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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.

aa signature

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The tree is up in all its simplistic splendor. For as long as I can remember Christmas never really felt real until the tree was up. There is magic at work while we put the ornaments on. Each one telling a story of a time long passed while simultaneously creating new memories of joy and togetherness.

However, the two years we almost didn’t have a tree hold their own sweet reminders for me of what Christmas is all about. Sacrifice and giving.

When I was in the 5th or 6th grade times were hard for our family. We couldn’t get a Christmas tree because my parents only car wasn’t working. I remember the sadness I felt looking at the empty spot where it should have gone. I didn’t understand the difficult times my parents were going through, I just knew it didn’t feel like Christmas. I must have been talking about how upset I was while at my best friend’s house and her mom offered to go buy us a tree. My parents didn’t let her but to my young mind I thought that was the nicest thing a person could over do.

I don’t remember the details of how my dad pulled it off, but shortly before the gift giving day he came home with the perfect tree. I can still picture it in my mind and the feeling of joy I had in my young heart was so big. He was a hero in that moment. He brought the magic of Christmas with a sacrifice I’m sure I’ll never understand.

Shortly after we were married, I was pregnant with our second child while Ryan went to school full-time and worked nights to provide for us. We had very little that year but we didn’t need much. My oldest was a little over a year and so his expectations were easily met. A tree would have been a huge extravagance we could not afford.

One evening after I had put my boy to bed, an unexpected knock came at our door. Tears came quickly to my eyes as I opened the door to find a huge tree siting in the doorway. But that was not all. We were given ornaments and presents as well. I felt an abundance of love and kindness that has stayed with me each year I bring out the decorations.

Because of one family’s thoughtfulness, we were given a desire to give back. To share that feeling of the true meaning of Christmas. The Christmas tree symbolizes to me the spirit of giving. Of thinking of others needs above my own. Of charity which is the pure love of Christ. The magic of the Christmas tree is so much more than my young heart could comprehend. For now I see it as the perfect reminder of Christ’s love for each one of us. He cared enough to send my family a tree so many years ago, and He cares enough today to show me how I can be more like Him.

“When we keep the spirit of Christmas, we keep the Spirit of Christ, for the Christmas spirit is the Christ Spirit. It will block out all the distractions around us which can diminish Christmas and swallow up its true meaning.” Thomas S Monson

C

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gratitudeHappiness and gratitude are inseparably linked.

While we may not be able to choose to just be happy, especially when times are hard, we can always choose to be grateful.  We can be grateful in our trials, even if we are not at a point of being grateful for our trials.  And even in the darkest of days, there can always be something that we can find to be grateful for.

Gratitude is a choice. There are things you can choose to do that will bring more gratitude and happiness into your life. Get ready to get active as we go through the list.  Here are the 5 things we can do daily to feel more gratitude in our lives.  Observe, Serve, Express, Record & Pray

Observe

Look around you.  Look for things that make you smile.  Is there a piece of art hanging in your home that you love? Are there pictures of family members? Is there a something decorating your home, because it was a gift from someone who was thinking of you?  What about outside your window?  Do you have snow right now? Or is it a beautiful sunny day?  Are there trees or flowers or clouds?  Maybe there is someone walking their dog?  All of these things bring beauty and variety to our lives. Think a little deeper.  Do any of these things have more meaning to them than just beauty?

Just outside my window is a rather large and sturdy snow fort that my son helped to make last week with a bunch of neighbor kids.  I look at it and I’m so grateful that he got to have that experience, that I got to see him out there for hours having fun, and that he has made good friends to be creative with.  I’m also grateful for the skills that he learned in creating something like this.

Look around and feel the gratitude for all the small blessings put together that can remind you of loved ones, and that can help you know that people care.

gratitude for simple things

Serve

Be prepared to give service to someone else, every day, showing that you have been blessed enough to be able to help others.  It doesn’t have to be big.

  • Returning the grocery cart so that it won’t ding someone’s car.
  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Leave a little note of cheer for a loved one, or on the car window of a stranger.
  • Carry some spare cash in your car or in a pocket to share with someone in need.
  • Smile and say hello to people who you see.

By preparing to give to others, it naturally helps you to see the gifts that you have in your own lives. If you can give money to someone in need, it means that you are blessed to have your needs taken care of.  If you can help someone with physical labor, you are blessed with a body that can work and is strong.  Spreading cheer through a smile or a little note shows that you are grateful for happiness in this moment and you are willing to share it.   Think of what you can do to share today.

Express

Express your gratitude to the people in your life. There are many ways to show your gratitude to others.

  • Say “thank you” in person and right away when you notice someone doing something kind. It only takes a second, and it can be an instant mood enhancer.
  • Compliment someone when you notice something you enjoy about them… whether it is their appearance, their cheerfulness, or anything else that you admire. I remember one time when my kids were little, we took them to a restaurant, which can be a little challenging and sometimes embarrassing. On this occasion a fellow diner, came to our table to complimented us on how well behaved our kids were.  I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to hear that, and obviously I’ve remembered it these many years later.
  • Write a thank you note and mail it to someone who has touched your life. I have a small collection of the thank you notes I have received over the years.  They are so precious to me. Sending a card in the mail is so rare now, but it is something so meaningful when it is received. Some of the most meaningful cards are the ones that were sent as an appreciation for small things.  A very busy woman at my church sends out thank you notes regularly, to show gratitude for small acts of kindness, or comments made during lessons, or something she got out of a talk that was given. It was so meaningful when my son got a thank you card from her, when he gave a talk in church.
  • Give a hug when it looks needed or is appropriate. It may not always be appropriate, but a friend came up to me yesterday and hugged me and said “I just want to share the love, physically.” It was a fleeting moment, but it was a meaningful connection between friends.

Record

Record your blessings.  Whether you use a journal, a notebook, or a to-do app on your phone, there is somewhere that you can begin recording the many blessings that come into your life.  I have a special journal that I keep by my bed so that I’ll remember to use it.  I try to write down each day 3 things that I did well, 3 things that I’m grateful for, and 3 things that I want to do better at.  Sometimes there is overlap, but it’s surprising how every day there can be some new thing to be grateful for.  This was a new project for me, because writing long journal entries, as much as I love them sometimes, were often too hard to remember to get around to regularly.  By making gratitude a part of my bedtime routine, it helps me to remember to look for those things to be grateful for.  Think of some daily habit that you engage in, where you could add recording of gratitude too. If you exercise daily or meditate or read or plan, see if you can put gratitude into part of the routine, and you will also be more likely to feel gratitude in your life.

Pray

Use your recorded gratitude in prayer. Show the Lord that you recognize the tender mercies that He sends down to you to help you in your life.

I heard a story a few weeks ago of a young woman who had a very difficult life.  Her father was killed while she was very young, and her family struggled to stay afloat financially.  But she always looked for the tender mercies of the Lord in her life.  For her it was especially meaningful whenever she saw a butterfly. She loved butterflies and when she would see one, whether in a painting, on someone’s clothes or a real live butterfly, it reminded her that the Lord is watching out for her.

The Lord does send tender mercies upon us all the time.  All too often we don’t notice them, and that can cause us to forget how merciful our Heavenly Father truly is. Take the time to thank Him in prayer every day for all the blessings and gifts that He gives to us on a regular basis.

Making gratitude a part of our lives may not be easy, or come naturally at first, but as we try to incorporate it into our lives, it will bring greater blessings of happiness and friendship.

Decide to start today and  remember these 5 things, Observe, Serve, Express, Record & Pray and you are on your way to living a fuller more blessed life.

aa laura

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8 years ago I had 5 children under the age of nine. The day’s seemed long then, so very long. I homeschooled my two oldest while trying to keep the three littles entertained. Let’s be honest here. I was also trying to keep them from destroying my house, or each other,  while I tried to teach the other two. My husband was starting a new job and we had just moved across states. It was a crazy time. A good crazy, mostly.

In the midst of all this chaos I heard a talk that changed me. Here is an excerpt from my journal

The talk that meant the most to me, that filled me with what I need to do, that gave me hope for joy and peace, was Henry B  Erying’s. It seemed as though God turned on a light bulb when he spoke. It was as if I was being told that if I can more fully do what he suggested I would find joy I never thought possible.

I was reminded of this talk again last week and have listened to it several times since. One deep pondering worthy question has stood with me through the years. It’s a question he asks himself everyday before writing in his journal.

Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”

He goes on to say,

As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”

8 years have brought with it trials unforeseen and joy beyond comprehension. And also a deeper understanding of how to heed this counsel.

Gratitude is more than just recognizing the good in your life. It is seeing that even in the difficult and trying times, God is showing you He is ever present. But all too often we forget to even see it. We get bogged down by life and don’t even say thank you to our loving Father for what He is doing. Recognizing He has something mightier in store for you than what we would settle for.

Being the month of gratitude, I thought a little bit differently about this talk then I had 8 years ago.  Back when I had just those 5 cute littles at home, I felt impressed to write down more of what was good in my life. I looked for the positive, knowing I was planning on blogging and I was never disappointed.  I was blessed with a recollection of the joyous times we shared. And my gratitude for motherhood increased.

Today, however, I feel impressed to seek for God in my life. To focus my gratitude towards what He has already given to me. To see more fully how He has been guiding me in the path He has in store for me and my family. To recognize what has been placed before me, even when I have been blind to His mercy and was unwilling to see it.  That I can let go of the fear that holds me back, and I can more fully trust Him and His timing and His sometimes mysterious (to me) ways.

Gratitude is this beautiful thing that does not give you more of what you desire but simply magnifies what is already right before your eyes. What you could not see becomes a huge mountain of hope, joy and peace. The mundane is taken over by contentment. Sorrow is replaced by happiness. Really it’s like magic.

Gratitude is magic.  It changes everything without changing a thing.

Whatever it is you need in your life, more joy, more trust, more patience, ponder how God has already given that to you. Write down the thoughts that come. Find the magic by picking up the magnifying glass of gratitude.

Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.” Deuteronomy 4:9

Open your eyes and go make today magical. SUSAN

09. November 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Hope, Joy
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“What do I have to be grateful for?”

Have you ever heard someone who is going through a difficult time say something like this?  Have you ever caught yourself saying something like this?  It is true that there are a lot of difficulties that go along with life, and sometimes it can be really easy to get caught up in all the things that seem to be going wrong, or that you lack in your life.  But… there are reasons that we need gratitude in our lives.

Fear not, in everything give thanks

Gratitude isn’t just nice, it is necessary.

Did you know that there are 194 references in the scriptures to thankfulness and thanksgiving?

In Mosiah 18: 23 it says

And he commanded them that…every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.”

Psalms 118:29 states

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

In Doctrine and Covenants 59:21, it says

And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things…”

Why is gratitude so important?

God wants us to be gracious.  He also wants us to be happy. He is a loving father, who wants us to come back to Him, in righteousness and glory. Gratitude is one important step on this road. Following are 3 reasons why we should seek out gratitude in our lives.

1- Grateful people are happier people

When you choose to find things to be grateful about, you take the focus off of your troubles. The focus changes to things that are blessings in your life. It only seems logical that when you feel blessed you will feel happy.  But this theory transfers over to real world applications.

There have been multiple studies to show that people who are grateful have higher levels of happiness in their lives.  One such study, found here, happened like this…

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Happiness doesn’t come out of having an abundance of good things and an absence of troubles.  We all have troubles. They are naturally a part of life. But for those of us who can recognize their blessings and express regular gratefulness, whether to God in prayer, to ourselves in our journaling, or to others who bless our lives, a greater sense of well being and happiness will come into our lives.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1917–2008) said gratitude “is a quality I have found in every happy person I know”

grateful and happy

2- People who express gratitude, find more things to be grateful for

Once you start looking for things to be grateful for, more things begin to come to your mind. The natural outcome of looking for things to be grateful for, by “counting your blessings,” is that you realize that there is always just one more thing to be grateful for, the list could truly be endless.  Watch this video and see what some people in New York have to be grateful for, and see if it doesn’t remind you of things you are grateful for, that you may have overlooked.

I especially like the young man who says he is thankful for the future opportunities.  Which brings me to the last reason why we should be grateful.

3- Showing gratitude opens us up to receive future blessings.

When we show gratitude to others, it increases our feelings of good will toward each other, and helps to build and/or strengthen the relationship.  With stronger relationships with the people in our lives, we have more opportunities to help and bless them, and they in turn will continue to further bless our lives. So maybe gratitude will help us to build our circle of friends, along with creating a strong network of family and friends.

The next place we should show gratitude is to God, considering all of the scriptures that give us specific instruction to do so. When we thank God for our blessings, it shows Him that we recognize His hand in “all things” including our own lives.  He loves us and He surely sends blessings to us in greater abundance than we know. By taking the time to count our blessings and recognize and express gratitude for those blessings, we are allowing the Almighty to continue to be a part of our lives, and this will invite future blessings that we may not even be able to comprehend.

In Doctrine and Covenants 78:19 we are promised

He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more”

Does it get any better than that?

Over the next few weeks, leading up to Thanksgiving, we will share more about gratitude, and how we can more fully incorporate it into our lives.

aa laura

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“That’s just so perfect”

“Isn’t this perfect?”

“I want to make it just perfect”

Coming from a recovering perfectionist these phrases used to be sprinkled into my daily communications. Always striving to be the best I thought I could be, yet never truly measuring up. There is nothing above perfection. No more growth is needed when you finally reach that goal.

Over the years I have learned a lot about myself and the role perfection truly plays in my life.

One of the most empowering statements I have ever heard was this “I, of myself, am imperfect. I can not grow and progress on my own.” What a splendid relief it is to say that out loud and really believe that I am still a beloved daughter of God.

The beauty of this life is that none of us can move forward towards becoming like our Father in Heaven, or perfect, on our own. In this last general conference for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) an old bishop of ours gave a talk titled Remembering in Whom We Have Trusted.

I felt compelled to listen to it again this morning and this is what stood out to me.

When our Father in Heaven announced the need for a Savior, I believe all of us turned and looked at Jesus Christ, the Firstborn in the Spirit, the one who had progressed to the point of becoming like the Father. I believe all of us knew it had to be Him, that none of the rest of us could do it, but that He could and that He would.

We looked to our Savior before the world was, knowing it had to be Him and that we could not do it ourselves.

 We could not perfect ourselves no matter how hard we worked and pushed ourselves. We could not forgive ourselves of sin without the atonement He gave for us. We could not even try.

So why do we try to go this life alone? If we knew we could not endure this life alone even before we came to this earth why do we so often forget this?  We forget to ask for His help and guidance. We forget that He can make us more than we can make of ourselves. When we sin and fall short of our own expectations for ourselves we have a tendency to let it get us down instead of turning to the one who can, in the end, make us perfect.

Matthew 5:46 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

This passage of scripture is not a reminder of your inability to be perfect in this life. It’s intent is not to make you feel poorly about yourself because you have yet to reach such a glorious goal. No, it is a gentle reminder that when we follow the Savior, He will guide is in the direction of perfection. One tiny minuscule step at time, often unperceivable in the moment.

I was talking with my sister-in-law who is about to have her first baby and I remembered how difficult that time of life was for me. I was filled with anxieties and fears that now no longer bother me. The passage of time helped me to see how far My Lord has taken me. Those little tiny steps have added up to miles of accomplishment.

How grateful I am that my Savior suffered for me so that I can make mistakes and fall short. What joy feels my soul to know that His suffering will cover every single sorrow I face if I simply let it. I feel to sing the song of redeeming Joy. Life is meant to be so beautifully messy and I love it.

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In a world that constantly tells me I am not enough it can sometimes become difficult to remember who I am and what I am capable of doing. The messages from the media can be confusing and contradictory in regards to what kind of wife and mother I should be. So how does one find herself when everywhere you turn someone has a different answer for her?

Personal identity is something I have thought a lot about in my life. It’s so easy to see the good in others. To see what makes them unique and divine. But often it can be rather difficult to see in ourself.

This weekend I sat with a friend as we discussed our personal identities. It was enlightening to say the least. I walked away with a greater desire to love and accept me for who I am and not what others tell me I am or am not. And the wheels in my mind began to spin. What have I learned over the years that has helped me to understand who I am and how do I help other women to love who they are as well?

My biggest cheerleader is the one I never see. Only one person knows me, the real true me. That’s my God. He knows my potential in spite of my failings. He knows the deepest desires of my heart that I never speak out loud. A necessary first step to understanding your individual worth is to go to Him and ask Him for that knowledge.

When I have prayed for an understanding of who I am in the past, I was surprisingly overwhelmed with the love and the confidence I felt from God to me. He wants you to succeed at whatever it is He is asking of you. I truly believe that. Over time He can show you who you are and what you can become just as He has done for me when I have asked.

Trust Him. Believe He can make you into more than you could ever imagine. He needs you on His side to uplift, to teach, to guide and to love others. He will walk with you if you let Him.

I have also seen and felt satan want just as badly for us to fail. Those are the low moments in my life, when I believed the lies satan threw at me. Anytime you feel not good enough, like you don’t measure up, that life is too hard, that’s satan lying to your face. He is doing all in his power to stop you from knowing your worth.  If he can get you to doubt and fear he knows he can also stop you from becoming the powerful person you are meant to become. He can stop you from influencing those around you, and he is doing all he can to stop you from finding true joy.

I found one exercise to be extremely helpful.

Grab a piece of paper and pen. (Or use your phone to notes.  I love Evernote)  Find a quiet moment and kneel in prayer. Ask Heavenly Father to guide you to be able to see the good that is in you.  Ask Him to show you what makes you special and unique. Ask Him to open your eyes that you may see who you really are. And then thank Him in advance for the answers you will receive.

Once you finish let your pen begin to write I am….

These are meant to be traits not roles. For example some traits you could write are:  I am strong. I am a good listener. I am always there when my children need me. Where as roles you fulfill are things like I am a wife. I am a mother.

You want to really discover what makes you who you are. So although you might be an amazing mother what traits back that up?

One caution, write everything you can think of. Even if you do not feel perfect at it. I am not a Pinterest worthy crafty person. And yet I love to create and make things for my home or for my kids parties. I enjoy those things. Yes, there are woman who are better than me. But I can still be good at it. My point is don’t judge if you are good at something based on the fact that someone is better.

Don’t worry about proper sentences or grammar. Free flow writing can allow your mind to let go of worry and stress and let the truth flow from God to you. No one ever has to see this list. It’s just for you.

Once you are done take a deep breath and read through what you have written. Keep this list near you over the next couple of days and add to it as often as a good trait comes to your mind.

As strange as it may feel to do, ask those around you what they see good in you. It can be very heart warming and funny to hear what your kids have to say about you. Things you might not have thought of as a good trait can come from the mouths of babes. Your parents and spouse will usually have more to say that can add to your list.

What if for the next 30 days every time you woke up someone told you what you were good at? Can you imagine how that might make you feel?  What if that person was you?  I hate hearing my own voice but I have felt a quiet prompting to record my “I am statements” and listen to them every single day.  I believe the power from hearing yourself give positive feedback can be more powerful than hearing it from anyone else.

Are you ready to start on your journey of finding out who you really are?

PS. If you do this challenge I would love to hear how it went. Even if you just did part of it, share with us your thoughts.

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Standing at the kitchen preparing my dinner, while music is loudly playing and I’m singing along, the tears came out of the blue and my heart swelled up feeling as though it was going to burst right out of my chest. The feeling came on strongly and I was rather surprised by its intensity.

I have shed many a tears over my children. Both happy and sad. But this day the sacredness of my calling as their mother overcame me, and I could not have felt more grateful. Motherhood is the hardest most rewarding job I have ever experienced. These little people need so much time and love and support, and often I feel I am falling short.

Every so often though I feel God giving me a heavenly hug with a glimpse into how He must feel as the perfect parent. It was as if the world stopped for one moment and froze in time so that I could see my life for what it really is.

Kids who want to be good and do good. They want to be taught how to figure out their world; they just need guidance and love. They each came to this world with unique and abundantly giant personalities that are bound for greatness and in that frozen moment I could feel of their goodness. I could sense who they truly are as people not just as my children. How blessed we are as mothers to get to see another with such love, even if only in fleeting passing moments.

I do not always know how to handle parenting situations. I try my best and sometimes succeed and sometimes learn new ways to fail. But I have learned how much I need the Lord in my parenting. I need Him to walk with me so that I can direct these little people into the paths God has for them. Dalin H Oaks put it this way,

We must pray for the Lord’s help and directions so we can be instruments in His hands.”

I want the Lord to feel confident that He can use me as His tool. That I will do whatever he asks and in so doing I will help guide my children back to Him.

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To the wife I have yet to meet,

I need you to know a couple of things. First, I love my boy, this almost man, to the very core, I always will. And yet I have understood for years that I only get to keep him for a time. Someday soon he will leave me, and he will find you. You will become his everything, and I look to that day with joy and excitement, for it will be a blessing neither of you can began to understand. But then I began to wonder, did I do enough raising and teaching for him to be the best husband for you?

Right now he is entering his final year of living in my home as a child, his final year as mine. And he is becoming more than I could have hoped for in a man. In someone else’s man. I want you to know what an amazing person he is and the ways I have tried to help him be his best for you when the time is right.

I have tried to always make God and my family my top priority. I believe firmly in this statement by Gordon B Hinckley,

It is the home which produces the nursery stock of new generations. I hope that you mothers will realize that when all is said and done, you have no more compelling responsibility, nor any laden with greater rewards, than the nurture you give your children in an environment of security, peace, companionship, love and motivation to grow and do well.”

As I have strived to show my son how much I love and value my family I believe he has also come to cherish these things as well.

When he was young the nightmares came and I prayed with him so he would learn to come to the Lord with his concerns.  Both little and big.  As he has aged and matured, so have our prayers. I hope I have taught Him nothing is out of reach with the Lord.

His little self would sit in my lap and we would read books of every kind as he would snuggle into me. We read stories of Narnia and the Land of Oz. His favorites were stories of an ancient prophet who stood up for the rights of his family and his freedoms. Triumphantly he went about the house declaring he was Captain Moroni. I hoped he saw the dignity and pride one can feel when defending those we love.

In those early morning scripture moments, he began to teach us, I’m not sure when he became to truly understand the teachings we had been reading about for years. But his testimony is strong and I’m grateful for his example.

Through the years I tried to really show him I cared about what he cared about. If it was important to him, I wanted it to be important to me. Some day you will have interests that he may not find all that fascinating. I hope he has learned that he can listen and care about them because it’s important to you.

Mistakes were a regular thing in our house and in saying I’m sorry I hoped to show him how to ask forgiveness when he fumbles in life. Even when he seems to make the same mistakes over and over again. Usually the one who needs forgiveness most is ourselves. I pray my example was enough so that he knows how to forgive and seek forgiveness.

We did fight occasionally, there are times you have to discuss your disagreements to work things out. I hoped I taught him the ones you love are worth fighting for.

“I love you” comes freely from my lips. In this world and especially in your home, there is never too much love and kindness. The way he lovingly treats me shows those things matter to him. Let him love you with his words and deeds. Giving love is just as important as receiving it.

Somewhere along the way he learned to be compassionate and show concern when people struggle. He is a really great listening ear to his friends, and one day he will be your safe place.

Most importantly, I want you to know I love you even though we have never met. I love you because he will love you.  I pray for you even now. I pray you will know God loves you and that you are of extreme worth. I pray you will have opportunities to really get to know your Savior and what the atonement means to you in your life. I pray you will love God more than you love my son. As I also pray he will do the same.

Once he is yours I will no longer be by his side to pray with him, but you will. He will hug and kiss you after those special conversations with God. May you learn to pray for each other as Henry B. Eyring recommends,

Pray for the love which allows you to see the good in your companion. Pray for the love that makes weaknesses and mistakes seem small. Pray for the love to make your companion’s joy your own. Pray for the love to want to lessen the load and soften the sorrows of your companion.”

May God guide your future journey together as you walk hand in hand towards eternity.

With my dearest love,

Your future mother-in-law