Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When you find yourself in the roughs

This morning my dad text me at 6:12 all chipper and rearing to have a great day. I was still in bed, exhausted and in pain. We had a thunder and rain storm over our house last night that was so intense I was looking out the window to see if we had ended up in Kansas. And after bottling 35 bottles of grape juice by myself yesterday my shoulder was burning with the pain of a thousand vengeful, knife-weilding suns. 

My dad, however, was all set to have “the best day ever.” I told him that if I was going to have the best day ever I would need some handicaps. He seemed a little confused so I looked up handicaps to make sure I knew what I was talking about, and this is what I found…..

“A golf handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer's potential ability. In stroke play, it is used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes actually played during a competition, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on somewhat equal terms.”
Wait a minute. Do you mean to tell me that even if my game is not very strong, I can be judged by my potential ability so that I can be on equal terms with my opponent? Who knew golf had so much compassion?

Yes, I definitely needed some compassionate handicaps to get through my day. It has been a tough week anyway, certainly I’m due for an easier day, right?

Fortunately, even though I don’t play golf there is One who can grant me handicaps. One who sees my potential ability and not only cuts me some slack but lends me His strength. 
He paid the ultimate price so that we can all play on equal terms. So that we can have that extra bit of help when we need it. 
So even though I felt like I was starting way behind when I got out of bed today, I actually had a pretty good day. The Lord had compassion on me. He saw the potential I had today based on if I had started out at my top ability, and He made the effort I was able to put into my day be enough, which put me on a more level playing ground with whatever came my way.

I wonder if there’s golf in heaven?

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For when you're ready to quit

Do you ever have those moments when you feel like you are never going to get any better than you are now? And not only that but all the hard work you have done and all the progress you have made is just slipping away? That’s how I feel.

It's the end of a long day and my child keeps yelling for me instead of going to sleep and I am reaching my last straw. I want so badly to be the mom I have been striving to be, to not be super irritated and, yes, mad that my child isn’t cooperating and frustrated that I gave in and yelled today.

Will I ever be the mom I want to be? Will my children grow up short-tempered and angry when things go wrong instead of kind and gentle like the other moms are surely teaching their kids to be with their awe-inspiring examples? What’s the use of trying if I’m just going to keep having days like this?

Do you ever have those thoughts? You are certainly not alone and as I type these words I must remind myself of that, too.

I think the problem today is I saw too many nice moms in the last couple of days. Nice moms with their well-behaved kids who are kind and gentle and will grow up to be amazing parents themselves. These kids will be better parents in the future than I am now. So not only am I comparing but I am overkilling it. But knowing that doesn’t stop me from wondering if I’ll ever come close to being like these moms whose greatness I aspire to. 

Do you ever feel that way, too? That’s the adversary. There is no way the Spirit would be whispering this to you. There is no way your Heavenly Father would want you to feel this way. There is no possible circumstance in which your Savior would tsk tsk you and tell you if only you were good enough for His Atonement He could help you.

So why do we feel this way?? Because we give in to those awful, vile, soul-destroying whisperings of the evil one. He wants you to be miserable. He wants you to compare yourself and give up. He wants so much to draw you away from all who love you, earthly and heavenly.

Don’t listen. You may be having bad day today, you might even have a few bad days in a row, but you are still a child of God. YOU. You are a child of God. And guess what?? He loves you. Even though you messed up, He loves you. And He loves your children, too. He sent them to you because He wants the best for them and you are the best person for the job. Did you hear that? YOU are the BEST person for THIS job. For THESE children. YOU. You are amazing and you are doing your best and you can do this. You just have to keep trying. That is all He asks.

So get out there and prove satan wrong. Get out there and keep trying, keep fighting, keep striving, keep pushing. You are getting there. You will get there. And They will be with you every step of the way.

You got this. And so do I.

Monday, June 13, 2016

When you want to receive

If you would like to get more out of your study of the scriptures I strongly suggest keeping a study journal. If you would like to get more out of your church meetings and General Conference I strongly suggest keeping a study journal. If you would like to get more out of your personal prayers, if you would like to receive more personal revelation, if you would like to see the Hand of God in your life….keep a study journal!

I can’t remember exactly when I first started keeping a study journal, but I’ve been doing it for at least 10 years. I have notebooks full of notes from Institute and attending church at the student ward. I haven’t always been stalwart with it, I definitely took a long break from it when I started having kids, but I have always come back to it and I have always had a strong testimony of it.

If you show the Lord that you are willing to receive what He has for you, He will give you more. As you read or listen with the intent to learn and write down what you hear, I promise you that you will receive more than if you passively read or listen. As you write down what speaks to your heart you will be given the opportunity to ponder for a second on what you’ve heard, and you will have the opportunity to receive more.

Keeping a study journal will also give you a greater chance to liken the scriptures unto yourself. As you come across a principle that you know you need to work on you can write about how you can better keep that principle, or how it applies to you, and receive ideas and promptings from the Spirit for you personally that pertains to that principle.

Writing down what the Spirit reveals to you is also a great way to be able to look back and remember what the Lord has taught you and will show you how the Lord works in your life. It will be impossible for you to deny that you are receiving revelation and that the Lord is there for you when you can see it all laid out over a span of time.

Along with keeping a study journal, keep a heart journal. Write down the promptings and ideas you receive as you pray. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read back to what I’ve written in my heart journal and been surprised at what I have written and been glad that I had a way to be reminded of what things the Spirit prompted me to do.

It may seem like a silly or simple thing, but there are times when I think that I’m just going to read and if I “hear” anything then I’ll pull my notebook out and I don’t get as much out of my study time as I would have liked to. So I finally decide to get out my notebook and pen and ready myself to receive and then I do. I do receive because I’m ready for it. This morning I read “Choices” by President Monson from the April 2016 General Conference. It is one page long in the Ensign, and I have three pages of notes from it. I have five pages of notes from the Conference talk that I read yesterday.

I know that when you show the Lord that you are willing to receive, that He will teach you more than you could even imagine. He wants to teach you, He wants you to learn all that you need to make it back to Him, to become the person that He knows you can become. I know that as you study and listen with true intent, and are prepared to receive, that you will receive many wonderous things, that you will start to recognize the whisperings of the Spirit more in your life and that you will develop a deeper and stronger relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The heart of pain

My rotator cuff is killing me. So is my right hip. I've been dealing with muscle pain for 10+ years but am only just figuring out what the real source of the problem is. I could have fixed this 10 years ago if I had taken the time to learn about the body and to stretch, but most of the time it wasn't debilitating enough for me to do anything about it, and I loathe stretching. I've known that my piriformis was one of the culprits for years but I've just been putting band-aids over the situation.

A little over a year ago I decided enough was enough. I was just waiting to have my baby and then I would get serious. My piriformis was hurting me so badly after I had Rylan that I had to be pushed up to the NICU in a wheelchair to see him. Six weeks after I had him I started a program called Tai Cheng as well as started walking. That helped my body a lot. When I was done I noticed that the general pain was gone and I could now pinpoint where the pain was originating from, my right hip and my shoulder area.

Last week I started a new program called Turbofire. In the stretching portion of the workout the instructor mentions the rotator cuff and does a rotator cuff stretch. It was then that I realized that I can't even move my arms halfway as as far as I should be able to in the rotator cuff stretch. I did a little research and lo and behold, my rotator cuff isn't only killing me, it's one of the sources of pain that I've been dealing with for years. While vacuuming the other day I could fill it in my shoulder and I wondered how I didn't recognize that pain before. I had had it for so long I had just started to ignore it. Ignoring the pain lead to severe shoulder and neck pain that also goes down my arm.

As I thought about my ignorance I was reminded about the morning I had that day. It was a rough and stressful morning. I was once again dealing with a problem that I have been pondering how to fix for months that I thought had gotten better. At my wit's end I got on my knees and asked "What lack I yet?" The answer I received was surprising but made a lot sense. How could I not see that was the answer? Because I had been just living with it for so long that it leaked into the rest of my life wreaking havoc wherever it could and I could no longer see that was where the problem had originated. I also didn't believe it could be fixed. But the Spirit says it can be fixed! Just like I can fix my body even though I spent so many years thinking I would just have to live with the pain.

I love the journeys that Heavenly Father takes me on. He leads me to one answer that I work on for as long as I need to until I'm ready for Him to take me on to the next one. It started a little over a year ago with me finally deciding to do something about my body. Then I had many months of building up the motivation for when I could finally actively do something. I'm so grateful that He lead me to Tai Cheng. If I hadn't taken the time to do that program first I wouldn't be doing as well as I am now, and I am doing considerably better than when I started it. I'm so grateful for that one little nugget of knowledge that I found while stretching in my Turbofire program about my rotator cuff. I knew that my hip was the source of my pain but didn't know exactly what the problem was with my upper back and neck. Now I can't wait to fix these problems. I just imagine how great I am going to feel when I am done and all the things that I will be physically capable of.

And now because I took the time to ask "What lack I yet?", and because He has been leading me up to this point, I now have a much different project to work on, healing myself on the inside. As hard as it's been to get my body to where it is now I anticipate that this journey will be much more trying and take much more perseverance. But I know that He will be there. I know that we will start at one end of the problem and work up, not taking it all head on and overwhelming myself. I can't wait to see where this journey takes me, however trying and painful it is, and what I'll be capable of when I'm done.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Planning to Fail

Lately I've been thinking about the saying "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." I've been mainly applying it to my health and fitness goals and a little bit with how I manage getting my kids out the door. This morning I realized that I had planned to fail my Sabbath.

Since the First Presidency said that we need to improve our Sabbath observance I have been making it a point to have the house clean Saturday, which makes a huge difference in my Sabbath Day. Last week we changed from 1 pm church to 9 am church. We were very excited about this time change and that week I was determined to get to church on time. That night when I went to bed the house was clean, everyone's church clothes were laid out, the diaper bag was ready and breakfast preparations were on the counter. I was ready! I'd even gone to bed on time. That Sunday morning went smoothly and we enjoyed the day.

This morning I realized that I hadn't prepared for the Sabbath. Other than thinking that my house was messier than I wanted it to be when I went to bed the thought of preparing hadn't even crossed my mind, I even went to bed way later than I should have. This morning was far from pleasant. It was rushed and stressful and full of regrets. In just one week I had gotten casual and let it slip.

Today we had ward conference and despite my far from spiritual morning I felt like I was swimming in the spirit the whole three hours. President Staker talked about the Sabbath. In Sacrament meeting he talked about what he does on Sundays to make his Sabbath more meaningful. He then expounded on that topic in Sunday School with the help of his wife. I am so grateful for what I learned.

President Staker talked about doing something to renew his spirit on the Sabbath, he also talked about making the Sabbath different from the other days of the week. Sister Staker talked about finding rest on the Sabbath. She said that rest in the worldly sense was to physically rest, but rest in the spiritual sense is to draw closer to God. Meaning on the Sabbath we need to do those things that will draw us closer to God, and that will allow us to Rest in Him. I also learned that it's okay to have simple meals on Sunday but that we shouldn't hide from our children on the Sabbath, we should make it a family day.

I knew that I needed to abstain from certain activities on the Sabbath but what I hadn't thought of was adding wholesome activities to my day. I have been wondering what else I can do with my Sabbath day to help prepare me for the coming week. I need to make the day different, so that I can find the rest in Him that will help revitalize me for the coming six days.

I am so grateful for the Sabbath. I am grateful for a day that I can block out the world and focus on my Savior.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The gospel of swing and other things

When I was in my early 20's dancing was my life. I danced as many nights a week as I could. I helped run a dance venue on Friday nights with a few friends. I lived and breathed dancing. I would sit in sacrament exhausted from the dancing I enjoyed the night before and see waltzing in my head every time we sang a hymn that was a 3/4 beat.

West Coast Swing is similar enough to the Lindy Hop that we would dance with the lindys. While Lindy Hoping I heard the phrase "the gospel of swing." This phrase started to bother me the more I thought about it. I had no qualms about sharing my love of dance with others. I would tell and invite anyone that would listen. But what about the Gospel, the good word of Christ? Who was I proclaiming that, too?

Well, everyone I knew was either active or had already heard about it and made their decision and I didn't want to push them farther away. And I didn't want to offend anyone. And it doesn't come up that often. was just more fun to talk about swing. When I get an opportunity I'll talk about it. That's reasonable, right?

A few yeas ago I started doing essentrics, a stretching and strengthening workout. I love doing this workout. I like it better than yoga because it's constant movement, I have a hard time holding poses. It stretches my body in ways that it normally doesn't get stretched and my body feels so good when I do essentrics. I think everyone should stretch so I think that everyone should do essentrics. I could proclaim my love of essentrics to everyone. I would even like to become certified to teach so I can know more about it and be able to help others.

My desire to share essentrics with everyone started to remind me of the gospel of swing. And as I pondered on dance, essentrics and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I learned a few things.

I realized that my love of and my desire to share essentrics with others is directly related to how often I participate in it.

When I danced my participation never wavered, so neither did my zeal. Dance was important enough to me that it was a priority, I never forgot about it, I never let things get in the way of it when I could help it.

Essentrics is a little different. I have to make an effort to make it a priority. It's important to me, but it's easy to let it fall by the wayside if I don't keep focused on it and remember why I love it and why I should do it.

Essentrics reminds me of the Gospel. I love the Gospel. Living the Gospel has benefited me in many ways. I know it is important and necessary, necessary for the whole of the human race, but I have to make an effort to make it a priority. So many things can get in the way if I let it. I have to remind myself everyday why I follow Jesus and keep His commandments. Why I do the things I do and how much I love it.

The more we participate in the Gospel, in our own salvation, the more we love it, and the greater our zeal for sharing it will grow. When we participate daily it will be on our minds and will be easier to share with others. Dance was easy to share because I thought about it all the time. When I make Christ the focus of my thoughts and my day and the reason for what I do with my day, it is so much easier to share Him with those around me. When I am living it, it is easy to tell others what I am doing with my day, and thus create an opportunity to share the Gospel with others.

I love dance and I love essentrics, but neither of those mean anything without the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I wouldn't have either of those things without Him.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The trenches of motherhood (who's really the enemy)

It's 9 a.m. I've been up since 6:30, not to mention all the times I was awakened in the middle of the night. I have no idea what day it is. It feels like a Wednesday but I know it's not because I'm yet to feel the relief of a fresh paycheck in the bank, but I know it's close so it must be Tuesday. I have 7 bottles of grape juice in the water bath with 25 more waiting on the counter and I know processing them is going to take all day. I haven't had a chance to read my scriptures this morning but I managed a hasty prayer. Leese and I have already had a few tiffs, though I haven't yelled...yet. Rylan is sort of patiently waiting to be fed and my cereal is now too soggy to eat and I lack sufficient energy or time to try breakfast again. My house is a mess, it feels like it's been torn apart for months and I don't have the energy, time or even sometimes ability to put it back together. I have laundry and dishes to do and in two days we are going to the city so I have packing along with grocery shopping in the back of my head. I am exhausted and overwhelmed, among a dozen other adjectives I'm sure you are all feeling, too.

I am in the trenches of motherhood.

I am fighting a war and each day is a battle.

It is hard, dirty, harrowing work.

But who am I fighting this war against? My kids? My husband? That mom I know that has more kids than I do and never yells?

That's what satan wants you to think. He wants you to feel like all you do all day is fight with your kids, I certainly feel that way. He wants you to ruminate on the thoughts of how you do so much more housework than your husband does until you are ready to snap, I've had those days. He wants you to think that compared to those other perfect moms that you are a failure. He wants you to believe that you will never be good enough. Never measure up. Never be anything more than you are.

Does this sound familiar?

We are fighting a war against satan, and every day is a battle to keep him out of our hearts and out of our homes. To protect ourselves and our families from him. I often feel like my battle is with Elise. That she is the one who is keeping me from not only accomplishing more but from being more. From being able to have my own identity, from having an easier life, one that doesn't include taking 30 minutes to put the baby down because as soon as he falls asleep she is coming up the stairs screaming my name, from being able to come and go as I please.

My battle is not with her, it's with impatience, anger, selfishness, my own natural man.

So what can we do to win these daily, and even hourly, skirmishes?

Find time to pray in the morning, at night, after the kids go down for a nap, when we feel our patience slipping, when we are grateful for a tiny, tender mercy. Let God speak to you through His written word. Take a time out. Walk away from the mess and spend a little quality time with the kids, to remember that they are your allies.

And most of all remember. Remember that satan is very real and he will oppose every good thing you do, which will often make you feel like a failure. Remember that you are stronger than Him, that with God you can do anything. Remember that satan nitpicks at you because he wants what you have, because you have everything and he has nothing but his desire to make you miserable.

Remember that God loves you. That He is with you always, just reach out to Him and you will find Him. Take time to look for the tender mercies He gives you every day. Notice how a hard day wasn't as bad as it could have been because He was there.

It's 9 a.m. and I have 32 bottles of grape juice, which is great because 32 is much more than the 12 bottles I had last year. I've made it two whole weeks with only $30 to my name and have seen the great blessings of tithing along the way, and tomorrow I will see another payday and have the wonderful opportunity to pay my tithing again so that we can receive the blessings we need. I haven't yelled yet, which means I still have the opportunity to go all day without yelling, and even though Elise drives me crazy in between the crazy moments she is doing a funny dance or helping me bake, and I am so grateful to have a daughter who is so spirited. And even though my house is a mess, my to-do list is long and I'm more exhausted than I ever want to be, tomorrow is another day, and with my Savior by my side I can find joy in the trenches.