Thursday, February 9, 2012

Riding the Winds

I have recently become very attached to the iPod touch I inherited from my husband when he upgraded a real smart phone. I use it for checking email, tracking what I eat, playing time-killer games, and especially for reading scriptures. Because my littlest is only six months old, juggling him and my scriptures and my lesson manual in Relief Society became nigh impossible. With the iPod, I can actually participate in the lesson while still keeping him from wreaking havoc on anything within arm's length.

This almost sounds like an ad for Apple...

The thing that I have found most helpful with my scripture app is the ability to read in the middle of the night while I'm up with the baby. I don't have to turn any lights on, so it's easier to get him back to sleep, and I have something to occupy my mind instead of just being really, really annoyed that I'm awake (you know the feeling). 

That was a long introduction. I guess I get kind of wordy when I spend all day with four kids four and under, thus lacking coherent conversation that employs complete sentences.

Anyway.

As usual, life has handed us quite the struggle to be dealing with. I recently posted a lengthy tale on my personal blog describing the beginnings of my experience with Postpartum Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from a traumatic birth experience (two, actually). It has been the singularly hardest time of my life, and we are far from being done with it all. It is this battle that brought significance to the verses of scripture that I would like to share today.

Ether 2:24-25

"For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.

"And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?"

It is so easy to feel completely buried in whatever trial is currently swallowing us up. The mountain waves that crash all around us are powerfully overwhelming. But, God is in control! He sent the trials, designed specifically for each of us and the lessons that we need to learn in our own lives and in His time.

He prepares the way for us to get through. It always seems to take longer than we want, and we can't simply learn the lesson and move on--we have to truly gain the experience and learn for ourselves. And we can't do it without Him!

But, sometimes, we might feel like that ship that's completely at the mercy of the elements--

Ether 6:5-6

"And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind to blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.

"And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind."

Tell me honestly that you haven't felt like that at some point or another. But read on, and there is hope!

Ether 6:8

"And it came to pass that  
the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land 
while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind."

No matter what the trial, we will always come out better for it in the end. God truly has designed every trail, every experience we have in our lives to improve us and make us learn and grow in ways that we cannot possibly imagine. Even in those times when we really do feel buried in the depths or tossed upon the waves, we are still pointed in the direction of our own promised land, if we but let God stay in control.


Ether 6:7

"...therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters."

~Laura~

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Rethinking the To Do List

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I live by lists. If I haven't written it down, it probably won't happen. Lists keep on track during a day, reminds me of things I would otherwise forget, and provides a sense of accomplishment as I complete tasks and am able to check them off.


My list usually goes something like this:


Living Room: pick up clutter, clean entertainment center, vacuum
Kitchen: unload and load dishwasher, clean counters, take out trash, sweep and mop floor
Bedroom: make bed, pick up clothes and clutter
Playroom: pick up toys, fold blankets
Laundry: sort, pre-treat, wash kid clothes, wash Mom and Dad clothes, wash towels, fold, put away


When I get all these things done, my oh my, the house is sparkling. Delightful, no?

Generally, I get a pretty good start on my list every day. All those things I want to get done...and then the baby cries, the pre-schooler wants me to play pretend with her, the toddler has made some kind of colossal mess in the bathroom, the baby needs to eat, someone got punched in the face, the toy is stuck in the drawer, the baby needs a diaper change...

So much for that to-do list. Raise your hand if this sounds like your house!

I determined that yes, I want to have a list for all the aforementioned benefits. But no, I don't want it to be this depressing thing hanging over my head constantly while I'm already doing everything that's about humanly possible for a mom to do in one day.  Not to mention that even if I get 99.9% of the things done, I'm haunted by those one or two unfinished things and it seems to negate everything else I did get done. What a HUGE downer.

How to change that? Today, it's all about vocabulary.

Instead of dividing my list by rooms, I created these three categories instead:

REQUIRED
the things that have to be done today

BONUS
wouldn't it be cool if I could get this done, too?

RETROACTIVE
hey, look what I did!

You might be able to guess already what would fit into those categories, but here is my example from today.

REQUIRED
One load of dishes--I have no more clean bottles for the baby, so that has to be done.
One load of laundry--I'm out of clean pants and the husband is out of socks, so that has to be done.
Doctor's appointment--that's a given that it will be done today.

Note that not a single room is actually clean with this list, but everything that needs to be done for continued family functioning has been included.

BONUS
Pick up clutter and vacuum the living room.
Clear off the table and clean the kitchen floor.
Move all the laundry downstairs and get it sorted.
Make the beds.

With this list, every major room in the house has had some attention, without the pressure of getting everything completely clean. And really, who doesn't like bonus points??

RETROACTIVE
Sometimes we manage to get something done that wasn't ever on the list. Does that mean it doesn't count? Heck no! I always write it down and immediately check it off. I find it no less satisfying done post-task.

Today, my retroactive to-dones included writing a menu and posting it on the fridge, and washing six loads of laundry and putting two away. Not bad.


Not much changed in what I actually did today. I got about the same amount of the house cleaned, the same amount of laundry done, and the same time spent with my kids. The difference was that I felt more productive because I accomplished every single thing on my really-needs-to-be-done to-do-list, and I got a whole slew of bonus points, too. Sweet.

Sometimes just a change in wording can make all the difference.

P.S. In case you're wondering, NO, I did not finish everything on my Bonus list today. But that's cool, because those weren't required. Just bonus. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Who Said That?

This last Sunday I made it back to church for the first time since my twin boys were born. Honestly, it did not go to well. I chalk it up to be being too tired and overwhelmed at the realities of having four kids under three years old (with one still in the hospital).

I do have some thoughts on why Sundays are more difficult than other days, but that is for a different post on a different day.

In the midst of all the craziness I heard exactly what I needed to hear.

Our Sunday School lesson covered 1 and 2 Peter. In 2 Peter chapter 1, Peter talks about our divine nature.

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things
that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him
that hath called us to glory and virtue.

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature."

Peter tells us that the Lord has given us everything we need to succeed. Not just everything to be successful in this life, but also successful in things pertaining to godliness.

Think about it, we are children of our Heavenly Father. That means we have within us His godly attributes. Those attributes may only be in embryo form, but they are there. And, as stated above He has given us everything we need to develop those attributes.

Now for my AHA moment.

The Sunday School teacher pointed out how hypocritcal we can be sometimes. We sing "I Am a Child of God." We talk about our divine nature. Yet, at the same time, we berate and constantly find fault with ourselves.

I don't know about you, but I am totally guilty.

The instructor challenged us that next time we have those negative thoughts come into our minds to turn around and say "Who said that?" He then said "I promise you that you will not feel the love the Savior because He is not the originator of those thoughts."

Wow.

I know that I have known that, but never had I thought of asking. Normally I just try to make myself stop thinking poor thoughts about myself while berating myself for having negative thoughts about myself. (Does anyone else do this or is it just me?)

I decided to try it. That night when I started to get overwhelmed and then down on myself, I stopped and asked "Who said that?" At that exact moment, those thoughts stopped. I felt myself slow down. Then slowly a feeling of peace came over me. I knew that my Savior loved me. I knew that He knew how I was feeling at that moment and that He was going to help me get through this challenging time.

Today is only Wednesday. I have not yet overcome my negative thoughts entirely (shocking I know), but whenever I feel them taking over I ask "Who said that" and I feel a change as I begin to think about how Christ thinks of me.

Next time you feel negative thoughts taking up camp in your mind, I challenge you to just stop for a moment and ask "Who said that?" see if it makes any difference.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fixed with a Determination to Conquer

For anyone who may not know us personally and thus has missed the news, Lisa gave birth to her twins on Thursday, November 3rd. Both babies are still in the NICU but everything is progressing well. Hoping they both get to come home soon! Please forgive us if we, understandably, do not have as many posts here on this blog for a while.


My favorite part of the Book of Mormon is the war chapters in Alma. I find them to be exciting stories--almost like a page-turner of a novel. More impressive, though, are how many lessons can be learned from everything contained in those few chapters and pages. Despite the stories being about war and bloodshed, they are nonetheless wonderful stories of faith, courage and endurance. Today I want to share one such story, from Alma 58.

Helaman, Gid, and Teomner are relating their story to Moroni. At this point in the war, the Nephites have taken quite the hit and lost several cities to the Lamanites. These three leaders were planning to retake the city of Manti back from the Lamanites, but they couldn't do it. The enemies' forces were too strong and they were greatly outnumbered. Instead, the Nephites had to hunker down and wait for reinforcements.

I read this chapter last week because it was mentioned in a fast and testimony meeting. I couldn't help but read and reread the first dozen verses of the chapter, each time finding more things that seemed to apply to my own life. Let me share some of those insights.

Alma 58:1
"...our next object was to obtain the city of Manti..."

We all have goals and objectives in mind that we would like to accomplish, whether it be today's list of things to do or something far in future, like preparing our children to serve missions and be married in the temple. It is important to have direction in life.

Alma 58:1
"...there was no way we could lead them out of the city by our small bands..."

It worked before. The Nephites were able to decoy the Lamanites out of other cities and therefore regain control while the army was distracted. But, it didn't work this time. How often does that happen as a mother? All the time! One idea worked amazingly well yesterday, but today it only sparks a massive tantrum. One child responds wonderfully to this type of discipline, but the other child couldn't care less.

Alma 58:2
"...they were so much more numerous than was our army..."

Evil is everywhere! It can be overwhelming at times to consider how many scary things are happening around us. (But don't worry! This story has a happy ending!)

Alma 58:3
"...it became expedient that we should wait, that we might receive more strength..."

This can be one of the hardest things to do when we're faced with a trial. Sometimes we really can't fix it now. We just have to wait until have received the strength we need to overcome the trial.

Alma 58: 5
"...this did profit us but little..."

Helaman had sent a letter to the governor of the land, asking for help and reinforcements, but nothing came. It can be very trying and frustrating when we do everything in our power to improve a situation and it doesn't work.

Alma 58:6
"And the Lamanites were sallying forth against us from time to time..."

No matter how hard we try to keep evil out of our homes and away from our families, sometimes we just can't keep it away. Despite our best efforts, we will still be faced with trials brought to our doorstep.

Alma 58:7
"...we did wait in these difficult circumstances for the space of many months..."

Ah! How often does this happen! Sometimes we're just stuck and we have to wait much, much longer than we want to for our situation to improve.

Alma 58:8
"...this is all the assistance which we did receive..."

Helaman's group received an army of 2,000 men, which still was not nearly enough to go up against the Lamanites. In our own lives, it can be very difficult to see how we can possibly get through the trial facing us, let alone accomplish the goals we have in mind for the future.

As you can see, these Nephites were in pretty dire straights. What a rough time! Take a moment now and think of your own trial of the moment. What comes to mind first, what is filling your space? What is the toughest problem you're facing right now? Right this moment? With that in mind, read on to see what the Nephites did.

Alma 58:10
"Therefore we did  pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people."

Who or What is your enemy? What are you facing? Whether it be financial issues, depression, illness, concerns over a child, or the grind of day-to-day life, you can follow this example and pour out your own soul to God and pray for strength and deliverance.

And now the best part of the story:

Alma 58:11
"Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him."

Read that again. Were they delivered? No! But they were given peace, faith, and hope. What a wonderful gift from a loving Father in Heaven. Our trials will not always be taken away in the ways that we might want them to be, but we can and will be given strength to get through it, no matter how long it may take.

In the last couple of weeks, I've been working on our most recent attribute, becoming more prayerful. I have found that, as I focus more on praying beyond my standard morning, evening, and mealtime prayers, I am more calm during the days. I can more easily find that peace that comes through prayer because I am more practiced in seeking it. And I have found that my response has become the same as the Nephites:

Alma 58:12
"And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty."

Whatever the enemy may be, I know that I can overcome and conquer with the Lord on my side. Let us all be fixed with a determination to conquer the enemies in our lives. We can find that determination through prayer.

Laura

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mothers Who Know Honor Sacred Ordinances and Covenants, Part I

"Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants. I have visited many sacrament meetings in some of the poorest places on earth where mothers have dressed with great care in their Sunday best despite walking for miles on dusty streets and using worn-out public transportation. They bring daughters in clean and ironed dressed with hair brushed to perfection; their sons wear white shirts and ties and have missionary haircuts. These mothers know they are going to sacrament meeting, where covenants are renewed. These mothers have made and honor temple covenants. They know that if they are not pointing their children to the temple, they are not pointing them toward desired eternal goals. These mothers have influence and power."
~Julie B. Beck

I often think about the pioneers who trekked across most of the United States with handcarts and wagons. It was a monumental sacrifice to leave the safety and comfort of their homes and trek across the wilderness. They did it because of their faith in the Savior and His gospel. They took strength from the sacred ordinances they had participated in and the covenants they had made in the temple of the Lord.

My family has not been asked to make that kind of sacrifice at this time. Honoring sacred ordinances and covenants is going to look different in my house than in the lives of the pioneers.

Let me tell you about sacrament meeting (I'll add a few extra details for anyone reading who may not be familiar with our meeting schedule). Our ward has sacrament meeting last. We have two hours of church first, during which time my two girls go to Primary to sing, pray, and learn about Jesus with other children. Needless to say, there is certainly some play involved. After those two hours, we bring the entire family together in the chapel for a meeting that lasts one hour and ten minutes, during which time everyone is generally expected to sit quietly and listen to the speakers.

It's quite the trick to convince a 2-year-old and a 3 1/2-year-old to forget all about the fun time they just had and sit down at all, let alone for over an hour. Seemingly to make it harder on myself, I have a "No toys, No treats" rule that lasts until the sacrament has been passed. If you count prayers, hymns, announcements, and the actual blessing and passing of the sacrament, that's at least twenty minutes with veritably no entertainment whatsoever from a toddler's point of view. We're talking rough stuff here.

So why bother? Why not just give them that tupperware container of goldfish crackers, the bag of crayons and any scrap of paper within reach so they'll be quiet and not disrupt the worship of those around us?

I want my children to understand the sacredness of the sacrament. I want them to learn young that that time is set aside for renewing covenants and for pondering on the life of Christ.

It's not a lesson that comes easily. I'm about ready to beat my head on the pew when M asks for the fishes for the thirtieth time in five minutes or J tries to climb into the row behind us and avail herself of that family's marker collection. But I hold out, and as soon as the bishopric again approaches the podium, the diaper bag suddenly becomes a lot lighter as it is relieved of all its entertainment pleasures.

I know that my personal enjoyment of the sacrament would probably be greater if I did let my kids play quietly. But I know that as their mother, it is my duty to teach them what that time is truly for.  And I know that they can learn from my consistent example.


In becoming a Mom who knows, I am striving to show my children how I honor my covenants. We don't play during the Sacrament. We don't run in the halls during the meeting. We wear our best clothes for church--even the baby. It is a time for reverence and learning and growing closer to our Father in Heaven. I may not be sacrificing all my possessions in order to honor my covenants as the pioneers did, but I am sacrificing much of myself to teach my children.

My children know when my husband and I are going to the temple, and we will give them simple and pure answers to the questions they ask about what we do there. We drive past the temples on our family rides and talk about how they will get to go inside someday. We sing "I Love to See the Temple" before bed every night--a family favorite.

I believe that it is never too early to teach my children about the temple and the covenants we make. It is never too early to teach my children of the sacredness of the sacrament and our other church meetings. It is never too early to "point them to desired eternal goals." I want my children to experience all the blessings and powers of the temple covenants that I have, so I will start teaching them now. And these are the ways I have chosen to teach them those lessons.

Laura

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Prayerful

Sorry I am a little late in posting our attribute this week. In the battle of illness versus blogging, nursing the multiple illnesses currently running through my family won out.

Without further delay, though, our attribute for this week is

Prayerful.

(As though you couldn't  already tell by the title of the post.)

Perhaps you already say your prayers everyday. Maybe you don't. No matter what your current habits are, I would guess that every one of us could do a little better saying our prayers.

Scripture: "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must no perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate they performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul." ~2 Nephi 32:9

Can you imagine if we all really did this - if we all prayed before doing anything unto the Lord? If we prayed before disciplining a child, planning family home evening or wrangling the family together for daily scripture study and family prayer? Would our day look any different? Probably.

Goal: Have sincere, daily personal prayer.

If you already have daily prayer, you are well on your way. But, is there anything you can do to make your prayers more meaningful?

If you don't already have daily prayer, then that is where you need to start.

I know for me that having a meaningful prayer often has to do with finding a place that I can be myself to speak out loud. Often that means that I end up kneeling in the bathroom.

Some suggestions to help may include:
  • Pouring out your soul to Him. Let Him know how you are doing, what is troubling you, and ask for help as needed.
  • Pray for inspiration and personal revelation
  • Thoughtfully express your feelings using your own words, avoiding common repetitions.
  • When you are done praying, spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation listening for an answer.
  • Take a piece of paper/notebook and pencil with you, so that you can write down any inspiration you get during or after your prayer.
I know that I can do more to make my prayers meaningful. I am really grateful for the challenge to be more prayerful this week.

Good luck to you. Don't forget to check back at the end of the week to see how Laura and I have done.

Lisa
     
     


Monday, October 24, 2011

Mothers Who Know

One impetus for starting this blog was the closing of The Village, a blog created by, written for, and made possible by a wonderful group of mothers and mothers-to-be that I feel very privileged to know and to have worked with. It was bittersweet that the blog ended, but it was time to move on to bigger and better things.

The other, more pulling motivation for Lisa and I to start writing is the desire to improve ourselves as mothers. We each recognize the divine gift that is our children, and we want to do the best we can to raise them in the gospel and teach them all they need to know to survive and thrive in our ever-increasingly challenging world. To do this, as already mentioned, we are using Sister Julie B. Beck's talk from the October 2007 General Conference, Mothers Who Know.

I highly recommend you read the talk yourself, but here is a brief synopsis. Mothers Who Know have a divine responsibility and are bestowed with great and eternal power and influence in raising their children. There are seven areas which describe Mothers Who Know:

Mothers Who Know...

Bear Children

Honor Sacred Ordinances and Covenants

Are Nurturers

Are Leaders

Are Teachers

Do Less

Stand Strong and Immovable

If you think about it, everything we ever do as a mother fits into one of these categories. Washing the dishes qualifies as nurturing. Going to the temple is a way to honor sacred ordinances and covenants. Anything you can think of that is righteous will fit.

In the early days of this blog, Lisa and I are each going to write about each of the seven topics. We want to take an assessment of where we stand now--our motherhood pulse if you will. It is difficult to know productive ways to improve if you don't know what you're doing. We each have eternal goals to be furthered and maybe accomplished in this life and those will only be achieved through intentional and focused attention. Parenting shouldn't be accidental.

As with our challenge to develop Christlike attributes, we invite you to consider your own personal standing in each area of being a Mother Who Knows.

Laura