Hard times are a gift to us.

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If you’ve noticed at all, many of my post are LDS Young Women lessons. To be honest, I didn’t create this blog to post about YW lessons. I intended it to focus on tricks that I find help me with my motherhood life that could hopefully help others (Oh. Maybe thats why I titled the blog “Tricks of the Motherhood Trade”).

The thing is, my faith is a HUGE component of my life, in fact it is not just a component, it is something that is seamlessly integrated into who I am and why I choose to do and think what I do. It affects everything. The principles I share are part of my bags of ‘tricks’ for motherhood and life.

It has been a huge blessing that I was called into the YW a little after I started this blog. Since I was planning, thinking and creating material for my lesson anyway, this blog became the perfect outlet to share what I was already doing. It also gave me the chance to share the dearest part of my heart and life-my testimony of the reality of Jesus Christ. Teaching YW provided topics and resources and became the perfect ground to talk about, share and fine tune for myself the beliefs I had.

Having said that, I hope these lessons, although initially intended to teach teenaged girls in a church group, can be read and applied to anyone’s life. Mothers, girls, women, boys and men. These are principles of a happy, fulfilling life.

With that said, the things I share are true feelings, beliefs and stories that I share with my YW but I share them to also hopefully help anyone else along too.

The lesson was I teaching on was Why do we have adversity? Which was timely for me.
The last couple weeks I’ve been pretty sick. I had a fever higher than I can ever remember having. It was 103-104 degrees for 4 days. I was weak and exhausted. I somehow still had to take care of my 3 sick kids on top of that. I knew complaining and getting frustrated at my situation would only make things worse so I did what I could to redirect my focus to what I COULD do and think (not to say I didn’t have my weak moments of utter defeat!). I thought of the YW lesson I was preparing to teach and thought, “Oh perfect. There is no better way to learn about why we have adversity than to go through this.” My thinking shifted to “What can I learn from this? and “How can this experience help me grow?”

That mental shift changed everything.

Here some of the things I learned.

Tribulations brings a softening and humbling of spirit and heart.
When I was so physically weak from illness, I was reminded of how I feel when I fast. The physical weakness and lack of energy can be turned to a precious moments of humility and direct one to a different power beyond physical strength-spiritual strength.

I have learned every experience, evening if unpleasant at the moment, can be used to create more room in ones soul to allow greater strength and experience deeper peace and joy later.

Feeling spiritually disconnected and alone
The most difficult moments for me are not the physically weak ones but the moments when I feel alone, left in the dark and disconnect from the source of peace and joy. The most trying challenge comes when I can hardly feel that spiritual strength and power within myself.

Being sick for that length of time combined with the demands of parenthood left me unbalanced in all sorts of ways. Despite my efforts, I wasn’t getting enough rest for what my body needed to recover. I didn’t leave for the gym in the mornings because I felt too sick. Which meant I didn’t get the exercise I usually get which helps keep me emotionally, mentally and physically afloat. This threw me for a mental/spiritual/emotional spin off. It left me feeling really down casted, unmotivated, depressed and easily discouraged by everything. It was that familiar dark place where it feel like something inside me has died. Life feels dismal and meaningless. Everything I was once excited about–my passions, my ideas, my insights– all seem to disappear. Thinking about things like that at the time of gloom seemed like foolish nonsense.

Having gone through this several times before (see “dealing with mommy blues“) I have learned that this is actually part of the test. It is the most difficult testing point for me. It is where I must make good choices when I feel no motivation for them. It is a slippery time when I feel my very faith and sentiment toward God seems dim and waning. It is where the darkness of doubt, fear and insecurities creep in again to confuse everything inside me.

I have learned that however seemingly illogical, I must still continue to seek the God I can no longer feel and the light that seems like is no longer there to guide me. I must make good choices for myself and respect others even when I don’t feel like it. It is the only way to get out the dark.

positive-choices-quote

It is a moment where my FAITH becomes a principle of  deliberate DECISION and ACTION  instead of a genuine sentiment or feeling.

I thought of Joseph Smith and how he must have also felt abandoned when he cried out, “Oh God, where art thou?” in Carthrage Jail. I know my experience is not nearly as dramatic and devastating as that of the prophet but I believe that no matter our outer challenges it is the inner workings and battles of the soul in each of us that are the most challenging and ultimately where our character is built.

greatest-battles-silentchambers-of-your-own-sould

 

Heavenly Father answers Joseph’s plea with, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;” (D&C 121:7)
I thought, “This too shall pass and I will enjoy greater happiness once I am able to overcome this yucky time!”

What is happening TO you is happening FOR you.

I used to stay in the dumps for a long time before I was able to climb out. I used to panic and condemn myself for what I was experiencing and it would start a vicious cycle that made it difficult to climb out of. Now I know to not freakout. I am getting quicker and better because of what I have learned. Doom and gloom are lies from the adversary we must learn to not believe. It is not because God has abandoned us. He is ALWAYS there, even in and especially during the times we can’t feel Him. He lets us experience dark moments and soul shaking attacks from the adversary because He knows we grow tremendously every time we can conquer those times with His strength.  It is pressing forward in faith and continuing to make positive choices even when we don’t feel like it. Overcoming the dark cavities within ourselves create greater room for the Spirit to dwell with in us.  It is preparatory for us to enjoy greater joy and peace and connection to God later. He allows these sorts of things FOR OUR OWN GROWTH and GOODNESS. Trust.

I feel like this fits in so well with Linda S. Reeves temple analogy:

Provo Tabernacle before fire (source)

“Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.”

Provo Tabernacle fire. (Source)

Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.4

Rendering of upcoming Provo temple (end of 2015-beg of 2016). (Source)

My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.

Painting saved from the fire. Christ never leaves us alone. He is alway there with His arms extended towards us. (Source)

If you would like to use this analogy to teach your family, or church group, here is the download of the pictures in a PDF. It can be printed on paper (or cardstock) to display as you tell the story.

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I’ve had this comes to my mind often:

rebuild-in-a-beautiful-way

I think it is important to write down our thoughts and impressions we receive in moment of clarity and wisdom. Quotes and scriptures that touch us and help us through are essential to write down so we have positive references when life isn’t looking or feeling good. It’s all about REMEMBERING. I created this handout for anyone to use to help them remember the good stuff that will pull us through!

spiritual-strength-adversity-01

[Download not found]

 

For my lesson I showed the video, “Mountains to climb” and had girls fill out above handout as they heard things that impressed them. Through out lesson they wrotte down thoughts that could help them.

YOU CAN DO THIS MY FRIEND!

Other helpful links:

Object lesson video and handout about finding solutions to challenages

6 ways to be happy during tough times

RS presentation video about mentally/emotional/spiritual wellbeing 

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Who am I, and who can I become?

I’m guessing’ you are looking for a printable for your lesson or some inspiration?? Great news, All faith building content has moved to SeekingEternalTruth.com!!

A site created by yours truly (Sariah Tate) jam packed with all the feel good, inspiring, faith building content, printables you are looking for! Yay. Click here for this specific printable on Becoming

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My list of 3 simple ways to experience more Christmas Joy

3ways-to-have-more-christmas-joyIsn’t it sad that Christmas time, intended to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, the giver of all peace, has turned into a time of heighten stress, anxiety and chaos??

It is crazy that in the hustle, bustle and anxiety of getting Christmas ‘right’ we can unwittingly loose our personal peace…even our connection with the Being whom we are celebrating.

With this dilemma, I have resolved that if I intend to make Him my celebration, then I must make Him my goal. I must keep my own inner peace to provide the stillness needed for me to listen and feel the Spirit communicating with me, and thereby inviting Christ into my heart.

mary_jesus

I have come to know this as a humble and quiet experience. Not outwardly evident as the sparkle of ornaments or the glamour of fancy Christmas party pictures on my facebook page, but as a totally satisfying and edifying feeling beyond anything this world can offer. That is Christ and Christmas coming alive within me.

 

So how is the done? How can I deliberately focus and feel Christ more during this time and experience Christmas at its fullest?

I believe one of the most beautiful truths about Christ is that He is the optimal source of Joy. Joy truly is the purpose of our existence as human beings! Is that not the greatest news ever??  That means Christ is the key to fulfilling the purpose of our existence.  In fact, when things go beyond the scope of true joy, I have learned that I am likely missing the mark and it is time to realign, reconsider and reconcoliate to Him again.

joy

With that said, here is my simple Christmas list of how I can more fully live in the “Joy Zone” and make Christmas truly magic!

Give willingly- Yes, Christmas is about giving but sometimes that message can be so pounded into my brains that I can begin to distort it and I feel must give or do something to every person I come in contact with!! But in that distress to find and do something for so many, I miss the good feelings behind gift giving because I have certainly stressed and burned myself out doing it! I have essentially  transformed something that could give great joy into something I do unwillingly, with resentment and distress.

Whatever I choose to give, I must make sure I give myself enough space, permission and time that I can give with real intent, willingly and lovingly. This way my joy can be maximized and not dragged down with resentment from the heightened expectations of myself and perceived expectations of others. This also frees me from the anxiety of the receipt not liking or appreciating my gift. If done in love, my gift was enough, regardless of the reaction of others.

In the end, seriously, the greatest gift anyone can ever give is a calm, happy, self. Someone who is willing to listen and to help. This true gift of peace to someone else can be totally sabotaged in the hurry and worry of the season.
So, as counterintuitive as it may sometimes seem, I gotta remember to slow down and stay centered to give my best self to others.

Receive graciously- in our focus of giving, giving, giving, it is so easy to forget how to RECEIVE. In fact, sometimes, receiving can be a source of stress and even a burden! When someone gives me a gift, sometimes I end up feeling guilty or ashamed that I didn’t even think of them, guilty that their gift was way more than I deserved, or even burdened that now I should get them a gift too. But gift giving was never intended to be that! A true gift is given without attachment, done for the sheer joy of doing it. Whether or not this is true from the giver’s end, as a receipt I can alway choose to receive it that way. I can let myself by touched and filled by someone’s gift to me. I can allow for gratitude to fill my heart instead of guilt, shame, disappointment or obligation. I can express gratitude sincerely. It is in these simple attitudes that will naturally help me WANT to pay it forward and spread more joy for myself and others.

baby-santa

Do as much and as little as it takes to experience peace and joy AND LET IT BE ENOUGH.- Happiness has always been a balance. During Christmas,  it is no different. Boycotting Christmas and gifts and exiling myself to a snowy cliff to avoid it all was no more joyous than going crazy like all the other “Whos” who have been sucked into Christmas commercialism.

(Source)

I’m beginning to see that the balancing act of how much is enough can be found in my inner “joy barometer”  Whenever an activity takes me away from my inner peace and turns into turbulence of heightened stress, I have learned to reassess and change my pace, activity or attitude towards it to regain calm again. I’m not always great at it but that as a general aim keeps me sane and happy. Being sane and happy helps to me accept that what I am doing is totally enough. (see feeling enough post)

My hope is that these three points, when lived inside and out, will better help me {and others} keep connected to Christ, the true meaning of the season. And by doing that, experience delicious JOY.

joy-to-the-world-christmas-card

Now go ENJOY your Christmas, my friend!!!

For a simple15 min christmas popcorn to share with free printables!

Other post that might be helpful:
My obsession with getting things done and how it blocked real happiness
Why Christ matters: a mother’s saving grace
Object lesson that helps explain why Christ is so important.

Finding Solutions to my Challenges | Handout and object lesson

I’m guessing’ you are looking for a printable for your lesson or some inspiration?? Great news, All faith building content has moved to SeekingEternalTruth.com!!

A site created by yours truly (Sariah Tate) jam packed with all the feel good, inspiring, faith building content, printables you are looking for! Yay. Click here for this specific printable and video on solutions to my challenges.

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halloween costumes 2014

After watching the Lego movie earlier this year,

I looked in the mirror and put my hair in a side pony tail and said, “I could totally be WyldStyle”

And suddenly we knew what our halloween costumes would be for this year.

halloween-2014-lego-movie-costumes-with-characters

Please cue

We might enjoy coming up with dress ups a bit too much.
My fav…baby as the 1980 something spaceguy…too perfect. Complete with jetpack (taped water bottles).

halloween-2014-lego-movie-costumes-spaceman-emmet

One of my brothers gave this rocking ninja turtle costume to my oldest for his birthday earlier this month and he’s  been obsessed ever since. Best part: Mikey is totally a lego character in the movie…SCORE!!!

halloween-2014-lego-movie-costumes-mikey

And I gotta say, having this little boy as my “boyfriend” is the most delightful thing ever.  All day halloween he was calling me Wyldestyle.
“Could you pees open tis candy for me wyldstyle?” and “I’m batnan” (in a serious, deep, incognito 2yo batman voice)
That little batman of mine melts me everytime. I can’t resist him!!halloween-2014-lego-movie-costumes-batman

Oh, I gotta brag about my crazy brillant man. Here are his pumpkin carvings for his boys, they happened to coordinate with their costumes this year.

halloween-2014-batman-mikey-pumpkin

To learn the technique to carve pumpkins this way checkout , “Coolest way to carve your pumpkins this halloween”

Hope your halloween was just…AWESOME complete with an “everything is awesome” sound track in your head as it was for me…ok maybe you aren’t that ridiculous. But. I still hope your halloween was sweet-from all the sugar and all the sweet family memories. 😀

For more family halloween costume crazies you gotta view, “5 years of family costumes”

 

Feelin’ and givin’ the love

I’m guessing’ you are looking for a printable for your lesson or some inspiration?? Great news, All faith building content has moved to SeekingEternalTruth.com!!

A site created by yours truly (Sariah Tate) jam packed with all the feel good, inspiring, faith building content, printables you are looking for! Yay. Click here for this specific printable on Christlike love.

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halloooooween round-up

We love our halloween around here. Here are some past posts to spread spook-tacular halloween ideas to you! Click on image to see post.

For your pumpking carvin’:

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If you’re in need of costumes ideas, browse through our past several years of family costuming fun!

xmen-family-halloween-custumes

Here are some halloween costume tips and also what we ended up doing last year for our family costumes.husbands-british-imperlist-costume.-web

Enjoy Halloween my friends! Stay tuned for family costumes and more Halloween fun coming up (possibly quite delayed as I can hardly ever make it to my computer these days, ha.)!