Monday, October 31, 2011

Thankful For ...

I'm thankful today for amazing friends who have gone out of their way to nurture and love my children. We've been so blessed to know some incredible people.

Things I Regret ...

* Not being able to give more of myself to help where there's a need.

I wish that there were ten of me (or 112 hours in the day.) I feel like I try to give all I can to help where there is a need, but it seems like somewhere, somehow there's always someone(s) or something(s) that fall through the cracks.

* Not even managing to help all the amazing people who've helped me over the years.

There are so many people who've helped me in so many ways. My kids and I would not be who or where we are today without them. Unfortunately, it seems like at times, it is those very wonderful people who slip through the cracks (read: big, gaping holes) in my capability levels. It's hard enough when you feel like you've let someone down; harder still when it's someone who matters so much!

* That my little family's happily ever after doesn't fit the normal family mold.

My kids don't live in a two parent home. The time that they did has left scars that most people will never see. Both those things are heartbreaking. It's hard sometimes to look back at pictures and snapshots of time that held such promise and to realize that promise was shattered years ago. While I would not be where I am in my life if I did not truly believe it is the best option for my kids and me, that knowledge doesn't always ease the sting of shattered dreams.

* That my sweet girls have learned in their short years infinitely more about the hardships of life than most children and many adults are forced to learn in a lifetime.

My girls are amazing! They have an inner strength, and a sense of peace that belies the troubles they've faced at such young ages. There are times though when their strength wanes and they sob out their sorrows as though their poor hearts would burst. The burdens that they carry in these moments are heavy beyond what most can comprehend. My girls are old souls in young bodies; wise beyond their years.

* Not being enough ...

Most of the time, I can see a lot of good in myself. There are times though, when I wonder why I wasn't enough: enough to make those around me happy, enough to be worth cherishing, enough to be worth treating well, etc. There are times that I regret not being able to see myself as enough in those areas, but more importantly, to be able to trust that others will see me as enough. I think it's human nature to worry about these things. We are creatures of habit, and one such habit is to care deeply if we are enough to those close to us.

For all of these regrets though, I find that I wouldn't change anything.

I can't help everyone; I can't be there when everyone needs me. I wish I could, but I have found that there are great blessings that come from this ache. A) I am learning to prioritize, and B) the feeling of falling short motivates me to try harder and be better. With each failure, I become more aware of the needs that exist, and I come a little closer to meeting them as time and ability allow.

I've learned that there are worse things than a broken happily ever after. I've learned that we can always rebuild. These things might knock us flat on our behinds for a bit. We may ache and feel so broken that we think we'll never be whole, but if we keep trying to get back up-- even if we take a moment to sit on our duffs and lick our wounds-- we will crawl back. There are lots of stories out there, and just because ours doesn't end the way we think it should doesn't mean it won't end happily; it's just taken some unexpected twists.

My heart will always ache for the sorrows that my children face. I can't take them away. I can provide support; I can ease those burdens by listening, loving, and helping them to learn coping mechanisms. I can teach them about the Savior, His Gospel, and His love. He heals hearts, and He can heal my girls. I can help my girls to see how their lives are their own choice. They may not be able to choose their trials, but they can choose whether they will overcome them cheerfully or whether they will allow their sorrows to overcome them. While I would give anything for my children not to face these trials, I have learned that my trials have made me who I am. Most of the time, I like that person. My children are the bright, shining souls that they are because of where they have come from. They have walked through fire, and it has not dimmed them. If anything, they glow all the brighter because of it.

I'm still working on the last one. I have come to know though, that my Father in Heaven sees me as enough. He sees me as valuable, as one who deserves to be cherished, and as one to be treated with goodness. He also sees me as strong enough to face these challenges. While He allows me to walk through pain, He sends blessings -- large and small -- to remind me that He is mindful of me, that He is guiding my path, and that if I will just keep moving my feet, I will emerge as more of the person that He sees me becoming.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Am Thankful For ...

Thankful #3:

I'm thankful for hard lessons. They stink! They're devastating. They stretch me to my absolute limit (and usually a little bit beyond).

BUT ...

Everything else smells better by comparison. I learn to rebuild. I grow; I find out that I'm capable of so much more than I ever see in me. I might not always see the beauty and the strength in my soul, but I know that God does. These challenges are His way of helping me learn to shine, and in His light, I can.

I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 3:7)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thankful Fo: #2

Today's Thankful For:

I'm thankful for financial blessings. We don't have a lot, but somehow we always have enough to pay the bills and pay the rent. We have a roof over our heads, functional utilities that remain that way, and food to eat. There are a lot of times that there is no logical reason that the money should stretch to cover all of our needs; miracles happen, and ends meet. I'm grateful for those miracles.

Sometimes, I find myself complaining when things are tight, but I need to remember that sometimes when things are toughest, it's easier to see the blessings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Celebrating Thanksgiving a Bit Early This Year ...

Lately, I've had a terrible attitude. In an effort to change my perspective, I've decided that I will try and post on this blog most days about something that I'm grateful for. I realize that Thanksgiving isn't until next month, but I figure a little extra gratitude won't kill me.

Today's "Thankful for":

I'm thankful for my girls. They are a source of light in my life. I feel more balanced when they are home. I love being able to watch them grow into the people they will one day be. Their quirks and their humor keep me smiling. They are my joys-- even if there are times when we make each other crazy. There are times that our little apartment looks like a children's room exploded. I'm learning to be grateful-- there will come a day when the chaos that naturally follows children will not be a regular guest in my home, and odds are that I'll miss it. I feel blessed to be their mother. I'm not sure how I got so lucky, but having them in my life reminds me that there is a lot of good in this world and especially in my home.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Know That My Savior Loves Me ...

We all have some tough times. It seems like whenever I am at my lowest point, the music leader in our church's children's class has the kids sing this song. Because I help teach these kids, I get to sing along. This sweet woman doesn't usually know that I'm having one of those times, but somehow, she manages to time it just right.

Every time that I sing "I did not touch Him or sit on His knee, yet Jesus is real to me!" it is like healing balm poured on my aching soul. As I follow it up with "I know He lives! I will follow faithfully. My heart I give to Him; I know that my Saviour loves me." my soul is renewed, and my heart echoes the testimony of these words.

I do know He lives. He is there in our darkest hours. Sometimes it takes a while for things to come right, but I know that they will.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bits and Pieces

I wanted to share a couple of my favorite quotes. I love that they focus on being a bit better-- one little step at a time. It's a great reminder that I don't have to be perfect at everything I hope to be all at once. If I'm doing a little bit each day to become more the person that I want to be, then it is enough.

Each of us can do a little better than we have been doing. We can be a little more kind. We can be a little more merciful. We can be a little more forgiving. We can put behind us our weaknesses of the past, and go forth with new energy and increased resolution to improve the world about us, in our homes, in our places of employment, in our social activities. ...
May we go with determination to try a little harder to be a little better. Please know that we are not without understanding of some of your problems. We are aware that many of you carry very heavy burdens. We plead with the Lord in your behalf. We add our prayers to your prayers that you may find solutions to your problems. We leave a blessing upon you, even an apostolic blessing. We bless you that the Lord may smile with favor upon you, that there may be happiness and peace in your homes and in your lives, that an atmosphere of love and respect and appreciation may be felt among husbands and wives, children and parents. (Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, April 1995)
One thing that I've always loved about this quote is the reminder that we aren't alone, that there are usually other people that we're completely unaware of who are praying for us, hoping and helping where they can, to ease our burdens. I'm grateful for those who have quietly (or openly) supported me in my life. I'm grateful that I don't have to do it all at once, that I can pick a little piece at a time and make it better. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

I may not be much, but God made me, and that means I am enough.

Grow Old Along With Me ...

I've always loved the song, "Grow Old Along With Me." It's kind of the epitome of what I hope to one day have. Always has been. There's something comforting about growing old together and knowing one another so well. I want to be that cute little old couple that still holds hands. (Yup, I'm a hand holder.)

Today as I was reading a totally unrelated book, I came across some references to the poem that song was based off of. Who knew it was written by Browning? I looked up the poem, and there were a couple of parts that I just loved.

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in his hand
who saith, "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"
I love how Browning states that a whole life is what God planned, that youth is made for old age. There's an incredible message about understanding our worth in the eyes of God as well:

But all the world's coarse thumb
And finger failed to plumb,
So passed in making up the main account;
All instincts immature,
All purposes unsure,
That weighed not at his work, but swelled the man's amount:
Thoughts hardly to be packed
Into a narrow act,
Fancies that broke through language and escaped;
All I could never be,
All, men ignored in me,
This, I was worth to God ...
I love the reminder that not only does God see the good in us, but he sees all that we've not yet been able to become. He truly sees our best selves and loves us for that.  I'm grateful that when I can't see myself that way, He can.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'd like to remarry someday; I've thought a lot about the things that I want, and right or wrong, here are some of them ...

* I want someone who wants to be with me as much as I want to be with them.

* I want someone who's in love with me, not just the idea of a family or marriage.

* I want someone who doesn't forget all my good qualities when my bad qualities come to visit; I want someone that I can do the same for. I guess, I want someone who will still love me when both of our realities set in.

* I'm an all or nothing person. When that day comes, I want to adore someone to the moon and back, and I want someone who will love me that much too. I want to give my whole heart, and if you can't give me yours, then you aren't the one for me.

* I want to adore you, and I'll make myself available, but I won't chase you. I'm old-fashioned enough to want you to show me that I'm an important way for you to spend your time.

* I want someone who won't compare my worst qualities to someone else's best qualities. I know it's a process, but I'd try hard not to do that as well.

* I want to feel safe. You should be my haven. If my safety and happiness aren't as big a concern to you as yours is to me, then we probably won't mesh.

* I want to be supportive, and I want someone who will support me as well-- not because they have to, but because they want to.

By the same token, I realize that marriage isn't a one-way street. I've thought a lot about that one too. I have my fair share of flaws and failings, but I have a lot to offer as well. I want someone who will see the things that I do well. Because it's been a discouraging couple of days, I'm going to remind myself what some of those things are. (Occasionally, we all need a little pat on the back-- and sometimes, no one else is going to give it.) Feel free to look away if you'd rather ...

* I'm creative. I can do a lot with a little to bring beauty into our home.

* I'm a great mom. (Once again, I fall short often enough, but overall-- I love my kids, we have a good relationship, and I'm really involved.)

* I'm good at the little things. I like to do simple things that show I care.

* I'm a little cheesy. While that might seem silly, it also means that I'll get just as excited and happy about the good things in the lives of those that I care about. I like to watch my loved ones succeed.

* I like to laugh.

* I tend (usually) to look for the good in life. I've learned that I'd rather laugh than cry, and I'm getting better at learning what not to get hung up on.

* I'm smart. I like to learn new things. When people talk to me, I tend to remember a lot of the details. While I'm not a perfect listener, I'm getting better.

* I've learned to be a fairly frugal person.

* I can cook. There was a day when I could ruin Hamburger Helper, but it doesn't happen much anymore. I'm good at learning the tastes of the people that I cook for and picking recipes that fit that.

* Family is very important to me.

* I'm a bit old-fashioned when it comes to traditional roles. I like to be feminine; I'm not a high-maintenance gal, but I do like being a woman.

* I try to live what I say I believe. I don't always make it. I've learned that this doesn't make me a hypocrite. (I've never said that I always do those things or that I'm perfect in that department.) It just means that I missed the mark and need to do a little better next time.

* When I choose to do something, I tend to do it wholeheartedly. I'm not much of a half-measures sort of person.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Trust in the Lord"

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6_
I love these verses. They're so simple, but they mean so much. I've found that when I follow them, I know that the Lord is guiding my life. Applying these verses seems to bring an insulating power into my life. When I trust in the Lord, I know that He is working for my good-- that whatever pain or heartache may come will eventually pass and will help me to become who He wants me to be.

I know that God is mindful of me. He loves me and my children. I know that He can see the big picture and will put us where we need to be.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Maturing Spiritually in Bits and Pieces

Several years back, when serving as a missionary for my church, I came across a quote that has been one I've clung to often (though perhaps not often enough) as time has passed and I've been faced with challenges and decisions. It is as follows:

"Opposition turns up almost anyplace something good has happened. It can happen when you are trying to get an education. It can hit you after your first month in your new mission field. It certainly happens in matters of love and marriage ... There are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temtation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don't give up when the pressure mounts ... Face your doubts. Master your fears. 'Cast not away therefore your confidence.' Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you." (Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU Devotional, March 2, 1999)

I'm still not always sure exactly what this means to me. Picking and choosing which things to cling to isn't always as clear as I'd like it to be. I've found though, that this quote brings me peace. It helps me to see things a bit more clearly.

Sometimes I forget that often, the lesson is to be found in working toward something, that often doors open because of the path we are already walking. Who knows where these paths of decision will lead in my own life? But it brings me comfort knowing that if I "Stay the course", I will see the beauty of my life unfold along the way.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I realize that at thirty-five I no longer qualify as youth, but ...

this was still one of my favorite talks that was given last weekend. It's been one of those weeks where I've dragged these words out often for hope and comfort. I especially love the promises that are given.

Perhaps the single greatest thing I learned from reading the Book of Mormon is that the voice of the Spirit comes as a feeling rather than a sound. You will learn, as I have learned, to “listen” for that voice that is felt rather than heard. ...
It is not expected that you go through life without making mistakes, but you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Spirit. ...

I say again that youth today are being raised in enemy territory with a declining standard of morality. But as a servant of the Lord, I promise that you will be protected and shielded from the attacks of the adversary if you will heed the promptings that come from the Holy Spirit. ...

If you will follow these principles, you will be watched over and protected and you yourself will know by the promptings of the Holy Ghost which way to go, for “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things 
Boyd K. Packer (General Conference, October 2011)


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Words Quoted by a Prophet (a Favorite Hymn) ...

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
I'm so thankful for a living prophet who takes the time to remind us of the things that we need to know. I'm grateful that we have the opportunity to hear him and other inspired leaders speak at least twice each year. What a blessing General Conference is!