Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Seek out the Divine

The other day, one of our kids got up at 3am (totally normal), and although everyone else was able to fall back asleep, I wasn't (not uncommon). My discouragement heaped up on me, and I could not turn my brain off. Everyday I've been longing for hours that don't exist. A minute to write out my thoughts in a blog post. An hour to dream. Those are the kind of luxuries I haven't been able to capture the last few weeks.

But, I was up at 3am and I was longing to do something creative. Something unimportant, yet productive. I wanted to take chaos and create order. I love to switch up my blog design from time-to-time, so I set to customizing a template I found.

I know little to nothing about HTML and coding, but if there's one thing I've learned from my engineer husband, you can find the answer to just about any question you have on the internet. I've dabbled in HTML in the past, but usually with unsatisfactory results. I set to work on this specific code, trying to figure out logically where things would be placed and what certain things meant. When something would work I was delighted and surprised, and had the confidence to try and solve my other problems.

I'm certainly no expert (nor do I imagine I will ever have that kind of energy again), but I was so proud of myself. The design looks exactly how I had imagined in my mind. It was exactly what I needed in a dark time, an accomplishment, however small.

Creating something, problem solving, is so satisfying. I don't often seek out technical problems such as this one, but it has reminded me of something. We are all itching to create, and we see the world as our canvas. It's part of our divine identity to solve problems and leave beauty in our wake, with the touch of a hand.

Let us seek out the divine.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Darkest Night Will End

I'm in a dark hole. I'm suffocating in school work and I still have trouble enjoying being home. I'm discouraged? Yeah, I'm discouraged. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier if I really was in a deep,dark hole. It's just the opposite. I've got three, beautiful kids. A loving and supportive spouse. And I'm learning and growing at school. What's got me down?

I'm not unusual, I know. And truth be told, I've been in this hole before. We all have. All humans get discouraged from time to time. It's knowing the sun will rise that keeps us from staying down here.

I know the sun will rise. I've seen it happen before. Winter is not always kind to me, but spring will come. To my children, if you ever find yourself in this hole of discouragement, know it's okay. You're not broken and God feels your pain. Last night when I was crying in my bed, I knew that Jesus Christ was crying with me. He, of all people, knows how hard it is to be mortal sometimes. Don't give up. I'm not going to. Not on you kids, not on what I've been asked to do, not on myself.

What is discouragement for if not to help us better understand and love one another? I share my discouragement so that you know that you are not alone. Let's weather these storms together.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Stress is a big deal. It happens A LOT to most people I know. Not only do we live in a go-go-go society, but dealing with small screaming children is stressful, and things not going according to plan is also stressful (among other things).

I've spent a lot of my life with stress being disconnected from what I know to be true about my identity as a child of God. Instead, I've seen stress as a product of what's happening around me, a function of events in my life or unfortunate events happening to me. I've avoided things because I think it will be too stressful. I plan my life according to how much I think I can handle.

But, there's big news. Stress is not going away. Life is not going to get any easier. It's not going to slow down, there's not going to be a lull where you can focus on the most important things and prioritize before you jump into another stress-filled cycle.

So if it's never going to go away, I need to learn how to deal with it appropriately. Not because, gee, it would be nice not to be stressed, but because it's an essential trait to your happiness and success in this life. But God does not leave us alone. Stress and anxiety tools are not reserved for therapy sessions or psychoanalysts. Some of these tools discovered are merely the tools of God.

Stress is about control. You feel stressed when you are out of control. As I have studied and learned more about stress, I have found three things that have been really helpful to me regaining control (we actually talked about it in one of my classes and this section (starting on p.113) of one of my textbooks might be helpful for you to discover your own tools).

1. Celebrate small successes. This means, for me, showing gratitude for what you already have, and recognizing who you really are. Learning about this impacted me so much I've already written a whole blog post about it.

2. Take time for meditation and deep relaxation. In my life, this means weekly temple attendance. This is where I recharge and focus on the bigger picture. It is noticeable to me how much more stressed I am when I don't have this eternal perspective at the forefront of my mind. Not everyone will have the luxury of weekly temple attendance, however. I have also found that consistent morning and nightly prayer, where you spend some time going over what you have done or what you have to do and how it relates to the bigger picture can also be an important source of strength.

3. Having a supportive friend, a listening ear. For me, this is important that this person is not my spouse, someone I am so intimately intertwined with. In my life I have several people who play this role in various capacities. Sometimes I need a peer to commiserate with, to feel validated in my weaknesses or rehash my worst moments. Other times I need a mentor, someone who's been there and can say "it won't be like this forever." Sometimes I need someone to give me advice, sometimes I need another person to be a springboard for my own ideas, or sometimes I need someone to simply listen. Lastly, it's important for me to play this role for other people. It really gives me a chance to see my problems in a new light, and give back when I have been so richly given to. Often they don't realize how much they've helped me, answered a silent prayer of loneliness or picked a time where I couldn't see outside of my own struggles.

Now I know that I can be in control. I can come face-to-face with something hard and know that I can do it. Not because using these tools will "make" me not stressed out, but because I know I have the power to choose. I can choose control. And maybe I'm not so good at it yet. But I know that Jesus Christ can change me. I am a child of God, I'm His child. Just as (I imagine!) God has controlled his stress, I can do so too.

Let's decide to make 2015 a less-stressful year, shall we? Then we can have a good time no matter what happens. That's what I want to do. It's a better place to be.

Friday, January 2, 2015

I'll love you forever

It's always surprising to me the way our love grows. It grows in ways I didn't expect, or couldn't have predicted when I was a 20-year-old girl.

This year the way my love grew for Ben was in dependence. We've created a partnership, we lean on each other.

Parenting gets a bad rap when it comes to romance. You don't have time to focus on each other, you're stretched too thin. But surprising to me, throughout all the struggles and hard things that happen, we've grown closer together. Some nights when the days are hard and I get into bed, I reach over and I can find Ben's hand, and I thank God that I have him to share this load with.

He never complains about the extra load he takes on because I'm in school. He just gives, and gives, and gives. He's a man of strong character, he knows who he is and confidently lives what he believes. I have learned a lot from him.

My romance with Ben is growing more and more multi-faceted over the years, it's a joy to behold. It's like a colorful basket filled with an array of blooms. I can pick up an individual blossom and admire its delicate beauty. We will add more, and different flowers, as the years go on and we grow older.

Oh Ben let's go on together! I want to walk hand in hand with you into eternity. Our hands will be old and wrinkly by then. I'll pull out our basket, and hold on to the the partnership posy we cultivated this year, at the bottom of a very full and deep basket. With it in hand we'll lean on each other as we walk to the end, never to part. I want to love you forever.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Snapshot

January We realized a dream, and bought a new camera
              Mom & Dad left on their mission to Panama
April We spent Easter in Vegas with the Burrs
June We had a fun ride with Support Runners
         We had our 5-year anniversary
July We took our first family road trip and saw Justin, Heather, Sam, Dannielle, & Ben's parents
        We attended the Dennis Flake Family Reunion
August Ephraim had open heart surgery
September I started my masters program
November We hosted the Burrs for Thanksgiving
December We had our first Christmas at home

2013, 2012