I truly believe this and that's why today, on the eve of a brand new year, I am choosing to refocus myself on working on things day by day. From my favorite quoting book, Stand A Little Taller:
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I truly believe this and that's why today, on the eve of a brand new year, I am choosing to refocus myself on working on things day by day. From my favorite quoting book, Stand A Little Taller:
Friday, December 19, 2008
Hmmm...we'll see about that one.
The aforementioned project was sanding down a painted table that was given to me, in order to restore it and have it match our living/dining area. My husband and I worked together to recover the chairs with some new fabric. That was the easy part.
On to the wood...I started with epoxy/paint stripping. P.S. That stuff REALLY stings when it touches your skin. I became an expert on the timing. It takes about ten seconds for the stinging to reach its high point and it stings at the high point for about ten seconds. Scratching, slapping, patting, shaking...etc., the area does not make it any better. You have to bear through the pain--or be smart enough not to keep getting it on yourself.
After stripping the paint and epoxy from the table and chairs, I started imagining a small side career in refinishing peoples old pieces of furniture. I mean, aside from the stinging spots all over, I was a pro after one day. ;)
The next day I started the sanding. My small side career turned into a "just for me and my family hobby" that I would take on every once in while. Maybe rummage some garage sales.
Then, I sanded....and sanded....AND SANDED. FOR DAYS! I could barely feel my hands after all of the vibration from the hand sander and was about ready to through it across the room on day 4 or 5.
ENTER MY RANDOM FOOD FOR THOUGHT...
Now, you may start wondering where in the heck I drew up these thoughts from this project, but you have to understand, when you are sanding for days on end, hours and hours a day, you have a lot of time to think about wood, (especially when you are blowing sand-dust out of your nose).
I started to think about how in the scriptures it talks about how to become more like Christ, we must become more like a little child. Meek. When you are a little child, you are stripped pretty bare to the bone. There aren't layers and layers and years of years worth of coating and protection. Much like this wood I was trying to restore back to it's newborn state, we put layers and layers atop ourselves to make us look better or protect us, as is human nature.
Whilst amid this project, I had a discussion with my husband and I realized that instead of letting him hear the bareness of my soul, I was coating it with layers of protection. Instead of things he was saying "soaking into my soul" or bare wood, it was bouncing off the layers I had put on. Layers such as pride and insecurity that made me easily provoked or offended and left me unable to humble myself and deaf to the things that he was saying.
Then I thought about that darn table and chairs. How frustrated I was with whoever had painted that table OVER and OVER without ever sanding it down. Without ever taking the proper care and preparation to restore it. It made it so much more difficult for me to accomplish my task, because no matter how deeply I sanded, I could not get to the root of my problem.
I realized in that discussion with my husband, that I did not want to be a stubborn, layer-coated table and chairs. I want to learn what I need to learn and protect and shield myself from those things that may harm or taint my body or soul, but I do not want to put on layers of unnecessary crap for people in my life to try to sand through. It's unfair and gosh darn it, it's annoying as all heck. Don't believe me? Go try sanding a painted table.
While its not an overnight transformation and the project may take as long as my dining set, I feel confident that if I sand down my layers one at a time, I can become a better person and maybe a little more like my Savior.
Leave it to me to read WAY too much into a silly project, but I learned a lot from my little project.
And for those of you who care to know how it turned out...the plan was to sand it down and stain the wood a dark brown almost black wood color. After realizing that the table and chairs were made from two different woods AND that my endless sanding job still turned out to not be enough as the stain did not cover spots that still held paint, we ended up painting a LAYER of black.
So, please disregard the ending of my LITERAL story. It doesn't really fit with my ANALOGY....
...but you get my point, right? :)
And had I had to keep on sanding that puppy, there would have been a sander thrown through the wall.
P.S. Restoring will never be a career nor hobby for me. That dream ended shortly after day 2 of sanding began.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I wasn't even going to touch on this subject. Mostly because it has been well said in so many places, that I don't feel I can add much to it, but if I don't write about this topic, I'm afraid I couldn't write at all right now. Because really, this has been whats on my mind the past week. So, touch on it, I must. At least just to get it out of my head and move on!
I live in California. A week ago today, Californians voted on a very important and controversial proposition.
This number has come to mean so much in the past few months. An annoying coincidence that it happens to rhyme with the word HATE. It's given the opposing side to this proposition a catchy rebuttal for those of us who supported it.
We had been told that even if the proposition passed, that the battle would just be beginning. I had no idea what that meant, until the day after it passed and the insults hit the fan. They spewed every which way. The 52% of California that believed the union of "marriage" should be defined between a man and a woman, have now been called everything from "intolerant" to "bigots". Even more so, religions have been singled out for their support.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints...my church, has been the bulls-eye of the mud-slinging targets. Through efforts coordinated by its members and NOT its leadership, the members of our church donated money in support of the proposition directly to the cause, mostly via protectmarriage.com. None of the moneys raised came directly from the church. The money that was used was donated solely for that purpose by individuals and families. Unfortunately, this has been gravely misunderstood by the opposing view. Nonetheless, the strong backing for this proposition from my church, whether it be through volunteering time and energy, or speaking with our friends and neighbors, has angered No on 8 supporters.
Honestly, it's understandable. They were the opposition. Of course it would make them unhappy. This, I totally get.
What I don't get, is how people who have claimed that they are fighting against hate, intolerance and singling out of groups, have done just that as their rebuttal to the tight loss. Like my friend said on her blog, sings of "Stop the Hate" next to signs of "Mormons (or Catholics, or whatever) Suck!" is truly confusing.
And honestly, I completely sympathize with why they are upset. They feel that something that was important to them is taken away. They want to get what they voted affirmatively for. Unfortunately, for all of us, that is not the way it works. Not everything or everyone that I voted for passed or was elected. It is upsetting. I'm still very saddened that while chickens have the right to "get their exercise", the rights of unborn children are put into hands of teenagers who as my other friend said it, "can't legally get a Tylenol from school, but can have an abortion." However, it's a fight that I lost. And while I will continue to believe how I believe and vote the way that mirrors my beliefs, I have to respect that I live in America and a democracy in which I was outnumbered.
I don't expect opposing members not to fight. I expect that they will continue to stand up for what THEY believe in. Because I will continue to do the same.
However, I do not believe any feelings of frustration, disappointment, anger...whatever, warrant what has been happening to our sacred places of worship. Our buildings have been vandalized, our holy temple grounds trampled upon and barricaded with protesters. However, "peaceful" and "respectful" the protest, that is not the place, and it will never be respectful. There was a protest at the State Capitol recently. Great place for it, in my book.
Not the temple. Not our sacred houses of worship. First of all, because the Mormon vote made up 2% of the Yes vote, and secondly, because to me, that's like us coming to your bedroom where you make your private decisions about your sexual preference, and protesting what you believe to be right.
Nor do I believe the physical threats are warranted. It is not fair for people to say things like, "Mormon's better watch their backs." There are websites out there with very physical threats on different religions that have supported the proposition. This is no more okay than someone saying that "Gays or Lesbians or Bisexuals or Trans genders better watch their backs". Such threats, no matter the group or motive, is EVER okay. To quote the No on 8 slogan... "It's unfair. It's unnecessary. It's wrong."
I have love for people. I love a lot of people that I disagree with. There are lifestyle choices aside from sexual preference that I don't agree with, but I love the people nonetheless. I have many friends who do not agree with my religious views whatsoever. Some of them have even been members of my faith and chosen to leave, and yet, our friendships and love remain, despite the vast differences in our beliefs. We likely voted very differently this election, but we love and respect each other nonetheless. And that is the meaning of true tolerance. To be able to respect others for their beliefs, views and feelings...and respect the system. We can't reject the system of our government just because some things don't go in our favor. That is life. That is America. And we will keep on believing what we believe, and respectfully fighting for what we believe in.
I respect, that those who voted No on 8 will continue to fight for what they believe in. I only pray that they can respect me for fighting what I believe in.
I do realize though, that no amount of "Christian bloggers" is going to change anyone's mind on this. We need only stand tall for what we believe and continue to be respectful of others.
"Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm."~ Doctrine and Covenants 42:27
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "As a church, we are not without critics, some of whom are mean and vicious. We have always had them, and I suppose we will have them all through the future. But we shall go forward, returning good for evil, being helpful and kind and generous. Let us be good people. Let us be friendly people. Let us be neighborly people. Let us be what members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ought to be."
Not only do we need to be respectful and understanding of others...to stand up and be examples of light and truth, but we must understand that opposition is part of this life.
Spencer W. Kimball- "No pain suffered by man or woman upon the earth will be without its compensating effects if it be suffered in resignation and if it be met with patience."
Concerning this quote, Lloyd D. Newell wrote this in his book, Come, Listen to a Prophets Voice, "While wrongfully imprisoned in Liberty Jail, the Lord taught the Prophet Joseph that followers of Christ are not promised freedom from tribulation but strength to endure all things: 'My son, peace be unto thy soul;thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high....All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good' (D&C 121:7-8;122:7). Life is a school, and part of that education is hardship. Elder Spencer W. Kimball taught: 'Being human, we would expel from our lives, sorrow, distress, physical pain, and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort. But if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of his education."
So, although painful as it is to see the Gospel that I love, the buildings that I seek sanctuary in and the people that I worship with, under fire for standing up for our beliefs...that is what we will endure, because it is part of life. It is part of our education and we will be stronger for it.
And not only must we turn the other cheek, but we are required to forgive those who have trespassed against us...
"We cannot repent for someone else. But we can forgive someone else, refusing to hold hostage those whom the Lord seeks to set free!" ~Neal A. Maxwell
"It has been said that lack of forgiveness toward another is akin to consuming poison and waiting for the other person to die. Vindictiveness and hardheartedness stifle spiritual growth and happiness. On the other hand, nothing enlarges the soul more than genuine forgiveness and compassion. The Lord's directive is : 'Ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for their remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men'(D&C 64:9-10). The Lord who is perfectly merciful, knows our hearts as well as the hearts of every offender. And since we all walk imperfectly before the Lord, we all need mercy. If we wish to be forgiven and draw upon the Atonement, we must forgive. Forgiveness is the greatest gift we can give others- and ourselves."~Lloyd D. Newell
And with that, I understand why I personally needed to write this. I personally needed to understand that I need to forgive those that call me names and trample upon my beliefs. I will continue to stand up for what I believe and hope that we always have the freedom to live in a country where individual feelings and beliefs are still recognized, respected and allowed.
God bless all of us. As Americans, as people, as children of God, we are one in the same.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
But, I am back...so thats a good sign for me.
Actually, things have just been a little out of the ordinary. My brothers best friend passed away two weeks ago, and I was very reflective at that point about the Plan of Salvation and life after death. Everytime I thought about writing a post, I came up very short in being able to express my feelings of gratitude for such a plan.
Also, we had a family vacation and a holiday and it seems every time I've felt like I want to sit down and reflect (a.k.a. write my blog) I've been distracted. And it's okay, because life happens. What's not okay, is that I don't feel like my mindset has been the same without my blog reflections. So, here I am today, picking back up where I left of, and feeling a surge of the Spirit roll over me like a wave.
Another distraction was my birthday...and for my birthday one of my sweet sister-in-law's gave me a Sheri Dew book. I LOVE Sheri Dew. I've read a number of her books and I really relate to her style of "straight-forward writing". The particular book I was given is called No One Can Take Your Place. My sister-in-law thought of me when she read the inside cover, she said. I can completely understand why. Let me pull a few lines for you,
"Have you ever wondered if you're doing what you're supposed to be doing with your life?...Or, like most of us, maybe you have those days when you just don't see how you'll ever measure up. (This book) will help you catch a glimpse of the power our Father in Heaven wants you to have. It will help you learn how to lay hold upon that power, how to overcome the temptations that stand in the way of your happiness, and how to shine as a leader in the world. It will help you understand who you really are...True happiness comes from doing what we were meant to do. This book will motivate you to find out what that means for you; it will also inspire you to carry out your unique work on the earth, for truly, no one can take your place!"
I would venture to say that I am not the only one that sometimes feels like a "face in the crowd", wondering just how she/he will affect the world. Sure, I understand that I am directly affecting my family and loved ones, but there are points in time where I wonder if I am truly fulfilling my mission here upon the earth. I try very hard to take each step in my life, following the guidance of the Spirit but there are those moments that I stop and think, "Am I where I am supposed to be? Doing what I am supposed to be doing?" I've only read the first few chapters of this book so far, but I am already grateful for the guidance and inspiration it has provided me.
Sheri talks about identifying our "God-given attributes we all have that we need to awaken within ourselves if we are going to do what we have been sent here to do- attributes such as faith, knowledge, obedience, purity, integrity, a clear sense of identity, and courage."
She then goes on to explain each attribute, why it is necessary and what we can do to recognize it within ourselves. I appreciated this list, and looked at it almost as a score card that I measured myself upon. I thought of the areas that I am doing pretty well in, and honed in on areas that I need to work on. Each area is vital and important and plays a part in recognizing our worth and importance in the sight of God, and as a messenger of His in these latter days.
As I mentioned above, the thing I love about Sheri Dew is how straight forward she is. She has been more straightforward in this book so far than I've noticed in any other book. When talking about the attribute, INTEGRITY, she sites a wonderful example of when the Lord asked Eve about what had happened when she was beguiled by Satan, ..."she immediately acknowledged what she had done and accepted the consequences. She didn't lie. She didn't pout. She didn't get defensive. She didn't blame Adam. What humility and integrity..."
For me, this shed a whole new light upon integrity. Most of us would not classify ourselves as "liars". Generally, I'd like to think we all tell the truth. But integrity is more than just truth...it is humility and willingness to take full responsibility for our actions. It is being transparent in our words, our actions, our intentions....everything, so as to not deceive.
Within this section she talks about Satan and shunning him"...like the snake that he is...". Here is where her straightforwardness really hit home for me...she said, "Forsaking Satan may mean changing things. It may require changing wardrobes or changing channels or changing attitudes or changing habits or changing lifestyles or even changing friends, because it's not possible to to sort of dress modestly or kind of tell the truth or act with integrity most of the time,or almost be morally clean. Nine percent tithing isn't tithing, it's a donation."
Whoa. That paragraph slapped me in the face. It doesn't matter in which "important areas" I have forsaken Satan. Yes, generally, I have forsaken him. But that is not good enough. Have I completely forsaken him? I would have to admit that with a resounding NO. I wish I could say that I have...but do I always change the channel when I need to? And this is just one small example. While we are not expected to be perfect we are instructed to progress towards perfection. Sheri wrote, "The object of this life is not to become perfect. Could we all just pledge to give that up once and for all! But it is to become increasingly pure, which will eventually lead to perfection."
Perfection almost seems too broad to even comprehend. It not only to me means free from sin, but also have I done all that I was meant to do? This is why I appreciate Sheri Dew's clarification of becoming increasingly pure, so much. It makes clear sense.
Webster's dictionary defines the word pure as this-
(1): unmixed with any other matter (My translation- of one purpose and focus).
(2): free from dust, dirt, or taint (My translation- sin)
Basically, pure is clean. Clean is understandable. Clean is a process...but clean is attainable.
Everyday will be a battle for it. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that everything I think I've learned, has to be applied everyday in order to maintain the affect. The Gospel isn't a video game where if you accomplish a certain level, that you've passed it on and no longer need to return to the basics of the game. Every day, these processes must be visited and built upon in order to continue to learn and progress.
The scary thing about forgetting...is that Satan loves to work with the forgetful. He has a way of keeping us from forgetting to remember that we forgot...(haha it makes sense if you think about it enough. )
I've spent more time recently forgetting than remembering. I am overwhelmed when I think of all of the blessings in my life that I so easily forget about and the Spirit that I feel when I am in a mode of gratitude and rememberance. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be reminded and renewed.
Because if I don't remember why I am here and what I am here to do, then what is the point?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Our current Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson spoke in our General Conference address last weekend about change. That is the inspiration for this post, as it has been on my mind since hearing him speak, and in the last few days numerous friends and family members have brought up this talk in conversation with me. I have been impressed that its something I really need to learn and understand.
President Monson said, "Throughout our lives, we must deal with change. Some changes are welcome; some are not. There are changes in our lives which are sudden, such as the unexpected passing of a loved one, an unforeseen illness, the loss of a possession we treasure. But most of the changes take place subtly and slowly."
Not one person is exempt from the inevitability of change. We are not alone in dealing with it...and we owe much of who we are, what we have and who we will become, to change. Without it, we could not learn and progress.
"Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now....Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes." ~ President Monson
Each and every second...life is happening and if we think about how short this life really is, we would not want to waste any more of it. President Monson admonished, "Find joy in the journey- now."
He also quotes a line from the musical, The Music Man, “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”
When I think of that line, it makes me think about how much of a procrastinator I can be. How often I tell myself, "One day." And how a lot of the time, that day has not come and probably will never come. Especially at my young age, I know I look toward the future a lot of the time to give me the things I wish for. And while I think it is wise to always be looking to the future and planning for things to come, we shouldn't be gazing off wistfully waiting for the future to happen. Before we know it, the future will be our past and we will have missed out on many of life's greatest gifts and treasures, looking for the ones we thought lay ahead for us in the future.
"There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today." ~ President Monson
Much of finding joy in our journeys has to do with learning from our past, but not dwelling on it. Especially upon things we cannot change. The other day I was looking at all of my daughters baby pictures. She'll be two next month...and I'm sad. I'll never have her as my little baby again. The thought brings tears to my eyes and I don't ever want to let her go. But, that change is inevitable. Dwelling on these unchangeable details will do nothing but cause me unnecessary sorrow. I need to relish in her adorable two-year-old-ness. I need to take advantage of my opportunities to teach her, love her, kiss her, hug her, cuddle her, read to her, play with her...etc. Because if I don't, I know I will blink and she will be 18 and ready for her own life.
Life is stressful. There is so much to think and worry about all the time. So much so, that a lot of the time we don't take the necessary opportunities to show love to others. Families pressed for time constraints due to extra curricular activities, meetings, homework, TV shows, etc... don't always take the time to have dinner with one another, talk and express the love they have for each other. While all of those things have their time and place in life, the importance of these relationships and the necessary time and effort needed to cultivate them, far outweighs any other obligations. Wrote William Shakespeare, “They do not love that do not show their love.” And President Monson added, "We will never regret the kind words spoken or the affection shown. Rather, our regrets will come if such things are omitted from our relationships with those who mean the most to us...Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."
No one wants to feel the regrets of it being too late to share how you felt. Said author Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” If we can't find the time to find the joy in our relationships with our loved ones, nothing else we do in this life will be worth anything. It's like the parent who goes to work all day to support their family, yet exhausts themselves beyond a point of functioning when returning home. While it is necessary to feed, clothe and shelter your family, it is just as necessary to nurture them with your love and presence. Family relationships, more than any other kind of relationship, must be cultivated. No amount of money will buy back the lost time and experiences.
We wait, everyday, anticipating change. I do it very much so myself. I love having something to look forward to. I don't think this is a bad thing, but only as long as it is within balance. We should look to the future for hope, but we should relish in our daily lives and be grateful for each day we are living. Things that I do today ARE the future. Today and now is the future of my life and they make a difference. And for this, I must be grateful.
President Monson also discussed the importance part gratitude plays in our lives. We must recognize and show our gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Blessings sometimes manifest themselves in ways we would not expect. I always think about this when I'm running late due to circumstances beyond my control, like red lights or a traffic jam. I think about how frustrated I am with being late, but that perhaps it is a blessing and the Lord is protecting me from an accident that could have happened. This is an extreme example, but I think we need to look more at our lives and the blessings within them. Always waiting for something bigger and better to happen is a slap in the face to the Lord who has blessed us so greatly. Unfortunately, sometimes we never understand how greatly blessed we are, until we lose it.
There is no time left in my life for complaint. There is no time left for waiting for things to happen. Inevitably, sorrows will come. We will all encounter trials in life...some that will seem unbearable. Somehow, we have to strive to find joy in the journey of it all.
I have a blessed life. One in which I can't even begin to understand how I was lucky enough to be given. I have led a joyous journey thus far and look to continue to find the joy in my everyday life.
One of my favorite quotes is from President Hinckley, "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." This quote sits on a plaque in my kitchen. It reminds me everyday that the Lord meant for me to find joy in this life. He has done his part in blessing me with those joys...it is then left up to me to find them and joy in them. My part is the easy part.
Change is inevitable and change is hard. Change is what makes this journey of life, life. And my goal is to find joy in that journey.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
...because once I got over the initial reaction of defensive mode, and the "how dare you...you barely know me..." blah, blah...it actually really made me go inward and think. And I'm talking, I was getting ready in my bathroom and I caught my reflection in the mirror gazing off into oblivion forever. It really made me think about my character and who I am. After all, the comment wasn't even like, "she's ugly....or fat...or has a big nose"...in fact I almost felt like I'd welcome that comment first before one on my character. I came to the realization within myself that I was generally not what this person had said about me. Also, as is human nature, I talked to people who genuinely care for me and know me better than anyone, not to mention, the people that would "tell it to me like it is". Again, it was confirmed that generally I was not this way.
However, what I came to grips with, within myself, was that I had tendencies to be what this person accused at one point or another. I definitely have the capacity within me to be a lot of things...I am, after all, human. So, I came to the conclusion that however far stretched this comment was, there could be some truth to it and I could be better. Not for this person, not for anyone else, but for me and the Lord.
This experience has made me realize that I want to be able stand up and be a little bit better than I was before. There is always room for improvement and I wanted to take this negative experience and use it as motivation to be a better person.
All of this introspective thinking coincided nicely with Conference weekend, where I was able to hear a lot of great counsel on things that I wanted to work on. I feel a lot of peace and hope when I think of the Saviors Atonement, and the opportunity that it gives me everyday to wake up and be just a little bit better than I was the day before. The point is, that I have to take those opportunities, press forward and CHOOSE to be better. And the Lord has promised that this peace will multiply ten fold if we make those small efforts:
"Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you." ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11
President Hinkcley said on this matter: "We are all this together, all of us, and we have a great work to do.
Every teacher can be a better teacher than he or she is today.
Every officer can be a better officer than he or she is today.
Every father can be a better father.
Every mother can be a better mother.
Every husband can be a better husband, ever wife a better wife, every child a better child.
We are on the road that leads to immortality and eternal life and today is a part of it. Let us never forget it."
I can actually now say I am grateful for what I heard. I hold no malice for the person who said it. As I said, I don't feel this person, who is a good person, would have ever wanted me to hear what they said. It's funny how the same things in life that can tear us down and have the capacity to lead towards negativity also have the ability to be those things that mold and change us into better people. It all depends on perspective and how we use these experiences in my life.
Wow, if I think about all the negative situations I've been in, in this capacity, I can't imagine the amazing lessons I might have learned, while instead I dwelt on them as purely negative experiences. I have a lot to make up for.
And I'm going to start with trying to be a little better...today.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
So, with that, my only message today is that I invite you, if you aren't already, to listen to the messages of this conference. You can do so by viewing it on TV. It's broadcasted on the BYU channel (which is 374 for DirecTV...I'm unsure of other companies), on public service channels, livestream over the internet at WWW.LDS.ORG or at any LDS church building. Transcripts and video clips of this conference will also be available for reading and viewing after this conference on the church website within the days following the conference.
This conference is for THE WORLD, not only for the current members of our church. This post is soley an invitation to find strength within something that fills my soul with strength beyond words.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Anyway, as I said the words, "You're lucky" I instantaneously felt guilty...truly, the joy of conceiving, carrying and bearing a child, is my most cherished accomplishment, some of my fondest memories, a divine gift...and something I do actually look forward to doing again a few more times. And I thought of my stretchmarks finally as the "stripes of honor" that people joke about. But, this time, to me it didn't feel like a joke. And I started to think of why I got stretch marks. Well, I did gain a little over what I needed and I was insanely swollen due to hypertension, but ultimately, stretchmarks come when your body is getting bigger faster than your skin thought you would be. Basically.
Then I started thinking...I hope that my soul has stretchmarks. I know that sounds silly, and utterly impossible since your soul isn't something physical. But, I hope that my soul has stretchmarks, figuratively speaking. As human beings, in our general nature we have a drive inside of us to press forward. This drive motivates us to be better and stronger. To acheive beyond our personal limits and accomplish. At times we are more motivated than others, but generally, none of us get up in the morning and say, "I don't want to do better. I want to be a worse person than I was yesterday." (At least, I hope none of us say that.)
So, everyday, we try to push ourselves just a little bit harder...stretch our bodies, our hearts, our souls to reach beyond the limits. This is where I get my silly notion of hoping that my soul has stretchmarks. I want to feel like I am stretching every day...beyond the capacities that I even thought I could be, therefore creating stretchmarks, a.k.a. stripes of honor. And the state of our souls should matter more than our physical state, because ultimately, one keeps eternally, and one does not.
"Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." ~2 Corinthians 4:16
Everday our bodies get older...the outward man does perish. Deteriorates. Thankfully, its relatively slow, but inevitable nonetheless.
Our soul does not deteriorate, rather it is replenished, renewed, strengthened...STRETCHED!
President Hinckley said, "We can improve, and when all is said and done that's what this is all about: improvement, changing our lives so that we can help people change their lives and be better; building Zion on the earth."
I hope my soul is covered in stretchmarks. I know that if it is, some are self inflicted but many are the product of others helping me to grow. Thank you for that.
Learning to love my physical stretchmarks may be a constant battle...a love/hate relationship if you will. Sometimes (most of the time, to be honest) I will want to to wish them away. But my spiritual stretchmarks, the ones I've earned and hope to earn, I hope that those stay eternally...and continue to multiply. Because we've all earned those ones too, as our "stripes of honor". Each and every one.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Well, as I try to digest, I'll type to get my mind off of the dizziness of my bursting stomach. I've had something on my mind tonight. I have turned over a new leaf in my life the past few months. I've decided to "GET REAL". And by that, I mean, I decided to be true to myself. I have spent much of my life trying to be someone for someone else...to make others happy. I LOVE to make others happy...especially those I love, and usually that love and happiness is reciprocated. That's called healthy relationships. That, I have not changed. I still very much live to show those I love the service and happiness they deserve for making me the happy and blessed person I am.
What I have changed is trying to make people who don't care if they are making me happy, happy. Make sense? Of course it does, because you all know what I'm talking about. We're talking about being fake, people. I mean, we all do it at one point or another. And sometimes its not intended but we concern ourselves SO much with impressing others or not wanting to offend someone, that we put our own thoughts, feelings, desires...EVERYTHING aside, to make others feel more comfortable. All the while, we are not being true to them or ourselves.
And frankly, I have had ENOUGH of it! I am me...this is who I am. I ate 20,000 calories tonight. Sometimes money is tight and we worry how we'll pay our bills. Sometimes, I go ballistic from stress or lack of sleep or for no real apparent reason at all. Sometimes I curl in a ball on the floor and cry when its that time of month. I weigh myself daily because I have issues with it. I watch MTV reality shows sometimes. I secretly dream of being a super star and sing in the mirror with my hair brush. Oh, the list goes on and on of things that aren't easily admitted. And its okay to admit it, because I am human, and I know all of you out there have your quirks too. It's okay to be real. We don't have to be THAT real all of the time, but you get the point.
And it's okay to love yourself for those things. It's okay to be proud of yourself. I've recently discovered that there are things I really like about myself. I have discovered that I think some things about my looks are really pretty. I have musical talents that I am proud of. I feel I am a good person. I am successful in my life because I try everyday. And a recent development...I am REAL.
I have discovered in trying to be me for me and the people that really love me, that I love myself more than I ever thought. I measured my own happiness and my own self worth on what other people thought of me, and therefore thought that I always had to be better. But for who? I've discovered it was not for me. It was for people that I was never, ever going to please. Because people like that are not pleased with themselves, and they want you to feel that same feeling of defeat. No more...I want to give myself credit, by myself, for myself.
I looked for validation in every possible area. Every one's opinion had to be calculated until I could decide how I "really felt". I couldn't be impressed with myself until someone else measured the worth of my achievements for me. It's a depressing way to live. I want to walk into a room and feel beautiful because I just looked at myself in a mirror and I thought I looked beautiful...not because ten heads did or didn't turn as I walked in.
It's possible to have that feeling. I am just catching the glimpse of it, and let me tell you, it is a magnificent sight to see.
I did not bring myself to this point. Those in my life who really love me, who really cared about me, forced me to this point. Short of shaking sense into me, people like my husband and my sister in particular (who are both very real people, by the way) forced me to see that I was killing myself from the inside with the craziness of trying to be something to everyone. It was a lie. You can't be something to everyone. Once you are true to yourself...once you decide that you are going to be you for you, and no one else, the evidence that we all are trapped in that same nightmare of acceptance comes out, and has a rippling effect.
"When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her." ~Adrienne Rich
If you seek out to be true to yourself, then you will find those around you who want that too. And you will weed out those who don't.
Because if you are not true to who you are, you are betraying yourself in the worst way possible. And your whole purpose for betraying yourself, to be everything for everyone else, is a catch 22 that will come back to bite you, because how can you be true to others, if you can't be true to yourself?
"If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others." ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"A man who doesn't trust himself can never really trust anyone else." ~Cardinal De Retz
And if that costs you friends, relationships, etc, what is more important? The relationship built upon superficial lies, or your own self-respect and self-worth?
"I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence." ~Frederick Douglass
And there-in, in that self respect, you will find exactly what you need to be the best you. The one you were striving to be from the very beginning. And that best you, the one always trying to progress to be better and share that light, will accomplish volumes more than the persona that was once the role you played, could have ever dreamed.
"To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves--there lies the great, singular power of self-respect."~Joan Didion
I am barely breaking the surface of my new-found freedom, but I am at a point where I am comfortable with myself and as Mark Twain said, "The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself."
It is the truth. Because you are the one that will lay in bed at night worrying about what others think. You will be the one bending over backwards for people that would never think twice to do the same for you. That loneliness will eat a hole inside you that will never be filled by those acts of self destruction.
I am me. I have always been me...deep inside. Don't get me wrong...I am not a completely different person...who I was wasn't a facade or role I played completely. I was a good person then, too. The personas we play are derivatives of who we really are inside. It's when we start to cater to our own feelings and desires instead of those who are impossible to please, that we can be comfortable to admit and be who we really are and who we really want to be.
And in this discovery of my reality, I have found that I am more respected by those in my life for it. And those who do not respect it, do not need to be in my life. But like I said, I have found human nature is generally kind and accepting. It's what we don't like about ourselves that we point out in others. None of us need fingers pointed at us...we do it enough to ourselves.
This post felt more like a soap box then I've ever felt before. It's not meant to be. I don't know, maybe because its almost 2 am...and I'm getting delirious, I just made myself sound like a babbling idiot. But two things I know for certain, I am happier with who I am today than I ever have been in my life...and I'm STILL insanely full.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I have made a habit of being pretty self deprecating and brutally honest about my shortcomings on this blog, so I guess why hold back now.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I've been thinking about today's post topic for a few weeks. It's always on my mind, but I've felt very inadequate to even write about it. (Not that I am even experienced enough to write on any of the topics I write on, which is kind of the point...I find strength in the topics as I study about them, and vent about my feelings via this blog). But still, this particular topic is of the greatest importance to me...and its very sacred and personal. This is my relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
I was explaining to my friend that this relationship is SO multi-faceted- so many angles to come from when writing on the Savior. However, its also completely simple. He is my Savior. He suffered for my sins, and He bled and died for me that I might live eternally one day.
There is nothing more important or sacred to me. And at the same time, there is nothing more that I take for granted each day, than this. I'd say, the majority of the time, I forget to think about it. Even in my daily supplication and prayers, I feel like I pray for my thankfulness of the Savior and His Atonement, but that sometimes its said without real remembrance and no more time spent thinking about it than the few seconds it took me to say it.
I read an amazing book a few years ago called, "Believing Christ". The main point to me was that if we believe in Christ, we have to believe that what He suffered was for each and every one of us individually. That there is no one exempt from the redeeming power of the Atonement if we but come to him with a humble heart and contrite spirit, and a true desire to change.
In today's world, a lot people view believing in Christ to be a childish myth, much as a belief in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Honestly, maybe that was partly the reason I was afraid to write about this...because I've written about a lot of things that most people can relate to as human beings. Parenthood, Marriage/Relationships, Love of Country, Honesty, Kindness, The Golden Rule...etc. Talking about Christ or God now days is like something that people are afraid to do publicly for fear of sounding like a fanatic. But, after beginning this post and now writing it, I am ashamed I ever let what the world thinks influence me into believing I should maybe keep my mouth shut about this topic.
There is no topic of greater importance. No topic that better applies to the lives of each and every one of us, because whether you believe it or not, Christ suffered for YOU! He is your Savior, your Brother, and your Friend, every bit as He is mine. Whether you believe in Him or not.
Without my belief in Him, to live in this world without the hope that I can one day return to live with eternally with God, my Savior and family...I would be lost in this world, and life would be without purpose. He is my ultimate source of strength.
Christs Atonement for mankind was part of God's Eternal plan. For God to give us a world where we had the free agency to choose, there had to be Savior, because we would inevitably make incorrect choices at one point or another. How then can He expect us to live a life worthy to return to Him, if there is no one to be our Advocate? The fact is, is that we do have an Advocate. We have a Savior who understands every suffering, because He has suffered it, and He will speak on our behalf and take upon our sins, if only we let Him.
Yeah, like I said, multi-faceted topic...and I could go on for hours. Instead, I wanted to quote yet another page from Stand A Little Taller .
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Now, no one can take away anyones insecurities for them. It's something we all have to deal with and reconcile personally. However, our words and actions to others play a major role in attributing to the security or insecurity of others' and their feelings.
We do this in two ways, whether through words or actions:
Compliment: (a) an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially : an admiring remark (b) formal and respectful recognition
Put-down: (a) depose, degrade (b) disparage, belittle (c) disapprove, criticize (d) humiliate
I'd venture to say all of us have probably received both of the above. Compliments that have left us floating on cloud nine and put downs that have left us crippled. I know I mentioned this in a previous post, Divine Reflection, and how we have to realize our divine potential and have confidence regardless of how others around us treat us, but I wanted to focus on helping build each other up. Most importantly, building up our spouses and close family/friends.
In marriage, most couples aren't exactly alike, right? I mean, they don't say opposites attract for nothing. Definitely you have similar interests or personality traits that attracted you to be with one another in the first place, but there will inevitibly be differences. In Stand A Little Taller:
"We are never more discontented with others than when we are discontented with ourselves." ~Henri Frederic Amiel
"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you." ~William Arthur Ward
"No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves."~Amelia Earhart
"So many gods, so many creeds,
"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves."~James M. Barrie
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless." ~Mother Teresa
Friday, September 5, 2008
Yes, it is true. I have decided to come out in the open and say it. I am addicted to talking.
It's something that has been a love/hate relationship in my life. There are times where I felt it was one of my most redeeming qualities; the ability to socialize and communicate with others. But there have been times, where my talking has hindered other abilities. One of the most important abilities that excessive talking can do, is hinder your ability to listen.
I have come to terms with the fact that being social and talkative is a quality I was given for purposes that I have recognized in my life, and probably things to come in my life. I have accepted that I do not have to change that part of me completely. There was a time where I felt very trapped inside my own personality and viewed my qualities and tendencies as negative traits. I sometimes had people in my life who would make fun, tease or ridicule me for these things, and instead of seeing in what areas I could use it as a strength, I came to detest the whole idea of it.
As I said before, I have since realized the importance of certain traits and gifts we are given, and that I do need to embrace this part of my personality and use it in positive ways...however, I have also realized that just because it can be a useful and positive thing, that it does have very much potential to be exactly the opposite.
When I was a little girl, my parents used to have to tell me at the dinner table to "stop talking and eat". I have been known to interrupt. More than 99.9% the of the time the interupption is unintentional, but an interruption none the less. I am a sentence finisher...gosh, isn't that so annoying? I annoy myself with it. I have been known to go on and on and on, writing about something in a blog and.....oh...okay, moving on from this point...
The problem with all of this, is that I am still seeking that balance in my life. To accept that I am who I am and that being a talkative and social person is part of my personality, but also on the flip side, to be a better listener and realize that there are others with just as important, if not more important, things to share.
What brought this on, was that our Bishop came to visit our home the other night to get to know us a little bit better, and he left us with a small booklet entitled, "3 Simple Ways to Become a Happier Family". I decided to read it that night as my scripture study, and I highly recommend it. There were some phenomenal ideas and solutions to stumbling blocks on the road to a happier family. You can request a free copy of this booklet from Mormon.org by clicking HERE and going to the bottom of the page.
Anyway, one particular part that struck me that I could start to implement into my young family and my marriage today was the section entitled, "Are You Really Listening?" I want to quote what it says under that question. There is no specific personal credit given for the wording, as far as the author goes, but I'd say it was generally approved in the church leadership. I always like to give the credit to the person who said whatever quote I use, but in this case, its an LDS publication. It says:
"Listening is more than just hearing. An important way to express your sincere interest in your family members is to listen to them carefully. Listening to what people are feeling as well as what they are saying takes concentration and effort. But the rewards are worth the effort-your family members will be more willing to open up and tell you what they thing and how they feel."
I could really relate to that, because, I remember a specific conversation I was having with my husband where this issue came up. He is not so much the intense talker, as I am, and so in the midst of a discussion, he said something to the effect of, "You may hear me, but you're not really listening to me." And it totally hit home. I was definitely "hearing" his words...but I was taking them in just to, and forgive my crudeness, regurgitate a defensive response. I was taking his words and throwing them back at him in order to further my own thoughts or feelings. I wasn't REALLY listening and internalizing his thoughts and feelings with a humble heart. As the above statement mentioned, this kind of listening takes concentration and effort...but the rewards will be worth the effort. I would always ask him why he didn't open up to me more, and it made me realize that my lack of listening did not invite that kind of a submission of his feelings. Why would you want to share your feelings with a wall... or worse, a rubber wall, where every feeling shared bounces off and hits you back in the face?
So, naturally, this portion spoke to me directly. The booklet then gives several steps that will help us to learn to listen more effectively.
*"Show that you want to listen by looking at them when they are speaking."
That eye contact means to the person speaking, that what they say is important enough to you, that nothing else is worth being distracted by. Even better, I think its nice, especially with couples to try to hold hands or sit closely. Focusing all of our attention on that person is not only a great respect, but it clears your mind of all distraction and helps you to internalize what is being said.
*"Avoid interrupting with your own experiences and opinions. If the one speaking pauses, don't rush to add your own ideas."
I should highlight this one in bright red and make it 100 times font. My mind sometimes works at a lightening speed and my wheels are always turning during a conversation. I like to be able to add my experiences. Honestly, and don't think I'm weird, but sometimes I get anxiety if I get a thought and don't share it. I have improved, but sometimes I almost have to hold my lips shut in order to not explode with my thoughts. Definitely something I am working on, and I have caught and noticed myself interrupting or waiting for someone to take a breath and jumping in. Not to mention trying to finish sentences or throw out words when people pause to recollect a word or idea. Seriously, that's annoying. And I really need to work on this one. Plus, it kind of gives the other person the impression that what you have to say is more important than what they have to say, or that you aren't even really listening to what they are saying in the first place because you are thinking about what you are going to say next.
*"Watch nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and posture."
It's not enough to just say to someone, "How are you?" If the response is "Fine," with a tone of frustration, or a frown, or slumped shoulders, survey says....probably not fine. Sometimes people don't know how to come out with it and share their thoughts or feelings. I think this is important for our kids especially. If parents are aware of non-verbal cues, there will be a lot more picked up on. You can often tell when a child or teenager is dealing with something...most of the time, they wear it on their sleeves. Being able to recognize these tones, expressions and body language is a huge step to opening those lines of communication. However, its very important to do-so positively, and with an attitude of acceptance, understanding and willingness to listen. Besides, most husbands know by now, if your wife says, "Fine," with any kind of a tone or expression...she's definitely not "fine". ha ha
*"Be accepting of how family members describe their feelings, motives, and goals without lecturing on how they should think or feel."
Often times we think that every one should view things the same way that we do. Sometimes, a solution to a problem can be in plain sight for one, and another person is blinded to that fact. One of the worst things that anyone listening to another person can say to them is, "You shouldn't feel that way." Everyone has a right to their feelings. No one likes to be told that the way they think or feel is insignificant or invalid.
*"Demonstrate your understanding by describing how they seem to feel: 'It sounds as if you feel...'"
I know this does sound a little bit "therapisty" but it really works! My husband and I have tried it, and it is amazing what is implied or assumed in our minds without reiterating to the other person what you heard. My mom always used to tell me, "You hear what you want to hear." And I think it is true...the same words said in one way, can be taken the complete wrong way by the listening party. It's important to clarify what we understand from our words so that the person really feels as though their true thoughts are being assessed and understood.
*"Share your perspective to offer your insight and alternatives. But unless serious matters such as health, safety, and moral issues are involved, wise parents often allow children to make their own decisions and learn by experience to the extent appropriate for their age and level of maturity."
It's important the we use our experiences to be able to aid others with options on how to handle situations that they confide in us with. Especially our children...they need to know that we have been there, and this is how we handled it or this is what we would have done differently to handle it. But at the same time, you cannot force someone to learn something just by listening to others' experiences. Part of this life is experiencing with our free agency in order to figure out what we want out of this life. As parents. or older siblings, or leaders, we want to teach people who have gone through something to "not go there"...because I've been there. However, after giving the advice and counsel we have to give, it is left up to them to react how they will with the guidance provided. It's a hard one...and I don't look forward to the day when I have to send my children off into the world to make their own decisions and hope I've taught them enough, but that is what makes them who they are and when their real character will shine through.
This section of this pamphlet really just made me realize in my life how much I might be missing out on because my mouth is too busy going to hear other important things that others are saying to me, that can help teach me to be a better person. And sometimes, the most important lessons can come from the simple conversations that we have with those in our every day lives. As Stephen Covey said, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."