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lessons-from-crayonsThis week will be the anniversary of when my best friend Kathie lost her fight with cancer.  My life would never be the same after knowing her. As I was doing laundry today I was reminded of her.

One day, she called me crying.  She had pulled a load of laundry out and had found bright red stains all over her freshly cleaned clothes.

Kathie had a teenage daughter, and it turned out the daughter had left a lipstick in the pocket of her pants when she threw them into the laundry.

Kathie was so upset with herself for not checking the pockets before doing the laundry. It made her feel like a failure as a mom.  She cried “this wouldn’t have happen to you, you would have checked the pockets and done the laundry perfectly”

It turns out my husband at the time had been telling her how great I was, and she felt for sure that I wouldn’t make that kind of mistake.

I had to break the news to her and let her know about my own true life laundry horror story.

When the kids were little, I pulled clothes out of a dryer and found multiple colors of melted crayon all over ALL OF THE CLOTHES.  I thought they were ruined for sure. I didn’t check pockets before throwing my laundry in. I assume one of my kids left crayons in little pockets.  I’m pretty sure that after the initial shock, I cried that whole day.  I felt totally stupid.

Fortunately I wasn’t so upset that I couldn’t tell the story to my neighbor.

Being brave enough to share my shameful moment, saved my clothes from the trash. The friend I shared with didn’t judge me or laugh at me. She felt with me and told me I could contact “Crayola” for instructions on getting the stains out.

They didn’t laugh at me either.  They did however share with me their “recipe” for removing crayon stains that get set in from the dryer.  It turns out I’m not the first person whose had this happen to them.

It took several hours and some new cleaning techniques but I saved the clothes.  However I didn’t learn my lesson well enough, to check little pockets before throwing them into the washer.

It happened again a few years later.  And I felt stupid all over again, times 2.

Once Kathie heard my story, I wasn’t sure what she thought, but she seemed to feel better.

Eventually we became the best of friends and she realized that I’m normal, and normal means I make mistakes too.

It’s kind of funny and a little sad that we, as women, tend to judge ourselves so harshly against the perceived best of other women.  Especially after a hard day, like the one Kathie had.

Why do we assume other people are perfect when we struggle?

I think it is natural to look at others and admire their strengths, but I think it becomes damaging when we assume that someone else is “better than” us.

Of course we each have our strengths, and are better at certain things than others.  My friend Sarah makes better cookies than I do.  Susan is a much better photographer than I am.  Theresa throws the best parties around. Possessing different talents doesn’t mean that any one of us is less important.  No one is “better than” another.  We are just all different.

While we each have different talents we also each have our own struggles in life, but everyone deserves to be loved and accepted.

When we realize that we are each a child of God, accepting that He loves each of us, all while fully knowing our imperfections and our weaknesses, we should be able to give ourselves permission to be human.  God sent his son to us, and the gift of the atonement is real, and the very thing that allows us to make up for the mistakes that we will all inevitably make. Using the atonement and repentance when necessary is what will take away the feeling of “unworthiness” or “not good enough.”

We are all worthy of love and belonging. We belong to God’s family and His love is unconditional. But we also belong to friends and family right here.

Once we stop judging ourselves against the imagined perfect life (whether someone else’s or the one we think we should have) only then can we truly begin to live and love and engage with those friends and family who probably could use some connection themselves also.

Please enjoy this video and pay attention to the way Tiffany points out that we are all lacking or broken in some way, but we can be “enough” with Jesus on our side.

Be good to yourself today, you deserve it.

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My children are my most precious gifts.  I almost wrote possessions, but I don’t really own them.  They are free spirits, each so unique and different, and each one reacts to life’s challenges differently.  My oldest is a typical oldest.  He wants to be good and does what he is asked.  He tends to not toe the line or not go too far from what we expect and hope for him.  Some of my other children are line pushers.  They need to test the world out for themselves.  Sometimes that means they need to fall hard to learn a lesson.  My word is not enough for complete understanding at times, and they need to test things out for themselves.

This is one of the reasons I believe so strongly that we need to set up boundaries for our kids to help protect them from the scary world they can at times be exposed to, the images they will see and the things they will be exposed to in this computer/personal device driven world we now live in.  I understand I can’t control everything that will influence them, but I can sure do my best to set up safety precautions that will.

Over a year ago I wrote about the importance of communication with our children and how to help them look away when they are exposed to the less than desirable and the down right horrible. You can find that article here. I believe open communication is the most important tool we have to help protect our kids against both pornography and difficult situations.

When my children were still young I got my first cell phone.  I was slow to the game and it took me many more years to get a smart phone.  I could not imagine at the time the world it would open.  It wasn’t until I worked with some youth of my church, my kids didn’t have their own devices at this point, that I learned how devastating the effects of both social media and pornography could be on these young developing minds.  Ryan and I decided at this point that we needed to set our kids up for success.  When they would get their first smart phones or when they would have access to computers or iPads, they would be kept as safe as we could keep them.

The tutorials below show some of what I have learned over the years.  I will add more tutorials as I make them.

In this first video I show how to set up parental controls on an iPhone or iPad.  I have been very pleased with Apple’s controls.

This next one is how to set up controls on Google.  This can be done on any personal device or computer.  It’s not 100% and I still am a firm believer that family computers should be set out in the open and children should never be allowed unattended screen time, either in their rooms or when no one is home.  We have a very protected password, and my kids know the moment I leave the house the computer is locked down.

I don’t allow my kids to have social media, but if you do, heck even if you have an Instagram, I discuss some of the things to be aware of and much of it applies to Facebook as well.  I will be adding a tutorial on that at a later time

This last one is how to set up safe search on YouTube.  It’s very simple to do, and although not 100%. I am happy it’s available.

I am an Apple girl.  I love my computer, my IPhone and iPad.

For those who use android and other devices, I have found these links for you and they look rather helpful.  I had no idea you could set up separate accounts on an android phone just like you would on a home computer.  That would be great for when you are handing off to a small child.

How to set up parental controls on Android smartphones and tablets

Quick Guide: Parental Controls for Android Devices

5 Best Free Parental Control Apps for Android

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I laid in bed struggling to want to do anything. Today I just felt like a failure, and I was confused by the feeling. Just the day before I felt confident and strong, yet in one swift moment I felt the world crash down on me as if I had been hit by a train. One minute confident, the next insecure and second guessing everything I’m doing.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

I have come to know with great confidence two things.

First, God is real. He is close by me even when I don’t recognize it. His ways are greater than mine, and when I trust him my whole world is more peaceful. He is the reason I have all that is good in my life. I believe that with all my heart.

Second, Satan is just as real. For all the good and hope God brings, Satan strives to bring the opposite. Despair, failure, sadness, anger. He doesn’t really care which emotion will bring me down as long as it does. He only has the power that I give him.

What do I do when I believe his lie, the one that says I’m not enough?  How do I rise above and come back to trusting my God who loves and brings peace?

Yesterday my 17-year-old son read this talk to me. I highly recommend reading it when you have the time. Here is an excerpt I thought was especially helpful.

A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I help you?”

She said, “I just don’t get grace.”

I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”
She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”
She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.

She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”

She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.

Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference. Jesus makes all the difference. Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”

Seeing that she was still confused, I took a piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line. How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”
She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.

I said, “Wrong.”

She said, “I knew it was higher. I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”

I said, “No. The truth is, there is no line. Jesus filled the whole space. He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

She said, “Right! Like I don’t have to do anything?”

“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”

Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection (see Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48) and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 2 Nephi 2:7; 3 Nephi 9:20).

“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked. “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”

“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”
Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Transform Us” Brad Wilcox

Satan’s lie is that when we do our best, our very best, (otherwise interpreted to mean when we are perfect) that is when the atonement steps in. But the truth is my Savior atoned for all of my short-comings and failings. All of them. Not just some of them or when I finally feel like I have laid it all on the line. Brad explained that so wonderfully. We keep trying, we fall short, again. And then we get up and keep trying. That’s all He asks of us. So when the lie that you’re not enough comes crawling back in, remember who paid the ultimate sacrifice and strive to hear His voice, the one that tells you you truly are more than enough, better than you think you are.

Susan

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Spring time is my very favorite. It’s starting to get warm without being hot. The rain is light when it comes and is always appreciated. Excitement about summer plans are beginning to grow. Soft colors are coming out in my wardrobe. And then there is always spring cleaning.

This year however I started to think about the spring cleaning of my emotional life instead.  What beliefs or habits is it time I parted ways with? What should I take to the dump and just leave there?  Are their beliefs that are cluttering up my mind causing chaos?  Are there things I am constantly tripping over that I haven’t been ready to get rid of but now I see it’s simply necessary in order for me to feel a greater sense of calm and peace?

For years and years I have struggled, deeply agonized even, over feelings of being inadequate and not enough. As a recovering perfectionist, I think that’s normal. But the more I talk openly with other women, I see it might just be a common theme among many of us.

My spring cleaning needed to begin right here. It was time for me to let go of the clutter, the trash, the lie, that I was not enough, so that I could fill my spiritual home with peace and purpose.

These feelings had prevented me from feeling peace. They had kept me from doing things I had wanted to do but was too afraid to fail. I would often see my failings above my successes.  I never felt like I was getting closer to who I wanted to be because I was only seeing how far I still had to go.

I could see the damage this was causing. I was “tripping over” it daily, and I knew it was time to move forward and throw this lie out. But how?

Just like cleaning house, the first step is to access what needs attention and then coming up with a plan. For me I knew this was my biggest stumbling block. But I had held onto it for so long, I didn’t even know where to begin.

For months I have been chipping away at this and my story is long (I need to write it in a book).

For me the first step was to go to the Lord and seek His guidance. Asking Him to guide me on my journey and then continue to move forward expecting His help.

One Sunday I sat in church reflecting on my Savior’s Atonement. I thought about His love and sacrifice for me. He was perfect. He is perfect. And like a ray of warm bright sun filling my heart, I understood a little more fully, because my Savior is perfect, with Him I am enough.

Even when I fall short, because of His sacrifice, I am enough.

Even when I mess up and make mistakes, I am enough.

Even when I’m in the middle of learning and growing and haven’t made it as far as I want to go, with Him I truly am enough.

And for the first time I began to actually believe the statement that I am enough right now, in this very moment.

There have been many other experiences where I have seen God’s hand as He has been trying to teach me this principle. Just this morning I came across this scripture “if the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.”  Notice its doesn’t say if they perfectly accomplish all they desired or if they accomplished everything they wanted to in their hearts then they were restored to good.

It’s based upon our desires for good.

I want to be a better mom, but I fall short more than I desire. I desire to serve more and give more in ways that are just not possible at this time in my life. I want to always be patient and kind and loving towards everyone. I truly desire that. But I mess up,  I make mistakes. And yet my desires are still good.

I am enough when my desires are good. I am enough when I mess up. And all of that is the Plan of God. That we remember what the Savior has done for us that we may eventually be made perfect in Him. And for now, in our sins and weaknesses, we are still enough.

What could use a little spring cleaning in your emotional life?

Susan

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Do you ever wonder how to best show love for the ones who truly love you?  It’s one of those things I ponder over and struggle with. Am I giving in a way they are understanding?  Do they understand the deep emotions I feel in my heart?

I read the book 5 Love Languages many years ago and had all of my children and husband take the quiz. It was interesting to notice how completely different all 8 of us are in regards to receiving and giving love. From great hugs to a well thought out gift, it means something different to each of us.

If you have not read it I highly recommend it. As a quick overview the 5 different love languages are

  1. Acts of service
  2. Gifts
  3. Quality time
  4. Words of affirmations
  5. Physical touch

This adorable video is a sweet sum up of the Love Languages.

I thrive on words of affirmation and quality time.  For someone to take the time to be with me and then also express some sort of heart-felt emotion through words that lets me know they care in huge abundance. When I want a person to know how much they mean to me, I tend to tell them so. That comes naturally. I try to always tell people when I appreciate something they are doing. It’s my way of letting them know they are awesome.

As I was studying an old talk from Neal L Maxwell this morning I got to wondering, how do I show love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior?  Can love languages play a part here as well?

My conclusion…absolutely. But am I taking the time every single day to show my God, who has given me everything, how much I love Him?

The one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision every day” Gary Chapman

Then I got to wondering, what am I currently doing to show that love?

When I take time to kneel in prayer and pour out my soul in gratitude, I am expressing my love and thanksgiving through time and words.

When I immerse myself in the words of God, I’m letting His love fill my heart and soul. And I’m also showing Him that I understand that He is worth my time.

Studying for and then delivering a lesson at church on Sunday shows my willingness to serve Him even though it might take away from things I would rather be doing.

But I know that’s not enough and I can give more.

When ye are in the service of your fellow being ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17

I can be aware of those around me who need something I can offer. Either time or service or a little note that says I care. I can lend a listening ear, take a friend to lunch or just offer a much-needed embrace.

Never will I be able to show Him the same kind of love He offers to me. The beauty of a perfect God is that He does know and understand what we feel in our hearts, and He sees our efforts. When we wonder if we are giving enough, we can always pray to know “what lack I yet?” What can I do more to show my love and devotion today?

The next question that came to my mind was, how do I feel God’s love for me?  It would seem to make sense that I would feel it through His words and time. But He is not going to hang out with me on my rough days, siting by my side telling me all I need to hear. Or does He?

I can recall a time when I was really struggling. I just felt so down and hopeless. The things I was dealing with felt too heavy for me to bear. I wanted to feel enveloped by my Savior’s love, but I just didn’t know what to do.

And then I heard a knock on my door. It was an older woman from church. She sat on my sofa and let me cry. She listened and understood in a way that was unique to her, because she had been through what I was currently going through. She offered wisdom that can only come with time, and when she left I went in prayer with thanksgiving. I knew God had sent her to me in my hour of need. He did not send her to give me service or a gift, because that isn’t how I feel love. But He sent her there to offer me her time and give me comfort through her words.

That was a rare occasion that I will always cherish. I believe more often I feel my Savior’s love when I read His words and they speak to my heart. Or when I take the time to really listen in prayer. Sometimes it will come through the love of another, as in my example above.

I do wonder how someone with a different love language hears and feels God’s love. If gifts is your love language, do you feel His love as you see the many gifts He has given you?

If acts of service are how you see His love for you, do you feel an abundance of love when He sends someone to your home to help with something you are struggling with?

What I do know is this, He loves us each more than we will ever be able to understand in this life. And He knows us each individually and is able to show that love in a way we will be able to understand, but we need to look for it and express gratitude when we see it. It is all around us.

Today maybe you will feel impressed to send a note or a thoughtful gift to someone you love. And maybe, just maybe, God is using you as a means to show His love for them as well. Susan

If you are interested in the book you can buy it here.

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I slept in Saturday. Longer than normal. You see my kids are finally old enough to take care of themselves, and they were content to let me be. When I finally did wake up, all I wanted was to go on a hike with my people. But instead I continued to be lazy and laid in bed even longer. I started to feel really sluggish and just kind of grumpy. It’s weird how too much sleep can have the same effect as not enough sleep.

Then the thoughts of “I’m not a good mom” crept in, and all I wanted to do was eat candy while laying in bed watching a movie.

Sound familiar to anyone?


It’s a battle I fight, wondering if I am failing or not doing enough or becoming enough. I win some days. And I lose others. But I do keep fighting. I am determined to figure this out that I may teach my daughters and one day my granddaughters how to love who they are, in any situation.

So what is a person supposed to do when inadequacies seem to be staring her in the face? How do we overcome such intense negative emotions?

Here are 5 tips that can help you begin to love yourself.

1st-I have found it to be helpful to delay thinking about the negative. When I’m in a funk is the worst time to analyze what I’m doing right and wrong and how I need to change. It’s never productive or actually helpful. I seem to dig a deeper hole that takes longer to get out of. So instead, I try to involve myself in something else. Change the room I’m in, leaving the house if I have to. Read a book. Talk with a friend. Saturday I went on a bike ride by myself. When I came home the negative emotions were gone and the delay tactic seemed to work.

But then it came back Sunday afternoon, and I had no idea why. The voices came back, and I started to really believe I wasn’t enough. Now what you ask?

2nd- Here is the best tactic I have. The one I sometimes forget about and wait too long to do, pray and study my scriptures and other worthy and uplifting material. Asking my Heavenly Father to show me either His love for me or to show me my worth in His eyes.

When I am sincerely asking for His help, He guides me to the words I need to hear, right when I need to hear them. This morning it came quickly. Other times I have to search a little longer, but I have come to trust that He wants to help me but He can’t until I put my faith in Him.

“To lack confidence is to have feelings of low self-worth. We are preoccupied with our weaknesses, and we lack faith in the Lord’s ability to use those weaknesses for our good. We do not understand our inestimable worth in the eyes of God, nor do we appreciate our divine potential. Ironically, both pride and a lack of self-confidence cause us to focus excessively on ourselves and to deny the power of God in our lives.” Glenn L. Pace

I self-righteously can let myself think that I’m not good enough because I’m not trying hard enough. I profess to have faith in God but I forget Him when I am holding a pity party for one. In those moments I’m not trusting that He will teach me how to use my weaknesses. I’m simply feeling sorry for myself that I have weaknesses. I’m not seeing a daughter of God who is full of potential. I am parked in a spot of stubbornness feeling like I’ll never be able to change.

The problem with that line of thinking is that I take God out of the equation. I forget that I am His daughter, capable of more than my finite imagination can comprehend.

We are the children of God, and as His children there is no attribute we ascribe to Him that we do not possess, though they may be dormant or in embryo.” George Q Cannon

3rd- Trust the people who love you. My children are so loving. I have asked them in the past,”What do you think I do well?” Their answers can be funny and often bring me to tears. They remember the things I have forgotten. My husband seems to have blinders to my weaknesses, and if I ask him he is more than willing to tell me why I really am doing not just ok but fantastic.

When I am in a good place emotionally and spiritually I have taken the time to write down the things I believe I am good at. I made a voice memo on my phone where I recorded those statements. That was actually very difficult for me since I don’t love hearing my voice, but it has been more powerful than I even hoped. I made sure I only made statements I truly believed. So when I am feeling down, I can listen to and trust my own voice telling me why I really am doing ok.

4th- Another action I will try at times is to just let it be a bad day. I’ll tell myself, “I am having a bad moment” and then I will let that moment simply be. I won’t try to do anything with it. Just recognize that this one moment stinks and that I won’t always feel this way. The very hardest times for me are when I worry I will feel the way I do forever.

“Most people never fulfill their human promise and potential because they remain perpetually helpless children overwhelmed by a sense of inferiority. The feeling of being okay does not imply that the person has risen above all his faults and emotional problems. It merely implies that he refuses to be paralyzed by them.” Dr. Thomas Harris

What a fantastic statement. Refuse to be paralyzed by your faults. I will be writing that on my mirror later today.

5th- Utilizing my journal is one I am not very good at yet but am determined to get better. Writing down the good experiences so that when I can no longer feel the intensity of those powerful moments I can look back and be reminded that times can be good, so very, very good.

“With the help of the scriptures, words of the prophets, and personal revelation, we gradually come to an awareness of our true nature and destiny. Once we grasp this reality, we can obtain the faith to move forward and overcome any obstacle standing in our way of fulfilling our foreordained destiny–including the obstacle of feelings of low self-worth.” Glen L Pace

I feel the gradual awareness coming into my life of who I am and who I can eventually become. It hasn’t come as quickly as I would hope, but it has come line upon line, teaching me greater empathy for others along the way. Susan

If you loved the quotes as much as I did you can find the full article I took them from here.

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It’s that time of year again where we start to reflect on who we are compared to who we want to be.  Our dreams and aspirations come to the forefront of our mind and we begin to wonder if this will be the year we finally figure it out.

At least that’s how I feel. Will this be the year I finally lose those 10 lbs, write my book, or become super present with my kids?

I am big on goals.  Over the years though I have come to see how goals work and don’t work for me. Saying I want to be skinnier never gets me there. But by coming up with a simple easy plan I am much more likely to achieve that.

Back in March I shared one way to make goals work for you. A system that uses post-it notes. You can find that back here.  Laura shared about the importance of dreaming back here.

Today however I want to focus on unbecoming.

unbecoming small

Maybe the journey really isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so that you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

For a long time I have let my fears get the best of me. Fear of failure. Fear that I might make a huge mistake while trying something new, so I fail to even try. I don’t believe this is who I really am, a person filled with fear, Not really. It’s something I picked up along the way, and I have been working to unbecome afraid so that I may become more of who I was meant to be.  I desire to be more ok with failing from time to time because I recognize that is the path to success.

About a month ago Laura and I were talking about this very concept. We were discussing our fears and how they hold us back. I realized it was time I did something about it. Took the bull by the horns as they say. We thought of crazy things that scared us, like skydiving. We laughed and said “if we could do those things I’m sure that would help us overcome other fears” and then my mind latched onto this idea. I had to go skydiving. Not because it’s been on my bucket list (in fact I always thought people were crazy for wanting to do that) but because I really felt conquering one fear would give me the momentum to conquer other fears as well.

I spent the next several days stewing over this idea. I could tell it was a turning point for me. If I decided not to go it was evidence to me that fear was in control. But if I decided to go forward with it I would be given the confidence that I could do the things that scare me. So I decided to jump.

It was kind of surreal and I had no idea what I was missing. I made a real effort to be present and take in every single moment. Skydiving was the funnest thing I have ever done. Had I let my fear win I would have never known that.

When I was getting suited up for the jump my instructor said “the scariest part is simply the unknown” and so I began to wonder what else I could do. What have I been too afraid to do because I didn’t know how to do it or I didn’t know what it would look like or feel like?

I’m now working on a project I hope I can share with you in the next six months. It’s something I was too afraid to do in the past but now I’m looking it straight in the eye.

I don’t think everyone needs to jump out of a plane to start unbecoming all of the things they aren’t. Let me give you a simpler way. Something I have found to be very useful.

First you need to IMAGINE.  I usually began this process with a prayer asking for guidance from a God who knows me and loves me and knows exactly what I need. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you wish you could do if there were no limits. Every single idea that comes to your mind put it on that paper.  Don’t judge yourself for your aspirations. Don’t worry about how you would make it happen just let your mind dream. Now think of the person you want to become. Do you want to be more patient, more kind? More giving, more faithful?  Again, don’t think of how you are not currently these things and don’t allow whatever self talk in. This is a time for dreaming and hoping.

Now set that piece of paper aside for the rest of the day. Before you go to bed add anything else you might have thought of.

The next day look at your list again. Read it through a few times. Now circle just one thing you want to do and one thing you want to become. The one that screams at you. Either it’s the scariest or the easiest. It could be the one that looks the most fun or the one you know you need the most. Listen to your inner voice and allow God to guide you in this process.  He knows what would be the very best thing for you to work on.

Two goals. If all you did this next year was accomplish those two goals, would it be worth it? I hope you are shouting out ABSOLUTELY!

Write those two goals in statements. For example: I will lose 10 lbs by May 1st. I will take my family to Hawaii by Dec 2016.

Now that you have established your two goals, you get to come up with a next action step. What is the very first step you need to take to become the person you want to be and do the things you have always wanted to do?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

If I want to lose 10 lbs do I need to join a gym first or look at my eating first?  I believe goals become overwhelming when we think of all that needs to be done before we can achieve them. So just think of the very first step. If you decide to join a gym then commit to when you are going to do that.

Here is the important part. Celebrate your victory and let that momentum move you into your next step. Now that you have joined a gym, are you going to hirer a trainer or look on Pinterest for workout ideas?

You never look farther than your next step. That way you are constantly feeling your progress instead of looking at how far you need to go. I like to use the post-it system I mentioned here because you get to see the progress you have made. If you are visual like I am, it really helps.

Are you ready to unbecome the things you aren’t so that your true self can finally shine through?  It’s as easy as taking one step at a time. Susan

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The best gifts are time & loveIt’s the week before Christmas and all through the town, it seems like there isn’t a soul in their home.  People and cars and traffic and stores, rushing and hustling in one big frantic blur…

We’re down to the wire. Just a few more days to make sure that we spend as much money as necessary to make sure that Christmas is memorable to our family.  But is it really getting that perfect “toy” that makes Christmas special?

I saw this commercial for Ikea, and was truly touched by the sentiment, and honesty of the people in this experiment.

I’m grateful for the fact that we don’t have to go without and we can give gifts to others to let them know we are thinking of them, but what is the most meaningful thing we can give?  It is the thing that is often most precious.  Our time. Time spent together is something we just don’t get enough of in a world filled with so much technology and busyness.

As I’m rushing to finish my Christmas preparations, I have chosen to make time together a bigger priority than shopping.

What are the brightest Christmas memories that you have from your childhood?  Mine were not necessarily the gifts (unless they were unexpected and I knew that a sacrifice was made for them.)  My most memorable Christmases were the things that we did together as a family. Reading the Christmas story and acting it out on Christmas eve. (Susan was Mary and put her cabbage patch doll in her shirt that fell out as she walked) We talked and laughed and enjoyed each other.  There were many Christmases where we included other members of the family, traveling to Grandmas, or having cousins over to celebrate together. There were times we went to sing at a nursing care facility to people who didn’t get to have family with them for Christmas.

My presents to my kids this year were plane tickets to come home for Christmas, and other adventures to do together while they are here.  The best part of Christmas for them is the ability to spend time with each other.

The most meaningful Christmas activity we can all do is attending Church together and take time to have family discussions about Christ, the atonement, and the gift of the Father sending His only begotten son to earth. As the angels sang at the first Noel, celebrating “Now, all is well”, we can welcome the spirit of Christmas into our homes by reading and singing and sharing our feelings and testimony of the greatest gift ever given, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Our time on this earth is a gift from God, and we don’t know how much of it we will get.  Giving that time to family and friends at this season truly can be the best gift of all.

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The thought that someone we love is doing something special for us—and our excitement about the special thing we are planning to do for them—warms our hearts and fills us with love and anticipation. Add to this the glimmering lights, the delightful decorations, the sublime scenes of Christ’s birth, and it’s no wonder Christmas is such a beloved time of year.” Dieter Ucthdorf

Beloved! Yes, that is the best description and my sentiments exactly.  But what happens when the worry, the stress and the frazzle of it all starts to creep in, trying to strangle the joy and peace, the love and goodwill? Unfortunately as much as I tried, I felt the light of Christmas fading a week or so ago.  As I watched it go I was filled with sadness.  I wanted to cry out don’t go.  Please don’t go. Yet in that moment all I could feel was that I wasn’t measuring up to the expectations I had set for myself.  Why can’t I bake all the things, make all the crafts, be done Christmas shopping and wrapping all the presents, have thought of all the people in need and looked fabulous while doing all of it?

Do you relate to any of those feelings?  Seeing everyone’s best and wondering why you aren’t a little more like you wish you could be?  There is hope, There is peace. I had to be willing to see past what I am not and allow the true gift of Christmas into my heart reminding me of all that I am Because of Him.


In my moment of darkness the Lord sent me this video though a friend. 

It was the reminder I needed to stop focusing on myself and start seeing the Savior more fully in the songs, the lights, the wrapping paper.  For in all of it, if you will slow down and see it, is the reminder that He loves us now just as He did more than 2000 years ago.

Even when the world may appear quite dark—when things aren’t going right, when our hearts are overflowing with disappointment and worry, even in the midst of sadness and sorrow—we sing about “joy to the world” and “good will toward men”2 because of Christ, who came “to give light to them that sit in darkness.” Dieter Ucthdorf

His gift of joy to the world even covers my sorrow and self-doubt.  Joy for what I am instead of what I am not.  Joy for my family who loves me even when I can’t “do it all.” Joy for service given and received.  Joy that I am His daughter and loved without conditions.

This Christmas may you see with new eyes the gift of acceptance and love that our Savior is offering to you. SUSAN

 

 

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I love Christmas… most of the season.  What I don’t like is all of the over planning and stress that leave me just glad that it is over on Christmas day.

I’m always looking for ways to simplify and make it just as special without letting it all get away from me and turning me into the Grinch.

Every year I try and every year there is some part of the season that I just end up grumpy and ready for it to all be over with.

Well, this year I want it to be better.  I’ve decided that I need to simplify in a way that makes sense to me.  I want to keep everything that makes Christmas special, but get rid of the excess.  In the past I’ve tried using Christmas planners, and lists, and I’m always so excited in the beginning, but near the end, I’m discouraged because of all the things that I wanted to do that didn’t get done.  Then I feel like a failure for what didn’t get done, instead of grateful for what we did get to do.

I decided that this year, I’m going to pare it down, and try to keep only the things that are important to me.  As I have analyzed all of the parts of Christmas and the expectations, I have come to one big conclusion.  The only really important part of Christmas… sharing love and testimony of the Savior with others.

That’s it.  That’s all there is too it.

Christmas is the spirit of giving

Of course there are a few details in how this comes about.  Because I have decided that people are the most important part of Christmas, I have divided my plan into 4 different groups of people.  Family… Friends that live nearby… Loved ones that live far away… People I don’t know, who need some Christmas cheer.

Family

Spending time with family is probably the very best part of Christmas.  I want my kids around me.  I want to see them laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  I remember wonderful times that we traveled to Grandma’s house for Christmas when I was little, and when my kids got to go to their grandparents’ homes for Christmas. I remember sledding and hot chocolate, and games and big dinners with all the traditional foods.  Every Christmas may not have all of these things, but time spent enjoying each other as members of a family are really the very most anticipated parts of the Christmas season.

Friends and neighbors that are nearby

Another important set of people to remember during Christmas time is our co-workers, friends, & neighbors. I love going to the many parties and gatherings at work and church and in the neighborhood. By taking the time to be with others, it helps recharge my batteries, and builds relationships with people I feel are a positive influence in my life.   I like taking gifts or baked goods to a few close friends and neighbors. This is the perfect time to tell the people who are in my daily life, that they are important to me and that I care about our friendship.

Distant loved ones

There will always be someone who I care about or have been thinking of who I won’t be able to see at Christmas. This is why Christmas cards are so much fun.  This year I put up a special holder just for Christmas cards that people give to me, so they will be a part of the decoration.  Unfortunately, I don’t always get my Christmas cards mailed out, but I still love the tradition.  Another way to reach out at Christmas is through social media.  When I’m feeling down, I can look at my Facebook or Pinterest pages and someone I am following will leave some type of inspiration for Christmas time that will help bring the Christmas spirit back to my day.  It does seem a little like spying on someone else’s Christmas, but if I leave a comment, it becomes interactive and I’ve made that connection during the Christmas season.  I also love when people leave pictures of the fun things they are doing at Christmas.  Is there anything better than seeing those cute little kids (and sometimes the big ones) really eating up the Christmas spirit, and reminding us that there is such joy to be had in the world?

God’s other children He wants us to be aware of.

There are so many opportunities for giving to others that are in need during Christmas.  I could give money, time, presents, or even just a smile and friendly hello.  I saw a small group of people gathered around tables at the Starbucks inside Target, with juice boxes, granola bars and various other items all spread out on the tables with Christmas ribbons and packaging. I could only imagine where these items were going. As they were dividing them up into individual containers, these people were so happy and really seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves.  This year I took the easy way out, and just donated money to our church for a special project that they are working on for Christmas.  In years past, we made little goodie bags to keep in our car to hand out to homeless people who we pass on the street.  Another way to spread cheer to others is to be aware of them, and see if someone needs help with groceries, or shoveling the snow, or simply waiting a few extra seconds and holding a door for someone.  A little extra patience this time of year, could go a long way in helping another of Gods children from becoming burned out at this time of year.

There are a million little things that can be done at Christmas to make the season special, but that doesn’t mean that we have to do them all.

The reason we celebrate Christmas is to recognize the one most important gift we could ever have… Jesus Christ. God loved us enough to send His only son down to us.  To teach us, and love us, and to eventually die for us.  He gives us the gift of being able to repent and become all that He wants us to be… even all that we possibly can be. And ultimately that gift of being able to return to Him.  In return, He wants us to watch out for and love each other, and help His other children to find their way back to Him also.

I think if we can remember this important part of Christmas, loving others, then all of the other hustle and bustle can just fall into place, or fall away as needed.

Here’s to hoping this Christmas will be “simply” wonderful.

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