Learning childLIKE

A few months ago, I took my 5 year-old son in to get tested for seasonal allergies.  He is always the first to start with the runny nose, red eyes, sneezing, and all that jazz when the seasons change.  The pediatrician recommended we go so we could see how bad they were and what to do from there.  We sat down with the allergist and he asked questions and then they did the poke test.  They wrote like 40 numbers on my 5 year-old’s back and poked him with different substances to see how he reacted.  I was in awe of my 5 year-old.  I told him beforehand that they were going to have to poke his back and he made up his mind, by himself, that he was going to be brave and that his blanket named Moo-Moo would help him through.  He didn’t even flinch.  He just laid their quietly and got all the pokes done.  I asked him if he was okay and it was just like, “yeah, I am brave.” Simple. It turned out that he didn’t react to anything AT ALL!!!  The allergist was stunned and asked if they could do a couple of injections in his arm to go deeper into the skin.  I asked my 5 year-old if he was okay with that, “yep, I am brave!” And so they injected his arm with 5 separate things.  He did flinch a little but said he was fine.  So, he doesn’t have seasonal allergies.  He is really, really allergic to dogs and cats. I will spare you all the back and forth between the doctors but, my big guy is totally fine.

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I was thinking about how crazy it was that I let them poke him all over his back and how I don’t think it would have been very fun.  He was totally okay with it and enjoyed his sucker and stickers that they rewarded him with.  Plus he thought it was cool that he still had marker numbers all over his back (they all came off in the bath!).  I learned a lot from my child that day:

1- When people tell you that something may be scary but that you will get a reward after of having more knowledge of something, you can make up your mind beforehand.

2- When you make up your mind before hand, you STICK to it!

3- It is only as scary as you make it.

4-A little sugar makes a big smile.

5- Trust.

6- Positive self talk is a must.

7- Looking at life at different angles can be a lot of fun.

As I have been reflecting on this, a scripture has been running through my head.  It is from a sermon from King Benjamin in Mosiah.  The king is telling his people many things before he gives the throne to his son and is reflecting on the lessons that he has learned.

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

I submitted my 5 year-old to the poke test and the injections and he WILLINGLY submitted to them and was submissive, meek, humble, patient, and totally still full of love for me.  I need to become more like that.  I am not saying that I need to be child-ISH, but child-LIKE. I learn a lot from my kids every day and I learn a lot of repeat lessons as well from them.  But this really got me.

How can I become more childlike in my every day?  Am I willing to do things that may sound scary, but that offer a reward of knowledge that I am in need of?  Do I make up my mind to be brave and stick with it to the end?  Do I trust God to put me in situations and with certain people to help make a difference?  Do I engage in positive self talk and look at things from different angles?  I certainly get my sugar intake, don’t you worry about that! Is my relationship with God the same as my relationship with my child?  Do I willingly go where He wants me to go, not complain, am patient, and full of love?  I need a lot of work.  As an adult, I feel like I have chosen to close off some of those characteristics to keep myself safe, but you know what?  God is full of love for me and wants the best for me.  I need to be more childlike.

In Matthew 18:3 it says:

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Am I truly converted and acting in a childlike manner to my Heavenly Father who is my loving parent?  I still have a lot to learn from my children and a lot to learn to be more like them!

The Value of Doing Nothing

A few months ago I had a panic attack.  I can’t really say that I have had a full blown out one, but life was getting to me and I didn’t successfully defuse my stress so…panic attack. It almost felt like I was getting a migraine.  My body started going numb. I was hot, but freezing, and my muscles were SO tense.  Well, the muscles would not relax.  Then my arm started going numb and I had some pain, so I went to the insta-care.  They told me I was fine and couldn’t really find anything wrong with me and suggested I follow up with a sports therapist to help with my range of motion.  The sports therapist said there was nothing wrong with me and suggested I go to a physical therapist.  The physical therapist just told me that I had really tight muscles (oh really?!).  She gave me some stretches to do to help loosen them up and mentioned in passing that I could try some meditation or yoga to calm my brain.

I was super consistent with my exercises because they really did ease the muscle tightness, but it still wasn’t enough.  A couple of weeks ago I downloaded some meditation apps and thought I would give it a try.  I did one that had a goal of doing ten minutes of guided meditation for ten days.  I thought, “why not” and started that day.  It was actually so GREAT!  I loved it!  I could totally tell a difference with the way my body felt, my stress level, and being more calm.

I also have been exercising more and on my off days I meditate.  One day I was doing my meditation practice and the nice lady with the amazing voice said something that hit me. She was talking about how we are addicted to physical progress, we love to have our lists and check things off and because we are addicted to it, we never take the time to turn off all the noise and just do nothing.  I had to pause my practice to write it down because all I could think about was that thought and I wasn’t suppose to think about anything.  I am totally an addict to physical progress, I have an ongoing to do list notebook, I love to tell my hubby when he comes home from work what I got done, and I love to think about making more lists. But I have been more mindful in just being okay with sitting outside in the shade for a few hours and watching my kids play.  It is freeing.

So, go find a place to meditate and move forward.  Your head (and the rest of your body) will thank you!

Stones

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Last month I read an article in our local newspaper that has stuck with me.  I want to link to it here.  Before you read it, have an open mind and think about what you can do to be better.

Here is the article, “Catching Stones vs. Casting Stones.”

I want to be a stone catcher. I want to be a stone catcher not to just people around me, but to my kids and to my family members.  I am focusing on the people I love most because I feel like sometimes they are the people we can treat the worst.  Lots to think about in this article. Tell me what you think.

Choosing Love

I have had a hard couple of days.  I don’t want to write about what has made it hard, I want to write about things I have learned from hard things and what I am choosing to focus on instead.  But, by disclaimer…when things happen that are hard one thing I always do is turn to my Heavenly Father.  I can definitely say that as I have prayed that I know that God is aware of me and has helped lighten the burden.  Now onto things that I have learned, in no particular order…

I can CHOOSE to love someone even if they don’t show, express, or seem to love in return.  This is REALLY hard for me to do and it hurts REALLY bad, especially when it happens repeatedly.

I can CHOOSE to hold onto the hurt or I can choose to put it behind me and hope for the best the next time.  But I don’t have to let the negative thoughts hijack my life right here, right now, or for a whole week.

When I CHOOSE to love people, my self-worth is not dependent on what they choose to do or not do with my love.  People/or the relationship does not define me or make me inherently bad.

I can CHOOSE to live my life with more meaning and more purposefully.  I can still show and express love and compassion.

Even though some people appear to not give in a relationship, that doesn’t mean that others cannot.  My husband loves me more than I can express and I love him more than I can express.  He understands me and loves me and is able to talk to me and help me.  He is AMAZING and I will always have his love.

I can CHOOSE to keep trying to show love and be part of people’s lives even though it makes me VULNERABLE (and I don’t like that feeling).

I can CHOOSE to love myself even when others don’t, can’t or won’t reciprocate.

-I can CHOOSE to love!

Instead of dwelling on the bad I am working on focusing on what I learned and about how to put it into practice in my life right now.  It doesn’t make it any easier that hard things happen, but our reaction to them can make all the difference.

A graphic of train tracks coupled with a quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley: “The course of our lives is … determined by … day-to-day choices.”

Simplify

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A long time ago my mother-in-law gave me a little plaque that says, “simplify.”  It has held a lot of meaning for me through the years but recently that plaque has been catching my eye.  As I have been pondering on this, it seems like I have always just lived simply.  I haven’t wanted to do or have extravagant things, just have always longed for the basic things in life.  I grew up with the knowledge that our family didn’t have a lot of money and sometimes that was frustrating to me when I was comparing myself to others, but looking back I am grateful for the small and simple things in my life when I was growing up.  We would take turns going to my grandparent’s homes on Sundays after church and what sweet memories those are to me.  I loved going to their homes.  My Grandpa and Grandma on my dad’s side was always an adventure.  They had this amazing hanging bench swing in a gazebo in the back yard, so many wonderful memories there.  My Grandma and Grandpa on my mom’s side lived on a little farm in the middle of nowhere land, but it was always so much fun to go.  My Grandma would play cards with us almost every time we went and she would always make us think that we were going to win, BUT she always won and won BIG!  She was also an avid reader.  I loved looking at the books on her shelf and asking her what she was reading.  My mom in past years told me that I was a lot like my Grandma and I am so grateful for that.  Today some of my most prized possessions are some of my Grandma’s books that I have.  They are tender and sweet memories of my beloved Grandma.  I guess this is where my love of simple things comes from, the simple memories of my life that I treasure.

I know that my kids will not remember the “stuff” they get but the feeling that they had when they worked hard for something and the small memories.  I hope they remember all the silly tickle fights we have and the kissy hugs and long road trips to their Grandma’s and Grandpa’s homes.  When we were looking for a home, instead of a big house with all the room that we want for cheaper, we decided a smaller home closer to my husband’s work was more important.  Our home we live in is nothing fancy, but it FEELS like home and we love to have fun.  We don’t have any streaming video or cable or video gaming systems, we have PBS and we have each other.  Every night is a gift to spend together and it usually goes too fast, bedtime seems to come faster every night.  We don’t have money to have expensive clothes for any of us, but I am grateful for all the people in my life that have passed down clothes to us, what a blessing.  We don’t have a huge budget by any means but we have the basics and we choose to live simply and enjoy the small things.  I can’t imagine life without my amazing husband and my precious little ones, who are teaching me so much.  I am grateful for the memories of those that are not here physically, but who I can hear cheering me on, when I am feeling down.  I am grateful to live a simple, yet full life, where I can hopefully make a difference in a little way, just like my Grandma.

Driving Thoughts

This past weekend we were able to go and visit our parents and some family members. It is always something we all look forward to and we always have fun, but the one thing that my kids forget until we are like 2 hours into the drive, is that when we go to visit we spend like a total of 15 hours in the car.  We do things to break the drive up but really, it is just a lot of sitting and driving. This time the ride was particularly adventurous with potty training.  Well, I potty trained her like a month ago, but you just never know how it will go when you don’t have ready access to a potty.  We took along the training potty and we used it on the side of the road more than once.  I was super nervous about her staying dry through the night, but she did great and kept her new sleeping bag dry the whole trip.

While we were driving we of course had the normal sibling drama happening, “Mom, she is touching me!”  “Her foot is too close to me.” “Stop looking at me.” “I don’t want to share the crayons.” You know, it is always interesting to see what is going to be said.  It was during those times that I or my cute husband would try and focus the kids’ attention on something OUTSIDE the car.  “Hey, look at those construction vehicles.” “Did you just see that purple truck go by?” “Don’t worry we have already gone 3 hours, we only have 4 more to go…” It was a game to get them to stop focusing on each other and what the other person had “done” to them and focus their attention to something that they couldn’t control but that they could see.  Other times I really wanted to point out something outside, but they were having a laughing fit about something that was so funny and playing together great.  I had to stop myself a couple of times from saying anything and focus my attention on the love and joy that I felt in those moments.

It got me thinking about life.  Sometimes it is good to shift our focus outward on things that we can’t necessarily control but that is a good learning moment.  Other times when the focus is inward with our family and close friends we need to savor those moments and stop looking for something outside to grab our attention.  The best times in life are with the ones we love are in small spaces with loud laughter and tickle wars.  Don’t forget to enjoy those times by focusing inward.

Longing to Belong

I just finished reading a book called, “Daring Greatly” by Brene’ Brown.  It was an enlightening book for me.  It gave me lots to think about, lots to work on, and has changed my perspective on things.  I want to talk about one passage from the book;

“Fitting in and belonging are not the same thing.  In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers of belonging.  Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted.  Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” p. 231-2

I have been thinking about this a lot and trying to assess this in my own life.  When I have been in social situations, at home, and during play groups I have be mindful of the way I am feeling and the way I interact with others.  I also associated fitting it with being with the cool kids and all that jazz, but I never really understood that what I was craving and searching for was belonging.  I am really bad at fitting in, truthfully.  Case in point, I remember when I was around 12 and I was invited to a neighborhood friend’s birthday sleep over party.  I was so excited, but I was also terrified.  I didn’t feel like I fit in to begin with but was so excited to feel like I might.  But when the silly things started, like the first one asleep gets their bra frozen, the second one asleep gets shaving cream on their face, and so on…I didn’t want to fit in I just wanted to hide so none of those things would happen to me.  I remember my introvert self feeling more and more uncomfortable but not wanting to say anything because I wanted to fit in.  I played around for awhile but after being with a bunch of girls all night and not sleeping, I wasn’t in the best of moods.  I went to the extreme…to get away for a little while I went and sat on the stairs.  I didn’t understand then that I was over stimulated as an introvert and that all my stores of being social were on empty, I just knew I needed some space.  Well, that backfired because that drew attention to me and then I had to seriously deplete my store of being social and fitting in.  I didn’t do a very good job at fitting in, but have longed to.  But now, I know the difference.  I have been longing to belong, to be accepted for who I am.  I am an introvert, bookworm, soccer loving, sports watching, loyal, friend who would much rather have a “sleepover” with one or two friends and talk about meaningful things.

It our society, especially with social media, we always want to fit it, look our best, and make everything look effortless.  Well, my friends what we really need to do is turn to our families, our good friends and talk with them in person.  Be present with them, give the gift of belonging- to them- and you will feel the gift of belonging for you.

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Confessions of THIS mom, Part 1…sleeping, or the lack of

I am not a morning person.  I really want to be, but I have figured out that sleep is too important to me.  That may sound really dumb, but let me explain.  Since having kids and staying home with them, I have realized that if I don’t get sleep I am not a very good mom at all.  The newborn stage of kids, I would say by far, is the hardest stage of life.  Keeping up with the demands of a newborn and other kids can be brutal and I had a hard time keeping my head straight because I wasn’t sleeping.  After my first baby I had to go back to work while my husband finished his last semester of his bachelor degree and found a job.  I worked four 10-hour days, which really was like 12 hours away because of driving time and lunch time.  I woke up at 5 am every morning to pump milk and then get ready to go to work.  I pumped at work as well and came home around 7 pm to feed her and put her to bed.  The schedule was brutal.  For my last baby my husband was in graduate school. Even though I was able to stay at home and not work it was still hard because I was aware of my husband’s need to sleep to be able to function.  SO…as my kids have grown I have found myself wondering how in the world did I ever survive?  But I did.

Now, I just know that I need sleep.  I really want to be that mom that wakes up early, exercises, fixes a wonderful breakfast for her husband and her kids and walks out the door ready to go, but that is not my reality.  Yes, most of the time I take my kids to school in my pajamas.  I have tried at times to wake up before my kids and exercise, but WITHOUT fail my kids always wake up earlier than my alarm…ALWAYS!!!!!  I have tried at times to wake up early and read in the quiet of the morning, but my eyes are usually burning because of lack of sleep.  Granted, I am not the best sleeper.  If something wakes me up…uh said children…it takes me A LONG time to get back to sleep.  I am jealous sometimes of the ability that my sweet husband has to just roll over and be in dream land…how would it be?  So I am trying to embrace my need for some more sleep.  Scott and I have an unwritten rule that we don’t stay up past a certain time.  I try and get as many things done at night after the kids have gone to sleep and call it a day.  No, I will probably never be the person that gets up early and exercises (I wish I was because I am not the best at exercising) but I will at least be able to be a good mom because I have gotten some sleep!

Today my four year-old asked me why I am always tired…I could have named a lot of things i.e. daylight savings time, but instead I asked him why he was always grumpy at breakfast.  He didn’t have an answer, just a little head nod, and we moved on with our day.  To all of you moms out there that are morning people, you amaze me and I hope that one day I can be more like you!

Being Defined

I have been thinking a lot about some conversations I had with an old friend, a long time ago now, about being defined.  The conclusion was we can either be defined by the world, or by God.  I want to explore both of those.  By being defined by the world, it would be by the things we have, by what clothes we wear, by having the most, the best and the beautiful is the desired outlook.  I like to think of this as being defined by the “natural man”.  By being defined by God, it would be our soul, our relationship with Him, the true desires of our hearts, and our willingness to trust Him.

I began thinking about how I could bring these two more in line with each other.  And then I was reminded of a scripture I know in the Book of Mormon. It comes from Mosiah where a King/Prophet is telling his people his last words to them.

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

God

World

-daughter/son of royalty -car                                            -clothes
-spiritual gifts -house                                       -money
-knowledge of truth -body type/size
-desires of heart -charisma

Feels like

-peaceful and safe -comparison to others
-better than I think I am -never good enough
-unique, no comparison needed -criticism is at the core
-infinite potential -no perfection ever reached
-takes me where I am, builds me up and allows me to learn -scared

Do I want to be in the middle? No, not really.  The natural man, or the carnal man, is an enemy to God.  Trying to be defined in the middle of the world and God isn’t comfortable, and it never will be.  How can I see myself through God’s eyes (and see others the same way) and put off that natural man?  Go back to the scripture above…I need to become as a child…submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit.  This hits me hard.  How many times as a parent to I inflict MY will on my kids and really they have NO CHOICE?  Most of the time they are willing to submit to me (going to the store, sitting in the school pick up line, eating their dinner) am I as willing?

I need to YIELD my heart to God.  To yield means “to give up and cease resistance or contention” according to my friend Merriam-Webster.  There is an action required on our part to yield.  A couple more scriptures, if you want to look them up, go for it!  2 Chr 30:8- yield to the Lord and ENTER His sanctuary, Helaman 3:35- yield your heart=become SANCTIFIED (becoming submissive and teachable), and Romans 6:13 (12-14)- less likely to sin because yield to RIGHTEOUSNESS, not the opposite.  So I can’t have both, I can’t just straddle the fence.  So where does my sense of self come from?

This is a hard question to answer.  Truthfully I struggle with my self esteem…my natural man is always telling me that I am not enough.  Not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not fashionable enough, not able to be an amazing decorator…blah blah.  So if my sense of self comes from the world/natural man= temporary, finite, and corruptible.  But if my sense of self comes from God=Infinite and eternal.  It is hard when one seems so tangible and the other not touchable but is more FELT on the inside.  As I am working to quiet my natural man and to truly YIELD to the spiritual, it truly is a fight! Like everyday.

My biggest battle, I want to please everyone.  I want to be able to do everything great all the time, and look great, but you know what…I can’t.  I can try my best and TRUST that God will make up the rest.  That said I am not saying everything worldly is bad.  Our bodies are a gift.  I am amazed at how much I can do with this body of mine, even though I am not slim.  I am trying as hard as I can to do my best with it but it is not perfect.  Control what you can control, do your best and give up the rest!

And one more scripture: 1 John 3:20 God is greater than our heart.

There are times when I don’t know if I can do it, but you know what? God knows and I choose to trust Him.

Two relaxing things

Everyone has something that they love to do to just relax and let go right?  Well, I have two things.  #1 Reading…okay, you probably could figure that out, right?!  Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book and just read.  My only problem with reading lately is that I keep falling asleep.  I really want to read, I wait all day to read in the quiet, but I am just too tired!!  So I don’t get my full stress relief from reading.  It is sad.  But, I still love reading.  My wonderful hubby has a fun blog on creativity and he just blogged about what he likes to read.  You should check it out on this link. I am pretty much in line with him, I don’t read a ton of fiction and I really LOVE autobiographies/biographies.

Ready for #2??

I LOVE baking.  Seriously, that is one of the reasons that I love when it is cooler weather, it gives me a chance to bake.  I think it fulfills me in many ways.  It is relaxing to me, it makes me calm down and focus and take time for something.  It is a creative outlet for me.  That may sound funny, but baking really is a way for me to create something, to hold it in my hands.  It is something tangible that was created with love for others.  My favorite thing to bake is bread.  Come on, who doesn’t love a warm buttery roll or fresh bread.  Ah…I can smell it now.  And you know what the other great thing is…I get to eat something amazingly delicious! Another thing I love is that I can share it with others and it makes others happy.

A few weeks ago I tried out a new bread recipe…it was a mixed grain bread and it was so good.  The first loaf was gone in less than 15 minutes.  It made a lot of bread though and so I took some to a super nice couple that lives close to me.  Last year they brought us a WARM loaf of homemade bread so I thought it was a great time to pay it forward to them!  (Speaking of paying it forward…this is totally a side note.  I went to Dairy Queen to get a little treat for me and the hubby after the kids went to sleep and when I drove up to pay, the car in front of me had paid for my order.  I had always heard about things like that, but it never happened to me.  Well, I paid for the car behind me.  It was SO awesome!) For one of my sister-in-laws birthday I let her choose what treat she wanted and she chose cinnamon rolls.  I was so happy she did, because I LOVE cinnamon rolls (I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls) and I ate one too! YUM.   So bread, I love it.

I still have not been able to get my Grandma’s bread recipe exactly right.  It always makes good bread, but it is just not exactly like hers was.  She was a wheat bread pro.  I do not own a mixer so I make everything by hand (although my dream is to one day have a Bosch mixer with all the cool attachments :)). My grandma did it by hand, she must have just put more muscle into it or something.  Every time I pull out her recipe I have sweet memories.  I guess that is another reason I love baking and sharing with my kids.  My kids love to be my helpers, although sometimes mom just needs her baking time!  Some of my favorite breads are a rosemary flax bread, wheat bread, spinach barley bread, mixed grain bread, honey oat bread, and of course dinner rolls. I also love making different kinds of bread sticks, flat breads, hamburger buns, and we have homemade pizza every Friday.  I love experimenting with different grains and seeing if my family notices!  We can’t forget the treat side of baking though either!  I would still say that those pumpkin cinnamon rolls are my favorite to make, smell, and eat, but cookies and brownies they definitely count as baking in my mind!

The one thing that I am trying to figure out with baking though…well…I just really love food.  I enjoy making food and I enjoy eating it.  Some times I eat too much.  And that is when I have a love/hate relationship with my body.  I love what my body can do, I have put it through a lot, but you know what…it is not as young as it once was.  I am on the downward slide to 40 (don’t tell!) and I am not as spry as I would like. But, I am focusing on the relaxing qualities of baking.

So happy reading and happy baking.  I am currently reading a book called, “The Crucible of Doubt” and have another book on hold and I know what I am going to read after that.  Maybe I just need to bake something amazing and eat it while I am reading, then I can stay awake 🙂