Sunday, January 15, 2017

More Solid Steps

What a difference I have felt in my life this week. Seriously; getting up and reading, writing and sincerely praying in the morning makes such a difference in one's life. Huge. I feel like myself again. I feel direction and purpose. I feel more alive. Music touches me more deeply, I see beauty more vividly, people are more wondrous to me, I feel more gratitude and love in my relationships. My steps feel more solid, my direction more clear, and my surroundings more real.

Heavenly Father is so good to us. He really does want us to have joy, love and purpose in our lives. I am so grateful to have seen such a difference in such a short time and to have gained this even deeper testimony of the importance of taking time with Him each day.

I have noticed that for me it is helpful to get up and write first thing. I get my thoughts out and I see where I'm needing guidance. Then I prayerfully read my scriptures and find that guidance in several verses. I write those down as well along with my thoughts on how they help me. At the end of it, I write down what I feel prompted to focus on and do that day. I write a prompting list in my journal (this week it has only had like 4 or 5 things on it each day - it's not like a long overwhelming list). I write this on my phone as well in case I need to remember through the day. Then I look at it the next day to see how I did and if I missed anything so I can include it again.

This week I have learned to trust God more, to find my part and turn the rest over to Him without hesitation or worry. He is in control - which is wonderful because I completely trust Him to have what is best come to be. My part is pretty simple - do whatever I need to do to stay in tune to Him so I can better follow Him.  Each day that part may look a little different because what "staying in tune" means varies in different situations, but I am learning more and more what that looks like and feels like.

I was also able to go to the temple again - what a beautiful blessing that was. I am so grateful for that place where time changes - things move more slowly, perspective is opened, and I feel a touch of eternity. I need to make sure I go each week and that I remember to take family names with me. That place is so full of love that you can't help but absorb it. It is nourishing.

By the way, I highly recommend this article that I am discussing with some youth tomorrow - I read it and drew it out in images with words afterward - it has a lot of concentrated truth to pull cool insights from:  Stumbling Blocks to Creativity - I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on it in the comments if you liked it and pulled something from it.  I'll probably write my thoughts about it on my next post if I can think of a way to put the pictures in my mind into words.

Here are some more pictures from the week:

Jessalyn's Birthday
We are now the parents of three teenagers! Something that is really cool about Jessalyn is that she doesn't even know how incredible she is. She plays with the little boys and Joy, makes little crafts with them, reads to Joshua every night, does Joy's hair and nails, offers to babysit when I go out and is just naturally aware of others needs and tries to help.

She is really alert and intelligent (she reads a about a book a day) and loves to learn. She sings beautifully, is really good at logic puzzles, and draws really well (among other talents). She is a kind and thoughtfull friend. We are so so so fortunate to have her in our family

Colors in the mud:
I tried a trail the other day that turned out to be really muddy.  The textures and the colors intrigued me. It was a good reminder that we can find beauty even in the mud.

Beautiful Mother:
This incredible friend of mine embodies beautiful motherhood in so many ways. I feel so blessed to get to absorb her example almost every day as we stay with them.

Christlike Friends:
We have been so enriched with these Christlike friends these last couple of months.  Their example of  a dedicated family will bless us all for the rest of our lives. I can see why communal living is tempting now. We definitely miss something in our current society with our walled-in, high-tech, private lives that they had in the old communities when they had to rely on one another a little bit more. I feel really grateful for this experience we are having with the Packs.

Brandy visits:
Bill's sister is visiting from Washington. She is the sweetest aunt to my kids and she will be having a baby of her own soon. It was so fun to see her little pregnant belly and to get to be excited for her new adventure. She will be an incredible mother. I am so grateful I married into such a kind family. We celebrated her birthday yesterday.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Getting Out of My Fog

I think I will paste an excerpt from my journal this morning. It was an introspective morning and the journal entry pretty much sums up my week and where I'm at.

"I haven’t written in my journal in a while. I have been sleeping in lately and wake up in a rush to get breakfast and everyone going on their day. I miss it though. I feel like my mind is in a fog lately - a little directionless and uninspired. I’m not sure what Heavenly Father wants me to focus on. Obviously motherhood, but am I not as focused there as I should be? Or is there something in addition to that that Heavenly Father would have me do? I feel as if I ought to have more direction, but I’m not putting forth enough effort to have it so I’m left kind of foggy as I just go through the motions.
There are several things that help me get direction that I have been neglecting. I mentioned my journal writing. That is a big one. I do learn a lot about myself and what Heavenly Father wants of me as I write. Usually I have no idea what I’ll end up saying, but if I start by just being honest with my feelings, I usually get direction as I write.  Another thing is reading my scriptures with the intent to find answers. I have been reading my scriptures as more of a “thing I do” and not with a sincere desire to find answers. I do look for inspiring scriptures, but I don’t have specific questions in my mind so the searching is not the same. And I don’t usually have specific questions unless I am trying to improve in some specific way. I need to figure out what Heavenly Father wants me to work on specifically. Perhaps that can be my question for now.
I also miss the temple. I live so close to it right now, but I misplaced my recommend. I should have it again on Tuesday when I get the Stake Presidency interview. It will be so nice to go to the temple again. I have definitely felt its absence in my life. My prayers have also been rushed. It seems like they’ve gotten even less sincere since making the goal to have them be more sincere. Perhaps the pressure of having a sincere prayer makes it hard to be sincere? Or maybe, again, it’s just my being foggy. 
Or maybe it’s because deep down I know Heavenly Father is going to tell me to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier in order to have time to connect with him, and I really like staying up late. I enjoy late night conversations and reading late into the night or even looking through Facebook… I guess I like that feeling of not being rushed - having hours where I would either be sleeping or doing something I like. So then I choose something I like. Except I don’t think about how it’s going to impact the next day - I will either sleep in and waste my most productive, inspiring morning hours - or I will wake up early and drag through my day and not enjoy it as much because I am so tired.  Both of those consequences are pretty awful. But I don’t think about them at night.
Yeah, I think that is it. That’s why I have been so foggy and uninspired lately. I know what I ought to do and I don’t want to do it. Well, I suppose I better start. I don’t like living in a fog. I miss my closer relationship to my Heavenly Father and the sense of direction, joy and purpose that it gives me.  I prefer that to my late nights.  It’s worth the sacrifice. I know that with seven kids I won’t always have control over when I get to bed, but I can certainly do my part better."  

I think that pretty much sums it up right now. The family is doing well, I have a head cold, but everyone else seems pretty healthy. We are starting to get back on a schedule after our Christmas break. We are getting pretty close to the Packs we will really miss them when we move. Like always, we are trying to figure out how to fit in everything we want to do without over-cluttering our time (which, by the way, is impossible), and trying to balance home rules and expectations while giving kids opportunity to learn from their mistakes in how they use their time. And trying to figure out how make one-on-one time with each child. Obviously, I need lots of inspiration so I better buckle down and work for it :)

Some more pictures from the week:

Making a snowman:



Sunday, January 1, 2017

Our Stay-cation and New Years Resolutions

We had a really fun week we will always remember. Here are some of our stay-cation activities:

Sunday: Family visits and a Nativity Production that I would post on here, but my kids would be so mad ;-)

Monday: Intro to the stay-cation week and Game Day

Tuesday: Sills and the Curiosity Museum

Wednesday: Hike and Movies

Thursday: Read-a-Thon (we did count the BBC Pride and Prejudice as a book... and Two Towers)

Friday: Ice Castles and hot chocolate

Saturday: More games (and the older kids went to a party).
Yep, this is the only picture someone happened to take that day.

Today: New church classes for everyone. Jess is officially out of primary and Joy is officially in. Joy had never stayed the whole time at nursery so I was so happy when she stayed in her Sunbeam class today by herself! I stayed with her through the first hour during singing time and snuck in this cute shot of her helping during the Temple song.

Now for New Years Resolutions:
I'm not very good at these, but I do want to work on these five things:
-More sincere and fervent prayers each morning 
-No refined sugars in January (and maybe longer)
-Set aside personal study time each day (besides scripture study)
-Learn a new skill with Bill
-Make and stick to a one-on-one schedule for time with each child

I love this time of year and that great feeling of a fresh start. Happy New Year everyone!