Category: seeking light and truth

Fasting: Getting Beyond the Hungry and Grumpy

I’ve been studying the young women lesson, “Why do we fast?” and it reminded me of a journal entry I wrote last year after I had completed a fast (in our church we voluntarily go without food and drink at least once a month). This was a time when I felt like I came to a better understanding of why we fast. Hope it helps!

“Today I decided to fast longer than the usual short and pretty insignificant fast of skipping breakfast and stuffing my face as soon as I get home from church.
I decided to really complete the two meals of fasting. 

Part of me resisted it because I have a very hard time functioning without food. I get grumpy and when I am grumpy I’m short, reactive, impatient, and mean. And I end up thinking to myself, how is fasting a spiritual experience if I don’t have the spirit at all?? Why are we asked to fast if it ends up being a negative thing for me?

Well you know that scripture that says,
 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: (Matt 7:7)”
It’s true. (See receiving personal revelation post)

After thinking about it, I figured one of the reasons we are asked to fast is because we are giving up our natural desires and letting our spirit conquer and be in charge. I learned that my experience with fasting was basically never getting to the ‘let the spirit be in charge’ part because my body was just too consumed with the fact that it was hungry and grumpy. I was letting my body take the reins because it does by default when I am hungry; and it becomes exceedingly difficult to take over again until I get fed! But I needed to win this time. Once I realized the real war that was raging: body vs. spirit, I knew I could win.

After I realized this dilemma in my fast, I knew how to better approach it. Today I decided that I would succumb to having the spirit instead of giving into my natural human urges. It didn’t start off well. It was end of daylight saving time, which sounds like it was a good thing because of the extra hour. But that knowledge of extra hour made us sleep in and take our sweet time while getting ready to go to church.

We were late. I was hungry and irritable and snarky at my husband and impatient with my kids. I felt myself getting worked up. But I caught it before it got crazy. I reminded myself of my goal. Even though almost every part of me had no desire and it seemed impossible that I could actually get over the starving/grumpy aspect of fasting, I chose to do what I could to stay calm and choose the spirit. And I kid you not, magical things happened that day. Magic that may have not been realized by anyone else but me, but magic nonetheless. I was awakened to things I would not have realized had I not been fasting.

I was very prompted to bear my testimony. Even though I’m happy to bear my testimony, it can be an intense experience, and many times it is just more comfortable NOT bearing it. But when you know, you know, and so I did it. I did it because I knew that the Heavens and my spirit really wanted me to express those those things lying deep within my heart. I talked about the war in heaven and how it hasn’t ended. Each day we choose whom we will serve.

Each moment of every day we decide if we choose the spirit or not. If we succumb to anger or love. Self pity or self respect. It is about overcoming our human nature and embracing our very real and true divine nature. I know when I choose the spirit, my spirit enlarges and my capacity to keep making those good spiritual choices is strengthened. If we don’t choose God we are choosing to give captivity to the devil. If we aren’t aware of it, we will just choose the default, our human nature, which is actually to serve our natural carnal desires. The war is still RAGING!

Anyway, I felt so much better after that. It was a spiritual release! People thanked me for my testimony (which is actually a really awkward experience for me) but I’m grateful that what I was able to say through the spirit was able to touch them.

During the rest of my fast I was happy and full of the spirit. I didn’t feel grumpy or weighed down. Even though I could feel the physical weakness of not eating, my thoughts were not focused on eating or my discomfort. I engaged in activities that could enlarge and feed my soul. I felt ideas and inspiration for my church calling and for life flow freely. I felt more connected to my true self and to my God.”

If you are doing a lesson, here is a handout you could use. Invite them to write answers they find regarding fasting in Isaiah 58:3–12Print

 

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6 ways to be happy during tough times: My determination to be happy while pregnant

6-ways-to-be-happy-while-pregnant

I don’t know about you, but pregnancy has hardly ever had a positive connotation to me. I mean, of course it’s wonderful because the end result is new human life, but the trip to get there is often notorious for being nothing short of an infernal doom of pain, sacrifice, discomfort and misery.
At least that had been my attitude about it my first two pregnancies and talking to other preggo peers, it seemed to be the general consensus. Nausea, vomiting, moodiness, pain, gas, bloating, emotional breakdowns, swelling, breakouts, and constipation hardly seemed to be the formula for a cheery wife and mother.

The thing that really got me the most was the hormonal moodiness so often accompanied with pregnancy. I mean, sure, I can’t control the discomfort of a tiny human limiting my lung capacity or jumping on my bladder. But to feel like I’m robbed of even being able to have any reins on my own feelings because pregnancy hormones have savagely ruled my universe, seemed unfair. As I have understood it, my entire reality as a female is placed on my feelings. To have zero control of the roller coaster of emotions to me seemed like “feeling happy” was simply out of my jurisdiction during pregnancy.

pregnant-and-happy-early

Here I was at twenty-one weeks. Hubby was 271 wks. Both making progress.

I was preparing for this pregnancy and bracing myself for the pregnant monster, while simultaneously coming to that unanimous agreement in the internal counsel of decision makers in my brain that happiness was just not in the cards while pregnant. Suddenly, a little voice out of nowhere in my mind stepped up and meekly but boldly said “Wait, wait just one minute, there is no way happiness can totally be robbed from you. Happiness is something you can own and have no matter what!”
The serious decision-making counsel in my brain rumbled in indiscernible conversation amongst themselves considering what had been spoken and finally the judge pounded her gavel and proclaimed, “There HAS to be a way to be happy during pregnancy and I WILL FIND IT!!!”

must-be-a-way-to-be-happy

Pardon my imagination, but I hope you get the point.

At that moment I began a quest to find joy, peace and happiness in a place I generally thought I had little say or control- PREGNANCY.

It has been an AWESOME experience seeking bliss in bloating (if you will). I’ve honestly learned a lot and I’m excited to share!

pregnant-and-happy

Third little man coming end of August 2014.

I talk specifically about trying this while pregnant but hopefully you and I can remember to apply these same ideas whether or not you are expecting. Note to self: remember this when I am struggling!!

Do everything in your power to clear out your life to the basics.

First thing I did when we were trying to conceive was to weed out my life. Much of my struggle in life has been trying to take on too much. I have constantly fooled myself into thinking I NEEDED to do so many things and then felt like I was drowning in responsibility and obligations…that I had either created in my mind or signed up for myself! (See my obsession with getting things done post)

It is empowering to realize how much say we have over how much we take on. I have the power to say “yes, no, or at a later time.” It is humbling to know when I can wisely say “no” because, seriously, I am ONE HUMAN BEING with limited capacities and more importantly because: my energy, time and attention can be spent more wisely and in more worthwhile ways such as keeping my personal peace and sharing that with those closest to me.

I had learned my lesson during my last pregnancies that my bandwidth is simply limited while growing a human and any extra stress (on top of two demanding little children) makes me totally emotionally unstable. An emotionally unstable pregnant lady does not make a patient or happy wife or mother.

So one of the first things I did was let go of my biggest client and declined several work offers. I cleared my plate of unrealistic expectation…actually I just have learned to take each day as it comes with little or no expectations…it has worked wonders and I find myself gladly doing good things for myself and others with little or no pressure. Oh it’s wonderful.

Give yourself a chance to thrive: Finding true self reliance
I’m starting to understand what true self reliance means and I’m not talking about just financially (though it applies). If I am doing what I can to stay emotionally, physically and spiritually filled, then I can be in the best personal position to GIVE and fill others. Letting myself get deprived in any of those areas actually causes me to act more selfishly in those respects without even realizing it because functioning on depletion motivates me to act resentfully, grudgingly and TAKE instead of GIVE.

I am learning no one can actually give me most of what I REALLY NEED. No one can get enough sleep FOR me, eat right FOR me, seek spiritual things FOR ME, manage my emotions in a healthy way FOR ME. Those are personal choices I must make every moment to stay balanced and happy, and I cannot blame or make anyone responsible to take care of ‘my needs’ (uh, HUGE light bulb discovery on how to be happy in marriage for me.). Then a magical thing happens: when I am constantly filling up (recharging myself, taking time to be filled, rejuvenate and realign) I can give freely to others and then I am more OPEN to receive more from heaven and from others. I heard a yoga instructor say, “It takes as much humility to receive as it does to give.”

And it has stuck with me since because it is so true! If I want to truly ‘receive’ from what others can give me and feel filled, I must be in an open and humble position to accept and receive. Similarly, to truly give of myself takes just as much humility. It essentially creates a flow, a free exchange of receiving and giving between me, heaven and others. I allow myself to fill up spiritually, emotionally and physically so I can give to others.  In turn, heaven and others bless me with renewed spiritual, physical and emotional energy that I can continue to give. It is a perpetuating cycle that expands!!  IT is awesome.

During my last pregnancy, I found myself insanely needy (my poor husband had no clue what to do with me anymore!!). I was constantly emotionally, physically, mentally exhausted because I focused so much on ‘expectations’ of what I needed to be doing (whether false or real). That meant I gave little thought to what I actually needed to thrive. I bull dozed my way through life without sincerely listening to myself and those around me. Being in tune with myself by living a conscious and calm life has guided me in understanding how to nourish myself physically and how to emotionally let go of negative feelings. I have also been able to feel free to give to others instead of feeling so burdened by having to do so much for everyone else (because I was drowning so bad!). It has been a freeing and healing experience.

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Less is more

We live in a society where things move at such a fast pace, where we feel the more we hurry and do and spend and get is the more we’ll get out of life. It becomes easy to miss life’s real purposes. It may even seem totally counter-intuitive to do less to get more out of life.

During pregnancy, there were many days spent nauseously staring off into space and I was unable to physically do much. It would have been easy to write myself off as a worthless lump and spin off into an oblivion of frustration or depression. I can honestly say that those still moments of quiet discomfort have been some of the sweetest. Because in that stillness I was totally able to be present in that moment, soaking in my sweet little ones or deep pondering thoughts.

If I had focused on what I ‘should be doing’ or all the ways I was uncomfortable, it would have been difficult to experience this. Even though I did less, I feel like I experienced more deep and connecting moments. Because I allowed my soul to experience serenity and nourishment by doing this, I was eventually filled with more energy and  motivation that I otherwise would not have had. I eventually did ‘get things done’ but in a calm and focused way.

Focus on the timeless things-

Many things in life are mundane, trivial and of little value. The sad part is that we often put a lot of time, stress and attention to those things that are in the end fleeting and ultimately unfulfilling (watch this video).

Focusing on a relationship with God, others and yourself as seemingly intangible as they seem, in the end is the substance of eternity, and goes beyond this mortal realm. Relationships are more valuable than any worldly thing, possession, status or achievement. Focusing on the priceless brings things into real perspective and helps everything fall into its proper place. It brings peace and calm in an otherwise turbulent situation.

As I am better learning this principle during a sensitive time like pregnancy, it has been helpful in dropping unnecessary things to gear up my energies in providing my loved ones with the kindness they deserve.

I found this in a small way. Instead of trying to frantically clean up the house before the hubby came home with the little energy I had, I have often chosen to take a break, rest, relax, meditate and realign. So when my husband got home I wouldn’t just explode at him in utter exhaustion, complaint and frustration over my burnt out day(so that is how I can help myself from being a complaining, nagging wife??? Take care of my needs so I don’t have to dump on him?? Eureka). The magic was that most of the time I still got the house as clean as I wanted later that evening without the tension, and hubby would even help!

Dealing with yucky feelings: Because you will have them and it is normal and ok.
Sometimes I still feel yucky no matter what I’m trying to do ‘right’. There are times I don’t feel good about people, or myself, or my situation or sometimes I can’t even figure out what is really bothering me. Negative feelings fluctuate throughout the day, and with added pregnancy hormones or when you are going through a rough time, they can seem totally consuming or intense.

One of the greatest things I’ve learned is to be really aware and objective with my feelings. Often those feelings can be so potent and feel so REAL, urgent, and legit, but I’ve learned not to let them decide for me. When particularly down, gloomy or negative, my immediate impulse is to do or say something mean, complain, or do things to muffle or distract me from them (er…can you say eat or social media??). But all those things only feel good for a little bit, and later I feel even worse.

Here are some tips for dealing with yucky feelings:

  • Try to become more aware of what is going on inside of me
  • Validate my own feelings
  • Consciously make decisions and not let those feelings choose my ‘behavior’ for me
  • Let go or let them pass

For instance, even though I feel like telling everyone off, I can consciously choose to be polite. Then I can consciously do things to release that negative feeling in a good way to help me be in a better place (i.e. take time to cool off, process emotions, forgiveness, even take a nap etc). I don’t have to let my negative feelings be in charge of me!!! For more info on managing feelings watch this video/read post.

own your feelings, but don't let them own you

Turning the power to something higher

I wish I could say that I figured this out on my own and successfully achieved happiness because of very own ability. It isn’t true. The real reason I have come to any wisdom or understanding or ability to be happier has little to do with me. I have learned that being able to enjoy peace and joy in difficult or even easy times has everything to do with allowing a higher power to aid you to it. It has meant relying heavily on the Spirit, the divinity inside each of us. Through that power available within, I have turned this sensitive time of pregnancy that has typically been a time of heightened pain, annoyance, irritation, frustration and emotional distress, to a time of heightened reflection, gratitude, serenity and peace.

It has been amazing and totally beyond my comprehension. I have been faced with many home situations that would have irritated the crazy out of me while pregnant, but somehow, I had the power to choose not to be. It has been during those times that I become aware that I was not alone, that there was a divine power helping me and guiding me. This has led me to realize the importance of refilling spiritually everyday, every moment, especially when I start feeling worked up or out of whack. Praying, reading truths in scriptures or other sources and meditating has been my lifeline during this pregnancy.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t have my really bad moments, but now I better understand what I need to do to turn and realign myself again. It is so GREAT. It has been a life lesson I hope I continue to take with me. I’ll have to remind myself, “Hey if I can figure out how to be happy while pregnant, I can totally find happiness anywhere.”  Heh. Tell that to me when I deliver at the end of this summer and have a sleepless newborn screaming at me in my insanely sleep deprived state. That will be my next quest…finding joy as a sleepless zombie with a screaming infant, two other demanding kids…and sore boobs. Yes. That will be the ultimate challenge. Stay tuned.

32-wks

32wks. First time I’ve ever tried to workout during my whole pregnancy. I think it’s helped me stay above the blues. I’m slowing down now with workouts but trying to hit the pool a couple times a week. Swimming feels AMAZING with a whale belly 😀

Ok, I know I’m pregnant, but I just watched this video and it totally made me cry.

It is totally what I wanted to express with this post in an even better way!

Receiving Inspiration and Guidance for your Life

receiving-inspiriation-guidance-life

I believe our souls are inherently seeking divine guidance that will lead us personally to true and lasting peace, happiness and success in all areas of our lives.

The great news is that we are not alone in this earthly journey! We are children of a God that is happy and eager to impart His wisdom, light and guidance that will lead us along our way to become beings greater than we could have even imagined ourselves!! He wants to lead us to success–most likely not in the way our puny human minds imagine it, but only as a deeply loving, all-knowing, all-powerful Father understands it. Success in a far greater and deeper way than we even thought possible!!

How is this done? How in the world do we tap into that Heavenly knowledge that can direct us back to spiritual success? How do we train our mind, body and soul to seek out the living water of truth available to us instead of accepting and following every other voice, impulse and direction that is fighting for our attention? How do learn to LISTEN? To that sweet, gentle, still small voice of the Spirit that will guide us to truth and righteous?
” And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your atrust in that bSpirit which leadeth to do dgood—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to gjudge righteously; and this is my Spirit. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall aenlighten your bmind, which shall fill your soul with cjoy; And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.” D&C 11:12-14

I’m teaching the YW lesson “How Do I Receive Personal Revelation?” and I’m excited to share insight I have learned through studying the lesson and the wise words of apostles and prophets on this topic!! I created this worksheet for personal or classroom use as a guide to finding answers in our lives. Below is a worksheet of my personal elaboration on each section of the worksheet.

personal-revelation-01

 

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First, We Gotta Ask QUESTIONS!!
You know that scripture that says, “Ask, and it shall be bgiven you; cseek, and ye shall find;dknock, and it shall be opened unto you:” It is FOR REAL. It is real because Heavenly Father seriously desires to and does reveal and open the gates of Heaven for us. But it is contingent upon our efforts to seek those answers! Posing big or small questions engages our mind and spirit to receive answers!  When we sincerely and continually ponder and seek divine direction in our lives, we become OPEN. Our eyes see what we otherwise would not have seen, our ears hear what we otherwise would not have heard and our hearts take in what would have otherwise passed by us. It is a conscious effort on our part, but receiving nuggets of wisdom and understanding from our Father in Heaven can be a constant and infinitely rewarding prize.

Removing Spiritual Blocks
We need to remember that God’s plan is NOT to hold back guidance that will lead us to greater happiness. But He simply CANNOT communicate what is needed if we are unwilling to listen or not in a position to listen. Think ‘spiritual toddler.’ If we are having a ‘tantrum’ over a trial, we most likely won’t listen to a loving parent who genuinely wants to assist us. This happen much more than we are probably willing to admit. Just like it would be like in leading a small child we gotta be that calm child, who is finally eager to listen, who isn’t crying wildly in frantic panic, who isn’t just concerned about getting ‘her way’. Elder Henry B. Eyring said, “Many of us, in moments of personal anguish, feel that God is far from us. The pavilion that seems to intercept divine aid does not cover God but occasionally covers us. God is never hidden, yet sometimes we are, covered by a pavilion of motivations that draw us away from God and make Him seem distant and inaccessible. Our own desires, rather than a feeling of “Thy will be done,”2 create the feeling of a pavilion blocking God.”  Read his talk.

spiritual-toddler

Living a life to have a connection with the Spirit.
I cannot think of better way to receiving guidance from God than to revolve our daily efforts in striving to keep and listen to the Spirit. It means being humble enough to listen to that quiet voice that speaks right into our hearts to practice patience, to forgive oneself and others, that feeling that sweetly nudges us to listen closer and more empathically to our loved ones, that split second thought that says to know not indulge in gossip when the moment arises, that gentle feeling that encourages us to let go of our anger or frustration over someone or a situation. It tries to communicate with us ALL DAY LONG but if we are too distracted, too stressed, too busy, too tired, too consumed with worldly pursuits and entertainment it is SO easy to miss, so easy to be totally desensitized and disconnected from it. But if we but make small efforts day by day to invite the Spirit, to keep it in the forefront of our hearts and minds, to take care of our bodies, to read the truths found in scriptures, and talks and church magazines, to manage our emotions, to keep a clean mind and heart, then we will open communication from heaven to help us with our questions, concerns, decisions and it is AMAZING the feeling and life we can have for ourselves.  “It is important that our daily activities do not distract us from listening to the Spirit.” -Richard G. Scott, read his talk about “Obtaining personal revelation and inspiration for your life”

Understanding what it feels like and what it means to receive revelation and divine guidance.
I believe that when we speak of REVELATION, we can make it out to seem to so big and sometimes so sensationalized that we can miss that we have already received guidance or miss the answer that Heavenly Father is trying to communicate with us. Even though there are incredible stories of faith found in the scriptures and even in our church culture of receiving answers to prayers, most of the most miraculous experiences are quiet, personal, and seemingly undramatic. The truth is that our seemingly anticlimactic answer to our long time pleas and prayers, if we open our hearts of understanding, can hold even more deep and much more powerful influence in our personal lives and lives of others than the most sensationalized, awe inspiring, mouth dropping answers and miracles performed in history!!

“And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul—”
-Heleman 5:30

My personal experience with receiving inspiration and guidance
I think and ponder about a subject and that I’m curious about/ have questions about or need direction with. When I am connected to the spirit, I feel like my thoughts are heighten, my mind is expanded to understand things in a broader eternal perspective. But it is not with my continual and conscience desire to know, ponder and understand truth.

Heavenly father rarely just dumps revelation out of nowhere (though at times it may seem sudden). He wants to direct us to the answer thought by thought, feeling by feeling, process by process, line upon line as it says. It is like a treasure hunt where we continually gather evidence, clues along the way as make decisions and press forward. We learn bit by bit as we are willing and ready to receive it. As we receive it we can feel the truthfulness of a principle.

God allows for this type of learning because when we come upon the answers through our own diligent seeking and willingness to receive, those answers become a PART of us. We have made an effort to be taught by the Holy Ghost. When it communicates with us it goes straight to the heart, not as an external passing thought but to the deep and spiritual part of our being that swallows and accepts truth for itself and becomes an integral part of our nature as we continue to apply the truth we have learned. It is receiving and experimenting by putting it to the test, trusting in God and in ourselves. It is a learning process, it is a journey.

I love Elder Bednar’s analogy
 (here is a great vid on it) on receiving light. I believe that revelation be sometimes received in all three ways that he explains (light switch, sunrise, and foggy day). We can have a light ‘switch moment’ or aha moment of what we should do. Then we have to move forward to make that decision in our lives step by step, noticing more and more guidance and understanding (like a sunrise). Yet we may be traveling as what may seem a fog day, not know everything ahead of us, trusting with each step with what we can see and having faith that are moving in the right direction.

Keep pressing forward in faith my friend!!

Object Lesson


My obsession with ‘getting things done’ and how it blocked real happiness.

getting-things-done-list

It was the 4th or 5th time that month rewriting my ideal ‘routine’ for the day. I was striving to create the optimal schedule that would make time for everything I needed to get done. I felt like there was so much for me to do all the time that surely the only way to rid myself of all that stress was to get it all done right, by staying on top of it, without missing a step and pushing myself until everything was complete. Otherwise, I frankly felt my life would fall apart even more than it already was (gasp! oh no! I could NOT let that happen)
I was walking on this precarious tightrope of to-dos that any wind could knock my socks and I over into an internal oblivion of despair. See, I was carefully planning and doing all this to run a peaceful household, and be the optimal mother I felt I could be but the element that seemed to throw everything off were be the people I claimed to serve.

messes
It was easy for a 2 year old to break schedules, make way more messes than I could catch up with, not be entertained for the slightest second so I could just get one thing done! I counted on his naps for me to finish client work but his naps were increasing becoming more and more unpredictable or non-existent, and my irritation and stress levels were exponentially increasing.

Even though I planned moments to be with my child—to go out with him, read to him, teach him— I missed out on most of the enjoyment of it all because my mind was fixated on tasks, on the next to do, on everything else that needed to be done.

2yr-old-at-park

I was there physically and even seemingly emotionally as I expressed with an enthusiastic high-pitched mom voice praise and excitement over the things he did but inside there was just a ticking clock impatiently waiting for him to go down for a nap or entertain himself so I could do something else and hopefully knockout some more of the to do’s heavily weighing me down.

It became an obsession. An addiction, even. This poisonous drive to just get things done that was creeping into all the crevices needed to create stress and crack precious relationships.

I become a slave to an agenda, an idea of what my home should look like, what I should be doing do during the day so I could feel complete, accomplished and finally at peace. I evaluated how I felt about myself based on what my house looked like and what I got done that day. I often went to sleep discouraged and woke up totally overwhelmed. (See post about Feeling Enough)

I felt like a slave. You’ve heard misery loves company, right? I’m seeing that EVERY emotion, good or bad, loves it too. If I felt like a slave, certainly everyone around me should be one too!

I found myself impatiently nagging my kid and my husband to do things.
I started to only view that guy I married as an instrument to get more things done so he could just lighten my load.

To my dismay, he simply couldn’t keep up with my demands. I became resentful if he didn’t do as I asked. Even if he did do it, I’d be mad inside because he didn’t do it quite right, or not as I expected or because he didn’t just do it without being asked! I was never happy with anything he did! It was ridiculous.

I couldn’t handle him relaxing and watching TV because, heavens, I NEVER got to do that, why should he??? He should be doing chores, like me!! I was tired all the time but never took a rest like him!! I became even more bitter.

When I did do things to ‘serve’ him, only in retrospect do I realize how grudgingly I did it because inside I felt like he never did the same or enough for me. Or I did it so I could see him ‘finally step it up’ and do more things for ME in return. I felt disconnected from him and assumed it was because he simply didn’t meet my needs better or just do more things for me (you know, be an even better personal slave. Geez.) I felt like I just didn’t get the ‘relief’ of stress I thought he should give me. I felt sorry for myself all. the. time.

I felt like my kid also didn’t respect anything I asked. I found myself arguing with a two year old, which is NEVER pretty.

Bleh. I was exhausted and yet my house was still not ‘clean enough’ my tasks were never completed and my relationships with my family felt so cold and out of whack. Life felt empty even though I knew I had so much, which made me feel even worse. I just felt like if people in my family could just be THIS way or just DO certain things, then things would be so much better. Everyone needed to change but me for it my life to improve! I mean I WAS doing everything in my power to fine tune things, working REALLY hard to make things work, right??

I love how we are taught in the life…well, definitely in retrospect, at least.  I’m often brought to a breaking point before I’m actually humble enough to change and that inner change is what actually brings about the changes in outer circumstances. (see repentance post) I’m usually brought to place where I’m sick of being miserable, tired, confused and frustrated and I finally plea in totally sincere and desperate prayer for a rescue.

I’ve often had this thought come to my head:

” God lets our life fall apart so we can finally let Him help us rebuild it in a more beautiful way.”

rebuild-in-a-beautiful-way

It took a lot of ‘falling apart’ before I actually started to make a turn around and leave behind attitudes that kept me so unhappy. One defining moment for me to better understand what it meant to have real joy was when I had my second baby.

preggo

When I was pregnant with him (so super on edge as it was)I was running the treadmill of life, frantically trying to get everything done before the baby came. I had client projects that needed to be FINISHED and out of the way. The idea of having yet another kid put in a panic as I was convinced that even more lack of sleep and screaming sounds and non-stop demands of a newborn would surely push me over the edge and send me to a mental hospital.

But then I had him. He was 2 1/2 weeks early which stopped me right in my tracks. I didn’t get nearly anything I had hoped to have done but instead of a panic, it was a relief. A huge one. I finally had an excuse to say, “Hey world, leave me alone, I just had a baby! I’m dropping everything!” I held that tiny 7 lb human and stared at him, my whole being was actually and finally THERE with him: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I experienced a deep and beautiful connection that left me with so much peace, confidence and sheer joy.

mother-and-child

I got home and dishes piled up, laundry was backed up to high heavens, house was upside down, but I had finally let loose and focused finally on the things that mattered most: my family members.

For the first time in such a while I remembered that peace and happiness don’t come from just checking of to-do’s (even though I still think there is great satisfaction in that) but the ultimate hallmark of joy is being IN LOVE. In love with the people you get to serve and in love with life itself. That love provides the energy, confidence and peace to carry about doing all other minute details but never overshadows your focus over precious family relationships.

to-loves-above-to-dos

I remember thinking that even though my life on the outside seemed upside down, I was not overwhelmed by it. I knew that there would be time later to get caught up with all those mundane details. We would survive. It didn’t mean I was a bad mom. I was enough. I really had it ALL.Life can look messy externally, but you can be in total harmony internally because you know where your true priorities lie. It was my great epiphany. (See post about “How to prioritize your day to create the most joy.“)

From that moment I fumbled and stumbled (I still do) and learned and continued to grow as I kept learning and re-learning this great lesson.

I feel like I’ve come a long way since then. I’ve learn to drop a lot of unnecessary things out of my life, not stress, focus on what counts, and take care of my needs to best serve those around me.  It meant letting go of extra income and clients so I could have a calm life. It meant taking time to take enough breaks and time to just enjoy. It meant embracing and accepting life as it comes. And meant accepting my efforts, accepting the efforts of others, whatever they may be. Of course, I still have my moments, but boy, I’m SO MUCH happier now. I’ve fallen in love with my spouse again, with my kids, with my life with my life giving God again. For this, I’m eternally grateful.

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Can anyone else relate?? Love to hear your thoughts!

Other post that might be helpful:
How to deal with negative emotions in a positive way
Why Christ Matters, a mother’s saving grace.

Why Christ Matters. A Mother’s saving Grace.

I gave a lesson to the Young Women in my church about preparing to establish a Christ-centered home* this last Sunday. It caused me to put my thoughts together and further reflect about why I feel that Christ matters so much. With Christmas just about here, I felt strongly to announce to the world my own feelings about Christ and why it IS such a big deal that little baby in Bethlehem was born.

Why is it that so much of the world is celebrating the arrival of this person? Why does it matter that Jesus came? How did it affect the world and how does it affect us personally, every day?? I don’t have all the answers, but I have come to know through my experiences a few, simple things that have helped me get closer to answers, to more hope, to more understanding, to greater happiness and to closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Why does it matter that I base myself, family, home and life around Christ? Let me share a personal story about how I came to better terms to why it matters to me.

I was having one of those moments as a mother that I realized how blatantly short my efforts fell from being the mother I wanted to be. I found that because of my very human limitations, insecurities, fears, and personal weaknesses, I simply could not show love to my kids as beautifully as I wanted.  I got frustrated with them, snapped at them, was easily distracted when I could better be attending their needs and so on. I came to the thought, “Wow, what in the world did my innocent little children do to be raised by a mom like me? Nothing, they did nothing to deserve it. They were just born to me.  I realized that no matter the effort I put in, I would still be lacking somewhere. Simply because I am human, weak, temperamental (can you say hormones?), unwilling, selfish – and- even my very personality and all its flaws that are more or less incompatible with that of my child’s would affect  him and his life. I realized my very shortcomings as a human could one way or another mess up my kid. GULP. What a predicament.

Hope for my kids.

Then like a glimmer of hope in the midst of mental implosion, this scripture came to my mind, “And we atalk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our cchildren may know to what source they may look for a dremission of their sins.” 2 Nephi 25:26

It hit me that the reason I make the effort to teach, talk, celebrate, write and testify of Christ is because it is HE who will do the saving, NOT ME.  If I can just do my best to teach my littles to turn to the Light that is Jesus Christ, they can be redeemed from their weaknesses (sins, insecurities, fears, sorrows), and EVEN the weakness that became theirs because of my influence (my sincere efforts as a mother that simply were not enough). Jesus Christ matters because my children have as much of a chance to enjoy satisfying and true happiness in this life (and the next to come) as I do. Oh what a relief!

Hope for me.

Even though I am human, weak, and SO blunder prone, there is still hope for me as a mother. Christ not only compensates for what I could not do, but enables me to do and be more than I otherwise could on my own as I mother. I have personally experienced the real enabling power of Christ in my life. I have seen it in those moments when I am humble and willing enough to know that I cannot do it alone, when I start relying on His spirit more, those moments of quiet listening to the real voice within that stills me, helps me harness life and myself to do those things that really matter. It comes to me in those miraculous little moments that I didn’t have to get upset, that I stopped and listened, that I sought an opportunity to teach instead instead of punish. Those are the moments that I can more clearly see the light in my child’s eyes, see him for who he is. Love him more sincerely and deeply than ever before and experience a joy more exquisite than I thought possible.

He sets me FREE.

I’ve experienced and still do experience all sorts of heavy and crazy types of slavery. What? Yes. We all do. We are all slaves to nasty slave masters that come in mean voices in our heads, that pushes us around, that say we are not good enough, that suck the life out of us in negativity, guilt, worry, frantic fear of the ridiculous. That voice that keeps us a slave to anything less than joy and keeps us away from really enjoying life and  seeing yourself as the glorious beings we really are. I have learned that those voices can be ignored, can be quieted, and can be overcome. It is a gift and power I have found Christ lends to me. To focus more on His spirit, less on the things that drag me down, more on the inspiring, less on the depressing, more on the things to rejoice about, less on the things to whine about. It is liberating, it is true freedom. (Read an eg of this in this post-My obsession with getting things done and how it block real happiness )

He came so we could receive, know and show LOVE.

If for some reason the idea of Jesus Christ still  seems quite removed for you, perhaps the idea of LOVE can complete it for you. Christ’s whole missions was for love and out of love for us. Christ =LOVE. When we feel true Love we are feeling part of Him. For me it is a feeling that things will be ok, that there is much to be hoped for, much to be happy about, it is a feeling of security within myself, confidence to take on life, the gift of ability to love others and give of myself without fear. He is what makes life beautiful. LOVE is why Christ matters. There is little I want more than Christ and His love in my home.

See helpful object lesson on this topic here.

*For lesson helps: In my lesson we talked about ways to create a Christ-centered home. With the help of resources found in the lesson (specifically “For peace at home by Elder G Scott, Family Proclamation, Becoming Goodly Parents, and scripture references) we listed things that help create a Christ-centered home (Here is a handout to use if you are going to be teaching).

christ centered home

 

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**Update** 4/15/15

I was asked if I could create a handout without the ‘prepare to’ so it can be used for more general purposes like Relief Society or family lessons, etc..Here it is!

 

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