Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good Times with Laurie's Family!

This post should be titled: more pictures than you probably want to see. However, it's my blog so I get to put up all I want!!! (Blogger went weird with the pictures and setting of the words, so I apologize now for whatever just doesn't make sense!)

My big brother came for a visit with his little girl. This was the first time I got to meet Baby B, as her family keeps her locked away in Kentucky so I don't have easy access. For rude, I know.

Some of Baby B's favorite activities include: pulling Daddy's leg hair, sucking on necklaces, and making sure Aunty Laurie stays at least five feet away at all times.

On our first visit little Miss A and I got to spend some time with Grandpa R. TOO CUTE, I say.

Daddy was not allowed to go anywhere without his baby girl. Here's what happened when he needed to use the bathroom. Like any good aunt, I grabbed the camera to get a good picture of the horror.

Fortunately it didn't take long for the big giant to rescue the princess. Wait, what fairytale is that?
We invited Uncle J to come at our house when his cute wife arrived in town (she'd been gone at a work conference). Seeing as how they were the givers of the xbox that saved my computer from rough handling, we thought he should get the chance to come battle the boys in some fun Star Wars games. Aunty M and I were giggling cause Uncle J has a habit of moving his jaw back and forth while concentrating REALLY hard.

Baby B stayed close to Mama as much as possible (still making sure Aunty Laurie didn't get too close), but it didn't stop various cousins from trying to get close and cuddly.

"Why, Mama. Why don't they just go away?!?!?!"
The next day all of the Reynolds clan got together for a big family picture. Here are a few pictures of us playing together.

Like any good uncle, both my brothers ganged up on my oldest for a tickle-fest. (Yeah. Notice I just RUSHED right over to help her!)

This little Troll doll has been around from the time my bros and I were teens. And his eyes still light up! He became a bit of a fixture during our escapades.

This is the newest addition to the Reynolds' clan. Isn't she ADORABLE!?!?!?!

Baby B finally gave up and fell asleep.

Here's Cousin S chillin' away from all the craziness.

And what's a family reunion without some torturing of the boys? Frankly, I was rooting for my brothers.

I think they won!

So there you are. Good times were had by all. Only a few meltdowns happened. And though Grandma R was probably offering thanks when we all finally left, she was sad to let everyone go. I'm missing them all, already.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Inspirations May 23, 2010

We had two missionaries speak today in our main church meeting. They were relating two specific stories from the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ to us. One of the missionaries said something that struck me as being a perfect topic for today's inspiration.

Too bad I forgot to write it down! For the life of my I cannot remember what he'd said. Yet I repeated it over and over in my mind so I wouldn't forget. Obviously that's not working for me. Yet I choose to turn this sad testament of my leaky mind around and say perhaps that's not what the Lord wanted me to write about today, so He's taken it from my mind.

See how I did that? That's the power of POSITIVE thinking. I've had an awful lot of practice in trying to think positive this week - and trust me when I tell you it hasn't been easy. One of my greatest challenges this week has been asking for help.

Thinking positive isn't necessarily easy. Just ask my oldest. She's definitely a "glass half empty" kind of gal. If something could, possibly, just maybe, kinda, sorta have a bad ending, she's sure to think of it. For the last few months I've been trying to work with her in changing her thinking, but how can I really do that when I've struggled with it myself?

This is not to say we should be happy all the time. Certainly even the Savior struggled at times. He certainly grew tired, felt overwhelmed, and even mourned.

"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

"Jesus wept.

"Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!" (John 11:33-36).

Christ knew death was not the end. He knew it would only be a moment before Lazarus would live again. And yet He wept. Not only for His own pain, but for the pain and despair of those He so dearly loved. He took up on Him their pain.

Christ knew fear when He took upon Himself our sins, our trials, and our mortal weaknesses. He knew fear more than any of us could understand when the Spirit of God withdrew from Him, causing Him to cry out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46).

Christ knew anger, or righteous indignation. He went to visit the temple, the House of God, wherein He found people selling their wares, animals, and other sacrilegious things. Did He become angry? Yes. Enough to make a scourge, turn over a few tables, and send these men out of the temple.

"And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, my house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 11:17).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was perfect. In all ways He was perfect. Yet even He feared, He became angry, and He mourned. What do we learn from this? It's not necessary to be happy all of the time! I think we all have a tendency to think the road to perfection means we'll appreciate everything and love at all times and never speak a harsh word. We set ourselves up to believe we're failing if we experience these emotions.

But this is not what the life of Christ has taught us. He taught us that even when we fear, we must have enough faith to go through the scary times knowing the Father is watching over us all. He taught us it's okay to be sad even when we know what wonderful things are waiting for us on the other side. He even taught us it's necessary to reprimand when someone has done something wrong - though I would add to this judging is not for us to do, neither is ruling in unrighteousness. Christ did not hurt anyone when He turned them out of the temple. He tipped over the tables, used His words to reprimand, and did all this because wickedness was occurring in a very sacred place.

In other words, it's okay to be mortal. Our glass will not always be have empty or half full. At times we will find our cups overflowing with goodness and light. Other times our cups will only have a few drops of goodness in it. No matter how we try to be positive, we will sometimes find ourselves sad, or fearful, or any other negative emotions. This doesn't mean we're slipping further away from perfection.

What matters most is what we decide to do with those emotions. Will we allow them to overwhelm us to the point we become stagnant in the gospel and in life? Or will we follow the example of our Savior and act on the negative to find the positive? For even when He mourned there was joy to be found when Lazarus was raised. Even when He turned the wicked out of the temple, forgiveness was there for those who chose to repent. And even when He feared there was faith enough to carry Him through.

Because of this, we have all been given the greatest gift possible - eternal life. So if you're feeling down, imperfect, whatever, don't despair. This too shall pass, and good things are waiting for those who act upon the negative in an effort to find the positive.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Inspirations May 16, 2010

I hardly know where to begin. It's been one of "those" weeks. You know. The type that try a person's soul, that tests us to see what we're really made of. For today's Sunday Inspiration I decided to take just one experience and to talk about.

Home and food storage. That's right. Believe it or not I had my eyes opened just a little as to the benefits of home and food storage.

Okay so really, yes, I've always known it's important. After all, the prophets have been telling us to store extra food and toilet paper for decades!!! For most of us, however, we are not made to see exactly why it's so important. We try to obey, but it may never go beyond this.

For others the importance of building up a storage is brought home because either we, or someone we know, ends up in need.

I have two examples of how being prepared for emergencies can make a difference. Both, interestingly enough, have to do with water.

In a nearby town a water supply became contaminated with a vicious bug. It could wreak havoc on the stomach and digestive system if someone were to drink it. So every bit of water had to be boiled. Items in the house that were washed with the contaminated water had to be rewashed in the boiled water as well. Even toothbrushes had to be sterilized due to possible contamination. It was a horrible situation for quite a number of people, including a sweet friend of mine.

Closer to home, a church member and his family had a water pipe burst right outside their house. He went to go check on something in this place they had moved into only the day before to discover the entire bottom floor had been flooded by water. Because of the situation the water to their home had to be turned off. This meant there was not even a drop to make up a bottle for their baby. Needless to say this was also a situation no one could get through without a few more gray hairs on their heads.

A part of having a complete home storage system is to have water on hand as well. Whether it's little bottles you get at the store, 2 liter soda-pop bottles refilled and put away, or the (what I hope to have one day) 50 gallon drums one keeps in the backyard or basement, it's just as important to have safe water on hand as well as food.

So what's today's inspiration? Think of Joseph of Egypt, who was inspired to store grains during a time of excess so the people would have food during the years of drought. Look for ways to keep some water on hand. Seriously. If you never need it, great. More power to you. But maybe, just maybe, it could come in very handy one day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Laurie's First Counseling Appointment

I was nervous. Really nervous. Like giant bats in the tummy sort of nervous. For me it had little to do with saying or doing something wrong. Rather I was fully prepared for whoever it was to say, "You're fine. Why are you here?"

I was first asked to fill out some papers - I know, it's quite a shocker. Who would have thought a therapist might need to assess his patient? It was interesting, though, to sit down and take a good look at myself: how I handle things, my thoughts regarding myself, my relationships with family and friends.

In just a few statements, wherein I was asked to rate the accuracy or inaccuracy of each one as it applied to me, I began to see a pattern emerging. When it came to any statement involving perceptions of myself, I automatically marked down the worst number it gave me. I thought about that during the few minutes I had to myself before Dr. J came to get me. One thought in particular kept coming to the forefront of my mind: no matter how often those around me tell me how great or sweet or loving I am, I cannot see myself as being worthy of the compliment. There's always this niggling voice in the very back, darkened corner of my mind that asks, "Are you really all that great? Or are they just saying it to be nice?"

As Dr. J and I sat and talked, he began going over some basic questions to see where I stood in my life. After just a few minutes he sat back and said, "Well, Laurie, I'm not quite sure why we're here talking today." Oh no! This really WAS a waste of his time! Luckily he didn't stop there :) He asked what ultimately brought me in and I began to describe to him all that had been happening lately with my depression, my struggles at not being able to fix things for everyone, and how much I wasn't able to handle stress in my life. Then I told him what I hoped to get out of our sessions: when the depression triggers would start and I could tell things might go downhill quickly, I wanted to know the tools to help myself before the depression took over.

After quite a bit of talking he began to tell me about Cogninive Therapy, something he wanted to try with me. He said there were three different areas involved in treating depression. I've already tended to one with medication. The other two involve environment and attitude. All three sections affect each other. They interlock. If one begins to falter, the other two will soon follow. Conversely, if one is in the depths of depression and begins working on just one area, the other two will begin to get better.

I could see some truth in that. I've been on medication for about a year, and while most of the time I'm doing really well, I still struggle. As I listened to Dr. J I realized it's because I've only changed one area without focusing on the other two.

He recommended a book, "Mind Over Mood," by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky. It's a workbook he said had helped so many of his patients, and he felt as though it could help me as well. He gave me an example of how our initial thoughts in any situation can influence our mood.

Think of a man who hears a crash in the middle of the night. If his first thought is, "Someone's breaking into the house!" how is he going to feel? Frightened, anxious, etc. His body will react to these initial thoughts. Now what if this same man hears a crash in the middle of the night and his first thought is, "Darn cat!" what might he feel? Annoyance, irritation, etc. Two very different thoughts creating very different reactions.

Cognitive Therapy is supposed to help me recognize the trouble thoughts and replace them with others that will have a healthier impact on my body and mood.

I just picked the book up today. It cost a bit of money, about $25, but what I really like is all the worksheets they want you to do are recopied into the back of the book in case you need to make copies.

I go in for my next appointment next week. I'm hoping to have gone through the first chapter by then, but I don't want to rush through the book. I want to take this slow enough to really understand what I need to fix so I can be a much happier, healthier wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Inspirations May 9, 2010

First and foremost, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!! And I don't care if you've given birth to a billion kids (owie), adopted or fostered a million more, teach children/youth, are an aunt, or have in any other way influenced a child for the better, you get to be celebrated on this day. And now for my dedication to mothers:


Michael took one look at his wife and ordered her off to their room. One by one he collected their three children and after much squealing, wiggling, and story-telling, got them all settled for the night.

He found his wife, Kayla, slumped on the end of their bed. He could hardly see her bowed and frazzled form under the millions of uniforms she'd had to put on today. Like an eternal day of playing charades, he thought.

With silent steps he slipped over to her hunched form, reached up, and took off the chef's hat. "Breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention a billion snacks in between," she whispered. Kayla had never even boiled water before they married, and now most days found her feeling like a short-order cook.

One by one Michael peeled off the military boots. "It's not like the beds were going to make themselves," she sighed. It was no fun acting the part of drill-sergeant. He admitted to being surprised she could get the kids to tow the line. Her heart was so soft she should have been a pushover. Not his Kayla.

He pulled off the horn-rimmed glasses and pried the calculator out of her hand. "Balanced the checkbook. We're good for another month," she said. Though she had a good head for numbers, taking over the household finances had been daunting. He'd kept her at it, though. That was something his father had taught him to do, in case the unthinkable happened. She needed to know how to take care of things.

The apron slipped off her hunched shoulders and dropped from her slim waist. He took his time in taking the rubber gloves off her hands. "I'm only using paper plates tomorrow," she said. "He chuckled. "Too many dishes?" She nodded, at last able to move her head. It was a good sign when she began to joke.

The weights strapped to her ankles plunked to the floor. "Walked a mile in 'em. Look at those calf muscles. Pretty soon I'll make Popeye jealous." He watched as she stretched her long legs, and thought about how many unnoticed miles those legs walked during the day, taking her here, there, and everywhere, all in behalf of her family.

Michael noticed her unnaturally bulging arms. There was no way those make from lifting weights. He reached up her sleeves and began pulling out a dozen little socks. "And everyone thinks the dryer eats them," she said with a laugh. "I'll take care of them later," he promised.

It took some effort, but at last he worked off the doctor's coat. "Three scraped knees, a bump on the head, and a cut lip," came her faint words. "Typical day in the Thompson household," he said. She smiled. This woman hated the sight of blood, but it didn't stop her when the children were hurting.

He was surprised to see the carpenter's belt hanging off her hips. "I finally got the shelf up in the kitchen." Michael had offered to do it a hundred times, but she insisted on doing it herself. Perhaps she was taking the self-sufficient thing too far.

The next coat was hard to get off. It contained countless buttons, laces, and buckles, as if it were purposely hard to shake off this role. Though it had started out white, the hearty fabric was now covered in several years worth of sticky hand prints, slobbery kisses, dried up tears, and hundreds of cuddle-causing wrinkles. Kayla didn't say a word as he at last worked her arms out of the sleeves. It was never easy for her to take this coat off, but he placed it gently on a chair next to the bed in case she had to quickly put it back on in the middle of the night. Emblazoned on the back in big, colorful letters was one, short word: MOM.

Only one thing remained. It stayed until they were both ready for bed. He hoped this role felt like more of a comfort than a burden, but sometimes he wasn't sure. She wore the lovely pink shawl as they talked, embraced, and prayed together. Just as he was about to drop off to sleep he heard his wife kneel on the floor, where the shawl labeled "Wife" slipped from her shoulders.

Her smile could be heard amid her sigh of, "Father, it's me. Just me."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Benefits of Music

A friend of mine posted a link to this article and I wanted to share it with all of you. I'm a huge advocate of the powers of music, and have seen it work miracles in many areas of my own life. Here's an article on how it can benefit the lives of everyone out there.

More than Melody

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Inspirations May 2, 2010

It was a most extraordinary Sabbath Day for me. There's no possible way to describe the love and laughter I experienced, not to mention the power of the Holy Spirit shared between church members.

Today was Fast Sunday in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are given the chance to fast - or not eat - for two meals, and it is done with a specific purpose in mind. We may fast and pray for ourselves or for others, for those who suffer with bad health, or those who just suffer. We may pray for answers to questions or solutions to difficult situations. Or, as I did today, we can simply fast to show our obedience.

Fasting is not easy. Just ask any teenager. One young man from my own youth used to describe it as "Bad Breath Sunday." Many of us end up with headaches from lack of food, become ornery when our blood sugar drops, and may feel faint as the hours drag on. But ask any person whose health does not permit them to fast if it is a sacred and beautiful thing to do, and I promise you they will say, "absolutely."

Another of the many purposes behind fasting is the chance to allow our spirits to come to the forefront. We often think of satiating the hunger of our bodies, yet often forget about the hunger of our souls. These sacred creations need to be fed as well, and need to feel of the Holy Spirit often if we are to be truly balanced in our lives.

So on these Fast Sundays those in our church are given the chance to bear their testimonies, or speak of the witnesses they have received of the Spirit. We call this time, Testimony Meeting. Members of the various congregations are encouraged to stand up and bear a testimony about anything regarding the Church, Christ, and His gospel.

Oh what a meeting we had today. There are fasting days when long stretches of silence beg to be broken. Not so today. I have rarely been so blessed by the feeling of love, light and truth as I was permitted to experience today. And it all started with my son, B.

Just as the first person who stood to bear his testimony finished, B sidled up to me and whispered in my ear, "Can I bear my testimony?" I asked if he wanted me or Daddy to help, and he asked me to come up. Then he said, "Besides, if you come up and help me you can bear your testimony too!" I chuckled inside. Sometimes it really does take a child to lead us.

His testimony was simple, declaring the beautiful feelings of his childlike heart. With some help from Mom he expressed love for the Savior and our Heavenly Father, for his family, and said he knew the Church and the prophet were of God. How wonderful.

Once he was done he raced off the podium :) And of course it was then my turn. As a youth I used to bear my testimony often. For some reason growing older made me feel more reticent about sharing it. Not until my husband was called as a bishop did I find myself feeling the spiritual nudge to share it more often.

I never know what's going to come out of my mouth when I stand at the microphone. Sometimes I go intending to talk about one thing and find myself talking about something entirely different. Other times I forget what I said, and realize the words placed in my mind had nothing to do with me, but were meant for someone else.

That's how it was today. After I sat down I didn't remember much of what I said, but was instead given the gift of listening to the testimonies of many others. My own, wonderful husband, bore a witness to many truths that was so powerful I could feel the Spirit whispering to my heart his words were truth.

Two other testimonies in particular touched my heart immensely, and I wanted to share a little about them, as I used to teach them when I was over the Young Women.

The first was Emma. Though short in stature, there is nothing small about this remarkable woman. Her capacity for knowledge can leave one reeling, and there is no doubting the spirit that resides within is a giant among mankind. I remember only a few years ago sitting in my car at the end of an activity night, when she would ask, "Can we talk for a minute?"

Naturally that one minute lasted about an hour. Yet I never regretted one minute listening as she questioned choices her friends would make, whether or not she had a testimony of the Church herself, and wondering how she could stay strong to certain values when everyone around her chose to walk off the path.

I'm sure she has never felt strong, not when it comes to her self-image. Even today she seemed to question whether or not she's living up to the expectations of her family. Yet there is no doubt in my mind just being who she is - a creative, brilliant, passionate woman who does in fact know who she is even if she forgets every once in a while - happens to be more than her wonderful parents could have ever hoped for. She is my "sister" in so many ways, and I see a lot of myself in her. Listening to her mother express love for Emma soon after stood as a witness to how much she is loved.

The second was Maile. There are no words to describe this extraordinary woman and leave you with even an inkling of what one mere minute in her presence is like. She is sunshine and laughter and love and hope and peace all rolled into one. She makes you smile with just one word and can inspire others to be better, happier, and more true to themselves. And lately she has been lost.

The death of her father was a huge blow to the entire family. Though it happened a few years ago she still misses him more than mere words can ever possibly express. Her thoughts touched me today as she told us how she and her dad had never planned her life beyond college. When he died Maile suddenly didn't have a plan, and so college dragged on. How could she continue life when her dad wasn't around any more to help her plan it. I've watched her struggle immensely these last few months as she found herself forced to make decisions on her own. Depression hit her hard, and my husband and I grew increasingly concerned.

Guess what. She graduates Friday. She graduates!!! And now she has a plan for her life. She will be going on a mission for our Church, something many of us have felt was the path she needed to take. And the happiness simply poured out of her voice as she spoke those words. It flowed through the room and right into my heart.

Emma spoke of the times she's just "talked" with her Heavenly Father knowing He will simply listen. Maile spoke of how she needs to start having those talks with her Heavenly Father, for He is the one who will help her plan the rest of her life. And my heart sang with the chance I had to see two very strong women, who used to my "my girls," coming to find themselves in this very scary world. I consider myself honored to know them, to love them, and to be loved by them.

Today my heart is full, even if my belly is empty. My spirit has been fed and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father, to my Savior Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit for filling me with their love, light and truth. I am truly blessed.