Thursday, June 30, 2016

Wow. Life Changing Perspective.

I went to the park yesterday for a discussion on the "Community" section of the More than Happy book.

I had several questions about this that I wanted to discuss such as:

-Men and women seem to have different "community needs" - what is a healthy balance?

-How do you show your children that they are valued, important, and significant while also teaching them that they should put other's needs before theor own? And should we teach them to do so? (We don't want them to be doormats for others who take advantage of their kindness).

-How do you build community in a world that seems too busy to care about it?

Through the discussion,  my friend Julie recommended a talk that our missionary friend, Kel Biesinger had recommended.  I had read his email, but had not yet listened to the talk. 

I listened last night. 

It opened my perspective in a way that will change my life. It answered all my questions and completely took me out of "overwhelm." I just hadn't ever considered things in quite that way before. 

I hope as I work to maintain that vision, I can inspire my kids to see it that way too. We would reach our individual and family goals so much more quickly if we had this beautiful perspective in mind sometimes. 

It's really worth taking the time to listen.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Digging Out of Overwhelmed, Happy Birthday James! (and pictures from the weekend)

Morning hike on Friday
A friend of mine recently realized that I was feeling overwhelmed. I haven't talked to her about this so I guess my posts have given it away :-)

I was glad she brought it up because it is true. And"overwhelm" is my biggest trigger emotion for wasting time and getting distracted. I want to run away mentally from all I have to do. And I feel guilty for being lazy.
The hike goes to a fun rope swing
It's largely this moving thing. I wasted much of last summer thinking I was moving too and feeling overwhelmed by it. Except this time I really am, but the new house won't be  ready until winter,  but we want to sell while houses are selling.. I didn't have time to do all I wanted to do with my day before this choice - and now I have to add getting the house ready to the list. And it's so boring, and I get constant interruptions, and I can't do as much as I'd like each day, and I'm neglecting the teaching of my children, and there are so many better things I'd rather do - like be in nature with my kids, read and study, write, create, learn, dance, play, be with friends.

I also feel terribly sad that were moving in a lot of ways (Even though it's good too). I have a heartache through the day that makes me feel heavy. While being with my friends makes me feel light and joyful. So then I choose to go out as much as possible.

I tried really hard yesterday to work up the desire to get my house ready. I kept thinking that if I just start, I would catch the motivation and desire to keep going, but I didn't catch it. I felt heavy and sad the whole time.  Each task dragged.

And the kids aren't working as hard as they could either. So it's deflating to see them getting distracted too. It's my fault - I'm beeing a bad example and also not following through with consequences for not doing a job or not doing it well. Doing all that teaching takes time.

I'm not enjoying my kids like I was before this choice to move.   Joy asks me to dance with her and I can do it for a few minutes before I feel I have to get back to all I have to do. James aks me to watch him do a trick outside and I'm watching and wishing he'd  hurry so I can get back to work. And then I go back to work, look around and distract myself with Facebook for a bit because I so don't want to do all there is to do.  My actions are not aligning with my values.

One good thing about distracting myself with Facebook yesterday though, is that I have good friends who say inspiring things.  From Mary:

Isn't that beautiful? It requires a bit of faith that doing what God asks me to do will give me what I seek as well, but I do know from experience that it is true. Do I know it enough to act on it? Or do I sacrifice it for what I want to distract myself with at the moment to run away from my tasks?

And I saw this from Sara:

Learn to be content with what we are.  I have had a hard time sleeping lately (I'm writing this at 3am... I'll write until I'm tired and I'll finish later this morning). Monday I was functioning on under 4 hours of sleep. And I still expected so much of myself. What if the insomnia is a tool to help me slow down? To accept that I can't do everything and to lower my expectations and enjoy things a little more?
Game night after the hike

What if I just wrote 5 priorities for the day each morning - things that align with my values about what really matters? And then enjoyed them? Because building relationships would be among them and I love building relationships.  Drawing closer to God and seeking His will would be on the list and I love doing that. Creating an inspiring environment for the kids would be on there...and creating something of worth to uplift those around me.  So would taking care of my body. All those things I value and love doing.

Now that I'm remembering the "why" I'm feeling that desire again that I've been missing. It's so important for me to mediate on my "why" everyday. And to take tasks off my list with less important "why's"

I talked to another friend last night after our Speech and Debate class. She reminded me that we need each other and we need to make friendship a priority in our busy lives. Community is so important. Even though we're moving, relationships can continue. Especially in our high tech world.

Thank-you to my inspiring friends for the reminders! I am so blessed to have living angels I can talk with. You are such a treasure to me.


James turned 5 yesterday. We have several people in our family gone this week so we mostly celebrated on Sunday, and others in my family took most of those pictures, but we did go to Layton Family Fun Center yesterday for some bouncy time he asked for.

James has a sweet, sensitive spirit. His smile warms up any heart. He feels intensely - love, frustration, joy, anger, compassion... I know that as he learns to channel these strong emotions for good, he will be powerful in touching hearts.

I love his hugs,  the mommy cuddles he asks for every night, his thoughtful gaze as he tries to figure things out and explain his findings.

Common conversations:
James: Mom,  can I have mommy cuddles?
Me: Sure! What song can I sing you?
James: Twinkle, Twinkle and Rainbow song.
Me: Okay,  twinkle, twinkle little...(confused look on my face)
James: STAR!
Me: How I wonder what.... you....
James: ARE!
Etc... he just loves the feeling of knowing the right answer and he loves this pretending that he's helping me out.

"Mom, do you know what 42 plus 42 is?"
"Yeah, it's 84"
"How did you know that?! Do you know what's 34 plus 34?"
"What is it?"
"It's 68! You know how I know that?"
"Because I do know it."

He loves walking around with a calculator memorizing math facts. He also loves to read the words he sees around him and the books Bill gets for Joshua at the library in hopes that Joshua will be inspired to practice reading too. Those two have very different personalities!

He has a sweet relationship with Joy. They look out for each other. If one of them is sad, the other is sure to be there to comfort, hug and defend. Joy can calm him down like no one else can.

I am so very blessed that James came to our family 5 years ago. We sure love that little boy!

Monday, June 27, 2016

When I'm Feeling Frustrated with Myself (and pictures from our Manti Camping Trip)

I alluded to this in my last post, but I've been thinking more about it since...

It is easy to get frustrated with myself when I see growth cycles in my personal life:
"Here I go again,  I get on a spiritual high,  and then I drop and get distracted. When will I learn?  Why do I keep doing this? "

Yet I see cycles all around me. Seasons, plants, rocks, tides - ebb and flow, continuous circles. The scriptures are full of examples of how people cycle through learning experiences. I am coming to realize that the cycle is not a problem.  Human nature is to fall. And we reach for Christ and He picks us up. Over and over. It's why we're here - to grow closer to Him through these experiences.  But those negative, discouraging thoughts when I'm in this process are the problem. They keep me low.

The most important thing is to recognize the cycle and turn to God as soon as I realize I'm drifting from Him. I will drift. It's part of life, but drift mode is not a great place to be. I waste time, I don't bless the lives I could be blessing, I build bad habits, I don't reach my daily potential.

Ironically, the best way to stay in drift mode is to be frustrated that I am in drift mode. It is easy to feel like giving up or to procrastinate getting in tune when I feel like it is no good to try because I always end up drifting again. How twisted that logic is! Of course I will drift again - is part of the growth cycle! Why do I expect differently?

Instead I want to be better at recognizing when I'm drifting - get excited that I've recognized it,  ask for help,  and get in tune as quickly as possible.  No use wasting time in getting frustrated with the growth/repentance cycle.

My favorite part of the repentance cycle is when I get to start fresh with new goals and a motivated heart. So why not hurry to that part each time? Instead of procrastinating it because I'm afraid I'll get to do it again soon?  It's a pretty exciting process when it comes down to it. And joyful. It's why Christ died after all.


A couple of days after getting back from Yellowstone, we went camping with some friends in Manti to go to the Manti Pageant. It was in the middle of the week so our husbands couldn't go. It was Sara and I and our 14 kids. It helped that several of those 14 are old enough to help a lot! Especially with the tired children. But I still felt like we were pretty awesome super-moms for pulling it off.

 Especially with two 2-year-olds  and no running water in the campsite. The hardest thing was when Joy woke up around 2 am and screamed for like 30 minutes. Thankfully no one complained during it and she eventually went back to sleep :-)

The pageant was neat, but I have to admit that my favorite part was being with our awesome friends through the adventure.

More pictures:

We made a quick stop in Orem in between trips to say goodbye to my brother and his family who are were leaving to New York to live for year. We will miss them :(

Then to our campsite!

Then we explored Manti on the day of the pageant

Pageant Night

Relaxing and Breaking up Camp the next day

Sunday, June 26, 2016

False Beliefs I am Trying to Get Away From (and Yellowstone Day 4)

I want to write this post about the changes I've been trying to make as a result of reading the book More than Happy: The wisdom of Amish Parenting, but I kind of feel like I need to be much better at it before I can say anything... I realized a couple of days ago that I haven't been seeking Christ's enabling power as much as I ought.  That never goes very well... on my own I lack will-power and ability - I am so easily distracted and weak.

I'm not trying to put myself down. It's just part of human nature and being on this Earth... I get comfortable and then distracted and lazy until I realize things I value most are stating to unravel - and I "wake up" and remember how much I need God CONSISTENTLY,  and I seek for His help and try again.

The last couple days I've been trying to get out of my slump and try again, but the bad habits I slipped into in my distracted state get in my way. I've been staying up too late and going a little over my 20 minutes of screen time on screen free month! It's easy to do that when I'm tired.

I want to do better today, but I've been a little sick and really tired. But I guess that can't stop me from doing my best under the circumstances. It's goal setting time again. But most importantly, it's time to better seek God's strength again.

So back to the book and what I'm imperfectly trying to do... one thing I love about learning of other cultures is that it helps me look at mine from an outside perspective and see where I may be perpetuating false beliefs... such as some of the following:

False beliefs:
Pursue your passion and live your dream.  It is a selfish mindset.  Instead I want us to focus on following promptings and serving each day. That will inevitably lead us to our talents and our unique way of blessing the world anyway.

Get an education so you can have a good job . I realized this was inadequate long ago, but it is such a prevalent teaching in our culture. I want to be sure to teach my kids often that we work for an education in order to better serve God. Not for money.

Men are defined by their careers. Instead, I want to teach my sons to seek meaningful work that will allow them time to be with their families as much as possible. Fatherhood is their most important work.

One should apologize for a messy house or for not being prefect. Accept I'm doing the best I can and don't apologize that it's not good enough. Because it is good enough.

A good parent will put their children in  whatever sports and classes they express interest in just in case they will excel at it. Children need to learn to sacrifice their wants sometimes for the good of the family. It is an important parenting skill. They will be happier, more centered people if we teach them to make family a priority. Before signing my kids up for anything next year I want to ask myself if the sacrifice is good for the family or if it will draw us apart.

Teaching children to obey breaks their Spirit and doesn't teach them to think for themselves. I could write a lot on this one, but I'll  just say that children feel safer in boundaries. Safety is essential for them to thrive and reach their potential. Children will try to test the boundaries. Once they see the boundaries are safely in place, they can focus on learning and growth. If the boundaries are always changing and different - they feel a need to test them often to see where they are each day.

The Amish believe that voluntary submission is essential to real happiness. We do our children a great disservice when we fail to teach them the beauty of submission to a wiser power. It is important that our family standards are in alignment to God's standards (or natural law) because children should be able to trust that when they obey their parents they are also obeying God. If our standards are different than God's standards - we do our children a great disservice in making them choose between us and God. But if we are doing our best to do His will, our children will want to follow our lead and will learn the joy of obedience and submission in their family environment.

My goals this week:
1. More sincere prayers - enlist God's help with all my goals consistently.
2. Get to bed by 10 unless we are having a family activity
3. Keep the screen time rules
4. Pre-teach clear obedience standards and skills often. Follow through quickly with consequences and don't keep giving kids "one more chance" or counting in hopes they'll obey.

 So simple. And yet so hard! I feel silly saying it's hard when so many are going through so many difficult things, but I am where I'm at and it's pretty hard for me. But I do know I can do hard things with Heaven's help. I've seen this time and time again. It's just easy to forget.

More pictures from Yellowstone Day 4 (where we weren't actually in Yellowstone, but just outside of it)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Nature vs Nurture or What the Amish Understand and We Should Too (and pictures of Yellowstone Day 3)

*The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessary reflect the views of any family members I snapped pictures of on Yellowstone Day 3. :-)
 "As I probed further into Amish parenting, I quickly realized that Amish Parenting is not a method; it is the culmination of many beliefs deeply held by the entire community. One of the most important of those beliefs is that the family will be at the center of just about everything Amish people do... every decision, every choice, is made with the good of the family in mind, and the entire Amish culture is built around preserving and protecting the family unit..." - Serena B. Miller in More than Happy

Being LDS (Mormon), I though I was pretty family-focused in my actions. After all, the proclamation my church put out about the importance of family states that a family ought to be central in our beliefs as well, and it gives a solemn warning to us of what will happen if we fail to make it so:
"The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children...We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."

But as I read about the lifestyle of the Amish, I realized that I was not as family-centered as I thought. My actions were not always in line with this principle.

I was often focused on individuals, assuming that strong individuals would make a strong family. This doesn't seem like a false assumption, but what if it is more accurate that my role is not to plant greatness into individuals (hasn't that already been done?) but to nurture that greatness with a strong family environment? Does that subtle shift in focus make much of a difference?

 Children are born with their potential already inside them, ready to grow. Sometimes as a culture, we think that we must cram a lot of stuff into our children as if they are blank slates and we need to mold them into what we think they should be. But anyone who has had children knows that they do not come as blank slates - they come with personalities, talents and interests that seem to have developed before ever stepping foot on this earth.

Another school of thought takes a different view by stating that parenting doesn't matter - it is so obvious that children come with their own personalities, that parents can just step aside and the child will be what they will be without parental interference. However, statistics, experience and common sense show that this is not the case either. Strong families do have more successful children.

Perhaps it is not a question of nature vs nurture. Perhaps we must simply nurture their nature.

If this is the case, our job as parents takes on a slightly different focus.

How does one nurture a child's nature?

By creating an optimal environment for the seed of potential in them to grow.

What is that optimal environment?

It's called a God-centered family.

A family is where a child learns how to live in a society and what it means to serve. If we teach our children to be self-focused instead of family-focused we will get the same consequences we see playing out in our current self-focused society.

Many divorces take place because one or more individuals are focused on seeking their individual happiness and become more and more miserable, instead of seeking the welfare of the family and finding happiness as they do so.

Homosexual marriages and families are another symptom of seeking individual interest. Children do best (and can only be born) with a male and a female parent. Homosexual parents may have great intentions and good parenting skills, but that does not change the fact that they are not raising their children in an optimal environment. Individual desires again trump the welfare of the family.

Abortion, birth control (for selfish purposes), and foster care are all more symptoms of a culture that has chosen to put personal desires above family.  In fact, most (if not all) societal ills can be traced back to a people who are seeking their own interest above the welfare of the family and community.

We fail to realize that when we loose ourselves in the service of our family - we find our purpose, our identity, and our happiness. When we focus on ourselves to the neglect of our family - we lose our purpose, we fail to understand ourselves and we end up miserable.
Mathew 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

It does go counter-intuitive to think that seeking the welfare of our family and others will bring us happiness while seeking our own happiness instead will cause us to loose it. It is one of those principles that someone has to experience to believe. I can say that have seen proof of both again and again in my life. In my experience, the evidence is clear - this is, undoubtedly, a very true principle. Those who don't believe it can simply try it for a week and see.

But how does that translate into how I parent and on how I make decisions about individual needs and wants? Feel free to share your thoughts. In my next post, I will share what I have discovered about what I've been doing wrong and what I hope to do better.

More pictures from Yellowstone Day 3: