Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On My Way



I celebrated my 26th birthday last week. I think I have grown a lot in these last 26 years and now, I am over the incubation period.

As a teenager you spend a lot of time thinking about and deciding what kind of person you want to be. You "choose your own adventure": I'll wear this type of clothing, listen to this type of music, participate in these kind of extracurriculars....

And as a newlywed and first time mom, you go through some of that incubation period again, deciding just what "brand" you want to be.

Well, I'm no longer trying to figure out who I want to be.

I've decided I want to be strong and steadfast. Obedient, unashamed. Kind and charitable. Humble and earnest.

And now that I've decided, I'm not going to let my situations in life change me. I will be the same in a new state, a new phase of life, with a new group of friends.

I am still young, and I have noticed, still insecure. I can clam up around people I don't know, or resort to old ways in settings where I am expected to act a certain way, or feel lost in an unfamiliar situation. But I have realized that it is no longer because I don't know who I am or how I want to be, but because feeling comfortable in your own skin takes time. That can be fixed.

I will get over insecurity, I know. I have sure hope in this.

I also have a sure hope in who I will be. Before I decided and was still wishy-washy, there was a big question mark on that girl down the road. Sometimes I have big ideas about being good, but I don't know, what if I get lost in a thicket? Caught up in my surroundings or affected by my peer group? I would wonder.

But no, now that I have decided who I want to be, I can see the person who will look back at me in the mirror in twenty years. She has a kind heart. She is free from the marks of the world. She does not desire to sin. She listens and notices others. She has a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is not something I wish for, unsure if it will happen. This is something in which my hope is sure, because I know that the decision I have made has gotten to the point that it is unchanging. I am at that point. From now on, it is just growth. I will surely slide backward from time to time, just as I always have, but being sure of your identity is not something you can slide back on. It is once and for all.




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Turn Your Heart



Although we see life very linearly, and our ancestors as gone, God does not see us as so distinctly separated.

"But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord." (Doctrine & Covenants 130:7)

Our ancestors are very much a part of us. We are them. We have their awkward gait. And their long fingers. We have their sensitivity to things of the soul. And their love of rodeos. "It's in my genes" makes it sound like these things never belonged to someone in the first place. But there are parts of you that are actually a long string of goodness that started way back with someone else's right choices.

My grandmother loved to write. And now here I am, in 2014, writing as a way to show my perspective on the world. My ancestor Agnes Haley Love gave her life in the name of a love for God and His church. And now here I sit, in 2014, tenderly writing my feelings for the very same God and His very same church.

God works through people. The light that is inherent in each of us is actually inherited, in some form or another, from our ancestors.

Now we must turn our hearts to them. Remember them if they have been forgotten, find them if they have been lost. But more than wanting to be remembered, they want us to find God in them. They want us to turn away from the pride that is so prevalent in our society and recognize that we are part of great whole. 

Why would it be important to see the whole, and think of yourself as small piece of it? I would suggest it's the opposite. You are not thinking of yourself as a small string in a tapestry, but realizing that "you" as you currently see yourself, is actually "you" the great whole. You are the blanket in its entirety. You are not only a single thread, but you are also the whole by default. You are yourself, but you are also your ancestor.

When the prophet Elisha was about to be attacked by the Syrians, his eyes were opened, and he saw the concourses of angels that were protecting them (2 Kings 6:16-17). Although Elisha was just himself, he was also the combined effort of all the angels that were protecting him. These are your ancestors. 

You may share the same gene pool, but that is not why your ancestors love and protect you. They know you intimately as your personal guardian angels. They are your shoulder to cry on. They see your struggles and your pain when no earthly person is there.

When you remember them, you will begin to recognize that comfort, that hand that has always been outstretched, as messengers for God. Turn your hearts to them, and you will know the power, protection, and comfort that comes from being connected. They are reaching out to you, I have felt it. Reach out and grasp their hand. They are pulling you toward the divine.


Photos taken March 14, 2014, Grandma's 100th birthday
We went to the temple, one of her favorite places, to celebrate


































Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dennis Flake Family Reunion












It's late, but it's hard to justify not writing. Each day that passes the feelings fade a little more. Why do there not seem to be enough hours in the day? When you want to be "present" in your kids' lives, the work of the soul can get pushed off to late hours and early mornings. But the work must go on. 

We just got back from a wonderful family reunion in Idaho. It was blazing hot (even in the mountains) and there weren't any showers. There was more than 100 screaming, tired, crying kids the whole weekend. And I didn't even have to drive 22 hours to get there, like some! But I am changed because of it. I want to be better. I am inspired.

We were celebrating what would have been my grandmother's 100th birthday. 280 of her 470 descendants got together (she had 10 children, 83 grandchildren, 250+ great-grandchildren). I was born a few months before she died, so the memories shared of her were informative and inspiring. It's no wonder her posterity is exceptional. She left quite a legacy of faith, hard work, and humility herself.

My cousin Lucinda drew this beautiful pencil drawing of our grandmother. Like many of us grandchildren, she did not have the opportunity to know her very well. But, she said, she knew her daughters. She knew her sons. So it that way she knew her. It was quite touching to me. As I studied Lucinda's drawings I saw my aunt's mouth or my dad's nose. And Lucinda opened my eyes that I must also know her steady, unending service. Her passion for missionary work. Her humble, unassuming ways. Her enthusiasm and her quick wit. Because I know her children.




Just like any family, we are not without our flaws. But I have learned a few things from the Flake Family.

They are strong. They are humble. Unwavering. Courageous. Doers of hard things. They love the Lord, deeply, personally. 

This is not the mantra of the Flake Family. They do not self-identify this way. This is who. they. are. You can see it in their faces





I wish I could have captured all of my cousins so you could see their kind faces. The strength of what they are. I may have been born into this group, but that doesn't make me superior to others. My parents are not better parents because all of us have chosen the same joy-filled path that they did. Instead it is like we are part of a huge support group. A place where we can buoy each other up, point each other in the right direction, and help each other when we fall.  

If you don't have many positive role models like this, seek them out. They usually live their life on the sidelines, but would be happy to help you get what they have. You were never meant to live life feeling utterly alone in your principles. Your brother and mine, Jesus Christ, he's already carried that burden.

Christ cannot walk upon the earth as he once did. But he can place people in your life to show you what His walk would have looked like. I sacredly call these people family. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Latest Inspiration

My friend Lorren does this cool thing where she collects things that inspire her every month. I thought it was a great idea, so forgive me for stealing it for this post.


Two great quotes that have been on my mind lately 

“We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer.”
-- President J. Reuben Clark Jr., in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 111


“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” 
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


A great book



We listened to Thanks for the Feedback on one of our road trips. I would recommend it to everyone! I could identify myself in every example they gave. Now we can stop picking out the "good" feedback and just learn from everyone, all of the time. A very cool idea.



An excellent talk

This was an incredible talk by Elder Ballard, about making technology your servant and not your master. I often find the line, "If you are randomly scrolling through the internet, it is your master. If you intentionally use the internet, it is your servant" coursing through my head throughout the day. His tender feelings about the Sacrament impacted me. And I loved the way he talked about taking time to be away from noise and lights to "be still, and know that I am God."
There's a summary here, but you really need to watch the whole thing.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Roadtrippin'




You always think you'll remember but you don't. So I'm going to put down a few things here that I want to do next time.

My kids travel quite well, if we do it right. This is what "doing it right" looks like for us.

Driving

1. Leave as early as you can stand it. 3am is about perfect.

2. Try to plan it so you are done for the day by dinnertime. 12 hours is okay, but the 15 hour day was really long.

3. We did two days of driving, 15.5 hours one day, 12 the second. Things went a lot smoother when we had a day of rest in Kansas in between the two (we did on the way there but not on the way back).

Food

1. Eat your meals out of the car. Plan on these excursions adding about an hour to your trip each time. Try to plan it that you don't have to stop except for meals. Feed the baby, get gas, go to the bathroom, get dressed, all while eating breakfast.

2.  Try to eat at Subway for one of the meals, it helps you not feel so sick. It's worth it if you have to drive a couple miles into town (a GPS is great for this). Subway is great for breakfast. Ham & cheese egg sandwich on flatbread. It's delicious! Culver's frozen custard sounds really good about lunchtime.

3. I really liked eating a hot meal each time we stopped. As an adult, it gives you something to look forward to and a change of pace for a little while.

4. DO NOT EAT inside the restaurant. One or all of your kids will have a huge embarrassing meltdown while you are in there. If you have a GPS, try and find a park nearby or something similar.

5. Snack very little, and keep them organic if possible. This really helps you not feel sick for two days. I kept the snacks in the back of the car and would bring up one small snack at each of our stops. I'm not a huge organic person, so I was surprised to find that we actually liked these granola bars (they don't taste like regular granola bars, so don't have any preconceived notions about them). This same company, Plum, also makes portable smoothies which we also liked (this flavor). Apparently not all organic companies are equal because I bought some different brands for the way home that we didn't like as well. I got the Plum stuff at Target.

6. Other great snacks are: apples and oranges with a mini cutting board and a knife, or anything in convenient self-serve packages. Don't do a cooler. You won't want lukewarm cucumbers even if you don't have anything else to eat. Bring tons of water bottles and a water jug for refilling water bottles.

7. Reserve the stay-awake food for the driver. Ben eats sunflower seeds to stay awake, I do Werther's. The sugar free ones seem to take longer to dissolve.

Activities

I don't really have to keep our kids occupied while we drive. I know that's not like most people. I also have the calmest baby in the world.

1. I would bring up one activity at each stop, and give it to them when they started whining. Sticker books are great, especially the really big reusable ones with 200+ stickers. I found some at Target.

2. The portable DVD player counted as one activity. I would usually reserve it for close to naptime or after dinner. Our kids don't watch a lot of t.v. so it was a real treat for them on the way there. By the time we'd been at other people's houses for a week they were t.v. saturated and it couldn't hold their interest as long.

3. Magnets on small cookie sheets were a big hit. Playdough with rollers and stuff. These painting books were pretty fun (and reusable too, which I like) (also available at Target). Puzzles and Mr. Potato Head were a big mess. I kinda wished I had one of those travel trays.

4. We (the adults) listened to a few books on CD while the kids watched a movie or did whatever. The kids were too little for a children's book on CD to keep their attention. But they loved some of our favorite kid songs (we love Laurie Berkner).

5. I think next time it would be fun to do a little lesson with the girls in the morning. I also wished I would have planned some fun things to talk about with Ben. After a couple hours in the car your brain is fried and you can't think of anything. I wished I had a neck rest for poor Delaney. Sometimes she would wake up really sore.


This was our first family road trip! I have an inkling there are ways we can make it more fulfilling, and more relationship-strengthening and less of a "get it done," but I'm going to let it simmer for a while. Here's to many more road trips in the future!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

New URL

I'm changing the url to live-meaningful.blogspot.com

I'm trying to lessen our "searchable" internet footprint. So if you have our blog in your blog roll under our name, I'd appreciate it if you changed it.

Thanks!

For a seamless transition, get rid of the blog roll and just follow us on Facebook.


Ohio

We went on our very first family road trip out to Ohio to visit some family!

We stopped halfway in Kansas and saw my brother Justin and his family

My sister-in-law, Kelsey, has a fun face painting business








My brother Justin


Next we went out to the Bowling Green area to visit Ben's brother, sister, and mom & dad

These girls went for lots of rides in the Razor around the dairy. Jaylin was so nice to keep giving them rides


We got to see Ben's hair in it's natural environment. After a ride on the 4-wheeler it looked pretty good. And I forgot his razor, which I know you love, Mom!

It's funny how I live in the West, the land of open spaces, and I have to go out to Ohio to see wide open lands and real quiet.





Ben's sister Dannielle




Next we visited my sister and her family near Youngstown, Ohio







Little did you know the 4th of July is actually about PARADE CANDY. These kids had buckets of it

Lots of kids


Cheyenne and Eliza were best friends. We wanted to take her home with us



We didn't mind driving through Colorado. It was beautiful!

Tunnels! The girls loved the tunnels




Can't wait 'til next year!