Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Firstfruits of Spring!

Crocuses are not my favorite flower. They flower for such a short time, and the bulbs multiply and replenish so heartily they've begun growing between the cracks of our front walkway. And it doesn't matter how hard you work to get rid of the bulbs...they always find a way to come back!!!

That being said, the brightest spot of my day (barely beating out an e-mail from Herbie) was seeing the first bright yellow blooms opening up in my front flower bed. I got out my camera and took several pictures, but these are my absolute favorite.

Beautiful, right? I have one little purple crocus, but it's veeery shy and doesn't like to poke it's head up for a few weeks after the yellows.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sunday Inspirations February 22, 2009

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an articulate woman. When it comes to conversing face-to-face or even over the telephone I find myself flustered, stuttering, and struggling to find an answer to any question asked. The funny thing is, this annoying trait of mine has nothing to do with having a lack of things to say, nor an inability to come up with an answer. Rather, it has everything to do with the flood of words that pop into my head.

For example, you ask me how my day is. I might say, “Fine.” While the word ‘fine’ is attempting to make it’s way from my brain to my mouth six other ways to say it are fighting their way out as well. “Doing good.” “Awesome.” “Hangin’ in there.” “I’m all right.” “So far so good.” "Not too shabby!"

See what I mean? By the time I’ve finally settled on a word an awkward amount of time has passed and I only needed to say, “Fine.” Can you imagine what it must be like when I’m asked a question that requires more than one simple word? I’m a mess…and I sound like it. My biggest problem there is even as one answer pops into my head the writer in me automatically starts revising the statement, attempting to come up with the best way in which to phrase everything.

Can you imagine the chaos that is my mind? I’ve warned you more than once, my friends.

So what does all this have to do with an inspirational Sunday? There are moments, precious enough for me to recognize them even as they are happening, when the words coming out of my inarticulate mouth are beyond beautiful. They move with a fluidity I do not posses during most of my waking hours. It is in these moments a specific scripture rings true:

“And it shall be given thee in the very moment what thou shalt speak and write” (D&C 24:6).

When do these moments happen for me? Most often when I’m teaching. I have such a passion for teaching, and I am able to live that passion every time I prepare and give a lesson to my young women. But this isn’t the only time I teach. Every once in a while my children will come to me with a question, one I know I need to answer and not simply brush off. Ones which are relevant to how their values and moral ideas will be molded. Ones which could be answered in erroneous ways by mistaken individuals, which could lead my children down dark and painful paths. In those moments my mind becomes clear, and my words simple yet effective.

Perhaps my favorite moments, however, are those when I have an opportunity to speak or give a talk. Because those are the times I am allowed to use this blessed gift of mine to write, to put my thoughts down in ways that are clearly beyond my mortal self. And I can rewrite them as many times as I want. At times like this I am given the chance to show others the way things come together in my head.

I am fully aware of my faults. They are certainly plentiful, yet I am grateful for them. It is because of these faults that I find myself aware of what great things come to pass when I stop relying on myself.

I am also aware that when things truly count, when I put enough trust in the Lord to cover me when I’m not strong enough, remarkable things can happen. But they happen with His help. Remember this scripture:

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

So what is your weakness? In what areas are you unable to do all you wish to do, though spurts of greatness seem to unexpectedly happen upon you? Be grateful for your weaknesses. You never know when they might prove to be your greatest strengths.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Kind Waker-Upper

I'm not a morning person. I never have been. The shorter I can make my morning (by sleeping in) the better. I very rarely take naps for the simple fact that it feels like I put another morning in my day.

Still, I am the mom, and it's my responsibility to get everyone else out of bed on school days. Compared to some (and by some I mean my husband), I'm really quite a nice waker-upper. I don't come in banging pots together or flipping the light on when it's still dark outside, or utilizing a good bucket of cold water...okay neither does my hubby, but I'm still kinder than him when it comes to getting the kids up.

I gently sit next to them on the bed, then begin to rub their arms or back until signs of life abound. If this takes too long I'll quietly call out their name. Then for a moment or two I'll rock them in my arms or simply give them a hug and give them time to get moving. Nice, huh? Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

So when I've gone to all the trouble of waking them up so gently I don't take kindly to having the first words out of M's mouth being, "No, Mom, no...." I sigh, convince her she really does need to get up and going, and head into the boys' room. There I'm met with impressive moans and groans from J the moment his eyes open and he sees my face. I realize I got dressed in the dark, but you'd think he'd be used to it by now.

B mostly lays there. He refuses to acknowledge all I'm trying to do for him until it's time to head directly to the bathroom. I don't even get a response to my "Good morning." Nothing. I don't know what's worse, being moaned at or ignored. And the 'baby'? To be honest I'm not sure what she wants more, me or the cup of milk I bring to her first thing in the morning. Usually it's milk, then eventually mom.

Here's where irony comes in to play havoc with what's left of the desire to wake my children gently by the time Friday's come and gone: Saturday they're all up earlier than they would have been on a school day...

One of these days I might actually wake 'em all up banging pots together. Just so they can appreciate gentle mom a little more.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Music of My Life

My friend Brent tagged me on this one a little over a week ago. Since he rarely tags anyone I felt incredibly honored. Humbled. Like one of the chosen few... ☺ Due to my intense desire to post about the love languages last week, I waited to respond until I could have a few days for you all to relish in my extraordinary musical tastes. That being said, here goes:

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For the first question, type the song that's playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button TWICE
6. Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...just type it in!

1. Opening Credits: "Scarbourough Fair" Simon and Garfunkel

2. Waking Up: "This is My Garden" Michael McLean

3. First Day at School: "Running to Stand Still" U2

4. Falling in Love: "Soul" Matchbox 20

5. First Love: "Can't You Just Adore Her?" Mandy Moore

6. Fight Song: "Praise to the Man" David Glen Hatch

7. Breaking Up: "Morning Hymn and Alleluja" Rogers and Hammerstein's Sound of Music

8. Prom: "Dancing Queen" ABBA (seriously! That was the one...not that I went to Prom...or listen to ABBA)

9. Life: "Minimum Wage" They Might Be Giants

10. Mental Breakdown: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" U2

11. Driving: "Songs About the Great Divide" Peter Breinholdt

12. Flashback: "Superman (It's Not Easy)" Five for Fighting

13. Getting Back Together: "Down Once More" Phantom of the Opera

14. Wedding: "Point of No Return" Phantom...

15. Birth of Child: "For the Beauty of the Earth" Jon Schmidt

16. Final Battle: "Saturday's Warrior" Lex De Azevedo

17. Death Scene: "Nightingale Song" Toad the Wet Sprocket

18. Funeral Song: "Be Still My Soul" Steven Sharp Nelson

So, funny thing is, I've had songs match twice what's going on in my life perfectly. The first time was when I was heading to a hospital to have a blood test taken when we were hoping I was pregnant (the test strips were notoriously wrong for me). As I was driving I was praying, and the song "Arms Wide Open" by Creed came on the radio which talks about having a new little boy...which we did, lol.

The second time (I was also pregnant...hmm...are we seeing a pattern?) I'd just gotten out of the doctor's office after being told there was nothing happening, after already being close to two weeks over my original due date. As I drove down the street, crying I might add, the song, "So You Had a Bad Day" (can't recall who sings it) came on the radio and I immediately started laughing and said to no one, "Yes, I really am having a bad day!"

Anywho, if there's a cute someone out there who'd like to do this, feel free. It's funny how so many of these turn out eerily accurate. Have fun!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Inspirations February 15, 2009

It was a blank week for me in trying to think of something for today's post, which is why I'm so grateful to have been blessed in other ways. I'm my husband's official "talk writer" when he has to speak in our main Sunday meeting. He provides me with the topic, sources and an idea of what he'd like said, and I...well I just pray I'm in tune enough with his wants and the Lord's wants to create what is necessary.

Today is our Ward Conference, and the talk I was asked to put together simply feels beautifully put together, and so I want to share it with you today. Consider every word from here on out as coming from my husband:

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since I was first called as bishop. This past year has been quite a learning experience for me, and I consider myself very blessed by the Lord. Blessed to be able to serve such remarkable people. Blessed to see the hand of the Lord at work in your lives. Blessed to see what extraordinary people you are.

Several months ago I asked my wife to speak to you all about the tender mercies of the Lord. This is a message I have felt more than once is one we need to hear and live. It is a message that has come repeatedly to my mind especially in these recent months. My wife spoke to you about recognizing the tender mercies of the Lord even in the midst of trials, as encouraged to do by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in his conference talk given a few years ago. The talk was based on one specific scripture verse given in 1 Nephi chapter 1. We read in verse 20:

“But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”

For my talk today I want to focus on the latter part of the verse, particularly the section which says, “those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith.”

What does it mean to be chosen? The dictionary defines chosen as, “One who is the object of choice or divine favor: an elect person; selected or marked for favor or special privilege.” Does this mean the Lord has chosen a select few to give special favors to? I believe too many of us believe this. But when we consider all we know of the Father, all we know of the Lord, and all we have come to learn of the Plan of Salvation, can we honestly say they would purposely pick and choose who gets to have tender mercies while leaving others out? Does this sound like a loving Father and Brother, who have told us repeatedly we are loved equally?

Perhaps others of us in this room say deep within our hearts, “Oh, I know Brother so-and-so deserves such tender mercies, but me? What have I done? Who am I that I should receive such blessings? I am nothing compared to him.” We might easily believe such things are reserved for those who, as Elder Bednar describes, “appear to be more righteous or who serve in visible Church callings.” He immediately continues to say, “I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us.”

So if the chosen people are not necessarily the most seemingly righteous and those who hold high callings in the Church, who are they? Can the chosen really include every single person in this room, no matter how they serve or how much they struggle to follow the commandments?

We are given a direct answer in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 121, verses 34 and 35:

“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men.”

Elder Bednar stated, “I believe the implication of these verses is quite straightforward. God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit ‘the chosen’ to a restricted few. Rather, it is our hearts and our aspirations and our obedience which definitively determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.”

The Lord instructed Enoch on this very point, saying in Moses 7:32-33, “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;

“And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father.”

Did you note how the word “choose” was used? Let me repeat it. “They should choose me their Father.” The basic purposes behind the gift of agency in this life are to choose God’s plan and to love one another. One of my wife’s favorite things to say, and I’m sure the young women will recognize it, is that in everything we have a choice. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, there is always a choice, even if it has only to do with our attitudes.

This agency, the ability to choose, is powerful. It can mean the difference between eternal life and eternal damnation. Every choice we make influences the ability of the Holy Spirit to help us in our lives.

The more we choose to go against the Lord’s will, the more we turn our backs on His capacity to help us in times of need. Yet the more we choose to submit our will to the Father, to choose His path, the more the Lord can pour upon us His tender mercies.

The Father has said His purpose is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of men. Our purpose, as indicated in D&C 11:20, is to keep the commandments with all our “might, mind and strength.” As we do so, with willing hearts, we become the Lord’s chosen, and, through the Holy Ghost, will find an increased ability to recognize and receive the tender mercies of the Lord in our daily lives.

Elder Benjamin De Hoyos of the Quorum of the Seventy tells us that “happiness is the purpose of the gospel and the purpose of the redeeming Atonement for all men.” As we can read in Helaman:

“Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.

“Yea, thus we see that the gate of heaven is open unto all, even to those who will believe on the name of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God.

“Yea, we see that whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall … lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course …

“And land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven.”

This gift of agency, the ability to choose, is the key to happiness. Even in the most desperate and dire of circumstances happiness can be found. Tender mercies will be given. But only if we make a conscious decision to choose the Lord’s way, and are obedient to the path He set before us, especially when times get tough.

Elder De Hoyos relates an experience of his when he served as a missionary in northern Mexico.

Quote: “When I was serving as a missionary in northern Mexico, a few days after the baptismal service of the Valdez family, we received a telephone call from Brother Valdez asking us to come to his house. He had an important question for us. Now that he knew the will of the Lord regarding the Word of Wisdom, and even though it would be difficult to find a new job, he wondered if he should continue to work for the cigarette company where he had worked for many years. Only a few days later Brother Valdez again asked us to come by and visit him. He had decided to quit his job because he was not willing to go against his convictions. Then with a smile and emotion in his voice, he told us that the very day he quit his old job, another company had called to offer him a much better position.” Unquote.

Will it happen this way for all of us? Will there be a better job, or more money, or a more loving family, or increased health, or easier paths to take as we choose the right? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I have known individuals who have struggled their entire lives, even as they chose to obey the Lord in all things. There is one thing I cannot doubt as I have listened to their testimonies, and that is they have felt the hand of the Lord in their lives. They have found happiness even in sorrowful circumstances.

We can find mercy in the midst of trials. The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.”

Happiness is defined by King Benjamin as “the blessed and happy state of those [that] keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” (Mosiah 2:41).

Life can be good if we choose to live the principles that offer happiness: believing, desiring, deciding and choosing correct actions will help us to achieve such a goal.

For some of us, this act of choosing to do the will of the Lord comes easily. It is, in many ways, a spiritual gift we have been blessed with. For other of us, the ability to submit our will to the Lord is not easy. We struggle so much in needing to understand every aspect behind following the commandments before we will agree to keep them.

Of this I can testify, that no matter how easy or how hard it might be to choose to follow the Lord, every little effort to do so will count. We will find ourselves better able to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives. We will receive those blessings more and more readily as we seek to continue to choose the right, and our abilities to handle the difficult times will increase. We can find happiness, blessings, and comfort in the harshest times of our lives, if we will but choose.

“Each of us,” Elder Bednar states, “can have eyes to see clearly and ears to hear distinctly the tender mercies of the Lord as they strengthen and assist us in these latter days.”

Brothers and Sisters, we are now living in a time of uncertainty, of struggle. But it doesn’t mean we need despair. It does not indicate the Lord has turned His back on His people. Think of this as a refining time, for the Lord to see who will stand tall and strong even when times get tough.

To see who will continue to choose His ways even when the world tells us we’re wrong. To see who will become His chosen people.And when we choose His ways be certain he will pour out upon us His tender mercies, to help sustain, strengthen, uplift, and assist us even when we seem to be at our lowest. Just do not forget – the choice is ours.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What is Your Child/Teen's Love Language?

After finishing “The Five Love Languages” for couples, I immediately headed over to to see if there was any possibility the author, Gary Chapman Ph.D. could have written a book for children. To my surprise (and delight) I discovered Dr. Chapman has written several of these books for different sorts of relationships. The two that immediately caught my attention were the ones for teens as well as children (the latter co-authored with Ross Campbell, M.D.). I ordered both immediately. If there was any way to help me better express my love to my children, as well as the youth I work with at church, I was more than willing to try.

I should first point out that the five love languages – Gifts, Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Words of Affirmation – do not change from book to book. What does differ is the way in which we utilize these simple yet powerful tools.

Perhaps the aspect to loving our children that surprised me the most was until about the age of five children require all of the love languages. They typically don’t show a preference for one over any of the others. For the most part giving these acts of love don’t require a lot of effort. Dr. Chapman brings up the example of how we are with babies. We change their diapers, provide shelter and clothes, and feed and hold them (gifts/acts of service/physical touch). We coo loving words at them (words of affirmation), and practically fight for their attention (quality time).

As they get older we begin to teach them how to care for themselves, but still provide each of the love languages in spades. It’s not until around the age of five that we might see a preference. My oldest loves quality time (sometimes the hardest for me to give), and will let me know when she’s feeling neglected and in need of one-on-one time to just talk or do something fun together. J is words of affirmation. Say the wrong thing in the wrong tone and he visibly crumples before my eyes. We knew from the time he was about three that B was physical touch. He’s our cuddler, our intense giver of hugs and kisses. He’s practically happiest when he can sit on a lap and watch a movie with someone.

Once you see in your growing child a preference for one or even two love languages, don’t be so quick to let the others slip. Really until about the age of ten or twelve (sometimes even beyond) children still require sufficient doses of each of the love languages in order for their love tank (like a gas tank, for those who didn’t read the previous post) to be full. Also be watchful of overusing or being insincere in your love languages. Older children can sense these things, like when you’re not being honest with praise in saying he did a good job cleaning his room when he really didn’t, or constantly complaining about not getting other things done when spending what’s supposed to be special time with your kid.

Crossing over into the occasionally terrifying realm of Teenager-dom is where things get tricky. A teen’s love language doesn’t change, but they way in which they want to accept that love does. It all has to do with the awkward and precarious stage of traveling the road to independence. A part of their transition is to begin pulling away from parents’ tender care, which can be a frightening and confusing time for both parents and teens.

I want you to think for a moment of the English language. Though the language is, for the most part, universal throughout the United States (and elsewhere) there are different dialects as you travel from state-to-state, and in some cases from city-to-city. While the basics are the same, the dialects change. This is the same in the love language of your child as he grows into a teen.

Teens don’t want to be loved in the same way they were loved as a child, for the simple fact it makes him/her feel like a child again. Something he/she doesn’t want to be. The love language doesn’t change, just the way in which we begin speaking it.

For example, a child is neither mature nor physically old enough to provide for herself. She relies on Mom and Dad to help provide her with necessities like meals, laundry, etc. These are considered acts of service. As she grows into a young woman, she may no longer want to have you do absolutely everything for her (as you would for a child). Instead she wants to be taught to do these things for herself, another act of service. I know my oldest likes to help cook a meal or two, which makes her fell very grown up.

Another example can be found with physical touch. I know for a fact B won’t want to sit and cuddle during a movie when he’s 16. I’m not going to like it, but I know it. However, he might not mind sitting next to me to have his back scratched. He’ll be the kid who enjoys contact sports, and will wrestle with his brother. He’ll enjoy high-fives and other more “mature” displays of affection.

Once again you’ll notice your teen is focused on one, maybe two specific love languages, but still find ways to love your teen in all five as it will truly help balance things out. No teen appreciates seeing a sibling receive a gift for doing a job well done and not get one his/herself for doing the same thing. It may not mean as much to them, perhaps not as much as the encouraging words you say, but it will mean something nonetheless.

I’ve put down such a basic idea of what these two books hold. Whether you have children/teens of your own, or you work with them through a job or church calling, I highly recommend picking up these books. You’d be amazed to read what can happen to troubled youth when someone finally starts saying “I love you” in a way they understand. Regardless of how old your kids/teens are, you can still work to building up a great relationship with them, no matter how late in the game you might join in.

The Five Love Languages of Children can be found at
The Five Love Languages of Teenagers can be found at

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What is Your Love Language?

I've been waiting until the month of LOVE to post about these amazing books. I was introduced to them a few years ago when my younger brother and his wife lent the first to my parents, who in turn told me I should pick it up. The name of this amazing book? "The Five Love Languages," by Gary Chapman, Ph.D.

What makes this book such a great find? For me, at least, I've had an extraordinary look into my relationship with my husband, and after 12 years of marriage why I've never doubted his love for me. It comes down to one simple fact: he speaks my love language.

Dr. Chapman is a marriage and family counselor. Over his many years of helping people he discovered something remarkable about the way people give and receive love - not everyone speaks the same love language.

According to Dr. Chapman, languages of love can be separated into five different areas:

Quality Time
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Physical Touch

One of the most common complaints between couples who have been together for a long time is they don't know if their partner still loves them. "He never holds my hand anymore, or gives me hugs," she might say. "She never tells me she loves me anymore, and is often critical" he might say.

In the beginning of a relationship we tend to use all five love languages in wooing the person we're after. It covers all the bases. We like to hold hands, to spend time together, to say words of love, to do things for one another, and to give little gifts. Once the wooing is over, usually a year or two after marriage (after the honeymoon phase), we begin to slip into our own comfort zone of loving.

Unless we're fortunate enough to find someone who speaks the same primary love language, we will begin to wonder if the love is really still there. Think for a moment of a gas tank. When the tank is full, the car runs. When the tank is empty, the car stalls. Now imagine you have a love tank. When the tank is full we feel as though we can accomplish anything and everything! When it's not full, we begin to stall - in our relationships as well as in life.

Finding your significant other's love language isn't always easy, but the biggest key is to look for ways they try to show you love. Be aware that the lovely meal they just slaved all day at is a sign of love (acts of service). The little notes they tuck away for you to find shows love (words of affirmation). Sitting on the couch and cuddling while you watch a movie together shows love (physical touch). Bringing in a flower they picked especially for you shows love (gifts). Doing something they know you like shows love (quality time). Typcially people will love others in the same way they receive love.

Look for ways you give love, or the things that make you feel the most loved. If sitting down and having someone listen (really listen) makes you feel loved, quality time would be your language. If you enjoy it when someone plays with your hair, physical touch would be your language.

Keep in mind many people have a primary love language (the biggest way they give/receive love), and could have a very close secondary love language as well.

My primary love language is words of affirmation. I need to hear the words. I need to be told how great I am! I have treasured letters and notes from loved ones I received way back when I was a kid. Yet a very close second is acts of service. I love to serve others, and appreciate the kind words they give me in return. So my primary and secondary love languages go hand in hand.

Fortunately for me, my husband is much the same way, those we need to reverse the two. His primary language of love is to serve others, but he also so dearly appreciates kind words. I think that's one of the biggest reasons our relationship has been so smooth.

A note of warning. Typically the easiest way we receive love is also the easiest way to hurt us. Someone who craves positive physical touch will feel the most pain when physically abused. Someone who relies on spending quality time with those he/she loves will feel most unloved when ignored or avoided. The surest way to make me feel unloved is to say hateful or mean words. As you learn what language of love your partner has, be careful to keep the experiences positive. Not hurtful.

There are so many wonderful things enclosed within the covers of this book, which I highly recommend not only to those who may be struggling in their marriages, but even to those who feel they have a great relationship with their spouse.
Discovering your partner's love language may not be easy, but I'd highly encourage you to read the book for ways to search this out. We all deserve to feel loved and cherished, and I honestly believe so many marriages would be healthier if spouses were more aware of what the other needs to feel loved. Look for the book in your local library, or here's a link to "The Five Love Languages" on

Tomorrow I hope to talk a little more about how children and teens give and receive love. Believe it or not, there's a big difference.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Inspirations February 8, 2009

It's closing in on 5 pm and only now have I found a few minutes to sit and write. I have to make it quick because we're heading up to see Grandma & Grandpa R as soon as I drag myself away from the computer.

So let's make this quick.

Our Heavenly Father knows us. He knows us better than we could ever possibly know ourselves. He knows us individually. He's aware of our likes and dislikes, our strengths and our weaknesses, etc. He know us.

Most of me recognizes this as truth, yet there are times it's driven home so hard I can hardly believe what I'm experiencing. Such a thing happened this last week as I chatted with one of my sil's. I was preparing for bed and just getting off Facebook chat when she made a little comment that stopped me in my tracks. I felt very inspired to sit down and write her an e-mail, and was given some truth about myself as well.

Last year I was given a priesthood blessing by my husband. In this blessing I was told I needed to go back to school. In typical "Laurie" fashion I immediately freed up loads of time. I downgraded to volunteer status on LDSBlogs, and eventually stopped blogging there altogether. I finished up a bunch of projects I'd been working on, and didn't press myself to try writing in my book (which, due to my depression, I'd let go for too long). By the time I was done I was literally dripping with time.

I applied to SLCC, where I was promptly accepted. My decision to go there was made on three simple things. First, it's close. Second, it's cheaper than a university. And third, I'd gone there many years before, and was delighted to discover many of my credits were still good.

When it came time to really try and register for classes, however, I was stumped. Things simply weren't going my way, and I eventually decided (after my husband drilled it into my head) that I didn't necessarily have to go NOW.

So I've been trying to figure out why at this time Heavenly Father told me I needed to go to school. Couldn't He have waited a few years until things would work better? Like when A is in school, and we could really look into financial aid and all that?

It was only when I put the e-mail to my sil together that I finally got why I was told now what I need to do in a few years, and it boils down to five little words: My Heavenly Father knows me! He knows my passionate and consuming nature. He knows if He tells me to do something I'll throw myself into it. And He knows I need to work things out in my mind for a while before an idea really sinks in.

Not only does He know me, but He knows my children as well. He knows they need their mom right now. He knows I've been so consumed with projects and writing I tend to put their needs second when they don't seem so important to me, like taking a half hour to color with B because he loves to color with Mom. He knows me. He knows my kids.

I cleared my schedule thinking I would fill it with school, but that was not His intention. Instead He told me something I will certainly be doing in a few years to come, but gave me the gift of time to accomplish what needs to happen now. Things like spend time with my children, support my husband in his calling, and better prepare us for any emergency through home/food storage.

Yep. There's no doubt about it. My Heavenly Father knows me. What does He know about you?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Creating Your Own Strength Training Program

I rarely tune in to morning talk/news shows. It has most to do with the fact that the kids rule the television (when I allow it on) during that time and it's basically glued to PBS kids shows. I don't mind at all, as I spend most of my time either typing away on the computer or doing laundry!

This morning I happened to watch the first part of Studio 5, and caught a segment by their Health and Fitness expert who had worked to put together a program to help with basic strength training. As one of my big goals this year is taking control of my health, even if I'm able to improve it just a smidge, I decided to check it out online.

The moves really are basic, and they're well described. She not only gives directions as to how many reps to do, and how long to rest between reps, she also gives pictures. One shows a beginning position, the other shows how your ending position should look.

Seven areas are included in the workout (those areas being legs, back, biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders and abs), and each area is given three different techniques.

The beauty about this system, besides being very easy to do, is you can decide what to work on and which technique you'd like to try. You don't have to stick to the same workout every time. You don't even have to work the same area every time. If you want to work on all seven in one day, go ahead. Make your own workout plan for the week, then switch things up the next by choosing different techniques. If you have a problem area and would like to work on just one, like your back or triceps, not a problem.

Many of the techniques require weights and an exercise ball. I personally don't have a ball (I shudder at the thought of what a good time my kids would have with it), but have some light weights I bought cheap at Wal-mart. 5 and 10 pound weights were used on the show, but until you're able to figure out how much weight your muscles can handle, I'd strongly recommend sticking with 2 or 3 pound weights. Don't forget to listen to your body's warning signals: unusual pain, dizziness or lightheadedness, etc. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

If you'd like to check it out go to Creating a Custom Workout. At the bottom of the screen you'll see the phrase "Click HERE to download...". That will take you to the printed workout.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Inspirations February 1, 2009

It was not difficult to decide on what to post on today. After all it was precisely one year ago, as we celebrated my hubby’s birthday, that he was officially sustained and set apart as a bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It’s been a learning year for us both, though the brunt of the lessons were certainly given to him. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, his two callings of the previous eight years or so went a long way in preparing us for this one. As an executive secretary to two bishops for seven (almost eight?) years he gained so much insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a bishop. Yet even that couldn’t prepare him for the emotional, spiritual, and physical load that would be placed on his shoulders.

Even back then he was gone many evenings. The phone would ring relentlessly with people asking to see the bishop. Whenever the bishop needed to be over at the ward building to meet with someone, my husband’s presence would be required as well. Neither of us realized there were countless hours spent over there just to get paperwork done, or talk with his counselors, or anything that did not require my husband’s presence.

When he was then called to be a high councilman the hours didn’t really change much, just his location. For my family the biggest change there was not having daddy around on Sundays, as his calling required his skills in helping guide another ward (local congregation). It was really good training for our family on how to survive a three-hour meeting slot without disrupting any of them! It also prepared us to see daddy in our main meeting, where he presides, without thinking he absolutely needed to be sitting with us.

I distinctly recall the day we walked through the door of the stake president’s office. Actually my husband was asked to go in first so the two men could converse. I was very pregnant at the time and couldn’t imagine they’d actually call him to be a bishop when we were so close to having a newborn in the house. Fortunately the Lord knows my strengths better than I do myself, and He knew we’d make it.

At least for the first year.

Neither of us could imagine saying no to the calling, and we were asked not to say anything for three weeks. THREE WEEKS! This is rather unheard of, as they prefer to make changes as quickly as possible. The only thing to mar all of this was the news somehow getting out. It was not by our doing, but the stake president seemed to think so anyway. It’s not an easy thing to be accused of doing something you know you didn’t do. And in a way I believe it was a little test, or a hint, being given so we’d begin to understand the need to allow things to roll off our backs.

In any case no harm done, and on my hubby’s birthday we watched as the (then) current bishop was released and then as my husband’s name was called, as the members of the congregation raised their arms to sustain the calling, and as he then left us sitting on the bench so he could take his place at the front of the chapel.

To be honest this first year has both dragged and flown by! He’s gone a lot, but he was gone a lot before. His Sunday meetings start far earlier and end much later. I suppose for us at home things haven’t changed too much. Fortunately the kids are young enough not to be influenced by being “the bishop’s kids.” (In another church this would be akin to being something like the preacher’s kid, or minister’s kid.)

Though I do get to see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes, it’s nothing compared to my husband. Like many spiritual leaders of a congregation, members will come to him to confess, or counsel with, or for guidance, and it is all done knowing he will keep things private between the two of them when possible. If there is sin confessed or a situation uncovered, and it is serious enough, he is required to go to his own leaders for counsel (the stake presidency). But for the most part what goes on behind his closed door stays there.

And that is the hardest for us both to bear. I watch as he comes home from church with his shoulders bowed, a deeply engrained crease between his brows, and usually with a headache. I have no doubt he’d love to unburden the giant load on his shoulders, but he doesn’t. It is a load for him to carry. The biggest thing I can do is make coming home a good experience for him. And usually, after an hour or two (and a few Peanut M&M's), he doesn’t look so tense anymore.

Fortunately the Lord knows we need the good to help us endure the harsh. The love poured out upon our family by members of this ward has been beyond uplifting, and I know we’re all grateful for it. We’ve watched them fulfill their own callings to the best of their abilities. During this Christmas season we witnessed a phenomenal outpouring of selflessness as families who couldn’t provide for themselves were well taken care of. I have heard marvelous words spoken in behalf of my husband, and know the time and energy he puts into helping out the members of this ward are so very appreciated.

This past year has truly been a teaching experience for us. I have seen my husband grow in confidence, in love, and in the ability to make some hard decisions. His connection with the Holy Spirit is strong, and our home is blessed for it.

To any of you who have offered prayers on our behalf, we thank you, wholeheartedly. They have been felt. And now we say goodbye to year one. Only four (???) years to go!