I cleaned the house. Especially this kitchen. Cleaning isn’t my favorite thing, but I can never relax in a messy environment. So when I’m stressed out, a clean house calms me down. If I can’t clean my immediate surroundings immediately, a break outdoors gives me a moment to regroup before tackling the house again.
Phone calls. Talking to someone helps me feel better. So I’ll call, text, email the people I like to talk to the most until I find someone who has time to chat. Luckily, I’m not the only one who feels better after a visit. Thank goodness for woman friends with the gift of gab! I also like to talk to the Boss. My DH knows when I am having a bad day and listens to my frustrations. I like to talk things out in the evening and tell him all of my accumulated thoughts from the day.
Check something off the to-do list. I always have a looong list of projects. Some are easy, some hard. Most I never even start because (a) the house isn’t clean, and (b) taking care of numero uno priority (aka kids) takes all my time and energy. But if I feel stagnant, getting a project done really helps me feel happy. Especially if I get to use some creativity. So, after last week, I painted color on the bottom half of my bathroom wall to match the shower curtain.
Service. Doing something for someone else can help me feel better. I see how everyone has bad days and needs a pick up once in awhile.
One-on-one time. Taking care of all of my kids together can be overwhelming. But spending time with just one of them very enjoyable. Each has a constantly changing personality to explore. Quality time is my love language, so when I spend quality time with someone else, I feel loved.
Count blessings. Sometimes hard when you’re trying to be cranky, but I eventually have to acknowledge that I have lots more positives than negatives in my life.
Connect with God. Reading scriptures, meditating, and praying all help me center myself and remember my perspective. I love to attend the temple because I do all three. Spirituality nourishes the part of us that can overcome the trials of life.
And now, my son, I have somewhat more to say unto thee than what I said unto thy brother; for behold, have ye not observed the steadiness of thy brother, his faithfulness, and his diligence in keeping the commandments of God? Behold, has he not set a good example for thee? – Alma 39:1
After writing fifteen verses to his obedient son Shiblon, Alma proceeds to give much lengthier advice to his disobedient son.
Parents tend to give more attention to the children in need of correction. Which means sometimes the obedient children wonder if they’re worth commending. They make right choices and then fail to get as much attention as their wayward peers, which can make rebelling look more attractive.
To give some credit to Alma, his fifteen verses to Shiblon include some great counsel.
And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
Alma believes Shiblon is making decisions that will end in his ultimate happiness. That is doing pretty well, if you ask me. Alma doesn’t give his wayward son the same approval.
I noticed this verse because sometimes I feel like the obedient child who doesn’t get noticed. And although I try to show positive attention when my children are trying to make good choices, I know they also sometimes feel this way. It would be easy to pass over, but sometimes I also wonder if God is happy with my attempts to do right, or if I’m failing miserably. It’s possible to slip into feelings of depression and discouragement without anything major going wrong. There are probably lots of factors that play into feeling down. But if you’re sacrificing everything inside to try to accomplish something, it becomes important to know you’re on the right track.
My beloved brothers and sisters, godly fear dispels mortal fears. It even subdues the haunting concern that we never can be good enough spiritually and never will measure up to the Lord’s requirements and expectations.
I can tell you that haunting fear is real. I feel it.
I’m working on building my relationship with God so that I can feel His acceptance and love for me, instead of fearing I will never measure up. I testify that as a parent, I’m learning how parents love. They love their children unconditionally and watch their childishness with patience, hoping to build them and help them accomplish their potential. I know God feels that way toward me. He isn’t discouraged by the things that get me down. He knows they are small things that I will overcome in time. He also sent His son, Jesus Christ, to rescue all of us from our mistakes. Christ’s atonement is so all-encompassing it empowers God’s entire plan for His children’s growth.
Motherhood begins with nine months of physical discomfort. The birth of every baby is an adventure: unpredictable, painful, joyful, life-changing. Newborns require hours of holding, feeding, rocking. Through the first bleary days of waking and sleeping until mother and baby emerge bonded into two beings whose hearts beat as one. Out of the exponential burst of physical growth blossoms a unique personality. Bright innocence shines from a child’s face, giving a Mother a glimpse of heaven.
Motherhood requires a certain level of proficiency at housework. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, planning, and budgeting grow out of the need to care for the children we love. Mothers pick up bits of information in subjects they never knew existed, becoming an encyclopedia of practical knowledge.
Motherhood piles up responsibility so high a woman bends with exhaustion. There is always more to do, more that can be done. She wants the best for her children. So she tries to balance the work with episodes of play: going to the park, reading a story, giving undivided attention. The work piles higher. Things break, children get sick, time runs out. She feels tense, anxious, hormonal. The children argue, throw tantrums, ignore her quiet responses, yell, tease, pout. Her patience runs out. Every day her patience is stretched further and further. Sometimes it breaks. At the end of the day, falling into bed, a Mother feels the quiet assurance that her work is the most important work she could have done.
A mother sees the infinite potential in her child and nurtures it. She teaches, tutors, trains. She sees a talent and works to give the child the chance to develop it. Karate, building kits, music. Mother wishes she could be the perfect mentor. As the child grows, there are missed opportunities, negative peer pressure, laziness. A child becomes a youth exerting independence. Mothers have to navigate child psychology, honest disagreement, autonomy and responsibility. They teach the lessons, learn the lessons, and live the lessons they try to instill.
Motherhood is a road to becoming. A mother develops maturity, capacity for work, patience. So do her children. I have done hard things. Motherhood is the hardest thing, but also the best thing I have ever done.
Life’s challenges never let up. A woman willingly takes on more when she becomes a mother. But somehow amid the tears, there are smiles. Somehow between the trials there is growth. Looking back through the struggle there are golden memories. The human connection between mother and child is one of the strongest bonds on earth. The generations of life would not continue without mothers.
God is our Father. In this whole messy experiment of humanness, He planned for our growth. He saw our potential and He designed our lives to intersect as Mothers and children, wives and parents, daughters and aunts. God, the perfect Parent, wanted us to become more like Him and so he created Mothers.
Happy Mother’s day to the special women in my life. My life wouldn’t exist without you.
Last week I attended the public open house for the Payson Utah Temple. Streams of people surrounded the temple and flowed through the building. I enjoyed joining them for a glimpse of the beautiful building. I won’t go into as much detail as my last experience at the Phoenix Temple open house. The basic tour followed the same format. The flower beds overflowed with perfect spring bulbs. The warm weather made it a great day to walk around the grounds.
I got to hold a charming, squirmy baby through the tour; a tangible reminder of the connection between temples and eternal families. The members in this area will love having a beautiful temple in their community. The exterior reminded me of a courthouse plus a spire. Lots of columns and embellishments. Layered corners. The stained glass gives a lovely splash of color. On the west side of the temple are the words “Holiness to the Lord – The House of the Lord”. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am trying to build my life like the temple–into the most beautiful thing it can be. With God’s help, it is possible.
It was a whirlwind weekend. Saturday morning DH went out riding motorcycles with a friend. Five minutes before conference started, I tried to move the computer out to the living room so we could all watch. But I didn’t know how to set up the wireless internet connection, and daddy wasn’t home yet, so we listened to primary songs and worked on cleaning the house instead. Once our chores were done, we went over to Grandma’s house to watch the Saturday afternoon session with extended family.
Watching conference as a family is my favorite way to spend conference. Some Sundays get harried and hectic by the time we get ready for church and do all of our assignments. On Conference Sunday, we can just be together. I love it. And whenever there is a family gathering, there is good food. Since it was Saturday, I asked my kids to watch one talk plus watch if President Monson spoke. The rest of the time they spent playing with their cousins.
On Sunday we stayed home and watched conference as a family. By this time our computer was all set up and ready to go. We turned on the Tabernacle Choir broadcast and enjoyed the Easter Sunday concert. Sometimes it can be hard to watch conference with little kids, but mine were pretty good this time. My daughter had the Friend magazine out and played bingo on the board in the magazine. My son sat and read a book, pausing to pay closer attention once in awhile. The little ones played in the room with us.
I love the messages presented at conference. There is always a smorgasboard: messages of personal improvement, testimonies of Jesus Christ, gospel application, missionary work, and the plan of salvation. Usually there is a balance between calls to repentance and consoling our efforts. For example, Elder Oaks helped us evaluate our soil in the process of conversion. He has spoken many times on the theme making eternal goals our highest priority. Elder Bednar spoke about fear: how the fear of God can actually help us feel peace in a troubled world. For those of us who get over-anxious about the challenges we face, his message was soothing.
My favorite messages were the back to back talks on Grace. First, Elder Holland’s talk about how Jesus Christ’s mission was the greatest expression of love ever known. Christ gave us “the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced, every sorrow we have ever known, every discouragement we have ever had, every fear we have ever faced—to say nothing of our resurrection from death and forgiveness for our sins.” Then Elder Uchtdorf gave a beautiful and concise explanation of grace. It is the power that erases sin, raises us to a level beyond our capacity to reach, and pours into our lives the power to accomplish all we strive for. Without understanding grace, Latter-day Saints get depressed when we try to achieve perfection and fail (every time)!
I also appreciated the talks about Returning to Faith and Waiting for the Prodigal. Because there ARE casualties in the trials of life. Living the gospel is hard. Some of us fall away, become inactive, etc. Yet even for those of us bogged down with difficult doctrines or difficulty living the doctrines can find peace in the gospel. And those of us who are strong can extend love and help to those who need it. Because none of us are strong enough on our own. We need each other and we need Jesus Christ.
I’m grateful for conference. It gives me a chance to take my spiritual temperature and evaluate where I need to improve. I know our leaders are righteous men who are in tune with God’s direction for the church. I also feel the camaraderie of the worldwide Saints. There are people like me who are also trying to live this glorious gospel and feeling its blessings in their lives.
I look around at the world. The plants are blossoming, the world has been reborn as it is every spring. I think how God created this beauty, from the oceans and mountains to the molecular structures and biochemical processes of life. I notice my new baby. He has come alive. From complacent newborn he’s grown into a curious infant. He can scoot across the room and explore things that capture his attention. He brims with happiness over his new-found abilities. He freely shares his gushing happiness with anyone around.
I am surrounded by love. My children and husband gush over me. Tell me how much they love me. They notice my moods. Sometimes when I am quiet, they come up and give me a hug.
The message of Easter is all of this and more comes because of Jesus Christ.
He created the beautiful Earth and all life upon it. The purpose of this splendor simply to witness of His love for us. He implemented God’s plan for His children by creating Adam and Eve, our first parents, and beginning family units.
Jesus makes it possible for little children to be born into the world innocent. They are alive in Him. They exemplify the beauty of heaven that we cannot remember yet yearn to return to.
Jesus was born into the world to experience all of the pain of mortality. He felt all of the emotions, physical pain, spiritual stretching, and uncertainty that comes with life. He felt the weight of the sin of all mankind in the garden of Gethsemane and again on the cross. He died.
Then he took his body again and became a resurrected being. He overcame death. He overcame sin and all mortal imperfections. He uses his power to reclaim all of mankind and offer us the blessings He received. He loved us and did not forget any of us in His miraculous mission. He and our Father focus completely on us, their children.After this life is over, God wants to share with us “all that He hath.” (Luke 12:44). He wants to take the little fragments of happiness that we have experienced here and make them into an eternal reality. Jesus Christ made this possible. Everything from creating the Earth through redeeming God’s children is encompassed in Jesus’ divine mission that He fulfilled when He rose the third day.
After nine months of anticipation, patience, impatience, and discomfort, I delivered my baby boy. He was big, a lusty nine pounds five ounces, and absolutely perfect. Then my husband pointed out a patch of skin on his temple that looked slightly different. It didn’t make much difference to me; he was still my perfect baby.
Because of that patch of skin, we went to see a dermatologist, then a pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeon. Last week, I took my baby to the hospital for surgery so it could be removed. No one in my family has required surgery for anything before, let alone a baby. I felt anxious about the risks, even though it was a minor procedure.
I prayed. I prayed that everything would go well. I prayed for the surgeon. I prayed that my baby wouldn’t have any adverse reactions to anesthesia. I prayed for his happy little self to continue on in life without any hindrance. Babies are so precious, partially because they are so innocent. They obviously have done nothing to deserve the unfairness of life, yet they take everything in stride with even more patience than adults. They are also precious because of their potential; their life is a wide open opportunity to achieve something. It is heartbreaking to see that potential lost when a child dies.
Fortunately, my prayers were answered in the way I asked. I cannot even begin to imagine the stress and anxiety of Moms whose babies have chronic conditions that regularly take them to the hospital. My little experience was so minor in comparison. Baby had his surgery and I got to hold him in my arms as he woke up.
I brought him home and he has returned to his happy little self. I wonder why we even had to have the experience. Why the extra stress, expense, time? I don’t know, except that I trust God who has engineered our experience in mortality to teach us lessons we could get in no other way. My baby will never remember this experience, but he’ll have a scar. I, on the other hand, will never forget it.
I love my children. But I know babies don’t stay perfect and innocent. Each precious baby will grow and make mistakes. Motherhood brings with it potential for heartache. I hope my children achieve their full potential as adults. Even if they don’t, I will love them. I would never go back to the person I was before I became a mother. This experience was just a taste of the heartache a mother feels. Life hurts sometimes.
This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life.
-Thomas S Monson
If heartache is what helps me become the person God wants me to be, then it is worth it.
I am impressed by Jason’s blog over at Temples and Testimonies. I enjoyed reading the inspiring messages there. His photos inspire too!
Here is my testimony of the temple. Thanks Jason for providing the impetus to write it.
When I first moved to Phoenix I immediately felt dismay over the distance to the temple. While not impossible, the 90 minute drive meant a visit lasted 6 hours, too long for me to attend if I had a nursing baby at home. The difficulty taught me to appreciate the temple more.
I felt ecstatic at the Church’s plan to build a temple in Phoenix. Then I had to find extraordinary patience as the planning and building phases took six years to complete.
This past fall, I had the privilege of attending the Phoenix Temple open house with my entire family. Many of my friends volunteered in the open house and shared their inspiring experiences with me. I’ve felt longing for this House of God, and now joy at being able to go inside and worship there.
I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers saving ordinances restored from ancient times. Through these ordinances, available in temples, my family has a chance to be together eternally. I have never found a more beautiful piece of truth; one that inspires me to keep trying even when life is hard. My husband and children bring so much happiness to my life. And the gospel teaches us the principles needed to achieve that happiness. It’s amazing!
I love our hymns.
They tell the messages of the gospel in touching ways. I love the simple music, the heartfelt poetry. I love that many hymns we sing were composed with messages unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such as preparing for the Second Coming. There are hymns to comfort during life’s trials and hymns to spur us to greater obedience. There is almost a hymn for any situation.
I have noticed when I listen to music that hymns bring the most powerful spirit. Most popular music is distracting and drives away the Spirit. Most classical music seems neutral, neither bringing nor repelling the Spirit. The hymns, on the other hand, help bring the Spirit. That is one reason why we sing them so much during our worship services.
“Some of the greatest sermons are preached by the singing of hymns. Hymns move us to repentance and good works, build testimony and faith, comfort the weary, console the mourning, and inspire us to endure to the end….Hymns can lift our spirits, give us courage, and move us to righteous action. They can fill our souls with heavenly thoughts and bring us a spirit of peace.” (from the First Presidency preface to the LDS hymnbook)
Here are some of my favorite hymn quotes: (Hymn numbers are those found in the LDS Hymnal)
“And let the sweet longing for thy holy place bring hope to my desolate heart.” (Hymn 6)
“No toil nor labor fear, but with joy wend your way” (Hymn 30)
“We are watchers of a beacon whose light must never die” (Hymn 35)
“There is my home, the spot I love so well” (Hymn 37)
“Dear Lord, prepare my heart to stand with Thee on Zion’s mount and never more to part” (Hymn 41)
“Dear Mother Earth, who day by day unfoldest blessings on our way” (Hymn 60)
“When the earth begins to tremble, bid our fearful thoughts be still; When thy judgments spread destruction, keep us safe on Zion’s hill” (Hymn 83)
“When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!” (Hymn 86)
“Come to God’s own temple, come” (Hymn 94)
“Dearest children, holy angels watch your actions night and day” (Hymn 96)
“The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on! Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene–one step enough for me.” (Hymn 97)
“And when the tempest rages high I feel no arm around me thrust, but every storm goes rolling by when I repose in Him my trust” (Hymn 114)
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal” (Hymn 115)
“In Me thy pain shall cease, in Me is thy release, in Me thou shalt have peace eternally” (Hymn 120)
“Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake to guide the future as he has the past” (Hymn 124)
“So look upward in joy and take hold of his hand; He will lead you to heights that are new” (Hymn 127)
“He answers privately, reaches my reaching in my Gethsemane” (Hymn 129)
“More purity give me, more strength to overcome, more freedom from earth-stains, more longing for home.” (Hymn 131)
“And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard: ‘Ye shall obtain.'” (Hymn 134)
“I need thy presence every passing hour. What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?” (Hymn 166)
“Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay close by me forever, and love me, I pray.” (Hymn 206)
“How silently the wondrous gift is given!…Where meek souls will receive him, still the dear Christ enters in.” (Hymn 208)
“In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see.” (Hymn 220)
“Then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above” (Hymn 223)
“There is sunshine in my soul today” (Hymn 227)
“the world wants daily little kindly deeds” (Hymn 230)
“Eyes that are wet now, ere long will be tearless.” (Hymn 237)
“Do your duty with a heart full of song” (Hymn 252)
“I’ll be what you want me to be” (Hymn 270)
“I felt that I had wandered from a more exalted sphere” (Hymn 292)
“What greater goodness can we know than Christlike friends?” (Hymn 293)
“Roses bloom beneath our feet, All the earth’s a garden sweet,… when there’s love at home” (Hymn 294)
One way I have found to listen to the hymns is to download the music from general conference and then compile a playlist of my favorites. The files are free to download.
I’d love for you to comment with your favorite hymn quote.
My husband and I recently celebrated our twelfth anniversary. It seems like just the other day AND a long time ago that we tied the knot! I’m excited for this Valentine’s day, not because I’m looking forward to getting fancy gifts, but because I love being married and I know I’ll get to spend a little extra time with my hubby.
In 2012, the Ensign shared some tips of what happily married couples do. I know what they are talking about, because I’ve learned to do these things. I’d like to share their ideas in my own words. Because real-life true love can best be found in a vibrant happy marriage. So, here are 10 tips for a happy marriage.
Positive conversations. a happy marriage is full of happy conversations. “What are you doing today? What do you want to do? What tasks are on your to do list? How can I help you with the things you are working on?” These are the kinds of conversations we have all the time. One thing that has helped our conversations is planning out our week together every Sunday night. We look at the calendar together and write what’s happening on a wipe off one-week calendar in the kitchen. We’ll add to do lists that we need to get done. It really helps to mutually plan out our goals for the week. When we sit down for meals, we can see the calendar and talk about what is coming up that day. Know details. A couple knows and cares about all of the details of each other’s lives. I know everything about my husband, from the names of his pets to the name of his best friend in high school.
“In marriage the big things are the little things.”
Show affection. Physical affection reinforces other forms of love in a marriage. For some, including many men, physical affection says “I love you” stronger than words. A healthy marriage includes holding hands, sitting next to each other, hugs, and kisses. I’m not as naturally affectionate as my husband, but I love it when we walk around the back yard together holding hands or sit on the couch together. Be each others best friends. You know your spouse better than anyone else. You are able to understand them best. Know their desires and talents, challenges, weaknesses and strengths. I like to think about how my husband has to put up with me. Before I get annoyed that he didn’t do dishes when I asked for help, I remember all the times I haven’t done dishes or been available to help him. Often the things I get annoyed at are things I do. If I remember that, I don’t get annoyed as easily. He’s already putting up with me and not saying anything about it. Have a gospel perspective. Be humble and charitable. We know we’ll never be perfect in this lifetime, so we have to accept that in ourselves and family members. When I have a weakness or problem, I don’t want someone to constantly remind me of it and pester me about changing. I hope for love and acceptance and help to change as I am able. As a woman, I tend to be the one to fall into the “nagging” trap. Really the time to be picky about a spouse’s traits are before you marry them. Once you make the commitment, you need to accept them for who they are and love them no matter what. Keep dating. When you do things enjoyable together, you enjoy being together. Of course it’s important to continue nurturing our most valuable relationship. If my husband and I have lots of work to do, perhaps we will spend time together working on a project together, but it is still time spent together. Sometimes I have a hard time spending money on “fun”, which makes me a stick in the mud for dates. Yet it is a lot cheaper to keep my marriage healthy than to have to pay for counselling. Some things we do for dates include grocery shopping, eating at a restaurant, exercising together, hiking, working in the yard, and looking at the night sky.
Share intimacy. A healthy relationship includes intimacy. We believe this is a sacred and God-given means of enriching a marriage. Like all other aspects of marriage, there is balance to meet the needs of each spouse. Intimacy is a natural outcome of a happy marriage relationship. Spend time with children. As a couple matures, children join the family and add to the demands on both spouses. Caring for children is a major joint goal, with contributions from each parent. When I have a new baby, I am often tired and less interested in intimacy, yet so grateful when my husband is willing to nurture me and our new child. He may give me a break by holding the baby, or have a conversation with me to give me attention. I love watching him bond with our newborn. When I see how wonderful and loving he is with our children, I love and respect him more and want to do things to show love in return. It motivates me to want to cook nicer meals, go on dates, and show him affection. So once I adjust to the routine with the new baby, I am often even better at doing my own work and making time for him.
Ask for feedback. When you are in a position to make improvements, your spouse is the person who knows you best and can help you accomplish your goals. I like to talk about what things I do and don’t like about how a situation went and hear his opinion. Likewise, a good spouse is sensitive when the other is having a hard time. Usually I am the one having a hard time and venting my frustration and my husband is patient and tries to help me out until I feel better. Thanks, honey. Trust. A marriage relationship is the closest relationship possible between people. Your spouse knows everything about you. In order to feel safe and happy in your relationship you must be able to trust each other. You must trust that even when your spouse sees you at your worst, they won’t hold it against you. They will keep on loving you and helping you be your best self. Anger and contention are Satan’s favorite tools for dividing us. When allowed into a marriage, they can destroy the trust so essential to the relationship. Even small things like sarcasm and criticism can damage a relationship.
I love being married. As time goes by, it seems like our ability to accomplish things together grows. I hope to continue to nurture my marriage and enjoy the fulfillment that comes with a happy marriage.