December 13, 2015

Shine On!

Sometimes I feel a desperation to know someone who is succeeding in a life more difficult than mine.  I need to know that it is possible to maintain your physical and mental health while parenting a large family.  The whisper that I hear trying to pull me down says, "Nobody can do this.  You can't do this.  It's too hard. You're sick, you're tired, you're weak."  

Isn't it sad that we unconsciously echo this voice to one another?  In our effort towards compassion we actually confirm unhealthy thoughts in one another.  We do this as women when we talk about pregnancy, our husbands, toddlers, teenagers, mother in laws, and keeping house.  Compassion can be crippling.

How do we change our inner dialogue?  

You see, there are two paths of belief that battle for dominance in my mind.  One part of me feels blessed, good, hopeful, joyful, grateful, and powerful.  The other part of me feels afraid, miserable, lazy, inadequate, abused, sick, scarce, and incapable of doing all that my family requires of me.  

When I'm feeling low, I have a tendency to stop moving forward and focus on changing my thought patterns through prayer, analysis, phone a friend therapy, or journaling (like this).  If you had to label me depressed or anxious, I am definitely one who tends towards inactivity and isolation when I'm down, as opposed to frenzied, worried, cleaning or doing.  (I have often thought anxiety sounded much more productive!)  I hate when I feel discouraged and wonder what is wrong with me that sometimes I really hate this heavy load I'm pulling.

This scripture hit me the other day--

16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other. (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi, 2 Nephi 2)

I felt as though I had been attacking life all wrong at times.  Here, I heard God saying that I would ALWAYS have those feelings of inadequacy, temptation to curl up and stop trying, mixed with feelings of strength and voices inspiring me to press forward.  Those competing thoughts are not only natural, they are essential in this life of TESTING.  I have to CHOOSE and I have to ACT.  When I choose to numb out, despair, and doubt, I am choosing to listen to voice number 2.  When I choose to serve, love, and hope on, I am acting in faith.  But, BOTH FEELINGS HAVE TO BE THERE FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO CHOOSE.  

 "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other."

Don't you recognize the lies that repeat in your thoughts?  I do.  And yet, I don't always know what to do with them.  

Here are my demons-

-Nobody can have eight kids without a nanny or housekeeper and stay sane.
-You are not well, you're fragile, weak, and exhausted.
-You're selfish when you take time for exercise, scripture reading, or spend money on clothes.
-You don't know how to do this.  You need to learn more, read more, talk to more functional people to figure out how.
-You're standards are too high.
-You're priorities are off.
-You're hurting everyone.
-You're abused, martyred, taken advantage of.
-You don't have enough time, money, or energy to do all that you are required to do.
-You have ruined your children and you are an awful wife.
-You work too hard and you are killing yourself with hard work.
-You are a victim, you don't like being a mom, you have way to many kids, this is never going to end.

There are other voices in my head that I know.

Even though God knows my weakness and sees my inadequacies, He trusts me to parent these children.  He inspires me daily.  He fills me with His love and His power.  Like me sweet toddlers who hug me tightly when I'm crankiest, He has continued to stay close even as I try to turn away from Him.

I feel like one of God's favorites.
I know mothering is natural to me.
I LOVE being a mother.
I feel healed and believe in God's ability to heal.
I know I can do all things with God who strengthens me.
I know how to repent and have felt the cleansing and strengthening power of the Atonement in my life.
I hear God and see angels guiding me daily.
I know the way.
I am not alone.
I believe in miracles and I see miracles daily.
I am abundantly blessed.
I am loved.
I am living my dream.
I have dear, dear friends and the best family.
My life is so, so good.

Too much of my time has been spent mentally measuring which of my competing thoughts are "REAL".  Am I really an awful mother or really a wonderful mother?

Let me admit something to you, I really am BOTH.  Really.  (If you think that you're awful and I'm amazing it is only because I haven't blogged about my worst moments.)  I can stop gathering evidence to prove my guilt or innocence and standing these evidences up against each other to pronounce myself good or bad.  I am good because I choose to try again to be good.  HIS grace covers all of my sin and HIS power makes me eternally enough!  I think I get to choose every day which part of myself I'm going to ACT on.  

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my sojourn in the hospital, was that faith is a choice.  Every day I had to CHOOSE to curse God for abandoning me to health trials so painful and depressing that I could be forever angry.  Or, to SEE the mercy and miracles in my situation.  When I chose to see God and tell others about the little miracles in my life, my ability to see Him increased.  

prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. 
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the fields, saith the Lord of Hosts. (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, 3 Nephi 24)

If I choose to waste my time whining about how hard my life is, I will feel those negative feelings more.  No matter how many people on Facebook tell me what a wonderful mom I am or how it is natural for us to lay around and take a break some days, my actions can influence my mental state.  If I choose to get up, get dressed, turn on some happy music, and really SERVE my family in deed and in thought, I will FEEL happier.  If I stop doing good and choose to feel abandoned, I place an umbrella over my head that makes it difficult to feel the great dews from Heaven that God is pouring on me.  If I open my heart and my mind and my eyes to bask in His light, I will SEE His hand in my life.

The windows of Heaven are open and the dews are pouring out!

There are times when we go through the motions of serving while our mind is playing over and over the prideful, martyr soundtrack.  I actually think this is preferable to laying on the couch, because negative emotions are released as you move your body and doing good with your body qualifies you for blessings of Heaven.  Doing good does good for your soul.  Exercise and serving others will help you feel good.  But, true joy can only seep into a heart that is open to receive it.  Put away your umbrella, open your vessel that you may be filled!

It is not compassionate to coddle fears and commiserate with lies.

We must shout encouragement to one another as the mother on the sideline of the cross country meet.  "Run!  You can do this!  You're almost there!  Just stay with him.  Pace yourself!  You're prepared, you're strong, and you're fast!  Go!  Go!!  You are a runner! You can do this!"

God loves His children.
He is with us.
This life is a test and a time for training.
Hard things are blessings.
We have access to divine inspiration and divine miracles.
We know the way.
Mental health, physical health, purity, endurance, patience, and joy are possible and they are influenced by our choices and our desires.

Faith is a choice.
Doubt is also a choice.
Faith and doubt cannot not exist in the same person at the same time, for one will dispel the other.  
If you want to get rid of doubt, choose faith.

This is an idea taught by Joseph Smith and repeated by President Monson.  It does not mean that a faithful person cannot feel doubt (nor that a heterosexual person can't feel homosexual tendencies, a good mother won't want to beat her children, a kind person won't be tempted to scream unkind things, a loving spouse won't ever dislike her companion, a healthy mind won't ever feel depressed).

We actually MUST feel tempted inorder to choose.  If we don't have options there is no choice!  But, we are promised that as we are choosing FAITH the doubt will flee.  One WILL dispel the other.  It is a law of Heaven.  Doubt can dispel faith when you choose to dwell on it.  But, choosing to act in faith, choosing faithful thoughts can also dispel doubt.  That is SO powerful.

A room will stay dark until you turn on the lights.  If the lamp is not plugged into the power, the act of switching the light on won't bring light.  But, when the lamp is plugged into the power, switching the light on will ALWAYS dispel the darkness.  Yes, darkness is how the room really is.  Light is how the room really is.  You just choose whether you switch the light on or keep it off.  You have a choice only because there really are two options!   
Darkness is not proof that the lamp is broken!!!!!

Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.
If you see the good or see the bad, you're right.

If we could see ourselves as God sees us we would be amazed at our potential for good.  I know it.  

If we could see our spouses and our children as God sees them, we would be humbled and inspired.

Because we are children of God, He has given us access to His power and light!
We can shine!

Oh God-- open my eyes to SEE you and to see me through your eyes.
Help me to discern truth and possibility.
Help me to choose decisively to go forward with faith.
Inspire me to ACT, to do good, to love more.
Fill me with gratitude.
Strengthen my body to perform the work I was sent here to do, strengthen my mind to be clear, kind, and constant.

Today and always, I want to act with power, choose with clarity, and go forward with FAITH.
I want to love like I am loved, and serve because I am blessed.  

I can do eight children, together with God I could mother a nation!  
One plus infinity is infinity.
I can handle physical infirmities with one who creates bodies.
I can organize a home with one who creates worlds.
I can parent near the ultimate teacher.
I can budget with the fount of every blessing.

Yes, God is with me, He is with you.
When we are yoked together with God, we can pull a heavier load.  
Our yoke is easy and our burden is light.

I love this work.
I love this life.
I know bed rest hurts.
Give me this mountain! (Joshua 14:12)

We've got this!
You can handle your toddler.
Potty training is easy.
We live in 2015, it is easier to clean our homes now than it has ever been!
We have time for every needful thing.
You know what to do.
You are strong!
You are kind!
You are patient!
You are more powerful than you know!

I can do 8 kids!  You can do your hard.
If God had commanded us to do all things, we could do them.

50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi, 1 Nephi 17)

"It is a serious thing," says Lewis, "to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

--C. S. Lewis, From The Weight of Glory.

Oh friends, thank you for reading my ramblings as I preach to myself this morning.

I feel the negative thoughts that are speed bumps in my life and I just know that exposing them can help me flatten them.  

Life is good.
God is good.
And YOU are better than you know.
We both are!
Let's live up to the power within us and walk in the light together!

December 08, 2015

Thoughts in December

Not the most flattering picture...
I'm laying in bed writing my meal plan so I can go grocery shopping today.

Christmas is swirling in my head and I hear Ben opening the pantry downstairs. He likes to sneak lunch snacks in the morning.

Todd and I thought long and hard about Christmas this year, everything that my kids wanted was screen related.  We decided we are not doing personal laptops, iPhones, tablets, etc. and so, I have been compensating by spending more money than we would normally spend on gifts I'm only hoping they will like.  

I think we're good.
I feel good about Christmas.
I have just a few more gifts to think about... Siblings, parents, neighbors.

I ordered Christmas Cards last night and they won't be delivered until the 18th.  Every year I say I'm going to be better at getting them done earlier, and I'm still here.  Mark my words-- 2016 Christmas Cards will have a before Thanksgiving postage stamp.

We just bought our tree yesterday.  We're late, but still squeezing the most out of this month!  We always cut our own tree, but this year we bought a pre-cut tree from some Christmas Tree and beef-raising friends of ours.  It felt right hunting for a tree in their barn even though it was not traditional.

Another one of my 2016 goals is that I'm going to gather and repeat recipes.  I tend to cook without a recipe or just google recipes.  I want to print and reuse this year.  I need to step up my kitchen game.  

On the top of my meal list, I wrote a fun breakfast idea from my sister in law.  They had cereal when we visited, but put out bags of pecans, walnuts, frozen blueberries, and sugar-free raisins to add to the cereal.  It was delicious and so much healthier.

She also taped her favorite recipes on the inside of her spice cabinet.  Isn't that a good idea?  

I was a crank yesterday.  I hate cranky days.

I fell again on Sunday and hurt my already hurt foot.  My doctor wants me to get an MRI, but my problem is that my foot doesn't hurt most of the time.  I can walk on it, but then I fall at random times.  I should not complain, it's just a stress I wish I didn't have.

Ben and I taped a short segment that will air after Christmas encouraging blood donation for the Red Cross.  I'm feeling more and more comfortable on tv, and that makes me laugh a little.  

Ben was darling and very well-behaved.  He played with two small, plastic dinosaurs on my lap while we taped.  We sat at a glass table that had shiny, silver legs.  Ben laid his head on the table when we first sat down and rubbed it with his hands outstretched and then he saw his breath on the table and licked it.  We left a few face prints for them to clean up.  Ha!

Todd is looking for a new car.  He's picky and we're trying not to go into debt for it.  Three times he has decided on a car and the owners have sold it to someone else before we can pick it up.  As in, Todd was driving to the dealership 6 hours away after calling that morning to say he was coming, and they sell the car 40 minutes before he arrives.  Seriously?!  He thinks he has one this morning that feels right.  We'll see!!  I'm so done with car shopping, Christmas shopping, food shopping...  I'm certain my soul would rather farm, sew, and ride a horse to work.  

Speaking of horses, we almost got the cutest red and white spotted calf.  Our pony has the dog and chickens to keep him company, but the calf would have been great.  Only, the kid selling the steer, didn't pull it from his parent's pasture fast enough and it got sent to auction.  Ugh.  What is it with our luck these days?

I took the younger 6 kiddos with me to my nephew's baptism in CT this weekend and Todd stayed home with the older boys to work in the yard and get a bunch of hay delivered.  I really love that this is our life.
Look at that family!
All gathered to celebrate with THIS cute kid (who reminds me of Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs).
His grandparents even joined by Skype from their mission in Ukraine.  Isn't this cool?!  My sweetest sister in law made my cry as she shared her testimony that day.  Her kids are feisty and she has raised them with sweetness.  I love that family.

I wish everyone in the world could belong to a beautiful, Mormon family.  It is wonderful having such a sense of unity, faith, eternity, and goodness.  I'm so grateful my kids have this goodness and support in their lives.

I can't tell you how much I have loved this book on tape (actually mp3) I checked out from my library.  It's much more positive thinking than traditional Christianity, which is new to me, but I love it.

A Year of Miracles by Marianne Williamson

This is the quote that led me to that book--
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

As I read her book, I feel myself wanting to write a book like it from a Mormon/Mother perspective.  Although I've often thought about writing a book, this is the first time that I have found a book I'd like my book to feel like.  The whole book is almost a prayer.  Not advice, not a doctrinal study, just feelings and perspectives.  I like that.  I love that.  I would love to write a book of Mother's Prayers.  

Gotta run!  It's time for scriptures and I still didn't finish my grocery list.

I've missed you friends.
Happy Tuesday.
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