Focus Determines Reality

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Because – ya know –
watching part of Star Wars Episode I is a super FHE Bonus Activity …
teaches good & evil… uh… ok.
Honestly – so grateful that good will win in the end.
Hannah & I liked this quote by Yoda.

My thoughts on this topic:
Is our focus on the good – on service – on tender mercies from God – on TRUTHs – on the big picture of eternity?
or
is our focus on self – cultural & social trends – temporary mortal inconveniences – the negative – the hard, etc?

These are good questions for me to ask myself right now.
I need a change of heart on some issues – how I see and speak of my blessings/frustrations (ok – really, i’m talking about the struggles of parenting an intense child).
Am I really willing to serve and ‘Go where the Lord wants me to go?’ & is it for the right reasons.
Do I focus on the blessings received from sustaining & following Priesthood leaders (and do it without criticism?)
Am I focused on what good I can do for others… or am I looking for others to do kind things for me?
Do I see the greater eternal purpose of mortal challenges and choose to see the blessings I receive through them?

Anyhoo… good questions.
Will work on Focusing on the good, the light, on God & on others…
so that my reality will be more positive and full of joy.

How are you feeling?

Perhaps the most common question during pregnancy.
How are you feeling?

There are oodles of answers I could generally give:

BIG
Nauseous
Tired
Ready for this baby to arrive
Exhausted
Hungry
Thirsty
Stressed
Irritable
etc

Honestly, I rarely feel:
Glowing
Radiant
Chipper

Right?!

A few weeks ago when I was flying solo-parent at church on a Sunday,
I decided I needed an attitude change from my usual answers.

My new answer:
today i am blessed
Yes… indeed … it is true…
if I think about my reality…
I AM FEELING BLESSED!

Whenever I’ve shared this answer,
most women have chuckled with me,
knowing I’m focusing on the good
rather than the hard.

My attitude needs some perking up lately.
Yes, Physical Health Issues (pregnancy) + additional stress = It’s harder to see the good.
BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.
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God gives us so much every day.
Sunshine … rain … cloudy cool days.
Green grass for cartwheels … quiet snowy days.
Deep Rich Soil for gardening … bathtubs to wash dirty kids toes from the dirt.
Cold water … Hot chocolate.
Joyful moments as a family … tender personal moments.
Warm Blankets … Air Conditioning.
Opportunities to Grow … Adventures and Fun.
Chirping Birds … Rollie Pollies.
Days filled with Faith & courage … days of learning.
Challenges to overcome … A Savior to carry us along!

So this is my goal… to remember to focus on the BLESSINGS rather than the hard!

Panicking is not an Option

panicking is not an option

First day of Summer Break.
Doctor’s appointment threw off our new planned routine.
But my blood pressure rocked – 121/80.

Then a trip to the library.
2 1/2 years old is the worst age to take to the library.
Really.
And I decided I was going to be committed to the library this summer.
Maybe not.
(side note: Biggest Blessing was that Tru was the best ever at the library. Give that kid a Look & Find book and he’s quiet as can be!)

The 6-year-old panicked over Boxcar Children… that the cover didn’t match the one his teacher read. He would not trust that it was the same words and story inside.

Came home and got everyone settled in quiet time.

Then mom had a few hours of breathe & smile (vs freaking out)
Are we moving?
Before or after baby?
How in the world could that work?
Where do we even start?
What can I do now to prepare without going into panic mode?
It seems impossible.
But with God, all things are possible.
Faith does not make things easy, but it does make them possible.

God is in control.
I believe if we are righteous and listening,
He will guide us in His plan.
Things are always better when we follow those promptings.
Maybe not easier… but better for us.
I am willing to do ‘hard’ if it means following God.

Just working on faith over fear while we deal with the unknown.

p.s. I’m supposed to be decluttering … but instead I’m snuggling Liza, listening to Peter Hollens music & blogging about faith. Nice!

Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ

I am teaching Relief Society TFOT tomorrow. I was feeling a bit forlorn because I didn’t have the best week of being patient and gentle as a mother… and then to teach and testify of Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ? Oh Yes! I believe it… just didn’t do the best job of living it and really seeing the tender mercies of the Lord this week.

I kept saying to myself this week, “I will not be defeated!” I felt like quitting the parenting thing… why teach if the kids don’t seem to change? Those boys!!! Sigh… But “I will not be defeated!” by Satan’s whispers that what I do is not good enough. I know that I only need to LOOK for blessings, strength and I will find it, especially when I am close to God by my actions to study His Word and live the best way I know how.

Anyhoo… Richard G. Scott’s message about receiving personal strength through the Atonement is a great one. I had a good conversation with my love, Jimmy, that helped me connect the principles to my life. I’m impressed by the power that comes from Keeping our Covenants! God strengthens Covenant Keepers! He blesses our children spiritually {and physically} as He did the People of Ammon … as we, the parents, keep our covenants with Him!

Ending thought questions:
– What are the covenants I have made? {for further reading on the Power of Covenants, see D. Todd Christofferson’s April 2009 General Conference Talk}

– What are the temptations of the world that might keep me from following through on my covenants with God?

– How can I fortify & strengthen my weak areas to create strength?

Invitation: Study and Pray to know how the Lord strengthens you through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. See His tender Mercies in your life. Express Gratitude for covenants made & blessings received.

Perhaps not the best summary of his talk, but click on the image below for a 2-page pdf of the handout.

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The Temple Strengthens my Family : LOVE

4x3 temple love family
I keep going back to the Ensign cover with this temple picture on it.
So gorgeous and full of LIGHT!
(plus, there are amazing clouds!)

Sorry if my last post seemed negative.
Rough days are part of life.
But the glorious bit is that THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE…
for a sunny tomorrow…
the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that.

Love: Mother’s Day Talk 2014

Jimmy and I were asked to speak on Mother’s Day on the topic of LOVE … based on President Monson’s April 2014 Conference talk: Love—the Essence of the Gospel.

I tried not to over-prepare with too many sources because I tend to find so many fabulous things I want to share, that I go over on my time. In the spirit of keeping things simple, I focused on 4 things:
1. Because Heavenly Father loves us, He …
2. What should we do if we aren’t feeling the Love of God.
3. Because we love Heavenly Father, we …
4. Blessings of Love

All super simple, in hopes that maybe some kidlets and mothers (who are wrestling the kidlets) might hear a snippet here and there and the Spirit would touch their heart. And believe it or not, I kept to my 12 minute time limit. Rock on!

A few have asked for my talk… It’s nothing spectacular, but here it is.

Click on image below to view PDF of full talk.
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Jimmy wrote a deeper, longer talk on “Forgiving: The Crowning Expression of Christ’s Love”. (yeah, I didn’t so much have a title other than ‘love’). He did a great job. I liked the story he shared of Charles Hobbs’ dad who forgave Bert who stole groceries from his store.

Anyhoo… speaking in church … always a greater blessing for ourselves than anyone else. I love the quotes found and spirit felt while preparing the message.

One who wore a tattered bonnet

In prep for my Mother’s Day talk tomorrow, I came across this amazing story of Mary Fielding Smith – as shared by her son Joseph F. Smith. I see the wisdom in studying history and the lives of those who went before. They have endured and overcome… and we shall too.

With the winds of CHANGE entering into our thoughts and reality (like ya-know, a possible move across the country this summer with 5 kids in tow… & a plump gestating belly), this example is so powerful to me. I am so grateful for the Spirit that leads and connects thing with our spirit.

not-alone-teichert

Not Alone, by Minerva K. Teichert, oil on canvas, 1920.
Painting is displayed in the Pocatello Idaho Stake Center. {I love this connection with Steph, my bonnet friend}
This painting of Mary Fielding Smith and her young son, Joseph F., is based on their story of relying upon courage, prayer, and divine help to overcome obstacles while crossing the plains.

Twenty-eight-year-old Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert offered to create a painting for the Pocatello Idaho Stake. Her stake president, William A. Hyde, suggested in a letter that she show “the heroism, and the faith of the Mormon woman,” portraying Mary Fielding Smith at a time “when she is left alone and sets her face amid the howling of the wolves and the fear of savages, to overtake the train in advance.” Yet “they are not alone,” wrote President Hyde, for to the side is a “shadowy form mounted” on a “classical charger,” representing “the captain of the Lord’s host” and his men protecting the Saints.

This example {click to view larger} was a sweet testimony by Joseph F. Smith about his memories of his mother enduring hard times in Nauvoo and on the trek west.

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Bright up the Dark

jesus has a light inside

It has been a doozy of a few days with cute little Truman. Change of seasons always throws him off temper-wise & emotionally. Bless his little heart. During Preschool before Easter we were learning about the Resurrection. We watched a clip “He is Risen” that showed Jesus appearing to Mary at the tomb. Jesus definitely had ‘a light’ about him. I love that Truman recognized this and commented on it later when we colored Easter pictures.

Jesus does have a LIGHT.
He brings HOPE to any situation.
He brings JOY when there seems to be nothing joyful.
He brings COMFORT when our hearts are hurting.

This week… I am working on CHOOSING HOPE and relief through our Savior’s Atonement.

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord,
and he shall sustain thee..”
Psalm 55:22

I am Strong in Christ : A mother’s perspective

After journaling about teaching my children to BE STRONG!, I have been thinking about my own strength as a woman.

For example, I may feel strong and accomplished having endured a hard trial.
But then … BAM! a different sort of trial comes along.
We seek strength from the Lord to endure and become more wise.
ah-ha … I am Strong!
BAM! a different sort of trial comes along.
Prayer, digging deep from that spiritual reserve…
Gain experience and am carried by our Savior’s Atonement.

Ah – interesting… Perhaps the trials come right when I’m thinking it’s me that is STRONG.
The reality is that we are only strong when we rely on the STRENGTH of the LORD.

Ammon had it figured out as shared by Elder Bednar (love the Bible Dictionary definition of Grace too):
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In thinking of major life trials… strength has to come only from God. There is no way I can do it all on my own.

In every day matters, sometimes I think I’m doing all I possibly can.
But… what if I saw the potential of really utilizing the Atonement to be STRONG in simple matters…

Be Strong... when I feel discouraged about a messy house … feel too tired to work.
Remember the fulfillment that comes from work accomplished.
Pray for desire to ‘do your duty with a heart full of song.’
Take action – clean 10 things in the kitchen. Getting started may be the hardest part.

Be Strong… when all i want is a moment of rest and quiet …
and it happens to be an intense, in-your-face-day for a 4-year-old.
Stop. Remember how blessed I am to be here in mortality with these little ones.
Dig Deep from that spiritual and peaceful reserve you captured at another time…
Choose to take time for one-on-one… perhaps this will be more rejuvenating than getting that kiddo to leave you alone.
Jesus replied, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:13-14).

Be Strong… when children are complaining about a parenting decision… Be Strong.
“Dear little one. My purpose as a mother is to help lead this family back to Heavenly Father. I have been given a commandment and a stewardship to honor this calling. I am not perfect, but I strive to listen to the Holy Spirit to guide my decisions as a mother. Please consider your responsibility to Honor thy Mother & Thy Father. Together, with God, we can make wise choices that will lead us to eternal life. Let’s work on this together.”
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Be Strong… when the Holy Ghost whispers guidance in my ear… Listen… and Obey.
The Holy Ghost whispers that there is too much noise in our home. Ok – let’s turn off media/screens.
Let’s gather together to sing hymns of praise … share testimony … read the Word of God. Pray together.
The Holy Ghost whispers that a specific child needs some extra love and concern… take the time to listen!
etc.

Be Strong… don’t always do what is easiest… (oh, this is a hard one)
Teaching the kids to work and follow through and do a job well…
vs.
Pretending that children’s chores don’t exist on those hard challenging days…
because… ya know… it’s easier in the moment that way.
Be Strong… follow through… Expect achievement (especially on bathroom duty day!)

Be Strong… optimism over murmuring…
I’m a pretty irritable pregnant mama of 5+.
There is more murmuring going on recently than I’d care to admit.
There is so much to be grateful for … focus on optimism … on blessings … on tender mercies.
murmur be like nephi

Just a few examples of things that are hard for me lately.

So what about those women who have gone before… IN THE STRENGTH OF THE LORD.
I’m amazed at the hardships people have endured… and still endure.
My heart hurts with their hearts.
I know God has a plan for each of us, but my mortal self sometimes sees some trials as ‘too difficult to bear’.
Too difficult to bear alone is right…
But to rely on God… there is the answer.
The lesson I hear is PREPARE…
prepare NOW by relying on God in good and rough times so that when trials seem unbearable,
we know and recognize the tender mercies and Grace of God.

Seriously… this following journal entry amazes me.
So many women have been called to BE STRONG at their weakest mortal moments.
Reminds me of the quote,
“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”
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So many principles to think about related to STRENGTH and “waiting on the Lord.”

I guess my thoughts lead up to
my desire to be that righteous mother
who is an example of
virtue, kindness, courage, and faith.
Wow – that sounds like a lot.
But the KEY –
rely on the Lord for Strength and together we WILL accomplish miracles.

p.s. I wrote this a week or so ago and sat on it for a while. Next day – hard one. Felt that perhaps being strong was not my thing … after all, I still feel like a little girl. Don’t give up… life is a process … learning to live, speak, and act with the Atonement in mind takes great practice and faith.

Fort Lauderdale Florida Temple

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What wonderful news we received in October 2009 – that a temple would be built in Fort Lauderdale. When we lived in Sunrise, FL, Jimmy and I always speculated about lots for a future temple. We weren’t correct on it’s actual location, but look at how close it was to our townhome? 8 minute drive … 4.7 miles! So cool!
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Wards have changed so much since we moved 11 years ago. The Weston Ward (which was technically barely large enough to be called a ward)… was disbanded. So many members moved out of Weston. I believe it was combined with the Davie Ward. Anyhoo… living in Florida was such an interesting eye-opening adventure for me. I’m glad we had that experience. Perhaps someday we’ll get back to visit and show our kids that lovely temple!

Stephen & Lisa Smith’s family (who moved to Coral Springs, FL, in the stake just north of the one we were in) went to the open house last Saturday. What joy! I wish I could go too! I loved seeing the pictures from the Mormon Newsroom.
fort-lauderdale-florida-temple-opensThe palm trees, the rainy day sidewalks (downpour every day at 4 p.m.), the lakes (which are everywhere!), the blue/green colors, the Florida style! So great. Enjoy the new temple, Florida friends!temple promise