Learning Happiness

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We all face trials, whether big or small, they are trials.  Sometimes it is hard to get through them from one moment to the next and others you feel like you are able to walk tall still.  No matter what, there are times when we need help.  Acknowledging our dependence is not a sign of weakness.  It is in fact, at those times when we realize that we need someone else to help, that we truly become stronger.  I believe in God.  I know He loves me, individually.  There have been times in my life when I was trying to do it all, okay, lots of times, but when I finally reach my hand to God things change.  It is when my Savior walks with me in my daily life that I can face those trials.

In the Book of Mormon, we learn about the people of Alma. These were people that had given up everything to follow a prophet of God, to live what they believed, and be willing to walk with the Savior.  They came under subjection to a mean king and were given heavy burdens to carry, LITERALLY (Mosiah 24:15).  They were told that they couldn’t pray any more, or else they would be punished.  But you know what, they were still happy.  Am I that way when I am given heavy burdens to carry?  Or do I feel bad for myself, complain to my Heavenly Father, and pray to have them taken away RIGHT NOW!? Well, I know that I am usually not the happiest.

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One thing that I have been learning lately though is to change my prayers.  I think it is human nature to not want to be in uncomfortable situations, or ones that hurt, are unpleasant or that make us feel like we are failing.  When the people of Alma were told that they couldn’t pray out loud, they probably actually prayed more.  They were pouring out their hearts to God…not out loud but in their hearts.  If you feel like you are not able to make the most of your prayers at night or in the morning, trying praying in your heart.  What a marvelous experience you can have.  The other point that I would like to bring up is that the heavy burdens on the people of Alma were not taken away right away…they were made light.  Again, back to changing my prayers.  Instead of learning from my trials I just want out of them.  So now, it is more of a plea to help me carry this burden with His help and see the tender mercies along the way.

And what an amazing thing to happen.  There is one burden that has almost consumed me, it is hard, and I don’t like that I think about it constantly and try and figure out ways to take it away.  I used to pray to just have it taken away, now I am looking for those little things that make it better.  I don’t think that it is magically going to go away, but those little victories are making a huge difference to me, because I am actively working hard WITH my Heavenly Father and actively looking for His hand in my life.

Another scripture that comes to mind when I have been thinking about this, is to live after the manner of happiness (2 Nephi 5:27).  Is it possible to be happy when carrying heavy burdens?  Yes, it is.  It is not always easy to find, but if you look it is there. Sometimes the happiness is discovered through  a change of perspective or simply letting go.  I learned wise counsel from my mission president, his motto, “Control what you can control.” When we do our best to truly be a disciple of Christ then we will be supported, no matter what.  We have to be willing to accept His help.

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Strawberries and Shrimp

I am allergic to shrimp.  If you want to be more technical, I am really allergic to shell fish.  And you know what?  I am glad.  Shrimp, especially, always freaked me out.  It just seemed wrong.  Actually, I adopted a line from “Finding Nemo” which I repeated often, “Fish are friends NOT food.” Ok, so you got me.  I actually do like fish, but shrimp is another matter.  So imagine my surprise when my daughter’s 1st grade teacher asks me about a “real pet shrimp”.  Haha.  The definition of REAL for my little silly is a little stuffed shrimp (that is in reality a lobster) whom she named, Shrimp-loctaver.

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Well, this past summer we learned that one of my kids is allergic to strawberries.  That is right, strawberries.  It is really sad because everyone else wants to just gobble them all up.  But it was not something that I really wanted to mess around with because every time they were eaten by said kid, throw up would ensue and dry heaving for HOURS!!!!  It was horrible.  Every time my kid saw strawberries it was like replaying the sad part in a movie.

So what is the difference?  I am actually happy about not eating shrimp, but my kid is terribly sad about it.  And that is where the thought comes in about why not having it (the offending food) makes us better.  We tend to avoid things that we don’t like, but what if there is something that you really do like but when you partake in it, you end up dry heaving for hours.  It is a lot like life. There are just some things that I can stay away from no problem and that helps me to become better.  But there are some things that I REALLY like but that are not good for me physically, mentally, or emotionally, but I still partake in them. Sometimes it is hard to protect from an offending food, but what precautions will you take to stay away from the trigger?

What is your weakness?  What are you willing to do without to make you a better you? Are you willing to put a measuring guide up before you choose?  What will be on your list of blessings?   I choose no shrimp, I choose more sleep, and I choose to do the best that I can every day.

Transitional change

Transition and change.  Those two words keep rolling around in my head.  Yes, change can be great and awesome and so needed, but sometimes change is hard.  I have a friend that always says, “Change is the only constant thing in life.”  It truly is, but it doesn’t make it all easy.  Transition is what I have been telling myself, instead of change.  It seems like a nicer word, not so harsh, but gentle.  Well no matter how you put it, sometimes it is just plain hard.  Why have I been thinking about this?  Because I feel like my life and the life of my family has been in constant transition.   Let me fill you in…

In August my wonderful husband finished his last graded semester of graduate school.  I felt like I had been waiting so long for him to be done and then realized that he only have 5 days off, until the next semester started and Jenna started 1st grade.  It was a huge let down to say the least.  I am so glad that Scott has the opportunity to go to graduate school and it is amazing to see how much he has learned and progressed, but truthfully it is amazing to have him home WITH us, while he is on break.  When he is in school, we see him for 1 hour a day, when we are eating dinner, so needless to say, I miss my best friend.  Well, before you know it, the next semester started and I miss him.  It is always hard to miss him so fiercely, knowing that he is just down stairs, but I miss being WITH him.  Thankfully, he is on his last semester doing his final project, but somehow that makes it harder.  It is like it is so close but ALWAYS out of reach.  My least favorite comment from people when they hear he is in graduate school is, “Oh, he will be out and done before you even know it.”  Well people, 3 years seems like a really long time to spend without your best friend around.  In this 3 years, we have added our third child, bought our first house, and countless other stuff.  We had done it, but it is still hard.  I don’t know when the last day of the semester is, I don’t think I want to know, for now I will just keep missing my Scott.

Then as mentioned above, Jenna started 1st grade.  I miss her terribly as well.  I know that it is good for her and I know that she is learning so much, but my mother heart breaks still, every school day morning when I send her off to school at 8:45 and don’t see her cute face until she walks home with her walking group around 3:45.  It is even harder when she is coming home and saying she is bored.  I hate to hear that, but I knew that she would be at the beginning.  She doesn’t know everything but she is very bright.  Her favorite things at school are…wait for it…….lunch and coloring.  Haha, food and being creative!  My sweet girl, how I miss her and her hugs, giggles, and the ability she has to entertain herself, Jake and Tessa.  Jake and Tessa miss her so much too.  It is a huge transition.  One of the transitions is the transition of power.  Jake is learning to be in charge and become a leader with Tessa, but then he struggles to maintain that when Jenna is back.  Tessa just wants to play with Jenna.  I also realize how important a good teacher is for my little girl.  She is growing up and having her own individual experience, which she needs, but it is not always easy to watch them grow up.

And then there is Jake.  Jake is old enough to go to preschool this year.  We had him signed up for a place down the street to go to, but realized that financially we couldn’t do it.  The same thing happened with Jenna, so I was actually excited to have Jake home with me for another year. Doing at-home preschool has been a huge blessing (which I will talk about more later) but it is also a huge humility factor for me.  It seems like preschool is like a rite of passage now and I feel people judging the decision that we had made to do it at home.  Granted, people don’t know the whole situation and it seems more hurtful to me than it probably does to anyone else, but it feels like some days we have done something wrong and that Jake will not be ready for kindergarten…well, I know that he will be fine.

At-home preschool is one of the greatest investments of my time with my children.  We did the same thing with Jenna.  At-home curriculum supplemented with an online school readiness program.  It has been amazing to see how different the two kids are.  When I did preschool with Jenna, her learning style was completely different than what I am doing for Jake.  Jenna taught herself how to read when she was 2, so we did a lot of reading, vocabulary, and word games, etc.  Jake is still learning his alphabet SOUNDS.  For some reason he just doesn’t have them clear in his head, which is fine.  Jenna was more abstract principles of learning, Jake is hands on and activity based.  This last week we did the letter “X”.  It was great fun, we practiced writing “x”, came up with mighty machines that had an “x” in them, went on a treasure hunt (because “x”marks the spot), made an x-ray with q-tips, went on a nature walk and found some nature stuff outside then glued them into a “X” which is proudly displayed on the kitchen wall.  It is great to learn with my kids and understand their learning styles.  This knowledge helped me a ton when Jenna went into kindergarten and now in 1st grade.

But with all this fun, Jenna now wants to stay home and do preschool with us and not just “learn at her desk all day.”  So there is this transitional balance that I am still trying to figure out.  So I guess, all in all, I just love each one of my family members to pieces and miss them when they are away.  Change is a good thing, but sometimes my mother heart has a hard time stretching and expanding. I am grateful for prayer and that I can always say a little pray  for any and all of my family that I am missing.  It gives me a greater understanding of my Heavenly Father and how I am sure He misses us. Loving someone is not just loving them when they are near, but wherever they are.  I hope Scott, Jenna, Jake, and Tessa feel my love every day and that I share that love with them everyday.