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Satan wants you to fail. And to feel alone. And to feel inadequate to what Someone Else has CALLED you to do.”

Sometimes as a mom or just as a human being living on this crazy earth, I start to let satan into my heart. Never intentionally. He is too subtle for that. Usually it starts with one small thought that I either feed or starve. When my senses are weak, when I’m tired or hungry. When I’m stretched to my limits. That’s when the lies come creeping in.

When I came across this article I related all to well.  It’s titled When Satan Steals your Motherhood. It’s a fantastic read and I highly recommend  it.

Everyday I have to make the decision to turn to my Heavenly Father. For if I don’t, I open the door just a crack for the influence of satan to take a stronger hold on my heart.

I have felt this recently. Since summer break our regular scripture study as a family has been very sparse. And my personal study is not what it used to be. I have noticed my frustration is greater and my kids are grumpier.

Today? It is going to be okay. Take back your motherhood. It is a gift. Listen to the life-giver, NOT the liar.”

I am again rededicating my efforts to choose God daily and by doing so I am also turning away from satan and his lies.

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that your joy might be full

 

I had the most wonderful experience last weekend.

We went to a family reunion to see some extended family members that we haven’t seen in years.  And some that we haven’t seen in months.

20150619_152112

 

 

There was just something wonderful about being with people who share the same genetics, and a lot of the same stories from over the years.
20150619_152002We could talk about Grandma who passed a few years ago and we all instantly understand.

At the same time, life has not been easy for any of us. We have all had trials. Some that have ended, and some that keep on coming (even during the reunion.)

The beauty of being with people you love, is the joy that comes from sharing what we have learned and how far we have come.  It’s funny how time can bring things into perspective.

Dad's siblings

 

I know that to my Grandma the people in this picture were the most important people in her world.  That’s how it is as a mom.  And I also believe that to her personally, the Savior is the source of a full and complete life.

It can be so easy to let the bad stuff in life get to you.  But that isn’t a part of Christ’s plan.  He said

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

 

What I came to understand through this weekend is that even though there are many trials, and the world may be full of many evils, Christ is on our side, and He wants us to —

  1. Keep his commandments so that we can have joy. John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” In a world full of challenges, true peace can only be found in Him.
  2. He expects us to watch out for each other.  John 15: 12-13 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Although we will most likely not be required to give up our lives for a friend, we should be willing to live our lives in such a way that we can help those that are struggling and to share our testimonies of Christ’s love, so that we can ease the burdens of those who are suffering.   “These things I command you, that ye love one another.”

The greatest joy in life is found through love. It can also bring heartache when those we love are suffering, but to know that Christ expects us to help each other, sometime by just being there with them, can help to ease the suffering. We should be doing all that we can to help bring joy to life, and by doing so, Christ will make up the difference and everything can eventually work out.

John 15:16:

ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Blessing will come as we put forth righteous efforts and joy can be found in Christ.

Like this reflecting pool only shows a clear reflection as long as the water is calm and undisturbed, I realize that the only way I can reflect the love of Christ to others is if I can feel his peace in me.  temple reflection pool

By paying attention to the needs of others (even if it’s just by listening), by keeping His spirit close to me through regular study and prayer, and by working hard to keep the commandments, I will not only be able to feel more joy in my life, but I may be able to reflect joy to the people who I care about.

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I sat around the table at my mother’s house listening to my children play a game. For the most part they laughed and enjoyed each other. But every once in a while I heard a tone of voice that wasn’t altogether kind or good. It made me wonder, why do my children talk like that to each other?

All at once I could recall the times I was getting after them and that same tone was coming straight from my mouth. How could I expect anything different when I was showing them the way?  My eyes were opened. If I want to truly help them I need to first model the change myself.

Gordon B Hinckley put it this way,

Children learn through gentle direction and persuasive teaching. They search for models to imitate, knowledge to acquire, things to do, and teachers to please.”

Motherhood can bring with it every single emotion all jumbled up at once. We want to give our kids the very best there is to be had and yet we fall short. This used to be so hard for me to come to grips with. But in later years I have come to learn the value in showing my kids my imperfect state.

When I make mistakes, when I fall short of who I want to be, I have the privilege of showing my children how to repent. I get to model what it means to need my Savior and fall at His feet when I fall short. I can show them how to say I’m sorry and I was wrong.

Isn’t that just as important as teaching them to speak kindly and say your prayers?

When my children leave my house as grown ups the most important thing I hope to have taught them is their need for The Savior. That no matter how hard life gets they can and should turn to Him and let Him carry their heavy burdens.

Just yesterday I had need to apologize to my children. When had been at a family reunion in Utah, our days and nights were filled with fun activities. I was so tired Saturday night I did not prepare for the sabbath day. Usually on Sunday we refrain from spending money as a way of keeping this one day special. Since we had to drive home I knew I would need to buy gas but I normally have my car stocked with food so that I wouldn’t have to buy any.

We got ready to drive thru a fast food joint. My daughter asked if she could just eat what we had in the car. She didn’t make a big fanfare about it. In fact she was very quiet about it. My heart sunk a little knowing I had put her in a position that compromised what she believed was right. As I went to order, one of my boys said he didn’t want anything. Again, he was also quiet about it. My heart wanted to burst from the beauty of the example of these people I love so much.

When we stopped for a potty break later, I hugged them both and let them know I would never put them in that position again.

And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 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.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

As I saw my children show me the way, I realized again that our mess-ups can turn into glorious lessons and new determination if we turn to the Lord and let Him show us a better way.

I pray as I learn through my mistakes I will show them how to learn through theirs. My Lord is my Savior and I am grateful He walks with me through my imperfect mothering.

19. June 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Joy
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For all our Dads who are our “Hero’s”

Have a Happy Father’s day weekend.

 

18. June 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Joy
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there are times to go out and find

 

Happiness can be elusive.

Happiness can be right there in front of you, but you don’t always see it. Sometimes you’re busy living life, being responsible and you don’t really even think about it.  But if you do stop to think about it, you’d say, “Of course I’m happy.”  Everything is going as it’s supposed to.  Life may be busy and stressful, but over all, it’s good.

Then sometimes, the limits get pushed and happiness is a lot harder to find.

 

A few years ago I went to girls camp, during a particularly stressful time of my life. It was really great because it forced me to stop worrying about all the things I was dealing with.  I was up in the mountain, enjoying cooler weather, and no cell phone service.  Just time with girls and fun leaders.  There weren’t a lot of responsibilities other than being with the girls, and having fun.

Towards the end of camp we were required to make a “flag” with writing on it, of what we “believe” personally.  We all have joint beliefs that we share as Christians, but this was a much more personal thing. We were using this time to get more in touch with the testimonies that we have developed for ourselves.  Here is a picture of the flag I made.

girls camp flag

 

It was really hard for me to make this flag.  It was drawn in sharpie. Permanent as soon as I wrote it.  There were no do-overs.  I was at a very vulnerable place in my life, a little unsure of my future.  Plus, I’m not an artist, and I didn’t know what I was going to write about.  So I chose to relax, write and draw from my heart, and I could throw it away later if I didn’t like it.

The reason I share this with you is because this flag has become one of my most valued possessions. I created it by myself, with some help of the Spirit. The sentiments in this flag are from deep inside me.

When I am feeling depressed or overwhelmed, or wondering if anything I do really matters, I can pull out this flag and remind myself of what I really believe.

What does this have to do with happiness?  It reminds me that sometimes, when happiness seems to be hiding in my life, there is usually one of two things that I need to do.

  1. I can slow down, and learn to be grateful for what I have.  Getting back in touch with my beliefs, and the gifts that God has given me.      …OR…
  2. I need to get up and do something. Starting on that long list of to do’s, just one little bit at a time. Getting out my scriptures or other sources of inspiration. Talking to people who I love about how I feel. And getting out of my comfort zone to do something I’ve been procrastinating.

Like the Lemony Snicket quote I used above.  There are times to stay put and there are times to get up and go.

In general, I am very grateful for the many blessing I have in my life.  I’m grateful for a good job, great kids, a loving husband.  And every night in my prayers, I express thanks that I have a nice home to live in, and we always have food to eat.  I guess these are the things that really matter to me most.   As long as I’m in touch with my own beliefs and I have these basics, I have the foundation for a happy life.  Everything else is just beautiful icing on the cake.

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 Yesterday I sat and visited with two of my friends who both have one baby under the age of two. We talked about toddler funness and craziness and the ups and downs of motherhood with a toddler. As they chatted I couldn’t help but think of those as the good old days.

I remember when my babies were small, and my feeling stressed out and wanting to cry when a child had a melt down in the store. But I also cherish the memory of sweet ladies whose babies were all grown. They would tell me how beautiful my children were and that I was doing a great job. Most often they would suggest that I treasure these moments because babies grow up so fast.

I found myself saying those same words yesterday. My teens are so much fun but it all seems to slip away into a void of time-sucking space. Where are those sweet chubby hands that used to hold so tight to mine? Where are those fantastic baby laughs that make the whole room smile?

Last night I sat at the table with my teens and had some very real, hard discussions.  We talked about the hard stuff life can bring, and my heart swelled with pride at the amazing people God has placed into my path. They are not my equal. At some point I didn’t even notice they surpassed me. They are better than I was and it humbles me.

As I watched this video

I couldn’t help but feel the need to slow down time. To value and love whatever stage of life I or my kids are in. To really strive to treasure what is placed before, good or bad. One sweet lady says in the video

Them years do go by in a hurry, yeah they do, don’t they”

There is good and bad in every single day, in every single phase. My mom once told me

With every phase brings something new and wonderful and usually something you don’t really love. The trick is to embrace the wonderful. And not mourn what has been left behind.”

So today I’m going to hug my teens a little longer than they would like.  And I am going to let my heart swell with love for the phase I am in.

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Finding strength in sorrowI listened to a comedian the other day who was commenting about depression. He was trying to make a point that it is normal to have chemical changes that bring ups and downs.  He was laughing about how when we feel good, we don’t try to analyze it, and figure out why we’re happy the way we do when we’re sad. We don’t get PTSD in reverse, and laugh years later because a puppy licked us.  The point he was trying to make is how silly he thought that it is for people to try to over analyze every time they feel sad.

I’m not sure I agree with this man’s beliefs, but the way he looks at the world, and our ups and downs, certainly caught my attention.

In the Book of Mormon, Nephi said

My heart hath been weighed down with sorrow from time to time”

Lehi, in speaking to Jacob said

…thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow.”

Sorrow and sadness do come up from time to time.  Sometimes there is a reason for the sadness.  Sometimes it is just a buildup of a lot of little things.  Sometimes it really is just a chemical reaction in our brains.

I know that I have seen my share of sorrow in my lifetime.  I have attended far too many funerals. I’ve heard so many sad stories of tragedies that have happened to friends and loved ones.  And I have lived through the effects of divorce and the fallout that comes with it. The sadness and despair return every time one of my children shows signs of suffering as a result of coming from a broken family.

I consider myself an optimist, but that doesn’t free me from the effects of sorrow in the world.

When I watched the “Two Brothers Two” video  that I spoke of a few weeks ago, I remember Sam saying that when you love other people, and they suffer, it opens you up to feeling that sadness also.

This is the type of sadness I have been feeling lately. I can handle my own suffering, but it is hard to see other people, especially people who I love, suffering.

When reading the Book of Mormon last night with my kids, as we read about Jacob’s suffering (see the quote above) it was followed with a special promise.  Lehi said

thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.”

I sighed a little reading that and asked my kids what they thought that meant.  My 17-year-old spoke up, “Of course he consecrates our affliction to our gain, because every time I have difficulties or a problem, I have to work to find a solution, and grow when that happens.  I love a challenge when I can learn something.” You gotta love his attitude.

When they went to bed and I had time to contemplate my most recent bought of melancholy, I found that I had learned something from this challenge, just as my son says that he does.

The sadness I was feeling was coming from empathy for a few loved ones who are currently suffering their own challenges.  Because I love them, I feel for their suffering.

If I could, I would take their suffering onto myself, so that they wouldn’t hurt so much.

And in a way, I may have been able to do just a little bit of that.

When I was going through my own biggest challenge, the dissolution of my marriage, I had several friends who talked with me, listened to me, suffered with me and cried with me.  Mostly they were just there for me when I needed friends more than ever. What they did may have seemed small to them, but to me it meant the whole world. They got me through a challenge that I didn’t think I could get through on my own. And I wasn’t on my own. The support of friends and family made all the difference.

So now that I’m on the other end, and I hear about the suffering of people who I love, I have a choice to make.

  1. I can ignore it, and go on with my life, saving myself from the sorrow and suffering, or
  2. I can empathize with them.  I can feel for them, and cry with them.  Most of all I can try to be there for them.

During that day, I had talked to one friend on the phone, and messaged other friends and loved ones.  We’d had some meaningful conversations, and I felt connections with them, as they related different struggles in their lives.

I realized that I would gladly take on the pain and sadness of the people I care about, if it would help them to feel less pain.

As I contemplated the conversations I’d had that day with these loved ones, I think that sharing of feelings is just what happened.  Knowing how it helped me in my time of need, I hope that maybe I helped someone else.

When I realized that I have a choice, to take on the pain and suffering with another of God’s children through exercising empathy, I felt a sense of relief. I was glad to be able to feel with another.

I chose to suffer this day with those that I love. As a result, that pain became consecrated. The sadness now has meaning, if it gives comfort in any small way to someone else.

Now that I feel that my sorrow has meaning, I wouldn’t give it away for the world.  This is a way that I can show love to people I care about.

I’m grateful for the opportunity that I gained yesterday, in learning the value of shared sorrow. This experience certainly has taught me something, just like my sweet son told me it would. — Laura

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  Sticky faces from otter pops, swimming in the pool, basketball games, sleeping in, silly faces, and late night movies snuggled on the couch. 

   
 I love all of those things!  But what I adore the most is spending my time with my little people. It doesn’t matter what we do. I used to think summer had to be filled with big exciting adventures. I have come to greatly love and value the day to day moments just being together. Listening to them talk about their world. Watching them laugh and enjoying each other.   

When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us.” Dieter F Ucthdorf

My kids seem to cherish the now. I hear them say things like “this is the best day ever” when it seemed to be a very average day. 

The coming weeks while I have them with me I want to see the limitless enjoyment to be had. I desire to let their love of life burn like a fire in me as well. I feel the pains of them growing older and soon moving on.  

 

My oldest will be a senior and within the year he will be moving into adulthood and all that comes with growing up.   
 When they were younger I couldn’t wait until the were a little older. No more diapers no more long nights. And now I feel the sadness of wishing those days away. 

Enjoy the little things in life, because one day you will look back, and realize they were the big things.  

Laura and I were talking earlier today and we both have this same pull to spend more time playing with our kids while they are still under our roof. We might not be posting as much but know it’s cause we are out enjoying the game. 

Or splashing in the pool.  

I’m currently working on a basketball birthday cake for my sons 9th birthday  

while also preparing for a surprise party for my teenagers friend. 

Won’t you join us as we strive to breath in the very essence of the now.-SUSAN

08. June 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Hope
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Miracles are…

A nose bleed that wouldn’t end. A hike that was too hard to continue. Sweltering heat. A lost key. A broken car. Sickness. A rain storm.  That was girls camp. Miracles that were at first disguised as trials.

We embarked on a three-day, two-night backpacking trip. I’ve never done anything like that before, and I was to help lead 25 girls age 15. I was nervous but I found strength knowing we were doing this to help inspire these girls and show them that with God’s help they could do hard things.

My attempt at a selfie with some of the girls.  

Months of planning went into this trip to try to make it run as smoothly as possible.  So when we had a hiccup before we even got started I wasn’t sure what to think.

We were going to leave our car parked at our dinner destination for the second day. In it we had water and food. That way the girls had a little less they had to carry. But the car we planned on leaving was leaking antifreeze and so a quick car switch was in order. The problem was my car was to now be the car drop and I didn’t have a second set of keys. We decided I would take my key fob with me and one of the other leaders would go park the car leaving the key inside.  Ok problem solved. So we thought.

The first day went pretty smoothly. It was hard work. The terrain was rough and yet these amazingly beautiful 15-year-old girls never complained. It was hot. Their feet hurt and yet they were doing it.

We stopped for a break and had what they called DEAR time. Drop everything and read. They pulled out scriptures and absorbed the words within. I watched them strive to invite God into their hearts as we were in His majestic nature. It was inspiring and I felt privileged to be their leader.

We reached our destination for day one and made up camp. The girls laughed and chatted. I shared my devotional about superheros. And I truly felt the spirit testify to me that these girls are beloved daughters of God. I saw them through Gods eyes for just one moment.

It wasn’t until the morning that I noticed we might have a problem. One of our girls has some health issues. I stayed with her during the first day, and I was so amazed at her ability to push through and do this hard hike. But that second morning you could see it had taken a heavy toll on her body. She was the last to wake up and she had a hard time getting started. Every step she took seemed labored. She stopped frequently. And yet she kept pointing out the beauty all around us. I didn’t see the little caterpillar we passed or the amazing view until she pointed them out to me.

By the time we reached our lunch destination it became evident she would not be able to continue. She and I got to stay in front so that she could set the pace for the girls. And her slow pace concerned us leaders that we would not get to camp until it was very dark.

I pulled this sweet girl aside and explained that we were going to have to take her back to camp because we were concerned about her health. She looked like she was going to cry. I felt so bad for her and yet I explained that she should look how far she had come. What she had done was a huge accomplishment.  Just months before she was bedridden and now she had just hiked several miles, And yet I still saw the sadness in her eyes. We agreed that she would be driven back at night to join us for s’mores and sleeping, and then she could hike the last little bit into camp with us. And that seemed to help.

The hardest part of the hike was after lunch. It was all up hill with very little shade. Before we left a prayer was said that our packs would seem lighter and that the hike would not seem too hard. Shortly after we began that rough mile and a half, a cool breeze began to brush our faces and cool our necks. It was just a little thing, but I could feel God pushing us forward. We made amazing time now that we could increase our pace and the girls literally felt the way become easy for them. I heard a few girls say “that didn’t seem as hard as I thought it would be.”

Here we are after one of the hardest parts  

We finally made it to our camping spot for the night only to discover someone else had already made it their spot. The made went out to scout for a new spot and nothing comfortable was to be had. We settled for a very sloped spot that smelled like skunk and was populated by bees and ants. There was also no place for a fire pit. It was going to be a rough night yet we didn’t see any other choice.

My car was parked about a 1/4 of a mile up the road, and I took off with another leader to go get it. When we got there we couldn’t find my key that was supposed to be left inside. We had 20 lbs of water and our dinner and breakfast in the car. That was going to be a long walk back to the campsite. I prayed and prayed in my heart that we would know what to do.  The only feeling that came was the urge I suddenly had to pee. I hiked a little ways from the car and discovered the perfect hidden campsite, it was grassy with a fire pit in the middle. It was surrounded by tall pine trees and the night sky was visible from where we could sleep.

The broken down car and the lost key all of a sudden felt like a huge blessing.

Our sweet girl who had to go back to camp joined us just in time for s’mores and a devotional. We were so excited to see her sweet face with us again.

The morning brought with it new trials. Our young friend who had struggled had to struggle again. Her nose began to bleed. And bleed and bleed. We had a doctor with us and he was very concerned for her. He told her she again could not continue on with us. My heart hurt for her. I couldn’t yet see the blessings this would bring her.

Shortly after we made it back to camp, I noticed this young woman had made friends with a girl who had special needs. They seemed so happy together, and I was a little surprised to notice they had not been friends before. They spent the rest of the camp glued to the hip. Her hardship brought her a new BFF.

Dark clouds rolled in and cooled off the campsite. What a blessing it waited for us to get back to camp before the rain storm started.

As the day wore on I began to feel very sick. My biggest concern is that I wasn’t going to be able to teach my devotional that night. Again I had need to pray for help. Just moments before I found the relief I was seeking. And the moment I was done with my devotional my stomach began to hurt again. I was given exactly what I needed at the precise time I needed it.

Miracles are not only found in the spectacular awe-inspiring moments that come very rarely into our lives. Miracles are simply the hand of God in our daily lives.  They can be seen if we choose to open our eyes and allow God to show them to us. –SUSAN

05. June 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Joy
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Father’s day is coming

With kids out of school for the summer, it’s time to start working on great home-made father’s day gifts. I’m sharing some of my favorite ideas that any family can pull together in time for Father’s day.  June 21st, put it on your calendar.

Here are my top 7 reason to celebrate dad.  (click on each picture for project instructions from the source)

Number 7 – because Dad is a superhero 

dad-7

 


Number 6 – because we loves when Dad BBQ’s

Dad-6

dad-6a


Number 5 – because Dad deserves extra kisses (and chocolate)

dad-5


Number 4 – because we love you, Dad

dad - 4

 


Number 3 – because Dad is our problem solver

dad-3


Number 2 – because Dad deserves to enjoy a little of what he loves (if it’s baseball)

dad-2

 


Number 1 – because Dad is the best and deserves a day of pampering and love from his favorite kids

Now you are ready to get going in preparing the best Happy Father’s day ever, for that special man in your life.