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 Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. Harriet Tubman

 

When I was young I was sure I was going to be famous. At first I thought I was going to be discovered for my singing voice. But I was to shy to sing for others. Then I thought I would be an Olympic swimmer. But I learned I didn’t have the patience to workout for hours at a time. As I grew older that desire changed. It no longer was about how famous I would be but more about how I could leave the world a better place. For years I have felt the need to be something more. To step out of my comfortable place and step into what God has designed for me. 

Over the years I have begun to see in others their ability to take something they love or are passionate about and turn it into a tool for impacting others. Whether it’s making beautiful artwork or writing amazing stories, exercising or decorating their houses. What inspires me is when they take that passion and share it with the rest of us. 

My mom is a perfect example of this. She loves doing family history work. She will spend hours at a time researching and studying the lives of those that came before her. I have come to know my family well because of her passion. They have become my friends and their stories inspire me. 

Several years ago she decided to start a blog. She added story after story, person upon person. My dear mom wanted to preserve these stories and make them easy for others to find. Her love for this work was now shared with the world. She didn’t do it to be famous. She did it out of excitement and passion for the work.

The ability to change the world is right at your finger tips. God has built it into your very nature. It is your responsibility to tap into your unique God-given gifts and share who you are, what you love, with others. It is then that you will find the greatest measure of joy and happiness. How will you change the world? SUSAN

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wonderful is coming

Look what I woke up to this morning?

winter-storm

Just a few days ago, I was looking at my box of sun dresses and shorts, getting ready to fill my closet with bright colors that have been locked away all winter.

Today I’m glad I didn’t put away my sweaters and scarves.

It truly is beautiful, even if it does seem a little out of place. I am truly grateful for this late winter storm because it is a good reminder of a truth about life that we don’t always recognize or give credit to.  This truth is like one of the laws of physics. It is absolute.  We can’t make it just go away because we don’t like it. It is here to stay, and the more we accept it and learn to work WITH this truth, rather than against it, the easier our lives will be.

This truth is the rule of cycles.  And I don’t mean a cycle like day and night, or the hands of a clock, predictably changing in a way that you can count on.  This cycle is more like a wave length cycle. This is the part of life that is predictably unpredictable.

The snow storm that hits in the middle of spring (or summer), or the crazy heat wave in January. Just like the unpredictable nature of the weather, our lives work the same way.

You have probably heard the saying

the only constant is change”

Change is actually a good thing, or we would all be really bored (and boring) and we wouldn’t grow and learn without it.  The real secret to dealing with the change that cycles throughout our lives, is recognizing it, accepting it and ultimately deciding to be grateful for it.

In recognizing it, let’s look at what the cycle looks like.

Top of cycleAt the top of the wavelength, if you stand there, you can see the whole big picture.  You get that there are lows and highs.  You can see the spaces that show you how much time there was in between your highs and lows. It is a good place to be. It is a good perspective to have. It is also a time in life when you are feeling pretty good, and things are going your way. Noticing how the wave is formed you can see that you are probably at the top because you have come out of a portion of life that was low (difficult, challenging, scary, sad). Having recovered from the bad times, and now feeling high at the top of the cycle, you feel even better, because you appreciate it much more.

Now remember what it was like, during a time in your life when you were standing at the low point.  From down at the bottom of cycle, it is pretty hard to see much of anything, except the place where you currently are, and usually that place is sad, hard and depressing. You may be able to see the incline leading to the top in front of you, but it probably looks pretty daunting. That is a big hill to climb, especially when you are down at the bottom.

bottom of cycle (1)

When we are at a low point in our lives, it can often seem like that low spot is all-encompassing, and quite hopeless. But this is the most important time to realize that the law that governs our universe says that the change is coming. The good times at the top of the cycle are coming our way, even if we can’t see it from the bottom.

The best thing we can do for ourselves when we are feeling down or depressed or disheartened is to remember that there will be light at the end of each dark night. When things are worse than we could possibly imagine, try to imagine just how much greater things will be once you weather this storm.

Quite often life becomes the very hardest, right before something truly amazing and wonderful comes into our lives.  I think this is intentional to strengthen us in the hard times, so we are ready to accept and truly enjoy and work with the good stuff that is coming.

As this beautiful winter storm blows through, I’m going to choose to remember to treasure all of the parts of life, looking forward to the good stuff, and trying to learn from the hard things.  Have a  beautiful day!  Laura

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I find there are moments that capture me. That hold me in their time and space with no knowledge of the wisdom or strength I will gain. I am simply held, bound even, to the very essence of one simple moment. It can be most glorious or painfully dreadful. Both have the power to teach and guide and direct our paths in ways one could never foresee. Our life is not one long play but rather moments that mold us, that sculpt us into the person we will eventually become. As the organic beings that we are, we can never stay the same and we are in a constant state of change.  It is as if we are walking up a downward escalator. We cannot stay still, or be unchanged, for the escalator (or the world around us) is always moving. To wish for life to somehow be free from such change would be to miss out on…well, living that life. While sick and stuck to the furniture this last week I had one of those life-changing moments.

It all started as I marathon watched home improvement shows. My favorite to watch is when they take a trashed house and make it into a thing of covetous beauty. EVERY single time I’m amazed.  It’s like magic to me. DIY is not my specialty so I love watching these talented people make gorgeousness out of hideousness.  How do they even know when to take out a wall or put one up? How can they foretell what will be the right move to make the house become it’s very best self? As I watched these shows I began to see a parallel to my life.

You see, for years I had felt as though I was broken. Just like these old broken down houses. Although they might look nice on the outside, inside they are filled with holes in the walls and a cracked foundation.  I thought my flaws, my weaknesses, and even bad things that had happened to me somehow made me less than a whole person. I felt broken beyond repair.  I could not see the magic of rebuilding. I very literally could see myself as a house.  A hole in my heart, A wall that needed to be torn down. I imagined I felt that hammer break through the wall and it hurt.  The pieces fell to the floor.  I could not see the vision or the beauty that my Heavenly Father could see. I just wanted the pain to stop.  But He continued to break things down. The trash had to be taken out before the rebuilding could continue. I then could see the new coming in and the beauty it was starting to take on. Where once I believed I was broken, I felt God trying to tell me that was never the case.  I was imperfect, yes. I had flaws, we all do.

My broken-state was actually the very thing that gave me the greatest ability for strength and growth. Brick by brick, piece by piece I felt the Lord healing my very heart.  Changing my very nature. Showing me a better way than what I would settle for. My very favorite quote by CS Lewis was brought to the forefront of my mind.

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

I first found this quote when I was a young newlywed. A couple from my church lost their son in an accident.  It was heartbreaking. Right after that I was asked to give a talk in my church.  How would I say anything that would help this grieving family? I studied and prayed and even cried a little bit. I wanted to help them see hope even in the hardship. I had no idea this quote would become a beautiful friend to give me comfort in times of heartache. I was also led to find this story.

“How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?” I was as bitter as gall.

And then I heard a voice, “I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.” Hugh B Brown

God is the master builder, the Gardner of our lives.  If we allow Him to, He can make us into something more spectacular than we could ever dream of being.  The breaking down is only so we can then be built up.  I now know this to be true.  I have seen Him work this miracle in my life. Kenneth Cope’s song titled Broken gives peace to my healing heart and reminds me that wherever we are in the building process of our lives God loves us indefinitely. -SUSAN

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balanceIt’s that time of year — SPRING FEVER —

Shoe shopping, spring planting and gardening, getting excited about summer vacations and SPRING CLEANING.

Time to pull out all the stuff in the closet, decide what stays and what goes, and get out the warm-weather clothing to take its place.

It feels so good to de-clutter the closets and drawers, but how often is the same effort given to cleaning up schedules and priorities?

I became really grumpy and moody a few weeks ago, during a time that I felt I was too busy and stressed to even be organized. I was stressing about getting everything done, but not taking the time to really analyze how to do it all. I just decided that it was all important and I would just work as hard as I could to get it done. In the process I had given up taking care of me. The reason I was so busy was to try to be a good mom, worker, church volunteer… but when even my kids noticed that I was more grumpy than normal, I don’t think all the extra “stuff” was really worth it. I finally decided one morning that my work could be put on hold, while I go exercise.

That was it.  It was like magic!!  The minute I got home I felt like my old self again. I really needed to not just move my body, but to do something that I knew was good for me. Right then I knew that I needed to be more intentional with the use of my valuable time. Exercise is needed in my schedule, if I want to be able to do all the other things that I expect of myself.

Here is what Diane Paddison said in this article

We all talk about wanting “balance,” but balance isn’t a static thing that you achieve or don’t achieve; it’s really a series of decisions that you must make in any given day about how to allocate your limited resources. For some, each of those decisions will be fraught with doubt, stress, and even guilt. But if you know yourself well, you’ll begin to make better, more confident decisions about when, how, and where to spend your time and energy.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How busy we are depends on how we decide to use this “limited resource.”

The following exercise was created to help you to get in touch with what you really want for yourself and family and make good decision about how to spend your time and energy most efficiently.

Ok, now let’s look at how to clean up a schedule, the same way you’d spring clean a closet.

First of all, as in any spring cleaning task, set aside some time, so you can really look at what you’re doing and not feel stressed or rushed through it.

You start by taking everything out so you can see what you have and how much space you have to put it in.

You will do this by making a list of everything that you are currently doing and what you want to do. Be really intentional with this list and be brutally honest.  It’s time to take a real good look at how things really ARE, not how you think they should be, or want them to be. You are going to start where you are so that you can make the most informed and honest decisions about your life.

Next, get a blank schedule.  You can draw up something on a sheet of lined paper or print out a blank one that someone else has already created.  Here are some. Option 1  Option 2

Look at everything on your list, keeping in mind that you still only have 24 hours in each day, and recognize that some of these things will not go back in the “closet.”

The first group of things that you will schedule are the things that are absolutely necessary. Do you have a job you have to go to? Kids to get up, fed and off to school? You decide, just remember that this first round is about things that are absolute necessities for living.

The second round of items that get scheduled, are things that you need to do just for you, for your own mental and physical well-being. These are things help will help keep everything else you are working on from feeling too stressful. For me this would be exercise, getting my vitamins, and reading something spiritual. I need these things in order to be a happy mom, wife, friend, worker.  If I don’t put them on the list, they don’t get done, and I’m grumpy and everyone else suffers because of it.scheduling

Third round: list things that are important for members of your immediate family. This might be taking kids to dance class, or sports practices. Scheduling a date with your sweetheart.  Helping kids to do chores, learn responsibility, or do homework. It could also include scheduling time to make sure you have fun together. Go to a park, play a game, sing and dance, make cookies together,sit and have quiet time to let a kid tell you about his/her life. These are the things that matter in creating a happy family, bringing you more balance to the rest of life.

Fourth round: responsibilities to your church or community. This is a tricky area. Sometimes this is where we over extend ourselves, which is why it has to be a little further down the list. There is nothing wrong with volunteer work, and it can be really good for your soul and a great example to your kids. Just make sure that you really believe in the thing that you are giving your time to. Make sure it isn’t dragging you down, or taking away from things that are more important. Maybe there is a way to simplify the things that you do, or even to delegate. Just don’t let this part of your life carry so much weight that is brings you down, or causes too much stress.

Fifth round is where you can put in the daily details of caring for your home and surroundings. Cleaning house, maintaining your car, shopping… this list could go on and on also. These are things that are somewhat important, but can be plugged into holes in the schedule, or multi-tasked (like throwing in a load of laundry while helping with homework, or unloading the dishwasher while cooking breakfast) or put into times that are a little more quiet, like the weekend. These are also items that you can ask for help on from people you live with who I’m sure would love to help out. The things in this list can seem un-ending and you will probably we working on these tasks for the rest of your life, just remember that these are not your life. They are just things that need to be addressed in the free moments of each day, but if something crucial comes up, it will be okay, if these things get left behind for a little while.

As you take a little bit of time to Spring Clean your life and your schedule, I hope you will find more happiness and peace in the activities that you do each day!!  — Laura

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Taking wrongs roads can sometimes be the right road.  When I was in high school I went with a friend to the beach. We went to enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather. (Oh how I miss that weather right about now.) The moment we parked I felt an uneasy feeling. I continued to get out of the car even though I was pretty sure we should leave. I was looking forward to feeling the sand between my toes. As I walked around to the back of the car the feeling got stronger. 

My friend asked what was wrong, I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions. I explained to him what I was feeling and gratefully he responded to me “Well, then, we should leave.”

I wondered the whole way home why. Was there danger I could not see?  What would have happened if we had chosen to stay? 

I could have felt disappointed our journey took us home instead of to the warm sun. It would have been understandable if I felt upset that we drove all the way there just to then be warned not to stay. 

Instead, I remember driving home being filled with gratitude. I was safe. My friend was kind enough to respect my feelings. My God had spoken to me through an overwhelming feeling. It was the first time I can remember being lead in that way and so it has stuck with me. 

Taking the road to the beach, which ended up being the wrong road in the end, taught me something more memorable than another day in the sun. I learned to trust the Holy Ghost even when his promptings are different from what I want.

My life has taken me on many journeys with twists and turns, ups and downs. Paths I did not predict, directions I could not have foreseen, sometimes more painful than I could have ever imagined and other times too joyous to put into words. But never is it a straight shot or a simple ending. I am beginning to accept this as the beautifully chaotic part of life.

I have dealt with major things like abuse, bullying, a miscarriage at 14 weeks, and some minor things like moving 14 times in our 17 years of marriage, betrayal, heartache, anxiety, depression, etc.

In contrast, I have been blessed with major things like a husband who is more than I could have hoped for, amazing children, precious friends, a testimony of my Savior (that has become most dear to me), and smaller things like understanding, peace and an abundance of love, a house, food and clothing.

I’m sure you could quickly think of your own twists and turns.

Through this windy path called life, I have learned to take one step at time with one foot in front of the other. I cannot let myself worry too much about the long road or the turns it might take. Instead, I am striving to remember that I have been blessed with a Heavenly Father who is the paver of the best path, the only true path, and when I listen to Him I cannot go astray.

There have been other times in my life I have cried in sorrow when the path was changed. It was not as clear to me that the One who knows all was guiding me.  On occasion the need for a course correction is quickly evident. Often though it has taken time for me to be able to look back and see the blessings and His guiding hand. Sometimes it takes years to see, but when I do I am always humbled. My heart is then bursting with gratitude that I was not left to my own. For the path I would have taken would not have led to the magnificent life I currently have.

I have come to embrace these words as my personal motto.

And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth.  1 Nephi 4:6-7

It is not always easy to do. I have forgotten to heed this counsel, trying to do things my way, only to stumble and fall. Only to then remember to fall to my knees and turn my will to His.

When sorrow, tragedy, and heartbreaks occur in our lives, wouldn’t it be comforting if when the whispering of God says, “Do you know why this has happened to you?” We could have the peace of mind to answer “No, but you do.”

This beautifully written quote by Marvin J Ashton has been set as my screen saver so that every single day I could remind myself to trust the Lords guidance and to let His peace be my guiding factor. To relax and know that He is so very mindful and aware of all that I need and He will direct my path if I will but let Him. 

“Is there not wisdom in Heavenly Father giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified?- By Amber Barlow Dahl

Even though life turns in ways that may seem undesirable, when we put our full trust (all that we have the ability to give) in God we can become much more than we would settle for on our own. For when we find God we find ourselves.

In this video Jeffery R Holland discusses the blessings of wrong roads. And the potential they have to teach us.

His son has this to say about the experience. You can read his full story here.

Sometimes in response to prayers, the Lord may guide us down what seems to be the wrong road–or at least a road we don’t understand–so, in due time, He can get us firmly and without question on the right road. Of course, He would never lead us down a path of sin, but He might lead us down a road of valuable experience. – Matthew Holland

I pray the next time I believe myself to be on the wrong road I will recall these words. That I might look ahead, and with some foresight, seek to find the value among the experience. – SUSAN

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Joanna-gainesIt’s Friday!! I love Fridays because we get to share with you someone elses information that we love and tell you why we love it.  Today I’m sharing with you a story from one of my favorite TV personalities.

I’ve been fascinated with Joanna Gaines ever since I first saw her on “Fixer Upper” with her husband Chip.  They run this great real estate/renovate/design homes business together, and now have a TV show that documents what they do.  She is also a blogger, a mom of 4 beautiful little ones, she lives on a farm and has to care for the animals and garden with her family and she runs a cute store in her town, and it has become an on-line store for her country farmhouse style of decorating.  She amazes me.  Here is her story

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I think that each of us has something we really believe in, or are passionate about.  We each have special talents. We each have something to say and to give to the world.

The real trick is fine tuning our gifts and our message,and then learning how to share it with the world in the most meaningful way.

Over the next several months, we will show you other people who have found ways to live their dreams, and how they did it.

I know that each of us has the ability within us to do great things. We just need to discover what they are, and then get to work.

In the mean time, enjoy the inspiration of someone who has already done it.  — Laura

 

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womenDo any of your remember “the Good Wife’s Guide” from a 1950’s home economics book, that was sent around by email years ago, to show how far we have come?  Click here for a copy of it and some truths behind where it came from.

Although some of the statements that were made are pretty ridiculous, I think there is some wisdom in a few of them. Taking a few minutes to clean up the house and kids before he gets home could be really helpful (even if not always possible),

When I have to go out of town for a few days, I know that whoever is left at home is not going to take care of it the way that I would, but I get really grumpy if I come home from a long trip, or have worked a long day, and I come home to a mess. Even if I’m the one who has been home all day, I get grumpy when it is messy.  I really don’t think there is anything wrong with trying to clean up a little, both the house and yourself, just before your sweetheart is expected to come in the door.  I know I would be in a better mood when he comes home, if things were already in order,

Sometimes after a very stressful day, you just want him to come home and take a child off of your hands so you can make dinner, or just breath for a minute, and not be the only one responsible for EVERYTHING.

The truth is that life is hard sometimes.  Mothering is hard sometimes. Maintaining a loving relationship with the one you promised to spend the rest of forever with, shouldn’t be the hardest thing in your life, but it is the most important thing.

So many times, my husband can see the stress in my face, and he judges it against whether or not he can approach me to talk about something important.  Often my list of things that I feel need to get done take me well into the night, and long past my energy level, leaving nothing for my husband beyond a “see ya later, I’m going to bed.”

How sad is that?  And often that is just my reality.

But what I often forget, and what I think a lot of us forget, is that our list of things to do, is “OUR” list.  We get to make it up.  It may not seem like it with all the demands of the day, but it is still our own choice what we do with our time.

Once we recognize that spending time with our companion is not just another chore, but a gift to ourselves, we will both find greater joy in the relationship.

Sometimes I look at a busy family, with kids going everywhere and wonder what that couple was like when they were first falling in love and planning a life together.  Were they just as rushed and crazy and trying to just get through another day? Or was life slow and sweet as they really cared to learn about how the other was feeling? How do we get a little piece of that sweet life back into a marriage that is now a little more complicated with the realities of every day life?

I read this article  a few weeks ago, called “The 3 A’s your sons will love receiving” from Heidi at Powerful Mothering, and it was so intriguing that I have gone back to it a few times and even try to remember and repeat the “3 A’s” to myself on a regular basis.

 

three-a'sThis is such a simple, easy to remember formula for something we all need, including our husbands.

  • Affection – A little touch, a hug, a back rub.  A little note on the bathroom mirror with a kiss or an “I love you.”
  • Approval – Just a simple acknowledgement for their efforts, or recognition of a talent. Something to let them know that you appreciate the things they do.
  • Attention – Give some of your precious time to the people you love most. Do something he likes, listen when he has something to share.  Giving attention can just mean being with each other, even when you’re not doing anything in particular.  Those are the times we end up having the most meaningful conversations.

I am still raising my boys, even if some of them have left the nest, and I could use the little reminders of what I can still do for my nearly grown men/sons.  But I also am grateful for these “A’s” because my husband deserves this same kind of attention.

The difference is that when I give this attention to him, I feel more like I have been uplifted also.  I need a little something at the end of each day to help me de-stress, but when I give that time to my husband, I not only build on our relationship, I also get the relaxation that I really needed, and it is even better (more relaxing) than if I had just read a book or watched TV.

He is worth it, I am worth it and our relationship is worth it.   — Laura

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My weaknesses have been known to wave their big red sparkly, you can’t miss it, flag in my face. They taunt me, torment me, and cause me to crumble at times. I’ll wonder why I can’t be stronger, more than I am. It seems to be in those moments I throw the biggest grandest pitty party that ever was.

Until last night I never thought much about the difference between my weaknesses and my sins.  I often felt as though they were the same thing.

Life has been throwing fiery darts my way the last few days.  I had felt so spiritually strong and thought my armor was on. Yet once the kids were in bed the attack came last night. I couldn’t stop it. I have come to learn that Satan attacks me worst in my own voice. He whispers, “you are not good enough, look at all the ways you are failing and not measuring up.  Just give up.” He does the most damage there in my own mind.

I was believing his lies. He was winning. I was seeing all my weaknesses as sins, and I knew I needed to go to my Father in Heaven for peace and forgiveness. In my prayer of agony I felt Him listening to my pain. Hearing my sorrow. No words came back, just a sense that He understood what I was feeling and that He was glad I came to Him in my moment of need.

I have studied many spiritual things in the last few days knowing I needed His comfort and guidance more then ever. Last night I stumbled upon this fantastic article that gave me the guidance and direction I didn’t know I was seeking. You can read it here. It’s titled It Isn’t a Sin to be Weak.

Here are the authors words on sin and weakness

We cannot simply repent of being weak–nor does weakness itself make us unclean. We cannot grow spiritually unless we reject sin, but we also do not grow spiritually unless we accept our state of human weakness, respond to it with humility and faith, and learn through our weakness to trust in God. 

We must accept our weaknesses.  Yes, and embrace all of who we are right now, flaws and all.   Continuing my study I found this gem from the Scrtiptures

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

My God-given weaknesses. How have I missed that? God does not give us sin, but he does give us weakness. He lets our imperfections be a tool, a blessing to us. He knows we need them to learn empathy, compassion and charity. If I was not weak, I would not understand others failings. I would not know sorrow, and I certainly would not feel the full measure of peace and guidance that comes from turning to the Lord. The author of the article continues

As we are meek and faithful, God offers grace–not forgiveness–as the remedy for weakness. Grace is an enabling power from God to do what we cannot do on our own–the appropriate godly remedy by which He can “make weak things become strong.”

If we had no weakness we would not need the enabling power of the atonement. His great sacrifice would be for naught.  David A Bednar put it this way

The enabling power of the Atonement strengthens us to do and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity.

Without those weaknesses we could not grow and learn and magnify all that the Lord has in store for us. So could it be that my weaknesses are the very thing that hold the greatest potential to push me beyond my natural capacity and even my own desires? What a liberating and magnificent concept.

Instead of loathing my weaknesses, I can celebrate them. I can thank them for holding hope in their hands. The next time they fly their sparkles in my face, I will take that as a cue to remember all that I have the potential to become through my Savior. –SUSAN 

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Male-&-femaileWe live in a funny world where the divide between men and women can be paper-thin, or a bitter sharp edge.

It is socially acceptable for men or women to switch traditional roles.  Lots of women do jobs that were traditionally men’s, and to be a stay home dad, while mom works, is not considered unusual.

But with all of the equality we have attained, why do we feel so divided?

So many of the sitcoms we watch show men as being foolish, silly or selfish.

When did it become socially acceptable to paint men as the fool, when the same writers wouldn’t dream of doing the same thing to women? In fact it is so prevalent, it seems like that is just part of the formula for creating a good comedy. Many contain men who are not assertive, don’t have enough drive to defend themselves against insults, and don’t have an equal loving relationship with their wives.  It may not be in all shows, but enough comedies follow this formula to make it seem to really down grade the role of the father in the home.

As women, why do we think that is funny?  Why do we put up with this type of man bashing?  Or worse, do we participate in man bashing with our friends?

As the mother of 5 sons, 3 of them adult men, I have come to an acute realization of this problem.  How can I teach my sons to be good men, if I accept or participate in the insulting of men in general? How do I not see that these are my children that are being put down? How can I build their self-esteem and allow the tearing down of their entire gender?men

I recognize that this has come about as a backlash of the days when the dumb blonde was the funny joke of the story.  As women fought back to be taken seriously, we have allowed a shift that puts us in the position that the men were in, in the days of the dumb blonde.

If we want to have value in our lives, our marriages and our families, we need to recognize a few things.

  1. Men and women are different.  We are meant to compliment each other.  We help each other by exercising our own strengths in our marriages, in work, and in all interactions with each other, and respect the opposing strengths of our opposite sex counterparts.
  2. We need each other in order to be complete.
  3. When we spend anytime laughing at, or degrading the other sex, we are hurting ourselves, just as much as someone else.

I think that the biggest reasons we demean each other is usually because there is something we are lacking in our selves, often in our self-esteem.  It would be a lot easier to accept that someone else has different talents and abilities than us, if we felt that our own limited talents and abilities are good and also important. Accepting the difference in others as having value, does not make our own offering any less valuable.

We had a discussion around the dining table in our home the other day about how men have a “nothing box” in their brains that women do not believe exist.   We all laughed and considered the concept.  Each man in my family had to think about it and agree that “yes we do have a nothing box.” This conversation was educational, and enjoyable, because we had an understanding with each other, that men and women are just different and we are all okay with that.  It’s how it is supposed to be.  There are divine purposes for the individual nature and difference in men’s brains and women’s brains. Because we all understood that, and had respect and love for each other, we were able to have a good conversation (and a good laugh) without hurting anyone’s feelings, or allowing our own feelings to be hurt.

I’d like to challenge each of you, over the next few days, to look at things you may be saying or doing that might be damaging to the nature of loved ones or friends of the opposite sex. Look at how those differences are beneficial, whether in work or family life. Why are those differences important to our society as a whole? Remember in this exercise that you have value for your strengths, and each different strength that someone else has can add to your own, creating a greater whole.   — Laura

 

PS:  Leave me a comment and let me know how the experiment went.

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Yesterday was one of those days, in the most delightful way. (In my head I sang that in a Mary Poppins’ voice) You see, I had accomplished something very minor but in the process I could see my potential for completing something very big some time in my future. I was telling my husband how excited I was to get a glimpse into the person I am becoming. I felt over the moon thrilled.

I believe when we are in line with what God has in store for us He allows us to feel those moments of happiness. Embracing His will over our own and seeing how beautiful that can feel and look like. Kind of like a heavenly pat on the back that helps to propel us forward and stay motivated.

It’s essential we recognize those fleeting moments as they never seem to last as long as we would like them to. As quickly as we start to see our potential, the gates of hell are alarmed. You see, within you is so much power and glory that the adversary will work over time in an attempt to hide your greatness from the person who has the grandest ability to do something with it, you.

Doubt can creep in. That nasty adversary knows what your weaknesses are and jabs hardest the closer you get to seeing the real you and your God-given potential.

 

Don’t you give into those doubts and fears. You have all that you need right now to continue on your path to greatness. 

 

Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you have come to a red light. What does that mean to you?  Does it mean you are stuck at that light with the inability to ever move forward?  Does it mean you are not good enough to try once the light turns green?  Does it mean something must be really wrong with you because a red light was put in your path?

Of course not. Those all seem so silly, right?  A red light is a signal given to you as a warning to stop temporarily. It’s meant as a protection to you and to others. It’s never meant to stop your progress.

Signals can be great tools to guide us and protect us while on our earthly journey. Let’s look at different ways we can utilize these tools.

Going back to my wonderful day yesterday. By the time night hit I was feeling so overwhelmingly tired. I have been fighting a cold and it has been winning. In my tired state my defenses were down. They were weakened by my exhaustion. I started to feel really bad about myself.  In that instant I was sure I wasn’t good enough and that anyone else could do more than I could. Why am I even trying?

All of those self defeating thoughts were a signal for me in two ways:

1. It was time to stop and ask myself, are any of these negatives thoughts and feelings really true?  No. They were all lies. So now it’s time to take a cue from the green light and move forward with faith. When challenged I could see those thoughts for what they were, tricks to stop me in my tracks and prevent me from moving forward. Once I recognize that then I could see…

2. I must be headed in the right direction or I wouldn’t be hit so hard. That’s right. Even your most negative self talk can be a trigger (or signal) to let you know YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT. Once you accept this fact you can thank those negative thoughts for flashing in your face reminding you that YOU ARE ENOUGH AND YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH. 

At this point you then get to release them back to their grumpy maker. How do you do that?  

  • You acknowledge that the red light was just a temporary set back and you look forward with anticipation for the light to turn green. You know it will, because it always does. 
  • You express gratitude for what the signal is teaching you. What did you learn by challenging your beliefs? Remember those negative thoughts can be turned around to be used as tools of “I am more than enough.”
  • You focus again on the feeling of an early time when you knew the path that you should take and you began. 

Remember the Heavenly pat on the back?  That fleeting moment so fully charged with an “I got this” feeling? That temporary time when you felt you could overcome the world if God but asked you to? Pull from that feeling. Take a deep breath and relive it as often as you need to. Remember where you were when you felt it, what you were doing, and what was going on around you. Let yourself go there everytime you recognize the red light signals coming at you. 

Julie Beck put it this way.

We have the Atonement in our lives. And the Savior makes up the difference for all our inadequacies and imperfections, the things we miss and regret, the things we need help doing. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and his power in our lives, will get us through the difficult journey.

The next time you start to doubt who you are remember what a gift that glorious red flashing signal is for you. Turn to the Lord and let him guide you on a path that will be more fantastic than you could ever imagine. With Him by your side all your failings and imperfections can fall unto Him and you can be propelled forward in a fashion beyond your dreams. Let the Lord make you what He will. TRUST THAT YOU ARE ENOUGH. – SUSAN

“If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived. (The Inconvenient Messiah, BYU Speeches, Feb 15, 1982)”
― Jeffrey R Holland