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."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year Begins

Over the last year, I have learned so much!  I'm so grateful for the people and programs that have come into my life over the past year to make me realize how much I had it wrong and how much I could change things to gain more happiness.

Happiness comes from within.  That was the biggest thing I learned this year.  I always knew it.  People had told me this for years.  It was like a cliche I couldn't get away from.  But I never knew how to do it.  I never knew how to create that happiness from within.  Now I do.  That's quite an accomplishment, I'd say!  Happiness comes from within when you truly learn to accept and love yourself.  Look in the mirror and say "I am beautiful" and believe it!  Then, it's going out and letting others enjoy who you are because you're a loveable person.  Giving that love to other people can really make you love yourself even more!  But instead of giving and trying to feel the love from without, it's loving first and then giving and it all expands from there!

I also learned more about hope this year.  I learned that hoping for something is the thread that keeps life moving forward.  All you need is that hope and the day can end and another begins.  I have learned that my Savior loves me.  He has given me everything and can give me more if I just ask.  He will help me with everything and He has the ability to make me strong.  I just have to turn to Him for the strength.  Sometimes it's the turning that's the hardest part.  Just look up!  You'd think it would be an easy thing.

I also learned this year to love my husband (anyway).  :)  I have really grown in this aspect.  I met my husband and I loved him because I love people.  I just do.  I loved him because I love everyone. (No wonder I was so bad at dating! I loved people and couldn't get the difference with anyone special so I'd say "I love you" and get these guys all excited in spite of myself.)  Then I loved him because I felt it was right to marry him.  Then I loved him because he was my husband and it was what I was supposed to do.  Then I denied within myself that it was real love.  Then I kicked myself for giving up on romance.  Then I "loved" him because I had to.  Then I got mad.  I got mad at myself.  I got mad at him.  I think I even got mad at God.  But this year has changed a lot.  This year, I looked at him and remembered the way I felt when we were dating.  I did love him that way!  I had loved him once, and he was still that same person.  He was still the awkward "NCMO" (non-commital make-out) King from college who hunched over his guitar and swung his keys around from his lanyard.  He was just more mature now.  He'd replaced the girls with politics and he replaced the music with sports.  But it was still him.  And I realized I wasn't giving him any credit.  I'd say this is quite the accomplishment for my year too.  I learned that love is not a noun, it's a verb.  I learned that if I don't LOVE my husband (as in, an action verb), then I won't ever love him.  It was a big change in the way I live, and it has changed my level of happiness as well.  Now I feel like I love my husband, not for any of the reasons I've stated before, but I love him because I feel good loving him.  I love him because it's a fun thing to do.  I love him because he deserves it.  I love him because I'm grateful for everything he does for me.  I love him because he's so handsome!  I love him because he's my children's father!  I love him because I'm going to be with him forever!  And forever doesn't sound so bad, actually.  (Especially because after this life, many of our little annoying habits and weaknesses will be much better!)

This year, I have learned to let go of things I cannot control.  I'm learning more about how to deal with the things I can control and trust God.  I have learned that trusting God is the real key to the atonement.  It has helped me to forgive myself.  It has helped me forgive others.  And I have finally been able to put the past firmly in the past!  I no longer stay up nights thinking about that moment in my sophomore high school year, or that day when I was single in college, or that thing I should have said back in my newly-wed days.  It's gone!  And that's such a relief!

Last New Years, I chose one word as my New Years Resolution.  Do you remember what it was?  If you do, I commend you for following my blogs for so long. :)  I'm loved!  :)  Anyway, go back and read that post if you want.  It's short.  Shorter than this one, for sure.  (And I said I wasn't going to have any long posts on this blog....sighs.)  My word for last year was "Whisper" and I think I've gotten SO MUCH better about keeping my voice down with my kids.  I'm far from perfect about it, of course.  But I'm much better.  I don't think I sat and acted like a three-year-old this year.  Maybe once. :)

But I've also gotten better at listening to that Whisper of the spirit.  It has blessed me so much!  Yet another huge lesson I have learned this year!  How to recognize the voice of the spirit and differentiate it from other voices.  I never realized those other voices were even out there! (Thus, the confusion on my listening to the spirit in the past!)  But they are!  The biggest key to listening to the spirit that I have found is this: It's light.  God is light.  Christ is light.  The spirit wouldn't feel heavy, like a brick on my chest trying to get me to do something.  Oh no.  It feels light and as though a burden is lifted from me.  So I started practicing following that light feeling and every time I felt the heaviness creeping up on me, (for example, when I would feel the impulse to be online to waste time) I would turn from it and do something better.  It has made an amazing difference!  Not only do I feel better because I'm making better choices in my daily life, but I'm finding it easier to follow that spirit because I'm actually listening!  Da-da-da DUM!!!  :)  It's been a wonderful thing.

So a New Year has begun.  2013 is upon us and I'm once again contemplating what to choose as my one little word for this year.

I've chosen "Serve" as my New Years Resolution One Little Word.  At the end of 2012, I had a new neighbor move in nearby and it gave me all kinds of opportunities to service.  I let her borrow my vacuum, I helped her unpack into her kitchen, I helped her decorate her kitchen, I stayed to lock up for her during an emergency, I babysat her little boy, I did her dishes, I took her breakfast, I invited her over for dinner, I helped her unpack her little boy's bedroom, I put him to bed for her when her other child was sick and she was busy with her, I've sat with her, I've chatted with her, I've accepted her completely, I've found we have so much in common, and I'm her friend.  From the very beginning, I was drawn to her spiritually.  I was becoming addicted to the beautiful feeling that overwhelmed me as I served her.  I kept finding more opportunities to do so.  And the fierce loyalty between us now is a wonderful reward.  It also brought that special Christmas spirit into my heart in a way I have never felt before.

So over the next year, I play to focus on this one little word.  I'm going to look for more opportunities for me to serve others.  Whether it is in my own home or elsewhere.  I want to keep this special spirit with me.   I want to remember it all throughout the year.

Another new tradition I decided to start is this thing I saw on Facebook.  So I have a jar on my piano now that is marked "Happy Happenings of 2013" and I plan to fill it with little papers containing happy things that happen throughout the year and so we can read and reminisce during next New Years.  I'm pretty excited about it.  So far I've cheated a little and placed the two movie tickets from New Years Eve inside (technically not 2013 but oh well).  We saw Les Miserable together and it was incredible!  Happy New Year, everyone!

(Yes, I'm finally finishing up this insanely long post!)