Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hope....

“‘Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.’ … Hope sweetens the memory of experiences well loved. It tempers our troubles to our growth and our strength. It befriends us in dark hours, excites us in bright ones. It lends promise to the future and purpose to the past. It turns discouragement to determination.” (Samuel Smiles as quoted by James E. Faust, October 1999)


"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 31:20)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"That Kind of Thing"

This is not likely to be my most positive post. If you'd like to stop reading right now, that is allright. At the same time, since I use this as a form of journaling, I feel like this is something that I need to include. Ultimately though, for me writing is therapeutic and is often how I heal when I've been hurt. So read it or not; I won't be the least bit offended with either decision that you make.



Last night, I attended one of the local singles activities. (I thought that I'd give it a shot....) While I was talking with another woman there, she asked a question that led to me telling her that I have a couple of kids. A few minutes later, she mentioned that I really should move to a state far, far away (where she is from) because people there are "more tolerant" of "that kind of thing" (meaning the fact that I'm a single mom...) Still further into the conversation, I was told that I shouldn't tell people at this kind of event that I have children as that just " tends to push people away."



**Quick side note: I am sure that this person did not mean to be hurtful or unkind in her comments. I just don't think that she stopped to think about how that would sound... I think that she was just trying to be kind and solve things for me...Really, I'm pretty certain that she said these things to "help" me with the men.**



I was a bit shocked that someone who didn't have any idea about my situation would make such a statement. Quite frankly, she didn't even know if I'd been married before (which I have) and lumped me instantly with all the people out there who are where they are because they've made poor choices. I'm sorry... what's to be tolerant of? The fact that I have children who I am rearing in the gospel to be the best, most kind people that they can be? Or the fact that I was forced through very bad circumstances to walk away from my marriage for the safety and well-being of myself and my children? Forgive me if I fail to see how either of these factors can be termed, "that kind of thing."



It was also interesting to see that I shouldn't be telling people that I'm a mom. It's who I am. I didn't throw it in your face. It came up as a natural part of the conversation. I'm not going to lie, or be rude and ignorant, to avoid mentioning this part of my life. If you can't hack it that I have children, you probably aren't worth knowing anyway...



While these comments were really hurtful, they were also a great reminder. I need to try and be conscious of the things that I say and do when I interact with those I meet. Odds are, I don't know their secret sorrows. I don't know the circumstances that led them to where they are. Everyone has their own burden to bear. I don't need to make it heavier by my own thoughtless comments or actions. As Paul has said,



"Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way." ~ Romans 14:13

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This I know...

I know that Heavenly Father is there. I know that He hears and answers my prayers. I know that I am His child, and He cares more deeply than I can understand about what happens to me. I know that He can see my end from my beginning; He knows every nook and cranny of my storyline. I know that He will guide me to where I need to be.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, and that He is the Son of God. Through His atonement, I can be whole. He makes up the difference when I fall short. I know that He loves me. He is keenly aware of my needs. He is there! He strengthens me in my times of need.

I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He saw Heavenly Father and the resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ. He listened to what they said, and he followed through on the things that they asked him to do. Because of his obedience, my life is blessed.

I know that Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet today. He is a good man. I know that he walks and talks with the Savior, and that as we follow the prophet, we will draw nearer to the Lord.

I know that the scriptures are true. They contain the words of the Lord. In their pages, I come to better know my Savior. I know that as I read my scriptures, that I can hear the Savior's voice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rewarding Moments With My Girls.....

There are times that I think that imps have replaced my children with their own kind. There are times when I am so exasperated that I have to just stop talking so that I don't say something that they will remember in therapy sessions when they are in their thirties... and forties... and fifties. (You know, the things that they will tell their children, "When I was little, my mom said...") There are times when beating my head on a brick wall seems a more viable option than trying to explain something one more time to the ears that have grown legs and walked away. There are times... and then, there are times like today, when my girls remind me just how truly glorious it can be to be their mother!

L(7) made me laugh while I was working with her at school. I told her that she was funny! She thought about it for a minute, and then, in all seriousness looked at me and said, "Hmm... Mom, maybe Heavenly Father gave me that talent. I can make people laugh. I am good at making my friends laugh."

My L is very shy. The move to a new school has been a big adjustment for her, and it has taken her awhile to ease into making new friends. It's beautiful to see her finding her feet. It is still more beautiful to see her recognizing Heavenly Father's hand in her life; she is beginning to recognize her own divine nature and seeing bits of Him in her own personality.

M(9) was working on keyboarding homework. I had left the room to get ready for my religion class. As I was walking back in, she glanced at me and dove for the door. As she passed me, she grabbed me by both arms and said, "MOM! You can't close that out before you look at it!" She had written me a message, saying,

"Dear, Mom I finished the number song and I'll be glad to teach it to you some day love, M(she actually typed out her name here, but I'll refrain)

Love you (For this she upped the font size, made it bold, and bright blue)"

I've been blessed with sweet, wonderful girls; they truly light up my world...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Slowly Establishing a House of Order...

The Quest:

"8 Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;" (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 109, Verse 8)

I have a confession....

(Mum's the word. This one is just between you and me!)

I am not the world's best housekeeper. (Insert *SHOCKED GASP!!!* here...) Between the kids' school & mine, my job-- which thankfully happens when the kids are at school, and various other activities, I think that we've all just been thankful to have clean laundry and dishes. The basics have always been taken care of; it's just that some of the details get overlooked.

Lately, I've been trying to remedy this a bit. I have been RUTHLESSLY dejunking. I have also begun following the Flylady program again. It's a slow process, but it seems to be helping. The clutter is fading, and my home becomes a little more organized each day.

Planning out meals at the beginning of each day seems to be helping to establish our house of order. When my oldest child has had late(r) play practice (than usual) the last couple of nights, and when we would have previously been grabbing something to eat on the way home so that everyone could get homework done and get to bed at a reasonable hour, there's been dinner in the crockpot ready to go. (Last night, it was Asparagus Soup, and thanks to the whole Flylady thing, the same crockpot was cleaned and ready for a new meal today-- beef curry; yum!)

I have noticed that when I am able to see progress in my home, even if it is not yet what I want it to be, I am calmer. Less stress seems to lead to being able to feel the guidance of the Holy Ghost more readily. (I know, go figure!) It also allows us to feel less rushed at mealtimes, homework time, and bedtime. The quality of my time with my girls vastly improves. I guess that, in the end, the next verse in the Doctrine and Covenants sums it up just right:

The Promise

"9 That your incomings may be in the name of the Lord, that your outgoings may be in the name of the Lord, that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord,.." (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 109, Verse 9)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shining Moments of Weakness.....

Interesting as the afternoon has been, I should have expected strange happenings at my religion class this evening. Okay, fine... after spilling sticky rice all down the inside of my very full--and disorganized-- purse and completely forgetting my own phone number (in the middle of an important voice mail that I needed a call back on), I rather expected to completely butcher the hymns that I had the chance to play on the piano. I was pleasantly surprised when that went better than normal. The lesson was great as well. As I headed to the room where the refreshments were, I thought that I had left the crazies at home and successfully made it through the evening.

While a friend and I collected our rice krispie treats (which both went to my kids for tomorrow) I happened to glance up and look out in the hallway. My friend realized that something was out of the norm when I said to her (in what apparently must have been deeply sticken tones if her reaction is anything to judge by...) that I used to date that guy.

**A little background as to why this post fits becoming what I believe...**
I like to think that overall, I'm a calm and confident sort of person. Also, one of the things that I believe is that one should be kind to everyone. This particular post is about my own failure in both of these departments.

**Back to my story**
In response to my obvious distress, my kind friend asked if we needed to leave and mentioned that we could sneak out of one of the three doors. I tried to take deep, calming breaths while I answered that I thought that it would be okay. All the while though, my insides were tossing and turning as though they had suddenly decided to ride every roller coaster at Lagoon... at one time. I have to admit that I felt physically ill, and my ability to interact socially with people up and left.

Who knew that I would have such a violent reaction to an old boyfriend (not sure that's really the right word, but it'll do...) I've met several old friends recently, even one or two that I had once dated a couple of times. It hasn't phased me a bit. In fact, it's been a lot of fun. (I've mentioned this in a previous post.) It would appear, however, that my good sense flees when confronted by anything from my past that was more serious than that. Needless to say, I didn't actually say hello. (On the plus side, I'm not sure that he recognized me either...)

I definitely wasn't cool, calm, or collected. Kindness was absent as I "casually" avoided any kind of conversation. On the plus side, now I'm aware of that particular stress threshold and can work on my own reactions to it. Here's hoping to a better effort next time around!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Two of My Sweetest Blessings...

As a young girl, I always knew that I would have sons. I was absolutely certain that the Lord would send me boys because I knew what to do with them. (With four brothers -- and no sister until I was eleven, and a large collection of boy cousins, and friends who were boys at school, I figured that was my grown-up destination...) As is so often the case, God had different plans for my excursion into motherhood. He sent me two beautiful girls instead.

I realized today that with all the craziness and the emotional drama of life in a household of girls, I've been known not to express my gratitude for them and what they bring to my life nearly often enough.

In our church, we have something called fast and testimony meeting once a month. This is a time when church members who feel so inclined can get up and share their faith in the Savior and what He has done for them. It can be a beautiful meeting!

Today, both of my daughters wanted to share their testimonies of the Savior. I have never pushed them to do this because I think that it needs to be something that they can feel and express in their own way. I want them to have their own testimonies, and not to just mindlessly parrot mine. I've always tried to share my testimony with them, and to take opportunities (both at church and throughout the week) to help them recognize the Lord's hand in their lives, but it has only been in the last year that they have felt a desire to get up and share their own feelings.

M, my oldest, has a very simple testimony that does not change much month to month. It is, in essence, this: She knows that this church is true, that her parents love her -- which is a pretty important thing considering all that has happened in the last year and a half-- and that Jesus and Heavenly Father love her. It is a deep down part of who she is, and for the most part, how she chooses to live her life.

L, my youngest, always focuses on the Savior, but you never know what direction she is going to go with it. She also believes this church is true, and knows that her Savior loves her. In addition to this, today, she said that she knows that Jesus died for her so that she can return to live with Heavenly Father again someday.

My girls are so strong. They are two of my very sweetest blessings. Because of them, I reach a little higher and try a little harder than I probably would otherwise. They inspire me to be my best self. They are teaching me to be a better mom. (This last is a definite work in progress...)My world is a better place because of them. I'm grateful that the Lord looked down and saw my weaknesses, both as a person and as a parent, and saw fit to send me my children anyway.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Brain Seems to Have Missed the Memo....

While practicing the piano the other day, I noticed that I am markedly better at it than I've EVER been before. (Let me just reaffirm -- this does not mean that I'm good at it... just better than before -- which isn't actually a hard thing to accomplish.) It dawned on me that I am in my thirties and working to develop a talent that I've never put any real effort into before. Bing! (Yes, for those of you who may not recognize it... that is the sound of a lightbulb in a little thought bubble clicking on over my head.)

In my moment of epiphany (although you may see it as more of a "DUH!" moment) I realized that some obscure part of my brain had, once upon a time, led a stealth campaign that convinced the rest of my brain that by the time I hit this phase of my life, talents would have already hit their peak development, and I would be embarking on a life of service using those talents.

**Okay, quick aside here... I understand that the Savior's gospel is one of progression -- eternal progression no less. Apparently my brain seems to have subconsciously determined that it would be spiritual progression at this point, not the expanding of talents. I know.... duh... **

I'm sure that the memo was sent, but has been lying forgotten in some dusty, cobweb-covered, filing cabinet in the very back recesses of my mind. While it was a little overwhelming at first to think that I may be developing new talents in my seventies and eighties, I find it exciting to think of all the possibilities.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sometimes....

everything seems bigger than I have the faith to handle. These tend to be the times when, like Laman and Lemuel, I question, "How is it possible that the Lord will deliver..." and I let my perspective of a problem obscure my eternal vision, as they did when they said, "Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?" (Book of Mormon, 1Ne 3:31)


Although these times can be overwhelming and discouraging, I am learning that it is okay. I may not always have sufficient faith to allow the Lord to work the miracle in my life, but then again, neither did the father who brought his son to the Savior to be healed.

"21 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child.
22 And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
23 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."
(Holy Bible, KJV, St Mark 9:21-24)


Faith in the miracle might have been lacking, but this man's faith in the Savior was not. As he pled with the Lord to make up the difference where his own faith fell short, Jesus Christ made whole both father and son. I too, am learning to say, "Help thou mine unbelief." when my own eternal vision fails.


The miracle doesn't always come right away. Paul has said:
"35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
36 For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise."
(Holy Bible, KJV, Hebrews 10:35-36)


President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a member of the first presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has said, "I learned that patience was far more than simply waiting for something to happen-- patience required actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn't appear instantly or without effort.
There is an important concept here: patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can-- working, hoping, and exercising faith: bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed."
(Ensign, May 2010, 57)


Perhaps the reason that this quote means so much to me is that it touches on all the areas that I am weak. It is easy to get discouraged when I can't see the end from the beginning. It would be just as easy to allow fear to paralyze me into inaction. When tunnel vision strikes, it is hard to stick with something and do all that I can.


In the end, Nephi seems to say it best. When he was faced with the same situation as his brothers, Laman and Lemuel, and after hearing their doubtful reactions, he proclaimed:
"Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses...
3... Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us,"
(Book of Mormon, 1 Ne 4: 1)