to be cautious and careful as well as being constant and persistent.  This is a good thing for me.

So, what can I do to start working on being more diligent?

*Praying Always: I need to remember to fall on my knees out of bed first thing in the morning.  Then pray throughout the day for the guidance in my efforts to serve others while keeping priorities straight.

*Study Scripture and Conference Talks:  I can read a scripture every morning with my little scriptures app.  Then listen to conference talks.  Read scriptures nightly to my kids, and since these are things I'm already trying to do, let's add one more.  See if I can fit one more session of study somewhere in the day where I actually sit and read for me.

*Being diligent in the commandments: honesty, tithing, church callings, etc.  Really dedicate myself to it!

*Lastly, my parenting and homemaking.  More dedication!  Do it more.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm Stubborn...What Are the Desires of My Heart?

I was struggling with received criticism lately.  I kept thinking to myself that I hadn't really done anything wrong and the person who had approached me may have been the only one offended and it was her fault.  There is no reason for me to explain why that wasn't sitting well on my conscience and I kept dwelling on it.  That stubborn streak within me has come out a few times lately, actually.

I went to the temple shortly after receiving this criticism.  Which was, actually, really good timing for me, even though it wasn't my own plan and others just happened to push me in that direction.  As I sit in the chapel area waiting for sessions to begin, I've created the habit to read in the scriptures they usually have available.  So I did this.  I knew I wasn't feeling close to the spirit at the moment and needed to make things feel right again somehow.  At times like that, I like to open the book up randomly and let it just speak to me.  So that's what I did.

The word "peace" jumped off the page at me, but I was being stubborn, like I said, so I about the other page.  I'll begin reading over there.  (Kind of dumb, huh...but *sighs* that's me.)  So I read the next page all the way to the bottom, then went back to the first page and read from the top.  I still hadn't really gotten anything that spoke to my soul until I once again came to the verse containing the word "peace" in it.  I finally conceded.

It was D&C 105:38-41 (I had read section 106 first...)
This is an indirect quote:
Sue for peace, not only to those who've smitten [me] but to all.  Proclaim peace! Propose peace...according to the voice of the spirit and all things shall work together for my good.  Therefore, be faithful and behold and lo, I am with you even unto the end.

I had been wanting to lash out to protect myself in a some sort of fight of flight knee-jerk reaction.  Now in reading this, I decided I needed to just let it go, and so I could return to a good state of mind and acceptance to the person who'd hurt me.  Immediately when I did this, it opened my eyes to the truthfulness in the criticism I'd received!  Now I can take it for what it's worth, learn from it, and move forward productively.

Later, I was studying Alma 7:23
"I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive"

It struck me that these godlike traits and qualities: humility, patience, gentleness are CHOICES first.  I think perhaps all godlike qualities begin that way. Because we are not godly, of course, because naturally we are manlike and the natural man is far from being godlike.  So, if we want to develop qualities like that, we have to begin with the choice to be that way.  It isn't easy because it isn't natural.  It takes practice to develop these things into habit and then hopefully it can become a talent.

Last week, I was being truly harrowed up by things going on in the world right now.

I love people.  I just do.  It's maybe a godlike quality I was blessed with as a talent that just came with me.  I've been blessed and burdened with charity for others, and having that is something I value very much, but sometimes I've found it can handicap my judgement about some things.  I've been hurt, and sometimes I've been very wrong.

Facebook exploded with things about marriage equality lately.  It had been something I'd been contemplating about for over a year.  I struggle with it because my church does not support marriage equality.  I understand why the church doesn't.  I believe in what my church believes in.  Marriage is between a man and a woman, and is a beautiful and sacred thing in the eyes of God.  However, I love my friends and family members who want to be loved and have relationships and cannot do so without leaving the church behind.  It's been a struggle for me from the very beginning.

I know from personal experience that these people are good and God loves them because there would be no way He possibly would not.  I believe they have a place and it's beyond my mortal understanding.  But I know God has a place for them.

I believe in letting others find their place by whatever means they choose.  I am not in charge of other people.  God is.  He knows each person individually and He knows them and can take care of them and guide them to where they need to be.  But it's not up to me.  I also don't believe it's up to any politicians or government officials to decide.  This is why I decided to support marriage equality.

That exploded.

Of course I have many friends who did not see things the same way.  I have friends who did, yes.  But everyone's views are tainted by something and I just felt like I was floating in a bunch of biased articles and information as I continued to research the church's viewpoint as well as what other people said.  Even LDS people.

The more I stuck to what I said, the more horrible I began to feel, the more reading I did...and the further I felt I was pushing something good away.  I hated it.  I didn't want to go back on what I believed in.  I didn't want to betray other beliefs.  I was so conflicted.  Then I had a REALLY BAD day where everything felt upside down and just plane wrong.

I had a visit from a friend that day.  She is not LDS, but she is very devout and believes in true principles.  I expected her to take a side and give me a lecture the same way my Facebook friends had done.  The same way I had been doing to my Facebook friends.  Sadly.

But she didn't.  She stood there listening to me talk about my inner conflict and frustrations and responded with simply saying: It's not between you and your friends or even between you and your church.  It's between you and God, and it looks to me like you need to do some real praying to set things right between you and God.  No one else can tell you that.

I had been afraid to pray.  Actually, sort of avoiding it.  I would say my prayers, and once in a while feel that little push to pray about this subject, but I always would push it away.  Because I was scared of the answers I would receive.  I was afraid that God would tell me I was wrong.  I felt like I had to be right.  My loved ones deserve happiness the same as anyone.

I decided the entire Facebook discussion was driving the spirit away from me.  So I backed down and ended all discussions on the topic on Facebook.  I was not helping anyone by sharing my stubborn spirit with other people.  In fact, I was probably feeding the adversary's plan.  It makes me want to cry to even admit that.

But the truth is, I am right to an extent.  My homosexual friends and family members are indeed children of God and God loves them.  They deserve all happiness.  They deserve to be embraced and loved and fulfilled in life.  But having marriage with someone of the same sex, as much as it may seem to be the answer, will not in fact bring them the happiness they crave.  I wish it were that simple.  I wish they could just find a spouse and get married and live happily ever after.

But that is a fairy tale that doesn't exist.  Even for a straight person!  Marriage was not the happily ever after fairy tale ending for me, and I don't know anyone who would say they had one either when they were married.  It wouldn't be that way for a homosexual either.

I then read this article which helped me see the issue a little clearer from a non-religious perspective.

The entire thing breaks my heart.  Because I truly love these people and I know they are good.  I understand where they are coming from and why they are fighting so hard for the things they want in their lives.  But I honestly feel now that what they are fighting for so hard, while they believe it will bring them happiness, will in fact bring sadness...even at a catastrophic level.

I was being stubborn.  I didn't yield to the spirit.  Now that I have, it feels a lot better.  I'm more at home in my heart.  I will continue to support and love homosexuals.  Because they deserve finding every happiness in their lives.  But sometimes God's plan for that happiness is different then ours.  Sometimes following His will is harder then we can even imagine, because it goes against what we think is the best way.  But He sees all.  HE knows all.  All we have to do is trust in that and stop being stubborn.  Choose humility.  Choose gentleness.  Choose to be patient.  Sue for peace.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Just Venting This Time...Well, as Much as I Can

It's been quite the journey for me since I started this blog. I look back and can remind myself of things I've learned.  Because then I have to again...relearn, and relearn again.  I guess that's where the "Repeat" comes in on the title of this blog.  I'm not perfect. Far from it.

It's the reason I need all of this stuff.  Because I am not perfect, I have to rely on the Lord so much.  I have to really put in the effort every single day, to put Him first and to rely on his guidance.  If I don't my day goes to mush.

I'm the type of person who talks about everything I'm going through.  I talk it out and it sorts out my thoughts and feelings.  But lately it feels like I can't do that as much.  Lately, I have been realizing some things I can't just tell people.  Some people shouldn't be told things.  I'm not usually one to hold it in.  I don't like keeping my own secrets.  Other people's business is their own and it's not mine to tell, but my own secrets are another matter to me.  I'd rather just lay it all out there and be completely honest and open with everyone I meet and if they don't like it, it hurts, but I'd rather they knew me.  I'd rather know what they really think of me.

But lately I can't do that.  It's not mine to tell, as much, I guess.  That's the problem.  But I'm so connected with it I want to talk about things.  I want to blurt my pains and feelings out to the world and sort things out.  I need a friend to talk to.  I want to just cry, but I don't want to cry alone.

The only one I can really put my trust in is the Lord.  My savior is the only one.  The scriptures say I shouldn't rely on the arm of the flesh, and this includes friends, my spouse, my family even;...the world has it wrong.

It seems like every time everything is going wonderfully something has to happen to make it crash down.  Balance in trials and blessings I guess.

The point is, I have to keep going.  I have to stay strong.  I have to take care of my own spiritual place.  I have to keep praying and studying the scriptures to get through this.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Putting the Lord First

As I said in the last post, things have been rougher over the last month and I couldn't exactly put my finger one what changed since Christmas.  I know, we have been sick and then better and sick again, but it's been more then that to me.  I've just not been as happy or as focused on good things.

Then this weekend I stayed home from church feeling sick and thought to myself that I would still try to think about spiritual things anyway while my family attended church.  But I didn't do much but watch a TV show that was completely unrelated to spiritual things, and quite worldly actually.  At the time I rationalized, but later in the evening I was feeling guilty and sad because I knew I had given up on something better during that day.

The next day, I was still brooding over the way I felt.  I hadn't really be "in touch" like I was before Christmas and I wasn't sure what it was, but I kept wondering to myself if I needed to eliminate watching TV shows like the one I mentioned above altogether.  I kept questioning whether it was really something I should allow, or if it was bad "enough" which I hate thinking about.

I hate looking at everything in the media and trying to figure out what is really too bad or what isn't that bad or what is good enough or really good.  When something is really good, it's obvious and same with when it's really bad.  But the majority of the fun things to indulge in around me are things that are good and enjoyable, but still worldly.  I want to be uplifted, and sometimes I think I am.  But then why was I feeling like this?

I started talking to my husband about the way I felt while we made dinner together that evening.  Then finally it hit me.  It wasn't about whether or not the show was "good enough" or "wasn't that bad", it is about my priorities.  It's about if I am giving up something way better for something that is only "not that bad".  (Like that conference talk not too long ago...Good, Better, Best?)  I realized that what was bothering me was that I hadn't put the Lord first on the Lord's day.  I had shut Him out, and done everyday things.  Yes, I was sick, but it was still the Sabbath.  And if I don't treat the Sabbath as the Sabbath, when else am I going to give Him that quality time?

I took myself into my bedroom to pray.  Of course, the moment I knelt down there was that little passing thought saying "You don't have to pray, He knows already.  Don't waste your time."  But I prayed anyway, and I said I was sorry.  The results from this prayer brought me back to where I want to be.  The spirit returned into my heart and I felt the love in the Lord's forgiveness.  I also felt His approval for these types of activities as long as they aren't taking the place of greater things: like taking care of my family and enriching my spirituality.  Those things should come first.

At that point, I also realized that I had been slacking off on things that I had previously been feeling so passionate about.  I must return to the habit of praying first thing in the morning.  If I put the Lord first in my day, it's easier for me to remember to put Him first throughout the day.  I find myself putting down the Facebook on my phone to read a book to my kids, or playing a conference talk on my computer before turning on Pandora.

It's in those little things that I feel I either feel enriched and happy and spiritual and right or I start to feel blase and lose focus.  It's a very delicate balance in this busy world we live in.  But I am recommitting myself now to put the Lord first every day.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Good Intentions

It's been a rocky first month for me this year.  I keep trying and feeling like I'm not doing as much as I want to.  But I've been feeling sick off and on every since Christmas.  That or one of my kids (or more then one) is sick.  I feel like over the last couple days, being incredibly sick again, I've sort of given up.  I'm throwing in the towel.

At least until I feel like I can get my life back from these germs.

Sometimes I wish I could find a friend who's my twin who wouldn't make me feel guilty if they came over and cleaned my house for me or watched my kids for me.  I'd do it for her, ya know.

I've got such a short fuse when I'm sick.  Probably a good thing that I'm so hoarse that I sound like a bird when I try to yell.  Since I'm trying to yell more often and so suddenly without much cause.  Whisper?  Yeah...don't remind me.

Yesterday I woke up kind of hazy.  (Surprising when I have a sinus headache?  No.)  Through the hazy it was a dreamy way to wake up and I found myself having poetic thoughts.  I have to say, I think somewhere in my subconscious the origination of this idea is somewhere linked with this blog post, since it resonated with me so deeply.  Honestly, that post is probably a million times better then mine will be.  Mine is quite weird, actually, but bare with me.  If you don't like it, just go back over to her link and read her post again.  Yeah.  It's that good.

So in my dreamy poetic haziness yesterday morning, I grabbed a pen to write some of it down on my notebook.  Many of my best poems can be born this way.  This one was quite scattered so I've needed to do some organizing from the first segments of that morning.  I don't exactly know what to do with it.  Prose poetry?  Poetry?  I don't know, but I thought I'd record it nonetheless.  Work in progress.

Catching Raindrops, Raining Upward

I'm placed on this space,
bucket in my hands.
Memories gone, purpose unknown,
I begin walking
and the rain begins falling.

The urge bursts inside,
a pitted cherry for a heart,
and I am catching droplets.
I splash into trillions, scattering.
Surrounding impossibility.
The raindrops keep falling
and I cannot catch them all.
I cannot catch them all.
I cannot catch them.

And I am soaked.
Hair damp, clothes
wet, heavy hanging
Rubber legs pull
shoes slosh and slow

Weight shifts, and my hair hangs high
droplets creeping up my back
up and off my hair's tips above me
My stories climb the back of my throat
as dew collides and
I cry as failures fly
and I find I am coming dry
from the drips but
it hurts
clinging, a painful escape
but I am inadvertently
Once they are gone, I am

All for the drops in my bucket.

They are an anvil
pulling at my arm,
heaviness growing
I drop it to the ground
and they are golden.

Golden droplets rise from within
drop by drop, a translucence yields
to memories:
A hug I gave a child.
A spill I cleaned from the floor.
A smile I gave a stranger.
The cookies I left at her door.
A meal I gave the needy.
A blanket I gave the cold.
A kiss I placed on his cheek.
A friendship to a lonesome old.
An hour I spent to listen.
A dollar I spent to give.
A gift from the heart to another.
A hope for ones will to live.

The drops kept on rising
joy-filled beauty inside
spilling over onto my face
in weightless tears.
And a voice from the light around me stated
"You did the best you could, my child.  Every drop counts."