Phones and hard lessons

A couple of weeks ago I read an article that has been rolling around in my head.  I read a few more studies and articles in the past week and it has be hard to read, truly.  All of the articles and studies have to do with smartphone usage in kids, specifically 10-17 year-olds, and it has be eye opening.  All of the articles usually start with the story of a teenager or soon to be teenager that was bright, funny, smart, and outgoing but attempted suicide or became severely depressed.

One article talked about about between 2010 and 2016 (where nearly every American owned a smart phone) major depression, suicide, anxiety, and an overall feeling on hopelessness has jumped at an alarming rate.  Teenagers especially have be affected and another article which dubbed this generation (1995-2015) iGen is not completely unfounded.  Instead of teenagers getting together to hang out (which back in my day was to talk and talk and talk, eat something, maybe play some games and watch a movie) has turned into teenagers shutting themselves in their rooms with their phones and mindlessly browsing, posting pictures on social media, googling whatever comes to mind, and texting.  There is little need for human connect it seems like.

But the interesting thing that I pulled out of each of these articles is that the teenagers are actually looking for acceptance, someone to talk to, and need social interact but do not know how to get it.  Many times in the stories that started out the articles, the teenagers telling their stories, decided to try and commit suicide because they knew they needed help but didn’t know how to get it and/or ask for help.  Instead of our next generation learning social skills and ways to interact with people, build a network, have people around that like them for them, relax, and be fine with just reading a book, there is a new norm. They are expected to look perfect all the time, never relax because there is always someone watching, fear social interactions because they might say something wrong, have a network of “friends” on social media, they are never sure is someone really likes them or is just being nice because there is rare face to face interaction.  Now, I am not saying that every kid is like this but man, all these articles and studies I have read was so sad to me.

Now, I am totally an introvert, and would much rather text someone if I am just asking a question really fast or want to set up a play day, but I also value talking to real people.  I love having my husband home and the talks that we have at the dinner table, or what we call “couch talks”, it is valuable time and time that I love.  I have a friend that just makes me feel happy every time we get together (and every time we get together we always talk about how we need to get together more than once a month:)).  The value of interaction and face to face contact is so incredibly important but when people are looking to screens for friendship and acceptance, it is not always truth.

I guess this stuff all hit me hard because of another reason.  My phone randomly died a few months ago and through fighting with the company and shipping and yada,yada…I was without a smartphone for like 3 weeks.  It was great for like the first 3 days, and then it was just rough.  I am sad to admit that I felt disconnected from outside life.  I just had my little life here, in my house and it was hard.  I didn’t realize the effect technology had on me.  When I got my phone back, I didn’t do it on purpose, but I was ALWAYS on my phone.  It was like my brain was addicted and I had to make up that time lost.  This past week, as I have been reading these articles I have felt a lot of guilt about being more present with my screen than my kids at times (lots of time on my phone this week trying to find clothes for a wedding).  I have already made new goals and have moved forward with them.

Truthfully I am sad that this is happening, that not just kids but adults as well, are relying so much on what social media has to say and how it is hurting all of us.  So, I am not telling you to throw away every smartphone but set limits (for kids and yourself), stick to the limits, be parents to your kids, pray about how to help those around you, and most of all make memories with those you love and tell them that they are worth it and just how much you love them!

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Just an ordinary person

I have always been enamored with the thought of how one person can make a difference.  For some reason it just strikes me how just a little person can do so much good or so much bad.  I have been reflecting lately on how in my life it definitely has been little things that have made a difference.  And all those little things involved people that were ordinary people but people who stepped up and where DOING something.  I guess that is what I want to get at today, it is in the DOING that we are able to give.

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I am usually not into TV shows where there are judges and then people vote for whomever they like, but for some reason (probably because I was just tired and needed to veg) I turned on “America’s Got Talent”.  And there was an amazing person that I just happened to tune in for at the right time.  She was a singer/songwriter and performed an original song in the first round of the competition. It was amazing, the song had so much depth and her voice was amazing, and she was deaf.  It was Mandy Harvey. You really should go read her story.  But, I was touched by her, not just her vocal or her musical tone, but by her courage to not just audition for AGT but to return to music in her life. She got a golden buzzer from Simon and the AGT journey began, she ended up being 4th overall this season, but she didn’t walk away a loser by any means, she has so much ahead of her and she is doing it little by little with courage and grace.  What an amazing example of DOING something to help others and in turn helping her find herself.

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My cute husband and I watched a foreign film last night.  We hardly ever watch movies, so it was hard to even choose a movie, but I had heard about it from the book so we launched into it.  At first, I thought I was not going to be super into the movie because I had to read all the subtitles, but I was wrong.  It was called, “A Man Called Ove.” You can watch the trailer here. I really wanted to read the book but our library doesn’t have it, which I couldn’t believe, and I rarely buy a book unless I really know I am going to like it.  Well, the short of if it is this, Ove is a grumpy old widower and is the mindset of everyone is out to make him miserable so he is going to make everyone else miserable.  But as the story unfolds, we learn of Ove’s story and how he lost the joy in his life because of little choices along the way.  In the end he turns around and learns how to find joy and touches many others that are in his path.  I am not going to lie, I was bawling through the end and as I kneeled down to say my prayers last night I found myself feeling all sorts of emotions for this made up character that hit home for me.  It was a great exercise of introspection and love for all those people in my life, that even though they have their own struggles, reach out to others.

Just this week I have been blessed by the love of others.  From a text, an email, a Facebook message, a smile at kindergarten pick up, a huggle (a hug and a snuggle) from my three year old who is so cute but the terrible threes are making her look bad, going out to lunch, the big smile my 7 year old gives me when she comes walking toward the van when we pick her up from school, my  5 year old asking endless questions and being able to learn together, my husband taking time to be together with me and talk to me and love me and watch the kids while I go to meetings and folding laundry and sweep the floor and take the time to understand me. I just hope that I can give back to others in ways that they need, in ways that they will know that someone loves them, cares for them, and that we all have a Heavenly Father who puts people in our paths to be His earthly hands.

Many times it seems like there are no earthly hands waiting for us to give us a hug, pick us up, or just talk to, but I know that it is in those times that as we reach toward God and talk to Him we will feel heavenly hands.  I have had lonely times in my life and times where I was purposely lonely, but I always can turn to God.  He knows me, and He knows each one of us.  As small and insignificant as we seem, He can help us to get up and DO.

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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!

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.”

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.

Lately…

Lately, I haven’t felt much like writing.  When I started this blog I promised myself that I was not going to be one of THOSE people who started a blog and loved it for awhile and then left it. Also, my introvert has been coming out and saying that no one really cares and who knows how many people actually read this blog and why do I share things with people who don’t even know me.  I am not leaving…I have just decided that some things are more important that others.  I have found myself the last month reflecting on how important each day is and have been living in the moment, instead of always thinking ahead to what is coming.  I have done that for most of my life.  When this happens…I can’t wait until….I wish it was Saturday.  If I just keep looking toward the next thing, I am truly missing the journey of it all.  It has been amazing to just enjoy what is happening today, NOW, and watch my cute kids as they are learning and growing.

Some kid observations, if you don’t mind… First, my 4 year-old son. He is a constant question, he has questions about everything.  I am so grateful that his little brain is working, and learning, and growing, and sometimes it gets annoying to keep hearing questions but I have become more mindful of his questions and have started answering them truthfully and he is learning that mom AND dad don’t know everything!  Then we get to learn something new!  How fun!  He has also been learning sight words and has been reading.  It is amazing to see him connect all that he is learning and see him realize that HE CAN read!   He has been totally empowered by that!  He is a tender hearted, sweet,tickle lover, rule following and rule stretching kid and I sure love him!

Second, my 2 year-old.  She is such a girly girl.  My other daughter is not, but we are experiencing everything pink and princess.  Some days there are fights between her and her brother because he is calling her by her name and she insists that her name is “Princess Ana”.  She loves to wear a dress and will cry her eyes out if she doesn’t get to wear one . She decides what princess she is by how she wants her hair done.  Two braids or pig tails= Princess Ana, one braid with a beautiful bow=Queen Elsa, hair down=Rapunzel and on and on and she will tell you, “I am a beautiful princess”.  When I ask her if her bed is warm and snuggly, she always responds with “No, my bed is cute.”  She has been picking up on songs, and if she catches you at the piano, expect to stay there.  If she catches you on the couch by the library books, expect to stay there until all are read.  Her first question almost every morning is, “Will you read me a book?”  And if you think a 2 year-old can’t talk, well let me assure you, she can talk, a lot!  She is sweet, super cute, feisty, has her own opinion, and loves to eat condiments and I sure love her!

Lastly, my first born.  My 6 year old who will say, “I am almost 7!!!!!!!” She loves to read.  Over Christmas, Great-Grandma gave her an abridged version of “Anne of Green Gables”.  She has read the whole thing twice, so we decided to get the movie from the library.  I remember waiting for it to come on PBS when I was little and they always had to continue it the next day because it is so long.  Well, we finally got it from the library (we actually had to put it on hold because it was ALWAYS checked out) and started watching it this weekend.  She laughs and laughs and keeps saying, “I won’t tell you what happened next, because I don’t want to ruin it for you.”  I have forgot how great the movie is and it is way more funny now too!  She is learning so much at school and it was awesome to ask her a couple of days ago what the difference between a long “a” and a short “a” is and she totally knew the answer.  It made my English loving husband so proud!  She is sassy, has the greatest belly laugh in the world, is a thinker, creative, a bookworm, and tells me what to do some times, and I sure love her!

Lately I have just been enjoying life.  It has been great to also spend more time with my husband and to read.  Have I told you that I love reading, well I do.  So instead of day dreaming about a post to write, my mind has been busy with being in the present.

Thoughts on a Word

I sat two rows away as I watched people pay their final respects for a great man. The funeral director then asked the family members to come forward.  My mother-in-law waited for her siblings and then she gave her dad one last look.  Grandma then went and gave Grandpa a kiss, a hug, and whispered something in his ear then everyone stepped back.  The last time we would see our dear friend on this earth.  I was bawling.  My kids on my lap where looking at me like I was crazy, their little minds not understanding the sweetness of the moment.

Grandpa died before our anniversary, so we knew after our little celebration at home we would be traveling to go to the funeral.  New Year’s Eve was quiet and the old year passed by in the night, with all of my little ones and my hubby breathing deeply in their sleep.  As I lived that scene above I was just filled with an understanding of the truth that we will see those we love again.  That this life is not all and that there is something higher and bigger than us.

Since this all happened before our anniversary and I was already thinking about the beauty of human love and how amazing of a man I married, my thoughts turned to Grandma and Grandpa. I was reading in the scriptures about how marriage is called of God.  One verse really struck me this time, even though I have read it many times before.

Genesis 2:24

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

My hubby is a word nerd, so it has rubbed off on me.  So yes, I looked up the word CLEAVE.  Our good friend Merriam-Webster defines cleave as:

to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly.

That is spot on.  When we cleave unto our spouse we are adhered firmly together, we are close, we are loyal, and we are unwavering in our love to one another.  I was grateful for the time that I have had to reflect not just on my own marriage, but to see it in the lives of Grandma and Grandpa, my In-Laws, my Own parents, and many others around.  It pays to look up words that you think you already know the definition to, the meaning becomes deeper, more real, and you can more fully live the definition in your life.

Hold your loved ones close, they are a blessing every day.

The First Decade

This past week me and my sweet hubby celebrated 10 years of marriage!  Woo Hoo!  It some ways I can’t believe that it has already been 10 years, but in another way it feels like we have always been together!  Lots of things have happened in those 10 years and it has been an amazing journey.  My husband has received his Bachelor and Master Degree, we have had three wonderfully cute kids, been through some learning times, made lots of memories, and continue to make memories.

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There have been lots of changes in those 10 years.  When we got married Scott did not like pizza.  Now, that is just down right crazy, isn’t it.  Well, he likes it now!  Every Friday at our house is pizza Friday (usually homemade :)).  He also didn’t like spaghetti…sometimes this one is up for debate, you just have to add meatballs!  Our relationship has grown a lot in the 10 years as well.  It is hard to describe, but it has been most amazing.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have lots more decades of memories ahead!

 

A Still Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Still, Still, Still”.  There just always seemed like there was something magically about the song.

Still, Still, Still
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Savior’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Savior’s birth.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
Songwriters: Bryan Michael Paul Cox / Jermaine Dupri / Johnata M Austin
Still, Still, Still lyrics © Norman Luboff Music
I love how the words speak of stillness and how this can be part of us.  Just like with our Savior.  He is there, but sometimes we have to be still and let Him become part of us.  Merry Christmas!