- I recently came across the idea of “spiritually creating” your day before you physically do it. I love this concept. The scriptures teach us that all things were created spiritually before they were physically created, so to me spiritually creating my day means turning it over to God. Making sure that I’m in a place that I can listen and be directed by him if my plans don’t align with his. Although, I’m not above asking for his help in accomplishing some of my plans either. I put this quote by C.S. Lewis in my calendar, so I can see it daily as a reminder. “The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them back; in listening to the other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in and out of the wind”. – Mere Christianity
- I love symbolism. Especially when it’s not overt. When it’s something that we discover for ourselves or even make up for ourselves as a way to remind us of a deeper meaning. Sometimes our routines can get mundane boring even. Food prep, consumption, and clean up is an especially hard one for me. Make breakfast, clean it up, an hour later, make lunch, clean it up (Ok i don’t always clean it up). After school snacks, Dinner repeat. So many hours in the kitchen. Preparing physical healthy food for my family helps them not only be strong and have energy to do all that they need to, but can remind me of the importance of providing spiritual food as well. The constant cleaning up can remind me of the need to constantly evaluate, turn to the Savior, and clean up our own lives – and to do it with a good attitude. Procrastinating this process makes it less fun, but it still always feels good when it’s complete. Waking up really early with a baby (damn you daylight savings) can remind me to always be ready to serve (okay maybe that ones a stretch).. I’m still working on a deeper meaning for changing diapers.
- I’ve been noticing lately with my kids and with others that I love that every attribute has a positive and negative aspect. Which has made me think about the concept of turning weaknesses into strengths. I have one child who feels things really deeply. When he was four he got up to share his testimony in church and said with all conviction, “I know Jesus is real.” This same child has gotten hurt very easily by insensitive comments of others among many other things. Another child is incredibly determined -he may or may not have also been described as relentless. Great if he is reaching for a goal. Not fantastic if he is trying to convince his Mom he needs more candy/screen time/anything. The trick is to see how the attribute can be positive.
- Growing up my parents talked a lot about “the law of the middle”. I’ve been pondering what that means lately and how to apply it to my own family because I think it’s an essential concept. Especially in my current and ongoing battle against sugar and screens (every parent battles this right?) It doesn’t mean doing things half-way or not being fully committed to the Gospel, to a cause, to each other, to health. I think it means what’s in your heart is more important than what you do. It looks like teaching your children to love the scriptures so they want to be in them as often as possible, not to spend a specific amount of time in them every day. It looks like teaching your children that sugar is not good for you, not that you should never touch it again. It looks like finding joy in the Sabbath day and drawing closer as a family and to Christ through it – not a specific list of dos and don’ts. It looks like adding in grace. I was reading Letters to a Young Muslim the other day and came across this quote. “intensity distorts reality”. I loved it. I think that nails an aspect of it. My Mom mentioned that there’s a talk about it – I couldn’t find it. Sent it please Mom/Dad. It’s one of those things that I feel like I almost understand, but I’m not quite there.
- I love getting to know my kids better as they get older. Yesterday Josh rode his bike by me as I ran and we talked about everything from Pokemon (an abbreviation for pocket monsters – who knew?! I feel like that tidbit is going to win me a trivial pursuit game someday) to what the world would be like if countries didn’t exist. Each one of them is so incredibly different – to the point I don’t know if they would be friends if they weren’t thrown together in a family. But also so incredibly cool and unique and sometimes I just feel a bubble of joy that I get to hang out with them and get a glimpse of their hearts.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, refugees, genocide, prejudice, and now a mass shooting in my backyard. There is so much to do, so much we can do, and yet often I don’t know where to start. I see the devastation spinning through my social media channels and in the news, it hurts my heart. We’ve discussed as a family what we can and should do to help, and yet, as of right now I am doing and have done very little. But I want my kids to know.
You always can, and always should, do something.
A couple weeks ago, circumstances sent me to both the public health department, and the local family clinic – which cater to the uninsured and underinsured. I live in a fairly homogenous small town. It’s easy to believe that everyone is doing fine. There is no poverty, no hurt, no hunger. False. The waiting room was full of people that would rather go somewhere else but had no other option. Some had obvious health conditions, some had obviously had better days, some were pleasant, some were cranky. The receptionist smiled at everyone. I left, but the smile of the receptionist stayed with me. She brightened what could have been a miserable place.
She did something.
Throughout my career as a mother I have had many grand service schemes. A service project once a month. Deliver cookies every Sunday, volunteer weekly at a nursing home. We have yet to find a tradition that sticks – or in some cases, one that has gotten beyond the talking stage.Continue Reading
I started this post on Friday. But a combination of exhaustion (I took a nap at 9 am), watching a couple of extra kids, a primary program practice, hosting a dinner, and a general lack of ability to put my thoughts into words kept me from publishing it. I try to keep things real around here… Since Friday my perspective has shifted slightly. Last night I got to cuddle up with my chica and listen to the words of some of the leaders of our church at the General Women’s Meeting. It gave my soul time to pause and breathe.
- Having a baby is hard. I am reluctant to say that. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. So many long for a baby and are denied the experience, and I am so grateful that that is not my trial. I look at him and my heart fills up with love. All I want to do is kiss him and memorize every facial expression. But… at this point my body has been essentially his for the last 18 months and a slight case of claustrophobia starts to set in. It’s exhausting to make my body physically available for someone else five times a day. And yet – I know I will miss it. After feeding him, he’ll cuddle with me for approximately five seconds and my heart almost bursts, knowing that this is my last. It amazes me that I can feel two such opposite emotions simultaneously for such an extended period of time. No wonder I’m tired.
- I want to be a writer. Write actual books that other people – ones I don’t know- read. Ideas spin around in my head for novels and essays and I need to write them down. It’s something I’ve been working toward for 2.5 years through classes, critique groups, and….writing. At first I was embarrassed to tell anyone my dream. I didn’t have any professional training. But as I’ve learned, and found so much joy in the process, my confidence has grown. The problem is, the time available to write, is when I used to sleep – early in the morning and nap time (so far AJ is a short napper, so a twenty minute nap and then productivity is often not an option). So, I’ve been tired, which has led to resentment and general irrationality. Three times this week tears have leaked out as my writing time was cut short. My goals were coming in second to what everyone else needed from me. I have been praying and pondering about what to do and I had come to the conclusion that I needed to sleep less, get up early more, reach higher. In my view, I needed to make my spirit stronger. I can choose my attitude, so it is totally possible to be tired and still choose to have patience and be present as a mother and a wife. This true, and is sometimes important and necessary. But, last night, while listening to one of the speakers, Heavenly Father whispered to me that it wasn’t my truth, not right now. He told me that I needed to make sleep a priority. I have always found so much joy in motherhood and in homemaking (although not grocery shopping, that is officially the worst). Somewhere along the way my perspective shifted just slightly. I had started to view my duties as a wife and mother as an obstacle to my goal instead of the source of joy that they had been for so long. My goals were worthy, and even inspired. I have felt enlightened as I work to develop as a writer, and along with the whispering to sleep, came inspiration. Ideas of where to fit writing more productively into my day came to me. I felt peace, love, and purpose and I am so grateful.
- The earthquakes, hurricanes, and refugee crises have made me think about service more. I don’t want my children to feel completely helpless when they hear about catastrophes. Instead, I want them to make a plan to help, to do something, anything, even if it is small. In addition to the obvious physical trauma that is affecting so much of the human race, I have been reminded of all the invisible trials that press down on those that I pass by everyday. Sometimes you can’t share a trial with others, it has to be battled out or borne within yourself, but that doesn’t mean others can’t be inspired to help/to lift in some small way. I want to make both kinds of service a deeper part of our family culture. I want it to be something that we instinctively do, something that we think about everyday. We are capable of more. I’ve been compiling some ideas and thoughts on how to teach my kids to be more service minded – which I’m sure will evolve into a blog post soon. I want to teach simple ways to be outward focused, more like our Savior.
- When I think about the people that I love, it’s their quirks that stand out most in my mind. The way AJ will lay his head on my shoulder and burrow into me when I rock him before bed, but only for a second. The rocking chair is right next to his closet door, and the door knob is so shiny he has to try and touch it. The way Josh talks to himself when he’s concentrating, a running stream of consciousness. He gives his letters away in Scrabble every time. How Anna ducks her head and grins when you give her a compliment, and how Max is so particular. His quirks tend to shift and change, but currently, he doesn’t like to use utensils that have already been used. So if I use one fork to cut up his food, he likes to have a fresh one to eat with. Quirks say so much about who a person is.
- I lost my wedding ring at the beginning of the summer. I was painting our bedroom and thought, Justin will be mad at me if I get paint on my ring, I’ll put it somewhere safe. That night I couldn’t find it. I was convinced it had been wrapped up in the plastic that had covered the floor and was gone. The ring that Justin had given me fourteen years ago when we really had no idea what marriage meant, the one that I couldn’t wait to put on and never took off, the one that he’d made payments on for six months, had disappeared. I didn’t cry, instead, a spot in my soul ached. Over the months it was missing I’d touch my ring finger on my left hand and my heart would lurch when I realized it wasn’t there. Then I’d remembered it was gone. Last week, I came downstairs after tucking the older kids into bed to see flowers on the counter, my ring dropped over one of the stems, and a card – Justin had commissioned from Anna – propped nearby. Now tears came to my eyes. Justin had found my ring! (on the highest shelf in Max’s bathroom in case you’re curious). Instead of giving it back right away and giving me a bad time about being disorganized and forgetful he chose to remind me that he loves me. I learn a lot from that man. Marriage is hard, but it also one of the best places to learn charity and forgiveness. These family relationships, the ones that we are committed to day in and day out, soften and strengthen us in so many imperceptible ways.
And yet, I can’t avoid events entirely. There are certain events, that in my case, arrive five times a year.
So I attempt to embrace my imperfections and simplify when I can.Continue Reading