Monday, March 24, 2014

Being Good



I would get caught up as a teenager about how far to take "being good."

"So what your saying is I can't listen to any song that has suggestive lyrics ever? So basically anything produced past 1950? And I'm supposed to just sing hymns?"

"And it's in everyone's best interest to do this?"

And because these two thoughts would often be overwhelming, I would usually just resort to what was appropriate in my own family, how I was brought up (which is definitely not a bad place to start!).

But as an adult, my understanding has increased and I don't have that teenager brain that makes it so hard to see the big picture. I have reconciled these answers.

The answer (my answer) is this: start with the basics and revealed truths. Then, follow the spirit. Don't worry about if its sustainable, if it applies across the board or in every instance. The spirit may even guide you in a case-by-case basis.

And as to if it's in everyone's best interest, there is no telling (again, excepts for revealed truths. I'm talking about specifics here). It might be hard to understand in your so-focused-on-me teenage brain, but not every stimulus has the same effect on every human being. What might be tempting to me may not be the same for someone else. What may bring up bad thoughts or unkind ideas may not be the same ones conjured up in someone else's mind. I have absolutely no way of knowing someone's complete, inner heart.

All you need to worry about is you. What brings me, personally, closer to Christ?

Understanding this has freed me in the past couple of years. It frees up my time and energy from judging other people, deciding if they are doing it "right" or "wrong." It keeps me from assigning things that have been specifically revealed to me, my heart and my situation, and putting it on all people everywhere.

And I now feel directed in basically every aspect of my life

Music & media use
Temple worship
Keeping the Sabbath day holy
The role of women in our world
Money use & budgeting
Political policies
Scripture reading practices
The marriage relationship
Schooling
Parenting ideals
and the list could go on and on.

In fact, a lot of those specifics I have gained are recorded in places throughout this blog.

The result is I feel led in my life. The Holy Ghost is a force that moves my life. And it makes me feel closer to Jesus Christ. It creates a personal relationship with my Savior, where he is involved in the details, my personal cheerleader for very specific "good" thoughts, actions, and feelings. He is on my team, and gently prods me closer to Him.

My dear sweet three children, you don't want to miss out on this. This culture that we live in, people argue specifics. And we can go on rants and raves about what is "right."  And we preach to the people who will be in our "camp" and despise the people who won't.

I don't want to be a part of this. I can choose to not engage. I will seek out those women and influences that touch my spirit and draw me into a better world.

A person can get lost in judging, the specifics of "right" and "wrong." One can spend so much time judging or feeling judged, that they forget what really matters. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the true source for our strength, and his relationship with us can be the ultimate guiding force in our life. Give him the chance to guide you in "being good."


Who can know the heartache you are feeling deep in side?
Who can know the burdens you've carried all your life.
Darkness fills the daylight and the road is much too long.
Where are heaven's answers and the strength to carry on?

When the night is lonely and your pride and fear depart.
When the tears have fallen and the questions fill your heart.
Think of how He loves you, how He longs to bring you home.
Reach out for His guidance.


He has walked your path alone.
Let Him Heal your heart.
Remember every promise He has made.
Reach into your soul and forsake a life of sin and
He will shine that light inside again.

Let Him help you start to live again
and feel His endless love.
Let Him hold and teach you--
love and reach you.

Let Him heal your heart.

There's no simple challenge.
Every road is not the same.
But every wrong decision is forgotten if you change.
Feel His warmth surround you.
See His arms are open wide.

Know that He stands ready when you start to change your life.
Never doubt His goodness.

Don't believe that it's too late.
He sees your every struggle and he knows the trials you face.

Follow and believe Him.
Put your trust in Him again.
Change your heart forever.
Let the miracle begin.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Easy Baby



Ephraim,

I never fully understood the term "easy baby" until I had you. Crying is not your forte. "Content" could be your middle name. You give away smiles and your chubby cheeks are just too kissable. When you told me you would help me I never imagined it would be YOU. Who YOU are.

I wonder at times if we aren't having a "true" 3 kid experience because of the sweet sweet baby we have. But I remember two kids was definitely not easy for me. So then I count my lucky stars that you are who you are.

Thank you for being our boy.

Love,

Your Mom










Sometimes I wish I could constantly have a 3 or 4 month old in the house. They just bring a happy glow to your home and a smile to your face. We love babies around here.





Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Happy Marriage


Marriage is no walk in the park, people readily admit. However most people will only widely share the peaches and cream parts of their marriage. And rightly so, a discussion the other way could easily become a list of our spouse's faults and none of our own. But if we never admit our own mistakes and shortcomings, some people might believe that the battles fought in the silent chambers of their hearts are too big, or exclusive to their relationship, and insurmountable.



Ben and I agree this past year has been the most stressful in our marriage. But I'm not looking for pity or some martyr contest. Everyone's stressors are different. These stressful events did not leave us unscathed. Both of us have created habits and coping mechanisms that are not necessarily ideal.

We've been married for nearly five years now, and the routine of life is ahead of us. We are in our permanent roles: breadwinner, housewife. We are aware of each other's quirks and trigger points. He's too this, she's too that. We know what to expect Saturday nights to look like. The word love has conformed to comfortableness.

"This is what I can expect." "Most of the time, I can put up with this trait." 

The weight of the future is on my shoulders. I'm beginning to see that this is a trajectory. As a newlywed, my bouts of frustration were more than anything just ignorance and trying to figure things out. Now that things have leveled out, the 10% of the times I am frustrated, I am really frustrated. Satan plays these dirty tricks on you. "He did that again! That's the 5,000th time he's done that!! Are you going to keep living like this??"

YES.

But I don't need to be just "satisfied" with my marriage. I don't need solely a business partner in the household affairs. I don't need someone who just shares my life experience. We can have a happy marriage. I am willing to work for a marriage that is bursting with happiness.

The world would tell us, since we've found a defect, a chink in the armor, this one should be thrown out. "Try again. This one is going to fester and get worse, move on."
NO.

I recognize that anything this marriage is lacking is a result of me not giving it the time it deserves. I recognize that I have more I can learn, more to give. People are not stagnant creatures. We can use marriage to create in each of us the perfect spouse. We can use marriage to become more Christlike, to become more like God.

This next year I am committed to stripping those poor habits I may have started. I am committed to learning more about my spouse and what makes him happy. I am committed to learning more about male and female communication, and where jams might occur. I am committed to learning and growing together, and growing closer to God.

I am willing to do all of this because a am married to a Child of God. Ben has innate goodness, as we each do. This is the motivating force. As we strip off our weaknesses, our poor habits, this is what's going to shine through. And as we work together to let that light out, we will draw closer to each other and our Maker. This is my earnest prayer.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Meaningful Life: Buying Used

I grew up with a very modest lifestyle, which was a product of my dad's meager salary and a large family. Now that Ben & I have started our own family, while we don't have a huge salary, the culture we live in is a little bit different then it was back then. Most people skimp on the savings and splurge on the "extras" of life, regardless of income level.

It may not be that we will always make this salary. We could lose a job and make less, or hopefully someday make more. But I want my kids to grow up in a family culture where we don't place value on things. I want our children to learn that modest living is a sign of strength, and not of an indication of status.

One way I want to insure this is to put an emphasis on buying used.






Not everything we buy is used, for sure. But I want my children to know, regardless of income level, that "things" are not the focus here. And I think one way we can show this is by not subscribing to the idea that "new" is somehow required for every purchase. 


Happiness is no respecter of products. That's why you can find it in the hovels of Mexico or around the corner on your street. May we always keep this truth in our hearts.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Strong Will, Determination, and Passion

Cheyenne,

I saw something today. Your dad brought home a new bike. You could not be happier. As soon as it was fixed up, you got right on and wanted to ride. It was a little bit difficult, sometimes you would try and pedal backwards and you would get stuck. I walked by you while you took your very first ride, down to Uncle Derek and Uncle Dillon's apartment. You got stuck quite a few times. "Do you want me to push you?" "No Mom." You rode and rode until the sun went down, you cried when it was time to come inside.

The next morning, you got up before the sun did. You were beaming. "Can I go ride my bike?" "No Cheyenne, it's still early out, you have to wait till 9:00." The wheels in your head were turning, always turning. Every few minutes you would ask. Yes, now it's time.



Your dad has a special gift. I believe that, literally, anything he sets his mind to he can do. You have that same fire in you. Don't ever let it burn out. I can see now, the positive effect it will have on your life (I may not have been able to see it when you were ripping apart my cupboards not too long ago). Your dad, his first adventure was a bike, too. He still talks fondly about how much riding a bike was a part of his childhood. Riding a bike, that was the first, of many things, he has figured out.

Go full speed ahead, my girl. There is nothing but greatness in you.

Love,

Someone who cares for you, and admires you for what you are
Your Mother

Monday, March 10, 2014

Little bit of this and that

Remember this cabinet? Yep, still unfinished. But it's the girls' favorite place to play. I always find all kinds of toys and books in their "office."





These girls love to get their "pinks" painted







I could kiss those cheeks all day long

This is her "cheese" face


You can either get Cheyenne smiling or...

Delaney smiling.

New hair




Cheyenne riding on her new (to us) bike. She LOVES it!


Derek's new suit. Not pictured: his ridiculously long legs

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Meaningful Life: Outside Play










 We live an idyllic lifestyle. Any day the weather's nice, you an expect to see a gaggle of kids playing up and down the street, and the babies with their mothers enjoying the sunshine. I feel very fortunate to have landed in this little patch of heaven, and it has impacted my soul more than I can say. It makes me sad to hear things like this or this, to know that in our society the importance and frequency of play is null. 

Unfortunately in our world of over-stimulation and over-scheduled activities, it might not be as easy as plopping a kid outside and saying, "Here, go play." In a world where children are used to being entertained, we can't expect them to all of the sudden "grow out of" this habit. The culture of "unplugged" play is something that needs to be taught.

Children are taught the importance of play by how we treat it. If it's reserved for back rooms or a distraction "when Mother needs to work," they will see it's not at the top of the priority list. But when Mother is involved in play, she says this: play is a lifelong commitment. We are taught that "happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved [...] on principles of [...] wholesome recreational activities [among other principles]." But those principles can and should not be reserved for solely when mother and father can participate together.

I'll admit that the main reason I sit outside while my children play is because of the safety aspect. And I know that once they are old enough, it is unlikely I will go outside with them every time. And I know that eventually we will move away from this beautiful world where friends and neighbors are plenty. But I don't want to let our lives become ordinary. Where Mom stays inside while the kids play. Where a family football game is reserved for when Dad comes home.

You might not have caught it, but in the first photo my good friend and neighbor Rachel is driving. She is a perfect example to me of a mother who plays and puts "wholesome recreational activities" on her priority list each day. Most of her kids can play without supervision, so she doesn't participate every time, but it's usual to see her lead out in a game of catch, or her driving the pedal cart, or her leading the way on her bicycle. 

I want outside play to become our family culture, and I want to teach my children the importance of this kind of play by my own actions. May God help me in my efforts.