Sunday, March 22, 2015

Ways to Obtain Peace

Do you ever feel like life is hard? Do you feel overwhelmed with balancing life? We have so many responsibilities that pull us in varying ways. I was feeling particularly overwhelmed back in January with life when a friend messaged me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to go to the temple with her the next day. My gut reaction was no but as I paused to think about it I was like why not. So I said yes! I was so glad I did! As I sat in the temple pondering life and trying to take in as much of the peace we can receive at the temple I felt a very strong impression that I just needed to put the Lord first and that everything else would fall into place or off my plate. Feeling renewed I came home and I decided on rededicating myself to daily scripture study by reading all of the conference talks as I discussed here the other day.
The talk I started with was perfect for me another tender mercy from God. I read Elder Richard G. Scott’s talk “Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority”. Elder Scott is a powerful speaker. I feel his love emanate from him as he talks. He is a serious speaker but he does it with love and concern for our wellbeing. His talk opens with the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how they knew no pain or difficulties. “Because they had never experienced hard times, they did not know they could be happy. They had never felt turmoil, so they could not feel peace.” We discussed this principle in Relief Society at church a few weeks back about how we actually need to deal with our emotions and process all of our feelings to be able to feel the full range of emotions God has given us. While dealing with the pains of this life at times are difficult and overwhelming we can truly come to know and understand real joy and happiness. Thankfully we are not left alone in this world to suffer through our pains. Heavenly Father “prepared a way through the life of His perfectly obedient Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, for His Atonement to overcome every difficulty that we may experience in mortality.” Every difficulty! Not some of them but every difficulty we face in this life, we can overcome it through over Savior’s atonement. I have personally felt this in my life with both large and small injustices of life. I would not be the person I am today without the healing power of the atonement.
Elder Scott continues on “that our purpose in coming here {here being earth} is to be tested, tried, and stretched.” He reminds us of four tools Heavenly Father has given us to help us navigate our time on this earth to help us to be able to find the peace that we need to be able to continue forward in faith. Do you know what the first tool is? Prayer! Elder Scott advises us to “Choose to converse with your Father in Heaven often. Make time every day to share your thoughts and feelings with Him. Tell Him everything that concerns you. He is interested in the most important as well as the most mundane facets of your life.” If you ever feel like you are alone or that no one wants to listen to you, go to your Father in Heaven. There is nothing too small that He doesn’t long to hear about. He is all knowing and can help guide, direct and teach us. It is easy (I know) to get lazy in our prayers. But Elder Scott tells us that one of the blessings of daily prayer is, “your heart will begin to fill with peace, buoyant peace. That peace will focus an eternal light on your struggles. It will help you to manage those challenges from an eternal perspective.” We all can use help in our daily struggles and the Lord is willing to help us if we just turn to Him and constantly reach out to Him. Elder Scott also calls out the importance of daily prayer to safeguard our children before they go out into the world each day.
The second tool is scripture study. I like this quote from Elder Scott, “We talk to God through prayer. He most often communicates back to us through His written word. To know what the voice of the Divine sounds and feels like, read His words, study the scriptures, and ponder them.” Have you ever experienced this? It’s a pretty amazing thing how while I am studying my scriptures an answer to a prayer comes to my mind and often it is not related to what I am specifically reading. It is a blessing from doing what God asks us to do and putting ourselves in a place spiritually where God can teach us and bless us. I mentioned earlier that Elder Scott is a serious speaker, he is very direct and does not beat around the bush. In regards to finding time to study the scriptures each day he says, “Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!” That is very direct counsel from an Apostle of the Lord. Notice again though he doesn’t tell us how much time we need to spend studying the scriptures that is up to us and what we feel we can do each day. He promises us though that as we take time each day to study the scriptures, “…peace will prevail in your life. That peace won’t come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart. It will be a gift of the Spirit. It will radiate out from you to influence others in the world around you. You will be doing something very significant to add to the cumulative peace in the world.” I want that peace in my home and in my life!
The third tool, and I struggle the most with this one, is having regular family home evening. I know it’s important and I want to do it. I just struggle to execute it. If you have any suggestions for doing family home evening I would love to hear them. Elder Scott’s counsel is to make it a priority and do it regularly. He shares of Sister Linda K. Reeves testimony of the importance of family home evening along with scripture study and prayer. “I must testify of the blessings of daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening. These are the very practices that help take away stress, give direction to our lives, and add protection to our homes.” Sister Reeves is a very wise woman. I strongly urge you to earn your own testimony of these three crucial habits.” Elder Scott urges us to follow after her example and gain a testimony of the first three steps so far. I shared this in church today that I love how the leaders of our church don’t expect us to just blindly obey they want us to gain our own testimonies of the truths they share. We can come to know for ourselves if these tools will bless us. How? The best way is to put them to the test and see what fruits come from our labors.
The fourth and last tool Elder Scott shares is temple attendance. He counsels “If you don’t have a temple recommend, qualify to get one. When you have a recommend, use it often. Schedule a regular time to be in the temple. Don’t let anyone or anything prevent you from being there.” I am trying to be better at my own personal temple attendance this year. I am working to find what my regular attendance can be and do it. As we attend the temple Elder Scott says, “ are in the temple, listen to the words of the ordinances, ponder them, pray about them, and seek to understand their meaning. The temple is one of the best places to come to understand the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seek Him there.” Christ’s spirit is very strong in the temple. He is the Prince of Peace so as we regularly go we shall receive more peace in our lives.
Now if we do all these things (prayer, scripture study, family home evening and regular temple attendance) does it mean life will be free from all challenges? No! We are here to be tested and tried and to gain experiences and show to Heavenly Father that we will keep the commandments He has given us and the covenants we make with Him. So life will not be challenge free but if we use these tools we will be blessed with more peace of mind and peace to our heart to be able to face the challenges that come our way. I know this to be true. I am so grateful for my Savior and His willingness to atone for my sins, pains and sorrows. I felt His peace in January as His spirit told me to put Him first and everything will fall into place. I am continuing to strive to do just that as it is a process but I know it will get easier as I try to follow my Savior’s example and turn to Him for peace.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Failing at a Challenge but Trying Again

I have just finished reading all of the Conference talks from October 2014. I had attempted to do this back in November. A new friend of mine had found a challenge online to read the conference talks in 40 days and you would end on Christmas day or right before Christmas. I was really excited! I’ve tried to read the conference talks in the past and go back and glean more from the words of the prophets and other leaders of the church but I usually forgot or was distracted and it fell to the wayside. We are counseled to “ponder the truths we have heard” by President Monson in his last talk “Until We Meet Again”. So again I was really excited to join in on this challenge and do what I know I should be doing. Though I didn’t really prepare myself very well for the challenge and I didn’t finish it.

Some time passed by and I had been sick (like 6+ weeks of being sick) and I wanted a blessing. I remember distinctly thinking I want a blessing but I don’t want to be chastised because I knew I wasn’t doing all that God wanted me to be doing. As soon as I had the thought of not wanting to be chastised, I remembered that often if we heed the words we are given from God we are blessed and strengthened. So after being chastised by my Heavenly Father in my blessing for not doing my scripture studies and drawing unto Him I got my act back together. (Side note: I can truly testify of the importance of daily scripture study!!! If we make it a habit it becomes easier but if we start to let it slide, it will completely fall away and it becomes so much harder to make it a habit again!!!) I went online and looked for ideas on how to really study the conference talks. I thought about it and decided I would highlight with a purpose. I’ve always highlighted things I’ve read in my scriptures and in the Ensign articles I read but I didn’t typically highlight with a purpose. I had 4 colors of highlighters so I came up with 4 topics or areas to look for in my studying of the conference talks.

Pink = Guidance
Green = Blessings/Promises
Purple = Move me or touches my heart
Blue = References to the Savior and His Atonement

Can I just say this really helped me to focus?! Sometimes when I do my scripture studies I start out really strong but then I kind of lose interest or focus but I want to be good so I just keep reading for the sake of reading my scriptures. Now don’t get me wrong it’s still a good thing but it’s better to be reading and actually taking something away or applying it to my life each time I am studying. And let’s face it there are some talks that just don’t really speak to us or stand out to us as amazing talks but by having my areas of focus it helped me to find things that I otherwise wouldn’t have noticed. I really have learned a lot! I feel so blessed having studied the words of our prophets and leaders of the church. And one thing that is cool about reading them is that they really are just like scriptures. Depending upon where we are in our life at the time of reading them they will speak to us differently. We can hear a conference talk and learn one thing but then as we go back and read it we can gain more insight! Such a blessing!

I’ve debated while I’ve been studying and making notes in my scripture study journal about sharing my thoughts and feelings. They say one way to tell if you’ve truly learned a principle is to share it. So I want to share what I’ve learned and hopefully learn from others as I do this and gain even further insights into the principles taught and shared at General Conference. General Conference is only 15 days away and I am excited as I prepare myself to be taught even more. I hope you too are excited to prepare yourself for the things God wants to teach us at this time in our life.
Have you tried studying the conference talks? What has helped you to keep the things you learned from conference fresh in your mind?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lessons Through Trials

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head?! For months now the song by the Police “Every Breath You Take” has been playing in my head but with the lyrics changed slightly.

It goes a little something like this…
“Every breath I take
And every move I make
Every single day, every step I take
I’m in constant pain”

It always make me giggle a little bit to myself but it’s so true. I have been in constant pain for months now. My joints hurt and my muscles hurt. I have felt like a 90 year old woman who can hardly move or do things for herself sometimes. It’s amazing how much we take our bodies for granted when they work and function properly and then miss it so much when we can’t do simple things like open a door or zip up a jacket.

But a week ago Thursday I finally got into a rheumatologist and was able to get a prescription that is 90 times better than the ibuprofen I’ve been living off of. I also got a cortisone shot in both of my shoulders so I can use them and it’s amazing! I can lift my arms above my head and I can pick up my babies without wincing. I was feeling so great the next night that I even started dancing in the kitchen a little bit and ran up the stairs. I felt like a new woman!

So you might be asking yourself why on earth do I suffer from so much pain at only 31 years of age?! I ask that question frequently when I throw myself a pity party and think how unfair life is. The gene pool can be unkind! I have psoriatic arthritis. I have had psoriasis as long as I can remember on my elbows, knees and scalp. Apparently around the age of 30 the arthritis can kick in! Again lucky me and that gene pool of mine.

There was a day several weeks back now where I came home from church and I was just in so much pain that I laid on my bed and cried. I was tired of hurting! I was tired of feeling like an invalid! I was tired of not being able to play on the floor with my kids! I was tired of being the mean wife and mommy because of the constant pain! I cried! And I cried! And I started crying unto the Lord! I cried for relief! I cried for patience! I cried for understanding! By the time I calmed down I felt so much better. I was at peace. I wasn’t doing the pity party anymore, I realized I needed to submit myself unto God and learn what He wants me to learn through this trial. I am so grateful for my Savior’s atonement that makes it possible to remove all pains if we truly turn to Him and take His yoke upon us.

One thing I have learned again through this trial is to not judge others. We can look at someone and wonder what is wrong with them and make judgments about them when we know nothing of their situation or circumstances when we see them for that small window in passing. I’m still working on this but it has truly started to change my mind on how I view others.

I still have a long way to go to really change things and not totally rely upon pain pills for the rest of my life but I am on my way. I have some life choices to make like giving up SUGAR!!! I have several Dr. appointments still to really figure everything out as my body is one ball of mess! But I am grateful for Dr.’s and the knowledge they have to help us out. And most especially I am grateful for my Savior and His atonement and patience with me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Time and a Season!

As I sat at my computer this morning messaging with a friend some words came out of me that caught me off guard. My eyes stung with warm tears as I realized how truly blessed I am again. Wow! What is it about us as women and mothers?! We are so hard on ourselves. We dismiss all the great things we are doing and accomplishing because it doesn’t match up to this ideal we have in our head or we haven’t accomplished everything on our to do list. Let’s face it that to do list is never going away! It only continues to grow!
Lately I’ve been feeling really down on myself. My children are growing so fast and while I am present I am not present as I would like since I work full time from home with them around me all day. My mind has been wandering to the future and what age my children will be when I am finally able to stop working. I’ve been focused on how hard it is to work and balance my kids and how unfair it is that I have to work at all. Which when I feel this way I feel even worse as I know I am so fortunate to provide for my family.
As I was talking with my friend about schooling for my kids and where we hope to live some day after my husband is out of school some words came out that just opened my eyes again. I said there is a time and a season for everything! How blessed I am that for this small season I am able to provide for my family. How blessed I am that for this small season my son is going to a preschool that specializes in his needs to help him learn! How blessed I am that I have access to a speech therapist for my oldest daughter to teach her and me how to help her to speak! How blessed I am to be able to watch my children each day albeit sometimes more on the sidelines but I am not missing out on words being spoken, hugs being given, the ABC song being sung, Lego towers being built, or moments of cuddles in the middle of the day.
There will be a time and a season for me to be more fully devoted to my children. There will be a time and a season for my house to be perfectly clean. There will be a time and season where I can accomplish more on that to do list. Our lives are made of times and seasons some are longer than others and some are fleeting. They never feel fleeting in the moment though as we are bogged down with the weight of the world upon us. But who wants us to feel like this moment will never pass? Who wants us to think about what we are missing out on? Satan does. He wants us to be miserable in this life and in the life to come just like he is. But I don’t want to be miserable! I want to open my eyes and see the blessings that are pouring down from Heaven upon me.
I am so grateful for this season I have to be a mother! It is hard! It is challenging! But it is worth! My children are worth it!

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Family Time at the Park

We do our best to enjoy time outside together as a family as much as possible (for us). We decided to take our kids out to a park in Orem. We had checked it out partially before while trying to drive me around into labor (never worked).
The park was a little crowded at first for our taste but we waited it out and eventually the kids had the run of the play structure to themselves.
Benjamin had a blast climbing these steps and going down the slide in a sorts of different ways. Elizabeth ventured to the top a few times and came down the slide once or twice. Abigail slept snuggly on her daddy. (11/10/2013)
I love how the sun affected several of my pictures!
There were ducks to feed and I had some crackers in the car that were stale so we tried to feed them. Benjamin didn't get the concept and would just eat the cracker pieces we gave him. I packed some food and we went for a walk and found a table to eat at and the kids had fun running around and coming back to the table for some more food.
It was a good family outing! I love spending time with my family!

Going Home and Knocking on Doors

Thankfully you only can really spend 48 hours in the hospital once you give birth (unless of course there are complications). I had asked about when I could expect to leave and since Abigail was born so late they were thinking after dinner time as they wanted to watch her for the full 48 hours almost (because of being such a large baby and watching her sugars which she passed all of her tests just fine). A different pediatrician came on and he said I could go home. I was able to go home after lunch. Hooray!
I was so tired of the bed that I sat in the nice chair and Jared took the bed for awhile which Benjamin thought was great.
Elizabeth missed her mommy! And you know what Mommy missed her too!
 When we were finally ready to leave Benjamin saw me put my shoes on and got so excited! I love those moments when you can tell your children really do love and adore you.
One thing I noticed shortly after going home was that Benjamin learned something about doors. He learned doors are for knocking on. He goes around our house now knocking on doors and opening the ones he can. When we come home he runs to the front door and starts knocking. And he will knock until the door is opened. It is pretty funny to me. I talked to Jared about it shortly after noticing and he said it must be because Jared would knock before entering my room at all. Love it!

Alone at the Hosptial

Being left at the hospital alone this time was strange and difficult for me. Every time Jared left I would cry. (I am an emotional person to begin with but I am going to blame some of it on the hormones.) Deirdre was so sweet and came back after leaving and offered to stay with me. I let her go home though as I knew the nurses would keep waking us up. I was fine after a few minutes but it was just so different. We decided Jared taking the kids home would be best as they don't deal well with Daddy alone at night as it is and we didn't want to stress anyone else out with their screaming.
Aunt Deirdre and Abigail on the left. Uncle Jason and Daddy on the top middle. Benjamin happily playing on the Surface on the bottom middle. Elizabeth passed out on the hospital bed on the right.
 The next day Jason and Deirdre came back for another visit (to see me of course!). Aunt Deirdre got to hold Abigail and I got a nice picture of them together. Benjamin was so excited when he came back and saw mommy. Jared told me that when they were getting ready to leave he asked Benjamin about going to see mommy and that Benjamin booked it out the door and to the van.
A small hospital room is rough for keeping kids happy and entertained. Elizabeth eventually passed out and Benjamin had fun playing on the bed. We just had to keep him from hitting the nurses call button.
11/05/2013 I made the hair bow for Abigail for the hospital specifically.
Jared took the kids home again but was able to come back for a bit in the evening which was very nice. Jason and Deirdre watched the kids for awhile at our house which I learned each kid took a turn cuddling up with their Aunt and Uncle.